The Anonymous Widower

A Passing Loop At Ponders End

I can’t write Ponders End without smiling, as my mother was born in that district of Enfield and used to refer to herself in light-hearted moments as a Ponders Plonker.

The West Anglia Main Line, through Ponders End station is a busy line and Enfield Council want to have four trains per hour (tph) serving their new development at Meridian Water.

This page on the CPMS Group web site is entitled The Changing Face Of Rail Investment and it describes the solution to the capacity problem at Ponders End/Meridian Water stations.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Peter George, Meridian Water Programme Director, London Borough of Enfield, and Damien Gent, Managing Director, CPMS Infrastructure, talk about the ground-breaking work undertaken by the London Borough of Enfield to deliver the rail infrastructure needed to increase passenger capacity at the newly built Meridian Water rail station and regenerate brownfield land to make space for up to 13,000 new homes and create over 6,000 new jobs in North-East London.

The Meridian Water project has been split into three phases.

  • Phase 1 of the project was the construction of the new Meridian Water rail station.
  • Phase 2 was building the rail infrastructure which would support the increased rail traffic.
  • Phase 3 was the regeneration of the area, the procurement of new homes and creation of new jobs.

Only Phase 1 has so far been completed with Meridian Water station opening in June 2019.

This paragraph describes the complexity and solution to Phase 2.

The complexity of Phase 2 of the project was very high. The West Anglia mainline is one of the most congested routes into London. Consequently, the team had to find a way to reconcile increased capacity and trains stopping at Meridian Water station with ensuring high speed trains could still pass through the station seamlessly. This was a very challenging task. The solution which received the most support and proved the most viable was to install a new passing loop, approximately 1700 metres of new track at Ponders end, and to create a bi-directional section on the mainline heading towards London, as well as to implement broad changes to the signalling, telecoms and Overhead Line power systems to align with the new track position. This infrastructure solution provides the capacity within the rail network to then consider the timetable changes required to increase the frequency of services calling at Meridian Water.

It does seem that the web page is getting a bit ahead of reality.

But there is also this article on the Enfield Dispatch, which is entitled Boost For Rail Services At Meridian Water.

This is said.

Plans to boost rail services at Enfield Council’s £6billion Meridian Water regeneration scheme have taken a step forward.

The council has agreed a construction deal to create a passing loop at Ponders End Station, which will allow four trains per hour to serve Meridian Water Station, which was opened in June 2019.

The loop will enable fast trains on the West Anglia Main Line to overtake stopping services at Ponders End Station, allowing more trains to stop at Meridian Water, which is presently only served by two trains per hour towards Stratford.

To secure funding the works need to be completed by the end of March 2024.

A Visit To Ponders End Station

I went to Ponders End station this morning.

This Google Map shows the station.


  1. The Brimsdown Ditch on the East side of the station.
  2. The footbridge spanning both the railway and the road.
  3. The footbridge has ramps for step-free access.
  4. I suspect that the platforms will take a 240 metre train.

These pictures show the station


  1. The station serves the Lee Valley Regional Park and the Lea Valley Athletics Centre, so it probably needs lifts in an ideal world.
  2. The bridge seems to be built high enough for a track or even two to pass underneath.
  3. There seems to be plenty of space between the railway tracks and the A1055 road.

I wonder if a very simple solution is going to be built.

Consider that the distance between the two stations either side of Ponders End station is 3.2 miles or 5150 metres. So if the loop is placed symmetrically around Ponders End station to the East of the station, that would mean that the loop started and finished around 1700 metres from Brimsdown and Meridian Water stations. The Brimsdown Ditch could be put in a culvert, if more space were needed.

A Southbound express after passing through Brimsdown station would then take the loop between the platform and the road at Ponders End station and then cross over to the main line after the station.

I could envisage the Southbound express path through the three stations, being as straight as possible for several hundred metres through Ponders End station, with very gentle curves to connect to the current Southbound track at each end.

To access the Southbound platform at Ponders End, there would be two crossovers from the loop to the track through the station at each end of the station. As the train would be stopping or accelerating away, when it crossed between the passing loop and the station track, it could be done at a much slower speed.

There will be no problem for Southbound represses overtaking a stopping train sitting in Ponders End station. The loop would be very simple and I suspect Network Rail have enough expertise to design it for perhaps 100 mph. The sharpest changes of direction would only be performed by the stopping train at a much slower speed.

But surely, a Northbound train will need to overtake a stopping one.

Could this be done at Meridian Water station by stopping the Northbound stopping train in Platform 3 at the station and allowing the Northbound expresses to overtake through Platform 4?

It would need a couple of crossovers either side of Meridian Water station and bi-directional running through Platform 3 at the station.


How many small rail schemes like this, that unlock housing and job opportunities could be accelerated by better design, management, planning and cooperation between stakeholders.

March 12, 2022 - Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , ,


  1. Is it a loop in both directions? Needs a new station and complete realignment of lines either side to maintain line speed. Would need a new interlocking unless spare capacity is on the Chestunt interlocking. Probably needs a TWO.

    At the rate NR performs there is no chance of it being complete by March 2024.

    Comment by Nicholas Lewis | March 12, 2022 | Reply

    • I went and a look this morning and feel the timing is possible given what happened between Exeter and Okehampton.

      As to the layout, I will be posting later.

      Comment by AnonW | March 12, 2022 | Reply

  2. I must declare an interest, I, too, was born in Ponder’s End, though moved away shortly afer, but spent hours and hours in my youth at Pickets Lock centre [dont they call it that anymore?] … anyway, all that cost & effort to build a loop and what is really needed along the entire length is a fourth track … even with the demise of crossrail 2 it is still the most effective way to add capacity along this route plus, I know AW, you have some good ideas for a ‘metro’ service making use of the stratford loop.

    Comment by s1syphus | March 13, 2022 | Reply

  3. There’s probably space to put two extra tracks through Ponders End, Meridian Water an Northumberland Park, but I doubt it would be possible to squeeze the extra tracks through Brimsdown, Enfield Lock, Waltham Cross and Cheshunt.

    I do feel that the Stratford Loop is wasted and as it could probably handle up to sixteen trains per hour, it could provide massive capacity.

    I’ve heard rumours that Hertford East services could go to the Overground. Could this be an extension of the Cheshunt service?

    Greater Anglia, London Overground and Network Rail are trying to squeeze a quart into a pint pot.

    It will be interesting to see how passenger change their routes when Crossrail opens.

    Comment by AnonW | March 13, 2022 | Reply

    • Hertford east well outside GLA boundaries. They need to take over the GN Inner suburbans first especially as current service is very poor compared to WA LOROL offering.

      Not sure Crossrail will impact WA passenger travel patterns – why would you go to Stratford to swap trains when you can do it at Liv St and keep your seat for longer.

      Comment by Nicholas Lewis | March 13, 2022 | Reply

  4. I said the same to the guy who told me, but he said it was to do with train lengths, as it would need a lot of work to get ten-car trains to Hertford East. But eight-car trains fit.

    Londoners are great duckers and divers and for City Airport, London Bridge, Waterloo, Westminster and other places Stratford may be better.

    Also, if they sort out the connection of Stratford to High Speed services at International, it could be very useful.

    Comment by AnonW | March 13, 2022 | Reply

  5. I work in Ponders End, and on my way into work today – I saw a lot of Network Rail guys in High Vis’s inspecting the area, viewing the platforms etc from the footbridge, many had clipboards in hand etc – so it would seem that early work has already begun!

    Also – if you look at the link below you’ll see the design that has been proposed;

    Comment by Paul | April 28, 2022 | Reply

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