The Anonymous Widower

Will The Class 230 Trains Be Coming Home?

Long term readers of this blog, will notice, that I keep returning to the short Greenford Branch Line in West London.

  • It is four kilometres long
  • It runs between West Ealing and Greenford stations.
  • Greenford station is step-free and West Ealing station should be by December 2019.
  • There are three intermediate stations.
  • It is mainly double track, with a short length of single track at both ends.
  • Two trains per hour (tph) is provided by a single Great Western Railway (GWR) Class 165 diesel train.

It will be a valuable feeder route for passengers to and from Crossrail, which is rumoured to be opening to Reading in December 2019.

An opening of the Western branches of Crossrail between Paddington and Reading would bring the following services to West Ealing station.

  • Two tph between Paddington and Reading
  • Two tph between Paddington and Maidenhead
  • Four tph between Paddington and Heathrow Terminal 4
  • Two tph between Paddington and Heathrow Terminal 5

Two tph shuttling between West Ealing and Greenford is a bad match to the future ten tph on Crossrail.

Four tph Run Between West Ealing And Greenford Stations

This would obviously be ideal, but is it possible?

This Google Map shows West Ealing Junction, where the Greenford Branch joins the Crossrail tracks alongside the Great Western Main Line.

Note how the two tracks of the Greenford Branch Line start in the North-west corner of the map.

  • They join into a single-track, which passes under the footbridge.
  • The tracks then split a few metres to the East of the bridge.
  • The Northern track goes into the bay Platform 5 at West Ealing station, which must be over eighty metres long.
  • The Southern track joins the Crossrail line towards Paddington.

The track layout allows the ocassional refuse trains to pass along the Greenford Branch Line, but would also allow four tph to be run into the bay Platform 5.

This picture shows the current state of the under-construction step-free bridge at West Ealing station.

Once this bridge is complete, probably later this year, West Ealing station will be ready for four tph to Greenford.

The simplest safe operation would be for an incoming train to West Ealing station, to wait at Drayton Green station, until it was passed by the outgoing train. Once the points and the signals were set, the incoming train, would move into West Ealing station.

This Google Map shows the lines at the Greenford end of the Greenford Branch Line.

Note how the two tracks of the Greenford Branch Line start in the South-East corner of the map.

  • They join into a single track.
  • After a few metres, the tracks split into two.
  • The Western track dives under the Westbound Central Line and goes into the bay Platform at Greenford station.
  • The Northern track goes under both Central Line tracks and joins the Acton-Northolt Line.

It would appear that the track layout is designed so that four tph can work into Greenford station.

The Problem Of The Trains

The current Class 165 train works the line well.

  • A two-car train has enough capacity
  • At 45 metres long the train fits the short platform at Greenford station.
  • I estimate that in a month, the train does about 5,400 miles.

But as the only GWR diesel train, surrounded by large numbers of electric trains, the Class 156 train probably has to trundle some miles to be serviced.

In an ideal world, the train would have the following properties.

  • Less than fifty metres long.
  • Self-powered.
  • Ability to be serviced locally.
  • To run a four tph service, two trains and a spare would probably be needed

To look after the trains and hold the spare train, a convenient facility will be needed.

This Google Map shows the wider area around West Ealing station and West Ealing Junction.

Note the sidings between the Great Western Main Line, the Greenford Branch and the Plasser UK factory.

These sidings are where GWR stable some of their Class 387 trains.

But if the rumours are correct, that Crossrail is going to take over London to Reading services in December 2019, GWR will probably have less use for this facility.

It would surely, be an ideal mini-depot for the Greenford Branch Line fleet.

  • It is a secure site.
  • A refuelling facility could be provided, if necessary.
  • If a passenger service were to be started on the Brentford Branch Line, that is only a few miles away.

There may be a small amount of trackwork needed for efficient operation.

Did A Small Revolution Start In Bedford Yesterday?

In A First Ride In A Revenue-Earning Class 230 Train, I wrote about my ride in the first Class 230 train to enter public service.

This was the conclusion to my post.

It is a well-designed train, that impressed me.

It should find a niche in the train market.

The fact that the train is in service, will in itself provoke interest from train operating companies and Councils and other groups promoting new or reopened train services.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see more orders this year.

So will a small fleet of Class 230 trains be coming back to London, where they spent the first nearly forty years of their working lives?

  • The Class 230 train is the right size.
  • The Class 230 train is a quality train, with an interior, that can be tailored to the route.
  • Servicing can be organised locally.
  • Diesel or battery power is available.

A fleet of four trains would provide the following services.

  • Four tph on the Greenford Branch Line.
  • One or two tph on the Brentford Branch Line.

One train would be spare.

What Is The Likelihood Of A Passenger Service On The Brentford Branch Line?

Like the Greenford Branch Line, the Brentford Branch Line could be a valuable feeder line for Crossrail.

  • Hounslow Council have been pushing for a passenger service between Southall and a station at the Golden Mile (The Great West Road)
  • South of the Golden Mile, the original route can be seen on Google Map and there might be possibilities to extend it to the original terminus.
  • It would be in walking distance of a lot of development at Brentford Lock West.
  • Unfortunately, a new viaductwould need to be built over the Great West Road.

If the branch gets passenger trains, I estimate that one train could run a two tph service between Southall and Brentford Golden Mile.

New developments around Brentford could be what eventually makes adding passenger trains to this freight line worthwhile.

What About The Costs?

Transport for London is probably very happy with the current service on the Greenford Branch Line, as it is not their responsibility.

If Crossrail opens to Reading in December 2019, I suspect GWR will look at this leftover from privatisation as a increasing nuisance.

The Wikipedia entry for the Class 230 train has a section on Cost Comparison.

  • Using the figures for a Class 150 train, GWR are spending about 14,300 pounds a month, plus staff and fuel to provide the current service.
  • Three Class 230 trains providing a four tph service would cost an operator about 25,300 pounds a month, plus staff and fuel.

How much extra revenue for Transport for London, would a four tph service on the Greenford Branch Line generate, if Crossrail were to open to Reading?

An extra train for the Brentford Branch ine would probably add another 9,000 a month, plus staff and fuel.

I have no evidence, but after my ride yesterday, I feel that Class 230 trains could transform the economics of rail services in West Ealing and Brentford.

Conclusion

Bring a small fleet of Class 230 trains home!

And while you’re about it, reopen the Brentford Branch Line to passenger trains with an hourly service.

April 24, 2019 - Posted by | Transport | , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] Will The Class 230 Trains Be Coming Home?, I speculated that the Greenford Branch could be run by a small fleet of Class 230 […]

    Pingback by West Ealing Station – 2nd September 2019 « The Anonymous Widower | September 2, 2019 | Reply


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