The Anonymous Widower

Network Rail Consults On Reigate Turnback Platform Plans

The title of this post, is the same as that of an article in Rail Magazine.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Network Rail is consulting with the public over plans to build a 12-car turnback platform at Reigate.

The third paragraph says this.

NR says “Reigate is hampered by platforms that are four-car in length. This means that Southern trains must split/join at Redhill, adding time to journeys and limiting capacity”

Other points are also made.

  • Thameslink’s Class 700 trains which are fixed formations of eight or twelve cars can’t call at Reigate station.
  • Power is poor at Reigate limiting the length of trains.
  • Passengers from Reigate to London Bridge and beyond need to change at Redhill or East Croydon.

This Google Map shows the station.

The new bay platform, which will be numbered 3, will go on the South side of the tracks at the East end of the station, where the car-park currently is situated.

Future Services At Reigate Station

In the Wikipedia entry for Reigate station, under Future, this is said.

In 2020, Network Rail announced that they are planning to upgrade Reigate station, which includes constructing a new 12-carriage bay platform (number 3) on the south side of the station, and extending the existing platform 2 to also accommodate 12-car trains. Currently the track layout just east of the station forces Southern to turn its trains around on platform 2, and since this platform is not long enough to accommodate 8-car sets, Southern services to and from Reigate are limited to 4 carriages in length. The upgrade would enable longer trains to serve the station, and the new bay platform would allow trains to/from London to terminate there instead of occupying the through westbound track, thus improving reliability on the whole line. 

Once the upgrade is delivered, there are further proposals to introduce Thameslink services running to London Bridge, London St Pancras and beyond to destinations north of London, replacing the current Southern services to London Victoria.

In some ways, this work at Reigate is all part of a larger series of projects, that are aiming to improve reliability and create more capacity on the Brighton Main Line.

The Brighton Main Line Improvement Project

This £300 million project is described on this page on the Network Rail web site.

The improvement project focussed on the southern end of the Brighton Main Line between Three Bridges and Brighton / Lewes. Major engineering work was planned for the Victorian-era tunnels at Balcombe, Clayton, Haywards Heath and Patcham and the railway which runs through them.

We stemmed leaks into the tunnels and improved drainage, while the third rail power supply and signalling were replaced or upgraded.

Elsewhere on the closed section, we replaced the track and sets of points, which enable trains to switch between tracks.

The project is now complete and won an award at the Railway Innovation Awards 2019.

Upgrading Gatwick Airport StationThis £150 million project is described on this page on the Network Rail web site.The size of Gatwick Airport station will be doubled to improve the journey between train and plane.Benefits will include.

  • Improved Accessibility
  • A better journey experience
  • Improved train performance

Works will include.

  • Doubling the size of the station concourse.
  • Eight new lifts, five new escalators and four new stairways.
  • Widened platforms 5 and 6.
  • Upgraded connections to the terminal.

The works will start in May 2020 and finish in 2023.

Access for All At Crawley Station

This £3.9 million project is described on this page of the Network Rail web site.

Crawley station is being upgraded to full step-free access, which should be complete in Autumn 2020.

It looks like a second bridge is being installed over the tracks.

I do wonder, if Crawley station is being upgraded, so that it can be used as a back-up access to Gatwick Airport, if some of the construction work at Gatwick Airport station means that the station will be closed.

The dates certainly fit and the station has two trains per hour (tph) to both London Bridge and Victoria stations.

Unblocking The Croydon Bottleneck

This £300 million project is described on this page of the Network Rail web site.

This is the introductory paragraph.

We are proposing an upgrade to the Brighton Main Line, to provide more reliable, more frequent and faster services for the 300,000 passengers who rely on it each weekday, and to provide the capacity needed for future growth.

There is also what looks to be a fairly frank video.

Platform 0 At Redhill Station

Redhill station gained a new Platform 0 a couple of years ago.

This long platform must help the operation of the station.

Thoughts On The Reigate Scheme

These are my thoughts on the building of two twelve-car platforms at Reigate station.

Thameslink To Reigate

This document on the Network Rail web site is entitled Connecting Reigate To Thameslink.

Currently, train services to the Reigate/Gatwick Airport/Crawley area are as follows.

  • Southern – Two tph – London Victoria and Reigate via East Croydon, Purley, Coulsdon South, Merstham and Redhill.
  • Southern – Two tph – London Victoria and Southampton/Portsmouth via East Croydon, Gatwick Airport, Three Bridges, Crawley and Horsham
  • Thameslink – Two tph – Peterborough and Horsham via East Croydon, Purley, Coulsdon South, Merstham, Redhill, Horley, Gatwick Airport, Three Bridges and Crawley
  • Thameslink – Two tph – Bedford and Gatwick Airport via East Croydon, Purley, Coulsdon South, Merstham, Redhill, Earlswood, Salfords and Horley.
  • Thameslink – Two tph – Cambridge and Brighton via East Croydon and Gatwick Airport
  • Thameslink – Two tph – Bedford and Brighton via East Croydon and Gatwick Airport
  • Gatwick Express – Two tph – London Victoria and Brighton via Gatwick Airport
  • Gatwick Express – Two tph – London Victoria and Gatwick Airport
  • Great Western Railway – One tph – Reading and Gatwick Airport via Reigate and Redhill

Stations around Gatwick will get the following services from London

  • Coulsdon South – Six tph
  • Crawley – Four tph
  • Earlswood – Two tph
  • Gatwick Airport – Sixteen tph
  • Horley – Four tph
  • Merstham – Six tph
  • Redhill – Six tph
  • Reigate – Two tph
  • Salfords – Two tph

I can see good reasons for terminating the Bedford and Gatwick Airport service at Reigate.

  • Gatwick Airport has sixteen tph to Central London.
  • During the rebuilding of Gatwick, it might be a good idea not to have trains terminating at Gatwick.
  • Reigate is under seven miles from Gatwick Airport and a coach service would take under twelve minutes.

This would mean that, train services to the Reigate/Gatwick Airport/Crawley area are as follows.

  • Southern – Two tph – London Victoria and Southampton/Portsmouth via East Croydon, Coulsdon South, Merstham, Redhill, Earlswood, Salfords, Horley, Gatwick Airport, Three Bridges, Crawley and Horsham
  • Thameslink – Two tph – Peterborough and Horsham via East Croydon, Purley, Coulsdon South, Merstham, Redhill, Horley, Gatwick Airport, Three Bridges and Crawley
  • Thameslink – Two tph – Bedford and Reigate via East Croydon and Redhill
  • Thameslink – Two tph – Cambridge and Brighton via East Croydon and Gatwick Airport
  • Thameslink – Two tph – Bedford and Brighton via East Croydon and Gatwick Airport
  • Gatwick Express – Two tph – London Victoria and Brighton via Gatwick Airport
  • Gatwick Express – Two tph – London Victoria and Gatwick Airport
  • Great Western Railway – One tph – Reading and Gatwick Airport via Reigate and Redhill

Stations around Gatwick will get the following services from London

  • Coulsdon South – Four tph
  • Crawley – Four tph
  • Earlswood – Two tph
  • Gatwick Airport – Fourteen tph
  • Horley – Four tph
  • Merstham – Four tph
  • Redhill – Six tph
  • Reigate – Two tph
  • Salfords – Two tph

Note.

  1. I have adjusted calling patterns to what is shown in the document called Connecting Reigate to Thameslink.
  2. Southern and Gatwick Express services will go to Victoria
  3. Thameslink services will go via London Bridge and St. Pancras.
  4. Passengers will be able to change at Redhill or East Croydon to swap their London terminal between Victoria and London Bridge/St. Pancras.

Obviously, Network Rail must have their own and better plans to run the services.

Will Platform 3 At Reigate Be Used As An Emergency Platform?

With the right track layout and signalling a  bay platform can easily handle four tph, as platforms on the London Overground do at Clapham Junction, Crystal Palace, Dalston Junction, Highbury & Islington, New Cross and West Croydon stations. Some of these platforms will be going to six tph within a couple of years.

Over the next three years, Gatwick Airport station is being rebuilt.

Surely, Reigate would make an ideal station to turn trains, if the Brighton Main Line was blockaded.

  • Passengers could be taken by bus to Gatwick.
  • The two twelve-car platforms would be able to handle the longest trains on the Brighton Main Line.
  • The car park could be used as a bus terminal.

It looks to me, like Network Rail are planning for the worst.

Electrification To Guildford?

Consider.

  • One of the sub-projects of the rebuilding of the platforms at Reigate station will be boosting the power supply.
  • Within two years, Great Western Railway will be running Class 769 trains with a third-rail capability between Reading and Redhill/Gatwick.
  • All passenger trains running between Redhill and Reigate will have a third-rail capability.
  • There is a 750 VDC electricity supply for electrification at Guildford.

So why, shouldn’t the line be electrified to Guildford station?

Thameslink To Guildford?

Consider.

  • Trains between Reigate and Guildford take twenty-five minutes to do the twenty miles on the North Downs Line.
  • I have read somewhere, that Guildford station is to be rebuilt.
  • The North Downs Line passes through the sizeable town of Dorking.
  • Two tph between Reading and Gatwick and two tph between Guildford and Redhill could surely share tracks between Guildford and Redhill.

If the line between Reigate and Guildford had been electrified, would it be worthwhile extending Thameslink from Reigate to Guildford?

Conclusion

I like this scheme at Reigate, but I do think there’s more behind it than has been disclosed.

March 25, 2020 - Posted by | Transport | , , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. “I have read somewhere, that Guildford station is to be rebuilt”. It is indeed, in a very controversial project that the people of Guildford have loudly objected to (though those objections have been ignored). Solum’s ‘Berlin Wall on the Wey’ will be a return to the worst kind of ugly 1970s-style office block on top of the station, apparently offering few advantages to rail users. An additional platform face is planned, but the necessary track alterations for this will NOT be included in the extensive engineering programme at the station this April. It will therefore have to be done later, involving newly laid track being taken up and relaid in about four years time. Besides, the biggest bottleneck at Guildford is not the station itself but the double-track line through Chalk Tunnel and Sand Tunnel. Ideally, it would be four track from Guildford North Jc to Shalford Jc, but that would require a new double-track twin tunnel bore so must be consigned to the realms of fantasy.

    However, given the likely long-term effects of the coronavirus crisis on the economy and particularly on large and unnecessary developments of this kind, it is quite possible that Solum’s scheme will fall by the wayside (or, indeed, Weyside).

    Electrifying the North Downs Line would make perfect sense – but what with? DfT’s antipathy to any extension of the third rail – so extreme that it verges on a sort of electrification fundamentalism – makes the logical solution highly unlikely (ditto Marshlink between Ore and Ashford). DfT’s current (sorry, unintended pun) fascination with electro-diesel (aka ‘bi-mode’) and battery power means that something along these lines is more likely. Or might the natural beauty of the North Downs escarpment be forever wrecked by an insistence on ugly, intrusive masts and catenary between Reigate and Guildford as part of a wider electric spine offshoot running from Reading to the Channel Tunnel? That might have been logical in the heady days soon after the Tunnel’s opening, when planners assumed vast new flows of railfreight would pour under the Channel, but I doubt there’s enough to justify the vast expenditure and disruption – again, especially post-coronavirus. Plus there’s the little matter of the need for reversal at Redhill and crossing all those tracks on the level – something that should have been sorted decades ago but never was and never will be.

    God forbid that Thameslink is extended anywhere. The Class 700s are probably among the worst trains to have been foisted on southern commuters since the days of LCDR 4-wheelers, and certainly as uncomfortable to ride in. They make the much-maligned 4 SUB seem like a masterpiece of ergonomic design. Pity the poor folk of Reigate when their comfortable and reliable 377s are swapped for 700s with their atrocious Fainsa ironing-board seats. The only people in favour of them (apart from accountants at GTR) are the osteopaths who grow fat on repairing commuters’ wrecked spines. Why is it that every new train introduced these days offers poorer design, less comfort and fewer facilities than those they replace?

    Using Reigate as an alternative to Gatwick might work, though I’m not sure that the famously picky folk in the town will welcome streams of coaches trundling through their streets if that were to become a regular occurrence. A couple of years ago when Gatwick Airport station was closed we were bussed to, of all places, the ludicrously misnamed Coulsdon Town. (Did anyone actually look at Coulsdon when they thought that one up? The impressively dull station was previously known as Smitham, after Smitham Bottom, which sums it up rather better.) The sudden arrival at 6.30am of hordes of passengers with their suitcases and tans shivering on CT’s platform may well have set the odd net curtain a-twitch.

    Every single development plan and infrastructure enhancement will surely have to be reconsidered post-Covid-19. A percentage of the current massive downturn in rail usage, flights, cruise and office working could prove to be permanent. The damage to economies around the world and subsequent refocusing of government priorities will doubtless take years to work through and costly rail enhancement projects will be first in line for the axe, I fear .

    Comment by Stephen Spark | March 25, 2020 | Reply

  2. Thanks for the very detailed reply.

    As an electrical engineer, I think we’ll see some new third rail electrification, if only because it’s an unobtrusive and safe way to charge battery trains. And when It’s charging batteries with a train on the top, anybody who crawls under a train must know, what they are doing is dangerous.

    I agree with you about the seats on 700s! But then these trains were ordered by the Treasury! Would you ask your bank manager to choose you a car?

    I do think some of the work at Reigate is driven by the work at Gatwick over the next few years. Reigate would be an easy alternative station from where to bus passengers to the airport.

    Comment by AnonW | March 25, 2020 | Reply


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