The Anonymous Widower

New Livery For Class 378 Trains

I took these pictures of a Class 378 train with new the new livery and seat covers on two trips into Dalston Junction station.

Who is or was Daks Hamilton?

Whilst searching for the answer to my question, I found this December 2009 article on Rail Magazine, which is entitled A Benchmark For Inner Suburban Trains. Richard Clinnock; the author finishes the article with these paragraphs.

So what is the final verdict? Simple: these trains are superb. They may seem to be fairly basic with few seats and no bins, but then they are about moving large numbers of people over relatively short distances.

Bombardier has delivered a train it can be proud of, and has really set the benchmark for future designs for inner suburban trains.

His verdict is still valid and nearly nine years on , the Capitalstars are still trundling reliably, in a circle around London.

But except for the Class 345 and Class 710 trains for Crossrail and the Overground respectively, no operator or transport authority in the UK, has followed London’s bold step of bench seats along the sides of the train.

You do see this layout in Europe, but often with hard one-piece plastic seats, that should be burned to generate electricity.

I think that Transport for London and Bombardier took, what they knew worked from the train-builder’s superb S stock for the sub-surface lines of the Underground and applied it to the new trains for an outstanding success.

If this type of seating works in London, why has it not been specified on new trains for Merseyrail and the Tyne and Wear Metro.

The Future Of The Class 378 Trains

London Overground have a problem with the new Class 710 trains, in that they can’t work the East London Line, as they have no emergency access that can be used in the Thames Tunnel.

So it looks like for the foreseeable future, Class 378 trains will be needed to work the East London Line.

Interior Update

The trains need wi-fi and USB sockets.

Vivarail have put USB sockets in Class 230 trains.

A similar setup in the armrests of a Class 378 train would be welcome.

Trains Required For The East London Line

If you look at the timing of the East London Line, you get the following journey times for the four routes.

  • Highbury & Islington to West Croydon – 52-57 minutes
  • Dalston Junction to New Cross – 24 minutes
  • Highbury & Islington to Crystal Palace – 46 minutes
  • Dalston Junction to Clapham Junction – 47-48 minutes

It could almost have been choreographed by Busby Berkeley.

This means that to run four trains per hour (tph) on the routes needs the following number of trains.

  • Highbury & Islington to West Croydon – 8 trains
  • Dalston Junction to New Cross – 4 trains
  • Highbury & Islington to Crystal Palace – 8 trains
  • Dalston Junction to Clapham Junction – 8 trains

Which gives a total of 28 trains.

London Overground have stated that they want to make all these services six tph. This would require the following number of trains.

  • Highbury & Islington to West Croydon – 12 trains
  • Dalston Junction to New Cross – 6 trains
  • Highbury & Islington to Crystal Palace – 12 trains
  • Dalston Junction to Clapham Junction – 12 trains

Which gives a total of 42 trains.

At present only the Crystal Palace and Clapham Junction routes have dates for the extra trains and if only these routes were increased in frequency, there would be a need for 36 trains.

The trains might also go to six cars to increase capacity on the East London Line.

As I indicated in Will The East London Line Ever Get Six Car Trains?, cars could be used from the five-car trains not needed for the East London Line.

You would just end up with a number of three- and four-car Class 378 trains, that could be used on other routes with less passengers.

My conclusion in Will The East London Line Ever Get Six Car Trains? was this.

It will be interesting to see how London Overground, increase capacity in the coming years.

Transport for London must have a cunning plan.

 

October 19, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , | 2 Comments

Will The East London Line Ever Get Six Car Trains?

On the East London Line yesterday, I was in the front car and it was noticeable how passengers moved backwards and forwards along the train so they could find a seat and also get in and out easily at the stations with short platforms, like Shadwell, Wapping, Rotherhithe and Canada Water.

Given that the busiest non-terminal stations in the future will probably be Shoreditch High Street, Whitechapel, Canada Water, New Cross Gate, Peckham Rye and Norwood Junction, all of which except Canada Water have longer platforms, I wonder if selective door opening would allow the Class 378 trains to run with six cars?

I also think that the extra cars could be found, if there were to be more new Class 710 trains for the North London Line and the five car Class 378 trains could be released.These might lose a car to become four car units and the released car could be used to lengthen the trains on the East London Line.

You would get equal numbers of four and six car trains with a number of five car trains. Two fours could run as eight-car services on a route with capacity issues.

The Class 378 trains might need an internal refresh to bring their interiors up to the standard of the Class 710 trains, which have passenger must-haves of wi-fi and power sockets.

However, running as eight cars, they would surely be a very acceptable train.

Currently, there are fifty-seven five-car Class 378 trains.

I estimate that to run the current four trains per hour (tph) service to four destinations on the East London Line needs twenty-eight trains.

Converting these to six-car trains would give a fleet of these trains.

  • 28 x four-cars
  • 28 x six-cars
  • 1 x five-car

If the four-car trains, always worked in pairs, this would give a useful fourteen eight-car trains to reinforce the Class 710 trains on West Anglia routes or develop new services.

The odd train would be a spare or it could be used on the Romford Upminster Line.

Transport for London’s plans for the London Overground are should in this table.

The updated frequencies to Crystal Palace and Clapham Junction would need thirty-six trains.

So to achieve this, some trains would need to donate two cars and there would be a fleet with perhaps this makup.

  • 28 x four-cars
  • 36 x six-cars
  • 8 x three-cars
  • 1 x five-car

If all services were to become six  six-car trains per hour, then it gets even more complicated.

Conclusion

It will be interesting to see how London Overground, increase capacity in the coming years.

October 10, 2018 Posted by | Travel, Uncategorized | , , , | 1 Comment

Will The New Class 710 Trains Use Selective Door Opening At Gospel Oak Station?

These two pictures were taken of a Class 172 train in Platform 3 of Gospel Oak station.

The two-car Class 172 trains are just over 47 metres long.

In The Aventra Car Length Puzzle, I said that the Class 710 trains for the Overground would have twenty metre long cars, which is similar to the 20.4 metres of the Class 378 trains.

For information other four-car electric units, that Aventras are likely to replace have the following car-lengths

  • Class 315 trains – 19.80 metres
  • Class 317 trains – 19.83 metres
  • Class 319/769 trains – 19.83 or 19.92 metres
  • Class 321 trains – 19.95 trains
  • Class 455 trains 19.83 trains.

So it looks like the Class 710 train, has been sized as a direct replacement foe much of the Mark 3-based electric multiple units.

This would mean, that no platform lengthening work needs to be done, when the many older units are replaced with new Aventras.

It would also mean that as I talked about in Musical Trains On The Overground, that Aventras could share routes with Class 378 trains without too much trouble on the North and West London Lines.

So will a four-car Class 710 train, which will be about eighty metres long fit Platform 3 at Gospel Oak station?

This Google Map shows the station.

Note that a Class 172 train is in Platform 3 and in Platform 2 there is a five-car Class 378 train.

The length of Platform 3 can be ascertained and it looks like that Platform 3 is already long enough for an eighty metre train.

If it isn’t Bombardier certainly have fitted Selective Door Opening to the new trains.

November 15, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Technology Doesn’t Have To Be Complex

This article on the Rail Tecjnology Magazine web site is entitled Easing The Capital’s Cramped Carriages.

On the London Overground, the Class 378 trains are Electrostars with an air suspension.

Note the rubber suspension bag between the bogie and the car on this Class 378 train. As more people, dogs, buggies and heavy bags are loaded into the train, more air is pumped into the suspension bag to keep the train level, so that the train rides better and passengers don’t have to step up and down to get in.

The pressure in the bag gives a very good estimate of the number of passengers in each particular carriage in the train.

The Rail Technology Magazine article describes how this information is collected and  then processed and distributed to the iPads and iPhones of station staff, so they can direct passengers to the least crowded parts of the train.

I have read that other train manufacturers are working on sophisticated head-counting software using CCTV cameras, as I saw deployed on a 141 bus in Transport for London’s Latest Plot To Get Us To Climb Stairs. That device has disappeared, so I suspect there were problems, privacy issues or it just cost too much.

The system on a Class 378 train must be a lot simpler and cheaper to install, especially if the train has been wi-fi enabled. The Class 378 trains don’t have wi-fi, but many Electrostars do.

As information is always key in any system, it can lead to various developments.

  • Modern station displays can be updated to show the train loading.
  • There may be cases where train loading affects the platform a train would use at a terminus.
  • Automated messages about train loading could be displayed on the train.
  • Detailed train loading information must be useful in designing a train interior and also station layouts.

I suspect that those behind this project have got lots of applications.

August 23, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , | 2 Comments

Toilets In Class 345 Trains

I visited this topic in Do Crossrail Trains Need Toilets? over two years ago, when I said this.

Surely, a much better and more affordable solution would be to update the ribbon maps in all Underground and Crossrail trains to show if the station had toilets, in the same way, they show the step free access. Some extra signs on stations showing the status and location of toilets would also be a good idea.

Incidentally on the Essex and Reading legs of Crossrail, several of the stations already have decent toilets. Getting off a train and catching the next one, to have a relaxed toilet break, is probably not a huge delay, due to the high frequency of the trains.

London has a chance to set high standards in this area, without putting toilets on any trains.

My views haven’t changed, but I do think that now the Aventra is in limited service, I can speculate further.

Walk-through Trains, First Class And Toilets

London now has five walk-through trains.

In some ways the Class 700 train is the odd train out, as it has both First Class seating and toilets.

It should also be noted that Greater Anglia’s new Class 720 trains don’t have First Class, but it appears they have toilets.

Walk-through trains are an undoubted success, as any Overground or Underground passenger will confirm, after seeing the way other passengers move around the train to both get a seat and be able to make a convenient exit.

First Class causes problems, as it blocks off this passenger circulation, unless it as one end of the train. But this means that First Class passengers might have a long walk to their seat at the wrong end of the day.

I wonder if walk-through trains encourage passengers to not use First Class, as the freedom to circulate in Standard Class makes the travel experience better.

It will be interesting to see how posh commuters from Frinton take to Greater Anglia’s new Class 720 trains.

Another problem of First Class sitting at one end of the train, is that if toilet provision is made, there must be a toilet near to First Class.

So if you don’t have First Class in a train up to perhaps ten cars, you can get away with perhaps a universal access toilet and a standard one.

From comments I get, most people seem to like the Class 395 trains or Javelins, that work the Highspeed services to Kent. These trains are six-car, with no First Class and two toilets.

So are these trains setting the standard for the Greater Anglia’s Class 720 trains?

Toilets On Class 345 Trains

The initial layout of Crossrail with terminals at Abbey Wood, Heathrow, Reading and Shenfield, has a longest journey from Reading to Shenfield of 102 minutes according to the Crossrail web site. But there are toilet facilities at Reading and Shenfield.

However, there is the possibility, that Crossrail trains may serve other terminals like Gravesend, High Wycombe, Southend and Tring.

Tring to Southend would be a journey of two hours, so a toilet is probably a necessity.

The current Class 345 trains have been designed to be nine-car units, although at present they are running as seven cars because of platform length issues at Liverpool Street.

I’ve read somewhere that Crossrail has been designed so that the trains can be increased to ten cars, if there should be a need for more capacity.

  • Platforms have been lengthened to at least two hundred metres.
  • All stations seem to have been updated for a large number of passengers.
  • Lengthening from seven to nine cars is obviously a simple matter.
  • A similar lengthening of the Class 378 trains was not a major exercise.

So surely, it would be a simple matter to slot in a car with a toilet.

So perhaps we might see an extra tenth car added to Class 345 trains, that is tailored to the route, as this ability to add and remove cars, is a feature of all Aventras.

Hitachi’s Class 800 trains also have the capability, as I suspect every well-designed train has.

The Ultimate Airport Train

Imagine a tenth car on Heathrow services.

  • Disabled toilet.
  • Ticket machine.
  • Visitor information and shop.
  • Space for large luggage.

The mind boggles!

Conclusion

If an operator wanted Aventras with a disco car, I’m sure Bombardier would oblige! At a price!

 

August 20, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Incident At Dalston Kingsland Station

This article in the Hackney Gazette is entitled Dalston Kingsland: Four in hospital after sparks and smoke cause stampede off train.

As the problem was sorted by the London Fire Brigade using a bucket of sand to extinguish a fire in the battery pack of a workman’s drill, it doesn’t appear to have been very serious.

The injuries seem to have been caused by panic, as passengers tried to get away fro the problem.

I know Dalston Kingsland station well and although the entrance, ticket hall and gateline has been updated, the stairs are not the best.

So did everybody try to get out of the station on these stairs and it was this that caused the injuries?

I think there are questions that have to be asked about the design of the station and its operating procedures.

If you look at the passenger numbers for 2015-16 on the North London Line, you get the following.

  • Canonbury – 2.86million
  • Dalston Kingsland – 5.93million
  • Hackney Central – 5.98million
  • Homerton – 4.65 million
  • Hackney Wick – 2.10million

So the station has a fairly high usage.

At the moment, the Gospel Oak to Barking Line is closed, so is the station getting more passengers, who need to get across London?

It looks to me, that the incident could have been a lot worse.

Luckily it wasn’t, but I do believe that something must be done to improve the stairs at Dalston Kingland station.

 

February 9, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

A Design Crime – Class 395 Train Platform Interface

I took these pictures of the step you need to ascend to get into a Class 395 Train.

All of these pictures, were taken on platforms that were specifically built for the trains and no other train type calls at these station.

Perhaps my biggest gripe with these terrible doors, is that there is no wide door, which you would need for a large wheelchair.

These trains may have a high top speed, but they’re not designed for quick safe stops.

 

The Class 395 trains were built in Japan around 2009 and the Class 378 trains for the Overground were built around the same time.

Compare these pictures taken on the Overground with those above.

Note that the first two pictures were taken in a platform used by other train, so the access isn’t quite as good.

Perhaps Japanese railways don’t allow people in wheelchairs to use trains.

If they do, how come we get trains as wheelchair-unfriendly as the Class 395 train, which need a ramp to get the wheelchair on and off the train.

 

December 28, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 3 Comments

Is The Croxley Rail Link To Be Given Lower Priority?

Although, I have covered the Croxley Rail Link or Metropolitan Line Extension, on this blog, including in Looking For The Croxley Rail Link, which I wrote after walking the route in November 2014, it is not a project that will have a great deal of affect on my life.

In the last few days, after the publication of the London Mayor’s transport strategy, two newspaper reports have been published.

  • This article in the Watford Observer entitled Have plans to extend the Metropolitan Line derailed?
  • This article in Rail Technology Magazine entitled DfT refuses to provide extra funding for over-budget Croxley rail link

So is everybody getting more lukewarm about the project?

The Watford Observer article also contains these paragraphs.

Save Watford Met campaign group opposes the plans, which would see Watford underground close.

Speaking on their behalf, Lester Wagman said: “While it would be a shame if the [unconfirmed] inference that the Metropolitan Line Extension to Watford Junction may have been dropped as a business plan priority for TfL, we would not really be surprised if this is not such a priority for London and that its Mayor, Sadiq Khan, may have concluded this from reviewing the somewhat contrived and shaky business case.

So perhaps, there is a problem with finances and the people of Watford are not all in favour.

I think that it is time to take a short time of reflection to look at this project and see, if other developments in the future, can improve rail links to Watford sufficiently.

Maps Of The Croxley Rail Link

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the link.

The Croxley Rail Link

The Croxley Rail Link

I don’t think that they are able to show anything more definitive.

This first Google Map shows the Western End of the Croxley Rail Link.

The Western End Of The Croxley Rail Link

The Western End Of The Croxley Rail Link

Note.

  • Croxley station in the bottom left corner and Watford station in the top right, with the Metropolitan Line between them.
  • In the middle is the A412 with its two roundabouts.
  • The scar of the old railway can be seen above the green space in the bottom right corner.

This second Google Map shows the Eastern End of the Croxley Rail Link.

The Eastern End Of The Croxley Rail Link

The Eastern End Of The Croxley Rail Link

Note.

  • Watford High Street station, where the Croxley Rail Link joins the Watford DC Line is in the top right corner of the map.
  • The line goes in a wide curve South of Vicarage Road Stadium and the large Watford Hospital site.

This Google Map shows the area, where the Croxley Rail Link joins the Watford DC Line.

Croxley Rail Link And The Watford DC Line

Croxley Rail Link And The Watford DC Line

Note.

  • Watford High Street station is at the top right.
  • It looks like the original junction was a full triangular one.
  • The road being built is Thomas Sawyer Way, which is a link to open up the area. It opened on the 16th November 2016, as this article on the Watford Council web site announces.

This map shows the site of the proposed Watford Vicarage Road station.

The Site Of Watford Vicarage Road Station

The Site Of Watford Vicarage Road Station

This description of the station is from Wikipedia.

Watford Vicarage Road is to be a newly constructed station on a re-opened section of the former LNWR Watford and Rickmansworth Railway line which was closed by British Rail in 1996. The station is to be located to the west of Vicarage Road, adjacent to Holywell allotments, with the platforms in the railway cutting below the road

The hospital and stadium are to the North on Vicarage Road.

This Google Map shows the site of the proposed Cassiobridge station.

The Site Of Cassiobridge Station

The Site Of Cassiobridge Station

Note.

  • The Grand Union Canal running down the left hand side of the map, with the route of the old railway across it clearly visible.
  • The station is on the single-carriageway branch of Ascot Road.

Wikipedia says it will be a fairly simple station.

Reasons For The Croxley Rail Link.

The Croxley Rail Link or the Metropolitan line Extension has a page on the Transport for London web site.

This is their summary.

The Metropolitan Line extension will re-route and extend the Metropolitan line to Watford Junction. The aim is for the project (formerly the Croxley Rail Link) to be completed in 2020.
The extension will divert Metropolitan line trains to serve the existing Watford Junction and Watford High Street stations.

Two new stations will be created at Cassiobridge and Watford Vicarage Road. The existing Watford station will close after the new stations open.

TfL list the benefits as follows.

  • Improve access to public transport for local residents
  • Create new links to Watford General Hospital, Croxley Business Park and Cardiff Road Industrial Estate, increasing employment opportunities
  • Provide access for Metropolitan line passengers to West Coast mainline National Rail links from Watford Junction station

The case for the line was obviously good enough to raise the finance for the line, but now it appears that the Department for Transport are having second thoughts.

Perhaps some of the other projects are influencing their decision.

The Bakerloo Line Extension

The Bakerloo Line Extension is mainly about South of the Thames, but if the line is running the proposed 27 trains per hour (tph) , these trains will have to terminate somewhere in the North.

There have been various proposals for the Bakerloo Line to take over the Watford DC Line and trains to terminate at Watford Junction station.

Some trains would probably terminate at Queen’s Park, Stonebridge Park and Harrow and Wealdstone stations, but perhaps eight to ten tph might go all the way, calling at both Watford High Street and Watford Junction stations.

The London Overground

Currently, the London Overground runs three tph to Watford Junction from Euston via the Watford DC Line.

The trains are currently five-car Class 378 trains and in a couple of years, they will be replaced by four-car Class 710 trains.

It is rare that the capacity of a route is ever decreased.

So do Transport for London have a cunning plan?

In Platform Height Issues On The Watford DC Line I suggested that the shorter Class 710 trains, might fit better with the 1972 Stock of the Bakerloo Line, thus allowing the current stations on the line to be converted to very customer-friendly step-free stations.

So working an extended Bakerloo Line to Watford Junction station with an appropriate number of Euston to Watford Junction services on the Watford DC Line could be an easier way of increasing capacity to Watford’s main station, without degrading the service of any other passengers.

Crossrail

It has been suggested that Crossrail with its herds of jumbo Class 345 trains should be extended to the West Coast Main Line. Wikipedia says this.

In August 2014, a statement by the transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin indicated that the government was actively evaluating the extension of Crossrail as far as Tring, with potential Crossrail stops at Wembley Central, Harrow & Wealdstone, Bushey, Watford Junction, Kings Langley, Apsley, Hemel Hempstead and Berkhamsted.

Plans change, but if Crossrail goes up the West Coast Main Line, it would surely stop at Watford Junction station.

If it stopped at the stations listed above, it would have good connections to the Bakerloo Line and London Overground, in addition to all the connections at Old Oak Common.

Southern

With all Southern‘s current troubles, I don’t think that their Milton Keynes to East Croydon service is a priority.

It is also a route that in a few years time will be a route, where there could be better alternatives.

Once Old Oak Common station is a reality, passengers from Milton Keynes to South London, would possibly use this type of route.

  • London Midland to Old Oak Common
  • Crossrail to Farringdon
  • Thameslink to East Croydon, Gatwick Airport, Kent, Surrey, Sussex and Wimbledon.

As an alternative, they could also take the West London Line from Old Oak Common to Clapham Junction for all the connections there.

If Crossrail extends up the West Coast Main Line from a fully-developed Old Oak Common station, the reasons for Southern’s service will diminish.

It might be a good idea to replace this service with more London Overground services between Stratford and Clapham Junction via the North and West London Lines!

After all, London Overground will have several five-car Class 378 trains from the Watford DC Line.

London Midland

London Midland‘s franchise comes to an end soon and what goodies will companies propose to keep it?

I think the only new service we will see from London Midland or its successor, is trains calling at the new hub at Old Oak Common.

Metropolitan Line Upgrade

Transport for London are implementing, what they call the Four Lines Modernisation, on the Circle, District, Hammersmith and City and Metropolitan Lines.

TfL give these benefits.

  • A new fleet of air-conditioned trains, with brighter more spacious interiors, low floors and dedicated spaces for wheelchair users, CCTV and other improved features
  • Space for more customers
  • Faster journeys and reduced waiting times
  • Fewer delays as safe but obsolete equipment – dating back to the 1920s in some places – is replaced with modern, computerised signalling and control systems
  • Better live customer information on platforms and to smart devices

It will all be finished by 2023, when 32 tph could be running in the Peak.

The Croxley Rail Link is not mentioned in connection with this modernisation.

This upgrade must benefit services to and from existing Metropolitan Line stations to the West of Watford, but it does nothing to meet the benefits stated for the Croxley Rail Link.

  • Improve access to public transport for local residents
  • Create new links to Watford General Hospital, Croxley Business Park and Cardiff Road Industrial Estate, increasing employment opportunities
  • Provide access for Metropolitan line passengers to West Coast mainline National Rail links from Watford Junction station.

Two additional benefits could be added.

  • Access to the upgraded Vicarage Road Stadium
  • The possibility of services between Amersham and Watford Junction.

Others could also surface, if say a substantial housing or commercial development is proposed.

Chiltern Railways

Never underestimate Chiltern Railways!

The Croxley Rail Link would connect to their Aylesbury Line, which is going to be extended to Milton Keynes.

Once the link is a reality, I’m sure Chiltern will find a way to make use of the line.

Even a well-thought out two tph shuttle to Amersham could probably provide valuable connectivity.

Chiltern will also have an effect on thinking, in that they have opened a similar railway to the Croxley Rail Link, in their extension to Bicester and Oxford.

The Opening Of HS2

HS2 will have one major effect on Watford, in that it will free up paths on the West Coast Main Line.

These could be used to improve services between Watford Junction and Euston.

Could A Lower-Cost Link Be Built?

I ask this question, specifically because of the report that TfL had said no, because the project is over-budget.

Ideally, the link would be built as a double track line from Watford High Street station, to where it joins the double-track branch to the current Watford station.

I have flown my helicopter over the route and there would appear to be a fair bit of space for a double -track line.

But there might be a couple of problems.

This picture, which I took going South, shows the bridge, where the Croxley Rail Link will join the Watford DC Line.

The A4178 Goes Over The Croxley Rail Link

The A4178 Goes Over The Croxley Rail Link

 

It looks fairly sound, but is it large enough for two tracks? I could see the next bridge and that was a modern structure with a lot more space.

Note too, the evidence of clearing up decades of tree growth.

But look at this Google Map of where the Croxley Rail Link will connect to the branch to Watford station.

Over The A412 At Croxley Green

Over The A412 At Croxley Green

Note the branch to Watford station at the top left of the map and the remains of the old railway in the bottom-right, which can also be seen in the map of Cassiobridge station.

It could be difficult to thread a double-track viaduct through the area.

This visualisation from the Watford Observer shows current thinking.

Croxley Link Viaduct

Croxley Link Viaduct

So would money be saved and perhaps a better design be possible?

  • Could the viaduct be built with only a single-track between its junction with the branch to Watford station and the proposed Cassiobridge station? The route could revert to double track just to the East of Cassiobridge station.
  • A single-track design of Cassiobridge station could also save money, but it would probably rule out too many future options.

As most of the route will be double-track, I doubt that a few hundred metres of single-track would have much impact on the operation of the link. It’s not as if, the Croxley Rail Link will be handling 24 tph.

I suspect that engineers and architects are working hard both to cut costs and make the link better.

A Watford Junction To Amersham Service

I think that if there is a good service between Watford Junction and Amersham, this might  offer an alternative solution.

It would connect to London trains as follows.

  • Watford Junction – Bakerloo, London Midland, Southewrn, Watford DC and possible West Coast Main Line services.
  • Watford High Street – Cross-platform connection to Watford DC services.
  • Croxley – Same platform connection to Metropolitan services to the existing Watford station.
  • Rickmanswoth – Chiltern for both London and all stations to Milton Keynes.

I believe that a train like London Overground’s new Class 710 train, which will be running on the Watford DC Line might be able to run the service without any new electrification, it it were to use onboard energy storage between say Watford High Street and Croxley stations.

Conclusion

I believe that Watford will get a better train service, whether the Croxley Rail Link is built or not.

Politics will decide the priority of the Croxley Rail Link, with the left-leaning South Londoner Sadiq Khan on one side and right-leaning Bucks-raised Chris Grayling on the other. In some ways, Watford is a piggy-in-the-middle.

My feeling is that on a Londonwide  basis, that the Bakerloo Line Extension to Watford, solves or enables the solution of a lot of wider problems and the Croxley Rail Link is much more a local solution.

I think it could turn out to be.

  • A mainly double-track route from Watford Junction to Amersham, but with portions of single track.
  • No new electrification.
  • Stations at Watford High Street, Watford Vicarage Road, Cassiobridge, Croxley and then all stations to Amersham.
  • Four Class 710 trains per hour (tph), running on existing electrification and batteries between Watford Junction and Amersham.
  • A redeveloped Watford station keeps its four tph to London.

It might even be simpler.

 

 

December 15, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 6 Comments

Platform Height Issues On The Watford DC Line

At Queen’s Park station, the Bakerloo and Watford DC Lines join as they go towards Watford Junction station.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines at Queen’s Park station.

Lines Through Queen's Park Station

Lines Through Queen’s Park Station

Note how there is a cross-platform interchange between the two pairs of lines.

Northwards from Queen’s Park station, the platform height is a compromise, with a step down into an Underground 1972 Stock train and a step up into Class 378 train.

  • It is not level access by any means and very difficult for wheel-chair users or those pushing buggies or heavy wheeled cases.
  • I suspect that at some point it could even be illegal under disability regulations.
  • With a more intense service, loading and unloading trains may become a seriouscause of delay.

It is not just a would-like, but a must-have.

Queens Park station though, is totally level.

The current five-car Class 378 trains are 100 metres long, which compares with the 113 metre length of the 1972 Stock train.

One way to solve the platform height issue, would be to have a dual height platform with one end of the platform level access for the 1972 Stock and the other for the Class 378 train.

This would probably need a platform of the order of 215 metres.

But London Overground have ordered a set of four-car Class 710 trains for the Watford DC Line. These trains will be perhaps 80 metres long, as the type will be shared with the shorter platforms of the Gospel Oak to Barking Line.

This shorter length train should make the design of a dual-height platform acceptable to all users a lot easier.

Currently Off Peak services through Willesden Junction are as follows.

  • 3 trains per hour (tph) from Euston to Watford Junction – London Overground
  • 9 tph on the Bakerloo Line.

Some sources mention that there are ambitions to run 27 tph on the Bakerloo Line. So even if all the trains went through to Watford Junction, that would only mean 30 tph stopping at stations on the line.

Currently, 2 tph on the Bakerloo Line turnback at Queen’s Park station, so it looks like with good deual-height platform design, the current schedule of three tph on the Overground, stopping at South Hampstead and Kilburn High Road can be continued and supplemented with perhaps 18-20 tph on the Bakerloo Line North of Queen’s Park station.

Platforms could be about 180-200 metres long, with a height to fit the Bakerloo Line trains. At one end they would have an 80 metre section of platform to suit the Class 710 trains.

The Class 710 trains would obviously be wheelchair friendly, like the current Class 378 trains, but they would be designed to fit a typical station on the Watford DC and Gospel Oak to Barking Lines.

If Class 378 trains were also providing services on the line, they would use their selective door opening to use the four-car raised section of the platform.

So, if the stations were to be given lifts to fit the new dual-height platforms, the service would have the following characteristics.

  • Totally step-free and level access at all stations for all trains.
  • South Hampstead and Kilburn High Road stations would keep their current service.
  • Most stations would have an increased service.
  • 27 tph through the central section of the Bakerloo Line would be enabled.

The biggest problem would be walking or pushing to the right end of the platform for your train, at stations served by both size of train.

 

 

 

December 12, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Future Of The Watford DC Line

Primrose Hill Station

I was looking at the tracks through Camden on carto.metro.free.fr, as I wanted to see how the  former Primrose Hill station fitted into the knitting.

Lines Through Camden

Lines Through Camden

Note the two orange tracks of the Watford DC Line from Euston curving to the West around the carriage sidings.

The line through Primrose Hill station from Camden Road is a connection that allows freight trains to  go between the North London Line and the West Coast Main Line.

One of the plans for the area, is to reopen the station. This is said in the station’s Wikipedia entry under Plans.

It has been proposed to re-open Primrose Hill station by bringing the short stretch of line between South Hampstead and Camden Road stations back into the regular passenger service by incorporating it into the London Overground network.

South Hampstead station is just off the map to the West on the Watford DC Line.

No Infrastructure Required To Open Primrose Hill Station

Obviously, the station will have to be rebuilt, but look at this page from the Journey Planner for Sunday, the 2nd of October, when I enquired how you would get between Willesden Junction and Highbury and Islington stations.

Willesden To Highbury and Islington

Willesden To Highbury and Islington

As the Class 378 trains can’t fly, the route via South Hampstead station must be open and available to the trains.

This sequence of pictures shows a train entering Camden Road station after coming through the site of the former Primrose Hill station.

Benefits And Disadvantages Of The Route

The current setup seems to be rather a waste of resources, with two tracks into Euston for the Watford DC Line and the need for platforms with third-rail electrification to handle the short four- and five-car trains.

Euston station is a very busy station and it would probably be glad to lose the Overground services.

So it might be a good idea to divert the three trains per hour (tph) between Watford Junction and Euston, through Primrose Hill and onto perhaps Highbury and Islington or even Stratford stations.

Others might not think so, as all those passengers along the Watford DC Line, would lose their direct connection to Euston.

But in a few years time, the following projects should have been completed or will be in progress.

These projects will mean that the Watford DC Line could and will have to be reorganised. If only to make sure there was enough capacity for commuters in the Peak and electric freight trains.

In my view the service on the Watford DC Line to London,  should be as close to a high-capacity link running perhaps six to eight tph as is possible.

It is not as easy to achieve as many might think.

  • London Midland services stop at stations on the Watford DC Line.
  • The Bakerloo Line runs 6 tph on the line.
  • The train size limit on the Watford DC Line is probably about six cars and might be possible to raise to say eight or ten.
  • The train size limit along the North London Line is currently five-cars and all the Class 378 trains are this length.
  • Six-car trains on the North London Line is probably an upper limit, although I wouldn’t be surprised to see longer platforms in my lifetime.
  • There will be pressure to increase the number of freight trains on the North London Line.
  • A Northern terminal for the Bakerloo Line must be provided.
  • Third-rail electrification must be provided on all track shared with the Bakerloo Line.
  • If possible, the route should avoid Euston, so that the HS2 rebuilding can proceed at a faster pace.

But I suspect an innovative solution will be found to provide a high capacity link between the stations on the Watford DC Line and Central London.

Crossrail

Crossrail will have a massive influence on how passengers use London’s rail network.

Plans have been talked about for extending Crossrail to the West Coast Main Line. Wikipedia says this.

Network Rail’s July 2011 London & South East Route Utilisation Strategy (RUS) recommended diverting West Coast Main Line (WCML) services from stations between London and Milton Keynes Central away from Euston, to Crossrail via Old Oak Common, to free up capacity at Euston for High Speed 2.

The previous Government rejected it as having a bad economic case

But Crossrail with its massive trains carrying fifteen hundred people a time, will strongly influence stations and routes it connects to Central London.

  • At Abbey Wood, it is forcing an update to services on the Noirth Kent Line, which could bring 6-10 tph through the Medway Towns.
  • At Moorgate, it will bring passengers to an updated Great Northern Metro sending 8-10 tph to North London and South Herfordshire.
  • At Reading, it will bring passengers to updated Thames Valley and West Country services.
  • At Shenfield, improvements are in progress to link Crossrail to Essex and East Anglia.

Where Crossrail will lead is an unanswerable question.

North-West from Old Oak Common, there are several stations that could be possible Crossrail termini.

  • High Wycombe for Chiltern.
  • Milton Keynes with its link to the East West Rail Link
  • Tring, which was the original idea
  • Watford Junction has been suggested before.

In the end, passenger numbers will decide where the trains go.

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

Rail Lines Around Watford

Rail Lines Around Watford

The North-South orange line is the Watford DC Line, which goes starts from Watford Junction station and goes through Watford High Street, Bushey and Carpenters Park stations.

Note the Croxley Rail Link going between Croxley and Watford Junction stations.

This short length of new line would also make possible direct services between Amersham and Watford Junction stations.

I’m not going to speculate on where trains on Crossrail and the Watford DC Line will go, but there are lots of possibilities.

I suspect that new housing developments will also be a driver of the routes of services.

The New Class 710 Trains

The Watford DC Line is going to see some some extra trains from the new fleet of Class 710 trains. If we see eight trains of the new dual-voltage fleet going to the GOBlin on a one-for-one replacement basis, that would mean a doubling of capacity on the line, that means that only six trains are left for the Watford DC Line.

But as the Watford DC line runs three tph currently in the Off Peak and the trip takes about fifty-five minutes, then perhaps those six four-car trains might be enough.

When I first read the specification for the Class 710 trains for the GOBlin, I was surprised to see that they were dual voltage. After all between Gospel Oak and Barking stations, there is precisely no third-rail lines.

But if you think about extending GOBlin services, the ability to run on third-rail lines would be needed on the following routes.

  • Willesden Junction to Clapham Junction
  • Willesden Junction to Richmond
  • Willesden Junction to Watford Junction
  • The Barking Riverside Extension to Abbey Wood.

Abbey Wood, Clapham Junction, Richmond and Watford Junction stations all have third-rail platforms.

I doubt all of these routes will be delivered, but at least by making the GOBlin trains with a dual-voltage capability, they are future-proofed for any possible services.

The Future Of The Bakerloo Line

The Bakerloo Line is a line, with spare capacity across Central London, according to many reports I’ve read.

Wikipedia has a section on the Future of the Bakerloo Line in its entry for the Watford DC Line.

This is said.

Various proposals have been made to alter services involving both extending or truncating Bakerloo Line services but there has been no basic change until 2015 other than to rolling stock and service patterns. As of 2015, plans and suggestions (from official bodies and others) connected to development of Crossrail and the Old Oak Common area have current potential consequences.

If the Bakerloo Line is extended into South London, this must have an effect.

Rumours are circulating as I write this, that this is being brought forward to 2029.

This article in New Civil Engineer is entitled £775M Paddington Cube gets green light. It says that the development by Paddington station, will be designed to enhance the area and will upgrade the Bakerloo Line station.

What will upgrades and extensions to the Bakerloo Line do to the Watford DC Line?

I suspect there’s both scope for rationalisation, increased capacity and faster services, along both lines, with the correct design.

There are other factors, that might create something special from an integrated Watford DC/Bakerloo Line.

  • The Milton Keynes to East Croydon service might be increased in frequency and it might share the route.
  • London Midland trains to Birmingham, Northampton and the Midlands could join the party.
  • Train control and signalling is improving fast and might allow all these dissimilar services to share safely and give passengers better routes.
  • Better train and station design could improve the terrible step-down and step-up access to Bakerloo Line trains at some stations.

The Watford DC/Bakerloo Line could end up as another important North South route.

  • 27 tph on the Bakerloo Line.
  • Same platform interchange with trains for Birmingham, Euston, Milton Keynes, Northampton and many other places.
  • Quality step-free interchange to Crossrail and main line services at Paddington.
  • Improved step-free access to main line services at Charing Cross, Marylebone and Waterloo stations.
  • An improved interchange with the Victoria and Central Lines at Oxford Circus station.
  • Interchange with Thameslink at Elephant and Castle station.
  • Interchange with the East London Line at New Cross Gate station.

If all this happens by 2029, it won’t be soon enough!

The Bay Platform 2 At Willesden Junction Station

In posts like this one, entitled More Platform Action At Willesden Junction, I showed work to create a new bay platform 2 at Willesden Junction station.

On Sunday, the 2nd Of October 2016, I took these pictures of the station in use.

What are Transport for London’s plans for this platform, other than stock transfers and Rail Replacement Trains?

As they were doing on that Sunday, they could run a Willesden Junction to Stratford service via a rebuilt Primrose Hill station.

Platform Height Issues

At some station to get in to and out of the Bakerloo  Line 1972 Stock trains, is quite a step and it would be difficult in a wheel-chair.

I have covered this in Platform Height Issues On The Watford DC Line and feel that dual-height platforms could be used.

 

Highbury And Islington Station

In some ways, Highbury and Islington station is the worst station in North London, as after war damage and then the addition of the Victoria, North London and East London Lines, it shows major evidence of Topsy at work.

With better connections between the deep-level Victoria Line and Great Northern Metro and the London Overground, it could be a very useful interchange. At the moment, there’s just too much walking in long underground passageways.

But as the Great Northern Metro will have new Class 717 trains giving a  10-12 tph link to Crossrail and the City at Moorgate, surely improvements at Highbury and Islington station would be worthwhile.

These services will be going through the station in a few years.

  • 6 tph between Highbury and Islington and Crystal Palace – East London Line
  • 4 tph between Highbury and Islington and West Croydon – East London Line
  • 3+ tph between Stratford and Richmond – North London Line
  • 3+ tph between Stratford and Clapham Junction – North London Line
  • 10+ tph between Moorgate and Hertfordshire – Great Northern Metro
  • 36 tph between Brixton and Walthamstow Central – Victoria Line

Admittedly, Crossrail will take some pressure off the station, by providing alternative routes via Moorgate and Stratford, but I can’t believe that Transport for London, aren’t looking to improve the interchange between the various lines.  Especially, as with a few tweaks, Dear Old Vicky could possibly deliver forty tph or a train every ninety seconds, as opposed to the current hundred. These could include.

  • A second entrance at Walthamstow Central station to provide step-free access and cope with the sheer numbers of passengers.
  • A loop at Brixton, with a possible new station at Herne Hill to turn the trains at the Southern end.
  • New trains with a higher performance.
  • Improvements at certain busy stations like Oxford Circus, Euston and Kings Cross St. Pancras.

Other improvements like air-conditioned trains would attract passengers to the line and make greater capacity necessary.

This article on the authorative London Reconnections, which is entitled A Look At The World Class Capacity Upgrades, concludes its thoughts on the Victoria Line with this.

With the Victoria line pushing towards what must be the theoretical limit for a line with that amount of rolling stock and – more importantly – two-platform termini, there are no plans to further improve the service. Indeed the challenge of procuring more trains and finding the depot space for them would probably discourage any such plans on its own. This does not mean that the line will be forgotten, as both Oxford Circus and Walthamstow Central are on TfL’s top ten hit list of stations in need of a major capacity upgrade. Simply that the days of pushing more trains through the same stations more quickly have passed. In the case of Walthamstow Central it is highly likely that the next step will be making the station double-ended, with an entrance near or in the shopping centre.

I have a feeling that forty trains per hour will come sooner rather than later.

Oxford Circus Station

In two sections of my ramblings, Oxford Circus station has had a small mention.

An improved Oxford Circus station could benefit both the Bakerloo and Victoria Lines.

As the station is high on TfL’s list of stations for improvement, I would expect to see something planned to start here before the mid 2020s.

  • Step-free access.
  • Better interchange between Victoria and Bakerloo Lines in different directions.
  • More space around the Central Line.
  • An underground pedestrian link to Crossrail at Bond Street station.
  • Extra entrance and exits to serve pedestrianised Oxford and Regent Streets.

I believe, that adding new passages, entrances, exits, lifts and escalators into the current complex can be organised in a similar way to how Bond Street station has been successfully upgraded over the last few years. Hopefully, Bank and Camden Town stations, will also be upgraded in the same way.

But Oxford Circus is the big one!

 

Conclusion

As I write this, the BBC is announcing that plans will be announced by Sadiq Khan today to bring the Bakerloo Line Upgrade forward to 2029.

I think that this will bring forward a lot of related work to improve the Watford DC Line and the related lines across North London.

The future is brown, with large splashes of orange!

October 26, 2016 Posted by | Travel, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments