The Anonymous Widower

Plans To Reopen The Brentford To Southall Railway

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Ian Visits.

I have posted on the Brentford Branch Line several times previously and Ian says this about Hounslow Council’s thinking.

The council has been working on a scheme for some years to resurrect the line, with a new station built in Brentford and passenger services restored to Southall. A key factor for the plans is that Southall will then be on the Elizabeth line, which they hope will drive a lot more traffic on the spur down to Brentford.

In order to part-fund the 4-mile railway, Hounslow Council has now agreed to undertake a full business case to look at introducing a Workplace Parking Levy (WPL) within the Great West Corridor (GWC).

In my trips to document the updating of Syon Lane station with a new step-free footbridge, I have talked to several people, who would find a rail link to Southall useful.

Ian also says this about the latest situation.

As part of the proposal, the council has also commissioned Network Rail to begin a detailed study (known as ‘GRIP 4’) on building the new train link from Brentford to Southall, following encouraging early studies into the feasibility of such a link.

At least, this will give the Hounslow a list of all the problems and a cost estimate.

A few of my thoughts.

What Should Be The Frequency Of The Service?

The current truncated Brentford Branch Line is mainly single track, but from my helicopter, it appears that there would be space to add an additional track for as much of the route as required.

Preferably, there should be a service on the branch of at least two trains per hour (tph). Although, ideally four tph is much better, as it attracts passengers in large numbers.

It should be noted that from December 2019, there will be four tph on Crossrail calling at at Southall station all day. Connections should surely be well-arranged.

Four tph would be possible between two single platforms at Southall and Brentford, but would require selective doubling or passing loops to accommodate the service and the freight trains going to Brentford.

This Google Map shows the various sites clustered around the branch.

The branch runs from the North-West to the South-East across the map.

  • The Great West Road is a couple of hundred metres to the South.
  • To the East of the branch, there are a collection of waste and scrap metal transfer sites, aggregate and concrete sites and others that hide away in big cities.
  • To the West is the massive Sky Studios complex.

I do wonder, if Sky would like a station? If they did, this would surely mean that a four tph service would be required.

What Is The Future Of The Industrial Site?

Because of London’s thirst for land for housing and office developments, sites like this inevitably get developed.

With its position between the River Brent and parkland, and the Brentford Branch Line, I believe that if new sites can be found for the various tenants, that this site could be a high quality housing development.

An intermediate station would surely be required.

What Should Be The Terminus Of The Branch?

I believe that the branch should terminate as close to the River as is possible.

  • There is a lot of new housing being constructed in Brentford.
  • I believe that Thames Clippers will eventually extend their river-boat services to Brentford and Kew.

But the problem would be that this would need an expensive bridge over the Great West Road.

These pictures show the Great West Road, where the current Brentford Branch Line finishes.

The tracks finish about a hundred metres North of the road, as shown on this Google Map.

The rusty footbridge over the busy road can be clearly seen.

Initially, I believe that the passenger service should terminate at the Great West Road.

If I was designing the station, I would build it much like the Deptford Bridge DLR station.

  • It would be on a bridge above the Great West Road.
  • It would be suspended from step-free towers on either side of the road.
  • Would it only need to be a single platform station?
  • The pavements on either side of the Great West Road would be improved to create a better walking environment.
  • If possible a walking and cycling route to Brentford and the River would be provided.
  • The design would leave provision to extend the railway South.

I also think, that it could be designed to enhance the collection of Art Deco and modern buildings in the area.

Could The Service Go Further Than The Great West Road?

This Google Map shows the former route of Brentford Branch Line, from just North of the Great West Road to the centre of Brentford.

Note.

  1. The former route is very green on the map.
  2. The Hounslow Loop Line crossing parallel and a few hundred metres South of the Great West Road.
  3. The only building on the route is some retail sheds between the Great West Road and the Hounslow Loop Line.
  4. To the \east of the Brentford Branch Line is a large and semi-derilict bus garage.

I’m sure that the railway could be extended through this area, as it is developed with housing and offices or parkland.

Could The Service Go Further Than Southall?

There is a section in the Wikipedia entry for the Brentford Branch Line, which is entitled Proposed Reopening, where this is said.

In April 2017, it was proposed that the line could reopen to allow a new link between Southall to Hounslow and possibly down to the planned Old Oak Common station with a new station in Brentford called Brentford Golden Mile.  The proposals suggest the service could be operated by Great Western Railway and could be open by 2020 with a new service from Southall to Hounslow and possible later to Old Oak Common

It sounds a good idea, but it would mean trains would surely have to reverse direction and cross over to the North side.

It must be better to provide full step-free access at Southall station, which should be finished fairly soon.

Crossrail will also be providing at least four tph to and from Old Oak Common.

How Many Trains Would Be Needed?

I am pretty sure, that several train types could do a Southall and Brentford round trip in under thirty minutes.

This would mean the following.

  • For a two tph service, one train would be needed.
  • For a four tph service, two trains would be needed.

I suspect too, that a spare train would be added to the fleet.

Would The Branch Be Electrified?

I doubt it!

  • The branch is only four miles long.
  • A 100 kWh battery would probably provide enough power for a four-car train.
  • It is unlikely electric haulage will be needed for the freight trains o the branch.
  • There is 25 KVAC electrification at the Southall end of the branch to charge trains with batteries.
  • The branch is probably short enough to not need a charging point at Brentford.

In my mind, it is a classic route to run using battery power.

What Trains Could Be Used?

I feel the trains need to have the following specification.

  • Abiility to use 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • A out and back battery range of at least eight miles.
  • Three or four cars.
  • 60 mph operating speed.

There are several proposed trains that meet this specification.

Class 710 Train

The Class 710 train would be an obvious choice, if London Overground were to run the service.

But it would need the 25 KVAC electrification be added to Platform 5 at Southall station.

Class 230 Train

The Class 230 train could be a lower cost option and would only require one of Vivarail’s clever charging systems at Southall.

Class 387 Train

A modified Class 387 train would surely be a choice, If Great Western Railway were to run the service.

But as with the Class 710 train, it would need Platform 5 at Southall station to be electrified.

Class 399 Tram-Train

A Class 399 tram-train to the South Wales Metro specification is also a possibility.

But as with the Class 710 train, it would need Platform 5 at Southall station to be electrified.

However, the lighter weight vehicle with a tight turning circle might allow the route to be extended further South.

Conclusion

I am led to these conclusions.

  • Battery power is capable of working the Brentford Branch Line.
  • At least two tph is needed between Southall and Brentford.
  • The operator will choose the trains.

IBut as they are a lower-cost and simpler option, this route could be run by Class 230 trains.

 

 

September 22, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Trams Tested On New Section Of West Midlands Metro

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on the South Wales Argus.

I don’t understand why test running of the battery trams on the West Midlands Metro has been reported in South Wales.

But it does report, that the UK’s first battery trams could be running in December.

August 31, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment