The Anonymous Widower

The Old Order Changeth Yielding Place To New

Two dinosaurs; the Labour Party and the motor industry, got big shocks yesterday.

But both are trying to live in the past with CEOs, who still think that we’re in the 1960s.

This morning, my message read out on Wake Up To Money was this.

I don’t drive any more, but the future is electric and the UK is blessed with a position and a climate to become one of the first countries to power most vehicles with renewables. Vehicle manufacturers must change or die!

Our renewable electricity generation infrastructure is growing apace and in the last few days, the world’s largest offshore wind farm opened, as reported in this article on the BBC, which is entitled First Power From World’s Biggest Offshore Wind Farm.

The Hornsea Wind Farm will have a generating capacity of 6 GW. This is nearly twice as large a capacity as the troubled Hinckley Point C nuclear power station.

But whereas Hinckley Point C will produce continuous power, Hornsea will only produce power when the wind blows.

The National Grid are tasked with keeping the lights on and I agree with them, that energy storage is the solution.

  • There are 25,000,000 homes in the UK. If every house in the UK was fitted with a 10 kWh storage battery, that would be a capacity of 250 GWH.
  • There are 30,000,000 cars in the UK. If every car in the UK was electric and had a 30 kWh battery, that would be a capacity of 900 GWH.

These are very large numbers and just as the Internet passes data all around the UK and the world, the UK’s National Grid will access all these batteries to store energy, when perhaps the wind is blowing at night and retrieve it when there is a high demand.

On a domestic level, you may have an electric car and a battery in your house, with perhaps solar panels on the roof.

  • At night and on sunny days, your batteries will be charged.
  • At times of high demand, your stored energy may be sold back to the grid.
  • Controlling it all would be an intelligent computer system, which would make sure that your car always had enough charge and you had enough energy for the house.

The problem is that nearly all of our houses and cars don’t fit this model.

The proposed closure of the Honda plant is Swindon, is the first of the many casualties in car manufacturing, that will surely happen.

More by luck, than judgement, when I moved to London after my stroke, I bought a house with the following features.

  • Low energy consumption.
  • A flat roof, that is now covered in solar panels.
  • A garage, that would be suitable for an electric car. Although, I don’t drive, the next owner of this house, probably will.

Millions of houses in this country should be demolished and the land used for new houses that fit the modern age.

The Labour Party is living in the 1960s and Corbyn and McDonell still believe that the Robin Hood approach of stealing from the rich and giving it to the poor, is still the way to go.

But these days, most people want to be responsible for themselves. This is why there has been such a growth in people in the gig economy like Uber, Deliveroo and County Lines.

Everybody wants to take control of their lives and their own micro-economy. That is why I left a safe job at ICI in 1969, at the age of just twenty-two.

Like me, those who start their own successful business don’t want government to come along and use it on pet projects that always seem to fail.

Most politicians and especially Labour ones have never done a real job in their lives and Labour’s defections will hopefully be the first of many from all political parties.

I hope that February 18th 2019, will be remembered as the day when two dinosaurs realised they needed to change their spots.

But they won’t change willingly!

However!

  • Companies and individuals will soon be buying electric vehicles in large numbers and only buying diesel and petrol ones, where there is no alternative.
  • Voters will not vote for policies that stink of the past, that don’t fit their micro-economy.

There will also be a lot of unsaleable houses and second-hand cars!

 

February 19, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 2 Comments

Will The Gospel Oak To Barking Line Have Long Term Capacity Problems?

There are certainly, short term capacity problems on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line, (GOBlin) due to the non-delivery of the new Class 710 trains.

Comparison With The North London Line

There are a lot of similarities between the Gospel Oak to Barking Line and the North London Line (NLL).

  • Both run roughly East-West across North London.
  • Both have interchanges with the Underground, Crossrail and National Rail.
  • Both run electric trains.
  • Both have several freight trains per day.

In addition, the Eastern end of the NLL and the GOBlin, run through areas of East London, where a lot of regeneration and housing development is ongoing.

This picture was taken at Blackhorse Road station. The station is being surrounded, by a large amount of housing.

Capacity On The North London Line

When I moved to Dalston in 2010, the frequency of trains between Stratford and Willesden Junction stations was around six trains per hour (tph). The trains were three-car Class 378 trains, giving a capacity of 18 carriages per hour (cph).

Now in early 2019, the frequency on the same section of the NLL is eight tph and the trains are five-cars, giving a capacity of 40 cph.

This large increase of 120 percent, has not been enough to prevent trains on the NLL from being very full at times. But then there have been large housing and commercial developments at Stratford, Hackney Wick, Hackney Central, Dalston Junction and West Hampstead stations.

Future Capacity On The Gospel Oak to Barking Line

Until a few months ago, the GOBlin had a frequency of four tph. The trains were two-car Class 172 trains, giving a capacity of 8 cph.

The service from today is two four-car Class 378 and two two-car Class 172 trains per hour, giving a capacity of 12 cph.

Hopefully, when the Class 710 trains are working, we’ll be seeing four four-car Class 710 trains per hour, giving a capacity of 16 cph.

It is not the 120 percent increase that the NLL has already seen, but surely a 100 percent increase is better than nothing.

My Observations On The Gospel Oak To Goblin Line

For the last three of four years, Highbury & Islington station has been a station to avoid.

  • There have been continuous roadworks in the area of the station.
  • There have also been several water-main bursts.
  • The bus service between the station and my house has been halved in frequency.

Consequently, if I’m coming East to my home, I find it a lot easier, but slightly slower to change to the GOBlin at Gospel Oak station and then get a bus home from Harringay Green Lanes station.

So if a GOBlin train is waiting at Gospel Oak station, I take that route.

Helpfully, Transport for London have improved the cross-platform interchange.

They’ve also added more stairs to the right of these.

I actually, think, that passengers wanting to go to areas between the two lines are starting to use the GOBlin, as often by Harringay Green Lanes station, a lot of passengers have left the train.

Londoners are just practising their ducking and diving!

I’ve also left Barking a couple of times in a very full train in the Off Peak.

  • Passengers for whatever reason, seem to be using the GOBlin more!
  • Do clean electric trains attract passengers more than unfriendly diesels?
  • Does the occasional four-car journey impress passengers with more space?
  • Is it since the Class 378 trains took over some duties, that the service is more reliable?

Or perversely could it be, that all the bad publicity about the GOBlin has reminded people that it is still there and might be worth a second chance?

Will The Proposed Gospel Oak To Barking Line Be Enough In The Long Term?

I am rapidly coming to the conclusion, that although capacity on the GOBlin is going to be doubled, when the new Class 710 trains arrive, this may not be a large enough increase for the long-term.

What Measures Can Be Taken To Increase Capacity?

There are some simple measures that can be taken.

Higher Frequencies

Transport for London are planning to run five tph in the Peak this year.

If it happens, this will increase capacity by a small amount, where it is needed.

But it probably can’t be a general increase, as that would probably restrict the number of freight trains.

Trains With A Higher Performance

The electric Class 710 trains probably have a higher performance than the diesel Class 172 trains.

This will help with running higher frequencies and faster services, but on its own, it won’t increase capacity.

Longer Trains

The Class 710 trains are Aventras, and these trains have been ordered up to ten cars by other operators.

So five- or six-car trains would certainly be possible.

But the problem is that some platforms would need to be lengthened.

  • Barking already handles longer trains.
  • Upper Holloway, Crouch Hill, Harrigay Green Lanes, Walthamstow Queens Road, Leyton Midland Road, Leytonstone High Road, Wanstead Park and Woodgrange Park used to have longer platforms, which might be possible to reinstate.
  • Blackhorse Road, South Tottenham and Gospel Oak would be major undertakings.

Five-car trains might be possible, if selective door opening was used at the last three stations.

Five-car trains would increase the capacity to 50 cph or an increase of twenty-five percent on the capacity after the Class 710 trains are successfully introduced.

Conclusion

I am very sure, that the only way to increase the capacity of the Gospel Oak to Barking Line, would be to run longer trains.

But they would need to use selective door opening at Blackhorse Road, South Tottenham and Gospel Oak stations.

After the problems of platform lengthening on the East and North London Lines, why weren’t platforms at least prepared for five- or even six-car trains, when the GOBlin was rebuilt and electrified?

February 18, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

TfL Mulls DLR And Overground Extensions To Thamesmead

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

Overground

TfL’s plan for the Overground would appear to be an extension under or over the River Thames to a single station at Thamesmead and a possible connection to the North Kent Line at Plumstead, Abbey Wood or Belvedere stations.

DLR

The plan for the DLR involves more stations, including a possible one on the North Bank of the Thames. It also serves a proposed massive Peabody housing development, which will provide up to 11,500 new homes.

What Goes East Must Go West

Nothing is said in Ian’s report about train services to Thamesmead.

Overground

On the Overground, there will be four trains per hour (tph) between Gospel Oak and Barking Riverside stations.

There are problems with increasing frequency and capacity, which could be necessary.

  • The terminus at Gospel Oak station is only a single platform.
  • The Gospel Oak to Barking Line is used by an increasing amount of electrically-haled freight trains.
  • There is little space on the line for an additional bay platform to turn trains.
  • Trains can’t continue along the North London Line at Gospel Oak, as that line is busy as well.

The only alternative Western terminals are.

  • Barking – A bay platform could possibly be squeezed in.
  • Enfield Town – Sounds crazy, but there is a chord between Seven Sisters and South Tottenham stations.
  • Fenchurch Street – Busy and possibly could be made larger with redevelopment.
  • Liverpool Street – Busy and only a slight possibility.

There would also need to be platform lengthening to incorporate trains that are longer than four cars.

Although, it might be possible to run five-car trains using selective door opening on the last car.

DLR

Currently, the DLR has a Peak service of 7.5 tph between Tower Gateway and Becton calling at Shadwell, Limehouse, Westferry, Poplar, Blackwall, East India, Canning Town, Royal Victoria, Custom House, Prince Regent, Royal Albert, Beckton Park, Cyprus, Gallions Reach.

The extension to Thamesmead would branch off around Gallions Reach and the current service has the following connections.

  • Shadwell – London Overground
  • Canning Town – Jubilee Line
  • Royal Victoria – Emirates Air-Line
  • Custom House – Crossrail

Will there be enough capacity on this section of the DLR?

  • Tower Gateway is a single-platform station and would need to be upgraded to handle more than 7.5 tph.
  • Thirty tph run through Shadwell, Limeshouse and Westferry station in the Peak.
  • Can stations be lengthened to use longer trains?

It does look to me that the only way to increase capacity would be to extend the DLR to the West, as I outlined in The Bank Station Upgrade And The Western Extension Of The DLR.

This map from TfL shows the possible extension.

What would be the cost of this extension?

Conclusion

The logic and economics of extending either the Overground or the DLR to Thamesmead are sound for that area of South-East London, but does The Mayor have the budget to complete the other end of the transport links?

February 16, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Irish Rail Seeks Second-Hand DMUs To Boost Fleet Capacity

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on the Internation Railway Journal.

Ireland needs more capacity on its railways and the preferred solution appears to be some second-hand DMUs.

It is likely, they will come from Great Britain.

  • We are replacing some DMUs with new fleets.
  • The Irish have a similar restricted loading gauge.
  • The trains will need to be converted from standard to Irish gauge.

The article mentions that Class 185 trains are likely candidates.

Yet again, the stupid decision of the British Government in the Railway Regulation (Gauge) Act 1846, is costing the Irish good money.

February 15, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | 2 Comments

On The New Woolwich Ferry

These pictures show my crossing on the new Woolwich Ferry; Ben Woollacott.

It was a nice sunny day to go for a cruise.

In The Woolwich Ferry By Foot, I went across on the old ferry.

The new ferry doesn’t have the same quality of passenger cabin, but it can transport a few more vehicles.

February 14, 2019 Posted by | Transport | | Leave a comment

And Now There Are Two!

The second Class 378 train; 378206 is now in service on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line.

I have had a thought about these trains and also the Class 710 trains, which will have a similar interior.

At two in the afternoon on the short trip between Gospel Oak and Harringay Green Lanes stations about three-quarters of the seats were occupied.

I would estimate that there were perhaps 160 passengers on board.

As the Class 172 trains have only 124 seats, I feel that the electric trains and all the publicity are attracting passengers.

February 14, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

How Many Stations Could Use This Step-Free Layout?

Greenford station has London Underground’s only inclined lift.

The inclined lift is installed with an escalator on the other side and double-width stairs with a central rail in between.

Searching the Internet, there doesn’t seem to have been any problems, since it was switched on in 2015.

The number of passengers using the station’s two Central Line and one National Rail platforms is around five million per year, which would appear fairly typical for many outer London tube stations.

So how many stations could use a layout like this?

These issues will need to be considered.

Height

Greenford station is not a great height difference and you wouldn’t want to have too much of a difference, as the stairs will get a heavy use.

Platform Layout

Greenford station has an island platform, which means that one set of inclinced/lift/escalator can serve all platforms.

Installation Width

The picture shows that the combined installation is quite wide, so this type of step-free access could be difficult to install.

Application To A Two-Escalator/Stairs System

There are lots of stations in the outer reaches of the Underground, which need step-free-access, where there are two escalators and a set of stairs.

Some might think, that an inclined lift could be put in the space and it would certainly the engineering wouldn’t be difficult.

But the problem would be long-term maintenance, where escalators are given a full strip-down every ten years or so and closed for several months.

The station would be left with just one working escalator and the inclined lift.

I would therefore feel that installing an inclined lift instead of the stairs is not a feasible proposition, unless the station has two entrances.

Application To A Three-Escalator System

Most deep-level stations on the London Underground have banks of three escalators, so that if one breaks down or is being maintained, there is a full service.

Application To A Station Footbridge

There are lots of stations, that need step-free footbridges.

I can envisage a prefabricated system, where an inclined lift is one of the components.

The lift and its frame would be assembled in a factory and just lifted into place on prepared foundations. Stairs and if needed, an escalator could also be handled in the same way, before the bridge deck was lifted on top.

Too many step-free footbridges, seem to require a lot of bespoke construction on site.

The system could also be used where the entrance to a station was a single set of stairs to an island platform from an existing overbridge.

Bowes Park, Rose Grove and Mill Hill come to mind. This picture shows Mill Hill station in Lancashire.

There must be others, where the existing stairs could be replaced with a wide staircase and an inclined lift.

Conclusion

I think it is likely, that given the success of the Greenford installation, we will see  other inclined lifts on the UK’s railway network.

But places where they are used will have to be chosen with care and well-designed!

 

 

February 14, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Grab Handles On The Bakerloo Line

These pictures show the grab handles for safe entry and exit on the Bakerloo Line.

I do wonder, if the lack of handles, means a few more accidents, especially as there is a serious step-up at some stations.

February 13, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | 1 Comment

A406 North Circular Road ‘Most Congested’ In The UK

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

This is the first paragraph.

Motorists on the UK’s most congested road spend an average of two and a half days a year sitting in traffic.

The section of the A406 between the Hangar Lane Gyratory and Chiswick Roundabout has always been a dreadful road to drive on, as long as I can remember.

These pictures show typical traffic around eleven o’clock in the morning.

There does seem to be rather a lot of private cars and small commercial vehicles, with only a few HGVs and buses.

I would love to see an analysis of where these journeys start and finish.

Converting the road to a multi-lane dual carriageway wouldn’t be possible, as much of it is lined with private houses and even if it could be built it would just attract more traffic and would need to be widened even more.

There are circular routes further out of London like the M25 and the A412, but this road is an intractable problem.

Perhaps, it needs to be in a Congestion Charge Zone?

But is a solution at hand?

Crossrail

Crossrail, if and when it opens, will not be a direct solution, as it goes East-West and not North-South like the A406 through the area.

But it will give better access to Heathrow, which is a large traffic generator in West London.

Crossrail will link the following to the Airport.

  • Canary Wharf
  • The City of London
  • East London and Essex
  • South-East London and Kent
  • West End and Paddington

It will do little to help those in North and South London to travel to and from the Airport.

Old Oak Common Station And High Speed Two

The connection of High Speed two and Crossrail could make a difference.

  • Passengers using High Speed Two travelling to and from Heathrow, would have an easy route.
  • North and North-East Londoners will be able to use the North London Line with a change at Old Oak Common.
  • South Londoners will be able to use the West London Line with changes at Old Oak Common and Clapham Junction stations.

But Old Oak Common station won’t open under 2026 at the earliest.

It is needed now.

It also does nothing for those travellers in wide swathes of North-West London.

The West London Orbital Railway

If there is a trusty knight on an immaculate white charger, coming to the rescue, it could be the West London Orbital Railway, although as it would be stitched together from parts of existing and underused infrastructure, it has more of the Dirty Dozen about it.

There would be two routes.

  • West Hampstead Thameslink and Hounslow via Cricklewood, Gldstone Park, Neasden, Harlesden, Old Oak Common, Acton Central, South Acton, Brentford, Syon Lane and Isleworth.
  • Hendon and Kew Bridge via Brent Cross West, Gldstone Park, Neasden, Harlesden, Old Oak Common, Acton Central and South Acton.

The project has various advantages.

  • No substantial amount of new track will be needed.
  • It could be run using battery-powered trains.
  • Costs would be well under half a billion pounds.
  • It would connect to Thameslink and Bakerloo, Jubilee and North London Lines.

When Old Oak Common and High Speed Two open, it would have a direct connection.

I wrote about this railway in detail in New Railway Line For West London Proposed.

North Acton Station

As stated under Development in the Wikipedia entry for North Acton station, there may be reasons to rebuild the station to create a connection between the North London and Central Lines.

This Google Map shows the area around North Acton station.

Note.

  1. North Acton station in the North-West corner of the map.
  2. The North London Line running North-South to the right of the map.
  3. The Dudding Hill Line branches off the North London Line at the top of the map.
  4. The Central Line running East-West through North Acton station and under the North London Line.
  5. Threading its way through North of the Central Line is the Acton-Northolt Line.
  6. The Acton-Northolt Line could be developed by Chiltern Railways to give access to a second London terminal at Old Oak Common.

To develop a successful station at North Acton, that tied everything together would be a hard ask.

  • The bridge carrying the North London Line is very high.
  • The height would make step-free access expensive.
  • The frequency of trains on both the North London and Central Lines could be twelve trains per hour (tph).
  • At least, there does appear to be plenty of space from the map.

On the other hand, an architect with vision might be able to create a station that was affordable and provided high benefits for passengers.

Conclusion

There’s certainly potential in West London to improve the rail routes, although I’m not sure whether rebuilding North Acton station would be viable.

But, we should start building the West London Orbital Railway immediately.

 

 

 

February 13, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Tale Of Two Cities

This article in the Evening Standard is entitled Traffic Will Be Banned From Three Roads Leading To Bank Junction Following Cyclists’s Death.

  • Priority will be given to pedestrians and cyclists at Bank Junction in the City of London.
  • The works will be completed before the works at Bank station are completed in 2022.
  • There may be a street market in front of the Bank of England.
  • The taxi drivers don’t like it.

Compare this to the attitude of London’s other city;Westminster, which has recently, gone against the pedestrianisation of part of Oxford Street and the extension of a Cycle Superhighway.

February 13, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 2 Comments