The Anonymous Widower

Should The Moorgate Lines Be Transferred To Transport for London?

This article in Rail Magazine, is entitled TfL Targets Transfer Of Govia Thameslink Services.

One of the services, targeted by Transport for London (TfL) are the Great Northern services into Moorgate station from Hertford North, Stevenage and Welwyn Garden City stations.

I know the line into Moorgate and the various branches well, as I’ve used them in different forms, since I was about eleven.

The section between Moorgate and Finsbury Park stations is often referred to as the Northern City Line.

I wrote about these lines in a series of posts linked to A North London Metro.

The biggest problem, I find with the lines, is the quality of the trains and the stations. But there are other issues that will also effect these services, which I detail in the following sections.

Trains

The current Class 313 trains are some of the oldest on the UK rail network, as they were built around 1976, which makes them only a couple of years older than London Overground’s Class 315 trains.

I ride in both fleets regularly and although both show their age, those on the Overground appear to have had a lot more TLC.

It’s almost as if GTR doesn’t care about the Northern reaches of their Network.

In some ways, when the Lea Valley Lines were managed by Greater Anglia from Norwich, it was the same Out-Of-Site-Out-Of Mind attitude.

Both operators are changing these elderly fleets by the end of next year.

My worry about moving the Moorgate services to the London Overground would be about the transfer of the new trains, although TfL do have some cards in their favour.

  • The Class 717 trains are designed for the rather unusual operating conditions of the Northern City Line.
  • Siemens have a contract to build and maintain the Class 717 trains.
  • TfL have recently signed a big deal with Siemens, for the New Tube for London.
  • The current Class 313 trains are single-manned.

I would hope that the trains and their crews would not be too difficult to transfer to the London Overground.

Stations

Many of the stations like Essex Road are tired and need serious work, which would start with a good deep clean. Is it the same Out-Of-Site-Out-Of Mind attitude?

Highbury & Islington Station

These pictures show Highbury & Islington station.

The decor needs a serious refresh.

If I want to go to say Hertford North or Welwyn Garden City, the easiest way is to go via Highbury & Islington station and get a direct train.

Until a few months ago, there used to be no way to buy a ticket at the station.

  • The destination is outside my Freedom Pass area.
  • I can’t use Oyster or contactless card at the destination.
  • There is no ticket machine to buy a ticket.
  • There is no ticket office.

However, the latest Underground ticket machines have solved the problem

When you consider that Highbury & Islington station is the fourteenth busiest station in the UK and that it handles more passengers in a year, than Cannon Street, Charing Cross, Edinburgh Waverley and Manchester Piccadilly, the station is a disgrace.

Are other stations as passenger unfriendly?

Crossrail

Crossrail will seriously affect the services into Moorgate station.

Consider the following.

  • Changing to and from Crossrail at Moorgate will become a preferred route for many passengers.
  • Moorgate is a short walk to much of the City of London.
  • Moorgate and Liverpool Street will be one massive interconnected station.
  • The new Class 717 trains will attract passengers, if they are better than Thameslink’s terrible Class 700 trains.
  • Between Moorgate and Alexandra Palace stations could have a frequency as high as twelve trains per hour (tph), that runs all day.
  • The Victoria Line doesn’t connect to Crossrail, but it does have a cross-platform interchange at Highbury & Islington station with the Northern City Line.
  • The Piccadilly Line doesn’t connect to Crossrail or serve the City of London, but it will soon have a much-improved connection to the Northern City Line at Finsbury Park station.

Predicting the number of passengers on the services into Moorgate will become one of those classic extremely-difficult multi-variable problems.

Journeys Will Change

As an example of a changed journey take the case of someone living in Walthamstow wanting to go to Heathrow.

Currently, the easy route is.

  • Victoria Line to Finsbury Park – 9 minutes
  • Piccadilly Line to Heathrow Central – 64 minutes.

This is a total time of 73 minutes.

After Crossrail opens the high-frequency route will be.

  • Victoria Line to Highbury & Islington – 12 minutes.
  • Northern City Line to Moorgate – 10 minutes.
  • Crossrail to Heathrow Central – 33 minutes

This is a total time of 55 minutes.

Thameslink

Thameslink hasn’t been designed with improving the local services on the East Coast Main Line in mind and GTR are hoping that the new trains to and from Moorgate, will provide enough capacity.

As it might be hoped that the new trains on the Moorgate services will be an improvement on the dreadful Thameslink Class 700 trains, with ironing board seats and no wifi, power sockets or tables, will passengers be swapping their London terminal to Moorgate with its better trains and connections?

Hertfordshire

Thirteen of the thirty-one stations served from Moorgate are in Hertsfordshire.

What will that County Council’s reaction be to a transfer of the Moorgate routes to the London Overground?

Relationship With The Underground And Overground

The route between Finsbury Park and Mootgate stations used to be part of the Underground and there are several interchanges between the route and the Underground and Overground.

  • Bowes Park station is an out-of-station interchange with Bounds Green station on the Piccadilly Line.
  • Harringay station is an out-of-station interchange with with Harringay Green Lanes station on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line.
  • Finsbury Park station is an interchange with the Piccadilly and Victoria Lines.
  • Highbury & Islington station is an interchange  with East London, North London and Victoria Lines.
  • Old Street is an interchange with the Northern Line.
  • Moorgate is an interchange with the Circle, Hammersmith & City, Metropolitan and Northern Lines, in addition to Crossrail from the end of this year.

When the new Class 717 trains, with their increased frequency of at least four tph,  start running, it will be a new high frequency Metro for the London boroughs of Barnet, Enfield, Haringey and Islington.

Future

I can see various changes adn additions to this line in the future.

ETCS On The East Coast Main Line

ETCS is being installed on the East Coast Main Line to increase capacity. It would appear that trains running to Welwyn Garden City station, will need to have ETCS installed.

As the new Class 717 trains are similar to the Class 700 trains, which use ETCS in the Thameslink core between St. Pancras and Blackfriars stations, fitting the system to the trains, shouldn’t be a problem.

But fitting ETCS to all the Class 717 trains, would mean that installing and using ETCS on the routes into Moorgate station would not be a difficult enterprise.

If this were to be done, would trains between Moorgate and Finsbury Park stations be able to attain the Thameslink frequency of twenty-four tph?

I can’t see why not!

Faster Running On The East Coast Main Line

In Call For ETCS On King’s Lynn Route, I talked about an article in Edition 849 of Rail Magazine, with the same title, where I said this.

In addition to ETCS, which could improve capacity on the East Coast Main Line, they would also like to see journey time reductions using trains capable of running at 125 mph or faster on the King’s Lynn to Kings Cross route.

Faster limited-stop 125 mph trains from Cambridge, Kings Lynn and perhaps, Peterborough to King Cross would surely increase capacity and might even help with the double-track bottleneck of the Digswell Viaduct.

One of the problems is that Thameslink’s Class 700 trains are only capable of 100 mph.

They are just not fast enough.

With 125 mph running limited stop into Kings Cross or Thameslink, will this free up capacity on the slow line and perhaps allow extra services from London to Welwyn Garden City station. They can’t go further North because of the Digswell Viaduct, unless the trains use the Hertford Loop Line.

I’m pretty certain that introducing 125 mph trains to Cambridge, Kings Lynn and Peterborough could open up more csapacity for services on the Great Northern route.

Increased Capacity At Moorgate

Crossrail will connect to the routes into , through a rebuilt Moorgate station.

  • This connection will attract more passengers.
  • Crossrail provides connection to Canary Wharf, the West End, Paddington station and Heathrow.
  • The rebuilt station will also provide high-capacity step-free connections to the Central, Circle, Hammersith & City and Northern Lines.
  • There will hopefully be better access to walking routes through the City of London.

Looking at the plans for the massive double-ended Liverpool Street-Moorgate station on Crossrail, it would appear that, the station complex is being rebuilt for a large increase in passengers.

Currently, the frequency to and from Moorgate station is around ten tph, which is handled on two platforms.

Consider.

  • Brixton and Walthamstow Central stations on the Victoria Line, handle 36 tph with two platforms and Automatic Train Operation (ATO).
  • The East London Line will be handling twenty tph Between Dalston Junction and Surrey Quays stations, by the end of next year.
  • The Class 717 trains will have a better performance than the current Class 313 trains.
  • The signalling could probably be updated and ATO added as I indicated earlier

I would suspect that a frequency upwards of at least sixteen tph to and from Moorgate could be possible.

I’d like to know, what capacity was assumed in the design of the rebuilt Moorgate station, to make sure, the station was future-proofed for all possible services.

Increased Frequencies

All stations between Liverpool Street and Shenfield have had a frequency of ten tph, as long as I can remember and this frequency will be increased to twelve tph, when Crossrail opens.

Alongside this, the frequencies of four tph to and from Hertford North and Welwyn Garden City look messily!

The Hertford Loop Line has three possible terminals; Gordon Hill, Hertford North and Stevenage, all of which could handle four tph. If all were used, this would give these frequencies.

  • 12 tph – Finsbury Park to Gordon Hill
  • 8 tph – Gordon Hill to Hertford North
  • 4 tph – Hertford North to Stevenage.

If what I said earlier is correct and that sixteen tph is possible into Moorgate, then this would still allow the current frequency of four tph to Welwyn Garden City.

Park-And-Ride

There is a need for at least one parkway station on the Great Northern route.

GNER were intending to provide one at Hadley Wood station.

Parliament held a debate in January 2000 about this and you can read the debate here on the Parliament web site. Generally, MPs were not in favour.

Stevenage has also been proposed for a parkway station and I think this is much more likely.

Incorporation Into The Tube Map

There will soon be calls for the Southern part of the route to be shown on the Tube Map.

 

Conclusion

I can see serious investment will be needed at stations on the Great Northern route and especially on the deep-level Northern City Line.

It is also likely, that more trains could be needed.

Do GTR have the will and the resources to invest in this line?

I doubt it, as it is probably seen as an irrelevant backwater, by GTR’s so-called management.

Given the close connection of this route to Crossrail and the Underground and that fifty-eight percent of the stations are in Greater London, then Transport for London would seem to be an ideal owner for this route.

July 14, 2018 - Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , ,

5 Comments »

  1. Firstly having worked in Hornsey for a number of years I can categorically say that the 313s are looked after and maintained to a high standard by the engineers there. They are skilled and take pride in their work. Before GTR took over availability and reliability were in the 90%s each and every month.

    Where would the 717s be maintained and by who?

    700s and 387s (as are 313s and 365s) are part of GN and all are maintained at Hornsey TSC.

    When the 717s are introduced they will, if under GN, be maintained there too but if under the control of TfL then where would the 717s be stabled and maintained? You cannot realistically have two separate TOCs working the same shed and roads in a depot, it’s just not feasible. You would have issues with roads, staffing, admin to say the least.

    717s could be stabled in Ferme Park, but that usually has GBRF trains and 700s stabled there.

    Yes thre are other points for stabling (Welwyn Hertford etc.) but those would not be sifficent.

    Maintenance? Ilford … more than a little difficult to do it there having to travel via the North London line and Greater Anglia.

    It’s interesting but I doubt TfL would make the lines any better and I I doubt they have the finance to take over the lines.

    Comment by Part Time Spotter | July 14, 2018 | Reply

  2. […] noted how if the Moorgate services are also transferred to the London Overground, as I outlined in Should The Moorgate Lines Be Transferred To Transport for London?, then the following frequencies would […]

    Pingback by Should Some Thameslink Routes Be Transferred To Transport for London? « The Anonymous Widower | July 15, 2018 | Reply

  3. Out of interest: with Moorgate/Liverpool Street becoming a major interchange, is there any way that the Northern City lines could be extended south, making it an important new underground line? Obvious solutions seem to be turning it to connect with the unused Moorgate-Barbican lines, then perhaps south or south-west to eventually connect with mainline services south of the river; Or could it be connected to the Waterloo and City line and extended south of Waterloo towards, perhaps, East Croydon? I don’t know how much the complex underground arrangement under that part of the city would make things. Ditto the Lee valley Overground lines- could these not go underground at the old Bishopsgate station to, together, provide a 24/30tph service south?

    Comment by j m | August 16, 2018 | Reply

    • The original plan was for the Moorgate Lines to go to a station at Lothbury, which would be just to the North of the Bank of England.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lothbury_tube_station

      Once Moorgate/Liverpool Street is fully operational, it will be a short walk from the Northern City Line platforms to the down escalators for Crossrail. Once at Crossrail platform level, it will be a walk of 100 metres to the up escalator, which will connect to the Central Line.

      See this post for more details.

      https://anonw.com/2017/09/19/londons-first-underground-roller-coaster/

      The Lea Valley lines could be turned in the unused double-track loop under Eastfield. This could handle at least 20 tph.

      Comment by AnonW | August 16, 2018 | Reply

    • I also wonder whether the major reconstruction at Bank station is incorporating the possibility of a pedestrian tunnel to Moorgate station under the Southern section of Moorgate.

      It could be just above the Northern Line and incorporate travelators. It might even incorporate important services like electricity and communications.

      Remember, there are other underground needs in the City.

      Comment by AnonW | August 16, 2018 | Reply


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