The Anonymous Widower

London Overground Extension To Barking Riverside Gets Go Ahead

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

This is an important extension, as it unlocks a valuable housing site at Barking Riverside, where 10,800 homes will be built.

A Cost Comparison

It is going to cost £263million, which works out at £24,000 for each house and flat.

By comparison, the billion pound Northern Line Extension to Battersea will serve around 50,000 houses, or £20,000 for each.

And the Lea Valley Rail Programme is a £170million project, that will serve 10,000 homes at Meridian Water with a new Meridian Water station. This is slightly cheaper at £17,000 per home, but a double-track railway was already in place.

Note that in all these schemes, the developers have made contributions. Some have been larger than others.

There are a surprisingly close set of figures for cost per home, considering that the developments will probably be at different points on the luxury spectrum.

So if we are building a large housing development in London, of say 10,000 homes, should we be prepared to spend around £200million on providing decent rail or some other fast and accessible public transport access?

At the smaller end, if say a developer is building five hundred new homes, this could mean it is worth spending up to ten million on updating an existing station. The new Lea Bridge station seems to have cost around this sum and seems to be supporting hundreds of homes.

Proposed Developments In London

So how does this figure fit in with proposed developments in London?

Brent Cross Cricklewood

Brent Cross Cricklewood is described like this in Wikipedia.

Brent Cross Cricklewood is a planned new town centre development in Hendon and Cricklewood, London, United Kingdom. The development is planned to cost around £4.5 billion to construct and will include 7,500 homes, 4,000,000 sq ft (370,000 m2) of offices, four parks, transport improvements and a 592,000 sq ft (55,000 m2) extension of Brent Cross Shopping Centre. The developers of the scheme are Hammerson and Standard Life.

Construction was planned to start in 2018 and be completed in 2021-22, but in March 2018 a delay was announced to January 2019.

It will be served by a new Brent Cross West station.

Wikipedia also says that £500million could be spent on transport developments, including new roads and rebuilding of stations

Kensal Green Gas Works

This site will be redeveloped with 3,500 homes, according to documents on the Internet.

It also sits beside the Great Western Main Line and Crossrail, but no station is currently planned.

But applying the the formula, should mean that on a site like this, £70million should be available for public transport developments.

Southall Gas Works

The Southall Gas Works site has planning permission for 3,750 homes.

The site is close to Southall station, which will be on Crossrail.

Plans exist to update Southall station, but the plans look very inadequate.

In my view this site would e ideal for a driverless shuttle that took residents and visitors too and from the station.

Sites Outside London

My knowledge of the country outside of London is not so good, but some new stations have been built to support new housing and other developments.

It certainly seems, that in the UK, we’re building stations and new lines to improve the accessibility of developments.

December 27, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 3 Comments

How To Build A Short Railway Branch Line

This article in Global Rail News is entitled London Overground’s Barking Riverside extension given green light.

The Barking Riverside Extension to the Gospel Oak to Barking Line is a 4.5 km. extension to serve a housing development of 10,800 houses at a derelict site by the Thames in Barking.

The article says this.

The Secretary of State, Chris Grayling, has now given his support to the project – approving the Transport and Works Act Order (TWAO) for the extension.

It puzzles me, why Chris Grayling is in the loop, as the £263million project for the extension is funded by Transport for London, with a £172million contribution from the developers of the houses.

TfL’s contribution works out at just over ten pounds for every man woman and child in Greater London.

By comparison, this article in Rail TRechnology Magazine is entitled MPT wins £350m contract to build Metrolink’s Trafford Park extension. Was a TWAO signed by the Minister for that?

This country is far to centralised!

August 4, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , | 6 Comments

Don’t Mention Electrification!

This page on the Transport for London web site,  is the main page for the Barking Riverside Extension.

This is a simple description of the project from the page.

The extension – which includes 1.6km of new track – is one of several transport measures designed to serve the emerging development area at Barking Riverside.

Like many other documents concerning this project, there is no mention of electrification or electric trains on the page.

It’s not just Transport for London documents either.

This article on the Construction Enquirer is entitled £260m Barking Overground Extension Down To Three.

The article talks about three contractors in the short list, but again there is no mention of electrification.

When I read the original specification for the extension, electric trains were mentioned, but there was no mention of electrification.


  • All Aventras are wired for on-board electrical storage.
  • The Barking Riverside Extension is only 1.5 km long.
  • The area of the extension has some very large electricity pylons, that the extension has to dodge through.
  • If the line is extended under the Thames, it would be cheaper to build a tunnel for third rail, as it will connect to third-rail lines on the South Bank.
  • There must be substantial savings by not putting up overhead wires.

I shall keep digging on this one!

December 15, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , | 2 Comments

The Mayor’s Plans For East London River Crossings

This article on the BBC is entitled Mayor accused of ‘betrayal’ over Silvertown river tunnel.

I made my feeling clear about the tunnel in No To Silvertown Tunnel . I started by saying this.

My personal feelings about the Silvertown Tunnel are that it is irrelevant to me, except that it might help some trucks bring goods that I buy online or at a local shop. Although as a sixty-eight year-old-widower living alone, I don’t think my transport needs through the tunnel will be high.

I don’t drive after my stroke and I like that lifestyle, except when last night it takes me three trains, a coach and a taxi to get back from watching football at Ipswich. But that tortuous late night journey was caused because NuLabor spent my tax money on pointless wars that will haunt us for generations, rather than in extending and renewing our rail system, that will nurture and enrich our future.

I don’t think, that I’ve changed my views much.

The Mayor is actually proposing five river crossings.

Five New Thames Crossings

Five New Thames Crossings

Here my thoughts on each

Rotherhithe – Canary Wharf Bridge

This is detailed in Wkipedia as the Rotherhithe Crossing or Brunel Bridge.

Wikipedia says this about the location.

The preferred location for the bridge identified in the feasibility study would be between the Impound Lock close to Cascades Tower on the northern (Canary Wharf) bank, and at Durand’s Wharf park on the southern (Rotherhithe) bank.[2]

There is currently a Thames Clippers ferry shuttle between these two points. The Jubilee line parallels the route of the proposed bridge, with the nearest stations at Canada Water and Canary Wharf.

I took these pictures of the current ferry from Canary Wharf pier.

The bridge has its own web site, with a dramatic picture on the home page.

The visualisations show a bridge, that I think few would dislike. I certainly don’t!

  • It’s dramatic.
  • It would be open to pedestrians and cyclists.
  • It would be the longest bascule opening bridge in the world.
  • It would allow tall ships to pass through.

But above all I suspect that Marc and Isambard would have approved.

Canary Wharf – North Greenwich Ferry

If Canary Wharf to Rotherhithe can sustain a ferry, then surely a ferry at the other side of Canary Wharf connecting to North Greenwich with the O2, must be viable.

This Google Map shows the Thames between Canary Wharf and North Greenwich.


Canary Wharf And North Greenwich

Canary Wharf And North Greenwich

It is not the longest ferry link, but there are questions to be answered.

  • Does the ferry go right into the heart of Canary Wharf or only as far as the bank of the Thames?
  • Does the ferry go all round the O2 to North Greenwich Pier or call at a new pier on the west side of the Greenwich Peninsular?
  • Will the ferry be fully accessible?
  • Will the ferry accommodate bicycles?
  • Will the ferry be free, as is  the current Woolwich Ferries?
  • How many boats will be used?

I think that there could be an opportunity to design an integrated ferry and pier, that would be all things to all users.

It certainly shouldn’t be boring and if possible it should call at the heart of Canary Wharf.

Silvertown Tunnel

In my view the Silvertown Tunnel is just another route for some travellers and possibly their goods to take between the two banks of the Thames.

Categories of traffic across the river through a new Silvertown Tunnel would include.

  1. Individuals, groups and families, who don’t necessarily need a vehicle. But sometimes choose to take one.
  2. Individuals, groups and families, who absolutely need to take a vehicle.
  3. Vans and trucks collecting or delivering goods.
  4. Buses and coaches
  5. Taxis, mini-cabs and private hire vehicles.

