The Anonymous Widower

Where Next For Chiltern?

Chiltern Railways have now got their Marylebone to Oxford service up and running.

Wikipedia gives a list of their future plans. Included are the following.

  • Platform lengthening.
  • Restoration of former tracks.
  • Remodelling Banbury, which has already been done.
  • Building of the West Hampstead Interchange.
  • Development of services between Aylesbury and Milton Keynes.
  • Creation of a Chiltern Metro.
  • Reopening various branch lies.

In addition there has been talk of electrification and opening a route along the New North Line to Old Oak Common.

Building On Oxford

As of yesterday, as I wrote in Oxford To Marylebone Opens For Business, they now have a two-platform terminus at Oxford station.

I can’t believe they have made this investment there, without other plans to use it. Wikipedia says this about the platforms at Oxford station.

The scheme also includes two new platforms at Oxford station, to be built on the site of the disused parcels depot. The new platforms will initially be five carriages in length, but provision will be made for them to be extended southwards to eight carriages.

A two platform terminus like this, will have a large capacity, when fully developed.

  • Two of Chiltern’s Class 68 locomotive hauled sets of Mark 3 coaches could be accommodated at the same time.
  • Two shorter trains could be handled in one platform at the same time.
  • Rebuilding plans for Oxford station would improve passenger handling.
  • The two-platform underround terminus at Moorgate handles 12 tph.

It could probable handle the proposed two trains per hour (tph) for the East West Rail Link with ease.

I can’t believe that these two platforms, won’t become a vibrant mini-station within Oxford station.

But where will trains and passengers go?

Expansion At Birmingham Moor Street

Birmingham Moor Street station is one of those stations, that spent decades in the wildeness and has now become an important alternative station.

Wikipedia says this about Proposed Future Developments concerning expansion of the station.

The currently disused third bay platform would be reopened, and an additional new fourth bay platform would be opened to accommodate the new services.

This is also said about HS2.

The High Speed 2 terminus in Birmingham is planned to be built on an adjacent site and will likely be linked to Moor Street, though have a separate name (either Fazeley Street or Curzon Street). The station and high-speed line is proposed to be completed by the mid-2020s.

So it looks as if Moor Street will become a more important Birmingham station for commuters and a gateway to high speed vservices from the city.

Services Between Oxford And Birmingham

Currently around two tph run between Oxford and Birmingham.

  • Typically, they call at places like Banbury, Leamington Spa, Coventry and Birmingham International.
  • Services are run by Cross-Country.
  • Services take between sixty and seventy minutes.
  • Services continue to places like Bournemouth, Manchester Piccadilly and Newcastle.

I’ve travelled on the route several times.

  • It tends to be overcrowded.
  • Service quality is not of the quality, you get with Chiltern, London Midland or TransPennine Express.

I think there could be a niche for an extra service between Oxford and Birmingham,, just as Chiltern hope and probably know, there’s room for one between London and Oxford.

  • Services would go between the bay platforms at Oxford and Birmingham Moor Street.
  • The Banbury remodelling must have helped the timetabling of the service.
  • A Chiltern quality service would be provided.
  • Two tph would leave at the same minutes past the half-hour.
  • Services could call at Banbury, Leamington Spa, Warwick, Warwick Parkway and Solihull, or whatever was appropriate.
  • Journey time could be sixty minutes or just under.
  • 2 tph on an hourly service would need four trains to run a service all day.
  • The Oxford Birmingham route would get four tph.

The only loser would be Cross-Country, who might lose passengers to the new service.

But then like Chiltern, they are ultimately owned by Deutche Bahn.

But, you can’t run a service without trains.

From 2019, Greater Anglia will start to receive new twelve-car Flirts for Liverpool Street to Norwich services. Currently, to run this service Greater Anglia uses 15 sets of eight Mark 3 carriages, with Class 90 locomotives and driving van trailers. In the last couple of years, all have been superbly refurbished with the addition of wi-fi and retention toilets. All the trains need is to fit sliding doors, as Chiltern have done for their Mark 3 coaches and replace the Class 90 with a Class 68 locomotive.

This would enable, Chiltern to offer a Mark 3 -only service between Marylebone and Birmingham and Oxford and the release of other trains for the Oxford to Birmingham service.

As every operator is short of trains and delivery timescales slip, it might be worth looking at the availability of suitable trains.

  • According to Wikipedia, as many as twelve driving van trailers could be in store at Long Marston. How many could be brought back into service?
  • Greater Anglia are replacing fifteen sets of Mark 3 carriages and a DVT, with ten electric Flirts, that will increase the frequency from 2 tph to 3 tph. Could this mean that one or two sets could be released before the Flirts enter service?
  • Hopefully, InterCity 125s will start to be available, as they are replaced with Class 800 trains from Summer 2017.

There are also other possibilities if events go to plan.

This is certainly a development to file under Watch This Space.




December 12, 2016 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Oxford To Marylebone Opens For Business

I took these pictures, at Oxford station today, as the Great and Good opened the Chiltern’s new service to Oxford.

Compare the pictures, with these, I took on the 1st of December.

It does appear a lot of work has been done, in the intervening ten days.

December 12, 2016 Posted by | News | , | 2 Comments

HS2 Euston Hub May Not Be Viable, LBC Discovers

This is title of this article on the LBC web site. This is the first paragraph.

The time saved by travelling on HS2 could be wasted waiting for a tube at Euston, a the Deputy Mayor of London for Transport has told LBC.

