The Anonymous Widower

Extending The Elizabeth Line – Linking To The Oxted Line

I believe that everybody in the South East of England needs the best access possible to the Elizabeth Line, by train from where they live.

  • The Elizabeth Line serves the important places like Brick Lane, Canary Wharf, the City of London, Heathrow Airport, Liverpool Street station, the Olympic Park, Oxford Street and Paddington station directly.
  • Because of its connection to Thameslink, the Elizabeth Line also serves important places like Bedford, Brighton, Cambridge, Gatwick Airport, Luton Airport and Tate Modern with a single change at Farringdon station.
  • Using the Elizabeth Line, Thameslink and perhaps a bus, it is possible to get to most important places in Central London.
  • The more passengers that use the Elizabeth Line and Thameslink, the more London’s businesses will thrive creating employment and tax revenues.
  • It should also be remembered, that using a train to visit central London, probably cuts your carbon footprint.
  • The Elizabeth Line also cost a fortune, so perhaps by using it, you will be getting some of your portion of what it cost you back.

This post is the first of several, where I discuss how to bring more passengers into the Elizabeth Line network.

The Oxted Line

The Oxted Line is a line with two branches; East Grinstead and Uckfield, which runs South from East Croydon station.

  • The branch to East Grinstead is electrified, but the branch to Uckfield is not and is still run by diesel trains.
  • Plans exist to run battery-electric trains on the Uckfield branch, but they always seem to be awaited,
  • Network Rail are now saying that they will electrify the Uckfield branch with third-rail.
  • All platforms on both branches can take ten-car trains, if not twelve.
  • A reasonable amount of money has been spent on the Uckfield branch to improve it.
  • Services on both branches are one train per hour (tph).
  • London terminals of trains are London Bridge and Victoria, both of which have no easy connection to the Elizabeth Line.

The major faults of the current services are as follows.

  • One tph is not enough.
  • Victoria is an overcrowded terminal with no connection to the Elizabeth Line or Thameslink
  • At London Bridge and East Croydon, there are tortuous step-free change to Thameslink.
  • From London Bridge you can use the Northern Line to transfer to the Elizabeth Line, but it wouldn’t be the best route when taking a heavy case to Heathrow.
  • From Victoria, you can use the Circle and District lines to the Elizabeth Line at Paddington.

The Oxted Line service needs to be improved.

I would do the following.

Move Uckfield Branch Services To Thameslink

This would mean that Uckfield services would call at East Croydon, London Bridge, Blackfriars, City Thameslink, Farringdon, St. Pancras and then terminate somewhere to the North.

  • There would be a step-free change to the Elizabeth Line at Farringdon.
  • East Croydon and London Bridge are still served.
  • There are connections to the Circle, District, Hammersmith & City, Jubilee, Metropolitan, Northern, Piccadilly and Victoria Lines of the Underground.
  • There will be no need for a terminal platform at London Bridge.

I believe that this gives much better connectivity.

Electrify To Uckfield

This is a long-debated question.

But as Thameslink trains are Class 700 trains, which are dual voltage, I’d electrify the Uckfield branch with 25 KVAC overhead electrification between Hurst Green and Uckfield.

Lightweight catenary could be used to reduce visual intrusion.


  1. The curved beam at the top of this overhead electrification gantry is laminated wood.
  2. Power changeover would take place at Hurst Green station.

Hopefully, the electric trains would offset any anger at overhead wires.

Run Two tph To Uckfield

I am fairly certain that when Network Rail lengthened the platforms on the Uckfield branch, that they arranged the track and signalling, so that two tph could use the branch.

Run An Hourly Shuttle Between Oxted And East Grinstead

This service would be as follows.

  • It would terminate in the bay platform at Oxted station.
  • This would give 2 tph on this route.

The existing hourly service between East Grinstead and Victoria would continue.


I believe that this simple scheme could give very good benefits to all stakeholders.



July 7, 2022 - Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , ,


  1. I don’t understand how for 2 tph electrification is cheaper than hydrogen and battery trains, Network Rail Traction Decarbonisation Network Strategy Interim Programme Business Case July 2020 page 120 shows a graph Figure 21 comparing cost of electrification, hydrogen and battery trains, only at 4 tph is electrification cheaper, ” The initial graph shows that the technology selection based on whole life cycle costs alone is unclear between the three technologies where there is a relatively low service provision. However, beyond the point where four or more three-car DMU’s per hour operate, AC electrification begins to provide the lowest whole-life cost for traction decarbonisation. Note that this is based on the high-end capital cost assumptions “.

    Click to access Traction-Decarbonisation-Network-Strategy-Interim-Programme-Business-Case.pdf

    So has the cost of electrification dropped by maybe 50% in two years ? From what I have read 3rd rail isn’t cheaper than overhead cable electrification due to the higher power loss from 750v compared to 25kv which means more expensive substations and feeder systems
    ( located closer to each other ) which connect the substations to the nation grid is needed, Peter Dearman concluded in his study 2011 which I think was for Network Rail that 3rd rail trains don’t work well above 80 mph with power loss of up to 25%. Worlds fastest 3rd rail train is 108 mph British Rail Class 442.

    Comment by jason leahy | July 8, 2022 | Reply

    • I was just saying that if the route goes to Thameslink, then 25 KVAC overhead electrification is feasible. Looking at the map there appears to be a substantial power supply just North of Edenbrdge tunnel and Uckfield.

      The route would also be easy to electrify

      Comment by AnonW | July 8, 2022 | Reply

    • 3rd rail trains work perfectly well above 80mph the main issue for higher speed is the mechanical interface with shoegear and third rail when your transitioning onto the third rail at gaps. High speed ramps (much shallower angle) were installed on higher speed routes but leading edge of shoegear still takes a high impact force as it makes contact with the ramp. Southern Region units had shoegear held down by gravity so you would get bounce at ramp ends with arcing damage but modern units use lighter weight shoes some with pneumatic pressure to maintain downward contact to minimise bounce.

      Factually 750V DC is inefficient compared to 25kV although pre power electronics there was an argument over the energy impact of carting around a transformer and rectifiers over just simple DC control gear on DC only units on high frequency routes hence metros the world over were always DC. The other area thats worked against DC is the massive increase in hotel loads on modern trains which is primarily the reason why trains aren’t as fast on DC is part of the power demand has to be reserved for hotel load so traction power in available in DC mode is far less. Just take a class 700 South to North and experience the difference in acceleration rates.

      Comment by Nicholas Lewis | July 8, 2022 | Reply

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