The Anonymous Widower

Kent On The Cusp Of Change – Highspeed Routes

The Kent On The Cusp Of Change article in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways talks about the Southeastern Highspeed routes through Kent.

Some principles are laid down.

The article gives an estimate that at least another twenty Class 395 trains are needed of which perhaps three would have batteries for operation along the Marshlink Line between Ashford International and Ore stations.

The new timetable proposed in the article is similar to that now, with the following changes in each hour.

  • All Day – A St. Pancras – Ashford – Dover Priory service runs once per hour and splits at Ashford with one six-car train going to and from Hastings and the other six-car train going to and from Dover Priory.
  • Off Peak – A new St. Pancras – Ashford – Canterbury West service runs once per hour.
  • All Day –  A new St. Pancras – Ebbsfleet service runs twice per hour.
  • Off Peak – A new St. Pancras – Gravesend – Strood – Maidstone West service runs once per hour.

In addition all trains passing Thanet Parkway station will stop after it opens.

The Fawkham Junction Link

The article talks about reinstating this link , which connects the Chatham Main Line to Ebbsfleet International station and High Speed One.

I wrote about this link in a related post called Fawkham Junction Link, which shows how it can be used to create additional Highspeed services between London and Thanet.

  • Victoria becomes a second terminal for Highspeed services.
  • Victoria gets a Highspeed connection to Ebbsfleet International and Ashford International stations for Eurostar.
  • Most if not all of the Thanet services become Highspeed services.
  • Thanet services are faster with more capacity.

Obviously, Network Rail and the TOCs (train operating companies) have some cunning plan to use the Fawkham Junction Link.

Should All Victoria To Thanet Services Be Run By Highspeed Trains?

In my trip to Longfield Station, I came back iat a leisurely pace in a Class 465 train, that had started at Dover or Ramsgate.

As the routes to Thanet from Victoria can all be run by twelve-car trains and the platforms in East Kent are accessible to twelve-car Class 377, Class 395 and Class 465 trains, I wonder if Class 395 trains or a train with a similar performance, should run all these routes in an identical manner to the slower trains.


  • Calls at many stations would only be made by twelve-car Highspeed trains, which must make station design simpler and station stops easier and faster.
  • Highspeed trains would be able to take advantage of any line speed improvements on the route.
  • Highspeed trains are fitted with modern signalling systems including ERTMS, which would allow more capacity on busy sections of the routes. Between Victoria and Swanley could benefit.
  • Crossrail and Thameslink trains already have ERTMS, so this must give advantages, on shared routes.
  • A single unified fleet to Thanet must ease servicing and maintenance, which is done currently at Ashford and Ramsgate.
  • High Speed One could be used as a diversion route if required.
  • Victoria could be used as a diversion for Highspeed services, if there were problems on High Speed One to the West of Ebbsfleet station.

The outcome would surely be that even the Victoria to Thanet stoppers would be several minutes faster.

What would faster services be worth to the new train operating company?


Highspeed services could be increased in frequency and developed to a second terminal at Voctoria.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see all services to Thanet run by a single uinified fleet of Highspeed trains.

See Also

These are related posts.

To know more read Kent On The Cusp Of Change in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways.



June 29, 2017 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 19 Comments

Will London Build Any More New Tube Lines?

In this post, by Tube, I mean one of London’s narrow-bore Underground lines like the Bakerloo, Central, Jubilee, Northern, Piccadilly and Victoria Lines.

Tube Lines And Crossrail

Yesterday, I rode a Jubilee Line train and after The 10:35 From Liverpool Street To Shenfield, it struck me as a cramped experience.

As I got up to leave from one of the areas of the train with metro-style seating along the train sides, I tripped all over everybody else’s feet.

Compare this to the Class 345 train on Crossrail.

You could seat basketball players either side and they’d have difficulty playing footsie, given the width of the train.

Note too the space under the seats for their kit.

And then there is the air-conditioning, which of course the Tube lines don’t have.

So what is the point of building new narrow-bore Tube lines under London? Especially, as I doubt the cost of a line is much less than the wider-bore Crossrail on a per kilometre basis.

Build extensions to existing Tube lines, by all means, as these probably have a better economic case.

The Bakerloo Line Extension

This is a portion of London’s famous Tube Map.

The Bakerloo Line Extension runs between the following stations.

It is a simple scheme to put new transport infrastructure into South-East London.


I doubt, we’ll see a complete new Underground line in London, built to the narrower-bore of the Tube.


June 29, 2017 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Kent On The Cusp Of Change – Historic Routes

The Kent On The Cusp Of Change article in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways talks about the historic routes through Kent.

The existing fleet is being enlarged and updated.

But there are problems, with issues like.

  • Depot space,
  • The lack of wi-fi.
  • Crossrail’s Aventras have 4G and passengers will expect it.
  • The Class 465 trains are only 75 mph units.

If we take a quick look at Greater Anglia, they are replacing all their fleet to increase capacity and they are having to build a new depot about half-way from London.

So expect to see a new depot, somewhere in Kent to accommodate the increased fleet.

More Highspeed Trains

I believe that for reasons of better services and efficiency, that a new batch of Class 395 trains or similar will take over some or all historic routes to Thanet.

If this happens, it could also mean, that because Highspeed trains are serviced at Ashford and Ramsgate, depot space was released at the London end of the routes.

A New Fleet Of Trains

I wouldn’t be surprised to see a new fleet of trains joining the fleet for the new South Eastern franchise.

If we look at the characteristics of Bombardier’s new Aventra we see the following.

  • Up to 100 or even 125 mph capability.
  • Superb interiors.
  • Wi-fi and 4G capability.
  • Wide doors and lobbies for fast entry and exit.
  • Automatic coupling and uncoupling – Hitachi trains do it, so why not other manufacturers?
  • Regenerative braking – Is it handled by on-board energy storage?
  • Remote train warm-up!
  • Improved automation for the driver.
  • Less energy usage.
  • Modern signalling systems including ERTMS, which is used by Thameslink and Crodssrail.

Judging by my journey on The 10:35 From Liverpool Street To Shenfield, the customer experience is Jaguar to the successful Electrostar’s Ford.

The fast station stops of these modern trains from the major manufacturers means the following.

  • Less trains are needed for the same frequency of service.
  • The frequency of services can be improved.
  • Extra stops can be added with less of a time penalty.

In some cases semi-fast trains can be replaced by trains calling at all stations with no journey time penalty.

The Modern Railways article also hints that we’ll see more joining and splitting of trains to make sure capacity and frequency is tailored to the needs of a particular route.

Terminal Capacity In London

This could become a problem for Southeastern, but certain things can be done.

  • Increasing Crossrail and Thameslink capacity.
  • Extending Crossrail to Ebbsfleet and/or Gravesend.
  • Splitting and joining services.
  • Improve signalling to allow trains to run at higher frequencies.
  • Cascade or scrap any train that can’t operate at 100 mph to create more paths.

In the long term, the solution is probably to rebuild Charing Cross station across the Thames, so that the platforms can accept three five-car trains working as one unit.

Higher Frequencies On Busy Routes

The North Kent Line from Abbey Wood station eastwards to Ramsgate will get increasingly busy through the Medway towns.

The East Kent Re-Signalling Project will help, but if all trains east of Abbey Wood were modern trains equipped with ERTMS, it would probably be easier to manage the trains, so that frequencies as high as ten trains per hour ran on a substantial part opf the route between Abbey Wood to Rainham stations.

There are probably several places where better signalling and modern trains can increase the frequency of trains.


The historic routes will be improved.

See Also

These are related posts.

To know more read Kent On The Cusp Of Change in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways.




June 29, 2017 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | 16 Comments

Bombardier’s Giant Spanner In The Works

On The 10:35 From Liverpool Street To Shenfield, I talked to several passengers and one thing that impressed a couple was the built-in 4G mobile-phone capability of the trains.

So much wi-fi on trains is tedious to use and the operator wants to get you to register, so they can bombard you with spam.

For this and other reasons, I rarely use wi-fi.

Now that Bombardier have fitted 4G to Crossrail’s Aventras, will every new train in the UK, be fitted with this capability?

You bet it will! Or the train won’t sell!

I actually, think that 4G capability could be a train feature that appeals to many older travellers., who I suspect generally aren’t the heaviest users of bandwidth, but also want instant access at all times.

4G all the time gives you this.

June 29, 2017 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Kent On The Cusp Of Change – Thameslink

The Kent On The Cusp Of Change article in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways talks about Kent and Thameslink.

This is said.

Under the Thameslink plans, due to come in next May, are two trains per hour (tph) Maidstone East to Cambridge and 2 tph Rainham to Luton, while the longstanding Sevenoaks via Bat & Ball to Blackfriars service will be extended to Welwyn Garden City in the peaks.

The Rainham to Luton service effectively creates a four tph service through the Medway towns to Abbey Wood, Greenwich, London Bridge and beyond.

The Maidstone East to Cambridge service, also creates four tph between London and Otford.

Onward From Maidstone East

I do wonder if the powers that be, looked at extending the service to Maidstone East station to the well-connected Ashford International station.


  • With the opening of the Ashford Spurs in Spring 2018, South East London and a lot more of Kent would have good access to Continental services.
  • Thameslink would have a Southern access to Thanet to complement the Northern access at Rainham.
  • Stations on the Maidstone Line could get four tph.

As Maidstone East to Ashford International takes thirty minutes, I suspect the extra time needed, makes scheduling trains difficult.

On the other hand, the Class 700 trains, probably execute stops faster than the current trains.

Could Thameslink Serve Ebbsfleet International Station?

If the Fawkham Junction Link is reinstated, this is a possibility.

Could A Catford Interchange Improve Thameslink?

The Maidstone East and Sevenoaks services both go through Catford station, which is close to Catford Bridge station.

Transport for London have said several times, that they would like to create a consolidated Catford Interchange station.

If one were to be created, could there be a bit of tidying up of services through the area, in much the same way as Gatwick Airport station acts as an important interchange on the Brighton Main Line?

Could Thameslink Capacity Be Increased?

I feel that Thameslink’s decision to serve Maidstone East and Rainham stations is a good one, but I suspect there are strips of paper on the Timetabling Room floor with other Kent and Sussex stations on them, like Ashford International, Canterbury, Dover, Hastings and Uckfield.

I also think too, that there may be stations, where additional trains could be desirable.

So could the current twenty-four trains through the central core of Thameslink be increased?

I think the answer is probably in the affirmative, as signalling, driver aids and the drivers themselves will get better, as the system develops.

In this article in Rail Engineer entitled Crossrail – approaching the final stages, this is said.

When the new Elizabeth line opens, 24 trains per hour will operate in each direction through the centre of London. The new signalling system will incorporate Automatic Train Operation to support this service, with the capacity for higher frequency of 30 trains per hour in the future. As a consequence, Siemens is installing the Communications-Based Train Control system (CBTC). It is similar to one already successfully installed in Copenhagen, so expectations are high.

So could similar techniques be used in Thameslink to create another six paths an hour.

That would still only be one train every two minutes.

I suspect too, capacity could be increased by lengthening some trains from eight to twelve cars.


Thameslink is very tied up with the Southeastern franchise.

See Also

These are related posts.

To know more read Kent On The Cusp Of Change in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways.

June 29, 2017 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment