The Anonymous Widower

Riding The 9:09 From Harringay Green Lanes to Barking

On my trip to Grays station this morning, I took the 9:09 train from Harringay Green Lanes station to Barking station, where I got a direct train to Grays.

The three Class 378 trains seem to be coping and the four-car train was not overly full.

  • In the short trip, a lot of passengers don’t seem to do more than one or two stations.
  • There were even several big cases and a couple of buggies.
  • There were spare seats all of the way.

If nothing else Bombardier’s late delivery of the Class 710 trains, has brought the qualities of the Class 378 trains to the fore.

As the Class 710 trains will have the same layout, I suspect when they are in service, there will be loads of space all day, until new passengers fill them up! As they always do!

April 9, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

By Overground To High Speed Two

The North London Line will be my route to High Speed Two when it opens in 2026.

This map from Wikipedia, shows how the lines connect.

I will actually have two Overground stations, that I will be able to use.

Note.

  1. Wikipedia says that both stations should open in 2026, which is the same date as High Speed Two.
  2. Hythe Road station is 700 metres from the High Speed Two station.
  3. Old Oak Common Lane station is 350 metres from the High Speed Two station.

Currently, both lines have a four trains per hour (tph) service.

  • The Class 378 trains are five cars, which can get very busy in the Peak.
  • It would need an additional five trains to increase the frequency to five tph on both routes.
  • I feel the higher frequency could be in operation by the opening of High Speed Two.
  • Most stations between Stratford and Willesden Junction would appear to be able to accept six-car trains, if selective door opening were to be used.

I think by 2026, there will be a more than adequate service between Stratford and High Speed Two.

  • There will be at least eight tph.
  • Step-free access will not be available at Brondesbury Park, Brondesbury, Finchley Road & Frognal, Kentish Town West and Dalston Kingsland stations.

But what other developments will or might happen?

Highbury & Islington Station

Highbury & Islington station is the thirteenth busiest station in the UK and it is in need of a major upgrade to bring the deep level platforms and their access up to the standard of the four London Overground platforms, which all have lifts.

I also think that the track layout at the station could be modified to allow trains on the East London Line to continue further to the West. This was mentioned, when the Oveground was created, but is seldom talked about these days.

Step-Free Access On The North And West London Lines

These two lines which form a Y-shaped railway that splits at Willesden Junction, will provide these services from High Speed Two to major interchange stations.

  • Four tph to Clapham Junction station.
  • Eight tph to Highbury & Islington station.
  • Four tph to Richmond station.
  • Eight tph to Stratford station
  • Eight tph to West Hampstead station

It looks to me that the Overground will connect High Speed Two to the parts of London, that Crossrail cannot reach.

The only thing that is needed is to complete step free access at all stations on the North and West London Lines.

The Maximum Frequency Across North London

Five tph on both the North and West London Line would give the following turnback frequencies at the four terminals.

  • Clapham Junction – 5 tph
  • Richmond – 5 tph
  • Stratford – 10 tph

This chart from TfL shows planned improvements on the London Overground

Note that it clearly shows that it is possible to run a six tph service between two single platform stations.

I think it likely that it would be possible to run six tph on both routes, provided that the route and the signalling could handle the increased frequency.

Twelve tph between Stratford and Willesden Junction stations would probably be the maximum frequency.

But would the number of freight trains allow this frequency?

A Reduction In Freight Services

Currently, the North London Line carries a lot of freight trains, going between Barking, Felixstowe and London Gateway in the East to virtually everywhere West of London.

  • Noises from the East West Rail Consortium are hinting that services to and to and from Bristol, Liverpool, Manchester, South Wales, Southampton and the West Midlands might use their new route between Oxford and Cambridge.
  • Could more freight use ports like Liverpool and Teesport in the North of England, which would reduce the traffic through the ports in the South?

Whatever happens, the current succession of diesel-hauled freight trains across London is not environmentally-friendly and it will raise increasing numbers of protests.

I think it is inevitable that the number of freight services will reduce, thus allowing more paths for passenger trains.

Digital Signalling

To handle the increasing traffic on the North and West London Lines, I can see digital signalling being installed. There could even be a degree of Automic Train Control.

Six-Car Trains

Only a few stations can handle six-car trains without selective door opening and even the rebuilt West Hampstead station still has platforms for five-cars.

Selective door opening would allow six-car trains to use the five-car platforms and passengers have in London have shown they can cope with moving forward to get out at certain stations. Especially, as the walk-through design of the train, makes this a lot easier.

A Round-The-Corner Service

I can remember reading in Modern Railways, that one of the reasons for the East and North London Lines running parallel through Canonbury to Highbury & Islington was to possibly enable extension of the East London Line to perhaps Willesden Junction, where there is a handy bay platform.

This has not happened and I doubt we’ll ever see something like a New Cross to Willesden Junction service, as Crossrail will effectively provide a faster frequent service between Whitechapel and Old Oak Common stations.

West London Orbital Railway

The proposed West London Orbital Railway will have two routes.

  • West Hampstead Thameslink and Hounslow
  • Brent Cross Thameslink and Kew Bridge

Both routes will have four tph and have a connection to Crossrail, High Speed Two and the North London Line at Old Oak Common station.

The only possible problem would be the eight extra tph through Acton Central station and level crossing and South Acton station.

But it would become an important feeder route to Crossrail, Heathrow Airport and High Speed Two.

Conclusion

The North and West London Line route between Stratford and Willesden has the ability to handle a lot more traffic than it current does.

Dgital signalling and six-car trains could add over another fifty per cent capacity to the route.

I very much feel that digital signalling will be absolutely necessary.

 

March 26, 2019 Posted by | Transport, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Should The Three Class 378 Trains Saving The Gospel Oak To Barking Line Be Named?

Lots of passengers will be eternally grateful, if over the next few or more weeks, the three Class 378 trains, currently working the line provide an acceptable service across North London, until the Class 710 trains take over the route.

So after they return to normal service should they be given names?

I would suggest Faith, Hope and Charity, as these names wouldn’t cause offence to anyone.

But they would constantly remind the Mayor, Transport for London and Bombardier, that their failure to plan properly for non-arrival of the Class 710 trains, could have had a much more embarrassing outcome.

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

The Design Of The Class 378 Trains Keeps The Gospel Oak To Barking Line Running

In some ways, London Overground’s Class 378 trains are the ultimate Electrostars.

These ten-year-old trains are  no high-performance trains, but they are people carriers par excellence.

Wikipedia describes their interiors like this.

The design is similar to the Class 376 trains used by Southeastern, featuring the same wider metro-style sliding pocket doors for more efficient boarding and alighting. However, it also has significant differences from the Class 376, such as fully longitudinal seating similar to that used on London Underground rolling stock to give more standing and less seating capacity and reduce overcrowding, suitable for the high-volume metro-style services on London Overground.

This picture shows a view through the five cars of a standard-length train.

At the present time they are the only heavy rail train with this seating layout. Although London Overground will soon be running some Class 710 trains with a similar layout.

  • The seats are reasonably comfortable.
  • All passengers get at least one arm-rest.
  • Passengers can walk between cars to find a seat or more space.
  • The aisle between the seats is wide enough for passengers to stretch their legs and others to walk through, when all seats are taken.
  • There’s plenty of space for standees and lots of handholds.
  • In less busy times, everybody gets at least one seat.

There are also wide lobbies and doors for easy embarking and alighting.

Note the perches either side of the door and the numerous handholds.

In my travels across Europe, I’ve never found a better inner-city commuter train.

To run a four trains per hour (tph) service on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line, ideally eight trains are needed; six to run the service, one in maintenance and a spare.

But all London Overground can scrape together is three Class 378 trains shortened to four-cars.

  • This limited number of trains can only run a two tph service.
  • The four-car Class 378 trains have 152 seats (including tip-up seats) and thirty-two double perch seats.
  • The two-car Class 172 trains have 124 seats.

This gives these seats per hour for the two services.

  • Class 172 trains – four tph – 496
  • Class 378 trains – two tph – 432

The Class 378 trains may offer less seats, but each four-car train can hold a lot of standees.

This article on Railway Gazette is entitled London Overground Class 378 Ready To Enter Service, says that four-car versions of Class 378 trains can hold up to 700 passengers.

If you’ve ever travelled on the East and North London Lines around Dalston in the Peak, you’ll know how many people these trains can hold at a push!

Since the two tph service started yesterday I’ve done several trips on the Gospel Oak to Baring Line over two days.

  • 09:20 – Gospel Oak to Barking
  • 10:33 – Barking to Blackhorse Road
  • 14:27 – Harringay Green Lanes to Gospel Oak
  • 14:50 – Gospel Oak to Barking
  • 15:33 – Barking to Gospel Oak
  • 07:33 – Barking to Gospel Oak

Only the last trip can really be considered to be in the Peak.

I have the following observations on the Off Peak trips.

  • There were typically at least twenty per cent of seats available.
  • No-one was ever forced to stand, although some were.
  • A proportion of passengers were doing short trips of one or two stops.
  • Some stops like Crouch Hill, Blackhorse Road and Leyton Midland Road seemed to have more passenger traffic than others.
  • The trains had more passengers towards the Barking end of the route.
  • I asked a few passengers, if they’d had to wait long and all said, they’d read the timetable and arrived accordingly.
  • The usual accessories like dogs, buggies and baggage were carried by a proportion of passengers.
  • Two station staff said passengers were only complaining about the frequency.

It appears to me, that Off Peak journeys on the route will be adequate if not as frequent as passengers want.

I have the following observations for the single Peak journey at 07:33 this morning.

  • Nearly all seats were taken for the whole route.
  • Dwell times were slowed at certain stations, due to the numbers wanting to enter and alight.
  • All standees had a decent hand-hold.
  • Some passengers were still doing short trips of one or two stops.
  • Blackhorse Road with its connection to the Victoria Line was busy.
  • A staff member told me, that it all gets less busy after eight o’clock.

I should also say, that one passenger was complaining hard, as he had to stand for his short journey from Crouch Hill to Gospel Oak. But then he was dressed like he would pay for a First Class seat.

On arrival at Gospel Oak, I took a North London Line train to Hampstead Heath and that was carrying more passengers per car.. This added a perspective to the trip.

But then, in my part of London, at times, there are more overcrowded trains that I use regularly.

  • The Central, Victoria and Northern Lines on the Underground.
  • The North and East London Lines of the Overground.
  • The Northern City Line into Moorgate station.

Today’s Peak trip was no worse, than some I’ve experienced in the North of England.

Conclusion

The three gallant Class 378 trains are coping well and if they don’t suffer any failures, I suspect they can hold the line, until reinforcements arrive.

My trip today, illustrated the strengths of the train design as a large number of passengers were transported in a half-hour journey across North London.

Bombardier must also be pleased that it is three of their ten year-old-trains, that have been quickly reconfigured and have made up for their software shortcomings, that are causing late delivery of the Class 710 trains.

 

 

 

 

 

March 19, 2019 Posted by | Computing, Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Are TfL Playing A Canny Game On The Gospel Oak To Barking Line?

Transport for London (TfL) have now stated that from the 18th March, the service on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line (GOBlin) will be run by three four-car Class 378 trains.

This will mean a two train per hour (rph) service instead of the current four tph.

Will the Class 378 trains cope?

Let’s look at a few facts and my observations.

Class 378 Train Capacity

The Class 378 trains may have twice the number of cars than the Class 172 trains, but having used Class 378 trains in the Peak quite a few times in the last ten years, they do have the capacity to swallow large numbers of passengers.

TfL will know how many passengers can squeeze uncomfortably into a four-car Class 378 train.

I doubt it’s what Bombardier says in the specification.

The Class 378 Trains Seem To Have Attracted More Passengers

Over the last few weeks, I have ridden regularly on the GOBlin and it appears to me, that passenger numbers are increasing.

  • I have been on a couple of Class 378 trains in the Off Peak, with most of the seats taken.
  • I’ve also seen a packed Eastbound-platform at Blackhorse Road station on a couiple of times.
  • I also was one of perhaps thirty passengers, who transferred at Barking from a c2c train from Grays.

It looks to me, that Londoners are ducking-and-diving, as only they can!

I also have spoken to a couple of passengers, who were using the OBlin for the first time.

Has all the publicity persusaded some travellers to give the route a try?

Improved Interchange At Blackhorse Road

Blackhorse Road station is now a partly step-free interchange interchange between the GOBlin and Victoria Lines.

Judging by the numbers of passengers, who seem to be changing trains at the station, this is becoming an increasingly important part of passengers journeys.

Short And Long Distance Travellers

If you travel on the line from one end to the other, I have noticed that a lot of passengers use the line for just a stop or two.

I would expect few use it regularly for the whole length on a daily basis.

On a fine day, if you are going one stop, do some passengers walk, if they just miss a train?

There Are Alternative Routes

My son has lived in the Walthamstow area for perhaps twenty years and he seems to use another route, when say he preferred one of the Victoria Line is not working. Which is rare.

I visit him regularly and use different routes according to my mood.

The one problem he has in Walthamstow is getting to Stratford and you can understand why the local MP; Stella Creasy is pushing for the reinstatement of the Hall Farm Curve.

The GOBlin has  the following connections.

  • Barking – c2c, District and Hammersmith & City Lines
  • Woodgrange Park – Out of station interchange with Manor Park on Crossrail.
  • Wansted Park – Out of station interchange with Forest Gate on Crossrail.
  • Leytonstone High Road – Out of station interchange with Leytonstone on the Central Line.
  • Walthamstow Queens Road – Out of station interchange with Walthamstow Central on the Overground and Victoria Line.
  • Blackhorse Road – Victoria Line
  • South Tottenham – Out of station interchange with Seven Sisters on National Rail and the Victoria Line.
  • Harringay Green Lanes – Out of station interchange with Harringay on National Rail.
  • Upper Holloway – Out of station interchange with Archway on the Northern Line.
  • Gospel Oak – North London Line

Several stations are also on high-frequency North-South bus routes.

It should also be noted that in the last couple of months, Manor Park and Forest Gate stations have been dramatically improved for Crossrail.

Passengers Managed Well During The Closures Of The Last Couple Of Years

Over the last couple of years of electrification work, there have been times, when the line has been closed. People have moaned, but most seem to have got round the closure, by using alternative routes.

It hasn’t been ideal, but lots of passengers are still using the line and haven’t given up rail travel.

Transport for London Have Got The Bad News Out First

TfL’s statement has been released two weeks before the 18th March.

Will this have the effect to get passengers to consider their routes?

I certainly wouldn’t be surprised to see passenger numbers fall back a bit, because of TfL’s timely, honest statement.

So What Will Happen?

How would a service run by three Class 378 trains perform?

Time Keeping

With a train every thirty minutes, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the trains keeping very much to time, as generally they do on the GOBlin now.

This will make it easier for passengers to time their journeys to catch a train.

Passengers Will Adjust Their Routes

Passengers will adjust their routes and behaviour, so they find the easiest route.

As I said earlier there are lots of interchanges and also some less obvious ones for the stronger walkers.

Frequency Problems

The half-hourly frequency could cause problems, but most stations have reasonably wide platforms and often have cafes or coffee kiosks nearby.

The Trains Will Be Crowded

This will of course happen, but when you see how many passengers can cram themselves into the five-car Class 378 trains on the North London Line, I suspect their smaller four-car sisters will cope.

The Class 378 train has a London Underground interior and is unlike any other surface train in the UK.

They will cope with the increased numbers.

What Else Will TfL Do?

I think that the most important thing, is that the GOBLIN and the other lines in the area keep working at their optimum capacity.

A failure on the Victoria Line would really louse things up.

There will be more buses as well.

Introducing The Class 710 Trains

I would expect, that TfL have a date, where they can be pretty certain, that they will have the first Class 710 train will be available for service.

This figure may be a month or it could even be six, but as someone who has delivered very complex software systems, I know how difficult it can be be.

Depending on this date they will need to adopt a different philosophy.

If it is just a few weeks, then perhaps a grin and bare it strategy will work, especially if the new trains are seen on the line.

But it would only work, if they can get the drivers trained and I do hope that TfL are training drivers on the Class 710 trains that are running up and down.

Increasing the fleet, a train at a time would gradually improve the service.

But if it is going to be several months, there would be no alternative than to bring in some other trains.

Conclusion

The GOBlin will cope, but it could be very crowded

On the other hand, passengers will adjust their routes and behaviour, which will help.

March 6, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Will The Gospel Oak To Barking Line Have Long Term Capacity Problems?

There are certainly, short term capacity problems on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line, (GOBlin) due to the non-delivery of the new Class 710 trains.

Comparison With The North London Line

There are a lot of similarities between the Gospel Oak to Barking Line and the North London Line (NLL).

  • Both run roughly East-West across North London.
  • Both have interchanges with the Underground, Crossrail and National Rail.
  • Both run electric trains.
  • Both have several freight trains per day.

In addition, the Eastern end of the NLL and the GOBlin, run through areas of East London, where a lot of regeneration and housing development is ongoing.

This picture was taken at Blackhorse Road station. The station is being surrounded, by a large amount of housing.

Capacity On The North London Line

When I moved to Dalston in 2010, the frequency of trains between Stratford and Willesden Junction stations was around six trains per hour (tph). The trains were three-car Class 378 trains, giving a capacity of 18 carriages per hour (cph).

Now in early 2019, the frequency on the same section of the NLL is eight tph and the trains are five-cars, giving a capacity of 40 cph.

This large increase of 120 percent, has not been enough to prevent trains on the NLL from being very full at times. But then there have been large housing and commercial developments at Stratford, Hackney Wick, Hackney Central, Dalston Junction and West Hampstead stations.

Future Capacity On The Gospel Oak to Barking Line

Until a few months ago, the GOBlin had a frequency of four tph. The trains were two-car Class 172 trains, giving a capacity of 8 cph.

The service from today is two four-car Class 378 and two two-car Class 172 trains per hour, giving a capacity of 12 cph.

Hopefully, when the Class 710 trains are working, we’ll be seeing four four-car Class 710 trains per hour, giving a capacity of 16 cph.

It is not the 120 percent increase that the NLL has already seen, but surely a 100 percent increase is better than nothing.

My Observations On The Gospel Oak To Goblin Line

For the last three of four years, Highbury & Islington station has been a station to avoid.

  • There have been continuous roadworks in the area of the station.
  • There have also been several water-main bursts.
  • The bus service between the station and my house has been halved in frequency.

Consequently, if I’m coming East to my home, I find it a lot easier, but slightly slower to change to the GOBlin at Gospel Oak station and then get a bus home from Harringay Green Lanes station.

So if a GOBlin train is waiting at Gospel Oak station, I take that route.

Helpfully, Transport for London have improved the cross-platform interchange.

They’ve also added more stairs to the right of these.

I actually, think, that passengers wanting to go to areas between the two lines are starting to use the GOBlin, as often by Harringay Green Lanes station, a lot of passengers have left the train.

Londoners are just practising their ducking and diving!

I’ve also left Barking a couple of times in a very full train in the Off Peak.

  • Passengers for whatever reason, seem to be using the GOBlin more!
  • Do clean electric trains attract passengers more than less friendly diesels?
  • Does the occasional four-car journey impress passengers with more space?
  • Is it since the Class 378 trains took over some duties, that the service is more reliable?

Or perversely could it be, that all the bad publicity about the GOBlin has reminded people that it is still there and might be worth a second chance?

Will The Proposed Gospel Oak To Barking Line Be Enough In The Long Term?

I am rapidly coming to the conclusion, that although capacity on the GOBlin is going to be doubled, when the new Class 710 trains arrive, this may not be a large enough increase for the long-term.

What Measures Can Be Taken To Increase Capacity?

There are some simple measures that can be taken.

Higher Frequencies

Transport for London are planning to run five tph in the Peak this year.

If it happens, this will increase capacity by a small amount, where it is needed.

But it probably can’t be a general increase, as that would probably restrict the number of freight trains.

Trains With A Higher Performance

The electric Class 710 trains probably have a higher performance than the diesel Class 172 trains.

This will help with running higher frequencies and faster services, but on its own, it won’t increase capacity.

Longer Trains

The Class 710 trains are Aventras, and these trains have been ordered up to ten cars by other operators.

So five- or six-car trains would certainly be possible.

But the problem is that some platforms would need to be lengthened.

  • Barking already handles longer trains.
  • Upper Holloway, Crouch Hill, Harrigay Green Lanes, Walthamstow Queens Road, Leyton Midland Road, Leytonstone High Road, Wanstead Park and Woodgrange Park used to have longer platforms, which might be possible to reinstate.
  • Blackhorse Road, South Tottenham and Gospel Oak would be major undertakings.

Five-car trains might be possible, if selective door opening was used at the last three stations.

Five-car trains would increase the capacity to 50 cph or an increase of twenty-five percent on the capacity after the Class 710 trains are successfully introduced.

Conclusion

I am very sure, that the only way to increase the capacity of the Gospel Oak to Barking Line, would be to run longer trains.

But they would need to use selective door opening at Blackhorse Road, South Tottenham and Gospel Oak stations.

After the problems of platform lengthening on the East and North London Lines, why weren’t platforms at least prepared for five- or even six-car trains, when the GOBlin was rebuilt and electrified?

February 18, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

And Now There Are Two!

The second Class 378 train; 378206 is now in service on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line.

I have had a thought about these trains and also the Class 710 trains, which will have a similar interior.

At two in the afternoon on the short trip between Gospel Oak and Harringay Green Lanes stations about three-quarters of the seats were occupied.

I would estimate that there were perhaps 160 passengers on board.

As the Class 172 trains have only 124 seats, I feel that the electric trains and all the publicity are attracting passengers.

February 14, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

A Class 313 Train In Not Bad Condition

On Friday, I took a train between Moorgate and Essex Road stations.

It was not in bad condition.

These trains are three-car trains and run in pairs as six-cars.

These trains used to run on the Watford DC Line, so I wonder if when they get to be released by the new Class 717 trains, some could be put back on that line to release some more Class 378 trains for the Gospel Oak to Barking Line.

Anybody like a game of Musical Trains?

February 9, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Gospel Oak To Barking Line Is Soldiering On

It would appear that this week, the Gospel Oak to Barking Line’s hybrid fleet of five two-car Class 172 trains and one four-car Class 378 train have performed reasonably well.

But there is no good news about the Class 710 trains.

February 8, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

Train Failures On The Gospel Oak To Barking Line

It does appear from the RidingTheGoblin Twitter Feed,  that there have been some train failures on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line.

As the type of train has not been specified, I would assume that the sole Class 378 train has been yomping between Gospel Oak and Barking stations, with all the reliability of an SAS soldier.

If the Class 378 train had failed, I’m sure that various news sites would have used the fact, to give Transport for London, the Mayor or Bombardier a good kicking.

Currently, the full fleet is one four-car Class 378 train and five two-car Class 172 trains.

  • If one Class 172 train goes AWOL, this means there will be a 17 % reduction in services, but only a 14 % reduction in capacity.
  • If two Class 172 trains go AWOL, this means there will be a 20 % reduction in services , but a 29 % reduction in capacity.

On the other hand, if the fleet was thwo four-car Class 378 trains and four two-car Class 172 trains, this would result in no reduction in services and a 14 % increase in capacity.

\swap another train from a 172 to a 378 and the capacity rises by 29% above what is in service now!

The only problem, I can see, is that the mixed fleet with its higher capacity, may attract more passengers, which could cause overcroding, if the Class 710 trains fail to arrive in the projected mid-March.

February 4, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment