The Anonymous Widower

What Will Happen To Great Western Railway’s Class 387 Trains?

I have been looking at the services that Great Western Railway run using Class 387 trains.

Current services run by these trains are.

London Paddington And Didcot Parkway

This service has the following characteristics.

  • The frequency is two trains per hour (tph)
  • Services are run by two trains working as a pair.
  • Intermediate stops are Ealing Broadway, Southall, Hayes and Harlington, West Drayton, Iver, Langley, Slough, Maidenhead, Twyford, Reading, Tilehurst, Pangbourne, Goring and Streatley and Cholsey.
  • Journey time is one hour twenty-three minutes, giving a three hour round trip.

I estimate that twelve trains are needed to run this service.

From the 15th December 2019, this service appears to run to a similar timetable.

London Paddington And Reading

This service has the following characteristics.

  • The frequency is two tph.
  • Services are run by two trains working as a pair.
  • Intermediate stops are Ealing Broadway, Southall, Hayes and Harlington, West Drayton, Slough, Burnham, Maidenhead and Twyford
  • Journey time is fifty-seven minutes, giving a two and a half hour round trip.

I estimate that ten trains are needed to run this service.

From the 15th December 2019, this service will be run by TfL Rail using Class 345 trains.

Reading And Newbury

This service has the following characteristics.

  • The frequency is one tph.
  • Services are run by two trains working as a pair.
  • Intermediate stops are Reading West, Theale, Aldermaston, Midgham, Thatcham and Newbury Racecourse.
  • Journey time is  twenty-nine minutes, giving an hour round trip.

I estimate that two trains are needed to run this service.

From the 15th December 2019, this service appears to run to a similar timetable.

Current Trains Needed

Summarising the trains needed gives the following.

  • London Paddington and Didcot Parkway – twelve trains
  • London Paddington and Reading – ten trains
  • Reading and Newbury – two trains.

This gives a total of twenty-four trains.

Trains Needed After 15th December 2019

Summarising the trains needed gives the following.

  • London Paddington and Didcot Parkway – twelve trains
  • London Paddington and Reading – no trains
  • Reading and Newbury – two trains.

This gives a total of fourteen trains.

Heathrow Express

Heathrow Express will use twelve Class 387 trains in the near future.

Great Western Railway’s Future Need For Class 387 Trains

Summarising the trains needed gives the following.

  • London Paddington and Didcot Parkway – twelve trains
  • Reading and Newbury – two trains.
  • Heathrow Express – twelve trains.

This gives a total of twenty-six trains.

Great Western Railway have a total of forty-five Class 387 trains. Wikipedia is a bit confusing on this point, but I’m fairly certain this is a correct figure.

This means that Great Western Railway have nineteen trains available for expansion of services.

Great Western Railway’s Class 769 Trains

Great Western Railway have also ordered nineteen dual-voltage bi-mode Class 769 trains.

These are for the following routes.

  • Reading – Redhill or Gatwick Airport
  • London Paddington – Reading and Oxford

As the spare number of Class 387 trains is the same as that of the bi-mode trains, was it originally intended, that these routes could be run by the Class 387 trains, after Network Rail had joined the electrification together.

But the extra electrification never happened.

So Great Western Railway ordered the bi-modes trains.

Great Western Railway’s Dilemma

The Class 769 trains appear to be running late, so Great Western Railway are running the Gatwick and Oxford services with diesel multiple units, that they’d like to send to the West Country.

Bombardier appear to have moved on with their battery technology, that was successfully trialled using a similar Class 379 train in 2015. I wrote about the possibility of battery Electrostars on the Uckfield Branch last month in Battery Electrostars And The Uckfield Branch.

I believe that both routes would be within range of a battery-electric Class 387 train.

Reading – Redhill or Gatwick Airport

The various sections of the route are as follows.

Reading and Wokingham – Electrified with 750 VDC third-rail.

Wokingham and Aldershot South Junction – Not electrified – 12 miles

Aldershot South Junction and Shalford Junction – Electrified with 750 VDC third-rail.

Shalford Junction and Reigate – Not electrified – 17 miles

Reigate and Redhill/Gatwick – Electrified with 750 VDC third-rail.

To my mind, this is a classic route for a battery-electric train, as it is mainly electrified and both gaps are less than twenty miles long.

Some or all of the Class 387 trains are dual-voltage.

London Paddington – Reading and Oxford

The distance between Didcot Parkway and Oxford is under twelve miles, so a return trip should be well within range of a battery-electric Class 387 train.

There are also plans at Oxford station to put a new bay platform on the London-bould side of the station. This could be fitted with a charging station to avoid any range anxiety.

A Gatwick And Oxford Service

Could the Oxford and Gatwick services be joined together to make a direct Oxford and Gatwick service via Reading?

  • I estimate that the service would take around two hours.
  • Assuming a fifteen minute turnround at both ends, a round trip would be four and a half hours.

Running a half-hourly service would need just nine trains.

Or eighteen, if they were to run as eight-car trains!

Could this explain the order for nineteen trains, as it’s always a good idea to have a spare?


Great Western Railway can dig themselves elegantly out of a hole of Network Rail’s making by converting the spare Class 387 trains to battery-electric trains.

I’m sure Bombardier have the design available and would be happy to oblige after they have  finished conversion of the Heathrow Express units.

There might also be an argument for fitting all Class 387 trains with batteries.

  • A more unified fleet.
  • Train recovery in the event of electrification failure.
  • Better safety in depots.
  • Direct services between Paddington and Henley and Bourne End.
  • Would it allow Class 387 trains to run between Paddington and Bedwyn?
  • Reduced electricity consumption.

It’ll be a decision for the accountants.

One collateral benefit of a successful conversion program for the Great Western Railway, is that it would enable Great Northern’s twenty-eight trains and c2c’s six trains to be easily converted to battery-electric versions.

  • Great Northern’s coulde be used by sister company; Southern on the Uckfield Branch and the Marshlink Line.
  • c2c trains are soon to be replaced by new trains.

I’m sure that quality four-car battery-electric trains won’t wait long for an operator.

October 16, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Crossrail’s Paddington Service Plans Revealed

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

This is the first paragraph.

Trains from London Paddington Crossrail station to Shenfield will begin six months after trains start serving the low-level station from other destinations.

In Crossrail Ltd Outlines Plan To Complete The Elizabeth Line,, which I wrote in April 2019, I quoted these points from a statement on the Crossrail web site.

  • Crossrail Ltd has identified a six-month delivery window with a midpoint at the end of 2020.
  • Bond Street station will open later.
  • Service will be initially twelve trains per hour (tph) between Paddington and Abbey Wood stations.
  • Services between Paddington and Reading will commence in December 2019 with a frequency of 4 tph in the peak.

None of these promises from six months ago appear to have been changed.

So my comment at the time still stands.

Twelve trains per hour (tph) gives a capacity of 18,000 passengers per hour, which compares with the 36 tph and 31,500 passengers per hour of the Victoria Line.

Practically, this means that a twelve tph Crossrail could be carrying sixty percent of the number of passengers of the Victoria Line. It’s better than a kick in the teeth!

But then Dear Old Vicky is the Platinum Standard with lots of encrusted diamonds!

There is also other information in the Rail Magazine article.

  • Paddington to Shenfield services will start six months after the start of Paddington to Abbey Wood services.
  • Services will initially use the two-platform Crossrail station under Paddington as a terminus.
  • Through services are expected to start a year later.

It looks like Crossraill should be fully open by the May 2022 timetable change.

This map from shows the layout of the lines at Paddington station.

Note that if you go pass the Crossrail tunnel portal on a train, there are generally several of Crossrail’s Class 345 trains to be seen, lined up in front of Westbourne Park bus garage.

These pictures were taken in July 2019.

October 16, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | 2 Comments

Ride Quality In Class 345 And Class 710 Trains Compared

Yesterday, I had rides in two different Bombadier Aventras.

Both have a smooth ride, that we come to expect from modern trains.

But my bottom was telling me, that the ride on the Class 710 train was smoother.

I have read somewhere, that the train control system on the Class 345 train is a version of the MITRAC system used on many of Bombardier’s earlier trains and trams, which was certainly used on Class 379 trains.

As has been widely reported, Bombardier are introducing a new Train Management and Control System on the Class 710 trains.

They have also had a lot of trouble getting it to work properly.

If I am right about the ride being smoother, could it be that the new TMCS, has much better control of the traction motors and their power supply?

In The Formation Of A Class 710 Train, I stated that the formation of a Class 710 train is as follows.


Note that all cars have motors, which must increase the smoothness of acceleration and braking.

But then Class 345 trains have lots of motors too!

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 eight years ago, so I suspect Bombardier have refined the concept.

Note this phrase.

The other car can be fitted with power storage devices such as super-capacitors or Lithium-ion batteries if required.

Could the Class 710 train be the first Aventra to take advantage of energy storage devices to provide a smoother power supply to traction motors?

The trains could be serial hybrids, like London’s Routemaster buses.

In a serial hybrid vehicle, the following happens.

  • The power supply charges the energy storage device.
  • The energy storage device provides power to the traction motors
  • On braking, the traction motors use regenerative braking and the electricity generated is stored in the energy storage device.
  • Power to provide services for the train comes from the energy storage device.

It is a very efficient system, which also has other advantages.

  • The train can move for a short distance without external power.
  • When the power supply is diesel, it doesn’t need to be run in sensitive areas, like stations.
  • Depots and sidings don’t need to be electrified, which increases safety.
  • As the extract said earlier, trains can have a remote wake-up capability.

The energy storage device between the power source and the traction system would have the effect of smoothing power fluctuations in the supply.

Energy storage devices also have a very low impedance.

  • When the driver asks for maximum power, the energy storage devices can give all they’ve got immediately.
  • When the driver applies the brakes, if they’ve got space, the energy storage devices, will lap it up the energy like a pack of thirsty hounds.

I have no proof, that Class 710 trains are serial hybrid trains, but I think there’s more than a good chance they are.

The trains run very smoothly, with good acceleration and smooth braking.

Perhaps, because the Class 345 trains were designed and built earlier, they had to use the less sophisticated MITRAC control system.

What Size Is The Energy Storage Device On A Class 710 Train?

In What Is The Kinetic Energy Of A Class 710 Train?, I calculated the energy of a Class 710 train.

I calculated the figures for a train with 700 passengers, each weighing 90 Kg for different speeds.

  • 90 mph – 49.4 kWh – Operating speed of a Crossrail Class 345 train.
  • 100 mph – 61.3 kWh – Operating speed of many electric multiple units.

Note that the amount of energy is proportional to the square of the speed.

As the energy storage device must be able to capture all of the braking energy if a train is trundling around North London, I would suspect that two fifty kWh batteries would be more than enough!

But a good control algorithm might cut this considerably!

A total of 100 kWh, would certainly be possible to put under a train, and could be a mix of the following.

  • Fast response supercapacitors.
  • High capacity lithium ion batteries or similar.

This is not an unknown combination on a battery-electric train or tram.


Supercapacitors could be the reason for the perceived smoother ride.

But don’t trust my nearly seventy-two year-old bottom!

Go and experience the trains for yourself and then post your thoughts here!






July 3, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

Up To £3 Billion For Crossrail To Ebbsfleet

The title of this post, is the same as that of an article in the July 2019 Edition of Modern Railways.

This is an extract.

Current estimates gave a cost range of between £1.3 billion and £3 billion, which Mr. Williams said depended on whether services shared tracks with existing Southeastern services east of Abbey Wood or had their own segregated tracks.

Mr. Williams is Transport for London’s Direct of City  Planning; Alex Williams.

This Google Map shows Northfleet and Ebbsfleet stations.


  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 travelators,  would have cost more than a few tens of million pounds.

To me, it is one of the great mysteries of the building of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, that this pedestrian link wasn’t built.

I think, in future, we could come to regret that it wasn’t built along with the rest of Ebbsfleet International station in the early 2000s.

The extension of Crossrail to Ebbsfleet is about the following.

  • Creating a high-frequency railway to serve all the new housing developments in the Thames Gateway and along the South Bank of the Thames.
  • Connecting  Ebbsfleet International station and other developments around the station to Crossrail.

In some ways, these two objectives are incompatible.

  • To serve the housing developments along the river, the Crossrail extension needs to run roughly along the route of the North Kent Line.
  • To serve Ebbsfleet International station, the route needs to be further inland.

Choosing either route is going to annoy people who live on the other.

For this reason, I feel we need a good old-fashioned British compromise or some very-radical thinking.

Current Services Along The North Kent Line

I shall start by looking at current services on the North Kent Line.

Thameslink – Luton And Rainham (Kent)

A Thameslink service

  • Two trains per hour (tph)
  • South of the Thames, the service calls at London Bridge, Deptford, Greenwich, Maze Hill, Whatcombe Park, Charlton, Woolwich Arsenal, Plumstead, Abbey Wood, Slade Green, Dartford, Stone Crossing, Greenhithe for Bluewater, Swanscombe, Northfleet, Gravesend, Higham, Strood, Rochester, Chatham and Gillingham.
  • Eight-car Class 700 trains work the route, which have a 100 mph operating speed.
  • The service calls at Northfleet for a possible interchange with services running from Ebbsfleet International station
  • The service calls at Abbey Wood for interchange with Crossrail.

If there needed to be more capacity on this service, I suspect Thameslink could run twelve-car trains.

Southeastern – London Charing Cross And Gravesend

A Southeastern Metro service.

  • Two tph
  • Calls at Waterloo East, London Bridge, New Eltham, Sidcup, Bexley, Crayford, Dartford, Stone Crossing, Greenhithe for Bluewater, Swanscombe and Northfleet
  • The service calls at Northfleet for a possible interchange with services running from Ebbsfleet International station.
  • The service calls at Gravesend for interchange with Southeastern HighSpeed services between St. Pancras International station and North-East Kent, East Kent and soon-to-be East Sussex.
  • Class 465 trains work the route, which have a 75 mph operating speed.

This picture shows a train for Gravesend in London Bridge station.

My feeling, is that the service would be improved by modern 100 mph trains, as these antique slow-coaches must restrict the speed of faster trains.

Southeastern – London Cannon Street And Dartford Loop Line

A Southeastern Metro service.

  • Four tph in both directions.
  • Calls at London Bridge, Deptford, Greenwich, Maze Hill, Westcombe Park, Charlton, Woolwich Dockyard, Woolwich Arsenal, Plumstead, Abbey Wood, Belvedere, Erith and Slade Green.
  • Two tph return to Cannon Street via Crayford and Sidcup and two tph return to Cannon Street via Barnehurst and Bexleyheath.
  • The service calls at Abbey Wood for a planned interchange with Crossrail.
  • Class 465 trains work the route.

As I said with the previous service, these 75 mph trains need replacing with 100 mph trains.

Southeastern – London Charing Cross And Dartford

A Southeastern Metro service.

  • Two tph
  • Calls at Waterloo East, London Bridge, Lewisham, Blackheath, Charlton, Woolwich Dockyard, Woolwich Arsenal, Plumstead, Abbey Wood, Belvedere, Erith and Slade Green.
  • The service calls at Abbey Wood for a planned interchange with Crossrail.
  • Class 465 trains work the route.

As I said with the two previous services, these 75 mph trains need replacing with 100 mph trains.

Southeastern – London Victoria And Dover

A Southeastern Mainline service.

  • Two tph
  • Calls on the North Kent Line at Rochester, Chatham, Gillingham and Rainham.
  • Class 465 trains work the route.

As I said with previous services, these 75 mph trains need replacing with 100 mph trains.

Southeastern – London Victoria And Ramsgate

A Southeastern Mainline service.

  • One tph
  • Calls on the North Kent Line at Rochester, Chatham, Gillingham and Rainham.
  • Class 465 trains work the route.

As I said with previous services, these 75 mph trains need replacing with 100 mph trains.

Southeastern – London St. Pancras And Faversham

A Southeastern HighSpeed service.

  • One tph
  • Calls at Stratford International, Ebbsfleet International, Gravesend, Strood, Rochester, Chatham, Gillingham, Rainham and Sittingbourne.
  • The service calls at Ebbsfleet International for an interchange with Continental services.
  • Class 395 trains work the route, which have a 100 mph operating speed on lines electrified using a third-rail.

This picture shows a Class 395 train at Gravesend station.

East of Ebbsfleet International, this service can be considered a 100 mph local train, that gets slowed by the 75 mph services.

Southeastern – London St Pancras International Loop Service

A Southeastern HighSpeed service.

  • One tph
  • Calls at Stratford International, Ebbsfleet International, Gravesend, Strood, Rochester, Chatham, Gillingham, Rainham, Sittingbourne, Faversham, Whitstable, Herne Bay, Birchington-on-Sea, Margate, Broadstairs, Ramsgate, Sandwich, Deal, Walmer, Martin Mill, Dover Priory, Folkestone Central, Folkestone West, Ashord International, Ebbsfleet International and Stratford International.
  • The service calls at Ebbsfleet International and Ashford International for an interchange with Continental services.
  • Class 395 trains work the route.

East of Ebbslfleet International, this service can be considered a 100 mph local train, that gets slowed by the 75 mph services.

Southeastern – London St Pancras International And Ramsgate

A Southeastern HighSpeed service.

  • One tph
  • Calls at Stratford International, Ebbsfleet International, Ashford International, Canterbury West, Ramsgate and Broadstairs
  • The service calls at Ebbsfleet International and Ashford International for an interchange with Continental services.
  • Class 395 trains work the route.

East of Ashford International, this service can be considered a 100 mph local train, that gets slowed by the 75 mph services.

A Summary Of Services By Station

I will look at the current number of trains at stations between London Bridge and Faversham.

  • Deptford – 6 tph
  • Greenwich – 6 tph
  • Maze Hill – 6 tph
  • Westcombe Park – 6 tph
  • Charlton – 8 tph
  • Woolwich Dockyard – 6 tph
  • Woolwich Arsenal – 8 tph
  • Plumstead – 8 tph
  • Abbey Wood – 8 tph
  • Belvedere – 6 tph
  • Erith – 6 tph
  • Slade Green – 6 tph
  • Dartford – 12 tph to London and 6 tph to the East
  • Stone Crossing – 4 tph
  • Greenhithe for Bluewater – 6 tph
  • Swanscombe – 4 tph
  • Northfleet – 4 tph
  • Gravesend – 6 tph to London and 5 tph to the East
  • Higham – 2 tph
  • Strood – 4 tph
  • Rochester – 7 tph
  • Chatham – 7 tph
  • Gillingham – 7 tph
  • Rainham – 7 tph to London and 5 tph to the East
  • Sittingbourne – 5 tph
  • Faversham – 5 tph

This is almost a train every ten minutes all the way from London to Faversham.

In addition Ebbsfleet International has four tph to and from London St. Pancras International.

Could Extra Services Be Run Along The North Kent Line?


  • Six tph is not a high frequency for a relatively simple route like this.
  • The East London Line, which has about the same level of complication easily handles sixteen tph and it is planned to go to twenty tph in the next couple of years.
  • Digital signalling and Automatic Train Control will handle twenty-four tph on Crossrail and Thameslink.
  • Freight trains do not run at a high frequency on the route.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see another eight-ten tph added to the route.

How Many Trains Should Terminate At Ebbsfleet?

Currently, Crossrail has six fully-planned and built terminals.

  • Abbey Wood will handle twelve tph in the Peak and ten tph in the Off Peak
  • Heathrow Terminal 4 will handle four tph all day
  • Heathrow Terminal 5 will handle two tph all day
  • Maidenhead will handle two tph all day.
  • Reading will handle four tph in the Peak and two tph in the Off Peak
  • Shenfield will handle twelve tph in the Peak and ten tph in the Off Peak

It would appear that most terminals only handle between two and four tph.

I very much suspect, that research will show that four tph to and from Ebbsfleet will be sufficient.

It certainly meets the requirement for a Turn-Up-And-Go service, as used by London Overground and Merseyrail.

Possible Terminals For Crossrail In Kent

Wikipedia gives services to Abbey Wood station under Services as follows.

  • Peak – Twelve tph
  • Off Peak – Ten tph

There are several possible terminals for Crossail in Kent

Gravesend Station

When Crossrail was planned, the route was safeguarded to Gravesend station, with a depot at Hoo Junction to the East.

This section in Wikipedia, which is entitled To Gravesend And Hoo Junction, gives more details. This is the first sentence.

The route to Gravesend has been safeguarded by the Department for Transport, although it was made clear that as at February 2008 there was no plan to extend Crossrail beyond the then-current scheme.

These pictures show Gravesend station.

The station is well-appointed and has good services.

  • The station is close to the Town Centre.
  • It is step-free.
  • There is a West-facing bay platform, which is currently used for a two tph service to Charing Cross.
  • The platforms are very long.
  • HighSpeed commuter services and Thameslink call at the station.

Crossrail services could either terminate in the bay platform or run through the station to a turnback siding at Hoo Junction.

Either way, I’m sure four tph could be easily handled.

Ebbsfleet International Station

Ebbsfleet International station is named in the title of this post and many are expecting that Crossrail will be extended to the station.

This Google Map shows this station.


  1. The High Speed platforms 1 to 4, for St. Pancras, Ashford International and the Continent are to the left.
  2. The two separate platforms 5 and 6 for high-speed services to and from North Kent.
  3. The large amount of car parking around the station.

It’s not obvious, where a platform or two for Crossrail could fit in.

The Wikipedia entry for Ebbsfleet International station, says this about Crossrail.

It was formerly planned that Crossrail would terminate at a separate station between Northfleet and Ebbsfleet International but under the current plan, Abbey Wood further west will be the eastern terminus. However, a Crossrail extension from Abbey Wood to Gravesend (Hoo Junction) remains safeguarded

Perhaps, Crossrail platforms could be on the Northfleet side of the station, to the North of platforms 5 and 6.

If two platforms are good enough for Abbey Wood station, then surely, two platforms would be sufficient at Ebbsfleet International station.

This Google Map shows where the North Kent Line rrosses the Channel Tunnel Rail Link about five hundred metres North of Ebbsfleet station.

Could a flyover or dive-under be created to create a spur from the North Kent Line, that would allow Crossrail trains to sneak down the Eastern side of the high speed lines to platforms, alongside the current Platforms 5 and 6?

This picture was taken from a train on the bridge that carries the North Kent Line over the high speed lines.

I suspect there is a solution in there somewhere.

One interesting possibility could be for the Crossrail trains to share Platforms 5 and 6 at Ebbsfleet International station with the HighSpeed commuter services to North Kent.

This picture shows the flying junction, where the tracks through Platforms 5 and 6, join the North Kent Line between Northfleet and Gravesend stations.

As currently, only two tph use the link, surely, Crossrail services of four tph could share, if they were to go through Ebbsfleet International and terminate at Gravesend?

I’m not an expert on designing bridges, but to my untrained eye, a flyover to connect the Ebbsfleet loop to the North Kent Line to the West of the station, wouldn’t be much more complicated, than the flyover to the East.

I think, a loop to serve Ebbsfleet would have other advantages.

  • Crossrail would have access to a much-needed Park-and-Ride site.
  • The interchange between Crossrail and Continental services would be a short walk.
  • Probably only minimal improvements would be needed to Ebbsfleet International station.
  • There would be a same-platform interchange between Crossrail and HighSpeed commuter services to and from St. Pancras.
  • Construction would be more affordable and less disruptive.

Perhaps, it’s a better idea, than I originally thought?

Abbey Wood

Abbey Wood station has been designed to handle twelve tph.

The picture shows the four platforms at Abbey Wood station with a Class 345 train in one of the two Crossrail platforms.

  • Two platforms can handle twelve tph.
  • A turnback facility that has been built at the station to handle more trains or service recovery.
  • There are three bridges, two escalators and at least two lifts to facilitate transfer between Crossrail and other services.
  • Platforms are spacious.
  • There is a wide gate line controlling entry to the station.
  • The station is well-served by buses, but car parking is limited.

It is one of the better new stations and would certainly have no problems handling the eight tph, it would need to in the Peak, if four tph, carried on to terminate at Ebbsfleet.

Dartford Station

Dartford station probably has claims to be terminal for Crossrail.

It is a large town, clustered around the station.

There is a lot of new housing close to the station.

It has regularly services to several London terminals, by a variety of routes.

But it appears to be a very cramped station with narrow platforms, as some of these pictures shows.

Services at the station include.

  • Eight tph – Charing Cross
  • Two tph – Victoria
  • Four tph – Gravesend

Thameslink also run two tph between Luton and Rainham.

It is much-more a station where travellers change trains, than one where services terminate..

But even for that it needs improvement.

My Preferred Crossrail Option

I would extend Crossrail to Ebbsfleet in a simple manner, that was capable of being expanded, as traffic needs changed in the future.

Four tph Would Continue Through Abbey Wood Station

I feel that a Turn-Up-And-Go service between Abbey Wood and Ebbsfleet, of four tph would be sufficient, especially if other services on the route, were to be increased in frequency and capacity.

Services Would Terminate At Gravesend Station

The original safeguarded plan for Crossrail to be extended to Gravesend, with a depot at Hoo Junction, is in my mind a good plan.

  • Gravesend station is probably Crossrail-ready.
  • Gravesend station could handle the turnround of Crossrail running at a frequency of four tph.
  • There is plenty of space for a depot at Hoo Junction.

But perhaps most importantly,, it is the original plan suggested in the original design of Crossrail.

Have decisions been made by the various councils on the extended route, based on this plan?

Crossrail Services Would Use The North Kent Line

The extended Crossrail service would call at Belvedere, Erith, Slade Green, Dartford, Stone Crossing, Greenhithe for Bluewater, Swanscombe and Northfleet.

Frequencies of trains at the stations between Abbey Wood and Gravesend would be.

  • Belvedere – 10 tph
  • Erith – 10 tph
  • Slade Green – 10 tph
  • Dartford – 16 tph to London via a variety of routes and 10 tph to the East
  • Stone Crossing – 8 tph
  • Greenhithe for Bluewater – 10 tph
  • Swanscombe – 8 tph
  • Northfleet – 4 tph

In addition, Gravesend would have ten tph to and from London.

Handling these frequencies on a modern double-track railway shouldn’t be a problem.

Will Digital Signalling Be Needed?

Crossrail and Thameslink are both digitally signalled and will use a degree of Automatic Train Control, to handle up to twenty-four tph.

I could see advantages in applying similar systems to the Crossrail extension to Ebbsfleet.

Merging Of Services Between Abbey Wood And Belvedere Stations

Services through both these stations would include.

  • 4 tph – Crossrail between London and Ebbsfleet/Gravesend
  • 2 tph – Thameslink between Luton and Rainham, which don’t stop at Belvedere.
  • 4 tph – Southeastern which are the Dartford Loop service to and from Cannon Street.
  • 2 tph – Southeastern between Charing Cross and Dartford

The current track layout appears to allow Crossrail trains to access the North Kent Line, but Class 345 trains are not fitted with shoes for third-rail elecrification.

This Google Map shows the Western end of Belvedere station.

Note how there appears to be space on either side of the double track, which continues as far as Abbey Wood station.

I suspect that a track layout can be designed between the two stations, so that trains can merge and diverge efficiently between the four tracks at Abbey Wood and the two tracks at Belvedere.

Digital signalling would make it easier.

Station Improvement Between Abbey Wood and Grsvesend Stations

As I indicated earlier, Dartford station would need improvement.

On the other hand Abbey Wood, Greenhithe for Bluewater and Gravesend will need very little modification.

I also suspect, Dartford would not be the only station, that will need improvement.

All stations would be made step-free.

A Loop For Ebbsfleet International Station

I feel that the best way to give access to Ebbsfleet International station would be to create a loop from the North Kent Line and use the current island platform 5 and 6 at the station for Crossrail as well.

The Eastern end of the loop has already been built to a high standard and it would only need a Western connection to be designed and constructed.

I’ll repeat the advantanges of this scheme, I listed earlier.

  • Crossrail would have access to a much-needed Park-and-Ride site.
  • The interchange between Crossrail and Continental services would be a short walk.
  • Probably only minimal improvements would be needed to Ebbsfleet International station.
  • There would be a same-platform interchange between Crossrail and HighSpeed commuter services to St. Pancras.
  • Construction would be more affordable and less disruptive.

Each side of the he island platform 5 and 6 would handle.

  • Two tph – HighSpeed commuter services.
  • Four tph – Crossrail services.

They may even be able to handle more trains in the future.

Will Crossrail’s Class 345 Trains Fleet Need Upgrading?

Crossrail’s Class 345 trains have a 90 mph operating speed, as opposed to the 100 mph operating speed of Thameslink’s Class 700 trains.

Southeastern Class 465 trains are even slower at 75 mph.

If all trains working the North Kent Line were 100 mph trains, it would surely make a robust timetable easier to create and operate.

I would expect that in a few years time, all trains working between London and Kent will be capable of at least 100 mph.

Where Will Gravesend and Ebbsfleet International Services Terminate In The West?

The obvious terminal would surely be Heathrow, as this would give a useful service Heathrow and Continental rail services, without the need to change trains.

Wikipedia is quoting 52 minutes between Heathrow and Abbey Wood on Crossrail and current times give  twenty-three minutes between Abbey Wood and Gravesend stations, with perhaps four minutes less to Ebbsfleet in the future.

So timings could be as follows.

  • Heathrow and Ebbsfleet – 75 minutes
  • Heathrow and Gravesend – 79 minutes

Surely, this will be better than struggling around a crowded M25.

Southeastern HighSpeed Commuter Service Improvements

The Southeastern franchise may change later in the year and speculation has started on what this will mean for services and the trains used.

A Revamped HighSpeed Service

In an article in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, which is entitled Kent On The Cusp Of Change, some well-founded speculation is made about the future of the HighSpeed commuter service.

  • More Class 395 trains or similar need to be procured.
  • A new service between St. Pancras and Hastings is planned.
  • An all-day service between St. Pancras and Maidstone West via Gravesend.
  • An extra two tph between St. Pancras and Ebbsfleet International.
  • A second London terminal may be opened at possibly Waterloo or even Victoria.

Only the Maidstone West service would pass through platforms 5 and 6 at Ebbsfleet International station and would add a third hourly HighSpeed service.

In some ways, it might be better for HighSpeed services to run at four tph between Gravesend and St. Pancras via  Ebbsfleet International and Stratford International, as this would fit much better with a four tph Crossrail service.

Improvements To Stratford International Station

Pedestrian routes between the various services and the Olympic Park at Stratford International station are not good.

  • If HighSpeed services are going to be expanded, then it is only right that Stratford International station is improved, to a good modern connectivity standard.
  • If Stansted Airport and Cambridge services serve Stratford in the future, then there must be an easy pedestrian route between the two services.
  • Connectivity between HighSpeed and Great Eastern Main Line and Crossrail services is particularly poor.
  • The HighSpeed platforms at Stratford International station are bleak and draughty and need improvement.

It’s almost as if, the whole station complex was designed for the Eastfield Shopping Centre.

A Summary Of Services By Station

I will look at the current number of trains at stations between Abbey Wood and Faversham, after adding in two extra HighSpeed sevices.

  • St. Pancras and Maidstone West via Strood.
  • St Pancras and Faversham.

These would give.

  • Belvedere – 10 tph
  • Erith – 10 tph
  • Slade Green – 10 tph
  • Dartford – 16 tph to London via a variety of routes and 10 tph to the East
  • Stone Crossing – 8 tph
  • Greenhithe for Bluewater – 10 tph
  • Swanscombe – 8 tph
  • Northfleet – 4 tph
  • Gravesend – 8 tph to London and 7 tph to the East
  • Higham – 2 tph
  • Strood – 6 tph
  • Rochester – 8 tph
  • Chatham – 8 tph
  • Gillingham – 8 tph
  • Rainham – 8 tph to London and 6 tph to the East
  • Sittingbourne – 6 tph

Thameslink Improvements

My only thought about Thamesink, is that if Crossrail and Southeastern’s HighSpeed services run at a frequency of four tph, through Gravesend, then surely Thameslink should run at the same frequency Between St. Pancras and Rainham.

I say St. Pancras rather than Luton, as it would probably be sensible to send the extra two tph up the East Coast Main Line to either Welwyn Garden City, Peterborough or Cambridge.

A Summary Of Services By Station

I will look at the current number of trains at stations between Abbey Wood and Faversham, after adding in two extra Thameslink sevices.

These would give.

  • Belvedere – 12 tph
  • Erith – 12 tph
  • Slade Green – 12 tph
  • Dartford – 18 tph to London via a variety of routes and 12 tph to the East
  • Stone Crossing – 10 tph
  • Greenhithe for Bluewater – 12 tph
  • Swanscombe – 10 tph
  • Northfleet – 6 tph
  • Gravesend – 10 tph to London and 9 tph to the East
  • Higham – 4 tph
  • Strood – 8 tph
  • Rochester – 10 tph
  • Chatham – 10 tph
  • Gillingham – 10 tph
  • Rainham – 10 tph to London and 6 tph to the East
  • Sittingbourne – 6 tph

When you consider that these frequencies are obtained by trains running at 100 mph on a railway, that was most;ly built in the mid-nineteenth century and electrified with 750 VDC third rail before the Second World War.

Southeastern Improvements

Both Southeastern’s Metro services to and from Dartford and Chatham and their main line services to East Kent will probably be improved under the new franchise holder

  • New or refurbished 100 mph trains will replace the 75 mph Class 465 trains.
  • Dover and Ramsgate will get increased frequencies from Victoria.
  • Metro services to and from Dartford and Chatham will be at least a Turn-Up-And-Go four tph.
  • The enhanced performance of the new trains would enable faster services and more stops to be made without degrading the timetable.

I feel that it would not be impossible to see every station between London Bridge and Rainham having twelve tph.

The Pedestrian Link Between Northfleet And Ebbsfleet International Stations

I am not saying a pedestrian link between Northfleet and Ebbsfleet International station shouldn’t be built, but consider that the loop through Ebbsfleet International station gives two routes between Swancombe and Gravesend.; one via Northfleet and the other via Ebbsfleet International.

A lot depends on how many passengers will actually want to travel between the two stations.

  • Those from the West could change at a station like Dartford or Greenhithe for Bluewater to a train going to their required destination.
  • Those from the East could change at Gravesend to a train going to their required destination.

All changes would be same-platform changes and the best stations could be encouraged by coffee kiosks and comfortable waiting rooms.

For passengers starting from Northfleet the following rules would apply.

  • Passengers going East would take the first train and change if required at Bravesend, Rochester or their preferred station.
  • Passengers going West would take the first train and change if required.
  • Passengers going to Ebbsfleet International would probably catch the first train for a single stop and then cross-over to the other platform for a train to Ebbsfleet International.

If there were upwards of six tph on both routes and step-free access at all stations, these procedures would not be unduly tiresome.

Similar rules would apply for those starting their journeys at Ebbsfleet International.

Note that, as more trains ran on both routes between Swanscombe and Gravesend, the time to get between the two stations would decrease.

If as seems to be planned, a lot of housing is built on the undeveloped land between the two stations, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a progressively-minded developer build a pleasant tree-lined pedestrian and cycling route between the two stations.

This would be mainly to give easy access to the development to the two stations, but it would also link them together.


Everything, I have written in this post is based on sound facts and is possible with today’s technology.

  • 100 mph suburban electric trains have been around for several decades.
  • Digital signalling has been successfully running on Thameslink in the UK and other places in the world for a couple of years.
  • The construction methods to build a loop at Ebbsfleet station are nothing out-of-the-ordinary.

What I have outlined would be much more of a £1.3 billion project than a £3 billion one!

I also believe everything can be achieved without massive disruption or inconvenience to passengers and probably delivered in full by 2025.

It should be noted that North Kent will be reaping the benefit of three major new cross-London high-capacity railways.

  • The Chanel Tunnel Rail Link between Ebbsfleet International and St. Pancras via Stratford International.
  • Crossrail between Abbey Wood and West London via Canary Wharf, the City and West End of London, Paddington and Old Oak Common.
  • Thameslink between Kent and North of London via London Bridge, Blackfriars and St. Pancras.

As cross-London routes continue to develop in future decades, other commuter routes will benefit from similar strategies.









June 28, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Greater Anglia’s Class 720 Trains

Greater Anglia have ordered a new fleet of Class 720 trains for their suburban routes.

  • 22 x 10-car trains.
  • 89 x 5-car trains.

What do we know about the formation of Aventra trains?

The Formation Of Class 345 Trains

In A Detailed Layout Drawing For A Class 345 Train, I detailed the formation of a Class 345 train as follows.


Several things can be said about the formation.

Lots Of Cars With Motors

The Class 345 train has a high-proportion of cars with motors.

This may seem to be the wrong way to go, as motors cost money and lots of them, may make a more complicated and unreliable train.

But think of a tug-of-war team, which applies the force over a large patch of ground!

Having lots of motors may have advantages.

  • Force to move and accelerate the train is applied along the train.
  • It may make regenerative braking smoother and more controlled.
  • There is a greater contact area with the rail, so it may make train performance better with leaves on the line and other poor rail conditions.
  • The redundancy may mean greater reliability.

A clever control system on the train, may be able to distribute power to extract the best performance from a train, for various rail conditions, passenger loading and perhaps with one motor out of action.

Two-Half Trains

The Class 345 train formation clearly shows two half-trains with this formation.


Are these like mini-locomotives with seats for passengers at each end of the train?

With respect to a Class 345 train, I have observed the following.

  • The trains have two pantographs.
  • In a seven-car train, there is just a TS(|W) car in the middle. This is a trailer car with four wheelchair spaces.
  • A nine-car train has two extra motor cars inserted.

So are all seven-car and more trains, built as two half-trains with an appropriate number of cars in the middle to get the required length?

The concept surely means that in many scenarios of partial train failure, the remaining half-train can take passengers to a safe evacuation point, dragging the other half-train with it. This is obviously important in Crossrail’s long tunnel.

A Pair Of Power-Cars

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 eight years ago, so I suspect Bombardier have refined the concept.

But the concept of splitting the power components between two cars must be a good one, as there is twice the space underneath the cars, compared to a traditional single car with all the power components.

In the Class 345 train, it looks like the pair of cars are the DMS and PMS cars.

  • So a nine-car Class 345 train has five cars between the two pairs of power-cars.
  • Motored or trailer cars can be added to lengthen the train.

Shorter trains would only have one pair of power-cars and could be as short as three cars.

Greater Anglia’s Train Needs

Ten- and five-car trains may be OK for many of Greater Anglia’s routes, but there could be a few problems.

Hertford East Branch

These pictures show an eight-car Class 317 train at Hertford East station.

Note how both platforms are not much longer than the 160 metres of a pair of four-car Class 317 trains. Would the capacity of a five-car train be enough for the route?

Braintree Freeport Station

The pictures show Braintree Feeport station, which also seems to be sized to fit an pair of four-car Class 317 or Class 321 trains..

The same questions as with Hertford East station arise!

Wickford Station Bay Platform

This picture shows a Class 321 train parked in the bay platform at Wickford station, that is used for the Crouch Valley Line.

I would estimate that there is perhaps another twenty metres of space in the platform.

As a five-car Class 720 train is 122 metres long, as opposed to the eighty metres of the four-car Class 321 train in the picture, it will be a tight squeeze to get the new train in the platform.

But a four-car Class 720 train would probably fit.

Manningtree Station Bay Platform

Are there similar problems at Manningtree station, that a four-car Class 720 train would solve?

The Length And Capacity Of Different Trains

This table shows the length and capacity of different trains.

  • Four-car Class 317 train – 80 metres – Standard – 267/234 – First – 22/24 – Total 289/258
  • Eight-car Class 317 train – 160 metres – Standard 534/468 – First -44/48 – Total 578/516
  • Four-car Class 321 train – 80 metres – Total 309
  • Eight-car Class 321 train -160 metres – Total 618
  • Twelve-car Class 321 train -240 metres – Total 927
  • Four-car Class 360 train – 80 metres – Total 280
  • Eight-car Class 360 train – 160 metres – Total 560
  • Twelve-car Class 360 train – 240 metres – Total 840
  • Five-car Class 720 train – 122 metres – Total 540 – Standing – 145
  • Ten-car Class 720 train – 243 metres – Total 1100 – Standing – 290

Note that two five-car Class 720 trains, working as a ten-car formation have virtually identical length and capacity to a ten-car Class 720 train.

Ten-Car Services

We already know, that the ten-car Class 720 trains have been designed to replace twelve-car formations of Class 321 and Class 360 trains to places like Clacton, Ipswich and Southend.

  • They are similar lengths within a few metres.
  • The ten-car Class 720 trains give an 19% increase in seats over twelve-car Class 321 trains.
  • The ten-car Class 720 trains give an 31% increase in seats over twelve-car Class 360 trains.

An advantage must surely be that with two fewer cars, the trains will need less maintenance.

Five-Car Services

But how does a five-car Class 720 train compare with an eight-car formation of Class 317 or Class 321 trains?

  • Seat numbers are similar depending on the layout of the older train.
  • Standees will probably have more handholds.
  • The walk-through trains allow passengers to circulate around the train to find spare seats.
  • The new trains will fit any platform that can be served by an existing eight-car service.
  • With their better performance will the Class 720 trains be running faster services?
  • There are three cars less to maintain.

I feel that Greater Anglia have done their sums and feel that more train capacity and extra services might be a better way to increase total capacity than run longer trains, which will need expensive platform lengthening.

I’ll take the Braintree Branch services as an example, where extra services could be better than longer trains.

Currently, service is hourly, but a combination of some of the following might allow a doubling of frequency.

  • A passing loop.
  • Faster modern trains with shorter dwell times.
  • An improved timetable.

Two five-car Class 720 trains per hour as opposed to an hourly eight-car Class 321 train, would be around a doubling of capacity.

Four-Car Services

A four-car class 720 train would be ninety-six metres long and probably around 450 seats.

Bombardier and London Overground have shown recently, shortening a Class 378 train is a simple operation.

I think it is reasonable to expect that creating a four-car Class 720 train will be just as easy.

So if Greater Anglia need to run four-car Class 720 trains on certain routes, they can just take a car out of the required number of trains.

First Class

It should be noted that none of the services operated using Class 720 trains will have First Class after this year.

This article on the BBC, which is entitled Greater Anglia: First Class seats scrapped on most trains, gives details and an explanation of Greater Anglia’s thinking.

I have searched the Internet and can’t find any complaints.

But Greater Anglia are only putting themselves in line with c2c, who offer no First Class seats on any service.


I can’t wait to ride these trains, later in the year.





May 6, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Aberdeen Standard Backs Controversial £1bn Bid For Crossrail Fleet

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

This has been mooted for some time and I believe that Transport for London are taking a sensible action to help get round their funding crisis, caused by three factors.

  • The loss of Government subsidy.
  • The lateness of Crossrail.
  • Sadiq Khan’s bribe to the electorate of a fare freeze.

I also think, that this will be advantageous to London in the long term.

This is a paragraph in the article.

TfL would be able to terminate the 35-year lease in 2020, 2025 and 2030, through a break clause, with an ability to acquire the fleet for just £1 in 2044. TfL will announce the winner at the beginning of next year.

Depending on how TfL’s finance progress in the next few years, the break clause may allow them to cancel and acquire new trains, if they felt it best.

But all these trains need a rebuilding at someyime around twenty years old and this will surely be the responsibility of the leasing company.

December 17, 2018 Posted by | Finance, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Extra Intermediate Stations On Crossrail

Various groups and councils regularly ask if there could be an extra station on Crossrail, that would be convenient for their needs.

Can Extra Stations Be Accommodated In The Timetable?

There is not much point in building an extra station, if it means that a realistic timetable can’t be achieved.

Every station stop will introduce a delay intro the timetable. The train may only be stationary for thirty seconds or so, but there is extra time in the braking and acceleration either side of the stop.

But the Class 345 trains have been designed so that the times to execute a station stop are minimised.

Rapid Acceleration And Deceleration

The trains have been designed with eight motored cars out of a total of nine.

  • This high-proportion of powered axles gives the trains acceleration and deceleration, which is fast, but well within the levels for passenger safety and comfort.
  • The trains also have regenerative braking, which is powerful and smooth.
  • At times on the current service between Liverpool Street and Shenfield, I have noticed the trains waiting at stations for a couple of minutes, to allow the timetable to catch up.

These trains have the performance to execute a station stop in the smallest time possible.

Wide Doors And Spacious Lobbies

The trains have been designed with wide double doors and spacious lobbies.

This enables fast unloading and loading of passengers at each station.

Level Access Between Train And Platform

Trains and platforms could be arranged, so that all passengers can embark and disembark as fast as possible.

Precision Driving And Automatic Train Control

As much of the route uses modern digital signalling and the trains have a comprehensive driver assistance system, the trains should be driven to a high degree of precision.


All of these factors will make it possible to execute station stops very quickly.

Thus, if it is desired to add a new station stop, the stop might only add a few minutes to the timetable.

You wouldn’t want to add half a dozen stops between Stratford and Shenfield, but the odd stop here and there shouldn’t be a problem!

Could Extra Stations Be Added In The Tunnels?

I would hope that Crossrail’s design process wouldn’t have left out an important station in the Underground sections of the line.

In my lifetime only one station has been added to a line after it opened, except on an extension. That station was Pimlico on the Victoria Line, but that was a late addition to the project and opened within fourteen months of the opening of the rest of the line.

I think, that I can safely say that from the history of London’s extensive network of underground railways, that it would be extremely unlikely to add a new underground station to Crossrail.

But I think though the following could happen.

New Entrances To Existing Stations

Even these will be extremely unlikely, if Crossrail have done their planning thoroughly.

But then there are massive property developments, sprouting up all over Central London.

One of London’s latest signature office developments, the Norman Foster-designed Bloomberg London will incorporate an entrance to Bank Underground station.

Hopefully, the entrance will open soon.

Bank station’s new step-free entrance will also incorporate a massive office development on the top.

If a property developer is spending around a billion pounds on a development, and it can be connected to a station, they will seriously look at doing it.

I can’t believe that no new developments will want to have an entrance to a Crossrail station.

The New Museum Of London

The current site of the Museum of London is too small and difficult to find. The Museum is planning to move to Smithfield and will be very close to Farringdon station.

There is a massive over-site development on top of the station, that I wrote about in TfL Gives Go Ahead To Build Above Farringdon Station.

This Google Map shows the relationship between the station and the new site of the museum.


  1. The  building with the light-green roof is the Poultry Market.
  2. Thameslink runs under the Poultry Market.

The basement of this Poultry Market together with the site to its West and the triangular site to the South, will be transformed into the new Museum of London.

Much of the space between the Poultry Market and Farringdon station is a Crossrail work-site and whole area is ripe for development, which must surely incorporate some form of connection between the Museum and Farringdon station.

Farringdon, which for many years was just a meat market surrounded by a lot of low grade buildings, should evolve into a visitor attraction in its own right.

For a better look at the current state of the area, visit A Detailed Look At The Space Between Farringdon Station And The New Museum Of London Site.

As a Friend of the Museum of London, I am looking forward to what will happen!

The Liverpool Street-Moorgate Mega -Station

I don’t think many, who use Liverpool Street and Moorgate stations understand what will happen when Crossrail opens.

This visualisation shows the below-ground elements of the Crossrail station, that will connect the two current stations.


  1. On the right is the Central Line, which is shown in red and continues South to Bank station under Bishopsgate.
  2. On the left is the Northern Line, which is shown in black and continues South to Bank station.
  3. The Circle, Hammersmith and City and Metropolitan Lines, which are shown in yellow.
  4. Crossrail is in blue.
  5. The ventilation and evacuation shaft for Crossrail in Finsbury Circus.

This Google Map shows the area of the stations.

Note Finsbury Circus in the middle.

I would not be surprised if some redevelopment has access into this mega-station complex, that stretches either side of Finsbury Circus.

This access needn’t be below ground, as I strongly believe that the City of London will become virtually traffic-free in the next ten years.

Missing Interchanges

One of the omissions in the design of Crossrail, is the lack of a link to both the Piccadilly and Victoria Lines.


By 2024, these two lines will be running at least thirty-six trains per hour (tph) in both directions.

The capacity of Crossrail in each direction could be thirty tph each carrying 1500 passengers or 45,000.

Dear Old Vicky’s current trains hold 876 passengers, so if she achieves the magic forty tph, which I believe she will, then this equates to just over 35,000.

Siemens will surely ensure, that the capacity of the Piccadilly Line will at least be as high, as that of the Victoria Line.

It is just amazing to think what might be squeezed out of twentieth-century infrastructure, some of which is over a hundred years old.

Oxford Circus Station And The Hanover Square Entrance To Bond Street Crossrail Station

This is the easy interchange between Crossrail and the Victoria Line.

  • Oxford Circus station is full-to-bursting and will be rebuilt in the next few years, with wider platforms, more escalators and full step-free access.
  • I also think, that provision of an easy walking route to the Hanover Square entrance of Bond Street station will be provided, either by pedestrianising much of the area or perhaps building a pedestrian tunnel with travelators.
  • It is probably less than two hundred metres to walk on the surface.

Coupled with some property development along the route, there must be possibilities for an innovative scheme, that would ease passengers on routes between Paddington and Heathrow and North and East London.

I took these pictures, as I walked between Oxford Circus Tube station and Hanover Square.

This Google Map shows the route from Oxford Circus station to Hanover Square.

In the simplest scheme, part-pedestrianisation of Hanover Square and Princes Street  might just do it!

  • A new entrance to Oxford Circus station could also be constructed in the middle of a large pedestrian area, at the shut off junction of Princes Street and Regent Street.
  • A short tunnel would connect the new entrance, to the rebuilt.Oxford Circus station.
  • Walking wouldn’t be long, with the possibility of a wait in the gardens in the centre of Hanover Square.
  • Appropriate retail outlets could be placed along Princes Street.
  • Crossings with lights would enable pedestrians to cross into and out of the gardens.

Was this always Transport for London’s plan to link Crossrail to the Victoria Line?

It’s certainly feasible and works with little or no construction.

The Importance Of Finsbury Park Station

Finsbury Park station has two direct routes to Crossrail; Thameslink to Farringdon and the Northern City Line to Moorgate and could have a third if the Victoria Line has a better connection at Oxford Circus/Bond Street.

Passengers needing to use Crossrail from the Northern reaches of the Piccadilly Line could walk across the platform to the Victoria Line and then use the Oxford Circus/Bond Street connection.

It is not a perfect route, but if Finsbury Park were to be upgraded to a passenger-friendly interchange, it would be a lot better.

So it looks like, it will be Vicky to the rescue again.

Never in the field of urban transport was so much owed by so many to a single railway built on the cheap.

Interchange Between Crossrail And The Piccadilly Line At Holborn Station


  • Holborn station is due to be rebuilt with a second entrance in the next few years.
  • Crossrail passes under Holborn station.
  • After rebuilding, Holborn station will probably offer the best interchange to an East-West route from the Piccadilly Line.
  • To add extra platforms on Crossrail, would probably mean long closures on the line.

It is one of those projects, that can be done, but not without immense disruption.

But at some point in the future, it is a link that could be added, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see the expanded Holborn station will have provision for a link to Crossrail.

New Surface Stations On Crossrail

Usually, when you look at old maps of railway lines there are a number of places, where stations used to be.

However, between Reading and Shenfield stations, there is no station that has been closed. There is a site for Crowlands station that was planned near Romford, in the early twentieth century, but was never built. No-one is suggesting it should be opened now.

So where are stations planned or proposed?

Old Oak Common Station

In fifteen years or so, Old Oak Common station could be one of the most important non-terminal on Crossrail.

Current plans say that the following lines will call at the station.

  • Crossrail
  • Great Western Railway
  • High Speed Two

In addition the following lines may call.

  • London Overground
  • West London Orbital Railway
  • Chiltern Main Line

It could become a very comprehensive interchange station.

This Google Map shows the vast Old Oak Common site.


  1. The Grand Union bisecting the site in an East-West direction.
  2. The inverted-Y of the Overground, with North London Line to Richond going South-West and the West London Line to Shepherds Bush going South-East.
  3. The Great Western Main Line going East-West across the bottom of the map.
  4. The West Coast Main Line  going East-West across the top of the map.
  5. The Dudding Hill Line going North-South at the Western side of the map.

Between the Grand Union Canal and the Great Western Main Line, there are currently four rail depots. From South to North, they are.

  • Hitachi’s North Pole depot, where they service the Class 800 trains for Great Western Railway.
  • The Heathrow Express depot.
  • The Great Western Railway depot.
  • Crossrail’s main depot.

The Heathrow Express depot is due to be demolished to make way for the new Old Oak Common station.

Wikipedia says this about the station.

The High Speed 2 line will be below ground level at the Old Oak Common site, with the parallel Great Western Main Line and Crossrail tracks on the surface to the south.

This map from Wikipedia, shows how the lines connect.

A few points.

  • Considering that the High Speed Two tracks are below the surface and the Crossrail and Great Western tracks will be on the surface, I am fairly sure that a simple clean interchange will be created.
  • The different levels will also mean that if say there were to be a Crossrail branch to Watford or High Wycombe, then the High Speed Two tracks are well out of the way.
  • The High Speed Two platforms will be almost four hundred metres long, with the Crossrail and Great Western platforms probably about half as long. This should give lots of scope to create good connections to the other lines through the station.
  • The new Old Oak Common Lane station will be on the North London Line between Stratford and Richmond stations, will be the way I access High Speed Two from Dalston and it will be 350 metres West of the main station.
  • The West London Orbital Railway could have a station on the Dudding Hill Line, which runs to the West of, but close to Old Oak Common Lane station.
  • The new Hythe Road station will be on the West London Line between Stratford and Clapham Junction stations and will be 1100 metres from the main station.
  • Hythe Road station will incorporate a turnback platform for services from Clapham Junction. It would be ideal for a service between Gatwick Airport and High Speed Two.
  • It should not be forgotten that there is going to be a large number of houses built around Old Oak Common.

It looks to me that if I took the wrong train from Dalston Kingsland station to get a High Speed Two train to Birmingham or the North, I might end up at the wrong end of my double-length High Speed Two train, with a walk of up to 1100+400+350 = 1850 metres to get to the required place on my train.

I would hope that the High Speed Two station would have some form of high-tech people mover, that stretched across the station site. It could be like a cable car without the cable.

Hopefully, the designers of Old Oak Common station will create what needs to be one of the best stations in the world.

London City Airport Station

Wikipedia says this about adding a station for London City Airport.

Although the Crossrail route passes very close to London City Airport, there will not be a station serving the airport directly. London City Airport has proposed the re-opening of Silvertown railway station, in order to create an interchange between the rail line and the airport. The self-funded £50m station plan is supported ‘in principle’ by the London Borough of Newham. Provisions for re-opening of the station were made in 2012 by Crossrail. However, it is alleged by the airport that Transport for London is hostile to the idea of a station on the site, a claim disputed by TfL.

In 2018, the airport’s chief development officer described the lack of a Crossrail station as a “missed opportunity”, but did not rule out a future station for the airport. The CEO stated in an interview that a station is not essential to the airport’s success

This Google Map shows the Western end of the terminal at London City Airport and the Docklands Light Railway running to the station at the Airport.

The Southern portal of Crossrail’s Connaught Tunnel can be seen under the DLR at the left end of this map, due to the concrete buttresses across the cutting rebuilt for Crossrail.

Surely, it would not be the most difficult of designs to build a station, somewhere in this area, where the former Silvertown station once stood.

I said more about this station in August 2017 in Action Stations On Crossrail Howler.

I will be very surprised if this station isn’t built.

Ladbroke Grove Station

If Ladbroke Grove station is built, it will because of property development. Wikipedia says this about current plans.

At a site just to the east of the Old Oak Common site, Kensington and Chelsea Council has been pushing for a station at North Kensington / Kensal off Ladbroke Grove and Canal Way, as a turn-back facility will have to be built in the area anyway. Siting it at Kensal Rise, rather than next to Paddington itself, would provide a new station to regenerate the area. Amongst the general public there is a huge amount of support for the project and then-mayor of London Boris Johnson stated that a station would be added if it did not increase Crossrail’s overall cost; in response, Kensington and Chelsea Council agreed to underwrite the projected £33 million cost of a Crossrail station, which was received very well by the residents of the Borough. Transport for London (TfL) is conducting a feasibility study on the station and the project is backed by National Grid, retailers Sainsbury’s and Cath Kidston, and Jenny Jones (Green Party member of the London Assembly).

This Google Map shows the wider area.


  1. Ladbroke Grove is the road running North-South at the right side of the map.
  2. Canal Way is the twisting road running North of the railway.
  3. Sainsbury’s supermarket is North of Canal Way.
  4. The cleared site of the old Kensal gasworks is earmarked for housing.

The Crossrail tracks are on the North side of the railway, so access from a station to the housing could be very easy.


Crossrail is not even open yet and it looks like when it does, it will start a large number of projects to expand its scope.

Some will be about extending the system, some about better transport links and other about property development.

Crossrail will be an unlimited opportunity for London and the South East.

November 19, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Are Crossrail’s Turnback Sidings At Westbourne Park Without Electrification?

This Google Map shows Westbourne Park bus garage, nestled between the elevated M40 motorway and the rail lines out of Paddington station.



  1. All those white rectangles with red ends are buses.
  2. Running along the South side of the garage are the electrified Crossrail rail lines that go into the tunnel to Paddington and all points to the East.
  3. Below that are the electrified lines of the Great Western Main Line.
  4. The electrification gantries on both sets of lines are clearly visible.

There are also some lines which appear to go under the bus garage.

This Google Map shows those lines in more detail.

The new Westbourne Park Bus Garage was built so that Crossrail sidings for trains turning back at Paddington would be under the buses.

The image is dated 2018, but it clearly shows that the sidings don’t have electrification.

Could this be deliberate or does the image predate the installation of the overhead wires?

This Google Map is a few more metres close to the portal, where the trains enter the tunnel.

Note the footbridge going North-South over the area.

These pictures were taken from the footbridge of the tracks beneath the footbridge.


Looking at the pictures, the following can be ascertained.

  • The bus garage is a concrete structure in the distance, highlighted by a topping of red buses.
  • The sidings that go under the bus garage are not electrified.
  • The Northernmost of the tracks, that go past the bus garage is not electrified. Perhaps, this track is used to allow diesel-hauled service trains to access the tunnel.

There would certainly be an advantage in not electrifying the sidings, as working in effectively the basement of a bus garage, if a fault developed with 25 KVAC all around you, would be a Health and Safety nightmare.

Passing The Bus Garage

Later I took a train past the bus garage and took these pictures.


It is certainly, an impressive use of limited space.

Buses are lined up on the first floor of the garage.

I would suspect that the concrete plant will be dismantled, as this would allow more sidings to be laid out underneath the bus garage.

The Turnback

But did I get the answer to the question I posed?

From my observations on the bridge and after looking in detail at the Google Maps of the area, the turnback sidings are to the South of the bus garage. Note the intricate track layout in the third Google Map in this post.

The turnback also appears to be electrified.


Perhaps the most interesting thing about the turnback, is contained in this article on Rail Engineer, which is entitled Signalling Crossrail. This is an extract.

A new facility called ‘auto reverse’ is being provided at Westbourne Park (no station) for turning the 14 trains per hour in the reversing sidings. The driver selects ‘auto reverse’ on leaving Paddington station and walks back through the train, obviating the need for drivers to ‘step-up’. By the time the train gets back to Paddington (about a mile) the driver should be in the other cab ready to form the next eastbound departure.

The facility has the capability to turn round a full 30 tph service. There is just time for the driver to walk back through the train whilst in the reversing siding but doing so on departure at Paddington gives that extra time that will also help recover from perturbation.

The article also says that Auto Reverse will not be provided on Network Rail infrastructure, but as these tracks between the bus garage and the Great Western Main Line are Crossral infrastructure, that would be irrelevant.

The Auto Reverse would appear to be a clever use of automation, which I suspect the driver can stop at any time using some form of remote control.

Is It Ready For Use?

I have to ask this question.

It looked to me, that there was still some work to do.

If Crossrail were to open in early December, then it looks that it could be impossible.

So were these works at Westbourne Park, the reason for the postponement?


November 13, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , | 3 Comments

Do Aventras Use Supercapacitors?

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 seven years ago, so I suspect Bombardier have refined the concept.

The extract makes three interesting points.

All Or Most Cars Will Be Powered

In A Detailed Layout Drawing For A Class 345 Train, I give the formation of a Crossrail Class 345 train.



  1. M signifies a motored car.
  2. Eight cars have motors and only one doesn’t.
  3. The train is composed of two identical half-trains, which are separated by the TS(W) car.
  4. There are four wheelchair spaces in the TS(W) car.

Are the MS!, MS2 and MS3 cars identical?

In addition, I have been told, that all cars in Class 720 trains are motored.

It does seem that Bombardier have fulfilled their statement from 2011.

Remote Wake-Up

This is mentioned in the extract, but there are few other references to it. I quoted a report from the Derby Telegraph, which has since been deleted, in Do Bombardier Aventras Have Remote Wake-Up?.

Supercapacitors And Lithium-Ion Batteries

According to the extract, the trains have been designed to accept supercapacitors or lithium-ion batteries if required.

