The Anonymous Widower

Crossrail’s New Opening Plan

This article on the excellent and well-informed IanVisits is entitled Crossrail Changes Its Staged Opening Plans.

Ian states that Crossrail will be split into two routes.

  • Shenfield and Paddington
  • Abbey Wood and Heathrow/Reading

Frequencies will be reduced, but Ian states there could be two positive benefits.

  • Abbey Wood and Paddington could open earlier in 2022.
  • The full integrated service could be brought forward six months.

Why is this possible?

These are my thoughts.

The Covid-19 Pandemic

The current TfL Rail service between Shenfield and Liverpool Street stations coped well before the pandemic  and now with reduced passenger numbers it is able to handle current passenger loads without a problem.

I have used Crossrail from Paddington to Heathrow and Reading during the pandemic and Crossrail’s nine-car trains are handling passenger numbers with ease.

It would appear to me, that by using two platforms at Liverpool Street and Paddington stations, the benefits of Crossrail have been delivered to the East and West of the massive Greater London conurbation.

Stratford Station

Stratford station is more or less complete with respect to Crossrail.

  • It can handle ten-car trains, if they run in the future.
  • The two dedicated platforms for Crossrail, can probably handle the maximum frequency of trains, the line will ever carry.

But Stratford’s biggest advantage is the connections to the Central and Jubilee Lines, and the North London Line of the London Overground, which between them give access to most of Central and North London.

Ealing Broadway Station

A few weeks ago, a fully step-free Ealing Broadway station opened, as I wrote about in Ealing Broadway Station – 31st May 2021.

As with Stratford station, Ealing Broadway station is ready for any future Crossrail service.

It also has connections to the Central and District Lines to give access to most of Central London.

Can The Underground Cope In Central London?

All Lines except the Northern and Piccadilly Lines have seen improvement to signalling and/or trains in recent years and in my meandering around London, they seem to be coping well with the current passenger levels.

Liverpool Street Station

I use Liverpool Street station regularly and changes are happening at the station.

  • Platforms have been lengthened so that ten-car Crossrail trains can be handled.
  • The main entrance to the Underground was updated a few years ago and has a very wide gateline.
  • A wider gateline is being installed for Crossrail and other suburban services on the East side of Liverpool Street station.
  • A new entrance to Crossrail has been completed in front of Broadgate and appears ready to open, as I observed in Crossrail’s First Inclined Lift Is Now Available To View!.

A second high capacity step-free entrance has opened on Moorgate. When Crossrail opens through Liverpool Street station opens it will enable the following.

Passengers will be able to walk underground between Liverpool Street and Moorgate, with a substantial section of the route up and down escalators. I described the route in detail in London’s First Underground Roller Coaster.

The Crossrail entrance inside the Underground station at Liverpool Street station is now visible.

Note.

  1. Crossrail is behind the two pairs of massive stainless-steel doors.
  2. Peeping through the window, construction appeared to be almost at completion.
  3. If you turn right here, you take the escalator down to the Central Line.

Eventually, Liverpool Street and Moorgate stations could even be considered a single station with a massive escalator connection between the two original stations.

Liverpool Street And Stratford Stations Together Give Crossrail A Comprehensive Under/Overground Connection

These Under/Overground lines connect to either or both stations.

  • Central Line – Connects to both stations, but at Stratford it’s a cross-platform interchange with Crossrail. Ideal for Oxford Street, the City of London and St. Paul’s.
  • Circle Line – Connects to Liverpool Street. Ideal for Euston, Kings Cross, Paddington, St. Pancras, Victoria and large parts of South Central and West London.
  • Hammersmith And City Line – Connects to Liverpool Street. Ideal for Euston, Kings Cross, Paddington, St. Pancras and large parts of West London.
  • Jubilee Line – Connects to Stratford. Ideal for Bond Street, Canary Wharf, London Bridge, Waterloo and Westminster.
  • Lea Valley Lines – These Overground Lines connect to Liverpool Street. Ideal for Enfield, Hackney, Haringey, Waltham Forest and North East London and South East Hertfordshire.
  • Metropolitan Line – Connects to Liverpool Street. Ideal for Euston, Kings Cross, Paddington and St. Pancras, Wembley Stadium and North-West London.
  • North London Line – This Overground Line connects to Stratford. Ideal for Acton, Brent, Dalston, Hackney, Hampstead and a large proportion of North and West London.

Liverpool Street and Stratford certainly have comprehensive connections to the Underground and Overground.

Liverpool Street And Shenfield Is Signalled With TPWS

TPWS is the only signalling system used on the section of Crossrail between Liverpool Street And Shenfield stations.

It offers these benefits, as opposed to the ETCS used in Crossrail’s core tunnel.

  • It eased the replacement of the original Class 315 trains with new Class 345 trains.
  • It allows Crossrail’s trains to share tracks with other trains not fitted with ETCS.
  • Drivers only have to handle one signalling system on the route.

The single signalling system must make commissioning and operating the service between Liverpool Street And Shenfield stations easier.

Liverpool Street Station Gives Crossrail Flexibility In The East

The distance between the two current Crossrail platforms at Liverpool Street station and the steel doors will probably be no more than a couple of minutes walk with just a couple of steps down into the Underground station, which can be by-passed by a lift.

Currently, the service between Liverpool Street and Shenfield station has a frequency of eight trains per hour (tph)

  • These trains are currently nine-cars long.
  • The two Crossrail platforms at Liverpool Street have been lengthened to handle ten-car trains.
  • The gateline for the Crossrail platforms is being improved to handle a higher volume of passengers.

If overcrowding should become a problem between Liverpool Street and Shenfield, then there is a quick fix of adding a tenth car to the trains, which would increase capacity by eleven percent.

The extra cars would be borrowed from Crossrail trains sitting in sidings, that are not needed because of the reduced train frequencies.

When Crossrail opens between Abbey Wood and Paddington stations, passengers needing to go between say Ilford and Paddington will be able to take the short walk between both pairs of Crossrail platforms at Liverpool Street station.

But the big advantage comes, when Crossrail starts running between Shenfield and Paddington.

Trains can be gradually swapped between Liverpool Street and Paddington as a terminus.

If there is a problem in Crossrail’s central tunnel, then services can be swapped back to Crossrail’s two current platforms in the National Rail station.

It looks to be a well-designed system.

Could The Pedestrian Route Between Liverpool Street And Moorgate Stations Be Opened Early?

This article on IanVisits is entitled Northern Line Bank Branch To Close For 4 Months Next Year.

The Northern Line will be closed between Moorgate and Kennington stations from the 15th January to mid-May.

Extra buses will obviously be run between Moorgate and Kennington to help during the closure.

  • Finsbury Square is already used to turn buses and could be used as a Northern terminal.
  • London Bridge has a bus station and could be used to turn buses.
  • In his article Ian talks of buses between Oval and the City.
  • The 21 and 141 bus routes run between Moorgate and London Bridge.

Would opening the pedestrian link help a lot of people by providing an easier route between Bank and Moorgate stations, by using the Central Line to Liverpool Street and then the tunnel?

  • It would be fully step-free.
  • Passengers from say St. Paul’s or Chancery Lane stations on the Central Line needing to get to say Angel station might find it an easier route.
  • The weather isn’t always good enough for a walk.

It would be an escalator connection par excellence.

I suspect that this pedestrian route could open before January 15th.

  • It will obviously need to be open when Crossrail opens between Abbey Wood and Paddington.
  • As a pedestrian route, it will improve connectivity at both Liverpool Street and Moorgate stations.
  • The Crossrail station at Liverpool Street, has been handed over to Transport for London.
  • It could allow the opening up of the step-free tunnel from the Northern and Northern City Lines to the new entrance at Moorgate station.

Could the last point be the most significant, as it would make the Northern Line platforms at Moorgate station fully step-free in time for the blockade between Moorgate and Kennington stations?

As Transport for London have accepted Liverpool Street station, opening of the pedestrian route is surely their sole decision.

Could The Pedestrian Route Between The Bakerloo Line And Crossrail Be Opened Early?

Access to the Bakerloo Line at Paddington is being transformed by two projects.

  • The addition of a step-free pedestrian tunnel, which will be around eighty metres long, that will link the Bakerloo Line and Crossrail.
  • A new step-free entrance and booking hall for the Bakerloo Line,that will replace the current Praed Street entrance.

This page on the Transport for London web site, which is entitled Paddington Bakerloo Ticket Hall, gives more details of the new entrance.

Transport for London indicate that the second project will be completed by mid-2022.

But I do wonder, if after Paddington station is handed over to Transport for London, if this tunnel could be opened to give interim step-free access to the Bakerloo Line, until either Crossrail or the new entrance opens.

When Crossrail and these two projects are completed, will this mean that the Bakerloo Line will see a lot more passengers?

Abbey Wood And Paddington

Crossrail between Abbey Wood And Paddington has the following characteristics.

  • It is a new twin-track railway, that it doesn’t share with other trains.
  • Most of the route is in tunnel, with just three sections on the surface.
  • The route is signalled with ETCS.
  • All new underground stations will have platform-edge doors.

It is very much a railway designed to the highest modern standards.

The Surface Section At Abbey Wood

The surface section at Abbey Wood has these purposes.

  • To provide an interchange station with the North Kent Line.
  • To turn back trains towards the West.
  • To provide stabling for trains and service trains to enable a smooth operation of the Abbey Wood and Paddington section of Crossrail.

This map from cartometro shows the track layout to the East of Plumstead station.

Note.

Crossrail is shown in purple.

Abbey Wood station has two platforms for Crossrail and two for the North Kent Line.

The platforms appear to be numbered one to four from the South.

There appears to be a turnback for Crossrail trains in Platform 3, which also appears to have crossovers to connect to the North Kent Line.

Crossovers to the West of Abbey Wood station allow trains to use either Crossrail platform.

These crossovers also allow access to the sidings at Plumstead.

The Plumstead tunnel portal can be seen below Plumstead Depot.

If Abbey Wood station follows the two National Rail platforms at Liverpool Street in handling a total of 8 tph, then initially Abbey Wood could handle this frequency of trains.

Ian says this in the first article about the frequencies of Crossrail during testing.

Before the blockade, Crossrail was testing the line with an 8 trains per hour (8tph) service, but this week they are going to be ramping that up to 12tph, which will mirror the timetabled service that the line will offer when it opens early next year.

Note.

12 tph will require Abbey Wood station to handle 6 tph on each platform.

Transport for London also intend to simulate 24 tph through the central section, which will be the Peak frequency when the line fully opens.

The Surface Section At Custom House

This map from cartometro shows the track layout around Custom House station.

Note.

  1. Crossrail is shown in purple.
  2. The DLR is shown in light green.
  3. The tunnel portal for the central Crossrail tunnel is to the West of Custom House station.
  4. The tunnel portal for the Connaught tunnel is in the area of the former Connaught Road station.
  5. Between the other end of the Connaught tunnel and Woolwich station, some of the route is in a cutting.
  6. There are crossovers either side of Custom House station.

I suspect a lot of the complications are because an old route was reused.

The Surface Section At Paddington

This map from cartometro shows the track layout around Paddington station.

Note.

  1. The Crossrail station at Paddington is a straight-through two platform station.
  2. The Royal Oak portal, where Crossrail comes to the surface is just to the West of Royal Oak Underground station.
  3. Two lines are labelled CRL Eastbound and CRL Westbound are connected to the Crossrail lines.
  4. Between and around these lines is Paddington New Yard
  5. There are two full crossovers between Paddington New Yard and the Royal Oak portal.

To reverse at Paddington, trains proceed to Paddington New Yard, where the driver changes ends and then returns to Paddington, when needed.

Trains for Reading and Heathrow use the CRL Eastbound and CRL Westbound lines to connect to Crossrail’s Western surface tracks and the Central core tunnel.

It all looks well-designed to my untrained eye.

Platform Edge Doors

This page on the Crossrail web describes the platform edge doors.

This is the first paragraph.

Crossrail has installed floor-to-ceiling platforms screen doors at each of the eight new underground stations on the Elizabeth line – that’s roughly 4 kilometers of platform edge screens in total.

The new stations between Abbey Wood and Paddington are,

  • Paddington
  • Bond Street
  • Tottenham Court Road
  • Farringdon
  • Liverpool Street
  • Whitechapel
  • Canary Wharf
  • Custom House
  • Woolwich

This is eight underground stations and one surface station; Custom House.

So does it mean that Custom House station doesn’t have platform edge doors?

 

I took thse pictures of Custom House station today.

Note.

  1. The Crossrail trains were running at a frequency of 8 tph.
  2. , The pictures don’t show any platform edge doors or structures capable of supporting platform edge doors.

Could the regulations allow a surface station like Custom House to be built without doors, or were they left out to save money?

Safety is assured by being able to shut off all entrances to the platforms.

But it does appear that between Custom House and Paddington stations, passengers and trains are separated by platform edge doors.

Platform edge doors are controlled by the signalling, so with the correct interlocking a lot of things are possible.

Suppose, a station is not ready for passengers, then by locking the doors closed, trains can still pass through.

Does this mean that at stations like Liverpool Street, where passengers might need to walk between the Moorgate and Liverpool Street ends of the station to change trains, that these pedestrian routes could be opened? I think it does?

It does appear to me, that platform edge doors are the key to opening a partially-completed railway.

When Could Abbey Wood And Paddington Open?

It strikes me that the following conditions must be met.

  • Paddington station must be handed over to Transport for London.
  • Platform edge doors at all stations must work reliably.
  • The trains must work reliably with the signalling.

It looks like Bond Street, Paddington and Whitechapel stations, are the only stations that have not been handed over to Transport for London.

I suspect, as Paddington is a terminal station, it must be handed over.

Crossrail have said they could live with Bond Street opening later.

Whitechapel appears to have been a difficult station to build, so perhaps it could open later.

Could Crossrail open partially, earlier than anyone thinks?

Perhaps this post called Your First Crossrail Service May Arrive In Time For Christmas, was based on fact and not rumour in the Sunday Times.

 

 

 

 

 

July 14, 2021 - Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Hi,

    Thanks for your summary of the situation.

    The latest reports presented at the Elizabeth Line Committee say the Earliest opening date is February 2020. This assumes that Trial Operations will begin in November after a Blockade when new (passenger ready?) signalling software is installed.

    The signalling system between Abbey Wood and Paddington is not ETCS but a version of Siemens Trainguard MT which is known as CBTC.

    Comment by Kevin Roche | July 27, 2021 | Reply


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