I don’t know whether the statement will prove correct, but I’ve always thought that Crossrail 2, should be built before HS2..

In Call For Crossrail 2, I said this.

HS2 is currently planned to terminate at Euston station, although I think that could be changed by a more innovative solution. But whatever happens to the London end of HS2, it needs to be simply connected into the knitting of the Underground, so terminating somewhere in the area between Kings Crossand Euston, is probably a certainty.

Every recent design for Crossrail 2 shows it serving the three important London stations of Kings Cross, St. Pancras and Euston. It also links these stations to Victoria and Clapham Junction.

Have you ever tried to use the Victoria Line between Euston and Victoria with a heavy case or a baby in a buggy? It’s bad enough at normal times and impossible in the rush hour.

So when HS2 starts squeezing more passengers through the congested Euston Underground station, it will be a disaster.

I believe that the only way to connect HS2 into London is to build Crossrail 2 first.

But what do politicians know about building things, except messes and debts?



December 12, 2016 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 2 Comments

Up And Down The Bakerloo Line

These pictures were taken of access on the Northern reaches of the Bakerloo Line.


  • I suspect that the Class 172 train, was getting ready to restart the service on the Gospel Oak to Goblin Line.
  • The step-down into a 1972 Stock train.
  • How a ramp is used with a Class 387 train.
  • Queen’s Park station has good step-across access.

Good design can surely make the access better.

December 12, 2016 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , | Leave a comment

How To Build A Step-Free Access Ramp For A Train

This new ramp or Harrington Hump, has been built on Platform 1 at Canonbury station.

I didn’t use it, as I was going the other way.

It looks to be a very good design.

  • Like all the best designs, it is simple.
  • It is double-ended.
  • It’s a gentle slope to ascend to train level, with no steps to trip on.
  • It’s got seats to prop yourself on.
  • It’s got a rail to hang on to.
  • Those with poor eye-sight wouldn’t miss it and trip over.
  • I suspect any sensible local builder could build one of these, from a kit of parts and instructions on a page of A4.

It looks to me like it is one of those classic engineering designs, that was developed using copious amounts of real ale, with everything written down on the back of fag-packets and used envelopes.

After my musings on dual-height platforms for the Bakerloo Line Extension, in How Will They Build The Bakerloo Line Extension?, I think that a modified version could handle the problems at stations on the Northern reaches of the Bakerloo Line, where 1972 Stock and Class 378 trains, share a platform.

December 12, 2016 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Platform Height Issues On The Watford DC Line

At Queen’s Park station, the Bakerloo and Watford DC Lines join as they go towards Watford Junction station.

This map from shows the lines at Queen’s Park station.

Lines Through Queen's Park Station

Lines Through Queen’s Park Station

Note how there is a cross-platform interchange between the two pairs of lines.

Northwards from Queen’s Park station, the platform height is a compromise, with a step down into an Underground 1972 Stock train and a step up into Class 378 train.

  • It is not level access by any means and very difficult for wheel-chair users or those pushing buggies or heavy wheeled cases.
  • I suspect that at some point it could even be illegal under disability regulations.
  • With a more intense service, loading and unloading trains may become a seriouscause of delay.

It is not just a would-like, but a must-have.

Queens Park station though, is totally level.

The current five-car Class 378 trains are 100 metres long, which compares with the 113 metre length of the 1972 Stock train.

One way to solve the platform height issue, would be to have a dual height platform with one end of the platform level access for the 1972 Stock and the other for the Class 378 train.

This would probably need a platform of the order of 215 metres.

But London Overground have ordered a set of four-car Class 710 trains for the Watford DC Line. These trains will be perhaps 80 metres long, as the type will be shared with the shorter platforms of the Gospel Oak to Barking Line.

This shorter length train should make the design of a dual-height platform acceptable to all users a lot easier.

Currently Off Peak services through Willesden Junction are as follows.

  • 3 trains per hour (tph) from Euston to Watford Junction – London Overground
  • 9 tph on the Bakerloo Line.

Some sources mention that there are ambitions to run 27 tph on the Bakerloo Line. So even if all the trains went through to Watford Junction, that would only mean 30 tph stopping at stations on the line.

Currently, 2 tph on the Bakerloo Line turnback at Queen’s Park station, so it looks like with good deual-height platform design, the current schedule of three tph on the Overground, stopping at South Hampstead and Kilburn High Road can be continued and supplemented with perhaps 18-20 tph on the Bakerloo Line North of Queen’s Park station.

Platforms could be about 180-200 metres long, with a height to fit the Bakerloo Line trains. At one end they would have an 80 metre section of platform to suit the Class 710 trains.

The Class 710 trains would obviously be wheelchair friendly, like the current Class 378 trains, but they would be designed to fit a typical station on the Watford DC and Gospel Oak to Barking Lines.

If Class 378 trains were also providing services on the line, they would use their selective door opening to use the four-car raised section of the platform.

So, if the stations were to be given lifts to fit the new dual-height platforms, the service would have the following characteristics.

  • Totally step-free and level access at all stations for all trains.
  • South Hampstead and Kilburn High Road stations would keep their current service.
  • Most stations would have an increased service.
  • 27 tph through the central section of the Bakerloo Line would be enabled.

The biggest problem would be walking or pushing to the right end of the platform for your train, at stations served by both size of train.




December 12, 2016 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 3 Comments