The Anonymous Widower

Heathrow Southern Railway And Woking Station

This news item on the Heathrow Southern Railway web site is entitled Plans Announced For £1 billion Rail Link Between Southampton And Heathrow.

This is an extract.

We hope three trains an hour (tph) could be running to Southampton by 2026.”
That is the message from Graham Cross, chief executive of Heathrow Southern Railway (HSR), which is preparing plans for a £1 billion rail link between the city and the UK’s biggest airport.

This map shows a schematic of the Heathrow Southern Railway.


Hethrow Southern Railway’s plans are as follows.

  • A new section of railway will connect the Chertsey Branch Line to Heathrow Terminal 5 station.
  • This new section of railway will be built alongside the M25 to minimise environmental disruption.
  • From there trains will call at Heathrow Central and Old Oak Common stations before terminating at Paddington station.
  • Trains will connect Heathrow to Woking station and on to Basingstoke and Guildford.

Currently, the service between Southampton Central and London is as follows.

  • South Western Railway – One tph – Poole and Waterloo
  • South Western Railway – One tph – Weymouth and Waterloo – Stops at Woking
  • South Western Railway – One tph – Weymouth and Waterloo
  • Southern – One tph – Southampton Central and Victoria – Stops at Gatwick

If we take Graham Cross at his word, that the following frequencies to various stations.

  • Gatwick Airport – 1 tph
  • Heathrow Airport – 3 tph
  • Old Oak Common – 3 tph
  • Victoria – 1 tph
  • Warerloo – 3 tph
  • Woking – 4 tph

Passengers from Southampton.Bournemouth, Poole and Weymouth would have a much larger choice of London stations.

As Heathrow Southern Railway also plan to run two tph between Paddington and Guildford via Heathrow, Woking could become a busier place.

These pictures show Woking station.

This Google Map shows the station.

Note some of the characteristics.

Four Long Through Platforms

The station has four long through platforms, which can accommodate the longest ten-car trains used by South Western Railway.

Twelve-Car Class 387 Trains

Two five-car Class 444 trains are 230 metres long, when running as a ten-car train.

If Heathrow Southern Railway want to run Class 387 trains, train lengths will be as follows.

  • Eight cars – 163 metres
  • Twelve cars – 280 metres

Twelve-cars trains may be too long for the platforms at Woking and other stations. but as Heathrow Southern Railway won’t open for a few years, I wouldn’t be surprised to see new trains used by Heathrow Express and Heathrow Southern Railway.

Splitting And Joining Trains At Woking

I also think, that these platforms are ideal for pairs to join and split here, so that trains are say tencars between Woking and Paddington via Heathrow and Old Oak Common  and five cars to the South West of Woking.

Conclusion

Woking’s long platforms will be used to great advantage by Heathrow Southern Railway to match their services to the capacity needed.

  • For passengers and workers to and from Heathrow Airport.
  • For commuters and passengers to and from Paddington, Central London, the City of London and Canary Wharf
  • For passengers to and from HS2 at Old Oak Common.

Heathrow Southern Railway will do a lot more, than just provide Southern access to Heathrow.

A Shorter Bay Platform At The London End

There is a shorter bay platform at the London end of the station, which is currently used for stopping trains to London.

It can’t handle long trains like the through platforms and for this reason along, I doubt it will be used by services to Heathrow.

But I wouldn’t be surprised to see a second bay platform added to improve capacity.

A Shorter Bay Platform At The Country End

Wikipedia says this about Plstform 6, which is a short by platform facing West.

The first train of the day to Portsmouth Harbour via Eastleigh starts from this platform, and it is often used to stable diesel locomotives in the event of a train failure.

It is probably best filed under operationally useful and I doubt it will be used by Heathrow Southern Railway, as it faces away from Heathrow.

Woking Station Is Surrounded By Tower Blocks

In the pictures, you can see tower blocks rising all round the station.

There will obviously be more, even if as I suspect the local residents object.

But we do need more housing in this crowded country of ours and Woking is a convenient distance from London for commuters.

Should Tracks At Woking Station Be Remodelled?

After Heathrow Southern Railway opens, trains calling at Woking station will use the following routes towards London.

  • Via Clapham Junction to Waterloo.
  • Via Heathrow to Old Oak Common and Paddington

And the following routes away from London.

  • Via Basingstoke to Bournemouth, Exeter, Poole, Salisbury, Southampton and Weymouth.
  • Via Guildford to Portsmouth

An ideal layout might be two wide island platforms, as they have at Reading stations.

The platforms are connected to a wide overbridge with coffee kiosks and useful shops, by escalators and lifts.

The picture shows the wide open spaces of the overbridge at Reading on the day it opened.

At Reading passengers can change trains, by waiting on the platform or sitting on the overbridge.

Would a similar design work at Woking?

Certainly something designed on similar principles to fit the circumstances of Woking station would!

Reading incidentally manages at least six tph on each face of the wide island platforms.

They are able to do this because.

  1. The platforms are very wide.
  2. Trains are increasingly Class 800 trains with modern doors.
  3. There are both up and down escalators.
  4. There are lifts.

I suspect, that when InterCity 125 trains no longer call at Reading and all trains are using modern in-cab signalling, that the frequencies of train through Reading will rise significantly.

Space To The West

To the West of Woking station, where the routes to Guildford and Basingstoke divide, there is a lot of space and if required a flyover or dive-under could be built to minimise the need for flat junctions.

West Byfleet and Byfleet & New Haw Stations

West Byfleet and Byfleet & New Haw stations are between Woking station and Byfleet Junction, where Heathrow and Waterloo services will divide.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows Byfleet & New Haw station and Byfleet Junction.

Note.

  1. There is only four tracks between Byfleet junction.
  2. Byfleet junction connects to the slow lines.
  3. Crossovers connect the slow and fast lines.

This layout means that fast trains coming from Heathrow will have to go through the slow platform at Byfleet & New Haw station.

There are two ways to increase safety.

  • Increase the number of tracks between Woking station and Byfleet Junction to six, with dedicated tracks for Heathrow services.
  • Rebuild the platforms on the two intermediate stations to the design rules in Two Platform Stations With 125 mph Trains.

It all depends, whether Heathrow Southern Railway want to use 125 mph trains on their services to Heathrow!

I discussed this in Will Heathrow Southern Railway Use Trains Capable Of 125 mph?, where I came the conclusion that the railway will be built to that standard.

Will Woking Station Be Rebuilt?

To work efficiently, as a railway station, I very much feel that Woking station will be rebuilt.

As at Reading, this will probably be done without too much disruption to passengers and trains.

It is quite a large station site and I wonder, if the ideal solution would be to build a concrete deck over the station and railway and put developments like housing, offices, shops, cafes and green spaces over the top.

Why shouldn’t we create more land for useful purposes?

The Station Concourse

The station could have a massive concourse.

  • Wide lines of gates on either side would give quick access to the Town Centre and the Car Parking.
  • Escalators and lifts would lead down to the platforms
  • Useful shops and cafes would be on the concourse.

Think Edinburgh Haymarket station, only bigger, more spacious and with escalators

A Capacity Of 24 Trains Per Hour

The new station should be designed to allow up to 24 tph, through the station.

Currently, services include

  • 14 tph to Waterloo
  • 4 tph to Portsmouth
  • 2 tph to Salisbury and/or Exeter
  • 6 tph to Southampton, Bournemouth and/or Poole

Perhaps it would be sensible to design fora capacity of 12 tph on all branches.

With modern signalling and perhaps a degree of automatic train control, these frequencies shouldn’t be a problem.

Wide Platforms

Wide platforms, that allow passengers to change trains, by just getting off one train and onto another a few minutes later are an essential.

A double-faced island platform could be used or a single wide platform in each direction as on Thameslink at St. Pancras station.

The platforms at St. Pancras work reasonably well and have been designed to handle 24 tph.

  • They have three escalators.
  • They have a lift.
  • The platforms are fully-manned.
  • Passenger information displays are magnitudes better than most stations.
  • There are Harrington Humps for step-free access to the Class 700 trains.
  • Only one class of train uses the platforms.
  • Modern digtal signalling is used.
  • Passengers use the station to change trains, when perhaps they are on a train going to one direction and need another.

To complicate matters at St.Pancras, there is a flat junction to the North of the station, where services go to and from the Midland Main and East Coast Main Lines. It appears the junction causes no delays to services.

So perhaps at Woking we could see one very wide platform in each direction.

Building On Experiences At London Bridge, Reading And St. Pancras

I’m sure that Network Rail and their architects can use the experience gained at other stations in the UK to create an interchange station at Woking, that is fit for the 21st Century.

Conclusion

I feel there is a lot to be gained by creating a bold interchange at Woking station to integrate the Heathrow Southern Railway and the existing services into Waterloo

 

August 19, 2018 - Posted by | Travel, Uncategorized | , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. Really good article and I agree with a lot of what has been said. One thing worth noting, though, is the extremely constrained site at Woking station. Whilst Reading seems to be at least 150m wide, Woking’s is barely 50m, which will mean extra wide island platforms probably won’t be possible. Another thing is the levels, with the tracks and platform effectively at street level, which would mean bringing people up or down to a bridge/tunnel, which requires space (whilst still maintaining a public route through of some kind, such as the existing underpass).

    Has Heathrow Southern ever considered a link to Gatwick via the North Downs line? Surely it would be extremely popular and profitable to do so? If Woking to Byfleet Junction could be made 6 track (though I doubt it would be possible), you could run 4tph or more between the airports.It would take at least an hour, but that’s still faster than via central London, more reliable than by road via the M25 and simpler for foreign tourists changing airports to understand.

    Also, with Crossrail 2 constraining the SWML through Wimbledon to just 2 tracks, could running long distance services through Heathrow and Paddington be a realistic alternative for most SW routes? The alternative must be a tunnel (Someone proposed Esher to CJ) to allow fast services to pass this pinchpoint on the SWML.

    I think the idea of decking over and building above the station is an interesting one and would be popular with the council, but massively expensive. I know something similar was proposed for Clapham Junction, but if it isn’t viable there it probably won’t be here.

    The bay at platform 3 has the disadvantage of slow trains crossing the fast line, but this is still the best place for it. Other trains terminating could use the fast platforms, though, and turn back using the ample tracks west of the station, avoiding any crossing lines. For this reason I’m not sure where a second bay towards London would go, but if Woking was ever included on the overground or CR2 network, it may require a dedicated platform, so it’s worth considering.

    I think the solution would be 6 platforms with two islands (one with fast services to Waterloo from both sides), but they won’t be particularly wide. I think it should also be done in tandem with CR2 and other relevant projects to ensure it can expand in the future and best fit the network.

    Comment by j m | August 20, 2018 | Reply

    • After reading your detailed thoughts, I suspect that something radical needs to be done.
      1. Woking stoppers to Waterloo start from somewhere else.
      2. Only two through platforms handling 24 tph on either side of a large island platform. Two bay playforms at either end set into the island.
      3. Perhaps there would be space for an avoiding line to the South.
      4. All HSR services stop and cpntinue.
      5. Up to 12 tph go via Heathrow, OOC to Paddington
      As there would only be one central platform, the station could be decked over as I suggested with lots of lifts and escalators to the platform.

      Comment by AnonW | August 20, 2018 | Reply


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