One thing that has been said about the Silvertown Tunnel is that it will be funded by a toll and some reports have said that the Blackwall and Rotherhithe Tunnels will be tolled as well.

London already has a congestion charging system for areas in the centre and I suspect that this could be updated to charge for the cross-river tunnels.

We’ve never had a toll to get across the Thames in London, with even the Woolwich Ferry being free, so I suspect that a toll would reduce cross-river vehicular traffic.

Remember that, when tunnels were built under the Thames in Central London, there was few quality alternatives with the exception of the Northern and Victoria Lines and the original undeveloped Thameslink.

But over the last few years, cross-river and other public transport has been getting better. And it still is!


  • In the last year, a lot has been disclosed about Crossrail and its enormous Class 345 trains.
  • We’ve also seen the opening of the new London Bridge station and can see the improvements taking place in South London.
  • We’ve also seen the arrival of the Night Tube.
  • Capacity is being increased on the cross-river East London Line and the Jubilee, Northern and Victoria Lines.
  • We have Night Thameslink, so will we see a Night Crossrail?

Other developments will follow.

The only certainty is that we will be seeing a large increase in  quality public transport, over, under and on the Thames.

I think for the first time in my life, there could be two competing ways of getting across the Thames; driving through a tunnel or using public transport.

Cost, convenience, needs and possibly an all-singing-and-dancing computer or phone app will tell you where to go.

As I said earlier, if the Silvertown Tunnel is built, it will be just another route for travellers, with perhaps a higher, but fixed cost.

If it is built, I think there should be conditions.

  • The Blackwall, Rotherhithe and Silvertown Tunnels should all have tolls.
  • Crossrail and Thameslink should have a great deal more Park-and-Ride capacity.
  • All buses, coaches, mini-cabs, taxis and trucks in Central London should be low emission.

I also think that large areas of Central London, like the City and Oxford Street should be pedestrianised and some are on track for this to happen.

Much of the decision about the Silvertown Tunnel revolves around politics.

Sadiq Khan, has said he’s in favour of the tunnel with conditions, but he is up against a formidable movement that don’t want the tunnel built at any price.

I also find it interesting, that Ken Livingstone was in favour of the Silvertown Tunnel. But Ken brought in congestion charging.

I wouldn’t be surprised, if there’s some researchhanging aroiund in TfL, that says that a tolled road crossing will cut traffic. But it’s the sort of research no-one would believe.

So perhaps a tolled Silvertown Tunnel with conditions will be a good idea.

But only because there are now alternatives!

Gallions Reach DLR

The BBC article says this about this proposal.

A DLR crossing at Gallions Reach, helping support the development of around 17,000 new homes across Newham and the Royal Borough of Greenwich

It is different to the original proposal of a Docklands Light Railway extension to Dagenham Dock, which stayed on the North bank of the Thames.

This map shows the area of London from Gallions Reach to Abbey Wood.

Gallions Reach To Abbey Wood

Gallions Reach To Abbey Wood


  • Gallions Reach DLR station is marked with the red arrow.
  • Just to the North of Gallions Reach station is the main DLR depot, which would probably be an excellent site to start a tunnel.
  • The tunnel would probably emerge on the South bank of the Thames to the West of Thamesmead.
  • It could then weave its way along the side of the main road.
  • The North Kent Line with Abbey Wood and Belvedere stations runs along the bottom of the map.
  • Crossrail could be extended to Gravesend.
  • Crossrail should also be extended Ebbsfleet International for European rail services.

If the DLR extension went from Gallions Reach DLR station  to Abbey Wood station it will be a loop on Crossrail serving a lot of areas ripe for quality housing and commercial development.

It certainly looks a feasible area to think about taking the DLR.

Barking Riverside Overground Extension

When I first heard about the Thamesmead Extension of the Gospel Oak to Barking Line, I thought it was a good idea.

As it is mentioned in the Mayor’s plans, I suspect that building the extension is getting nearer to reality.

Certainly provision has been made in the design of the Barking Riverside Overground Extension to extend the line under the river if required.

Joined Up Connections

If you take out the Silvertown Tunnel, which is the only one of the five crossings for which you need a vehicle, you get a route along the Thames from Canada Water To Barking.

  • Walk from Canada Water to the Rotherhithe – Canary Wharf Bridge
  • Cross the Rotherhithe – Canary Wharf Bridge
  • Walk to the Canary Wharf – North Greenwich Ferry
  • Take the Canary Wharf – North Greenwich Ferry to North Greenwich
  • Take the Emirates Air-Line to Royal Victoria
  • Take the DLR to Gallions Reach and on to Thamesmead
  • Take the Gospel Oak to Barking Line to Barking

It’s an interesting route using various means of transport.







October 8, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Slow Progress On The Gospel Oak To Barking Line

I have observed the electrification of the Gospel Oak to Barking Line since December 2015 and to say it has been painfully slow would be an understatement.

In the September 2016 edition of Modern Railways, there is a long article called Wiring The Goblin.

It talks of a lot of problems, which are resulting in a lot of lowering and rebuilding of the track bed.

Reading between the lines, I suspect that some parts of the line weren’t designed and built very well in the first place and that decades of neglect haven’t helped.

The Victorian builders of lines like these were good at some things, but they were probably driven more by getting a line open to carry goods and passengers, than by creating infrastructure, that would last a couple of hundred years.

But it does seem that the engineers are doing their best to rebuild the line in an affordable manner. This extract gives an overview of the track lowering.

Early plans for the electrification envisaged 10 track lowering sites along the route, but value engineering has seen this reduced to four main sites.

The term value engineering is used more than once in the article.

The  nature of some of the work is illustrated by this description.

But the most challengin section, and the one which drives the requirement for engineering access, is a 1,750-metre stretch between Blackhorse Road station and Yunus Khan Close (a short distance south of Walthamstow Queens Road station). In just over a mile there are 17 over-line structures, with track lowering reqired by as much as 500mm. at some locations.

The Bridges of Walthamstow describes a walk I took along the route a few months ago.

To some working on the project, it must feel like digging a tunnel close to or on  the surface, through the foundations of Victorian houses.

Intriguingly, my Google Alerts on the line, don’t seem to have dug up any complaints in Walthamstow, unlike they did at the Gospel Oak end of the line.

Make what you want of that!

Slab track is used selectively, but not as much as originally envisaged. I do wonder, if slab track has improved in recent years as more difficult projects like the Borders Railway and the tunnels at Glasgow Queen Street station seem to use it.

I particularly like the care that has gone into the planning of the work, which has been deliberately organised so that one track is always open for engineering trains.

The system, also used 4D modelling to avoid conflicts and get everything right. Strangely, this is the first instance of using this relatively new technique on a heavy rail project in the UK.

Little is said about the electrification, except that it is the same as used on the Northern Hub project between Liverpool and Manchester.

I have been unable to find out, if the overhead electrification can accept the return currents for the regenerative braking on the Class 710 trains.

However, in Will London Overground Fit On-board Energy Storage To Class 378 Trains?, I asked the question of the title after finding an article, where Bombardier stated that Class 378 trains  could be fitted with onboard energy storage  Some of the third rail lines used by these trains can probably handle regenerative braking, so I have to assume that .lines with overhead wires like the North London Line can’t.

The following must be taken into account.

  • As the North London Line and the GOBlin are linked at Gospel Oak, it makes me think there is a strong possibility, that the GOBlin will not be wired to accept the return currents from regenerative braking.
  • Only be the Class 710 trains that could use regenerative braking on the GOBlin, as there are few electric locomotives in the UK with regenerative braking. Only the Class 88 and Class 92 locomotives have it fitted.
  • The Class 710 trains for the GOBlin are dual-voltage trains. I suspect, so that services can be extended into third-rail territory if needed.
  • The AC-only Class 710 trains will run on lines like Romford to Upminster and the Chingford Branch, where it is unlikely that the wiring can work with regenerative braking.

Whether the Class 710 trains have onboard energy storage actually fitted, will be one for the accountants.

In the last section of the article, the extension to Barking Riverside is discussed. The following is said.

  • The extension will be slab track throughout.
  • Construction could begin in late 2017.
  • Services could start in 2021.

I discussed this extension in In The Land Of The Giants.

There is a very challenging viaduct, that will thread the line through the area, and the slab track would make accurate positioning to avoid the masses of high-voltage electricity cables and the other obstacles in the area a lot simpler. The viaduct with its slab track could also be built in pieces in a factory and assembled on site, to give a better finish and quality to the work.

Perhaps too, if the 2.2 km. length of new railway, were to be built on single track viaducts, without electrification, it would reduce complexity, visual impact, noise, construction time and cost.

But this would require the Class 710 trains to be fitted with onboard energy storage.

Intriguingly, TfL’s main online document about the Barking Riverside Extension appears to have been carefully written and only mention overhead wires once, talking consistently about four car electric trains and a fully-electrified line.

As contracts for the extension must be awarded soon for a late 2017 construction start, I think we’ll see a design for the extension, that could be with or without wires.

No mention is made in the article about extending the line four kilometres under the Thames to Thamesmead and Abbey Wood.

The Google Map shows the route from Barking Riverside to Abbey Wood.

Barking Riverside To Abbey Wood

Barking Riverside To Abbey Wood

Barking Riverside station will be built in the South-West corner of the largest green space at the top of the map, above the word Thames.

Abbey Wood station is virtually due South from there towards the bottom of the map.

If this tunnel is ever built could it be in tunnels or even just a single tunnel without wires?

One problem with an extension to Abbey Wood could be somewhere suitable to put the station.

The traditional solution would be a blind tunnel or tunnels as on the Victoria Line, but could the line end in a loop extra stations at Thamesmead and the incomparable Crossness.

What better way is there to attract visitors to the area, than to put Bazalgette’s Cathedral of Sewage on the London rail map?

The GOBlin extension to Abbey Wood is certainly a rail route, where good engineering could be mixed with large doses of imagination.

September 4, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

Barking Riverside Development To Get A Boost

BBC London is talking about a large boost to the development of housing at Barking Riverside. This article in Building entitled L&Q buys out Bellway at Barking Riverside, gives a lot more detail. This is a visualisation of the development.

Barking Riverside Development

Barking Riverside Development

It looks to be a lot of much-needed housing, a proportion of which will be affordable.

According to TfL’s maps and drawings it looks like Barking Riverside station will be a couple of hundred metres or so directly inland from the T-shaped pier.

March 11, 2016 Posted by | World | , , | 2 Comments

The Site Of Renwick Road Station

On the way back from Dagenham Dock station, I passed the proposed site of Renwick Road station.

This Google Map shows the area.

Renwick Road Area

Renwick Road Area

The station will be on the western site of the bridge that takes Renwick Road over the railway.

These pictures were taken from the train.

There’s plenty of space for a station, but I do think it could be exceeedingly bleak on a cold day.

March 8, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

Dagenham Dock Railway Station

After visiting the Land Of The Giants, my EL2 bus went through the industrial area to Dagenham Dock station.

A few points.

  • The area is rather bleak.
  • From the station I caught one of the two trains per hour into London.
  • Dagenham Dock and the other two stations of Renwick Road and Barking Riverside will need to have a decent bus connection.

It certainly needs substantial improvement.

March 8, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

In The Land Of The Giants

In Defining The GOBlin Extension To Barking Riverside, I traced how the extension will get to the new station. This is a map from the TfL report, which shows the route of the extension.

Barking Riverside Extension

Barking Riverside Extension

And this is an image of the viaduct that takes the extension over Choats Road.

Proposed Viaduct Over Choats Road

Proposed Viaduct Over Choats Road

Today, I went to Barking station and took an EL2 bus to Dagenham Dock station.

I took these pictures as the bus went along Choats Road.

The area is certainly one with some of the largest electricity pylons.

Even so, you can understand why the TfL report says this about the viaduct.

After passing under Renwick Road, the alignment would climb on a viaduct curving south towards Barking Riverside, crossing the Freight Terminal, westbound Tilbury lines and Choats Road.  The viaduct would then descend to pass under the existing high voltage power line south of Choats Road, before again rising and continuing  towards a station at Barking Riverside.

This Google map certainly shows there is a lot of space.

In The Land Of The Giants

In The Land Of The Giants

It will be interesting to see what the final layout will be.

  • The viaduct that crosses Choats Road must be high enough to allow double-deck buses and other high vehicles to pass underneath.
  • The TfL route map appears to show that the viaduct follows roughly the line of the pylons to the site of Barking Riverside station.
  • Vertical separation of overhead wires on the viaduct and the power lines could be a problem!
  • The rail line can’t go too close to the houses.

If the branch were to be built without electrification and services were to be run using the Aventras fitted with on-board energy storage, it would ease the design of the viaduct.

March 7, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , | 2 Comments

All Quiet On The IPEMU Front

Type IPEMU into Google News and you don’t get many recent stories about Bombardier’s Independently Powered Electric Multiple Unit.

The newest story is this article from the Derby Telegraph, which is dated the 7th December 2015 and is entitled Battery-powered trains win award for Bombardier.

Most of the others relate to the trial of the technology using a Class 379 train in early 2015. I rode this train and I have a feeling that a lot of serious rail journalists and commentators didn’t!

Before I rode the train, I thought the technology could be a bit naff and gimmicky, pandering to the green lobby.

But after riding through the Essex countryside and reading about the physics of steel wheel and steel rail, I realise that Bombardier, Network Rail and their partners are serious about the development and have produced a train with the following characteristics.

  • To a passenger, it looks, feels and rides like a standard electrical multiple unit.
  • The IPEMU can run for over fifty miles using the on-board energy storage charged when running under power from overhead lines or third-rail.
  • The train has a limited diversion capability, if say the wires are down.
  • The performance is similar on energy storage to when running from external power.
  • Drivers can be easily converted to the IPEMU variant.

The document on the Bombardier web site, which is entitled Battery-Driven Bombardier Electrostar gives more insight into the developers’ thinking.

Rumours In Modern Railways

Two articles in Modern Railways have linked IPEMU capability to two train purchases.

  • In September 2015, it is stated that some Class 387 trains for the Great Western Railway could be battery-powered.
  • In October 2015, it is stated the Merseytravel is seriously considering IPEMU technology in a new train order, to reduce energy use and the overall cost of train ownership.

Nothing further has been published about these possible orders.

Aventras And Energy Storage

When Transport for London ordered new Class 710 trains for the London Overground, I took a look a detailed look at the trains and posted Will The London Overground Aventras Have Energy Storage?

According to this article in Global Rail News, which is entitled Bombardier’s AVENTRA – A new era in train performance, the Aventra has the capacity to fit onboard energy storage. This is said.

AVENTRA can run on both 25kV AC and 750V DC power – the high-efficiency transformers being another area where a heavier component was chosen because, in the long term, it’s cheaper to run. Pairs of cars will run off a common power bus with a converter on one car powering both. The other car can be fitted with power storage devices such as super-capacitors or Lithium-Iron batteries if required.

Bombardier have confirmed this to me.

Bombardier’s Plans

So what are Bombardier doing now?

This article in Rail Technology Magazine is entitled Bombardier enters key analysis phase of IPEMU and is a detailed article on everything Bombardier are doing to convert the prototype into a real train, that can be sold to demanding customers.

  • Four different types of battery are being evaluated in Mannheim.
  • A simulated five-year test is being performed.
  • Bombardier are taking a serious look at the branch-line market.
  • Bombardier are evaluating the retrofit market with particular reference to the Class 387 and Class 378 trains.

This is all very sound stuff and in some ways it makes a change to fully-develop the product before launch rather than expect train operators and passengers to find the problems.

One thing that is surprising, is that Class 378 trains are being looked at for the retrofit of onboard energy storage.  I cover this in detail in Will London Overground Fit On-Board Energy Storage To Class 378 Trains?

I came to the conclusion, that Class 378 retrofit is a decision for the accountants.

But it does seem to have gone exceedingly quiet.






March 7, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment