The Anonymous Widower

Moving The West London Line AC/DC Switchover To Shepherd’s Bush

London has a rail capacity problem, for both freight and passenger trains.

This report from Network Rail is entitled The London Rail Freight Strategy (LRFS).

One of the recommendations of the report is to move the switchover between AC and DC power on the West London Line to Shepherd’s Bush station. It says this about the switchover.

Extension of the overhead wires further along the WLL, to provide AC electrification as far south as Shepherd’s Bush station.

Two passenger train services run along the West London Line.

  • Four tph – London Overground – Clapham Junction and Stratford
  • One tph – Southern – Clapham Junction and Milton Keynes

Note.

  1. tph is trains per hour.
  2. London Overground would like to increase their service to six tph.
  3. All trains stop at Shepherd’s Bush station.

The West London Line (WLL) runs between Willesden Junction station in the North and Clapham Junction station in the South.

These are the stations and their electrification status.

  • Willesden Junction – 25 KVAC Overhead Electrification
  • Shepherd’s Bush – 750 VDC Third-Rail Electrification
  • Kensington Olympia – 750 VDC Third-Rail Electrification
  • West Brompton – 750 VDC Third-Rail Electrification
  • Imperial Wharf – 750 VDC Third-Rail Electrification

The switchover is performed North of Shepherd’s Bush station with the train moving.

These pictures show the electrification to the North of Shepherd’s Bush station.

This double-electrification allows switchover, whilst the trains are moving.

This is said in the Network Rail document about moving the West London Line AC/DC switchover to Shepherd’s Bush station.

Extending the Overhead Line Equipment south to Shepherd’s Bush would enable passenger trains to change traction source whilst making their scheduled station stop.

A slight extension to dwell times at Shepherd’s Bush may be required, but the elimination of the need to slow down or, especially, to stop, as is the case for GTR trains, at North Pole Junction would release a significant amount of capacity.

Recent work carried out on behalf of Transport for London calculated that the relocation of the changeover to the Shepherd’s Bush could provide an indicative net saving of 7 minutes per hour, which is equivalent to an additional path and some additional time for timetable flexibility.

The LRFS capacity analysis concluded that this intervention could potentially release up to two additional timetable paths an hour in each direction.

Moreover, the analysis advised that eliminating the need for GTR services to stop to change traction at North Pole Junction would be of significant performance benefit even today.

This sounds to me like this us a good solution, that will give winners all round.

  • I went North yesterday on a GTR (Southern) service and can confirm, the stop to switch voltage at North Pole junction.
  • Extra paths are always good news.
  • I have a feeling that the overhead electrification on the route isn’t the best, so Network Rail may even have to replace it anyway.

What I like about the proposal, is that if the switchover point is moved to Shepherd’s Bush station and in the very rare occurence of a switchover failure, the passengers can be easily evacuated from the train as it will most likely be in Shepherd’s Bush station, rather than in the industrial wastelands of West London.

These pictures show Shepherd’s Bush station.

Note.

  1. It looks like the bridges have been built high enough for overhead electrification.
  2. The platforms appear to be able to handle long trains.
  3. Putting up overhead gantries doesn’t look to be the most challenging of tasks.

I don’t think, that the engineering needed will be difficult and because of the gains outlined in the report, this project should be performed as soon as possible.

Should The AC/DC Switchover Be At Kensington Olympia Station?

The Network Rail document also muses about performing the AC/DC switchover at Kensington Olympia station.

This is said.

Although moving the changeover to Shepherd’s Bush would eliminate the need for passenger trains to slow down or stop at North Pole Junction, electrically hauled freight trains will still need to switch power supply modes whilst moving, wherever the AC/DC interface is located.

Due to the substantial incline facing trains running northward on the WLL, which increases in severity towards the Willesden end of the route, it would be preferable for the changeover to be made as far south as possible. This would enable freight trains to slow down to switch traction before reaching the worst of the gradient, giving them a much better chance of regaining line speed once drawing power from the OLE.

Although Kensington Olympia is less than a mile to the south of Shepherd’s Bush, the intervening route section is almost entirely level, with the incline commencing just before Shepherd’s Bush station and continuing to rise sharply along the rest of the WLL. The capacity and performance benefits of relocating the changeover are therefore likely to be greater if the overhead wires are extended to Kensington Olympia, removing the risk to traffic flow that would remain if freight trains were forced to switch whilst running uphill.

This would prepare the West London Line for the transition to electric freight that will be necessary as part of the decarbonisation of the railway over the next thirty years.

Resolving the current traction changeover issues for freight as well as passenger trains would support this transition by encouraging freight operators to invest in electric locomotives to run on the orbital routes, in the confidence that this constraint has been addressed.

Network Rail seem to have made a very strong case for switching between AC and DC power at Kensington Olympia station.

These Google Map shows Kensington Olympia station.

And these pictures show the station on a very wet day.

It doesn’t appear that there would be too many problems in electrifying Kensington Olympia station.

The only problem, may be the bridge at Addison Gardens to the North of Kensington Olympia station.

Although, Network Rail have an extensive range of tricks to get the wires through.

Conclusion

I believe, as probably do Network Rail, that Kensington Olympia station should be the station, where the switchover occurs.

But it’s all down to money.

It does seem to me, that the London Rail Freight Strategy is the first serious attempt to work out, the possible freight and passenger uses of the West London Line, which is one of those rail lines that has been designed by Topsy and accidents of history.

How many other rail routes in the UK, would be improved by a similar analysis?

Related Posts

These are related posts about the London Rail Freight Strategy (LRFS).

Decarbonisation Of London’s Freight Routes

Doubling Harlesden Junction

East Coast Main Line South Bi-Directional Capability

Gauge Improvements Across London

Gospel Oak Speed Increases

Headway Reductions On The Gospel Oak To Barking, North London and West London Lines

Heavy Axle Weight Restrictions

Kensal Green Junction Improvement

Longhedge Junction Speed Increases

Moving The West London Line AC/DC Switchover To Kensington Olympia

Nunhead Junction Improvement

Stratford Regulating Point Extension

Will Camden Road Station Get A Third Platform?

Will Clapham Junction Station Get A Platform 0?

 

June 21, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 16 Comments

A Very Long Freight Train At Camden Road Station

I took these pictures as a very long freight train passed through Camden Road station.

Note.

  1. I estimate the train had 45 positions for containers.
  2. Fourteen or fifteen were not filled.
  3. I suspect the train started in Wentloog in South Wales and was going to the Port of Felixstowe.
  4. That route is fully electrified from Wentloog to Ipswich.
  5. The journey took over eight hours.

This could be a route, where an innovative  Class 93 locomotive could be able to handle the freight train all the way across England and half of Wales.

  • Most of the way, the locomotive would be using the electrification.
  • The short distance at Wentloog and the fifteen miles at Felixstowe would be handled by the onboard diesel engine and the substantial battery.

These will be world-class zero-carbon freight trains, just by changing the motive power.

June 21, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 12 Comments

Ten Innovative Approaches To Tackling Climate Change From Our Carbon Revolution Series

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Dezeen.

It is a very definite must read!

June 21, 2021 Posted by | World | , | Leave a comment

On The Finishing Straight At Moorgate Station?

As I passed through Moorgate station this morning, there were signs that work was coming to an end in the non-Crossrail parts the station.

Note.

  1. The blue hoardings had been taken away on two staircases.
  2. The lifts were going up and down.
  3. I couldn’t be sure, but there did appear to be people going around with lists and clipboards.

These were the first visible signs of work in a current passenger area, since, the new lift was unveiled in March, which I wrote about in The New Lift To The Northern Line At Moorgate Station.

June 21, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Kensal Green Junction Improvement

London has a rail capacity problem, for both freight and passenger trains.

This report from Network Rail is entitled The London Rail Freight Strategy (LRFS).

One of the recommendations of the report is to improve Kensal Green junction. It says this about the improvements.

Upgrade of the junction, moving it slightly to the east and realigning the layout, to facilitate faster crossing speeds sufficient for a 3-minute planning margin.

This map from cartometro.com shows the track layout between Harlesden in the West to Kensal Rise station in the East.

 

Note.

  1. Harlesden, Willesden Junction Low Level and Kensal Green stations are on the shared tracks of the Bakerloo and Watford DC Lines.
  2. Willesden Junction High Level and Kensal Rise are stations on the North London Line.
  3. Kensal Green & Harlesden is a former station on the North London Line, which is shown on the map as dotted platforms.
  4. Kensal Green Junction is to the West of Willesden Junction High Level station.
  5. The City Lines, which are shown in black connect the North London Line to the West coast Main Line and the important freight yards at Wembley.
  6. The black tracks at the bottom of the map are the West Coast Main Line.

This Google Map shows Kensal Green Junction.

Note.

  1. The railway is the sandy scar across the top of the map.
  2. The Kensal Green Turnout is in the North-East section of the map.
  3. The Kensal Green Junction and the City Lines are in the North-West corner of the map.
  4. The road over the railway in the middle of the map is Wrottesley Road.

These pictures show the Kensal Green Turnout.

And these show Kensal Green Junction and the City Lines.

Note.

  1. The railway has generous margins.
  2. The City Lines are electrified.
  3. The North London Line is electrified.
  4. The Kensal Green junction appears to be fully electrified.
  5. All electrification is 25 KVAC overhead.

There would be plenty of space to install a modern efficient junction.

This is said in the Network Rail document about the improvement to Kensal Green Junction.

Kensal Green Junction, just to the northeast of Willesden Junction High Level station on the North London Line, is a key location for the functioning of the orbital routes.

It connects the North London Line to the West Coast Main Line and Wembley Yard, a vital link for cross-London intermodal flows.

Westbound freight trains must cross over the flat junction to access the City lines towards the West Coast Main Line, a conflicting move with any eastbound London Overground or freight services from Willesden Junction High Level. Ensuring these moves can take place as quickly and as smoothly as possible is essential to the efficient use of capacity on the North London Line.

The proposed enhancement would upgrade the junction, moving it slightly to the east and realigning the layout, to facilitate faster crossing speeds.

Currently trains from the City lines (in the eastbound direction) are limited to 10 mph over Kensal Green Junction, while trains towards the City lines (in the westbound direction) are limited to 15 mph.

This scheme would increase speeds through the junction so that trains can safely cross it a
minimum of 3 minutes after a conflicting movement – they currently have to wait at least 4 minutes.

Although this is a relatively minor scheme, it could have a significant positive impact on both capacity and performance in the area.

I find the last paragraph very important. So does this improvement scheme offer good value to money?

Could The Junction Be Used By Passenger Trains?

Consider.

  • Nothing is mentioned about passenger trains.
  • Electric passenger trains are nippier because of better acceleration.
  • No scheduled services appear to use the City Lines
  • But I did find an empty stock movement from Wembley Sidings to Gospel Oak.

If the junction could be improved would there be any reason to run passenger trains through the junction?

Suppose, High Speed Two, during the rebuilding of Euston station, decided to stop the Watford DC Line services from using Euston station.

If the Class 710 trains of the London Overground could terminate at say Camden Road station, this would give passengers on the Northern part of the Watford DC Line another route to Central London by changing at West Hampstead station for Thameslink or the Jubilee Line or Camden Road station for the Northern Line by walking between the two Camden stations.

I would expect there may need to be some extra crossovers, so that trains from the Watford DC Lines could access the City Lines to get to and from Kensal Green junction.

In Will Camden Road Station Get a Third Platform?, I outlined how Camden Road station could get a third platform, as is also proposed in the LRFS.

But suppose though the existing Platform 2 at Camden Road station were to be diverted into two platforms.

  • A Platform 2 East handling services to and from the East.
  • A Platform 2 West handling services to and from the West.

That would do nicely.

Conclusion

Improving Kensal Green Junction may improve passenger services, especially if High Speed Two work at Euston means the Watford DC services have to be suspended.

Related Posts

These are related posts about the London Rail Freight Strategy (LRFS).

Decarbonisation Of London’s Freight Routes

Doubling Harlesden Junction

East Coast Main Line South Bi-Directional Capability

Gauge Improvements Across London

Gospel Oak Speed Increases

Headway Reductions On The Gospel Oak To Barking, North London and West London Lines

Heavy Axle Weight Restrictions

Longhedge Junction Speed Increases

Moving The West London Line AC/DC Switchover To Kensington Olympia

Moving The West London Line AC/DC Switchover To Shepherd’s Bush

Nunhead Junction Improvement

Stratford Regulating Point Extension

Will Camden Road Station Get A Third Platform?

Will Clapham Junction Station Get A Platform 0?

June 21, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 15 Comments