The Anonymous Widower

Ealing Broadway Station – 19th April 2019

These pictures show Ealing Broadway station.

There’s still a lot of work to be done, to make the station, look like Crossrail’s image on the hoarding.

These are the proposed train frequencies at the station in the Off Peak, when Crossrail opens.

  • Four trains per hour – Great Western Railway.
  • Ten trains per hour – Crossrail.
  • Six trains per hour – District Line
  • Nine trains per hour – Central Line

There will be extra services in the Peak.

Crossrail To Reading In December 2019

As current rumours are that Crossrail will open in December to Reading, it looks like the station will be usable, if the architects have got the design right.

It is planned that Ealing Broadway station will have a Crossrail train every six minutes.

 

April 19, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Interchange Between Chiltern Railways And The Central Line At South Ruislip Station

After my trip to Beaconsfield station, which I wrote about in Beaconsfield Station To Go Step-Free, I needed to get to West Ealing station.

So I took a direct train to South Ruislip station, where I changed to the Central Line for Greenford station and the Greenford Branch to West Ealing.

These pictures show the subway at South Ruislip station.

It is a subway with inadequate steep steps.

According to the Wikipedia entry for Chiltern Railways, one of their active plans is for a Chiltern Metro. This is said.

New Chiltern Metro Service that would operate 4+tph for Wembley Stadium, Sudbury & Harrow Road, Sudbury Hill Harrow, Northolt Park, South Ruislip and West Ruislip. This would require a reversing facility at West Ruislip, passing loops at Sudbury Hill Harrow, and a passing loop at Wembley Stadium (part of the old down fast line is in use as a central reversing siding, for stock movements and additionally for 8-car football shuttles to convey passengers to the stadium for events).

So there could be four trains per hour (tph) through South Ruislip station, in addition to the current hourly service to High Wycombe.

Also.

  • When Chiltern Railways have a second London terminal at Old Oak Common station, there could be more stopping trains.
  • There is also pressure to run services along the Greenford Branch to West Ruislip and High Wycombe.
  • The Central Lione will be getting new larger trains in the next few years.

There is certainly, a lot of potential to improve services and South Ruislip station could need to go step-free.

This Google Map shows the station.

Putting lifts into the subway to access platforms has been done many times and wouldn’t be the most major of projects.

Whether it is worth doing, would be solely down to passenger numbers.

  • Currently, the station handles about two million passengers per year, most of whom are using the Central Line.
  • There will probably be a lot of new housing built in the next few years.
  • With the disruption of building High Speed Two, through the area, this might mean new passengers start using the station.

I predict that South Ruislip station will go step-free.

 

April 16, 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

Completing The Bank Station Upgrade

I’m writing this post for two reasons.

The first is to inform people that in the Summer of 2021, there is going to be a closure of the Bank Branch of the Northern Line for several months.

The second, is to illustrate, how in a large transport system like London, good project management can carry out major works, without too much inconvenience to passengers.

This article on IanVisits is entitled Behind The Scenes At London Underground’s Bank Tube Station upgrade.

I suggest you read the article, to get the scale of the project.

In the Summer of 2021, a section of the Bank branch of the Northern line will close for roughly 3 months.

The main reason is so that the New Southbound tunnel can be joined to the existing Southbound tunnel, North and South of Bank station. Think of it as installing a by-pass round a village. Except it’s a railway and it’s around forty metres below ground.

Ian says this about what else will happen, whilst the Northern Line is closed.

While that’s going on, at Bank station, the old southbound tunnel will have it’s tracks filled in and turned into a new large concourse, while the currently hidden new side passages are cut through into the old northbound platform and finished off.

Come roughly September 2021, after a few months of closure, people will arrive at Bank station and see these huge new tunnels, the new escalators down to the DLR, the travolator to the Central line.

This approach is very common on the railways.

If a line has to be closed completely for a few months, say because a tunnel is being repaired, then during the closure, you do all the other tasks you can.

At Bank, where a new track is being connected, there will be no trains through the station for a few months. So all the other jobs will be done in this window.

There may also be other advantages. At Bank station, the Northbound track itself is not being radically changed, so it might be possible to use battery locomotives to bring in supplies and take out rubbish.

Summer 2021 Is Two And A Half Years Away

Project Planners have calculated and it will probably take until the end of 2020, for everything to be ready before the closure can take place, so that the joining of the tracks can begin.

But there could  other reasons, for the 2021 date.

Bank station is an important station on the Northern Line and closing it will cause a lot of inconvenience for passengers, many of whom will still be commuting to the City of London.

Some Big Projects Will Be Complete Before The Closure

Before Summer 2021, these big projects should have been completed.

  • One completed on Friday, when the new Bank Station entrance on Walbrook opened.
  • Crossrail will have opened.. On current forecasts nearly two years earlier.
  • The Northern City Line will be running new Class 717 trains into Moorgate station.
  • Travellers will have learned to use Thameslink as part of the Underground.

All of these projects will help passengers to cope with the Northern Line Closure at Bank station.

Bank Station Will Still Be Partially Open For Business

Bank station will not be fully-closed.

  • The Central Line will be working at Bank station, to something like full capacity.
  • The Waterloo & City Line will be working normally using the new Wallbrook entrance.
  • The Docklands Light Railway will be working, as is possible around all the work.
  • Some new and refurbished routes will connect the Central Line and Docklands Light Railway to the myriad station entrances around Bank Junction.
  • The Circle and District Lines will be working normally, through Monument station.

In addition, the City of London will have improved walking and cycling in the Square Mile.

Where Will Northern Line Trains Run During The Closure?

For a start, all Northern Line trains through Charing Cross station will be running normally.

The Northern Line Extension to Battersea might even have opened, which would give an extra Southern terminal to the Northern Line, which would help operation of the Charing Cross Branch.

Looking at the detailed tracks on carto.metro.free.fr, it appears that trains from the North can turn back at Euston and Moorgate.

Consider.

  • Euston will be in the throws of rebuilding for High Speed Two.
  • The Northern Line is the preferred route between Euston and the City.
  • Moorgate will be a fully step-free rebuilt station with connections to Crossrail and the Central Line.
  • Many people can walk to most parts of the Square Mile from Moorgate.

It looks to me, that it is most likely that Northern Line services will terminate at Moorgate during the closure of the Northern Line through Bank.

Northern Line trains approaching the City from the South have no such convenient turn back between Kennington and Bank stations.

I think the best direct service passengers from the Morden Branch to the City can expect will be a not-very-frequent shuttle service to London Bridge.

Most who need to go to Bank station from the South will find alternative routes and there are several.

  • Travel to London Bridge and walk across the river.
  • Change to the Waterloo and City Line at Waterloo.
  • Change to the Circle and District Lines at Embankment.
  • Change to the Central Line at Tottenham Court Road
  • Change to Crossrail at Tottenham Court Road and walk from Moorgate.

It should also be remembered, that as the closure is taking place in the Summer holidays, travellers should cope.

Conclusion

As Project Managers always seem to say.

You must get your ducks in a row!

So in this example, I would have felt that to have rebuilt Bank station without completion of the following projects.

  • Crossrail
  • Bank Station Walbrook Entrance

Would have been a lot harder.

This example also means that you must get your large projects in the right order, so they help each other to be delivered on time.

London has several large station interchange projects in the pipeline.

  • Camden Town station
  • East Croydon station
  • Holborn station.
  • Oxford Circus station
  • Victoria station

Which I believe should be done in the optimal order, so that travellers suffer the least disruption.

Smaller projects like a second entrance At Walthamstow Central station should probably be done at a time, when money and resources are available.

 

December 2, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Bank Station Upgrade And The Western Extension Of The DLR

This map from Transport for London (TfL), shows the possible Western extension of the Docklands Light Railway (DLR).

With all the problems of the funding of Crossrail 2, that I wrote about in Crossrail 2 Review Prompts Fresh Delays, could this extension of the DLR, be a good idea?

If you look at the Bank Station Upgrade in detail, the DLR gets a much needed boost in the upgrade.

The two DLR platforms underneath the Northern Line get a triple-escalator connection to the Northern Line level, from where they have the following.

  • Level access to the Northern Line.
  • Escalator access to the Cannon Street entrance.
  • Travelator/escalator access to the Central Line.
  • Access to the current escalators and lifts to the various entrances around Bank Junction.

There will also be lifts everywhere.

According to Services in the Wikipedia entry for the DLR, the following services turn at Bank station.

  • 22.5 trains per hour (tph) in the Peak.
  • 18 tph in the Off Peak.

So the turnback is handling a train around every three minutes.

I have no idea, what is the maximum frequency of the DLR, but as it is an automated system, with new trains to be delivered in the next few years, I suspect the frequency will be pushed higher in the future.

The Bank Station Upgrade has been designed to handle more passengers using the DLR, so there should be no problem about handling more passengers in the two platforms deep in Bank station.

The limiting factor would more likely be in the turnback.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr, shows the DLR lines at Bank station.

Note the turnback for the DLR, under the Central Line platforms 5/6, running alongside the Northern Line.

  • Trains stop in the arrivals platform 10 at Bank station and unload all passengers.
  • They then move to the turnback and the automation then switches to the other end.
  • They then move to the departures platform 9 to pick up passengers.

It is an inefficient way to turn trains. A through station at Bank would have a much greater capacity.

If you look at the map of the proposed Western extension, it has two branches which join and split at City Thameslink station.

  • Charing Cross, Green Park and Victoria.
  • Holborn, Euston and St. Pancras

It should be noted that the two-platform terminal station at Lewisham currently handles upwards of 20 tph in the Peak.

This would mean that if both Western branches had a two-platform terminus, then there could be a theoretical total of forty tph through Bank station.

If Dear Old Vicky can manage thirty-six tph with ten year-old-trains and less automation, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the DLR manage the magic forty tph, with twenty tph on each branch.

Obviously, though there would be other considerations and capacity limits, but I can see a big increase in the numbers of passengers using the DLR.

I would expect that the improvement to the DLR access being added in the Bank Station Upgrade must have been designed to handle the highest number of DLR trains and passengers that anybody can practically envisage.

It should also be noted that the DLR station is below the Northern Line and the turnback siding, which is shown in the map of the lines, will be well out of the way of the new Northern Line and travelator tunnels.

The map of the Western DLR Western Extension,  also shows the extension going West away from the Northern Line tunnels. This would mean it would comfortably  pass underneath the new Southbound Northern Line tunnel.

It therefor looks to me, that the Bank Station Upgrade is very much preparing Bank station for the DLR Western Extension to be built.

So will the DLR Western Extension be constructed?

Why Is It Needed?

Various reasons Have been given.

Better Connection To The Docklands Light Railway for Commuters From The South

The DLR Western Extension will connect to commuter routes at the following stations.

  • Charing Cross
  • City Thameslink
  • Victoria

This should help commuters get to the City and the business areas of East London.

Another Direct Connection Between East London And West Central London

It will also help travellers get betweenEast London and West Cerntral London without changing or using the overcrowded Victoria Line.

A few points.

  1. c2c commuters would also be able to change at Limehouse station to trains going further than Bank station.
  2. It would help me get to places South of Crossrail and Victoria becomes much easier.
  3. Access to Thameslink from the East will be improved, if you’re not near a Crossrail station.
  4. New housing in the East will get the transport links it needs.

East London has a great need for the DLR Western Extension.

Increase The Number Of Trains Serving Bank Station

The Mayor wants to extend the DLR to Abbey Wood and Thamesmead in the South East.

This will mean that extra capacity is needed in the West to turn the trains.

The DLR Western Extension and the Bank Station Upgrade seems a pretty good way to obtain this much-needed capacity.

The People Mover Between High Speed One, High Speed Two, West Coast Main Line And The East Coast Main Line

Proposals exist for a high capacity people mover between High Speed One at St. Pancras and High Speed Two at Euston.

The DLR Western Extension will accept this challenge and do it superbly and could even have connections to the East Coast Main Line.

Take The Pressure Off The Northern Line

Consider.

  • The Northern Line connects Euston and Bank stations via Kings Cross St. Pancras.
  • The Northern Line is supposed to take ten minutes.
  • The route is overcrowded and it is impossible to get a seat, for most of the day.
  • When High Speed Two opens in 2026, more travellers will want to travel to and from the City.

The DLR Western Extension could give as many as twenty tph on the following route.

  • St. Pancras
  • Euston
  • Holborn
  • City Thameslink
  • Bank

With the new DLR trains and the full automation of the DLR, the route will certainly outperform the Northern Line and possibly a black cab, driven  by Lewis Hamilton.

Improve Capacity Between Victoria And The City

Just as the DLR Western Extension will improve the route between Euston and the City of London, the other branch will improve the route between Victoria and the City

I’ve taken a District Line train from .Whitechapel to Victoria station and there are better ways to enjoy yourself.

It’s The Poor People’s Crossrail 2

Crossrail 2 with its mega station at Euston/Kings Cross/St. Pancras will give North-East London much better access to National Rail services going North.

To get to any of these stations now, I have to take a bus to either Angel or Moorgate stations and then get a tube.

I used to be able to get a bus to Highbury & Islington station, but the Mayor from South London has halved the service, so I don’t bother to wait fifteen minutes for a bus and go via Angel.

If the DLR Western Extension were to be opened, I’d get an Overground train to Shadwell station and change to the required route.

Agility – The DLR Advantage

I must say something about the big advantage of the DLR.

The trains have the ability to twist, turn and climb gradients, that a conventional train would find impossible.

This means that the tracks can be threaded through places, where heavy rail just can’t go!

Tunnels

The DLR tunnels and platforms at Bank station are the deepest in London. This article in the Telegraph says this about the deepest station in Central London.

It is the DLR concourse at Bank, which is 41.4 metres below.

Crossrail’s depth by comparison is described in this page on the Crossrail web site like this.

A network of new rail tunnels have been built by eight giant tunnel boring machines, to carry Crossrail’s trains eastbound and westbound. Each tunnel is 21 kilometres/13 miles long, 6.2 metres in diameter and up to 40 metres below ground.

The DLR Western Extension tunnels would cross Crossrail close to Holborn station, so they would probably need to go below Crossrail at this point.

Designing the route of the tunnels is probably the easy part, as construction will be much harder and will take a lot of planning.

Consider, the places for construction sites, where a tunnel boring machine (TBM) could be inserted or the spoil could be taken out.

  • Bank, St. Pancras and Victoria stations are very crowded places, with most of the land already built on.
  • There are the Royal Parks and London’s leafy squares, on the route.
  • This article on IanVisits describes the railway sidings under Smithfield Meat Market, which could be somewhere to start digging. Could spoil be taken out at night by train on Thameslink?
  • As Holborn station is getting a second entrance, this could also be a key site in the construction of the tunnels.

The tunnellers might use the techniques employed in the Bank Station Upgrade, where the tunnel was dug without a TBM and spoil was taken out by truck. But the tunnels for the DLR Western Extension will be much larger.

Stations

It is worth looking at the stations on the route.

Charing Cross

Charing Cross station has been rebuilt in recent decades and still has the two former Jubilee Line platforms in working order, that might be able to be reused.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines around Charing Cross station.

Note.

  1. The old Jubilee Line tunnels go through the platforms.
  2. They are long enough to hold two trains.
  3. The tunnels would have to be enlarged to fit the larger DLR trains.

As these platforms and tunnels were built to be extended on a route not unlike that of the DLR extension, I suspect TfL have ideas about how this station could be rebuilt to be part of the Western DLR extension.

City Thameslink

– City Thameslink station is a reasonably-modern, one-line double-ended step-free station.

The DLR Extension would cross the station at right-angles, deep below Thameslink.

Euston

Euston station is being rebuilt for HS2 and the Underground station will be extensively improved.

I would be very surprised, if the new station, has been designed without a feasible place for DLR platforms to be added.

Green Park

Green Park station has been updated several times and I suspect that TfL have ideas about how the station could be served by the extension.

Holborn

Holborn station is being extended with a new entrance. As with Euston, I suspect it has been designed with a feasible place for DLR platforms to be added.

This document on the TfL web site, gives more details of what is proposed at Holborn station.

I extracted this visualisation of the proposed station.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines in the through and around the station.

.Note, Crossrail, which is shown by dotted lines passes to the North of the station.

This diagram from Crossrail shows a depth profile of the tunnels between Farringdon and Bond Street stations.

Note.

  1. The blue dot indicating the Piccadilly Line.
  2. The red dot indicating the Central Line

These two lines are close to Holborn station.

I would feel that the DLR Western Extension could be accommodated in the lower level of the updated station. If required, it could use the DLR’s agility to use a route, no normal railway could.

St. Pancras

St. Pancras station is virtually a new station, so at least, the surveys and drawings are up-to-date. This might make designing two platforms below the current complex a bit easier.

