The Anonymous Widower

Are Transport for London Planning For The Future In The West?

Over a dozen Underground stations in West London have been earmarked for upgrading to step-free access.

I listed them in West London Stations To Be Made Step-Free.

There are various common properties.

  • Boston Manor and Osterley stations are on the Heathrow branch of the Piccadilly Line, which when updated would make the branch  seventy percent step-free.
  • Hanger Lane and Northolt stations are on the West Ruislip branch of the Central Line, which when updated would make the branch seventy-one percent step-free.
  • Ickenham, Ruislip, Sudbury Hill and Park Royal are on the Uxbridge branch of the Piccadilly Line, which when updated would make the branch  sixty percent step-free.
  • Hanger Lane and Park Royal stations are a valid out-of-station interchange.
  • Sudbury Hill and Sudbury Hill Harrow are a valid out-of-station interchange.
  • Ickenham and West Ruislip are a valid out-of-station interchange.
  • Ealing Broadway and Old Oak Common are developing into major interchanges.

With Crossrail going through West London and due to be fully-open in a couple of years, transport in West London is certainly going to get better for all.

But other things will or possibly could happen.

New Trains On The Piccadilly Line

The Piccadilly Line is in some ways an odd one out of London Underground lines.

  • Only 28 % of the line’s stations have an interchange with other lines or National Rail compared with 94 % for the Victoria Line.
  • Only two of the major London terminals; Kings Cross and St. Pancras International, are served by the Piccadilly Line and very badly in truth!
  • The line has no interchange with Crossrail.
  • The line has a terminus at Heathrow.
  • The line runs extensively in West London on old District Line tracks, so there are a lot of stations in the area, where platform-to-train access is bad.

The trains are also some of the oldest on the London Underground.

Under Future Upgrades in the Wikipedia entry for the line, this is said.

The intention is for the new trains to eventually operate on the Bakerloo, Central, Piccadilly and Waterloo & City lines. On current plans, resignalling work on the Piccadilly line will begin in 2019 and new trains should be in service by 2022.

Wikipedia also says this about the trains.

  • The trains will be lightweight, low-energy and semi-articulated.
  • The trains will have a battery capability to take them to the next station in case of power failure.
  • The trains will have a low-floor. Will this be lower than current trains? Probably yes, as it would increase headroom.
  • The trains will have an 11 % higher capacity than the existing trains.
  • The trains could have air-conditioning.

I would add the following comments and pedictions.

  1. The trains will be designed for quicker exit and entry to the trains.
  2. The trains will shorten journey times.
  3. The trains will be wheelchair and buggy friendly.
  4. The batteries on the train will be used to handle regenerative braking.
  5. The trains will have air-conditioning, as passengers will demand it.
  6. A solution will be found, so that there is level platform-to-train access at all stations.

Point six will be difficult, but in my view this must be done to enable trains to spend as little time as possible, whilst calling at a station.

Perhaps trains will adjust their ride height as they approach a station, by adding and releasing air from the suspension.

If this level access can be achieved by a clever train design, the expense and disruption of rebuilding station platforms substantially, could be reduced.

Unfortunately, some Piccadilly Line platforms are also used by the larger S Stock trains, so any technological advantages must be made on the new Piccadilly Line trains.

Piccadilly Line To Ealing Broadway

Ealing Broadway station is being upgraded for Crossrail.

In the November 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, there is a Capital Connection supplement, which discusses London’s railways.

On Page 7 in a section about the sub-surface lines, this is said.

One possibility being discussed is that the Piccadilly should take over the District’s Ealing Broadway service. This would free up space on the South side of the inner-London circle for more City trains off the Wimbledon branch, one of the sub-surface network’s most-crowded routes.

On Page 15 in a section about the Mayor’s plans, this is said.

It is suggested Piccadilly Line services run to Ealing Broadway instead of the District Line, enabling increased frequencies on the latter’s Richmond and Wimbledon branches.

As the plan is mentioned twice, certainly the proposal is being thought about.

I discussed this in some detail in Is There Going To Be More Change At Ealing Broadway Station?

Distilling my thoughts from last year and what I’ve seen recently, I have the following thoughts, if the Piccadilly Line had a branch to Ealing Nroadway station.

  • The Piccadilly Line would have a two-platform step-free terminus, capable of handling twelve trains per hour (tph)
  • Increasing Piccadilly Line frequencies through the core, probably needs another high capacity terminal in the West.
  • The Piccadilly Line would have an interchange with Crossrail and Great Western Railway for Heathrow, Oxford and Reading.
  • In the later 2020s, when the Piccadilly and Central Lines are running the same new deep-level trains, Ealing Broadway would only handle one type of Underground train.
  • As Ealing Broadway, Ealing Common and Acton Town stations would only handle the new deep-level Underground trains, platform-to-train access problems could be solved by lowering the platforms.

The current Piccadilly Line service in the West is as follows.

  • Twelve tph to Heathrow
  • Six tph to Rayner Lane station, with three tph continuing to Uxbridge.
  • Three tph to Northfields

The new trains and signalling, must surely increase the core frequency from the current 21 tph to something approaching the 36 tph of the Victoria Line.

I suspect that twelve tph to Ealing Broadway would fit well, with both the needs of the Piccadilly Line and Crossrail’s frequency of twelve tph.

There are other problems to sort out, but Piccadilly Line trains to Ealing Broadway station could be an excellent plan.

Piccadilly Line To Heathrow

The Heathrow branch of the Piccadilly Line will be seventy percent step-free, after Boston Manor and Osterley stations are upgraded.

I think the time will come in the next few years to bite the bullet and do the following on the branch.

  • Make all street-to-platform fully step-free.
  • Lower the platforms to give level platform-to-train access to the new deep-level trains.

As this branch is Piccadilly Line-only, there should be few related problems.

Piccadilly Line To Rayners Lane and Uxbridge

The Uvbridge branch of the Piccadilly Line will be sixty percent step-free, after Ickenham, Ruislip, Sudbury Hill and Park Royal stations are upgraded.

As with the Heathrow branch, I think that the following should be done.

  • Make all street-to-platform fully step-free.
  • Lower the platforms to give level platform-to-train access tothe new deep-level trains.

The problem is between Rayners Lane and Uxbridge stations, where the branch is shared with the Metropolitan Line.

The following could be done.

  1. Put in extra tracks and platforms.
  2. Live with the  current platforms and step down into a Piccadilly Line train.
  3. All Piccadilly Line trains could terminate at Rayners Lane and from Rayners Lane to Uxbridge is served by Metropolitan Line only
  4. As the platforms are long and all trains are walk-through, clever platform design with Harrington Humps could be a solution.

Only option 4 would be an affordable solution, that might be acceptable to all stakeholders.

Central Line To Uxbridge

In the Wikipedia entry for the Central Line, this is said.

The Central crosses over the Metropolitan and Piccadilly lines’ shared Uxbridge branch near West Ruislip depot, and a single track linking the two routes was laid in 1973. The London Borough of Hillingdon has lobbied TfL to divert some or all Central trains along this to Uxbridge, as West Ruislip station is located in a quiet suburb and Uxbridge is a much more densely populated regional centre. TfL has stated that the link will be impossible until the Metropolitan line’s signalling is upgraded in 2017.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines around Ruislip Depot.

Note.

  1. The Central Line is shown in red.
  2. The track used by the Piccadilly and Metropolitan Lines is the bluey colour.
  3. The Chiltern Main Line is shown in black.
  4. Ickenham and Ruislip stations will soon have some measure of step-free access.
  5. Ickenham and West Ruislip stations are a  valid out-of-station interchange, with a walk of 1.1 miles.

Would running Central Line trains to Uxbridge be feasible?

Uxbridge station has four platforms and currently has the following Off Peak services.

  • Metropolitan  – 8 tph to Aldgate
  • Piccadilly – 3 tph to Cockfosters

With these frequencies in the morning Peak.

  • Metropolitan  – 6 tph to Aldgate
  • Metropolitan  – 4 tph to Baker Street
  • Piccadilly – 6 tph to Cockfosters

West Ruislip has a 3 tph Off Peak service.

Uxbridge with four platforms can probably handle up to twenty-four tph with modern signalling, so there should be scope once the the new signalling is installed on the Metropolitan Line for changes to be made.

It may need new trains on both the Central and the Piccadilly Line, that can use the new signalling, before full advantage could be taken of running Central Line trains to Uxbridge.

But at some time in the future, it looks like the following would be possible on the West Ruislip branch of the Central Line.

  • 4 tph to West Ruislip
  • 4 tph to Uxbridge

That would be a very worthwhile service.

The Greenford Branch

The Greenford Branch is one of those lines in London and the South East, that have a low priority for the train operating companies.

Others include.

Twenty years ago, you would have included the North London and the Gospel Oak to Barking Lines. But look at those two now!

The Greenford Branch is typical of this sort of line.

  • Single platform at each end.
  • Two tph run by a single train.
  • Elderly trains.
  • No electrification
  • No Sunday service
  • More information.
  • Virtually no marketing.
  • Poor interchange at West Ealing station, although interchange at Greenford is excellent.

All of these lines could benefit from a common philosophy.

  • Four tph where possible, to encourage Turn-Up-And-Go.
  • A viable train use philosophy.
  • Modern electric trains that attract passengers.
  • Good interchange at the principal station or stations.

A plan for the Greenford Branch has yet to emerge.

However Crossrail will change everything.

  • Up to twelve tph could stop at West Ealing station.
  • West Ealing station will have full step-free access between the Greenford Branch, Crossrail and GWR services.
  • Passengers might use the line with heavy bags to get to and from Heathrow.
  • Management of West Ealing station may pass to Transport for London.

On a cold, wet day, passengers changing to the Greenford Branch will not want to wait half an hour for the next train to Greenford and the intermediate stations.

Increased passenger numbers and pressure for good service will require a four tph frequency on the Greenford branch.

  • This will require two trains.
  • Better customer service will be needed.

|As the two end stations could both be under Transport for London control, would it be sensible to pass management of the line to that organisation and run the line under the Overground banner?

But what trains could be used?

  • As the line is not electrified and platforms can only handle two- or possibly three-car trains, London Overground’s standard four-car Class 710 trains would not be suitable.
  • Class 172 trains could be used, but these are going to West Midlands Trains.
  • Passengers might accept a modernised British Rail era diesel like a Class 150 train.
  • There is also the Class 230 train, which West Midlands Trains will be using on the Marston Vale Line.
  • Could Bombardier create a three-car Aventra with on board energy storage, that would be charged at either or both ends?

My money would be on one of the last two options.

  • A standard electric train would require electrification of the branch.
  • There would be servicing problems with a small diesel fleet.
  • Class 230 trains have been designed for remote servicing, so three trains would work.
  • The diesel trains and the Class 230 train would require little if no infrastructure changes.
  • The branch is under three miles long, so a return trip is probably well within range of a battery train.
  • A three-car Aventra with on board energy storage would have many applications in the UK.
  • The Aventra with on board energy storage  would require little if no infrastructure changes, except for some extra overhead wires to create a charging point at West Ealing.

London Overground will probably go for a surprising, but cost-effective solution.

Onward From Greenford

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines at Greenford station.

There must surely be possibilities to extend the current passenger service to the West.

  • It would create a West Ealing to West Ruislip feeder service for Crossrail.
  • Greenford station would need extra platforms on the Acton-Northolt Line.
  • Train length would be less of a problem and four-car trains could probably be used.

It would fit well with restoring passenger services on the Acton-Northolt Line.

Old Oak Common To West Ruislip On The Acton-Northolt Line

Network Rail have plans to reinstate passenger services on the Acton-Northolt Line, so that Chiltern Railways can have an extra London terminal with a connection to Crossrail, High Speed 2 and the London Overground. Under Chiltern Main Line Connection, in the Wikipedia entry for Old Oak Common station, this is said.

Network Rail has proposed that the Chiltern Main Line should have a second terminal at Old Oak Common to increase capacity on the route as there is no room to expand the station at Marylebone. To do so, services would use the Acton–Northolt line (formerly the “New North Main Line”) and perhaps see Chiltern trains terminating here rather than Marylebone.

A summary report by Network Rail, which was released in 2017, forecast that a new London terminal will be needed by 2043 and proposed Old Oak Common for this role, with upgrading of the Acton-Northolt Line.

I doubt that I’ll see it, as I’ll be 96!

But it does seem a credible idea with questions to ask!

  • Will the route be double- or single-track?
  • Will there be express and/or Metro services?
  • How many interchanges will there be with the Central Line?
  • Will the route be used by Crossrail?
  • Will the route be electrified?

I do think that there will be some very serious thinking going on.

A few thoughts on what could define what might ensue.

High Wycombe Station

High Wycombe station is a three platform station, with a lot of space between the tracks, as this Google Map shows.

It would appear there is space for the station to be developed, as a terminus for more services from London.

The Chiltern Metro

According to Wikipedia, Chiltern Railways have ambition to create a Chiltern Metro. Wikipedia says this.

New Chiltern Metro Service that would operate 4+tph for Wembley Stadium, Sudbury & Harrow Road, Sudbury Hill Harrow, Northolt Park, South Ruislip and West Ruislip. This would require a reversing facility at West Ruislip, passing loops at Sudbury Hill Harrow, and a passing loop at Wembley Stadium (part of the old down fast line is in use as a central reversing siding, for stock movements and additionally for 8-car football shuttles to convey passengers to the stadium for events). This ‘Chiltern Metro’ service was not programmed into the last round of franchising agreements.

This sounds to be a good idea but it would need a dedicated platform at Marylebone and is there sufficient capacity on the Chiltern Main Line to accommodate the number of extra trains required to West Ruislip.

Crossrail

How Crossrail will affect London is totally unpredictable.

  • Currently, the system is planned to run 24 tph between Heathrow, Paddington and Reading in the West and Abbey Wood and Shenfield in the East.
  • Various sources show that Crossrail has been built for 30 tph.
  • I wouldn’t be surprised to see the route move to a Thameslink or East London Line model, where two or four tph run to other destinations outside the core.

Ebbsfleet, Gravesend and Milton Keynes have been mentioned for expansion, but what about Basingstoke, Beaulieu, High Wycombe, Oxford and Southend?

Electrification

Three factors will be the main drivers if the Acton-Northolt Line is electrified for Network Rail’s proposed passenger services to Old Oak Common.

  • Extension of Crossrail to High Wycombe would surely need the Acton-Northolt Line to be electrified and possibly double-tracked.
  • The next generation of multi-mode trains will operate on a mixture of electric, diesel, hydrogen and battery power.
  • The ambition of Chiltern Railways.

I think on balance, if the Acton-Northolt Line is reopened to passenger services, it will be electrified.

Space could be limited as this picture from Hangar Lane station shows.

But most problems should be possible to solve, by lowering track  and rebuilding some bridges.

North Acton Station

North Action station could be updated in the following ways.

  • Extra platforms for the Acton-Northolt Line.
  • A connection to the North London Line.
  • Over-site development.
  • More spacious station buildings.

Note also that North Acton station could be a calling point on the West London Orbital Railway.

On the other hand, Old Oak Common station might handle a lot of these connections, so I suspect that if North Acton station has a connection, it will be led by the needs of property developers.

Park Royal Station

Park Royal station could be rebuilt with Hanger Lane station as an interchange between the Central and Piccadilly Lines, with extra platforms for the Acton-Northolt Line.

Again, property development will decide what happens.

Hanger Lane Station

This Google Map shows the location of Hanger Lane station in the middle of the Hanger Lane Gyratory.

Note the following.

  • The Central Line train in the Westbound platform.
  • The double-track of the Acton-Northolt Line to the North of the Central Line station.
  • Inside the ring of roads, there would appear to be a large site, that could be suitable for redevelopment, as perhaps offices or housing.

These pictures show the site in the middle of the roads.

Note.

  1. To call the site a junk-yard would be a compliment.
  2. Hanger Lane station is going to be made step-free.
  3. A  tunnel for HS2 will pass underneath., following the route of the Acton-Northolt Line.
  4. There are HS2 notices about. Are HS2 going to use the dump for a ventilation shaft for a tunnel underneath?

It would not be the most difficult design project in the world to make provision for platforms on the Acton-Northolt Line, to future-proof the station for Crossrail or any Chiltern service to Old Oak Common.

This is the sort of development that I like!

Imagine the following.

  • A cluster of perhaps four very high residential and office towers, reaching above the pollution and noise of the traffic.
  • A ring of trees could also shield the development from the traffic.
  • The tracks of the Acton-Northolt Line could be slewed to take advantage of an island platform.
  • Trains running at least four tph to Old Oak Common.
  • Crossrail could continue across Central London.
  • Trains could run to West Ruislip or High Wycombe in the West.
  • London Underground running up to ten tph on the Central Line.
  • Developers will integrate the station, the development and the required local services.

The possibilities are dramatic.

In the next decade or so, as vehicles get less polluting, developments like this will become more common.

Perivale Station

Perivale station is Grade II Listed with some of the worst steps I’ve seen on the London Underground.

Extra platforms on the Acton-Northolt Line and a step-free station would be very difficult.

 

I doubt, there are many stations worse for step-free access in London!

Greenford Station

Greenford station is already step-free, but extra platforms on the Acton-Northolt Line, could be very difficult, due to the different track levels.

But Action-Northolt Line platforms with a step-free connection would give easy access to the Greenford Branch.

Northolt Station

Northolt station is being made step-free and could be extended with extra platforms on the Acton-Northolt Line.

The picture was taken from the Central Line platform and shows  the station building, which almost looks as if it was built to be extended to a platform on the Acton-Northolt Line, which is to the left of the electrified Central Line track.

South Ruislip Station

South Ruislip station already has platforms on both lines.

Ruislip Gardens Station

Ruislip Gardens station probably wouldn’t need a connection to the Chiltern Line.

West Ruislip Station

West Ruislip station already has platforms on both lines.

A Possible Heavy Rail Service Between Old Oak Common and West Ruislip

Consider.

  • Central Line trains take seventeen minutes between North Acton and West Ruislip with six intermediate stops.
  • So I think it likely that a modern train could travel from Old Oak Common to West Ruislip in about fifteen minutes, with perhaps stops at three or four stations like North Acton, Hanger Lane, Greenford, Northolt and South Ruislip.
  • The Acton-Northolt Line is a mixture of single and double track. with some space for a second track.
  • All stations except Old Oak Common could have step-free interchanges with the bCentral Line.

It could either be a service linked to Chiltern or Crossrail.

I can’t help feeling that eventually, this service will be part of Crossrail.

Conclusion

The railway changes that are happening will certainly allow a lot more development in West London.

 

 

 

 

January 31, 2018 - Posted by | Travel, Uncategorized | , , , , , , ,

3 Comments »

  1. I do enjoy your articles of this nature.

    I will resist getting out my crayons but surely TfL, with its tight budget, would be advised to make a pilot exercise of North Acton station, and allow developers to fully fund, build and connect this station to what ever routes they feel commercially viable. I sense they would be very keen to have excellent connections with Old Oak Common and improve the permeability of the site to Park Royal.

    How about also something similar at Hangar Lane, not a penny of TfL funding, put it out to a developer, I bet they would find money to deck over the roundabout system, and link Hangar Lane station to Park Royal…

    Comment by PJS | February 1, 2018 | Reply

    • My thoughts entirely! One problem at Hanger Lane is that it is a Grade II Listed building, which in my view should be replaced. But what would the Heritage Taliban have to say about that! But they don’t care about things like affordable housing and step-free access.

      The real crime seems to be at Earl’s Court, where they are buildibg over the railway but not putting a West London Line station underneath. Remember at Westfield, there are sidings for the Central Line underneath, but even there, Shepherd’s Bush atation could have a better connection to the Shopping Centre. Bond Street, Knightsbridge and Tottenham Court Road are all being extended or rebuilt with substantial sevelopments on top.

      Comment by AnonW | February 2, 2018 | Reply

  2. Chiltern already runs a daily train to Paddington, as well as occasional weekend diversions, so the Old Oak Common idea is not far-fetched.

    Any work on High Wycombe must include reopening the line from Bourne End, as part of a Milton Keynes-Heathrow service.

    Comment by Mark Drukker | April 2, 2018 | Reply


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