The Anonymous Widower

Three-Year Nightmare Is Over! Full Service Resumes On Gospel Oak To Barking Overground Line

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on the Barking and Dagenham Post.

There is little more to say!

I went to Barking today and every time, I used a train, the displays were showing the next train was fifteen minutes behind.

I also rode both types of trains, so the Class 378 trains are still being used.

June 24, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 2 Comments

The Future Of Class 378 Trains

This post is a musing on the future of the Class 378 trains.

The Thames Tunnel

The Thames Tunnel is the tail that wags the East London Line, when it comes to trains.

  • For evacuation and safety purposed, trains running through the tunnel, must have an emergency exit through the driver’s cab.
  • It hasn’t happened yet, as far as I know, but a version of Sod’s Law states if you ran trains without this emergency exit, you’d need to use it.
  • London Overground’s Class 378 trains have this feature, but their Class 710 trains do not.

So it would appear that until Bombardier build an Aventra with an emergency exit through the driver’s cab, that the existing Class 378 trains must work all services through the Thames Tunnel.

Incidentally, I can’t think of another long tunnel, that might be served by the London Overground, so it could be that Class 378 trains will be the only trains to go through the Thames Tunnel, until they wear out and need to go to the scrapyard.

Six Car Trains On The East London Line

I covered this in Will The East London Line Ever Get Six-Car Trains? and I came to this conclusion.

I will be very surprised if Network Rail’s original plan on six-car trains on the East London Line happens in the next few years.

It might happen in the future, but it would need expensive platform extensions at Shadwell, Wapping, Rotherhithe and Canada Water and Surrey Quays stations.

Increased Frequency On The East London Line

If five-car Class 378 trains are the limit, the only way to increase capacity of the East London Line would be to increase frequency.

The current frequency of the East London Line is sixteen trains per hour (tph)

There are four tph on each of these routes.

  • Dalston Junction And Clapham Junction
  • Dalston Junction And New Cross
  • Highbury & Islington And Crystal Palace
  • Highbury & Islington And West Croydon

Two increases are planned.

  • 2018 – 6 tph – Highbury & Islington And Crystal Palace
  • 2019 – 6 tph – Dalston Junction And Clapham Junction

This would increase the frequency of the East London Line to twenty tph.

It will probably mean an updated digital signalling system on the East London Line.

Eventually, I think it likely, that a full ERTMS system as is fitted to Thameslink and Crossrail will be fitted to at least the East London Line, but possibly the whole Overground network.

Digital signalling would certainly allow the twenty-four tph frequency of Thameslink and CXrossrail, which could mean that the four routes all received a frequency of four tph.

But Thameslink and Crossrail are theoretically capable of handling thirty tph or a train every two minutes, through their central tunnels.

If the two modern multi-billion pound tunnels can handle 30 tph, why can’t their little brother, that started life as a half-million pound pedestrian tunnel in 1843,

The Number Of Trains Needed For The Current Service

If I go through the routes of the original Overground, I find the following.

Dalston Junction And Clapham Junction

Trains take 46 minutes to go South and 44 minutes to come North and a round trip would take two hours.

This means that the current four tph service would need eight trains.

A six tph service in the future would need twelve trains.

Dalston Junction And New Cross

Trains take 22 minutes both ways and a round trip would take an hour.

This means that the current four tph service would need four trains.

A six tph service in the future would need six trains.

Highbury & Islington And Crystal Palace

Trains take 44 minutes to go South and 43 minutes to come North and a round trip would take two hours.

This means that the current four tph service would need eight trains.

A six tph service in the future would need twelve trains.

Highbury & Islington And West Croydon

Trains take 52 minutes both ways and a round trip would take two hours.

This means that the current four tph service would need eight trains.

A six tph service in the future would need twelve trains.

This means that the current four tph on all four routes needs twenty-eight trains.

The Proposed 2020 Service

This will have two extra tph to Crystal Palace and Clapham Junction and will need thirty-six trains.

Six Trains Per Hour On All Four Routes

as each route terminates at both ends in a single platform, which can handle six tph, with the right signalling, I feel that this could be the design objective of the East London Line, when it was built in the early-2010s.

This could be achieved with forty-two trains, leaving perhaps twelve to fifteen trains for other duties, depending on how many are needed on stand-by or are in maintenance.

What Could Be Done With Twelve Trains?

As I calculated earlier, three routes need twelve trains to provide a six tph service.

  • Dalston Junction And Clapham Junction
  • Highbury & Islington And Crystal Palace
  • Highbury & Islington And West Croydon

All three services take between 44 and 52 minutes.

So could another six tph service that takes around this time be added to the current four services?

Willesden Junction As A Northern Terminal

Trains could take the North London Line to Willesden Junction and terminate in the Bay Platform 2.

I estimate the following timings from Willesden Junction.

  • Highbury & Islington – 27 mins
  • Dalston Junction – 31 mins
  • Whitechapel –  – 41 mins
  • New Cross – 49 mins
  • Crystal Palace – 64 mins
  • Clapham Junction – 73 mins.
  • West Croydon – 74 mins

It would appear that the only possible Southern terminal of the current four, would be New Cross, as that is the only terminal within the 44-52 minute range of journey time.

So could a service between Willesden Junction and New Cross replace the current one between Dalston Junction and New Cross?

  • It would need to be run using dual-voltage trains
  • Voltage changeover could be at Highbury & Islington station.
  • Extending the New Cross service would free up a bay platform at Dalston Junction station.
  • It should be possible to have a frequency of six tph.
  • Serious modifications or additions to infrastructure would probably not be required.

As running to Willesden Junction was talked about before the Overground opened, I wonder if the numerous crossovers on the North London Line, already allow trains from the East London Line to terminate at Willesden Junction.

Southern Terminals Via New Cross Station

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

Note how the double-track East London Line, shown in orange, arrives from Surrey Quays station arrives in the North-Western corner of the map, becomes a single-track and then goes under the main lines before going into the bay platform D.

This Google Map shows the same area.

The London Overground track is clearly visible.

Could extra track be added, to enable the following?

  • Southbound trains could join the main line and stop in Platform C
  • Northbound could leave the main line after stopping in Platform A and go towards Surrey Quays station.

If this is possible, then trains could run between Dalston Junction and Lewisham stations.

Once at Lewisham they would have choice of Southern terminal,

Hayes As A Southern Terminal

Consider a service between Dalston Junction and Hayes stations.

  • I estimate that a train could go between the two stations in 53 minutes.
  • Hayes station has two terminal platforms

Six tph would probably be too many services, but 2-3 tph might be very welcome.

Orpington As A Southern Terminal

Consider a service between Dalston Junction and Orpington stations.

  • I estimate that a train could go between the two stations in 47  minutes.
  • Orpington station has three terminal platforms.

Six tph would probably be too many services, but 2-3 tph might be very welcome.

A Combined Hayes And Orpington Service

As a case can be made for services to both Hayes and Orpington via Lewisham, I think the ideal service could be two tph to both Hayes and Orpington.

  • There would be four tph between Dalston Junction and Lewisham.
  • Stations on the East London Line would have access to the important interchange station at Lewisham.
  • Several stations on the routes to Hayes and Orpington would have a two tph service to Crossrail and the Jubilee Line.

Other Stations Via New Cross

Looking at rail maps, there would seem to be several possibilities including with their times from Dalston junction station.

  • Beckenham Junction – 41 mins
  • Bromley North – 40 mins
  • Gove Park – 35 mins

There are probably others.

Southern Terminals Via Peckham Rye Station

As an example Streatham Common station is planned to be a major interchange and is 43 minutes from Dalston Junction.

Would a bay platform work here as an East london Line terminal?

Conclusion

If all fifty-seven Class 378 trains worked the East London Line, they could run six tph on the current routes.

  • Dalston Junction And Clapham Junction
  • Dalston Junction And New Cross
  • Highbury & Islington And Crystal Palace
  • Highbury & Islington And West Croydon

It would need forty-two trains.

Suppose the Dalston Junction and New Cross service was replaced with a Willesden Junction and New Cross service.

  • This would provide a useful direct four tph service between East and North London.
  • Changing at Highbury & Islington station would be avoided for a lot of journeys.
  • The journey time wold be around 49 minutes.
  • A two tph service would need four trains.
  • A four tph service would need eight trains.
  • A six tph service would need twelve trains.
  • Many journeys between North and South London would now be possible with just a single same platform interchange.

To run the following frequencies on this route would mean these total frequencies on the East London Line and total numbers of trains.

  • 2 tph – 20 tph – 40 trains
  • 4 tph – 22 tph – 44 trains
  • 6 tph – 24 tph – 48 trains

I think that if the figures are juggled a bit, there is enough trains to run extra services to one or more Southern destinations from Dalston Junction.

My preference would be a split service of 2 tph to both Hayes and Orpington via New Cross, where some new track would be needed.

This would do the following.

  • Create a frequent connection between South-East and North-East London.
  • Both areas would be connected to Crossrail and several Underground Lines, including the future Bakerloo Line Extension.
  • The Hayes Line would be shared between Overground and Southeastern trains.

No more new trains or large amounts of new infrastructure would be needed.

I suspect that London Overground and the new Southeastern franchise can do better than my musings.

 

 

May 10, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Where Do They All Come From?

Not the lonely people in the Beatles, Eleanor Rigby, but although some may be lonely, I am referring to the passengers on the North London Line.

Today on the Saturday morning before the Bank Holiday, the Class 378 train was fairly full, with all seats taken and quite a few standing.

When the refurbished line opened in 2009 with new trains, there were six trains per hour (tph) of three-cars between Stratford and Willesden Junction stations. Now there are eight tph of five-cars. This is an increase in capacity of 2.22.

Travel this route in the Peak and it is difficult to find space to put your feet on the floor.

Passenger loading on this line seems to have got higher, since the train frequency increased from six tph to eight in December 2018.

So where do these passengers all come from?

  • Are passengers avoiding the Gospel Oak To Barking Line, because of the reduced capacity?
  • Has the increased frequency on the Victoria Line and new Class 717 trains on the Northern City Line, encouraged more passengers between Highbury & Islington and Stratford stations.
  • Are passengers fed up with being fried on the Central Line?
  • Is it people living in new developments along the line?
  • Is it just people are fed up with driving in North London’s traffic and using trains as an alternative?
  • Is it passengers using the line as an alternative after the non-appearance of Crossrail?

But whatever it is, action needs to be taken to create more capacity.

So what can be done?

Crossrail Needs To Be Opened

Crossrail’s non-appearance must make a difference, so when it finally opens, I will be very surprised if a proportion of passengers travelling to Highbury & Islington, don’t use Crossrail with its massive capacity as an alternative.

Class 710 Trains Will Finally Arrive On The Gospel Oak To Barking Line

When the Class 710 trains are working well on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line, this will mean that the three Class 378 trains, currently working the line, can go back home to the North, West and East London Lines fleet.

The Gospel Oak to Barking Line may also take passengers from the North London Line, once it is working with four tph and four-car trains.

Class 710 Trains On The Watford DC Line

The six Class 378 trains on the Watford DC Line will be replaced with Class 710 trains, thus adding six trains to the North, West and East London Lines fleet.

Extra Class 710 Trains For The North and West London Lines

Six new five-car Class 710 trains will also be delivered for the North and West London Lines.

As Clsas 710 trains can’t work the East London Line, does this mean that the six Class 378 trains cascaded from the Watford DC Line will go to the East London Line.

I have to ask what frequency of services could be run with an extra six trains.

In Gospel Oak-Barking Fleet Plan Remains Unclear, I calculated how many Class 378 trains were needed to run a full service on the North, East and West London Lines.

I said this about the trains needed for North and West London Lines.

Between Stratford and Richmond, trains take 59-64 minutes to go West and 62 minutes to come East.

Between Stratford and Clapham Junction, trains take 62 minutes to go West and 64 minutes to come East.

The round trip times are very similar and are around two and a half hours.

This means that the current eight tph service would need twenty trains

Extending this calculation gives the following numbers of trains for a combined North and West London Lines service.

  • Eight tph needs twenty trains.
  • Ten tph needs twenty-five trains.
  • Twelve tph needs thirty trains.

Could this mean that the North and West London Line will get these services?

Stratford and Willesden Junction – 10 tph

Willesden Junction and Clapham Junction – 5 tph

Willesden Junction and Richmond – 5 tph

There would be one train spare, to cover for maintenance, software updates and breakdowns.

Six-Car Trains

In Will The East London Line Ever Get Six-Car Trains?, I looked at the possibility of six-car trains on the East London Line.

I came to this conclusion.

I will be very surprised if Network Rail’s original plan on six-car trains on the East London Line happens in the next few years.

There are various reasons.

  • Bombardier don’t make Electrostars any more.
  • Trains need an end-door for tunnel evacuation.
  • Class 710 trains don’t have end doors.
  • Some platforms would probably need difficult and expensive lengthening.

But six-car trains on the North and West London Lines could be a possibility.

In By Overground To High Speed Two, I said this about running six-car trains on the North and West London Lines.

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.

These numbers of trains would be needed to run the following frequencies to Richmond and Clapham Junction stations.

  • Four tph – 20 trains
  • Five tph – 25 trains
  • Six tph – 30 trains

Obtaining these numbers of Class 710 trains would probably not be a big problem, if they were needed and the budget was available.

Conclusion

The new Class 710 trains and the moving around of trains should keep services going for a couple of years.

May 4, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 5 Comments

Are Class 378 Trains Better For Canoodling?

A couple, who were probably married or in a long term relationship, judging by their body language were at it yesterday.

She was sitting on the perch seat by the door.

He was standing in front, facing her, whispering sweet nothings or his supper preferences in her ear, as the train with standing room only trundled towards Whitechapel.

You see this type of behaviour regularly.

Was encouraging it a design objective?

May 2, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | 1 Comment

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.
  • Six new five-car Class 710 trains are on order for North and West London Line services.
  • 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 ten tph to Stratford, with services split equally between Hythe Road and Old Oak Common Lane stations.
  • Richmond and Clapham Junction stations will get at least five tph.
  • Step-free access is not currently 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.

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 currently 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 | , , , , , , , , | 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