Although, actually building them might be more difficult.

Victoria

The Underground station has been substantially remodelled and rebuilding of the National Rail station is in the pipeline.

Plans are also being drawn up, as to how this station will connect to Crossrail 2.

Hopefully, they’ve taken the DLR Extension into account.

Should There Be Any Other Stations?

The DLR Western Extension must be built, so that if required, the two new branches can be extended.

Extending From St. Pancras

One article, I’ve read, says that this branch should be extended to Camden Town.

In Maiden Lane And York Road Stations, I suggested that it should be extended to these two former stations. I said this.

But why stop at S. Pancras? The DLR could be extended under Kings Cross station, stopping where required to finish at York Road station.

  • Only the building would be used.
  • There would be no connection to the Piccadilly Line.
  • The Docklands Light Railway tunnels would be several metres down to travel under buildings and the stations.
  • An underground passage could be built to a reopened Maiden Lane station.

A worthwhile use would have been found for an iconic building and Kings Cross Central would have much better public transport connections.

Given that over the next few years, there will be a large increase in capacity on the North London Line through Maiden Lane station, this could be a very important extension.

Extending further in the future from York Road would be enabled. Next stop Finsbury Park?

Or would it be better to create a connection to the Piccadilly Line at the combined York Road/Maiden Lane station complex?

Extending From Victoria

Obviously, if the Victoria Branch could be extended to Waterloo, this would be an ideal solution.

I would look at the possibility of having a very easy interchange between the Victoria Line and the DLR at Victoria.

Cross-platform interchange would probably be difficult, but if the DLR platforms were under those of the Victoria Line, I would feel a fast step-free interchange could be designed.

This would effectively mean that the Victoria Line would be a virtual extension to the Victoria Branch of the DLR Western Extension.

A Connection To Crossrail

Surely, the DLR Western Extension should connect to Crossrail. Especially, as it connects to Thameslink!

Conclusion

Build the DLR Western Extension!

Why?

  • It will add capacity between Euston and the City.
  • It will add capacity between Victoria and the City
  • It will unlock capacity at Bank and allow more services to the East.

It is the poor people’s Crossrail 2

It won’t be built though!

  • East London isn’t a priority and it’s where the scum and great unwashed live.
  • It doesn’t do much for South and West London, where important people live.
  • The North of England will object, as it’s another London project!

But I’m hoping that it will be built, as it will transform the lives of many who live in the East and/or rely on the DLR.

In 2010, I wrote Cinderella Will Take You to the Ball!, where I was looking forward to the Olympics.

After the Olympics, I was told by a Senior Manager of the DLR, whilst riding on a DLR train, that the system had performed magnificently at the Games and carried more passengers than everybody expected it would!

There certainly weren’t any complaints.

But I did find this article on Rail Magazine, which is entitled The Secret Of Serco’s Success.

This is the first two paragraphs.

In January 2013 Serco was awarded an 18-month contract extension to operate the Docklands Light Railway, one of the most reliable train services in the UK.

This extension (to September 2014) to the original seven-year franchise rewarded a remarkable performance in 2012, a performance that was also a principal reason for National Rail Awards judges awarding Serco Docklands the City & Metro Operator of the Year accolade.

So they got a Gold Medal too!

This is said about their performance during the year.

Almost 12 million passengers were carried during the entire Games period, and during the busiest times, passenger numbers reached more than double the normal level. Numbers peaked at around 500,000 passengers in a single day, over 125,000 more than DLR’s previous record. And yet, despite all that extra pressure, 2012 was DLR’s most reliable year ever.

Sexy the DLR is not, but like the character I name her after, this light railway, works incredibly hard and to a high standard!

It is a true heavyweight amongst urban transport systems.

Perhaps we should abandon Crossrail 2 and just extend the Docklands Light Railway?

 

 

December 2, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Has The Possibility Been Created For A Pedestrian Tunnel Between Bank And Moorgate Stations?

This visualisation shows the Bank Station Upgrade at Bank station, which is now underway to sort out the station’s problems of capacity and poor step-free access.

This is the bottom-left corner of the visualisation.

Notice that there are two fat tunnels running top to Bottom across the visualisation, which are the Central Line tunnels, with the Eastbound on the left and the Westbound on the right.

There are also four tunnels running left to right across the visualisation.

The top two, which are sticking out to the left of the Eastbound Central Line tunnel, are the current Northern Line running tunnels

  • The top one is the Northbound tunnel going to Moorgate station.
  • The other one is the current Southbound tunnel, which under the plans for Bank station will be closed to trains and used to improve passenger access to the Northbound platform. If you go to the Northern Line platforms, there are tell-tale blue hoardings, indicating where better access will be created.

These pictures show the current state of the current Southbound tunnel.

It looks like at least three sections of the wall between the two platforms will be removed.

The third tunnel, which is shown pink in the visualisations is the connecting tunnel between the Central Line and the new entrance to the station on Cannon Street.

Note the following.

  1. It has a travelator.
  2. it connects to a lobby, where there are triple escalators to the Central Line.
  3. It appears to come to a stop under the Eastbound Central Line platform.

What lies at the Northern end of this tunnel?

The fourth tunnel, which is the new Southbound running tunnel for the Northern Line, has been helpfully drawn with a rail track inside.

This is the top-right corner of the visualisation.

Note.

  1. There are three cross passages between the two running tunnels, just as there appears to be three blue hoardings in the existing Southbound running tunnel.
  2. The Northbound running tunnel now has a wide platform, which has been built inside the existing Southbound tunnel.
  3. The new Southbound running tunnel will be built with a wide platform.
  4. There are three escalators leading to the new Cannon Street entrance.
  5. There are three escalators leading down to the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) platforms

This map from carto.metro.free.fr, shows the layout of lines at Bank station and between Bank and Moorgate stations.

Note.

  1. The Central Line is shown in red.
  2. The Northern Line is shown in black.
  3. The DLR is shown in turquoise.
  4. The two Northern Line tracks cross to the North of Bank station.
  5. The lines at Moorgate station are shown at the top of the map.
  6. Crossrail is shown in violet.

The new Southbound tunnel will be created to the West of the DLR platforms.

This article on IanVisits is entitled Behind The Scenes At London Underground’s Bank Tube Station upgrade.

I suggest you read the article and I feel, you will get the impression the Bank Station Upgrade is a very difficult project, that is being achieved in an innovative manner by the contractors.

In one section, the article describes how they are actually building the new Southbound tunnel, through the piled foundations of existing buildings.

A Travelator Between Bank and Moorgate  Stations

I now feel I can answer the question in the title of this post.

The Route

If the route started at the Northern end of the long connection tunnel with the travelator at Bank station, a route could probably be found on the West side of the Northern Line to break-in to the basement of the Crossrail station at Moorgate station.

This image shows a cross-section through the Moorgate Crossrail station.

Note that under the escalators leading down from the Moorgate Ticket Hall to Crossrail, are a pair of circles.

  • These are the Northern Line running tunnels.
  • A travelator tunnel would be at this level but perhaps twenty or more metres to the West (left in the cross-section).

With modern design and construction techniques, I would expect that a connection could be made.

The Length

I estimate that the travelator would be between three and four hundred metres long.

As there are longer travelators either built or in planning in the world, I suspect, the length wouldn’t be a problem.

By comparison, these are example travelators in London.

  • Jubilee to Northern/Bakerloo Lines at Waterloo – 140 metres.
  • Sloping travelators to Waterloo and City Line at Bank – 76 metres
  • Proposed Central to Northern Lines at Bank – 94 metres

A travelator between Bank and Moorgate stations would probably be, the longest in London.

Building The Tunnel

If you read the IanVisits article, it details how the new Northern Line and travelator tunnels at Bank station were excavated.

I suspect similar techniques could be used to build the new tunnel.

The biggest problem would be removing the tunnel spoil and I suspect that if the tunnel were to be built, when a building on the route needed to be replaced, this would make construction a lot easier.

Why The Tunnel Should Be Built

The main argument for building the tunnel is that it would connect Bank station directly to Crossrail.

Why The Tunnel May Not Be Needed

There are various reasons, why the travelator may not be needed.

Pedestrianisation

The City of London is in favour of pedestrianisation and has already disclosed plans to make Bishopsgate, which is one of the most important North-South arteries through the Square Mile, much more pedestrian friendly.

I would expect more initiatives like this to follow.

So many travellers will use their feet on the surface, between Crossrail and Bank, when the two stations are completed.

Improved Northern Line Connections

The connections to the Northern Line will be improved at both Moorgate and Bank stations, when Crossrail and the Bank Station Upgrade are completed.

So those travellers needing or wishing to do a one-stop transfer, will find it easy.

Connectivity between Crossrail And The Central Line

Crossrail and the Central Line have good connectivity.

  • Stratford – A cross-platform interchange.
  • Liverpool Street – A step-free connection
  • Tottenham Court Road – A step-free connection
  • Bond Street – A step-free connection
  • Ealing Broadway – A step-free connection.

If travellers need Bank and they are coming from either direction on Crossrail, they can change at a convenient station.

Given that Bank station will have a large number of step-free entrances after the Bank Station Upgrade is completed, I suspect many Crossrail passengers will transfer to the Central Line to avoid the walk from Moorgate or Liverpool Street stations.

Conclusion

It may be feasible to build a trevelator between Bank and Moorgate stations, but developments already in hand, may give the project a very bad financial case.

 

December 1, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Cross-Platform Interchange Between Crossrail And Central Line At Stratford

Crossrail and the Central Line have a cross-platform interchange at Stratford.

 

I turned up today, with trains in both platforms.

There needs to be more interchanges like this between different lines, around the UK.

I can’t think of many.

  • Acton Town – District and Piccadilly Lines
  • Barons Court – District and Piccadilly Lines
  • Euston – Northern and Victoria
  • Finchley Road – Metropolitan and Jubilee Lines
  • Finsbury Park – Victoria and Piccadilly Lines
  • Hammersmith – District and Piccadilly Lines
  • Highbury & Islington – Northern City and Victoria Lines.
  • Mile End – Central and Hammersmith & City Lines
  • Oxford Circus – Victoria and Bakerloo Lines
  • Ravenscourt Park – District and Piccadilly Lines
  • Stockwell – Victoria and Northern Lines
  • Turnham Green – District and Piccadilly Lines
  • Wembley Park – Metropolitan and Jubilee Lines.

I don’t know of one outside the London area.

 

November 26, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 4 Comments

What Will Be The Operating Speed Of The New Tube for London?

Transport for London have said that the New Tube for London will definitely be deployed on the Piccadilly, Central and Bakerloo Lines.

These three lines have sections at one or both ends, where the lines run through the countryside and the stations are farther apart.

Only the 1992 Stock of the Central Line have their operating speed given in Wikipedia.. It is 62 mph, which is the same as the S Stock for the sub-surface lines.

The 2009 Stock of the Victoria Line, despite being similar to the S Stock have an operating speed of only 50 mph.

Because of the nature of the ends of the Piccadilly, Central and Bakerloo Lines, will 62 mph be the optimum operating speed for these trains.

I’ll look at the factors on these lines separately.

Piccadilly Line

The Piccadilly Line will be self-contained, after the sorting of the shared sections West Rayners Lane and between Ealing Broadway and Acton Town, that I discussed in Thoughts On The Power System For The New Tube for London.

I suspect the operating speed of the New Tubes for London on the Piccadilly Line, will be decided on what is best for that line.

Central Line

The Central Line is also self-contained and the best operating speed for the line will be chosen.

Bakerloo Line

The Bakerloo Line could be a problem, as currently Class 378 trains run on the same trcks. These have an operating speed of 75 mph.

These Class 378 trains will be replaced by Class 710 trains, which could have a faster performance.

Surely for optimum running, the trains should need similar performance.

The Benefit Of Automatic Train Control

On all the lines on which New Tubes for London will operate, there will be Automatic Train Control.

The operating speed will be set by the control system, whereas the maximum operating speed will be set by the trains design.

So I think we could see a maximum operating speed of 75 mph or even higher for the New Tube for London, so that it could run on faster lines and not slow the other faster trains.

More Speed Means More Powerful Trains And Improved Acceleration And braking

To go faster, you probably need more powerful trains, but the motors required would give better acceleration and braking, that would speed up services, by executing station stops in a shorter time.

Conclusion

I would expect from y Control Engineering training, that the New Tube for London could have a maximum operating speed in-line with the Class 710 train. So around 75-90 mph.

Could we even see an Underground train, that is capable of 100 mph?

It would only rarely, if ever, run at that speed on current plans, but it might enable Underground and National Rail services to share tracks in surprising places.

October 7, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 4 Comments

Thoughts On The Lateness Of Crossrail

This article on the BBC is entitled Crossrail Delay: New London Line Will Open In Autumn 2019.

This is the first paragraph.

London’s £15bn Crossrail project is to open nine months after its scheduled launch to allow more time for testing.

I spent most of my working life, writing software for the planning and costing of large projects and despite never having done any serious project management in anger, I have talked to many who have, both in the UK and around the world.

So what are my thoughts?

Crossrail Is A Highly-Complex Project

The project involves the following.

  • A 21 km double-track tunnel under London.
  • New Class 345 trains
  • Four different signalling systems.
  • Rebuilt stations at West Drayton, Hayes & Harlington, Southall, West Ealing, Ealing Broadway. Acton Main Line, Forest Gate, Manor Park, Ilford
  • Refurbished stations at Hanwell, Maryland, Seven Kings, Goodmayes, Chadwell Heath, Romford, Gidea Park, Harold Wood, Brentford and Shenfield.
  • Major interchanges with existing stations at Paddington, Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road, Farrington, Liverpool Street, Whitechapel and Stratford.
  • New stations at Custom House, Canary Whar, Woolwich and Abbey Wood.

Some parts are easy, but a lot are very difficult.

A Shortage Of Specialist Workers

I believe that certain factors could be reducing the pool of workers available to Crossrail.

Less workers than needed would obviously slow the project.

Having to pay more than budgeted to attract or keep workers will also raise costs.

My thoughts on what is causing a possible shortage of specialist workers follow.

Crossrail-Related Development

If you own a site or a building, near to one of Crossrail’s stations, then your property will substantially increase in value, when the line opens.

Walk past any of the Crossrail stations in Central London and some further out and you will see towers sprouting around the station entrance like crows around a road-kill.

Developers know how to cash-in on the best thing that has happened to them since the Nazis flattened acres of Central London.

New sites are also being created over several Crossrail stations including Moorgate, Farringdon (2 sites), Tottenham Court Road (2 sites), Bond Street (2 sites) and Paddington.

But do all these extensive developments, mean that there are not enough sub-contractors, specialist suppliers, electricians, chippies, air-conditioning engineers, plumbers and other trades to do all the work available in London?

I also suspect a developer, building an office block to the world’s highest standard could pay better and faster, than a Crossrail supplier under pressure.

Underground Working

Working underground or in mining is dangerous.

In the 1960s, women were totally banned from working below the surface.

It must have been around 1970, when I met one of ICI’s archivists; Janet Gornall, who a few years previously had organised storage of their masses of historical documents, in the company salt mine at Winsford. The mine is still used for document storage, by a company called Deepstore.

Health & Safety found out that Janet would be supervising and indexing the storage underground, so that if any document was required, they could be easily retrieved. This caused them to give the scheme a big thumbs down.

Questions were even asked in the House of Commons, but nothing would change Health & Safety’s view

In the end a simple solution was found..

As the boxes came up from London they were piled up in a large building on the surface, in the position Janet wanted them underground.

The pile of boxes was then moved underground and stacked in exactly the same way.

Nowadays, anybody can work underground, but they must have training and be certified for such work.

Crossrail thought the number of certified underground workers might not be enough, so they set up the Tunnelling and Underground Construction Academy (TUCA) at Ilford. This article on the Crossrail web site is entitled  A Legacy To The Construction Industry.

Some points about TUCA.

  • It is now part of Transport for London.
  • It was funded by Crossrail and the Skills Funding Agency.
  • TUCA is Europe’s only specialist soft-ground tunnelling training facility.

I wrote about TUCA in Open House – TUCA, after a visit in 2012.

I was told on my visit, that the Swiss have a similar facility for rock tunnelling and that there were plans for both academies to work together.

Trainees from all over the world would get training in an exotic Swiss mountain and then go on to enjoy the wonders of Ilford.

But at least they’ll be safe workers for all types of tunnelling.

I do wonder if some of the Crossrail delays has been caused by a lack of properly trained underground workers, as now the tunnelling is completed, many have moved on to the next project.

Thames Tideway Scheme

The Thames Tideway Scheme is a £4billion scheme to build a massive sewer under the Thames to clean up the river.

Many Crossrail engineers, tunnellers and workers are now working on the new scheme.

