The Anonymous Widower

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.

CBTC – Communications-Based Train Control

ETCS – European Train Control System

AWS – Automatic Warning System

TPWS – Train Protection & Warning System

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 project 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. Therailway 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 | Travel | , , , , , , , | 3 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 | Travel | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Here Are 31 Better Names For City Thameslink, The Worst Name For A Railway Station Ever Devised

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

I tend to agree, as the name doesn’t give too much information about the location, unless you’re a Londoner or someone, who knows about Thameslink.

Look at the passenger statistics for 2013-14 for the station and its neighbours.

They are in line with their neighbours, but nothing special.

So would a renaming help.

Of the thirty-one names proposed by CityMetric, one name stands out to me. This is St. Paul’s West.

These pictures show City Thameslink station.

Note.

  • It is a double-ended station.
  • The Northern entrance is on Holborn Viaduct.
  • The Southern entrance is on Ludgate Hill.
  • There are escalators and lifts at both ends.
  • The station name is given on the platform as City Thameslink for St. Paul’s Cathedral.

This is a Google Map of the area.

Note St. Paul’s cathedral and Southern entrance to City Thameslink station are connected by Ludgate Hill. As Ludgate Hill suggests, it is uphill to the cathedral.

So perhaps a name like Ludgate and St. Paul’s West, might be better.

There could always be a referendum or an on-line vote. But some wag would come up with an unsuitable name that would win.

City Thameslink station is a modern high-capacity station.

  • The station is fully accessible.
  • The platforms accept twelve-car Class 700 trains.
  • Thameslink will soon be running twenty-four trains per hour (tph) in both directions.
  • Northern destinations include Bedford, Cambridge, Luton Airport, Peterborough, Saint Pancras International and Stevenage.
  • Southern destinations include Brighton, Gatwick Airport, Littlehampton, London Bridge, Maidstone, Rainham and Sevenoaks.
  • There is commercial development over much of the station, some of which is better than others.

I have also read that the signalling of Thasmeslink could accept thirty tph through the Snow Hill Tunnel. So the station could see a twenty-five percent increase in train capacity.

What the station needs is better East-West connections to make better use of the station.

Crossrail

Crossrail connects to Thameslink, one station to the North at Farringdon station, which is not a long walk.

A Pedestrian Connection To St. Paul’s Tube Station

I believe this is possible and I wrote about it in A Pedestrian Connection Between City Thameslink Station And St. Paul’s Tube Station.

A Connection To The Docklands Light Railway

This map from Transport for London, shows the possible Western extension of the DLR.

I wrote about this extension in detail in A Connection Between City Thameslink Station And The Docklands Light Railway.

Conclusion

City Thameslink station could grow significantly in importance.

As to the name, if it grows in importance, perhaps it deserves a more important name?

The French would name it after an important politician, artist, philosopher or soldier!

We don’t do that!

If City Thameslink station ends up with a good pedestrian connection to St. Paul’s station and the cathedral, perhaps the whole station complex should just be called St. Paul’s.

 

 

 

 

February 8, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 4 Comments

Are Transport for London Planning For The Future In The West?

Over a dozen Underground stations in West London have been earmarked for upgrading to step-free access.

I listed them in West London Stations To Be Made Step-Free.

There are various common properties.

  • Boston Manor and Osterley stations are on the Heathrow branch of the Piccadilly Line, which when updated would make the branch  seventy percent step-free.
  • Hanger Lane and Northolt stations are on the West Ruislip branch of the Central Line, which when updated would make the branch seventy-one percent step-free.
  • Ickenham, Ruislip, Sudbury Hill and Park Royal are on the Uxbridge branch of the Piccadilly Line, which when updated would make the branch  sixty percent step-free.
  • Hanger Lane and Park Royal stations are a valid out-of-station interchange.
  • Sudbury Hill and Sudbury Hill Harrow are a valid out-of-station interchange.
  • Ickenham and West Ruislip are a valid out-of-station interchange.
  • Ealing Broadway and Old Oak Common are developing into major interchanges.

With Crossrail going through West London and due to be fully-open in a couple of years, transport in West London is certainly going to get better for all.

But other things will or possibly could happen.

New Trains On The Piccadilly Line

The Piccadilly Line is in some ways an odd one out of London Underground lines.

  • Only 28 % of the line’s stations have an interchange with other lines or National Rail compared with 94 % for the Victoria Line.
  • Only two of the major London terminals; Kings Cross and St. Pancras International, are served by the Piccadilly Line and very badly in truth!
  • The line has no interchange with Crossrail.
  • The line has a terminus at Heathrow.
  • The line runs extensively in West London on old District Line tracks, so there are a lot of stations in the area, where platform-to-train access is bad.

The trains are also some of the oldest on the London Underground.

Under Future Upgrades in the Wikipedia entry for the line, this is said.

The intention is for the new trains to eventually operate on the Bakerloo, Central, Piccadilly and Waterloo & City lines. On current plans, resignalling work on the Piccadilly line will begin in 2019 and new trains should be in service by 2022.

Wikipedia also says this about the trains.

  • The trains will be lightweight, low-energy and semi-articulated.
  • The trains will have a battery capability to take them to the next station in case of power failure.
  • The trains will have a low-floor. Will this be lower than current trains? Probably yes, as it would increase headroom.
  • The trains will have an 11 % higher capacity than the existing trains.
  • The trains could have air-conditioning.

I would add the following comments and pedictions.

  1. The trains will be designed for quicker exit and entry to the trains.
  2. The trains will shorten journey times.
  3. The trains will be wheelchair and buggy friendly.
  4. The batteries on the train will be used to handle regenerative braking.
  5. The trains will have air-conditioning, as passengers will demand it.
  6. A solution will be found, so that there is level platform-to-train access at all stations.

Point six will be difficult, but in my view this must be done to enable trains to spend as little time as possible, whilst calling at a station.

Perhaps trains will adjust their ride height as they approach a station, by adding and releasing air from the suspension.

If this level access can be achieved by a clever train design, the expense and disruption of rebuilding station platforms substantially, could be reduced.

Unfortunately, some Piccadilly Line platforms are also used by the larger S Stock trains, so any technological advantages must be made on the new Piccadilly Line trains.

Piccadilly Line To Ealing Broadway

Ealing Broadway station is being upgraded for Crossrail.

In the November 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, there is a Capital Connection supplement, which discusses London’s railways.

On Page 7 in a section about the sub-surface lines, this is said.

One possibility being discussed is that the Piccadilly should take over the District’s Ealing Broadway service. This would free up space on the South side of the inner-London circle for more City trains off the Wimbledon branch, one of the sub-surface network’s most-crowded routes.

On Page 15 in a section about the Mayor’s plans, this is said.

It is suggested Piccadilly Line services run to Ealing Broadway instead of the District Line, enabling increased frequencies on the latter’s Richmond and Wimbledon branches.

As the plan is mentioned twice, certainly the proposal is being thought about.

I discussed this in some detail in Is There Going To Be More Change At Ealing Broadway Station?

Distilling my thoughts from last year and what I’ve seen recently, I have the following thoughts, if the Piccadilly Line had a branch to Ealing Nroadway station.

  • The Piccadilly Line would have a two-platform step-free terminus, capable of handling twelve trains per hour (tph)
  • Increasing Piccadilly Line frequencies through the core, probably needs another high capacity terminal in the West.
  • The Piccadilly Line would have an interchange with Crossrail and Great Western Railway for Heathrow, Oxford and Reading.
  • In the later 2020s, when the Piccadilly and Central Lines are running the same new deep-level trains, Ealing Broadway would only handle one type of Underground train.
  • As Ealing Broadway, Ealing Common and Acton Town stations would only handle the new deep-level Underground trains, platform-to-train access problems could be solved by lowering the platforms.

The current Piccadilly Line service in the West is as follows.

  • Twelve tph to Heathrow
  • Six tph to Rayner Lane station, with three tph continuing to Uxbridge.
  • Three tph to Northfields

The new trains and signalling, must surely increase the core frequency from the current 21 tph to something approaching the 36 tph of the Victoria Line.

I suspect that twelve tph to Ealing Broadway would fit well, with both the needs of the Piccadilly Line and Crossrail’s frequency of twelve tph.

There are other problems to sort out, but Piccadilly Line trains to Ealing Broadway station could be an excellent plan.

Piccadilly Line To Heathrow

The Heathrow branch of the Piccadilly Line will be seventy percent step-free, after Boston Manor and Osterley stations are upgraded.

I think the time will come in the next few years to bite the bullet and do the following on the branch.

  • Make all street-to-platform fully step-free.
  • Lower the platforms to give level platform-to-train access to the new deep-level trains.

As this branch is Piccadilly Line-only, there should be few related problems.

Piccadilly Line To Rayners Lane and Uxbridge

The Uvbridge branch of the Piccadilly Line will be sixty percent step-free, after Ickenham, Ruislip, Sudbury Hill and Park Royal stations are upgraded.

As with the Heathrow branch, I think that the following should be done.

  • Make all street-to-platform fully step-free.
  • Lower the platforms to give level platform-to-train access tothe new deep-level trains.

The problem is between Rayners Lane and Uxbridge stations, where the branch is shared with the Metropolitan Line.

The following could be done.

  1. Put in extra tracks and platforms.
  2. Live with the  current platforms and step down into a Piccadilly Line train.
  3. All Piccadilly Line trains could terminate at Rayners Lane and from Rayners Lane to Uxbridge is served by Metropolitan Line only
  4. As the platforms are long and all trains are walk-through, clever platform design with Harrington Humps could be a solution.

Only option 4 would be an affordable solution, that might be acceptable to all stakeholders.

Central Line To Uxbridge

In the Wikipedia entry for the Central Line, this is said.

The Central crosses over the Metropolitan and Piccadilly lines’ shared Uxbridge branch near West Ruislip depot, and a single track linking the two routes was laid in 1973. The London Borough of Hillingdon has lobbied TfL to divert some or all Central trains along this to Uxbridge, as West Ruislip station is located in a quiet suburb and Uxbridge is a much more densely populated regional centre. TfL has stated that the link will be impossible until the Metropolitan line’s signalling is upgraded in 2017.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines around Ruislip Depot.

Note.

  1. The Central Line is shown in red.
  2. The track used by the Piccadilly and Metropolitan Lines is the bluey colour.
  3. The Chiltern Main Line is shown in black.
  4. Ickenham and Ruislip stations will soon have some measure of step-free access.
  5. Ickenham and West Ruislip stations are a  valid out-of-station interchange, with a walk of 1.1 miles.

Would running Central Line trains to Uxbridge be feasible?

Uxbridge station has four platforms and currently has the following Off Peak services.

  • Metropolitan  – 8 tph to Aldgate
  • Piccadilly – 3 tph to Cockfosters

With these frequencies in the morning Peak.

  • Metropolitan  – 6 tph to Aldgate
  • Metropolitan  – 4 tph to Baker Street
  • Piccadilly – 6 tph to Cockfosters

West Ruislip has a 3 tph Off Peak service.

Uxbridge with four platforms can probably handle up to twenty-four tph with modern signalling, so there should be scope once the the new signalling is installed on the Metropolitan Line for changes to be made.

It may need new trains on both the Central and the Piccadilly Line, that can use the new signalling, before full advantage could be taken of running Central Line trains to Uxbridge.

But at some time in the future, it looks like the following would be possible on the West Ruislip branch of the Central Line.

  • 4 tph to West Ruislip
  • 4 tph to Uxbridge

That would be a very worthwhile service.

The Greenford Branch

The Greenford Branch is one of those lines in London and the South East, that have a low priority for the train operating companies.

Others include.

Twenty years ago, you would have included the North London and the Gospel Oak to Barking Lines. But look at those two now!

The Greenford Branch is typical of this sort of line.

  • Single platform at each end.
  • Two tph run by a single train.
  • Elderly trains.
  • No electrification
  • No Sunday service
  • More information.
  • Virtually no marketing.
  • Poor interchange at West Ealing station, although interchange at Greenford is excellent.

All of these lines could benefit from a common philosophy.

  • Four tph where possible, to encourage Turn-Up-And-Go.
  • A viable train use philosophy.
  • Modern electric trains that attract passengers.
  • Good interchange at the principal station or stations.

A plan for the Greenford Branch has yet to emerge.

However Crossrail will change everything.

  • Up to twelve tph could stop at West Ealing station.
  • West Ealing station will have full step-free access between the Greenford Branch, Crossrail and GWR services.
  • Passengers might use the line with heavy bags to get to and from Heathrow.
  • Management of West Ealing station may pass to Transport for London.

On a cold, wet day, passengers changing to the Greenford Branch will not want to wait half an hour for the next train to Greenford and the intermediate stations.

Increased passenger numbers and pressure for good service will require a four tph frequency on the Greenford branch.

  • This will require two trains.
  • Better customer service will be needed.

|As the two end stations could both be under Transport for London control, would it be sensible to pass management of the line to that organisation and run the line under the Overground banner?

But what trains could be used?

  • As the line is not electrified and platforms can only handle two- or possibly three-car trains, London Overground’s standard four-car Class 710 trains would not be suitable.
  • Class 172 trains could be used, but these are going to West Midlands Trains.
  • Passengers might accept a modernised British Rail era diesel like a Class 150 train.
  • There is also the Class 230 train, which West Midlands Trains will be using on the Marston Vale Line.
  • Could Bombardier create a three-car Aventra with on board energy storage, that would be charged at either or both ends?

My money would be on one of the last two options.

  • A standard electric train would require electrification of the branch.
  • There would be servicing problems with a small diesel fleet.
  • Class 230 trains have been designed for remote servicing, so three trains would work.
  • The diesel trains and the Class 230 train would require little if no infrastructure changes.
  • The branch is under three miles long, so a return trip is probably well within range of a battery train.
  • A three-car Aventra with on board energy storage would have many applications in the UK.
  • The Aventra with on board energy storage  would require little if no infrastructure changes, except for some extra overhead wires to create a charging point at West Ealing.

London Overground will probably go for a surprising, but cost-effective solution.

Onward From Greenford

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines at Greenford station.

There must surely be possibilities to extend the current passenger service to the West.

  • It would create a West Ealing to West Ruislip feeder service for Crossrail.
  • Greenford station would need extra platforms on the Acton-Northolt Line.
  • Train length would be less of a problem and four-car trains could probably be used.

It would fit well with restoring passenger services on the Acton-Northolt Line.

Old Oak Common To West Ruislip On The Acton-Northolt Line

Network Rail have plans to reinstate passenger services on the Acton-Northolt Line, so that Chiltern Railways can have an extra London terminal with a connection to Crossrail, High Speed 2 and the London Overground. Under Chiltern Main Line Connection, in the Wikipedia entry for Old Oak Common station, this is said.

Network Rail has proposed that the Chiltern Main Line should have a second terminal at Old Oak Common to increase capacity on the route as there is no room to expand the station at Marylebone. To do so, services would use the Acton–Northolt line (formerly the “New North Main Line”) and perhaps see Chiltern trains terminating here rather than Marylebone.

A summary report by Network Rail, which was released in 2017, forecast that a new London terminal will be needed by 2043 and proposed Old Oak Common for this role, with upgrading of the Acton-Northolt Line.

I doubt that I’ll see it, as I’ll be 96!

But it does seem a credible idea with questions to ask!

  • Will the route be double- or single-track?
  • Will there be express and/or Metro services?
  • How many interchanges will there be with the Central Line?
  • Will the route be used by Crossrail?
  • Will the route be electrified?

I do think that there will be some very serious thinking going on.

A few thoughts on what could define what might ensue.

High Wycombe Station

High Wycombe station is a three platform station, with a lot of space between the tracks, as this Google Map shows.

It would appear there is space for the station to be developed, as a terminus for more services from London.

The Chiltern Metro

According to Wikipedia, Chiltern Railways have ambition to create a Chiltern Metro. Wikipedia says this.

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). This ‘Chiltern Metro’ service was not programmed into the last round of franchising agreements.

This sounds to be a good idea but it would need a dedicated platform at Marylebone and is there sufficient capacity on the Chiltern Main Line to accommodate the number of extra trains required to West Ruislip.

Crossrail

How Crossrail will affect London is totally unpredictable.

  • Currently, the system is planned to run 24 tph between Heathrow, Paddington and Reading in the West and Abbey Wood and Shenfield in the East.
  • Various sources show that Crossrail has been built for 30 tph.
  • I wouldn’t be surprised to see the route move to a Thameslink or East London Line model, where two or four tph run to other destinations outside the core.

Ebbsfleet, Gravesend and Milton Keynes have been mentioned for expansion, but what about Basingstoke, Beaulieu, High Wycombe, Oxford and Southend?

Electrification

Three factors will be the main drivers if the Acton-Northolt Line is electrified for Network Rail’s proposed passenger services to Old Oak Common.

  • Extension of Crossrail to High Wycombe would surely need the Acton-Northolt Line to be electrified and possibly double-tracked.
  • The next generation of multi-mode trains will operate on a mixture of electric, diesel, hydrogen and battery power.
  • The ambition of Chiltern Railways.

I think on balance, if the Acton-Northolt Line is reopened to passenger services, it will be electrified.

Space could be limited as this picture from Hangar Lane station shows.

But most problems should be possible to solve, by lowering track  and rebuilding some bridges.

North Acton Station

North Action station could be updated in the following ways.

  • Extra platforms for the Acton-Northolt Line.
  • A connection to the North London Line.
  • Over-site development.
  • More spacious station buildings.

Note also that North Acton station could be a calling point on the West London Orbital Railway.

On the other hand, Old Oak Common station might handle a lot of these connections, so I suspect that if North Acton station has a connection, it will be led by the needs of property developers.

Park Royal Station

Park Royal station could be rebuilt with Hanger Lane station as an interchange between the Central and Piccadilly Lines, with extra platforms for the Acton-Northolt Line.

Again, property development will decide what happens.

Hanger Lane Station

This Google Map shows the location of Hanger Lane station in the middle of the Hanger Lane Gyratory.

Note the following.

  • The Central Line train in the Westbound platform.
  • The double-track of the Acton-Northolt Line to the North of the Central Line station.
  • Inside the ring of roads, there would appear to be a large site, that could be suitable for redevelopment, as perhaps offices or housing.

These pictures show the site in the middle of the roads.

Note.

  1. To call the site a junk-yard would be a compliment.
  2. Hanger Lane station is going to be made step-free.
  3. A  tunnel for HS2 will pass underneath., following the route of the Acton-Northolt Line.
  4. There are HS2 notices about. Are HS2 going to use the dump for a ventilation shaft for a tunnel underneath?

It would not be the most difficult design project in the world to make provision for platforms on the Acton-Northolt Line, to future-proof the station for Crossrail or any Chiltern service to Old Oak Common.

This is the sort of development that I like!

Imagine the following.

  • A cluster of perhaps four very high residential and office towers, reaching above the pollution and noise of the traffic.
  • A ring of trees could also shield the development from the traffic.
  • The tracks of the Acton-Northolt Line could be slewed to take advantage of an island platform.
  • Trains running at least four tph to Old Oak Common.
  • Crossrail could continue across Central London.
  • Trains could run to West Ruislip or High Wycombe in the West.
  • London Underground running up to ten tph on the Central Line.
  • Developers will integrate the station, the development and the required local services.

The possibilities are dramatic.

In the next decade or so, as vehicles get less polluting, developments like this will become more common.

Perivale Station

Perivale station is Grade II Listed with some of the worst steps I’ve seen on the London Underground.

Extra platforms on the Acton-Northolt Line and a step-free station would be very difficult.

 

I doubt, there are many stations worse for step-free access in London!

Greenford Station

Greenford station is already step-free, but extra platforms on the Acton-Northolt Line, could be very difficult, due to the different track levels.

But Action-Northolt Line platforms with a step-free connection would give easy access to the Greenford Branch.

Northolt Station

Northolt station is being made step-free and could be extended with extra platforms on the Acton-Northolt Line.

The picture was taken from the Central Line platform and shows  the station building, which almost looks as if it was built to be extended to a platform on the Acton-Northolt Line, which is to the left of the electrified Central Line track.

South Ruislip Station

South Ruislip station already has platforms on both lines.

Ruislip Gardens Station

Ruislip Gardens station probably wouldn’t need a connection to the Chiltern Line.

West Ruislip Station

West Ruislip station already has platforms on both lines.

A Possible Heavy Rail Service Between Old Oak Common and West Ruislip

Consider.

  • Central Line trains take seventeen minutes between North Acton and West Ruislip with six intermediate stops.
  • So I think it likely that a modern train could travel from Old Oak Common to West Ruislip in about fifteen minutes, with perhaps stops at three or four stations like North Acton, Hanger Lane, Greenford, Northolt and South Ruislip.
  • The Acton-Northolt Line is a mixture of single and double track. with some space for a second track.
  • All stations except Old Oak Common could have step-free interchanges with the bCentral Line.

It could either be a service linked to Chiltern or Crossrail.

I can’t help feeling that eventually, this service will be part of Crossrail.

Conclusion

The railway changes that are happening will certainly allow a lot more development in West London.

 

 

 

 

January 31, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Stations On The West Ruislip Branch Of The Central Line To Be Made Step-Free

Hanger Lane and Northolt stations are going to be made step-free.

I took these pictures on the 25th January 2018

Hanger Lane

Northolt

Summary

No work has started!

These two stations are similar in design, as are most stations from between Perivale and Ruislip Gardens.

  • Each has a single island platform.
  • Steep stairs come down in the middle of the platform.
  • A single lift would make the stations step-free from ticket hall to platforms.
  • Hanger Lane would need an extra lift from street to ticket hall.

Only Greenford, which has a junction with the Greenford Branch and is elevated, is built to different design.

Greenford Station’s Inclined Lift

At Greenford, an inclined lift has been used, as I wrote in The Inclined Lift In An Improved Greenford Station.

This picture was taken at Greenford station.

Could this be fitted alongside a rebuilt staircase on these Central Line stations?

  • The lift and stairs would be sized to fit across the platform.
  • A bigger hole in the ticket hall would be needed.
  • Access under the stairs would not be needed for passengers.
  • An inclined lift installation might be more popular with the Heritage Lobby.

It could even be possible to keep the station open during the rebuilding work.

This article on Transport For All is entitled London’s First Incline Lift. This is a paragraph.

Research by Ealing Council shows that installing incline lifts are a cost effective solution for making inaccessible stations step-free. TfL initially estimated a cost of £10m to install a traditional vertical lift at Greenford station. The incline lift makes a huge saving as it only costs £2.2m with a proposed £200,000 contribution from Ealing Council.

That is a 78% cost saving.

I can’t find any complaints on the Internet about the installation at Greenford.

What Are Transport for London’s Plans?

Transport for London have stated that their aim is to eventually have all Underground stations with full step-free access.

I have this feeling that Hanger Lane and Northolt were added to the list for these reasons.

  • The success of the inclined lift at Greenford station.
  • Studies have shown that inclined lifts could be used at these stations.
  • The affordability of inclined lifts.
  • Local residents have used Greenford’s lift and want one!
  • Ruislip Gardens, South Ruislip and Perivale stations could be made step-free in the same way.

Transport for London could be going for a traditional solution! But I doubt it!

 

January 25, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Eastern Central Line Stations To Be Made Step-Free

Five stations at the Eastern End of the Central Line are to be made step-free.

These pictures show the various stations. on the 22nd January 2018.

Buckhurst Hill

Work is already underway to reopen an old subway at the Southern end of the station. A completion date of Summer 2018 is displayed.

Will lifts be added to this subway?

Debden

No work has started yet! Will the current bridge be replaced?

Newbury Park

Work has started. A completion date of Summer 2018 is displayed.

Snaresbrook

No work has started yet! Will the current bridge be replaced?

South Woodford

No work has started yet!

Summary

These stations were built by the Great Eastern Railway in the nineteenth century, with the exception of Newbury Park, which was built for the Central Line after the Second World War.

The Great Eastern stations show their heritage with good brickwork, period features and a good selection of wrought iron bridges.

Newbury Park station is Grade II Listed because of the hideous concrete bus station.

What Are Transport for London’s Plans?

Transport for London have stated that their aim is to eventually have all Underground stations with full step-free access.

There are twenty station East of Stratford station on the Central Line.

Currently, four have some degree of step-free access, so these five added stations would bring the step-free stations to forty-five percent.

Could all this work, be due to the fact, that when Crossrail opens, the Eastern section of the Central Line will effectively become a branch of London’s new line? The two lines will have a step-free cross-platform interchange at Stratford.

Will this give a marketing advantage, as there will now be a totally step-free route from a lot of Eastern Central Line stations to the West End, Paddington andHeathrow?

Could car parking be a factor?

  • Only Debden and Newbury Park stations, of those being made step-free have car parks with over a hundred spaces.
  • Disabled spaces are generally less than ten.
  • Of the other step-free stations in the area, only Epping has a large car park.

It is probably more affordable to add step-free access to stations, than provide disabled parking spaces, closer into London.

Onward To Ongar

Currently, there are no plans to extend the Central Line to Ongar.

But I do wonder, if this could be reconsidered in the future.

  • The roads will get more congested.
  • More housing is built in this part of Essex.
  • Crossrail will probably attack passengers to use the Central Line.
  • The Central Line’s new trains in a few years will cut journey times and add capacity.

What will probsbly decide the matter is overcrowding at Epping station.

 

 

 

 

January 23, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 2 Comments

Updating The Central Line

The Central Line will breathe two huge sighs of relief in the next eighteen months.

  • The Elizabeth Line will open between Abbey Wood and Paddington stations in December 2018.
  • The Elizabeth Line will open between Shenfield and Paddington stations in May 2019.

Travellers, from London, other parts of the UK and abroad will then have the following.

  • Five  East-West interconnected routes across Central London; Metropolitan, Central, Elizabeth, District and Jubilee Lines.
  • Massive transport interchanges at Canary Wharf, Stratford, Whitechapel, Liverpool Street, Farringdon, Tottenham Court Road, Bond Street and Paddington will tie it all together.
  • Liverpool Street. Whitechapel and Stratford will allocate passengers in the East of Central London.
  • Paddington will allocate passengers in the West of Central London.

And this is before the Elizabeth Line opens between Paddington and all stations to Heathrow and Reading in December 2019.

The Central Line After the Elizabeth Line Opens

So will the Central Line become a little-used backwater?

  • Holborn is a major interchange with the Piccadilly Line, which is that line’s only access to the Central or Elizabeth Lines.
  • Oxford Circus is a major interchange with the Victoria  Line, which is that line’s only access to the Central or Elizabeth Lines.
  • Holborn, Oxford Circus, Marble Arch and other stations are destinations in their own right.
  • The overcrowding of the Central Line probably kept passengers away and after freeing up will they come back?

I suspect that in a few years time it will be as busy as it ever was!

Improving the Central Line

It is my view, and probably that of Transport for London, that improvements need to be made to the Central Line.

Three projects are underway.

The Central Line Train Upgrade

This article on Railway-news.com is untitled London Underground’s Central Line Trains Set For Upgrade.

Currently, the Central Line‘s 1992 Stock have DC motors, which will be replaced by more efficient AC motors  and a sophisticated control system.

The cost of the upgrade will be £112.1 million or about £1.3 million per train.

Transport for London are only making a reliability claim for the upgrade. Hopefully, if the trains are more reliable, then more can be in service. so can a higher frequency be run?

I also think in addition, the trains could possibly accelerate faster from stops, thus reducing the dwell times at stations and ultimately the journey times.

  • Epping to West Ruislip currently takes ninety minutes with 38 stops.
  • Ealing Broadway to Newbury Park takes sixty minutes with 24 stops.
  • Northolt to Loughton takes sixty-seven minutes with 28 stops.

Saving just ten seconds on each stop will reduce journey times by several minutes.

I suspect that Transport for London will rearrange the timetable to increase the service frequency from the current twenty-four trains per hour (tph).

It will be interesting to see what frequency of trains and journey times are achieved, when all the Central Line trains have been updated.

Bank Station Capacity Upgrade

This page on the Transport for London web site gives details of this important upgrade at Bank station, which is already underway. It starts with this paragraph.

Bank and Monument stations form the third busiest interchange on the London Underground network. Work we’re doing to substantially improve the capacity of Bank station should finish in 2022.

It lists these improvements.

  • A new railway tunnel and platform for the Northern line that will reduce interchange times and create more space for passengers
  • Step-free access to the Northern line and DLR platforms
  • More direct routes within the station, with two new moving walkways
  • Two new lifts and 12 new escalators
  • A new station entrance in Cannon Street

There will also be a new entrance in Wallbrook Square under the Bloomberg Building, which is planned to open this year.

Comprehensive is a good word to describe the upgrade.

I avoid the Northern Line platforms at Bank because they are so narrow. After the upgrade, I will have no need.

Holborn Station Capacity Upgrade

This page on the Transport for London web site, gives details of this important upgrade at Holborn station. It starts with this paragraph.

We’re proposing changes at Holborn station that would make it substantially easier for customers to enter, exit and move around the station. Subject to funding and permissions, work on the station would start in the early 2020s.

I don’t think this upgrade can come too soon.

As with some parts of Bank station, I avoid Holborn station.

What Still Needs To Be Planned?

The major projects left must surely be upgrading the capacity and providing step-free access at the following Central London stations.

St. Paul’s And Chancery Lane

St. Paul’s and Chancery Lane stations both need step-free access, but the problems of installing lifts at the two stations would be surprisingly similar, as both stations have a similar layout.

  • Both stations will need lift access to the ticket halls, which are below street level.
  • At both stations, the two Central Line tracks are unusually arranged one on top of the other.
  • Even more unusually, the Westbound tunnel is on top at St. Paul’s and the Eastbound tunnel at Chancery Lane.
  • At both stations, escalators lead down to a spacious lobby, which has direct access to the top platform.
  • St. Paul’s has two escalators and a staircase, whereas Chancery Lane has three escalators.
  • From the low-level lobby, two short escalators and a staircase lead down to the bottom platform.

It may be possible to provide lifts that go from the ticket hall to both platforms as before rebuilding in the 1930s, this arrangement was used.

Both stations might also be suitable for the application of inclined lifts.

For instance, would two escalators and an inclined lift handle the lower transfer at both stations?

Oxford Circus

Oxford Circus is a busy interchange, where the Bakerloo, Central and Victoria Lines cross each other.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines at Oxford Circus station.

Note.

  1. The Cemtral Line, shown in red, was built under Oxford Street to avoid disturbing the buildings.
  2. The Bakerloo Line, shown in brown, was built under Regent Street.
  3. The Victoria Line, shown in light blue was cleverly threaded through in the 1960s to give cross-platform interchange with the Bakerloo Line.
  4. The dotted purple lines are the Elizabeth Line.
  5. Between the two dotted lines, the Eastern End of the platforms at Bond Street station can be seen.

These pictures show the buildings at the four corners of Oxford Circus.

Wikipedia says this about these buildings.

Oxford Circus was designed as part of the development of Regent Street by the architect John Nash in 1810. The four quadrants of the circus were designed by Sir Henry Tanner and constructed between 1913 and 1928.

Note.

  1. The building on the North-East corner used to be Peter Robinson and is Grade II Listed.
  2. The other three corner buildings are also Listed.
  3. The shops in the two Southern corners are being refurbished.

I believe that the following is needed at Oxford Circus station.

  • Measures to alleviate the overcrowding.
  • Full step-free access to all platforms.
  • Improved access to the Central Line platforms.
  • Better interchange between the Bakerloo/Victoria platforms and the Central Line.

In some ways, the biggest problem in the next few years will be passengers changing between the Victoria and Elizabeth Lines. Passengers between say Walthamstow and Heathrow will probably want to change between Oxford Circus station and the new Hanover Square entrance to Bond Street station.

  • The planned pedestrianisation of Oxford Street will obviously help, especially if the roads around Hanover Square, like Harewood Place and Princes Street are similarly treated.
  • Joining the Victoria Line at Oxford Circus is not a problem, as there are four entrances to the ticket hall under Oxford Circus, a large number of entrance gates and four escalators down to the trains.
  • But on arrival at the station, you are forced to exit from the station about fifty metres East of the station, which means you’re going the wrong way for the Elizabeth Line.

It strikes me what is needed is a new entrance to the station on the South Western corner of Oxford Circus.

But would this alone satisfy the needs of this station?

More Station Entrances On Oxford Street

For Crossrail, Bond Street station is being given two new entrances in Davies Street and Hanover Square.

But it is also being given another entrance on the North side of Oxford Street, to give better access to the Central and Jubilee Lines.

The picture shows the new entrance tucked away in what will probably become a new development.

So could this technique be used on Oxford Street to improve station access?

Look at the map of the lines at Oxford Circus station earlier in the post and you will notice that the Central Line platforms extend to the East. I took these pictures around where the platforms could end.

Could there be space to squeeze in another entrance to the Eastern end of the Central Line platforms?

It probably won’t be possible whilst traffic is running up and down Oxford Street. But after the road is pedestrianised, it would surely be much easier to dig down to the Central Line , which is not very deep below the surface of Oxford Street.

Marble Arch

Marble Arch station is at the Western end of Oxford Street. Wikipedia says this about the station.

The station was modernised (2010) resulting in new finishes in all areas of the station, apart from the retention of various of the decorative enamel panels at platform level.

But has it got the capacity needed?

It is also not step-free and needs lifts.

New Trains In The Mid 2020s

Under Future and Cancelled Plans in the Wikipedia entry for the Central Line, this is said.

The Central line was the first Underground line to receive a complete refurbishment in the early 1990s, including the introduction of new rolling stock. A new generation of deep-level tube trains, as well as signaling upgrades, is planned for the mid-2020s, starting with the Piccadilly line, followed by the Bakerloo Line and the Central Line.

The new trains would fit well to replace the current trains and give an increase of capacity to the line.

Possible Developments

These are possible developments.

Shoreditch High Street Station

There is a possibility of connecting Shoreditch High Street station to the Central Line.

This is said under Plans in the Wikipedia entry for the station.

There have also been discussions of creating an interchange with the Central line between Liverpool Street and Bethnal Green which runs almost underneath the station. However, this would not be able to happen until after the Crossrail 1 project is complete, due to extreme crowding on the Central line during peak hours.

Given that in a few years time, the following will have happened.

  • There will have been a lot of development in Shoreditch.
  • The East London Line will  have a frequency of twenty-four trains per hour.

The connection may be worth creating.

On the other hand, the Elizabeth Line may make the connection unnecessary, as travellers can use the two connections at Stratford and Whitechapel stations.

Mile End Station

If ever there was a station, where step-free access would surely be worthwhile it must be Mile End station.

Consider.

  • It is a busy station.
  • It has cross-platform access between District/Metropolitan and the Central Lines.
  • It has a cab rank.

Knowing the station fairly well, I suspect fitting the probably three lifts required would not be the most challenging of tasks.

Eastern Improvements

Crossrail has a step-free cross-platform interchange with the Central Line at Stratford, which will have the following effects.

Changing at Stratford will give better access to and from  Oxford Street, Paddington and Heathrow.

Crossrail trains will be larger, more comfortable, better equipped and probably less crowded.

Journey time savings will be six minutes to Bond Street and nineteen minutes to Ealing Broadway stations.

Taken with the improved Central Line trains, it all must result in increased patronage in the East.

But there are twenty stations East of Stratford, of which only four are step-free.

So I suspect that Transport for London will make strenuous efforts to improve the Eastern end of the Central Line.

  • More step-free access.
  • Better bus services.
  • More small retail outlets at stations.

I believe that in ten years time, the Eastern station will be very different.

Western Improvements

West of Marble Arch, there are seventeen stations, of which by 2020 only two will be step-free.; Ealing Broadway and Greenford.

Improvements will probably a similar pattern to the East, although there are rumours of rebuilding some stations.

Conclusion

There’s a lot of scope for improvement in the Central Line.

 

 

November 12, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Oxford Street Could Be Pedestrianised By Next Christmas

The title of this post is the same as the sub-title of this article in the Independent.

The aim is to pedestrianise Oxford Street from Oxford Street to Orchard Street by December 2018, which is the date when the Elizabeth Line will open.

It is an ambitious plan and despite substantial backing from the Mayor, Westminster City Council, the West End Company and groups like the British Heart Foundation, I don’t think it will be plain sailing.

Walking Along Oxford Street

In Walking Along Oxford Street, I show various pictures I took this morning whilst walking between Marble Arch and Tottenham Court Road stations.

Oxford Street looked to have improved, since I last did this. But then it’s a long time since I’ve walked the streets without crowds.

My views are as follows.

Measuring Success Or Failure

The success or failure of the pedestrianisation of Oxford Street is very easy to gauge.

The rate of change of turnover is a direct measure.

The Buses

I regularly go shopping in Oxford Street and often used a bus to travel there and back.

I used to be able to get a 73 bus from either 200 metres from my house or by changing at the Angel. But since the 73 has been cut back to Oxford Circus, I’ve tended to use the Underground, often by taking a bus to Bank for the Central Line.

Under Sadiq Khan’s plan all buses will be removed from Oxford Street and only the 139 and the 390  will remain, being rerouted along Wigmore Street.

A lot of people who go to Oxford Street regularly by bus, will lose their direct bus route. How will they react?

Will they use the Underground or the Elizabeth Line or will they go shopping elsewhere?

Since the 73 has been cut back, I think I’ve also gone to Oxford Street a lot less.

Why? I’ve no idea.

But it could be, that regularly, I’d buy something in John Lewis,Selfridges or perhaps in Bond Street and get straight on a 73 bus to the Angel, where I just got off the bus and waited until a bus home arrived at the same stop. As the 73 buses are New Routemasters, they’re a real shoppers’ bus and a lot easier than the Underground.

The Underground And Crossrail

Oxford Street will have the following stations and entrances as you proceed from East to West.

  • Holborn – Central and Piccadilly
  • Tottenham Court Road (Current Entrance) – Central, Elizabeth and Northern
  • Tottenham Court Road (Dean Street Entrance) – Central and Elizabeth
  • Oxford Circus – Bakerloo, Central and Victoria
  • Bond Street – Central, Elizabeth and Jubilee
  • Marble Arch – Central

Between Oxford Circus and Orchard Street, which will be the first section to be pedestrianised, you’ll never be more than two hundred metres from a fully step-free Elizabeth Line station.

Will this be enough to do away with the buses on Oxford Street?

Holborn station is being expanded with a new entrance, so will Oxford Circus and Marble Arch be upgraded?

Cycling

This will be banned. Although the plan envisages alternative cycle routes to the North and South.

Taxis

These will be banned from Oxford Street. Taxi ranks will be provided.

Will this be acceptable to the taxi drivers?

Uber And Mini-Cabs

These will be banned from Oxford Street.

How will these effect the surrounding streets?

Deliveries

How will these be arranged? You can’t get behind all the shops!

The Stalls

There are lots of stalls selling various goods along Oxford Street.

Will the stallholders give up their pitches quietly, if necessary?

Security

I’m no security expert, but after the latest attacks in the UK and Europe, surely keeping out vehicles must remove the weapon of choice from a large group of terrorists.

Local Residents

There are quite a few residents in the area perhaps two hundred metres on either side of Oxford Street.

They could be the biggest losers with traffic cramming  the side streets.

Timing

Crossrail opens in December 2018. Does this mean the 1st, 31st or some day in between?

How do you time the pedestrianisation of Oxford Street to fit in with Crossrail?

Especially, as December 2018 will probably contain Christmas!

Conclusion

There is going to be a lot of discussion about this scheme.

As to my view, I like pedestrianised streets and Oxford Street should have gone this way years ago.

November 7, 2017 Posted by | Travel, World | , , , , | 13 Comments

Can Between Rayners Lane And Uxbridge Stations Be Step-Free?

I took a Metropolitan Line train to Ucbridge station today and took these pictures, taken at stations between Rayners Lane and Uxbridge stations, where the line is shared between Metropolitan and Piccadilly Lines.

Note.

  1. Between platforms and Metropolitan Line trains access is generally good.
  2. Only Uxbridge and Hillingdon stations are fully step-free.
  3. There is no special provision for Piccadilly Line trains.

Making this section of line fully step-free is going to be difficult.

It may be very much step-free now for Metropolitan Line trains, but look at this picture of a Piccadilly Line train at Rayners  Lane station.

This certainly won’t meet the spirit if not the law of the the Persons of Reduced Mobility regulations.

The Platform Edge Door Issue

This article in London Reconnections is entitled Upgrading the Piccadilly: Calling Time on Mind the Gap?. It is an article that is well worth reading.

This is said about the platform train interface.

On modern transport networks once a system is designed to be UTO-capable then a mandatory requirement almost always now follows – the network or line in question should have platform-edge doors at all stations, including the above ground ones. Furthermore platform levels must be aligned with the floor level of the trains.

UTO means Unattended Train Operation.

I put London Reconnections on my list of trusted sites like The BBC, The Guardian, The Financial Times and several railway web sites, so I would rate this interpretation correct.

The new Piccadilly Line trains will certainly be built to be UTO-capable, as on past form, they will be built to last at least forty years. Could we guarantee that UTO won’t come in during their lifetime?

Note that  one of the regulations associated with trains being UTO-capable, is that platform and train floors must be aligned.

This is not only good for passengers, including those in wheelchairs and buggies, and those overloaded with shopping, but it’s also good for train companies, as dwell times at stations can generally be reduced and staff don’t have to deal with cumbersome wheelchair ramps.

But, I think that these regulations mean that it is very difficult for two types of train to share the same platform.

This principle was probably obvious to the engineer, who designed the platforms at Stratford station in the 1930s, where main line services are on one side and the Central Line is on the other.

The principle certainly seems to be involved in the design of the tram-train interchange platforms at Rotherham Central station.

Lower level extensions are being built at the Sheffield (far) ends of the platforms, so passengers changing, will just walk along the platform.

  • The longer high-level section will be able to handle the longest train likely to call, which will probably be about eight-cars.
  • The shorter low-level section will be able to handle the longest tram likely to call, which will probably be a forty metre Class 399 tram-train.

It’s a simple layout, but it would mean a very long platform, if it were to be used with sub-service and deep-level Underground trains sharing a platform.

Applying The Regulations Between Rayners Lane And Uxbridge Stations

I believe these regulations will mean that only three ways to meet the regulations are possible.

  • Separate tracks and platforms between Rayners Lane and Uxbridge stations.
  • Extremely long bi-level platforms.
  • Only one type of train serves the branch.

The first two options would probably be too expensive, but I believe that by good design and some clever reworking of the tracks at Rayners Lane station.

A Redesigned Rayners Lane Station

So could Rayners Lane station be redesigned to meet all the regulations and provide a much-improved passenger experience.

Step-Free Access

This picture shows the 1930s stairs at Rayners Lane station.

The station may be Grade II Listed, but this is not acceptable any more.

As is the platform-train interface shown in the first picture!

|Adding lifts and improving the stairs will be a major undertaking.

The Metropolitan Line Service

The Peak service is ten trains per hour (tph) in both directions, with a reduction to eight tph in the Off Peak.

Once the Four Lines Modernisation (4LM) is completed in 2023, these frequencies will be increased.

The journey between Aldgate and Uxbridge stations currently takes an hour.

This journey  time is awkward from the point of scheduling the trains. The new signalling will probably reduce this to such a time, that the train could do the journey, turnround and be ready to return within an hour.

This would mean a higher frequency of trains without adding to the fleet. Although, it will probably mean that more drivers will need to be trained, which is a lot more affordable and easier, than buying new trains.

I feel that 10 tph might even be possible with the existing fleet and the new signalling.

But the new signalling will probably allow more semi-fast trains to operate, which might mean an extremely customer-friendly 12 rph were possible all day.

The Piccadilly Line Service

The Peak service is twelve trains per hour (tph) in both directions, with a reduction to six tph in the Off Peak.

Half the trains reverse at Rayners Lane station.

The journey between Kings Cross St. Pncras and Uxbridge stations currently takes an nine minutes over the hour.

The Rayners Lane To Uxbridge Service

Adding the two services together gives a  Peak service of twenty-two trains per hour (tph) in both directions, with a reduction to eleven tph in the Off Peak.

Terminating The Piccadilly Line At Rayners Lane Station

There would be advantages to terminating all Piccadilly Line services at Rayners Lane station.

  • All Piccadilly Line trains would go through the same procedure at Rayners Lane station
  • The journey time would be reduced by fourteen minutes, which would ease train scheduling.
  • There would be no knock on effects, if either line had delays.
  • Signalling and train control at Rayners Lane would be simpler.

But it would need a major rebuilding of the tracks and platforms.

On the Victoria Line, thirty-six tph are handled on two platforms at Walthamstow Central and Brixton stations or eighteen tph on each platform.

So could a single platform at Rayners Lane station handle the Piccadilly Line service?

If it could, it could even be positioned between the two Metropolitan Lines, with an island platform on either side, giving cross-platform operation in both directions.

But because problems do occur, there would probably be two terminal platforms for the Piccadilly Line, as there are at the end of most Underground lines.

I think terminating Piccadilly Line services at Rayners Lane station could be made to work well and provide step-free access at all stations West of Rayners Lane station.

Terminating The Metropolitan Line At Rayners Lane Station

I don’t believe the problems of terminating the Metropolitan Line service at Rayners Lane would be any more difficult, than terminating the Piccadilly Line, but it might offer advantages, after  all the stations on the line had been rebuilt to accept the new UTO-capable Piccadilly Line trains.

  • This would open the possibility of running trains under UTO between Acton Town and Uxbridge stations.
  • Hillingdon Borough Council have been pushing for the Central Line to be diverted from West Ruislip to Uxbridge. This would become possible.
  • The frequency all the way from Acton Town to Uxbridge could easily be raised.

As with terminating Piccadilly Line services at Rayners Lane station, I think that terminating Metropolitan Line services could be used to provide step-free access at all stations West of Rayners Lane station.

Could A Piccadilly Line Service Be Run Between Uxbridge and Ealing Broadway Stations?

In Is There Going To Be More Change At Ealing Broadway Station?, I wrote about rumours of a possible plan to create a new terminus for the Piccadilly Line at Ealing Broadway station, using the route currently used by District Line trains from Ealing Common station.

I came to the following conclusion.

But overall, because it sorts out step-free access in the area, I think it is a good proposal.

I just wonder, if it would be possible for trains to run between Uxbridge and Ealing Broadway station.

This Google Map shows where the Piccadilly Line to Rayners Lane and Ucbridge and the District Line to Ealing Broadway divide , a short distance North of Ealing Common station.

I think that creating the missing side of the triangular junction would be possible, thus allowing a service to be created between Ealing Broadway and Uxbridge stations.

  • All stations would be made step-free and UTO-capable.
  • Twelve tph could be run between Uxbridge and Ealing Broadway in both directions.
  • Ten or welve tph would still be run between Uxbridge and Cockfosters.
  • Twelve tph on both routes would mean a train every two and a half minutes between North Ealing and Uxbridge stations.
  • The route would surely be ideal for running under UTO.
  • A large area of Ealing, Hillington and Harrow would get a frequent link to Crossrail at Ealing Broadway.
  • Extra stations could be added to the route to support development.

If the interchange at Rayners Lane were to be well designed, I doubt there would be any losers.

Could The Central Line Be Extended To Uxbridge?

In the Wikipedia entry for Uxbridge station, in the last sentence of a section called History, this is said.

The London Borough of Hillingdon announced in June 2011 that it would be lobbying Transport for London to have the Central line diverted from West Ruislip station to Uxbridge. Such a project would require a business case approved by TfL and the completion of signal upgrade work on the Metropolitan Line.

So would that be feasible?

Access To Uxbridge Station?

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines to Uxbridge and West Ruislip stations.

 

The lines in the map are as follows.

  • black – Chiltern Main Line
  • blue- Piccsdilly Line
  • mauve – Metropolitan Line
  • red – Central Line

The big red blob is the Central Line’s Ruislip Depot.

Uxbridge station is in the South-West corner.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows where all the lines cross at the North-West end of Ruislip Depot.

I suspect that an efficient connection can be made to allow the Central Line to go to Uxbridge instead of or as an alternative to West Ruislip station.

Note that at some point in the future, it is expected that both the Central and the Piccadilly Lines will use the same type of train. Will Ruislip depot be used for  some Piccadilly Line trains, given its location close to Uxbridge station and the good connection?

Uxbridge Station

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows Uxbridge station.

Note that Uxbridge station has three lines and four platforms.

  • It would surely be much easier to handle the service, if all the trains terminating at Uxbridge were the same type.
  • This would happen, if all Metropolitan Line trains terminated at Rayners Lane station.
  • Two platforms could easily handle twenty-four tph for the Piccadilly Line.
  • Two platforms could easily handle nine tph for the Central Line.

Uxbridge would become a very busy station.

Conclusion

There are a lot of possible improvements that can be done to the train service to Uxbridge.

 

 

October 31, 2017 Posted by | News | , , , , , | 3 Comments

A RAT Sighted At Acton Town Station

I was surprised to see an old train running through North Action station.

As it said on the side it was a Rail Adhesion Train, that I wrote about in Specialist Trains Lead The Charge Against Leaf Fall on The Piccadilly Line.

This article on Rail Engineer is entitled Leaf Fall On The London Underground and it gives more details on Rail Adhesion Trains and their use.

October 22, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment