The Anonymous Widower

Elizabeth Line To Ebbsfleet Extension Could Cost £3.2 Billion

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

These is the first paragraph.

A report looking at transport upgrades across the southeast of England suggests that extending the Elizabeth line into Kent would cost around £3.2 billion. The report, by Transport for the South East (TfSE) also supports the proposal and looks at how it could be funded.

This image from the Abbeywood2Ebbsfleet consultation, shows the proposal.

Note, that there doesn’t appear to be too much new infrastructure, except for a proper connection between Northfleet and Ebbsfleet stations. References on the Internet, say that the similar-sized Luton DART connection at Luton Airport, cost around £225 million.

As the quoted cost is £3.2 billion, I would assume, that  installation of digital signalling on the North Kent Line and the trains that use it, is one of the major costs.

I have some thoughts.

Improvement Is Needed

There are endless jokes, which have a punchline something like, “If you want to go to X, I wouldn’t start from here.”

On Monday, I intend to go to visit my friend; Ian, who lives at Longfield in Kent. Abbey Wood is the nearest Elizabeth Line station to Longfield and it is only seventeen miles away from Abbey Wood, but the quickest way you can do it by train is 64 minutes with a change at Rochester or 79 minutes going back into London and coming out from Victoria.

As before, I leave London, I will be having breakfast with another friend in Moorgate, the Elizabeth Line to Abbey Wood will be a good place to start.

If I got the trains right, I can get between Moorgate and Northfleet in 41 minutes. Northfleet is just 5.5 miles from Longfield.

If Ian, wants to go to London, he usually drives to Ebbsfleet, where there is lots of parking and gets the Highspeed trains to Stratford or St. Pancras. Trains take 12 and 19 minutes to and from the two London termini, but go nowhere near to Canary Wharf, the City of London, Liverpool Street, Oxford Street, Paddington, West London and Heathrow.

I believe that for Ian and the other nearly million residents of West Kent, that the following should be done as soon as possible.

  • Extend the Elizabeth Line to Gravesend, which would give 300,000 more people a local Elizabeth Line station.
  • Build a people-mover between Northfleet and Ebbsfleet stations, which would create a high-capacity rail hub for North-West Kent, with connections to London, Heathrow and the Continent, and massive parking.

Heathrow and Northfleet would take under an hour and a quarter on a direct train.

Current Services Between Abbey Wood And Gravesend

Currently, these services run at some point on the North Kent Line between Abbey Wood And Gravesend stations.

  • Southeastern – London Cannon Street and London Cannon Street  – 2 tph – Via Abbey Wood, Belvedere, Erith and Slade Green.
  • Southeastern – London Cannon Street and Dartford – 2 tph – Via Abbey Wood, Belvedere, Erith, Slade Green and Dartford.
  • Southeastern – London Charing Cross and Gravesend – 2 tph – Via Dartford, Stone Crossing, Greenhithe, Swanscombe, Northfleet and Gravesend.
  • Southeastern HighSpeed – London St Pancras and Ramsgate via Faversham – 1 tph – Via Ebbsfleet International and Gravesend.
  • Thameslink – Luton and Rainham – 2 tph – Via Abbey Wood, Slade Green, Dartford, Stone Crossing, Greenhithe, Swanscombe, Northfleet and Gravesend.

Note.

  1. tph is trains per hour.
  2. I have only indicated stations, where trains stop between Abbey Wood and Gravesend stations.

Aggregating these trains gives the following totals for each station.

  • Abbey Wood – 6 tph
  • Belvedere – 4 tph
  • Erith – 4 tph
  • Slade Green – 6 tph
  • Dartford – 6 tph
  • Stone Crossing – 4 tph
  • Greenhithe – 4 tph
  • Swanscombe – 4 tph
  • Northfleet – 4 tph
  • Gravesend – 5 tph

As stations get at least four tph, with more important ones getting 5 or 6 tph, it appears to be a well-constructed timetable.

Effect Of Changing The London Cannon Street And London Cannon Street From The Erith Loop To A Dartford Service

This should make no difference to the numbers, as the service is now clear of the Elizabeth Line after Slade Green.

Effect Of Cutting Back The London Charing Cross and Gravesend Service To Dartford

This service between London Charing Cross and Gravesend has a frequency of 2 tph and calls at Dartford, Stone Crossing, Greenhithe, Swanscombe, Northfleet and Gravesend.

Cutting it back to Dartford adjusts the totals as follows.

  • Abbey Wood – 6 tph
  • Belvedere – 4 tph
  • Erith – 4 tph
  • Slade Green – 6 tph
  • Dartford – 4 tph
  • Stone Crossing – 2 tph
  • Greenhithe – 2 tph
  • Swanscombe – 2 tph
  • Northfleet – 2 tph
  • Gravesend – 3 tph

Some of the frequencies have halved.

Effect Of Adding Eight tph To Northfleet And Four tph To Gravesend On The London Charing Cross and Gravesend Service

The Elizabeth Line Extension is proposed to add the following trains to the service.

  • 8 tph will continue from Abbey Wood to Northfleet.
  • 4 tph will continue from Abbey Wood to Gravesend.

This adjusts the totals as follows.

  • Abbey Wood – 6 tph
  • Belvedere – 12 tph
  • Erith – 12 tph
  • Slade Green – 14 tph
  • Dartford – 12 tph
  • Stone Crossing – 10 tph
  • Greenhithe – 10 tph
  • Swanscombe – 10 tph
  • Northfleet – 10 tph ( 4 tph – Terminating, 6 tph – Passing through)
  • Gravesend – 7 tph ( 4 tph – Terminating, 3tph – Passing through)

Note.

  1. These surely are frequencies, that will satisfy the most picky traveller.
  2. There are freight trains running on the route.
  3. The tightest section would appear to be between Abbey Wood and Dartford, although Dartford and Northfleet is only two tph less.
  4. West of Northfleet it gets easier.
  5. But I do think though, that full digital signalling between Abbey Wood and Gravesend would be able to handle it.
  6. 14 tph is a frequency that is less than that of the central sections of the East London Line, the Elizabeth Line and Thameslink.
  7. I have flown my virtual helicopter along the line and there may be places to add a third track, which would add more capacity.

I believe that it is possible to achieve the passenger train frequencies in the last table.

Abbey Wood East Junction

This Google Map shows the track layout to the East of Abbey Wood station.

Note.

  1. There are crossovers so trains can run between the Elizabeth Line platforms on the North side of Abbey Wood station and the North Kent Line.
  2. There is space on either side of the railway.
  3. I have my doubts that the current track layout would be able to handle twelve Elizabeth Line, six North Kent Line and possibly a freight train in every hour, especially where flat junctions are involved.

I can see a flyover or dive-under being built in this area to handle the trains efficiently.

Abbey Wood Power Change-Over

Some thoughts.

  • I will assume, that the change-over between 25 KVAC overhead and 750 VDC third-rail power will take place in or near Abbey Wood station.
  • This would avoid any erection of electrification gantries to the East of Abbey Wood station.
  • If the Office of Road and Rail refuse to allow any more third rail, I could see a Headbolt Lane solution being applied, where batteries are used to bridge the 1.4 mile gap between Abbey Wood station with its 25 KVAC overhead electrification and Belvedere station with its 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • North Kent Line trains would take their existing route between Abbey Wood and Belvedere stations.
  • Also, if a comprehensive and efficient track layout is used here, then there might be cost savings if the Elizabeth Line trains supplied their own power from batteries.

An efficient junction to the East of Abbey Wood station, coupled with well-thought out electrification could be key to successfully handling the nearly 20 tph at Abbey Wood station.

Belvedere, Erith And Slade Green Stations

Belvedere, Erith and Slade Green stations are on a double-track section of the line.

  • The three stations are not step-free.
  • There appear to be a lot of industrial sites, that could be developed for housing.
  • There might be the possibility of adding an extra track in places.
  • Luckily, there are no level crossings.
  • There are some footbridges over the railway, that probably need updating to step-free

I suspect that developing the housing on this route will be most important.

Slade Green Depot

This Google Map shows Slade Green depot and the large triangular junction opposite the depot.

Note.

  1. Slade Green station is at the top of the map.
  2. Slade Green depot is in the South-East corner of the map.
  3. The West point of the junction leads to Bexleyheath.
  4. The West and North points of the junction are connected by the Erith Loop.
  5. The South point of the junction leads to Dartford.

There are rail capacity problems in this area.

  • Slade Green depot is not big enough.
  • One train service goes both ways on the Erith Loop between Slade Green and Bexleyheath every thirty minutes, which could be a block on increasing train frequencies between Abbey Wood and Dartford stations.
  • The proposal is saying that the Slade Green and Bexleyheath service will go via Dartford station, where it will probably reverse.

I can see comprehensive redevelopment of the depot and the junction to remove the capacity problems and perhaps build a lot of housing.

  • If the Erith Loop is not used could the centre of the junction be developed with a much-needed extension to the depot?
  • The depot might be moved elsewhere or perhaps rebuilt with tower blocks on the top.

I think that moving the Slade Green and Bexleyheath service via Dartford could mean that the Erith Loop isn’t needed, so this might free up space to increase the size of the depot.

Dartford Station

This Google Map shows Dartford station and the area around the station.

Note.

  1. The station has four long platforms.
  2. It should be able to handle the 12 tph in both directions.
  3. There is a lot of new developments by the station.
  4. The station is step-free.
  5. There are some pictures of Dartford station in Dartford Station – June 27th 2022.

But I do suspect that the station probably needs extra capacity and a substantial rebuild.

Stone Crossing, Greenhithe And Swanscombe Stations

Stone Crossing, Greenhithe and Swanscombe stations will be handling 10 tph.

  • Greenhithe is a new station with full step-free access.
  • But Stone Crossing and Swanscombe stations may need improvement to bring them up to Elizabeth Line standards.
  • More details of Stone Crossing station are given in Stone Crossing Station – June 27th 2022.
  • More details of Greenhithe station are given in Bluewater Shopping Centre By Train.
  • More details of the current state of Swanscombe station are given in Swanscombe Station – June 27th 2022.
  • The one level crossing in the area was closed in 2018.
  • There may be scope to add an extra track at places in this section.

I feel that these three stations could be fairly easy to bring up to the required standards.

Northfleet Station

Northfleet station is a station, which in the words of estate agent; Roy Brooks, would have a lot of potential.

This Google Map shows the station.

Note.

  1. The two tracks through the station are the North Kent Line.
  2. The other two tracks are freight sidings.
  3. The car-parks at Ebbsfleet station are in the South-West corner of the map.
  4. There appears to be a large cleared site to the North-West of the station.

These pictures show the station.

The requirements for the station will be as follows.

  • The ability to handle 6 tph passing through.
  • The ability to be able to handle 4 tph, that terminate at the station.
  • Terminating four tph, will probably need two platforms for all eventualities.
  • Full step-free access.
  • An interchange with Ebbsfleet International station is also needed.
  • Is car parking needed?

There is certainly enough space.

The Pedestrian Link Between Northfleet And Ebbsfleet Stations

This is part of the plan and is shown on the first map in this post.

This Google Map shows Northfleet and Ebbsfleet stations.

Note.

  1. The large Ebbsfleet International station towards the bottom of the map.
  2. Northfleet station on the North Kent Line in the North East corner of the map.
  3. The two stations are about five hundred  metres apart as the  crow flies.

There has been a lot of pressure in the past to build a pedestrian link between the two stations, as reported by the Wikipedia entry for Northfleet station.

The station is very close to Ebbsfleet International station (the NNE entrance is only 334 yards (305 m) from Northfleet’s station), but passengers (using public transport) will find it far easier to access Ebbsfleet International from Gravesend or Greenhithe, as these stations are more accessible and offer easy access to Fastrack bus services. The walking route between the two stations is 0.6 miles (1 km) or 0.8 miles (1.3 km) and a suitable pedestrian link has not been built because of funding issues and objections from Land Securities.

Why when Ebbsfleet International station was built in the early 2000s for opening in 2007, was a pedestrian link not built between the two stations?

How much did omitting the link save?

Luton Airport are building the Luton DART, which is a people mover to  connect Luton Airport Parkway station with the airport.

  • It is 1.4 miles long.
  • It is fully automated.
  • It might have an extra station serving the mid-stay parking.
  • It appears to be taking three years to build.

All of this very comprehensive system appears to be costing around £200 million.

I doubt that a simple pedestrian link, like a bridge with travellators,  would have cost more than a few tens of million pounds.

Will Northfleet/Ebbsfleet Become A Major Railway Hub?

If Northfleet station and the connection to Ebbsfleet is well designed,, I can see this station becoming a major railway hub.

  • It would have Eurostar Continental services.
  • It would have HighSpeed services to London and Kent.
  • It would have Elizabeth Line services to London and Heathrow.
  • It would have Thameslink and Southeastern services.
  • The station would have lots of parking.

I also feel in the future that more Continental services will be developed.

  • Adding extra platforms for Continental services could be easier than at St. Pancras.
  • It could be an ideal terminus for sleeper trains to and from the Continent.
  • I might be the ideal terminus for very long distance trains to and from the Continent.

Northfleet/Ebbsfleet has something that St. Pancras lacks – space.

Gravesend Station

Gravesend station is a rebuilt step-free station with three platforms, as these pictures show.

But is it the right station, for the end of the Elizabeth Line?

These points are in favour.

  • There is a bay platform, that could handle 4 tph.
  • The station is step-free.
  • The station has had a recent refurbishment.
  • It has HighSpeed services to London and East Kent.
  • Gravesend is a town of 74,000 people.
  • Passengers can change between through trains by just staying on the same platform.

But these points are against.

  • The station is on a cramped site in the town centre.
  • There is no train stabling nearby.
  • Adding lots of car parking may be difficult.
  • Suppose adding the Elizabeth Line to the town was very successful and it was felt more services were needed. Could Gravesend station cope?

These are the times for the various services.

  • HighSpeed to St. Pancras – 25 minutes
  • HighSpeed to Stratford – 17 minutes
  • Southeastern to Charing Cross – 65 minutes
  • Thameslink to Abbey Wood- 28 minutes
  • Thameslink to London Bridge – 60 minutes

I estimate that the Elizabeth Line will take just over 50 minutes to Tottenham Court Road.

This last timing in itself is a good reason for the Elizabeth Line to serve Gravesend.

But I don’t think the Elizabeth Line has to start there.

I am worried that the Elizabeth will be too successful.

  • It serves Central London, Paddington and Heathrow.
  • It will have a frequency of four tph from and to Gravesend.
  • It will have trains with a very large capacity.
  • The trains will have wi-fi and 4G connections.

I don’t think the cramped Gravesend station will be able to cope with the needs of expansion.

  • An extra platform.
  • Handling trains that need to be turned back to London.
  • More car parking.

Northfleet/Ebbsfleet will have the parking and eight tph on the Elizabeth Line, so surely the best solution is to have the actual Elizabeth Line terminal station to the East of Gravesend.

  • Travellers to the West of Gravesend will use Northfleet/Ebbsfleet.
  • Travellers in Gravesend will use Gravesend station by walking, cycling or using a local bus.
  • Travellers to the East of Gravesend will use the new terminal station.

The Elizabeth Line extension is supposedly costing £3.2 billion, so it should serve as many potential passengers as possible.

The Elephant In The Garden Of England

It is proposed that the new Lower Thames Crossing is built to the East of Gravesend.

This map from the Department of Transport, shows the route.

Note.

  1. The new crossing, which is shown in red, bypasses the Dartford Crossing on the M25.
  2. The A226 runs between Gravesend and Higham via a junction with the new crossing at Chalk.
  3. Northfleet is to the West of Gravesend.

This Google Map shows the area between Chalk and Higham.

Note.

  1. Chalk in the North-West corner of the map.
  2. Higham in the South-East corner of the map.
  3. The A226 running between Chalk and Higham.
  4. Higham station on the North Kent Line about half-way up the East side of the map.
  5. The North Kent Line running across the top of the map between Gravesend and Higham stations via Hoo Junction.

The Lower Thames Crossing will run North-South across this map to the East of Chalk and according to the Department of Transport map to the West of Thong.

I should admit, that I don’t drive, so the Lower Thames Crossing will be of no use to me, but I have friends in Kent and most seem to be in favour of the new crossing.

Reopening The Hoo Branch To Passenger Trains

In Effort To Contain Costs For Hoo Reopening, I wrote about an article in the April 2022 Edition of Modern Railways with the same title.

This is the first paragraph of the Modern Railways article..

Medway Council is working with Network Rail and other industry players in an effort to make restoration of a passenger service to Hoo on the Isle of Grain branch feasible. The Council was awarded £170 million from the Housing Infrastructure Fund in 2020 to support schemes to facilitate building of 12,000 new houses in the area, with £63 million of the HIF money for reinstatement of services on the Hoo Branch.

The article mentions, this new infrastructure.

  • A new station South of the former Sharnal Street station.
  • Works to level crossings, of which there are six between Gravesend station and proposed site of the new Hoo station.
  • A passing place at Hoo Junction, where the branch joins the North Kent Line.
  • A passing place at Cooling Street.

It looks like we may have the smaller project of reopening the Hoo branch railway, whilst a major road and tunnel is built through the area.

This OpenRailwayMap shows the North Kent Line between Gravesend and Higham stations.

Note.

  1. Gravesend station is in the North-West corner of the map.
  2. Higham station is at the Eastern edge of the map.
  3. The railway shown in orange is the North Kent Line.
  4. The railway shown in yellow is the Hoo branch.
  5. The railway shown in red is the Channel Tunnel Rail Link.

It looks like the path of the new crossing could follow a similar path to the overhead power cable shown on this map.

According to Modern Railways, the main reason for reopening the Hoo Branch for passenger trains is to provide rail access for new housing on the Isle of Grain.

  • Improving the Hoo branch will also help the freight services to the various docks and installations on the Isle of Grain.
  • Will the builders of the new crossing, use the Isle of Grain for the supply of aggregates and the disposal of tunnel spoil?
  • Remember that barges on the Thames were used to remove the tunnel spoil from London for both Crossrail and the Battersea extension to the Northern Line.

My knowledge of major projects is saying to me, that before the major works of the new crossing are started, this branch railway must be updated, otherwise it will cause problems in the future.

Could this be why, the Hoo branch reopening has been mentioned in both the April and July 2022 Editions of Modern Railways? Perhaps a sensible decision has been made, that means the Hoo branch will be improved first, to speed the construction of the new Lower Thames Crossing.

Could The Elizabeth Line Be Extended To The Proposed Hoo Station?

The proposed Hoo station is to be just South of the former Sharnal Street station.

  • This is under ten kilometres from Hoo Junction, where the North Kent Line is electrified.
  • A single platform could handle 4 tph, but provision for two platforms would be prudent.
  • A couple of sidings could provide stabling.
  • Services would join the North Kent Line at Hoo Junction.
  • Services would use battery power between Hoo Junction and Hoo station.
  • If charging were needed at Hoo station a short length of 25 KVAC overhead electrification would be needed.
  • There is plenty of power available locally to power any electrification.

This Google Map shows the possible location of the station.

Note.

  1. The A 289 road running NE-SW across the map from a roundabout in the North-East corner of the map.
  2. The A 289 leads from the roundabout in the South-West corner of the map to the Medway Tunnel to Chatham.
  3. Sharnal Street is between the two roundabouts.
  4. The single-track railway crosses the A 289 at right-angles, about 500 metres South of Sharnal Street.
  5. There is even a high voltage power line  going through the area to the South of the railway.

It seems to be an ideal place for a station with good road access, space and plenty of power to charge battery vehicles and trains.

I took these pictures of where the A289 crosses over the railway on June 27th 2022.

Note.

  1. The substation site, which is marked with Network Rail logos. It looks like power has been provided to the site.
  2. The high-voltage line passing to the South of the site.
  3. There were trucks carrying tunnel segments. Is there a factory on the Isle of Grain and will it produce segments for the Lower Thames Crossing?
  4. The Sharnal Street bridge over the railway.

It certainly looks like Network Rail have been planning a station there for some time.

Around The Isle Of Grain

I took these pictures of the Isle of Grain on June 27th 2022.

Note.

  1. There is a lot of housing planned on the island.
  2. Someone wants to build a theme park.
  3. The road past the station leads to the Medway Tunnel.

All these factors would add to the case for the station.

Battery-Electric Class 345 Trains

There would be a need to develop a third-rail battery/electric version of the Class 345 trains.

In this article in Global Rail News from 2011, which is entitled Bombardier’s AVENTRA – A new era in train performance, gives some details of the Aventra’s electrical systems. This is said.

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

Unlike today’s commuter trains, AVENTRA will also shut down fully at night. It will be ‘woken up’ by remote control before the driver arrives for the first shift

This was published over eleven years ago, so I suspect Bombardier have refined the concept.

A Simple Extension Of The Elizabeth Line

The branch to Hoo station could be a very simple extension of the Elizabeth Line.

  • There appear to be no challenging engineering problems.
  • Parking and cycling routes could be provided as required at the station.
  • The centre of Gravesend would be under ten minutes from Hoo station.
  • There would be a same-platform change for HighSpeed services at Gravesend station.
  • The developers of the housing would be over the moon.
  • Workers for the Lower Thames Crossing and the big energy projects on the Isle of Grain could reverse commute from London.
  • The station would only be a few minutes more than an hour from Central London.
  • The station could also double as a Park-and-Ride for Chatham and Gillingham.
  • Buses could connect Hoo station to Chatham and Gillingham.

It could prove to be a very valuable station for the Isle of Grain and the Medway Towns.

The Contactless Ticketing Conundrum

This is said on the Transport for London website.

Contactless pay as you go is accepted throughout the Elizabeth line.

So it’s just a case of Have Card Will Travel!

So this will mean, that contactless ticketing will have to be accepted at all stations East of Abbey Wood.

Everybody will love that!

Are There Any Other Possible Elizabeth Line Destinations In Kent?

Train companies, since the days of British Rail have run Peak time commuter trains to bring workers into London in the morning and take them home in the evening.

There will be four tph passing through Gravesend and they don’t all have to go to and from Hoo station.

Digital signalling will give flexibility as to which stations the trains could serve.

Possibilities include.

Gillingham

Gillingham station may be a possibility.

Maidstone West

Maidstone West station may be a possibility.

Rainham

Rainham station has three platforms and is already served by two Thameslink tph to Luton through Central London, which use the bay Platform 0

Some might argue that two Elizabeth Line tph should extend from Abbey Wood to Rainham, to give a four tph service between Abbey Wood and Rainham.

This would be a North Kent Metro.

Rochester

Rochester station has three platforms and Platform 3 can turn trains back to London.

It is already used by Thameslink to turn Peak services.

Project Management

The project may be budgeted to cost £3.2 billion, but it is a small number of independent projects.

  • Digital signalling
  • Electrification changeover at Abbey Wood station.
  • An efficient junction East of Abbey Wood.
  • Rebuild Belvedere station with step-free access.
  • Rebuild Erith station with step-free access.
  • Rebuild Slade Green station with step-free access.
  • Extend Slade Green depot.
  • Upgrade Dartford station.
  • Rebuild Stone Crossing station with step-free access.
  • Upgrade Greenhithe station.
  • Upgrade Swanscombe station.
  • Rebuild Northfleet station with step-free access and two extra bay platforms.
  • Install people mover between Northfleet and Ebbsfleet stations.
  • Upgrade the Hoo Branch.
  • Build Hoo station.

Note.

  1. Gravesend station would only need minimal updating.
  2. As I said before, I suspect the digital signalling will be the biggest cost.
  3. Choosing the optimal order is good project management!
  4. Projects that create fare revenue should be done early, especially if they don’t interfere with services on the railway.

The first projects, that I would develop would be these.

  • Rebuild Northfleet station with step-free access and two extra bay platforms.
  • Install people mover between Northfleet and Ebbsfleet stations.
  • Upgrade the Hoo Branch.
  • Build Hoo station.

As I said earlier, this project needs to be developed with the Lower Thames Crossing.

Conclusion

This seems an excellent plan.

 

 

 

 

 

June 25, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Extending The Elizabeth Line – Will There Be A Need For Long Distance Class 345 Train?

I wrote Crossrail To Heathrow, Reading And Southend in August 2017.

This was a section in that post.

The Long Distance Class 345 Train

Adding Oxford and/or Southend to Crossrail services, may need a sub-class of Class 345 train to be created, due to the length of the journey. Toilets would be the obvious addition.

As an example, the safeguarded Reading and Gravesend service would be eighty-three miles.

A Reading and Paddington service takes fifty-seven minutes for the thirty-six miles.

At that speed Reading and Gravesend would take two hours and eleven minutes.

Even Reading and Shenfield will will take only nine minutes less than two hours.

Will all passengers be able to hold on for these lengths of time?

100 mph Capability

Greater Anglia’s Class 720 trains are 100 mph trains, but their sisters on the Elizabeth Line are only 90 mph trains.

So if the trains are to work perhaps to Gravesend, Oxford or Southend would a 100 mph capability be needed?

Conclusion

If the Elizabeth Line is extended, there may be a need for trains to be updated.

June 19, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Extending The Elizabeth Line – An Extension To Southend Airport

The Wikipedia entry for Crossrail, has a section for an extension to Southend Airport, where this is said.

Stobart Aviation, the company that operates Southend Airport in Essex, has proposed that Crossrail should be extended beyond Shenfield along the Shenfield–Southend line to serve Southend Airport and Southend Victoria. The company has suggested that a direct Heathrow-Southend link could alleviate capacity problems at Heathrow. The extension proposal has been supported by Southend-on-Sea City Council.

I have written about extending Crossrail to Southend before in Council Launches Campaign To Extend Crossrail To Southend-on-Sea.

In that post, I gave these reasons.

  • Extra capacity between London and Southend
  • A more intensive service to Southend Airport
  • A twenty-four hour service to Southend Airport
  • Enabling housing
  • Taking pressure from Liverpool Street

I came to the conclusion, that extending the Elizabeth Line to Southend could have a lot going for it.

But that post was written nearly four years ago and times change and they will change more in the next few years.

The Elizabeth Line Trains Are Shorter Than The Liverpool Street And Southend Victoria Trains

This has also happened and the pair of five-car Class 720 trains, that Greater Anglia use for Southend Victoria services are over thirty metres longer than the Elizabeth Line’s nine-car Class 345 trains.

This would mean that there would be no need for platform lengthening along the route to Southend Victoria.

Zero-Carbon Aircraft Are Under Development

Zero-carbon aircraft like the Heart Aerospace ES-19 could be in service by 2027. These aircraft will probably have a limited range of around 400 km and a charge time of 40 minutes.

  • Southend Airport’s position on the East side of London would enable the creation of zero-carbon flights to places like Amsterdam, Brussels, Lille, Paris and Rotterdam.
  • A quick estimate indicates that aircraft like the ES-19 could fly from Southend to Amsterdam and recharge in around two hours.
  • Intensively scheduled, these electric aircraft could make several round trips per day.
  • Would almost silent electric aircraft be able to fly twenty-four hours per day?

These flights could seriously increase the number of passengers to Southend Airport before the end of the decade.

The Great Eastern Main Line Will Have Full Digital Signalling

More and more trains will be running on the Great Eastern Main Line and like other main lines in the UK, it will receive full digital signalling, which would probably be applied to the Shenfield and Southend Line.

This would give the extra capacity to Southend Victoria, that running the Elizabeth Line to Southend Airport and Southend Victoria would need.

Conclusion

I think it will be unlikely that the Elizabeth Line will be extended to Southend in the next few years, but before the end of the decade, I can certainly see limited  Elizabeth Line services going all the way to Southend Victoria.

June 19, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Alstom And Eversholt Rail Sign An Agreement For The UK’s First Ever Brand-New Hydrogen Train Fleet

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release from Alstom.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Alstom, Britain’s leading train manufacturer and maintenance provider, and Eversholt Rail, leading British train owner and financier, have today announced a Memorandum of Understanding aimed at delivering the UK’s first ever brand-new hydrogen train fleet.

The two companies have agreed to work together, sharing technical and commercial information necessary for Alstom to design, build, commission and support a fleet of ten three-car hydrogen multiple units (HMUs). These will be built by Alstom in Britain. The new HMU fleet will be based on the latest evolution of the Alstom Aventra platform and the intention is that final contracts for the fleet will be signed in early 2022.

This is an Alstom visualisation of the train.

The first thing I notice is that the train doesn’t have the same aerodynamic nose as this current Class 710 train, which is one of the London Overground’s Aventras.

 

Note how the lights, coupler position and the front-end structure are all different.

These are my further thoughts on the design.

The Aventra’s Traction System

In this article in Global Rail News from 2011, which is entitled Bombardier’s AVENTRA – A new era in train performance, gives some details of the Aventra’s electrical systems. This is said.

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

Unlike today’s commuter trains, AVENTRA will also shut down fully at night. It will be ‘woken up’ by remote control before the driver arrives for the first shift

This was published over ten years ago, so I suspect Bombardier (or now Alstom) have refined the concept.

Bombardier have not announced that any of their trains have energy storage, but I have my suspicions, that both the Class 345 and Class 710 Aventra trains use super-capacitors or lithium-ion batteries, as part of their traction system design.

  • I was told by a Bombardier driver-trainer that the Class 345 trains have an emergency power supply. When I said “Batteries?”, He gave a knowing smile.
  • From the feel of riding on Class 710 trains, as a Control Engineer, I suspect there is a battery or supercapacitor in the drive system to give a smoother ride.

I also feel that the Aventra has been designed, so that it can accept power from a large variety of sources, which charge the battery, that ultimately drives the train.

The Formation Of A Three-Car Aventra

The only three-car Aventra is the Class 730/0 train.

I have not seen one of one of these trains in the metal and the formation can’t be found on the Internet. But Wikipedia does show the pantograph on the middle car.

In The Formation Of A Class 710 Train, I said this.

Here is the formation of the train.

DMS+PMS(W)+MS1+DMS

The plates on the individual cars are as follows.

DMS – Driving Motored Standard

    • Weight – 43.5 tonnes
    • Length – 21.45 metres
    • Width 2.78 metres
    • Seats – 43

The two DMS cars would appear to be identical.

PMS (W) -Pantograph Motored Standard

    • Weight – 38.5 tonnes
    • Length – 19.99 metres
    • Width 2.78 metres
    • Seats – 51

The (W) signifies a wheelchair space.

MS1 – Motored Standard

    • Weight – 32.3 tonnes
    • Length – 19.99 metres
    • Width 2.78 metres
    • Seats – 52

It is similar in size to the PMS car, but has an extra seat.

So could the formation of a three-car Aventra be?

DMS+PMS(W)+DMS

I have just removed the MS1 car.

This would mean that a three-car Aventra has the following dimensions and capacity.

  • Weight – 125.5 tonnes
  • Length – 62.89 metres
  • Seats – 137

There will probably be a difference between these figures and those of a three-car Class 730 train, as those trains have end-gangways.

Could All The Hydrogen Gubbins Fit Underneath The Train?

These pictures show the space underneath a Class 710 train.

If you also look at Alstom’s visualisation of their Hydrogen Aventra on this post, there would appear to be lots of space under the train.

It should also be noted  that Birmingham University’s engineers have managed to put all of the hydrogen gubbins underneath the floor of Porterbrook’s Class 799 train.

Looking at my pictures, you can see the following.

  • The two DMS (Driving Motored Standard) cars have large boxes underneath
  • The MS1(Motored Standard) car is fairly clear underneath. But this will probably not be there in a three-car train.
  • The PMS (Pantograph Motored Standard) car has some space underneath.

If more space needs to be created, I suspect that the cars can be lengthened, between the bogies. The Class 710 trains have twenty metre intermediate cars, whereas some versions have twenty-four metre cars.

I believe that Aventras have been designed, so that various power sources could be installed under the floor.

When the Aventra was designed, over ten years ago, these could have included.

  • A diesel generator and all the fuel tanks and cooling systems.
  • A battery or other energy storage system.

Since then two other suitable power sources have been developed.

  • Rolls-Royce, Honeywell and others have developed small and powerful gas-turbine generators.
  • Ballard Power Systems and others have developed hydrogen fuel cell generators.

If you look at the proportions of the Alstom hydrogen train and the pictures of Class 710 trains, I feel that the Alstom train could have the longer twenty-four metre cars.

It may be a tight fit compared to creating the Alstom Coradia iLint hydrogen train, but I would feel it is possible to install a fuel cell or cells, the required cooling and the hydrogen tanks, having seen cutaway drawings of hydrogen-powered double-deck buses on the Wrightbus web site.

Interestingly, the Alstom press release doesn’t mention fuel cells, so could the train be powered by a small gas turbine?

I think it is unlikely, but it is technically feasible.

Does The Alstom Hydrogen Aventra Have Longer Cars?

I have been looking at pictures of Aventras on Wikipedia and in my own archive.

It appears that only Aventras with twenty-four metre carriages have five windows between the pair of double-doors in the intermediate carriages.

This picture shows the PMS car from a Class 710 train.

The PMS car is to the right and has four windows between the doors.

This is the side view of one of Greater Anglia’s Class 720 trains.

It has twenty-four metre intermediate cars and five windows.

It looks to me that the Alstom Hydrogen Aventra will have twenty-four metre cars.

This will give an extra four x 2.78 metres space under the train compared to a Class 710 train.

It would also appear that the Aventras with twenty-four metre cars also have an extra window in the driving cars, between the doors.

Does the four metre stretch make it possible to position tubular hydrogen tanks across the train to store a practical amount of hydrogen?

Is The Alstom Hydrogen Train Based On A Three-Car Class 730/0 Train?

I have just found this video of a three-car Class 730/0 under test.

And guess what! It has five windows between the doors.

But then it is a train with twenty-four metre cars.

It looks to me, that Alstom have looked at the current Aventra range and decided that the three-car Class 730/0 could be the one to convert into a useful train powered by hydrogen.

So if it is a Class 730/0 train with hydrogen gubbins under the floor, what other characteristics would carry over.

  • I suspect Aventras are agnostic about power and so long as they get the right quantity of volts, amps and watts, the train will roll along happily.
  • But it means that the train can probably use 25 KVAC overhead electrification, 750 VDC third-rail electrification, hydrogen or battery power.
  • I wouldn’t be surprised if if could use 15 KVAC and 3KVDC overhead electrification for operation in other countries, with perhaps a change of power electronics or transformer.
  • The interior layout of the trains can probably be the same as that of the Class 730/0 trains.
  • The Class 730/0 trains have an operating speed of 90 mph and this could be good enough for hydrogen.

This could be a very capable train, that could find a lot of applications.

Could The Proposed Alstom Hydrogen Aventra Be Considered To Be A Class 730/0 Train With A Hydrogen Extender?

It appears that the only difference between the two trains is that the proposed Alstom Hydrogen Aventra has a hydrogen propulsion system, that can be used when the electrification runs out.

The hydrogen fuel cell will convert hydrogen into electricity, which will either be used immediately or stored in a battery on the train.

The Class 730/0 trains have already been ordered to run services on Birmingham’s electrified Cross-City Line.

There are plans to expand the line in the future and I do wonder if the proposed Alstom Hydrogen Aventras could be the ideal trains for extending the network.

How Does The Alstom Hydrogen Aventra Compare With The Class 600 Breeze Train?

The Class 600 train, which is based on the British Rail-era Class 321 train seems to have gone cold.

If it was a boxing match, it would have been stopped after the fourth round, if not before.

This Alstom visualisation shows the Class 600 train, which is also known as the Breeze.

I have a feeling that Alstom have done their marketing and everybody has said that the Class 600 train wouldn’t stand up to a modern train.

  • When you consider that each end of the train is a hydrogen tank, I wonder if possible passenger and driver reaction has not been overwhelmingly positive.
  • The project was announced in January 2021 and in the intervening time, hydrogen technology has improved at a fast pace.
  • There could even be a battery-electric version of the proposed Alstom Hydrogen Aventra.
  • The modern train could possibly be lengthened to a four or five car train.

It does strike me, that if Alstom are going to succeed with hydrogen trains, that to carry on with the Class 600 train without an order into the future is not a good idea.

How Does The Alstom Hydrogen Aventra Compare With The Alstom Coradia iLint?

The Alstom Coradia iLint is the world’s first hydrogen train.

It is successfully in service in Germany.

These are some characteristics of the Coradia iLint from the Internet.

  • Seats – 180
  • Length – 54.27 metres
  • Width – 2.75 metres
  • Height – 4.31 metres
  • Operating Speed – 87 mph
  • Range – 370-500 miles
  • Electrification Use – No

The same figures for the Alstom Hydrogen Aventra are as follows.

  • Seats – 164
  • Length – 72 metres
  • Width – 2.78 metres
  • Height – 3.76 metres
  • Operating Speed – 90 mph
  • Range – Unknown
  • Electrification Use – Unknown, but I would expect it is possible.

Note.

  1. I have taken figures for the Alstom Hydrogen Aventra from the Class 730/0 train and other Aventras.
  2. The number of seats is my best estimate from using the seat density of a Class 710 train in a 24 metre long car.
  3. The width and height seem to be standard for most Aventras.
  4. Alstom have said nothing about the range on hydrogen.
  5. I am surprised that the Aventra is the wider train.

But what surprises me most, is how similar the two specifications are. Had the designer of the original Lint hoped to sell some in the UK?

What Is The Range Of The Alstom Hydrogen Aventra?

When they launched the Breeze, Alstom were talking about a range of a thousand kilometres or just over 620 miles.

I have talked to someone, who manages a large bus fleet and they feel with a hydrogen bus, you need a long range, as you might have to position the bus before it does a full day’s work.

Would similar positioning mean a hydrogen train needs a long range?

I suspect it would in some applications, but if the train could use electrification, as I suspect the Alstom Hydrogen Aventra can, this must help with positioning and reduce the range needed and the amount of hydrogen used.

Would Alstom aim to make the range similar to the Coradia iLint? It’s probably a fair assumption.

Could the Alstom Hydrogen Aventra Be Extended To Four Or Five Cars?

I don’t see why not, as Aventras are designed to be lengthened or shortened, by just adding or removing cars, just like their predecessors the Electrostars were.

I can certainly see routes, where a longer Alstom Hydrogen Aventra could be needed and if Alstom have also decided that such a train could be needed, they will surely have investigated how to lengthen the train.

Applications In The UK

These are links to a few thoughts on applications of the trains in the UK.

There are probably a lot more and I will add to this list.

Applications Elsewhere

If the Coradia iLint has problems, they are these.

  • It can’t use overhead electrification, where it exists
  • It has a noisy mechanical transmission, as it is a converted diesel multiple unit design.

The Alstom Hydrogen Aventra can probably be modified to use electrification of any flavour and I can’t see why the train would be more noisy that say a Class 710 train.

I suspect Alstom will be putting the train forward for partially-electrified networks in countries other than the UK.

Conclusion

This modern hydrogen train from Alstom is what is needed.

It might also gain an initial order for Birmingham’s Cross-City Line, as it is a hydrogen version of the line’s Class 730/0 trains.

But having a hydrogen and an electric version, that are identical except for the hydrogen extender, could mean that the trains would be ideal for a partially-electrified network.

There could even be a compatible battery-electric version.

All trains would be identical to the passenger and probably the driver too. This would mean that mixed fleets could be run by an operator, with hydrogen or battery versions used on lines without electrification as appropriate.

 

 

 

 

November 11, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Crossrail’s New Opening Plan

This article on the excellent and well-informed IanVisits is entitled Crossrail Changes Its Staged Opening Plans.

Ian states that Crossrail will be split into two routes.

  • Shenfield and Paddington
  • Abbey Wood and Heathrow/Reading

Frequencies will be reduced, but Ian states there could be two positive benefits.

  • Abbey Wood and Paddington could open earlier in 2022.
  • The full integrated service could be brought forward six months.

Why is this possible?

These are my thoughts.

The Covid-19 Pandemic

The current TfL Rail service between Shenfield and Liverpool Street stations coped well before the pandemic  and now with reduced passenger numbers it is able to handle current passenger loads without a problem.

I have used Crossrail from Paddington to Heathrow and Reading during the pandemic and Crossrail’s nine-car trains are handling passenger numbers with ease.

It would appear to me, that by using two platforms at Liverpool Street and Paddington stations, the benefits of Crossrail have been delivered to the East and West of the massive Greater London conurbation.

Stratford Station

Stratford station is more or less complete with respect to Crossrail.

  • It can handle ten-car trains, if they run in the future.
  • The two dedicated platforms for Crossrail, can probably handle the maximum frequency of trains, the line will ever carry.

But Stratford’s biggest advantage is the connections to the Central and Jubilee Lines, and the North London Line of the London Overground, which between them give access to most of Central and North London.

Ealing Broadway Station

A few weeks ago, a fully step-free Ealing Broadway station opened, as I wrote about in Ealing Broadway Station – 31st May 2021.

As with Stratford station, Ealing Broadway station is ready for any future Crossrail service.

It also has connections to the Central and District Lines to give access to most of Central London.

Can The Underground Cope In Central London?

All Lines except the Northern and Piccadilly Lines have seen improvement to signalling and/or trains in recent years and in my meandering around London, they seem to be coping well with the current passenger levels.

Liverpool Street Station

I use Liverpool Street station regularly and changes are happening at the station.

  • Platforms have been lengthened so that ten-car Crossrail trains can be handled.
  • The main entrance to the Underground was updated a few years ago and has a very wide gateline.
  • A wider gateline is being installed for Crossrail and other suburban services on the East side of Liverpool Street station.
  • A new entrance to Crossrail has been completed in front of Broadgate and appears ready to open, as I observed in Crossrail’s First Inclined Lift Is Now Available To View!.

A second high capacity step-free entrance has opened on Moorgate. When Crossrail opens through Liverpool Street station opens it will enable the following.

Passengers will be able to walk underground between Liverpool Street and Moorgate, with a substantial section of the route up and down escalators. I described the route in detail in London’s First Underground Roller Coaster.

The Crossrail entrance inside the Underground station at Liverpool Street station is now visible.

Note.

  1. Crossrail is behind the two pairs of massive stainless-steel doors.
  2. Peeping through the window, construction appeared to be almost at completion.
  3. If you turn right here, you take the escalator down to the Central Line.

Eventually, Liverpool Street and Moorgate stations could even be considered a single station with a massive escalator connection between the two original stations.

Liverpool Street And Stratford Stations Together Give Crossrail A Comprehensive Under/Overground Connection

These Under/Overground lines connect to either or both stations.

  • Central Line – Connects to both stations, but at Stratford it’s a cross-platform interchange with Crossrail. Ideal for Oxford Street, the City of London and St. Paul’s.
  • Circle Line – Connects to Liverpool Street. Ideal for Euston, Kings Cross, Paddington, St. Pancras, Victoria and large parts of South Central and West London.
  • Hammersmith And City Line – Connects to Liverpool Street. Ideal for Euston, Kings Cross, Paddington, St. Pancras and large parts of West London.
  • Jubilee Line – Connects to Stratford. Ideal for Bond Street, Canary Wharf, London Bridge, Waterloo and Westminster.
  • Lea Valley Lines – These Overground Lines connect to Liverpool Street. Ideal for Enfield, Hackney, Haringey, Waltham Forest and North East London and South East Hertfordshire.
  • Metropolitan Line – Connects to Liverpool Street. Ideal for Euston, Kings Cross, Paddington and St. Pancras, Wembley Stadium and North-West London.
  • North London Line – This Overground Line connects to Stratford. Ideal for Acton, Brent, Dalston, Hackney, Hampstead and a large proportion of North and West London.

Liverpool Street and Stratford certainly have comprehensive connections to the Underground and Overground.

Liverpool Street And Shenfield Is Signalled With TPWS

TPWS is the only signalling system used on the section of Crossrail between Liverpool Street And Shenfield stations.

It offers these benefits, as opposed to the ETCS used in Crossrail’s core tunnel.

  • It eased the replacement of the original Class 315 trains with new Class 345 trains.
  • It allows Crossrail’s trains to share tracks with other trains not fitted with ETCS.
  • Drivers only have to handle one signalling system on the route.

The single signalling system must make commissioning and operating the service between Liverpool Street And Shenfield stations easier.

Liverpool Street Station Gives Crossrail Flexibility In The East

The distance between the two current Crossrail platforms at Liverpool Street station and the steel doors will probably be no more than a couple of minutes walk with just a couple of steps down into the Underground station, which can be by-passed by a lift.

Currently, the service between Liverpool Street and Shenfield station has a frequency of eight trains per hour (tph)

  • These trains are currently nine-cars long.
  • The two Crossrail platforms at Liverpool Street have been lengthened to handle ten-car trains.
  • The gateline for the Crossrail platforms is being improved to handle a higher volume of passengers.

If overcrowding should become a problem between Liverpool Street and Shenfield, then there is a quick fix of adding a tenth car to the trains, which would increase capacity by eleven percent.

The extra cars would be borrowed from Crossrail trains sitting in sidings, that are not needed because of the reduced train frequencies.

When Crossrail opens between Abbey Wood and Paddington stations, passengers needing to go between say Ilford and Paddington will be able to take the short walk between both pairs of Crossrail platforms at Liverpool Street station.

But the big advantage comes, when Crossrail starts running between Shenfield and Paddington.

Trains can be gradually swapped between Liverpool Street and Paddington as a terminus.

If there is a problem in Crossrail’s central tunnel, then services can be swapped back to Crossrail’s two current platforms in the National Rail station.

It looks to be a well-designed system.

Could The Pedestrian Route Between Liverpool Street And Moorgate Stations Be Opened Early?

This article on IanVisits is entitled Northern Line Bank Branch To Close For 4 Months Next Year.

The Northern Line will be closed between Moorgate and Kennington stations from the 15th January to mid-May.

Extra buses will obviously be run between Moorgate and Kennington to help during the closure.

  • Finsbury Square is already used to turn buses and could be used as a Northern terminal.
  • London Bridge has a bus station and could be used to turn buses.
  • In his article Ian talks of buses between Oval and the City.
  • The 21 and 141 bus routes run between Moorgate and London Bridge.

Would opening the pedestrian link help a lot of people by providing an easier route between Bank and Moorgate stations, by using the Central Line to Liverpool Street and then the tunnel?

  • It would be fully step-free.
  • Passengers from say St. Paul’s or Chancery Lane stations on the Central Line needing to get to say Angel station might find it an easier route.
  • The weather isn’t always good enough for a walk.

It would be an escalator connection par excellence.

I suspect that this pedestrian route could open before January 15th.

  • It will obviously need to be open when Crossrail opens between Abbey Wood and Paddington.
  • As a pedestrian route, it will improve connectivity at both Liverpool Street and Moorgate stations.
  • The Crossrail station at Liverpool Street, has been handed over to Transport for London.
  • It could allow the opening up of the step-free tunnel from the Northern and Northern City Lines to the new entrance at Moorgate station.

Could the last point be the most significant, as it would make the Northern Line platforms at Moorgate station fully step-free in time for the blockade between Moorgate and Kennington stations?

As Transport for London have accepted Liverpool Street station, opening of the pedestrian route is surely their sole decision.

Could The Pedestrian Route Between The Bakerloo Line And Crossrail Be Opened Early?

Access to the Bakerloo Line at Paddington is being transformed by two projects.

  • The addition of a step-free pedestrian tunnel, which will be around eighty metres long, that will link the Bakerloo Line and Crossrail.
  • A new step-free entrance and booking hall for the Bakerloo Line,that will replace the current Praed Street entrance.

This page on the Transport for London web site, which is entitled Paddington Bakerloo Ticket Hall, gives more details of the new entrance.

Transport for London indicate that the second project will be completed by mid-2022.

But I do wonder, if after Paddington station is handed over to Transport for London, if this tunnel could be opened to give interim step-free access to the Bakerloo Line, until either Crossrail or the new entrance opens.

When Crossrail and these two projects are completed, will this mean that the Bakerloo Line will see a lot more passengers?

Abbey Wood And Paddington

Crossrail between Abbey Wood And Paddington has the following characteristics.

  • It is a new twin-track railway, that it doesn’t share with other trains.
  • Most of the route is in tunnel, with just three sections on the surface.
  • The route is signalled with ETCS.
  • All new underground stations will have platform-edge doors.

It is very much a railway designed to the highest modern standards.

The Surface Section At Abbey Wood

The surface section at Abbey Wood has these purposes.

  • To provide an interchange station with the North Kent Line.
  • To turn back trains towards the West.
  • To provide stabling for trains and service trains to enable a smooth operation of the Abbey Wood and Paddington section of Crossrail.

This map from cartometro shows the track layout to the East of Plumstead station.

Note.

  1. Crossrail is shown in purple.
  2. Abbey Wood station has two platforms for Crossrail and two for the North Kent Line.
  3. The platforms appear to be numbered one to four from the South.
  4. There appears to be a turnback for Crossrail trains in Platform 3, which also appears to have crossovers to connect to the North Kent Line.
  5. Crossovers to the West of Abbey Wood station allow trains to use either Crossrail platform.
  6. These crossovers also allow access to the sidings at Plumstead.
  7. The Plumstead tunnel portal can be seen below Plumstead Depot.

If Abbey Wood station follows the two National Rail platforms at Liverpool Street in handling a total of 8 tph, then initially Abbey Wood could handle this frequency of trains.

Ian says this in the first article about the frequencies of Crossrail during testing.

Before the blockade, Crossrail was testing the line with an 8 trains per hour (8tph) service, but this week they are going to be ramping that up to 12tph, which will mirror the timetabled service that the line will offer when it opens early next year.

Note that 12 tph will require Abbey Wood station to handle 6 tph on each platform.

Transport for London also intend to simulate 24 tph through the central section, which will be the Peak frequency when the line fully opens.

The Surface Section At Custom House

This map from cartometro shows the track layout around Custom House station.

Note.

  1. Crossrail is shown in purple.
  2. The DLR is shown in light green.
  3. The tunnel portal for the central Crossrail tunnel is to the West of Custom House station.
  4. The tunnel portal for the Connaught tunnel is in the area of the former Connaught Road station.
  5. Between the other end of the Connaught tunnel and Woolwich station, some of the route is in a cutting.
  6. There are crossovers either side of Custom House station.

I suspect a lot of the complications are because an old route was reused.

The Surface Section At Paddington

This map from cartometro shows the track layout around Paddington station.

Note.

  1. The Crossrail station at Paddington is a straight-through two platform station.
  2. The Royal Oak portal, where Crossrail comes to the surface is just to the West of Royal Oak Underground station.
  3. Two lines are labelled CRL Eastbound and CRL Westbound are connected to the Crossrail lines.
  4. Between and around these lines is Paddington New Yard
  5. There are two full crossovers between Paddington New Yard and the Royal Oak portal.

To reverse at Paddington, trains proceed to Paddington New Yard, where the driver changes ends and then returns to Paddington, when needed.

Trains for Reading and Heathrow use the CRL Eastbound and CRL Westbound lines to connect to Crossrail’s Western surface tracks and the Central core tunnel.

It all looks well-designed to my untrained eye.

Platform Edge Doors

This page on the Crossrail web describes the platform edge doors.

This is the first paragraph.

Crossrail has installed floor-to-ceiling platforms screen doors at each of the eight new underground stations on the Elizabeth line – that’s roughly 4 kilometers of platform edge screens in total.

The new stations between Abbey Wood and Paddington are,

  • Paddington
  • Bond Street
  • Tottenham Court Road
  • Farringdon
  • Liverpool Street
  • Whitechapel
  • Canary Wharf
  • Custom House
  • Woolwich

This is eight underground stations and one surface station; Custom House.

So does it mean that Custom House station doesn’t have platform edge doors?

 

I took these pictures of Custom House station today.

Note.

  1. The Crossrail trains were running at a frequency of 8 tph.
  2. , The pictures don’t show any platform edge doors or structures capable of supporting platform edge doors.

Could the regulations allow a surface station like Custom House to be built without doors, or were they left out to save money?

Safety is assured by being able to shut off all entrances to the platforms.

But it does appear that between Custom House and Paddington stations, passengers and trains are separated by platform edge doors.

  • Platform edge doors are controlled by the signalling, so with the correct interlocking a lot of things are possible.
  • Suppose, a station is not ready for passengers, then by locking the doors closed, trains can still pass through.
  • Does this mean that at stations like Liverpool Street, where passengers might need to walk between the Moorgate and Liverpool Street ends of the station to change trains, that these pedestrian routes could be opened? I think it does?

It does appear to me, that platform edge doors are the key to opening a partially-completed railway.

When Could Abbey Wood And Paddington Open?

It strikes me that the following conditions must be met.

  • Paddington station must be handed over to Transport for London.
  • Platform edge doors at all stations must work reliably.
  • The trains must work reliably with the signalling.

It looks like Bond Street, Paddington and Whitechapel stations, are the only stations that have not been handed over to Transport for London.

  • I suspect, as Paddington is a terminal station, it must be handed over.
  • Crossrail have said they could live with Bond Street opening later.
  • Whitechapel appears to have been a difficult station to build, so perhaps it could open later.

Could Crossrail open partially, earlier than anyone thinks?

Perhaps this post called Your First Crossrail Service May Arrive In Time For Christmas, was based on fact and not rumour in the Sunday Times.

 

 

 

 

 

July 14, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

How Covids-Unfriendly Is A Class 345 Train?

These pictures show Crossrail’s Class 345 trains.

Note.

  1. This example was a nine-car train going to Heathrow.
  2. It is 205 metres long and can carry 1500 passengers.
  3. As with most London Underground trains, most of the passengers sit longitudinally.
  4. Having watched people on these trains several times in the last few weeks and feel that the design encourages social-distancing

But there are other big advantages, when it comes to suppressing the virus.

  1. Each car has three sets of sliding doors on each side, which is more than most trains. As the lobbies on the train are spacious, does this help the maintaining of social-distancing, when entering and leaving the train.
  2. The trains are walk-through, so if you end up with a car, that is full of mask deniers, it is easy to move.
  3. The trains have full air-conditioning, which should reduce the amount of virus in the air.

I hope Transport for London are watching the statistics for the covids, to see if they go up or down, as more new trains are introduced on Crossrail routes.

October 15, 2020 Posted by | Design, Health, Transport/Travel | , , | 5 Comments

How Would Opening Crossrail Affect The Covids In London?

There seems to be very little on the Internet about this, that I can find, Partly because if you search for Crossrail and Covid-19 you get lots of articles about how the virus is delaying construction.

These are a few of my thoughts.

The Class 345 Trains

Crossrail’s Class 345 trains are 205 metres long and can hold 1500 passengers.

  • The passenger density is 7.3 passengers per metre, but the trains have three doors per car, as opposed to others like the Class 700 trains, which have a similar passenger density and only two doors.
  • Would the space and the wide doors, make social-distancing easier at all times?
  • I’ve ridden these trains several times during the pandemic and their full air-conditioning for the tunnels, would surely be ideal to help keep the trains free of the virus, by changing the air regularly.
  • The trains are walk-through, which means you can walk-away from someone who looks dodgy.

There will probably be some better trains to reduce the spreading of the virus, but I doubt there will be that many.

The Stations

I’ve only been in two Crossrail stations.

These are pictures taken in the Woolwich station box.

October 15, 2020 Posted by | Design, Health, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Ealing Broadway Station – 12th October 2020

I took these pictures, as I passed through Ealing Broadway station yesterday.

Note.

  1. It looks to be a large posh shelter on the platform.
  2. Ealing Broadway seems to be joining the group of Crossrail stations, with means to cross the tracks at both ends of the trains.

I took the pictures from a train with a full nine car Class 345 train! They have a capacity of 1,500 passengers and are 200 metres long.

October 13, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | 2 Comments

Long Train Runnin’

I went to Heathrow today, in a nine car Class 345 train.

Note.

  1. This service is the replacement for Heathrow Connect.
  2. My trains left from and returned to Platform 11 in Paddington station. But although perhaps eighty percent of Heathrow Terminal 5 services appear to use this platform, not all do!

At least something is at last going right for Crossrail!

 

August 17, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

ETCS Tested Successfully On Heathrow Express Class 387s

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Railway Gazette International.

Once the Class 387 trains can use ETCS on Heathrow Express between Paddington and Heathrow, this must surely allow them to work more intensively with Crossrail’s Class 345 trains, which are also fitted with the same ETCS signalling.

 

April 4, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | Leave a comment