The Anonymous Widower

Crossrail Tests Its Trains In Southend

The title of this post is the same as that of this article in the Southend Echo.

This is the first paragraph.

Crossrail trains are being tested from Southend to London – raising hopes that in future they could run to and from the town on a regular basis.

As the title of the article indicates, it could be that Bombardier and Crossrail are seeing how a Class 345 train performs on the route, prior to the delivery of Greater Anglia’s similar Class 720 trains, which are another train in Bombardier’s Aventra family.

Southend Victoria Station

Southend Victoria station could be a destination for Crossrail in the future, but consider these facts.

  • Southend Victoria station is 41.5 miles from London Liverpool Street station and the fastest services take about an hour.
  • Southend Victoria has a frequency of three trains per hour (tph) to London Liverpool Street.
  • Southend Victoria station has four terminal platforms and is a short walk to the Town Centre.
  • Reading station is 36 miles from London Paddington station and the fastest services take just over half-an-hour.
  • Fast-growing Southend Airport with its station is on the Shenfield to Southend Line and the Airport would surely welcome a direct link to Central London and Heathrow.
  • The three tph on the Shenfield to Southend Line doesn’t have a good interchange with the one train every forty minute service on the Crouch Valley Line.

If there is a major problem, it is that Greater Anglia is losing passengers to c2c with its station at Southend Central.

Between 2013/14 and 2015/16 Southend Victoria has lost 2.79 million passengers, whereas in the same period Southend Central has gained  1.14 million.

From what I have seen Greater Anglia intend to speed up the Liverpool Street to Norwich services to ninety minutes and run at a frequency of 3 tph. They are also going to add a fourth train that goes to Ipswich. So again, the three tph service to Southend, isn’t the best fit to services on the Great Eastern Main Line for passengers travelling between say Southend and the County Town of Chelmsford.

There are probably not too many reasons for Crossrail to be extended to Southend for its own sake, but if Greater Anglia and Crossrail decide that an integrated service is to be provided between Shenfield and Southend, then everything is up for discussion.

Fast Trains Between London And Southend Victoria

The current Southend to London trains stop seven times to the East of Shenfield.

They would probably need to stop at Southend Airport and perhaps two of the busiest stations, but cutting out five stations would probably bring the journey time down to fifty minutes, which would attract passengers and make it easier for Greater Anglia to run the service, as trains could do the round trip in comfortably under two hours.

Running three tph, as now, would need just six trains and running a desirable four tph would need eight trains.

I’d be very interested to see what time a one of the new Stadler Class  745 trains, could achieve on the route, with just four stops at Stratford, Shenfield, Billericay and Southend Airport.

Slow Crossrail Trains Between Shenfield And Southend Victoria

Paired with the fast trains could be a number of extended Crossrail services.

Based on Crossrail’s projected timings between Liverpool Street and Shenfield of 41 minutes and the current 35 minutes between Shenfield and Southend, a timing of 76 minutes is estimated.

  • Crossrail’s trains could save as much as two minutes at each of the seven stops, East of Shenfield.
  • The Shenfield to Southend Line has an 80 mph speed limit, which I suspect could be improved.

So could we see Slow Crossrail trains achieving the times that Fast Greater Anglia trains do now?

I think the answer is yes and it shows how trains have improved in the last few decades.

How Many Trains Could Use The Shenfield To Southend Line?

The capacity must be quite high, as the only complication is the totally independent Crouch Valley Line.

Southend Victoria station has four platforms, so the station could probably handle sixteen tph, which is more than enough.

I feel that it would be possible to run four Fast expresses and four Slow Crossrail trains in an hour.

Whether that would be an acceptable timetable is another matter.

Interchange With The Crouch Valley Line

The Crouch Valley Line’s one train every forty minutes must be a nightmare for Greater Anglia and passengers alike, and I suspect that Greater Anglia have a cunning plan to run a two tph service on the line.

It appears that the track layout can achieve this, with the two trains passing at North Fambridge station. But as they don’t run two tph on this branch there must be other limitations.

Foremost of these could be the three tph service on the Shenfield to Southend Line.

So sorting out the Shenfield to Southend Line might improve the service on the Crouch Valley Line.

Conclusion

I have come to these conclusions about services between Liverpool Street and Southend Victoria stations..

  • A Fast Greater Anglia express service could probably achieve a sub-fifty minute time.
  • A Slow Crossrail service, could probably do the trip in an hour.
  • Better interchange with Crouch Valley Line and Great Easstern Main Line services would be achieved.
  • Four Fast and four Slow services in each hour is possible.

My choice for the Liverpool Street to Southend Victoria service would be as follows.

  • Four tph – Crossrail Class 345 trains – Stopping at all stations.
  • Four tph – Greater Anglia Class 745 trains – Stopping at Southend Airport, Billericay, Shenfield and Stratford.

Or the simple option of just running the four Crossrail trains.

Crossrail to Southend, isn’t a ridiculous aspiration.

August 11, 2017 - Posted by | Travel | , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] Just as it appears there is co-operation between Crossrail, Great Western Railway and TfL, could similar co-operation between Crossrail, Greater Anglia and TfL, result in improved services on the Shenfield to Southend Line? I wrote about this in Crossrail Tests Its Trains In Southend. […]

    Pingback by Crossrail To Heathrow, Reading And Southend « The Anonymous Widower | August 17, 2017 | Reply


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