Brexit

Stuttgart 21 is one of numerous mega-projects in Europe.

Many of the workers on Crossrail were originally from Europe and now with the uncertainties of Brexit, some must be moving nearer home,to work on these large European projects.

Well-Paid Jobs In Sunnier Climes

Don’t underestimate, the effect of the Beast From The East last winter.

Skilled personnel have always gone to places like the Middle East to earn a good crust.

With Crossrail under pressure, how many of these key workers have gone to these places for the money?

Conclusion

I wouldn’t be surprised to find that a shortage of specialist workers is blamed for the delays.

In the BBC article, there is this quote

We are working around the clock with our supply chain and Transport for London to complete and commission the Elizabeth line.

Fairly bland, but does the supply chain include specialist suppliers and workers, which are under severe pressure from other projects to perform various works?

It’s probably true that there is only a finite pool of these companies, tradesmen and workers and at least some of the best will have been lured away.

Station Problems

In this article in the Architects Journal, which is entitled Crossrail Delayed Until Autumn 2019, this is said.

Crossrail then revealed in February that it had overspent its budget for the year to 30 March 2018 by £190 million.

At the time TfL said works at Whitechapel station, designed by BDP, and Farringdon station, designed by AHR, were completed later than expected, and there were delays to work at Weston Williamson’s Woolwich station and John McAslan + Partners’ Bond Street station.

I’ll look at Whitechapel station as an example.

You don’t need to be an expert to figure out that Whitechapel station is running late.

Look at all the blue hoardings.

  • I know this only shows what is visible to the public.
  • The Crossrail platforms deep underground could be ready.
  • The main entrance to the station is still shrouded in plastic.
  • The escalators to get down to Crossrail, will be between the two District/Metropolitan Line platforms.

This Google Map shows the area of Whitechapel station.

Note how the site is hemmed in, by important buildings including a Sainsburys supermarket and Swanlea School.

See An Innovative Use Of The School Holidays, for an insight about how the builders of the station coped with the lack of space.

I also feel that Whitechapel is an incredibly complex station to build.

  • It is crossed by two important railways; the District/Metropolitan Line and the East London Line.
  • Innovative techniques from the coal mining industry had to be used to dig the escalator tunnel.
  • Whitechapel will be the station, where passengers change between the two Eastern branches.

I do wonder, whether a different design would have been easier to build.

For instance, could Sainsburys have been paid to shut their superstore and that site used to build the station?

But Crossrail has chosen a design and now they must build it.

The New Class 345 Trains

The new Class 345 trains for Crossrail are an almost totally new design called Aventra by Bombardier, that I believe has been specifically created to make the operation of Crossrail as efficient as possible.

The trains must have something about them, as since launch they have attracted five more substantial orders, from five different operators.

The introduction into service of the Class 345 trains,has been reasonably straightforward, but not without some issues.

But I do question, the launching of Aventra trains solely on a line as complex as Crossrail.

Would it have been easier to have built the Class 710 trains first and thoroughly debugged them on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line.

But then that electrification was late.

Four Types Of Signalling

Crossrail needs trains to have four different types of signalling.

I know that as Crossrail runs on other lines with these signalling and going to a single system like ETCS would need to the changing of signalling systems on much of the railways in the South-East and the trains that use them.

It appears that there are problems for the trains running into Heathrow and one of the reasons for the Crossrail delayed opening, is to allow more time to test the trains and the signalling.

From my experience of writing complex software systems, where my software needed to interface with two operating systems, I know that you can never put too much time into testing complex systems.

So where is the dedicated test track, where trains can simulate the signalling of Crossrail routes, day in and day out?

I believe that not enough time and money was allocated to test this complex system.

Crossrail has found out the hard way.

Europe Has A Lack Of Train Test Tracks

A lot of European nations are ordering new trains and the UK is probably ordering more than most.

Reading the railway stories on the Internet, there are lots of stories about trains being brought into service late. And not just in the UK, but in Germany and Italy for example.

Crossrail identified that there was a need for a training academy for underground workers.

Did anybody do the calculations to make sure, there was enough test tracks for all the trains being built in Europe?

However, it does look as though Wales is coming to rescue Europe’s train makers, as I describe in £100m Rail Test Complex Plans For Neath Valley.

I suspect Crossrail wish this test complex had been completed a couple of years ago.

A Shortage Of Resources

For successful completion of projects on time and on budget, there must be enough resources.

I believe that, when the lateness and overspend on Crossrail is analysed, shortage of resources will be blamed.

  • Shortage of people and suppliers, that has not been helped by other projects taking advantage of new opportunities offered by Crossrail.
  • Shortage of space for work-sites at stations.
  • Shortage of places to fully test trains and signalling.

I suspect that the last will be the most serious.

Hugo Rifkind On A Late Crossrail

In an excellent article in today’s copy of The Times entitled Leavers Have A Cheek Trying To Block HS2, Hugo Rifkind says this about Crossrail.

You think we’ll remember, 50 years from now. that Crossrail took six months longer than expected?

Rubbish. London will rest on it like a spine and boggle that we ever managed without.

I think Rifkind is right.

Will Hutton

Will Hutton has written this article in the Guardian, which is entitled Don’t Moan About Crossrail. Once Complete, It Will Be A Rare Triumph In Our Public Realm.

He says this.

Let’s sing a different tune. The railway line, more than 60 miles long, linking Reading and Heathrow in the west to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east – adding 10% to London’s commuter rail capacity – and set to carry around 200 million passengers a year, will be a fantastic achievement. Its 13-mile-long tunnels run more than 100ft under the capital’s streets, navigating everything from underground sewers to the deep foundations of skyscrapers with superb engineering aplomb. The longstanding reproach is that Britain can’t do grand projects. Crossrail, now christened the Elizabeth line, is proof that we can.

He then goes on to criticise the structure of the construction project, the salaries paid and the current Government.

But I suspect that in a few yeas time, Hutton, Rifkind and myself could have a quiet pint and say Crossrail got it right.

Current Developments That Will Help Bridge The Delay

It’s not as if, no new transport developments won’t happen in the time before Crossrail eventually opens in Autumn 2019.

Trains Providing More Capacity

These trains will be providing extra capacity.

  • New Class 717 trains will be running on the services to and from Moorgate station.
  • New Class 710 trains will be running on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line.
  • New Class 710 trains will be running on the Lea Valley Lines to Cheshunt, Chingford and Enfield Town stations.
  • New Class 710 trains will be running on the Watford DC Line.
  • Cascaded Class 378 trains and new Class 710 trains will be running extra services on the original circular service of the London Overground.
  • More Class 345 trains will be providing all of Crossrail’s services to Heathrow and Shenfield.
  • New Class 720 trains or something similar or older, will be providing four trains per hour (tph) between Stratford and Meridian Water stations.

Note that before the end of 2019, nearly a hundred new trains will be delivered.

New And Rebuilt Stations

There will be some new or rebuilt stations.

  • Acton Main Line
  • Forest Gate
  • Gidea Park
  • Hayes & Harlington
  • Manor Park
  • Maryland
  • Meridian Water
  • Northumberland Park
  • Tottenham Hale
  • West Drayton
  • West Ealing
  • West Hampstead

This list may contain other stations.

Underground Improvements

There will also be Underground improvements.

  • The Central Line Improvements Programme will increase capacity and reliability on the Central Line.
  • The Metropolitan Line is being upgraded with new signalling.
  • Up to ten Underground stations may be made step-free before the end of 2019.

The improvements to the Central and Metropolitan Lines, through Central London will compensate for the delaying of Crossrail’s core tunnel.

A Few Questions

I have to ask questions.

Will The High Meads Loop Be Used?

This would provide an excellent interchange between the following services.

  • Local services to Hertford East and Bishops Stortford stations,  including the new STAR service, along the West Anglia Main Line.
  • Stansted Express and Cambridge services to and from Stratford.
  • Fast Greater Anglia services to Chelmsford, Colchester, Southend and further, along the Great Eastern Main Line.
  • Crossrail services between Liverpool Street and Shenfield.
  • Central Line services.

There is also only a short, but tortuous walk to the Jubilee Line for London Bridge and Waterloo stations and Central London.

Based on the experience of the Wirral Loop under Liverpool, which handles sixteen tph, I believe that the High Meads Loop could handle a substantial number of trains, that instead of using the crowded lines to Liverpool Street station, would use the new uncrowded route from Tottenham Hale to Stratford via Lea Bridge station.

Moving services to Stratford from Liverpool Street would also free up platforms at the major terminus, which could be used to provide extra services on the Great Eastern Main Line.

The extra capacity might also enable the lengthening of the Crossrail platforms at Liverpool Street to be extended, so they could take full-length Class 345 trains.

No new extra infrastructure would be required at Stratford, although in future, a platform to connect the loop to Stratford International station would be nice.

I will be very surprised if the High Meads Loop is not used creatively in the future.

Will Some New Pedestrian Tunnels At Stations Like Liverpool Street And Paddington Be Opened?

I use Moorgate and Liverpool Street stations regularly.

There are blue walls everywhere, behind which the Crossrail infrastructure is hiding.

I do hope Crossrail and Transport for London are looking at the possibilities of using completed infrastructure to create new walking routes in stations to ease congestion.

Conclusion

Crossrail was designed to be opened in four phases over two years.

I am drawn to the position, that because of various resource shortages and the testing of trains, perhaps the project could have been arranged as perhaps a series of smaller projects delivered over a longer period of time.

 

 

 

 

 

September 4, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

A Pedestrian Connection Between City Thameslink Station And St. Paul’s Tube Station

In the Wikipedia entry for City Thameslink station, there is a section called Future Proposals.

This is said.

An underground passageway linking City Thameslink to St Pauls tube station to provide an interchange between the London Underground Central line and National Rail services on the Thameslink (route) has been suggested by London TravelWatch in a report in 2014 which suggested it would benefit passengers travelling from the Central Line catchment to Gatwick and Luton Airports.

St. Paul’s tube station does not have the best access, with two sets of escalators to get to the Easttbound platform, which is underneath the Westbound one.

This picture shows the lobby at the bottom of the second set of escalators.

The Eastbound platform is through the opening on the left.

Could a tunnel to the West be built from this lobby?

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the layout of lines at City Thameslink and St. Paul’s.

It would appear that a pedestrian tunnel could be bored from the Western end of the platforms at St. Paul’s to connect to the Northern end of City Thameslink.

  • A travelator could be included.
  • It would create an accessible route into St. Paul’s station.
  • Intermediate entrances could be provided to give access to important sites like the Western end of St. Paul’s cathedral.

Property development between the two stations will probably be the catalyst to get this link built.

These pictures show Paternoster Square, which lies to the North of St. Paul’s cathedral.

I wonder if provision was made for an entrance, when the area was redeveloped around twenty years ago.

It would surely be an ideal place for an intermediate step-free entrance to any pedestrian tunnel linking St. Paul’s and City Thameslink stations.

Conclusion

Done properly, it would do the following.

  • Add step-free access at one of London’s most important stations for tourists.
  • Create a link between Thameslink and the Central Line.
  • Create a shared entrance to both stations in the Paternoster Square area.

Obviously, the figures would have to add up.

March 12, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 3 Comments