The Anonymous Widower

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

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

Comparison With The North London Line

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

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

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

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

Capacity On The North London Line

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

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

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

Future Capacity On The Gospel Oak to Barking Line

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

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

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

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

My Observations On The Gospel Oak To Goblin Line

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Londoners are just practising their ducking and diving!

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

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

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

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

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

What Measures Can Be Taken To Increase Capacity?

There are some simple measures that can be taken.

Higher Frequencies

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

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

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

Trains With A Higher Performance

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

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

Longer Trains

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

And Now There Are Two!

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Gospel Oak To Barking Line Is Soldiering On

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

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

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

Train Failures On The Gospel Oak To Barking Line

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Bombardier Aventra And Brexit

You might think what is the connection between a radical design of train and the withdrawal of the UK from the European Union.

Great Leap Forward Projects

Both are projects that their promoters would say will create a Great-Leap-Forward for Bombardier and the UK respectively.

The Devil Is In The Detail

Both are in trouble.

  • Bombardier’s engineers and software developers can’t get software for the Aventra and particularly the Class 710 train for the London Overground, working in the way the train and its operator need.
  • UK and EU politicians, aided by some of the most able and expensive lawyers and consultants, can’t stitch together a workable Brexit agreement that is acceptable to all.

Does this mean that both projects are doomed?

Were The Original Plans Creditable?

I’ll take the Aventra first.

Bombardier had missed out on the Thameslink contract and needed to win the Crossrail contract to survive.

So virtually starting with a clean sheet of paper and knowing very well what technology was the best and could be used to advantage, set about designing a train that could adapt for every possible use.

Bombardier also spoke to all those, who would be using or dealing with the trains in some way, to ascertain what they needed.

The result was that Bombardier won the Crossrail order and have since sold fleets of Aventras to London Overground, Greater Anglia, South Western Railway, West Midlands Trains and c2c.

It should also be said that they probably sold some of these fleets before a large number of Aventras were actually running.

So at least Bombardier’s plans appeared sufficiently detailed and creditable to six train operating companies.

Brexit was sold to the British public, in much the same way that evangelists sell you the latest religion, political philosophy, magic cancer cure or con. Is there any difference between the four?

Was any thought given to the serious problem like the Irish border? If anything was, I don’t remember hearing or reading it!

The major policies I remember was that all the money we give to Europe will go to the NHS and that immigration will be cut to almost zero.

Everything that said you should vote Remain was dismissed as Project Fear!

But the philosophy was enough to win the referendum.

What Were The Risks?

The Leavers would have lost, if they had got the estimates of any of these wrong.

  • The power and delivery of their philosophy.
  • The dislike of immigrants.
  • iThe hatred of all things European, except holidays in the sun.
  • The weakness of the Remainers message.

It was an easy sell and a majority of the British public bought it.

Forty years ago, when we created Artemis, we followed a route similar to Bombardier with the Aventra, but on a much smaller scale.

  • We did an extensive survey of users of Project Management Systems.
  • We laid out our objectives, which I have somewhere on a single A4 sheet of paper.
  • We researched and defined what hardware we would need.
  • I was then able to program the first system.

And guess what! The software was late, by several months.

But at least, when I got it right, systems were able to be delivered. And the orders started to flow!

Based on my experience, the software that runs the Bombardier Aventra will be the biggest risk in the design of the train.

If I’d put this risk to the engineer in charge of Aventra development, I would have been very surprised, if they didn’t agree.

Getting Back On Track

Bombardier will probably do what I did forty years ago.

Keep at it, until the software is perfect and the Class 710 trains run as it says in the brochure.

As happened with Artemis, once you have one system going, on the signing off of the software, you can create other systems or in Bombardier’s case; trains.

Bombardier can add the software to the scores of trains they have already built and stored and start testing, certification and delivery of individual trains.

Software, is like a magic elixir, that brings inanimate objects to life.

Will a magic elixir be found to solve the Brexit logjam?

Bombardier have to create software, that does the following.

  • Controls all parts of the train, so they do as promised.
  • Connect all train systems together.
  • The software must also work flawlessly.

It only needs to work in one language.

The philosophy and structure for a Brexit deal are more complicated.

  • There are a lot more issues to be solved.
  • Twenty-eight countries, their governments, parliaments and people must be satisfied.
  • How many languages will be involved?

Anybody, who reckons they could get a deal is probably a fantasist.

Why Was Artemis Developed?

We knew that there was a need for a small Project Management System.

But look at the date we started development; 1976. James Callaghan had just taken over from Harold Wilson as Prime Minister.

  • The country was not doing well.
  • The government didn’t have a large majority.
  • Everything was doom and gloom.
  • Tax rates were as high as eighty percent.
  • There was a housing crisis.
  • Many were worried about their jobs.
  • There was a lot of industrial unrest.

Surely, it wasn’t the time to risk all on a new venture?

But we were not of the herd and we didn’t hold back and went for it. And the rest as they say is history.

It is now 2019 and many of the issues I listed about the mid-1970s still apply.

  • The country is not doing well.
  • The government doesn’t have a large majority.
  • Everything is doom and gloom.
  • There is a housing crisis.
  • Many are worried about their jobs.

But there is one big difference. If you have an idea that is worth developing, raising money to develop it, is a lot easier to find.

To me, Brexit is a once in a lifetime opportunity for many to develop an idea and/or create a business to overcome the myriad number of problems leaving the EU will bring.

  • As leaving the EU without a deal will create more problems, it might be preferable for job creation.
  • Brexit may also create opportunities in Europe for new and innovative businesses.

It will be large industries, that will find times harder.

 

 

 

February 2, 2019 Posted by | Computing, Transport, World | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Insights From The RidingTheGoblin Twitter Feed

There are some insights to be gained by watching the RidingTheGoblin Twitter feed.

  • There are the usual complainers and pessimists.
  • There is information about failed lifts and other problems from London Overground. Usually, lifts seem to get fixed even in this cold weather.
  • Yesterday a diesel train failed and it had to go to Willesden to get repaired. A couple of hours later, London Overground, announced that it had returned to the fray. Their words not mine.
  • Tom Edwards from the BBC, stated that the new trains won’t arrive before the last diesel train departs.

I think that in mid-March we could end up with the backstop of three Class 378 trains providing a half-hourly service, but the overall capacity will still be the same as with a full fleet of diesel trains.

One extra train would make a lot of difference and the Twitter feed shows one Class 710 train at Walthamstow Queens Road station last night.

It could be a close-run thing!

 

February 2, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

So Far So Good On The Gospel Oak To Barking Lne

Since Monday, I have taken four trips on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line, with two in the Class 172 trains and two in the four-car Class 378 train.

  • The only problem I’ve seen was at about two on Tuesday afternoon, where the platform at Blackhorse Road station was jam-packed and the next train was a 172!
  • There has been no reports in the media; good, bad or indifferent.
  • RidingTheGoblin on Twitter has been reporting no problems.

It looks to me, that the passenger experience will only get better for the next few weeks as two other four-car Class 378 trains replace two Class 172 trains.

That should take everything to mid-March.

So that gives Transport for London and/or Bombardier six weeks to rustle up some more trains.

Options could include.

Class 710 Trains

If Class 710 trains are delivered in time, drivers will have to be trained, so this would put at least a week or so in the critical path.

Borrow Some Class 378 Trains

Services could be reduced elsewhere on the Overground and more Class 378 trains introduced.

Conclusion

There is only one four-car train and judging from the effects I’ve seen with this single train, an all four-car fleet will mean that the capacity on the line will be very lsrge. Will it encourage more to use the line?

As to the future, it’s going to be a close-run thing.

My money is on Bombardier delivering the Class 710 trains. They have most to lose and it’s their fault!

January 31, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Shape Of Things To Come On The Gospel Oark To Barking Line

Since modernisation in 2010, the service on the Gospel Oak To Barking Line has been run using six two-car diesel Class 172 trains.

Today was the first weekday, when one of the diesel trains had been replaced by a four-car electric Class 378 train.

I was able to ride on a Class 378 train between Harringay Green Lanes and Gospel Oak stations. I then doubled back and travelled all the way East to Barking station.

These are a few observations.

Electric Trains

Riding the electric Class 378 trains is a very different experience to riding the diesel Class 172 trains.

  • There is a lot less noise and vibration.
  • You sit longitudinally in London Undergound fashion, as opposed to transversely.
  • There was more capacity in the four cars of the electric train, as opposed to the two-car diesel trains.

I also got the impression that the Class 378 trains accelerated faster and cruised at a higher speed, than the Class 172 trains. I will check this out.

Train Capacity

I said in the previous section, that physical capacity is doubled from two to four cars.

  • I actually went from Harringay Green Lanes to Gospel Oak twice in the morning Peak; once in a Class 172 and once in a Class 378.
  • The former was jam-packed and the second was very comfortable, with only a few stansdees.
  • The Class 172 train has 120 seats in a 47 metre train, which works out as 2.6 seats per metre.
  • The Class 378 train has 136 seats in a 80 metre train, which works out at 1.7 seats per metre.

The lower seat density and the wide central isle, probably explains, why the electric train was more comfortable.

Note that in a few months, the Class 378 trains will be replaced with Class 710 trains, which will likely have a similar passenger capacity to the Class 378 trains.

So the capacity and passenger ambience of the Class 378 trains can probably be read across to the internally-similar Class 710 trains.

Platform Length Issues

I did my usual trick of riding in the last car and looking at where the end of the train came on the platform.

The line has been built, so that all platforms fit the standard British Rail four-car length of eighty metres, which applies to both four-car Class 378 and Class 710 trains.

The Possibilities Of Five-Car Trains

London Overground run five-car trains through four-car stations at Shadwell, Wapping, Rotherhithe and Canada Water on the East London Line, by allowing the last car to overhang the platform.

They get away with it without any trouble because.

  • The Class 378 trains have selective door opening and a walk-through interior, with large lobbies.
  • The announcements on the train are high-quality and advise passengers in the last car to move forward at short platforms.
  • East Enders quickly learn how to get in and out of the train with little fuss

So could five-car trains be run the Gospel Oak to Barking Line?

  • Barking station has a long platform.
  • Some stations like Woodgrange Park, Wanstead Park, Leytonstone High Road, Leyton Midland Road and Upper Holloway originally had longer platforms and these could probably be extended.
  • Other stations like Gospel Oak, South Tottenham and Blackhorse Road are probably at maximum length and would use selective door opening.

I suspect that if the demand needed the extra capacity, that the new trains could be lengthened from four to five cars, which would give a twenty-five percent increase in capacity.

Typical Passengers

I have a feeling that the Gospel Oak to Barking Line doesn’t have well-defined typical passengers, like a lot of routes do.

Using the train in the Peak, you notice that many passengers just hopped a couple of stops on the line.

One guy was going from Harringay Green Lanes to Shoreditch High Street, with changes at Gospel Oak and Canonbury.

This journey is probably a reflection on the badly-designed bus routes in the area it serves.

Gospel Oak To Barking Line Connectivity

The line is well-connected to the Underground, especially if you are up for a ten-minute walk.

  • District and Hammersmith & City Lines at Barking
  • Crossrail at Wanstead Park
  • Victoria Line at Blackhorse Road
  • Piccadilly Line at Harringay Green Lanes
  • Northern Line at Upper Holloway
  • North London Line at Gospel Oak

There are also good connections to North-South buses at several stations.

Will Electric Trains Attract More Passengers?

I suspect London Overground will be looking at the passenger statistics on the route with considerable interest, during the period, when some trains are two-car diesels and the others are four-car electrics.

This may well give the answer to my question.

I have a feeling that the reduced crowding on the route will mean that more passengers are attracted.

The new Class 710 trains will have wi-fi and USB charging points, so I wonder how many passengers this will attract.

But as I said earlier, a twenty-five percent increase in capacity may be possible by adding another car to the trains.

Conclusion

I have a very strong feeling that the upgrade to the Gospel Oak to Barking Line and the new electric trains, will change North-East London for the better.

As the London Overground lines to Cheshunt, Chingford and Enfield Town are also getting new trains, I would suspect that the effects will be bigger and more widespread than anybody has predicted.

  • Trains will get crowded.
  • New stations will be added to the network.
  • Existing stations will be upgraded with step-free access

We could even see a serious outbreak of London Overground Syndrome.

Future Additions

These are projects that will or could happen along the Gospel Oak to Barking Line.

At present only the first two will happen.

 

 

 

January 28, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Modified Electric Trains To Be Used Temporarily On London Overground’s Gospel Oak To Barking Line

The title of this post is the same as that of this Press Release from Transport for London.

These is the key paragraphs.

The Mayor has also spoken directly with Bombardier and secured a month’s free travel for passengers once the new trains are fully introduced. The details of this are being developed and will be communicated closer to the time.

To ensure services can continue running on the line, three existing electric ‘Class 378’ trains are being modified and will be used as a temporary solution until the new trains – expected almost a year ago – are ready. One will join the line next week, followed by two more between now and March when the last of the existing diesel ‘Class 172’ trains are released for use elsewhere in the country.

It appears that if the new Class 710 trains are not available by mid-March, then the service will soldier on with three four-car Class 378 trains, instead of the current six two-car trains.

I suspect this means a half-hourly frequency, with the same total capacity as now.

Where Were The Three Trains Borrowed From?

So where did London Overground find the three Class 378 trains?

In Gospel Oak-Barking Fleet Plan Remains Unclear, I calculated that the following numbers of trains are needed for a full service.

  • Dalston Junction and Clapham Junction – 8 trains
  • Dalston Junction and New Cross – 4 trains
  • Highbury & Islington and Crystal Palace – 8 trains
  • Highbury & Islington and West Croydon – 8 trains
  • Euston and Watford Junction – 6 trains
  • Stratford and Richmond/Clapham Junction – 20 trains

This is a total of 54 trains out of a fleet of 57.

So it looks like three trains are available, if all the fleet is working in a reliable fashion.

I suspect, that as trains are being refurbished at the moment with new seat covers and some repainting, that by pushing back this work, a small amount of extra capacity can be found.

London Overground must have developed a plan, if a train has a serious fault and needs to be taken out of service for rectification.

January 25, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

No Progress On The Gospel Oak To Barking Line

I was talking to a station guy on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line yesterday and he told me, it will be two weeks before the new Class 710 trains start running.

He indicated that the Class 378 trains don’t fit the route, which I do find strange, as the Class 710 and Class 378 trains should eventually be sharing the North London Line.

According to Wikipedia widths of the trains are as follows.

  • Class 172 – 2.69 m.
  • Class 378 – 2.80 m.
  • Class 315 – 2.82 m.

By comparison a Class 345 Aventra is 2.78 m.

Perhaps that twenty millimetres is critical!.

But the guy had a point, when he suggested the line should have had a slightly larger gauge,, as it might have been possible to run a few redundant Class 315 trains on the route.

A couple of weeks ago, I heard a rumour that the Class 717 trains didn’t fit the tunnels into Moorgate.

It sounds like there has been a lack of people, who can read a tape measure.

 

 

January 22, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 3 Comments