As the other two statements in the extract appear to be likely, I will continue to believe that all Aventras can have some form of energy storage.


I’ll look first at Crossrail’s Class 345 train.

In How Much Energy Does A Crossrail Class 345 Train Use?, using the train’s data sheet, I came to the conclusion, that electricity usage of the trains is 2.67 KWh per car per kiometre or 3.29 KWh per car per mile.

In the linked post, I also calculate the kinetic energy of a fully-loaded nine-car Crossrail train.

I’ll repeat it.

  • If I take a nine-car Class 345 train, this has a mass of less than 350 tonnes and a maximum speed of 145 kph.
  • 1500 passengers at 80 kg each works out at another 120 tonnes.
  • So for this crude estimate I’ll use 450 tonnes for the mass of a loaded train.

This gives the train a kinetic energy of 101 KWh.

As the Class 345 trains are effectively two half trains, with two PMS cars with pantographs, it is likely that they have at least two cars that are ready for supercapacitors or lithium-ion batteries.

The Design Of Crossrail

Crossrail could best be described as the Victoria Line on steroids.

  • Both lines were designed to run in excess of twenty-four trains per hour (tph) across London.
  • The Victoria Line was built to deep-level Underground standards, with one of the most advanced-for-its-time and successful train operating systems of all times.
  • Crossrail is a modern rail line being built to National Rail standards, with world-leading advanced technology, that takes full account of modern environmental standards and aspirations.

Costs were saved on the Victoria Line by leaving out important parts of the original design..

Costs were saved on Crossrail, by using high-quality design.

  • Crossrail and the Great Western Main Line electrification share a sub-station to connect to the National Grid.
  • The number of ventilation and access shafts was reduced significantly, with one in a new office block; Moor House.
  • Electrification uses a simple overhead rail, which is only fed with power at the ends.

I also believe that the Class 345 trains, which were designed specifically for the route, were designed to save energy and increase safety in the tunnels.

Regenerative braking normally saves energy by returning braking energy through the electrification, so it can be used to power other nearby trains.

Batteries For Regenerative Braking

However, in recent years, there has been increasing interest in diverting the braking energy to onboard energy storage devices on the train, so that it can be used when the train accelerates or to power systems on the train.

The system has these advantages.

  • Less energy is needed to power the trains.
  • Simpler and less costly transformers  can be used for the electrification.
  • The onboard energy storage can be used to power the train after an electrification failure.
  • In tunnels, there is less heat-producing electricity flowing in all the cables.

Obviously, keeping the heat down in the tunnels is a good thing.

A Station Stop On Crossrail Using Regenerative Braking And Energy Storage

Imagine a fully-loaded train approaching a station, at the maximum speed on 145 kph.

  • The train will have a kinetic energy of 101 kWh.
  • As it approaches the station, the brakes will be applied and the regenerative brakes will turn the train’s energy into electricity.
  • This energy will be stored in the onboard energy storage.
  • As the train accelerates away from the station, the electricity in the onboard energy storage can be used.

The only problem, is that regenerative braking is unlikely to recover all of the train’s kinetic energy. But this is not a big problem, as the train draws any extra power needed from the electrification.

To make the system as efficient as possible, the following must be fitted.

  1. The most efficient traction motor.
  2. Onboard energy storage capable of handling the maximum kinetic energy of the train.
  3. Onboard energy storage with a fast response time.

The train will probably be controlled by a sophisticated computer system.

What Size Of Onboard Energy Storage Should Be Fitted?

Obviously, this is only speculation and a best guess, but the following conditions must be met.

  • The onboard energy storage must be able to capture the maximum amount of energy generated by braking.
  • The physical size of the energy storage system must be practical and easily fitted under or on the train.
  • The energy storage system should be able to store enough energy to be able to move a stalled train to safety in the event of complete power failure.

Note that an energy storage system with a 100 kWh capacity would probably take the train somewhere around four to five kilometres.

Obviously, a series of computer simulations based on the route, passengers and various other conditions, would indicate the capacity, but I feel a capacity of around 120 kWh might be the place to start.

Where Would The Energy Storage Be Placed?

With nine cars, and with eight of them motored, there are a several choices.

  • One energy storage unit in all motored cars.
  • One energy storage unit in the three MS cars.
  • One energy storage unit in each half train.

I’ve always liked the concept of an energy storage unit in each powered car, as it creates a nice tight unit, with energy stored near to where it is generated and used.

But there is another big advantage in splitting up the energy storage – the individual units are smaller.

Could this mean that supercapacitors could be used?

  • The main need for onboard energy storage is to handle regenerative braking.
  • The secondary need for onboard energy storage is for emergency power.
  • There is no needon Crossrail as yet,to run the trains for long distances on stored power.
  • Supercapacitors are smaller.
  • Supercapacitors can handle more operating cycles.
  • Supercapacitors run cooler.
  • Supercapacitors have a fast response.

If running for longer distances were to be required in the future, which might require lithium-ion or some other form of batteries, I’m sure there will be space for them, under all those cars.

I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that Crossrail’s Class 345 trains are fitted with supercapacitors.

Note, that  a Bombardier driver-trainer, talked of an emergency power supply, when I asked what happens if the Russians hacked the electrification.

Class 710 Trains

London Overground’s Class 710 trains are a bit of a mystery at the moment as except for a capacity of seven hundred passengers disclosed in this article on the International Railway Journal little has been published.

Here are my best guesses.


Based on the formation of the Class 345 trains, I think it will be.


Effectively, this is a half-train of a seven-car Class 345 train, with a DMS car on the other end.


I have a Bombardier press release, which says that the car length is twenty metres, which is the same as Class 315, Class 317 and Class 378 trains and a whole load of other trains, as twenty metre cars, were a British Rail standard.

I doubt there will be much platform lengthening for these trains in the next few years.


The Wikipedia entry for Aventra gives car weight at between thirty and thirty-five tonnes, so the train weight can be anything between 120-140 tonnes.

Passenger Capacity

I wrote about this in The Capacity Of London Overground’s New Class 710 Trains.

This was my conclusion.

It appears that seven hundred is the only published figure and if it is, these new Class 710 trains are going to substantially increase public transport capacity across North London.

They are certainly future-proofed for an outbreak of London Overground Syndrome, where passenger numbers greatly exceed forecasts.

As some of the trains are being delivered as five-car units, there is always the option of adding an extra car. Especially, as the platforms on the line, seem to have been built for five or even six car trains.

London Overground have not made the platform length miscalculations of the North and East London Lines.

For the near future they’ll hold around 700 passengers at 80 Kg. each, which means a passenger weight of fifty-six tonnes.

Full Train Weight

For various train weights, the fully-loaded trains will be.

  • 120 tonnes – 176 tonnes
  • 130 tonnes – 186 tonnes
  • 140 tonnes – 196 tonnes

Until I get a better weight for the train, I think I’ll use 130 tonnes or 186 tonnes, when fully-loaded.


I wrote about this in What Is The Operating Speed Of Class 710 Trains?.

This was my conclusion.

But what will be the operating speed of the Class 710 trains?

I said it will be somewhere between 145 kph (90 mph) and 160 kph (100 mph)


  • I think that 145 kph, will be able to handle the two planned increased frequencies of four tph.
  • 145 kph is identical to the Crossrail trains.
  • 160 kph is identical to the Greater Anglia trains.
  • 160 kph seems to be the speed of suburban Aventras.

It’s a difficult one to call!

I do think though, that trundling around the Overground, they’ll be running at the same 121 kph of all the other trains.

Kinetic Energy

The kinetic energy of a 186 tonnes train at 121 kph is 29 kWh.

Could Supercapacitors Handle This Amount Of Energy?

I’m pretty certain they could.


Supercapacitors are a possibility for both trains!

I’ll review these calculations, as more information is published.


November 11, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.


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?


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

In the BBC article, there is this quote

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

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

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

Station Problems

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

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

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

I’ll look at Whitechapel station as an example.

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

Look at all the blue hoardings.

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

This Google Map shows the area of Whitechapel station.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The New Class 345 Trains

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

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

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

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

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

But then that electrification was late.

Four Types Of Signalling

Crossrail needs trains to have four different types of signalling.

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

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

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

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

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

Crossrail has found out the hard way.

Europe Has A Lack Of Train Test Tracks

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Shortage Of Resources

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

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

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

I suspect that the last will be the most serious.

Hugo Rifkind On A Late Crossrail

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

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

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

I think Rifkind is right.

Will Hutton

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

He says this.

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

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

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

Current Developments That Will Help Bridge The Delay

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

Trains Providing More Capacity

These trains will be providing extra capacity.

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

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

New And Rebuilt Stations

There will be some new or rebuilt stations.

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

This list may contain other stations.

Underground Improvements

There will also be Underground improvements.

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

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

A Few Questions

I have to ask questions.

Will The High Meads Loop Be Used?

This would provide an excellent interchange between the following services.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I use Moorgate and Liverpool Street stations regularly.

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

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


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

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






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