The Anonymous Widower

Heathrow Southern Railway’s Plans For Staines

In an article in the December 2016 Edition of Modern Railways about the Heathrow Southern Railway, Chris Stokes outlines how railway will serve Staines.

The addition of a bay platform at Staines, deliverable within the existing railway boundary, would assist service resilience and potentially allow extension of Crossrail services from T5 to Staines, providing a highly attractive alternative route from Staines to central London, together with enhanced interchange with South Western services. Journey times from Staines to Paddington would be as fast as to Waterloo, with excellent central London distribution provided by Crossrail. We would expect the majority of Staines to central London passengers to transfer to Crossrail, with significant interchange to Crossrail from intermediate stations between Staines and Reading, relieving overcrowding between Staines and Waterloo.

This map from shows the rail lines at Staines station.


  1. London trains take the lines to the East.
  2. Windsor and Heathrow trains take or will take the lines to the North-West.
  3. Reading trains take the lines to the South-West.

Heathrow Southern Railway plan to add a bay platform in the North West corner of the station.

  • It will be built on current railway land. (Chris Stokes)
  • It will help with the resilience of the train service. (Chris Stokes)
  • It could possibly be the terminus of an extended Crossrail service from Heathrow Terminal 5. (Chris Stokes)

I shall now look at various features, benefits and possible problems in detail.

Could A 205 Metre Long Platform Be Built?

The Google Map shows Staines station.


  1. The five-car blue train in the station.
  2. The train is probably a Class 458 train, which is just over a hundred metres long.
  3. Crossrail’s Class 345 trains are up to 205 metres long.
  4. The two footbridges over the tracks.
  5. The junction, where the tracks split to the West of the station.

These pictures show the area, where the new bay platform would go.

The Station Path and the green space are clearly shown on the Google Map.

Using the train in the station as a hundred metre ruler, I feel that with good design a platform, that was long enough for a Class 345 train could be built.

  • The path would be landscaped.
  • The platform would connect to the London-bound Platform 1.
  • There is probably space for some shelters and other facilities.
  • There might be a new entrance to the station at the West end.

Platforms have been built in much more difficult locations than this.

What Frequency Of Trains Could The Platform Handle?

Many terminal platforms in the UK handle four trains per hour  (tph).

Crossrail will actually handle 12 tph using three terminal platforms at Shenfield station, when the station gets the full service in May 2019.

I don’t think it would be outrageous to say, that the single bay platform at Staines station would be able to handle four tph.

Would Crossrail Want To Serve Staines?

Crossrail’s current service plans are lop-sided, with more trains going to the East than to the West. This means that 12 tph turnback at Paddington station.

I’m sure they would welcome extra termini in the West!

Heathrow Southern Railway’s plan is that trains will pass through Heathrow Terminal 5 station and then take the new rail link to Staines.

Crossrail’s current plan envisages two tph terminating in Heathrow Terminal 5 station, but I don’t think with the right signalling and timetable, that running four tph through the airport to the bay platform at Staines, would be impossible.

But this will only happen if there are the passengers to use the service.

Who Might Use Crossrail To And From Staines?

Chris Stokes said this.

We would expect the majority of Staines to central London passengers to transfer to Crossrail

As there is research behind the proposal, this will be right.

But there is one group of passengers, who will welcome Crossrail with open arms.

That is those people, who live in Staines or the surrounding area and work or want to work at Heathrow.

As Chris Grayling announced that Southern access to Heathrow was a priority, I discussed it with one of South Western’s station staff.

They put me right about getting from Staines to Heathrow for an early shift.

Crossrail’s Plans for Heathrow at 6th January 2019

Om the 9th January 2019, Wikipdia said that following Crossrail trains will run to Heathrow.

  • Terminal 4 – Four trains per hour (tph)
  • Terminal 5 – two tph

In addition it looks like Heathrow Express will run four tph to Terminal 5.

Heathrow Southern Railway plan to run the Heathrow Express services through to Basingstoke, Guildford and Woking.

If Crossrail were to run four tph to Staines in addition the extended Heathrow Express at four tph, that would only be one train every seven and a half minutes. Compare this with the time it takes of ten minutes to turn trains in the platform at Heathrow Terminal 5 station.

I would suspect it could be possible to run four tph through Terminal 5 to a bay platform at Staines.


It’s amazing what can happen, when you add a simple bay platform!





March 20, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 3 Comments

New Heathrow Rail Link To Lead The Way For Future Transport Funding Schemes

The title of this post, is the same as that of this Press Release on the Department of Transport web site.

This is the opening two paragraphs.

Private companies have been asked to come forward with ideas to deliver a new southern rail link to Heathrow Airport.

The link will be one of the first projects under government plans to invite third parties – such as local authorities and private sector companies – to invest in the rail network, over and above the £47 billion the government is already planning for the next 5 years.

In the past, I have talked about two privately-funded schemes for access from the South to Heathrow.

The Times is saying today, that it could be the second scheme.

But Heathrow can be such a money-earner, you do wonder if other schemes to serve the airport will be put forward.

How Would A Scheme Work In Practice?

A consortium consisting of engineering, financial and railway interests would put forward a scheme.

They would do the following.

  • Design the scheme and ensure it was acceptable to all stakeholders, including Network Rail, the Office of Rail and Road, local authorities, train operating companies, passengers, residents and in the case of Heathrow, the airport itself.
  • Raise the finance to build the scheme from appropriate institutions like insurance companies, banks and pension funds.
  • Build the scheme and get it approved by the appropriate companies, authorities and regulators.
  • Once the scheme is commissioned, trains using the scheme would pay appropriate track access charges, in the same way, that they do now, when they use Network Rail’s tracks.
  • Maintenance would be the responsibility of the consortium, that built the scheme.

In some ways the consortium functions like a mini-Network Rail, as it obeys all the same standards with regards to engineering and safety.


  • The finance is not provided by taxpayers.
  • Any profits go to those, who conceived, built or financed the project.
  • Risks associated with the project are not borne by the Government or taxpayers.

If say in ten years time, the consortium goes bust, then I suspect that the assets would be bought on the cheap, by either Network Rail or another investor, who would learn from the original consortium’s mistakes.

Not that I think that will happen!

Has Anything Similar Been Done Before In The UK?

I think it is true to say, that various innovative ways have been found to fund railways in the UK.

The article from the Independent, which was written in 1992 is entitled Canary Wharf Banks Agree Funding For Jubilee Line.

This is a paragraph from the article.

The Government has always insisted that the scheme will not go ahead without private funding. In return for the financing, the banks are believed to be insisting that the Government chooses Canary Wharf as the site for the relocation of about 3,000 civil servants from the Department of Environment and the Department of Transport. It is also considering three other sites in the area.

So it looks like relocating three thousand civil servants got the Jubilee Line built!

Chiltern Railways have expanded by leaps and bounds over the years and some of their methods have been professional and innovative.

Project Evergreen with three phases has expanded and improved their passenger services.

This is an extract from the section of Wikipedia, that talks about the project.

Chiltern Railways former chairman Adrian Shooter said, “This is the biggest passenger rail project for several generations not to call on the taxpayer for support. Working closely with Network Rail, we are going to create a new main-line railway for the people of Oxfordshire and the Midlands. This deal demonstrates that real improvements to rail services can be paid for without public subsidy by attracting people out of their cars and on to trains.”

I don’t know whether this relates to all of Project Evergreen or just one part.

This is also said.

Network Rail provided the capital for the upgrade and will recover this through a facility charge over the subsequent 30 years, initially payable by Chiltern until its franchise expires, and then by the next franchisee. The infrastructure upgrade was carried out by main contractor BAM Nuttall, in partnership with Jarvis and WS Atkins.

It may all sound complicated, but Chiltern Railways is a train operating company that commuters don’t seem to complain about.

Could Any Other Schemes Be Funded Using The Department for Transport’s New Model?

Building the southern access into Heathrow Airport will be a large project costing more than a billion pounds.

But that doesn’t that all projects need to be that size!

I suspect, that the DfT’s model will be applied to some projects, as small as a hundred million pounds.

These are my thoughts on future projects, which I have split into various sections.


If a scheme like the Heathrow scheme  gets the go-ahead, then I think this could lead to other airport links being designed, funded and built using a similar model.

At present, Aberdeen, Bristol, Doncaster-Sheffield, East Midlands, Glasgow, Leeds and Liverpool airports are looking to improve rail access and the DfT’s model may be a way to build some, if the demand is there.

Network Extensions

The proposed Heathrow Southern Railway is effectively a well-thought out extension to three networks; Crossrail, Heathrow Express and South Western Railway to all of their mutual benefit.

I doubt there’ll be such big extensions, but there are some useful ones being planned.

  • Bramley Line -The track-bed of this route is still there and connecting March to Wisbech could create a new commuter route for Cambridge.
  • Fawley Branch Line – This would provide a passenger service and serve new housing developmemts in Hythe and Fawley.
  • Ivanhoe Line – Proposals to improve this service in Leicestershire with new stations.
  • Merseyrail Northern Line Extensions – The £300 million extension to Skelmersdale is being planned and another from Ormskirk to Preston is proposed using battery trains.
  • North Downs Line – This line could be updated to provide an improbred Reading- Gatwick. Would it make a freight route for Minis from Oxford to the Channel Tunnel?
  • Skipton To Colne Reinstatement – This  project of just a dozen miles is high profile amongst Conservative politicians and would provide another route across the Pennines.
  • West London Orbital – This £264 million extension to the London Overground would create two new lines in North West London.

This is by no means a complete list, but it shows how many routes could benefit with reinstatement or improvement.


Why shouldn’t electrification be privately funded, with the builders and investors getting their returns, through an electrification access charge, which would be similar to a track access charge.

I discuss possible electrification schemes in Charting An Electric Freight Future.

The linked article is mainly about freight, but I suspect there are examples, where some shortish stretches of electrification could be privately-funded.

If electrification experts identified the problems of the past few years and how to solve them, there must be a case to formulate a business that merged engineering, finance and construction, that was able to install electrification on time and on budget.


Greater Anglia has commissioned a new depot at Brampton on a design, finance and build basis and it’s not the only depot built this way.

But that is more traditional financing.


The financing of some stations has been extraordinarily innovative.

I suspect that that some deals will get even more so.

Some will even charge for passengers per day.


One of the reasons, I like the DfT’s proposal of mixing design, finance and build with a good helping of innovation, is that this closely follows the model that we used with Metier Management Systems, when we started the company in the 1970s, to develop our Project Management system called Artemis.

  • We designed the systems.
  • We financed the systems.
  • We installed the systems
  • We maintained the systems.
  • The customers wanted the systems.
  • Customers paid so much a month.

The cream on top was the lashings of innovation.

There might be a lot of extra finance flowing into UK railways!





March 20, 2018 Posted by | Finance, Transport | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Access To The Western End Of The Camden High Line

I took between Camden Road and Camden Town stations on Sunday.

I was investigating two questions.

  • How would you provide access to the Western end of the Camden High Line?
  • How would you improve interchange between the North London Line and Northern Line stations?

These are some of the pictures that I took.

I can see a few strengths and problems.

Architectural Quality

Camden Gardens has several Listed buildings, but the viaduct appears not to be Listed.

The brick viaduct is a substantial one and like most of this type of structure in the UK, Network Rail seem to keep it in good condition.

You have to remember that there was a derailment on the bridge, which I wrote about in Fall Out From A Train Crash. So I suspect, it has had a detailed check-up since.

The only eyesore is the steel bridge over Camden Street. But Network Rail have ways of making them look better. A good coat of paint would help.

Camden Gardens

To my mind, Camden Gardens needs development. Not in any negative sense, but it is surrounded by pedestrian traffic generators.

  • Camden Road station to the East
  • The Regents Canal to the South
  • Camden Town station to the South, which will have a new step-free Northern entrance, about a hundred metres from the Gardens.
  • |A large mixed development on the other side of Kentish Town Road.
  • It is on the direct route between Camden Road station and the tourist attractions around Camden Lock.

It could be developed into a convenient oasis for those walking in the area.

Perhaps there needs to be a cafe in one of the arches.

Camden Interchange

In Boris Johnson’s Transport Infrastructure Plan for 2050, the Appendix mentioned that there will be an interchange between Camden Town and Camden Road stations. Unfortunately, a copy of the report is not available on the Internet.

But it can’t be deleted from my memory.

I feel strongly, that as after the expansion of Camden Town station, the two stations will be physically closer, that a Western entrance to Camden Road station, should be built, if the sums added up.


  • It would create a convenient interchange between the two rail services.
  • It would improve access from Camden Lock and the new developments on the North side of the Regent’s Canal.

But it could also create access to the Camden High Line.

The Height Of The Viaduct

The viaduct is high, as the last-but-one picture in the gallery shows.

Because of the railway tracks, between the two platforms, which means the only way to cross is to walk to the other end of the platforms and go down and up again, design of affordable and practical access, will be challenging.

A Station Entrance On The Camden High Line

The first picture in the gallery, shows the shrubbery on the two disused tracks, that could become the Camden High Line, behind a fence.

It would surely be possible to create a ticket gate in a small building on the wide platform.


With clever design it would be possible to provide access to the Camden High Line and the station in a single development.




March 20, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 2 Comments