The Anonymous Widower

Could London Overground Services To Stratford Be Extended To Meridian Water?

My arrival In Platform 11 at Stratford station has got me thinking!

And others too! Judging by the comments I’ve received.

Yesterday, I took a train from Dalston Kingsland station to Stratford station.

  • The train was the 0934 from Clapham Junction, which was timed to arrive in Stratford at 1038.
  • It arrived in Platform 11 at 1036.

In A London Overground Class 378 Train In Platform 11 At Stratford Station, I show pictures of the train in Platform 11 at Stratford station.

I suspected this was just a one-off occurrence, caused by a malfunction in a train or the signalling, which prevented my train from using the normal Platforms 1 or 2, that services to Stratford would use.

Although, looking at Real Time Trains, the 0938 train this morning, terminated in Platform 11. As it did on Monday and Tuesday this week.

  • This train was the only train from Clapham Junction station not to use Platform 2.
  • Checking days last week, it appears that this train always terminated in Platform 2.

So why did the service terminate in Platform 11?

Driver training is one possibility, so they can use the Platform 11, if there is a malfunction that stops them using Platform 2.

But is there a clue in the first picture, I took, when I arrived in Stratford?

The train in Platform 12 is the 1046 to Meridian Water, which arrived from Bishops Stortford at 1040.

Could it mean that there is to be a reorganisation of platforms at Stratford?

  • Platform 12 will be exclusively used by Greater Anglia for their West Anglia Main Line services.
  • Platform 11 will be used by London Overground.

In Using Platform 12 At Stratford Station, I described ending up on Platform 12, so I know it is possible, but when it happened information was bad for passengers, who didn’t know here they needed to go to continue on their way.

But why would London Overground need the extra platform?

These are my thoughts.

Do London Overground Need An Extra Platform At Stratford?

Currently London Overground services to Stratford are as follows.

  • Four tph – Stratford and Richmond
  • Four tph – Stratford and Clapham Junction

Note.

  1. tph is trains per hour.
  2. Both Class 378 and Class 710 trains can work the routes to Stratford.
  3. Eight tph can easily be handled by two platforms.

To handle more trains may need a third platform at Stratford for the London Overground.

Extra Trains Between Stratford And Canonbury

This report from Network Rail is entitled The London Rail Freight Strategy (LRFS).

It says this about creating a third platform at Camden Road station.

This proposal would reinstate a third track and platform on the northern side of Camden Road station, utilising part of the former 4-track formation through the station.

The additional capacity provided would facilitate much greater flexibility in pathing options for trains on this busy central section of the NLL, opening up new options for future service provision and bolstering performance resilience.

Reinstatement of a third platform would enable platform 2 to be used as a central turnback, with platform 3 becoming the eastbound line for through London Overground services and the majority of freight.

Transport for London modelling suggests that the eastern end of the NLL, from Canonbury to Stratford, will see some of the strongest long-term demand growth on the Overground network.

A turnback platform will allow this to be addressed with peak capacity boosting services between Stratford and Camden Road and there would also be the option to operate these through the off-peak, which could offer a means of providing additional passenger capacity where it is most needed.

The availability of an additional platform would also aid performance recovery during perturbation on
the orbital routes.

Note.

  1. The strongest passenger growth on the North London Line (NLL), will be between Canonbury and Stratford.
  2. Extra services are proposed between Stratford and Camden Road stations.
  3. If you travelled between Highbury & Islington and Stratford before the pandemic, the trains only had space for a few extra very small people in the Peak.

I use this section of the North London Line regularly and suspect the route needs at least twelve tph.

Twelve tph into Stratford would probably mean that the London Overground would need a third platform at Stratford.

More Trains Serving Meridian Water

In the Wikipedia entry for Meridian Water station, this is said.

In August 2019, it was announced that funding had been approved for construction of a fourth platform and a new section of track between Tottenham Hale and Meridian Water to enable up to 8 trains per hour to serve the station at peak times.

This must be the earliest upgrade in history, after a new station has opened.

I got the impression, when the station was announced that it would have four tph to Stratford. Currently, there are just two tph.

Two tph between Stratford and Bishops Stortford also pass through without stopping.

If these called at Meridian Water in the Peak, then there would still be four tph to find.

An easy way to create four tph between Stratford and Meridian Water would be to extend four London Overground services from Stratford.

  • Services would call at Lea Bridge, Tottenham Hale and Northumberland Park stations.
  • Trains would pass through Platform 11 at Stratford.
  • Platform 11 at Stratford would be bi-directional.
  • The service could be run all day, at a frequency of four tph.
  • As these trains have their own track, they won’t delay the Cambridge and Stansted trains on the West Anglia Main Line.
  • A cross-London service between Meridian Water and Clapham Junction or Richmond, would be possible.

Note.

  1. London Overground would be responsible for the bulk of the Meridian Water service.
  2. London Overground’s four- or five-car trains would probably have sufficient capacity for the service.
  3. The main new infrastructure needed would be the fourth platform and a new section of track at Meridian Water station.
  4. Some improvements as specified in the London Rail Freight Strategy will be useful, as they will increase capacity on the North and West London Lines.
  5. My only worry would be, that can modern signalling handle four tph in both directions through Platform 11 at Stratford station.

What Will Be The Track Layout And Method of Operation?

The current track layout is simple.

A bi-directional third track has been laid between Lea Bridge junction, just to the North of Lea Bridge station and Meridian Water station.

  • It is to the East of the double-track West Anglia Main Line.
  • There are bi-directional platforms at Tottenham Hale and Northumberland Park stations.
  • There is a single terminating Platform 2 at Meridian Water station.

A train going between Stratford and Meridian Water stations does the following.

  • Leaves from Platform 11 or 12 at Stratford station.
  • Calls in Platform 2 at Lea Bridge station.
  • Switches at Lea Bridge junction to the bi-directional third-track.
  • Calls in Platform 2 at Tottenham Hale station.
  • Calls in Platform 2 at Northumberland Park station.
  • Terminates in Platform 2 at Meridian Water station.

A train going between Meridian Water and Stratford stations does the following.

  • Leaves from Platform 2 at Meridian Water station
  • Calls in Platform 2 at Northumberland Park station.
  • Calls in Platform 2 at Tottenham Hale station.
  • Switches at Lea Bridge junction to the Up line of the West Anglia Main Line.
  • Calls in Platform 1 at Lea Bridge station.
  • Terminates in Platform  11 or 12 at Stratford station.

The track layout can probably handle a maximum of two tph.

I suspect the upgrade will build on this layout to allow a frequency of at least four tph.

The following works will be done.

  • A fourth track to the East of the bi-directional third track will be built.
  • The fourth track will run between Tottenham Hale and Meridian Water stations.
  • I suspect the fourth track will split from the third track at a junction to the North of Tottenham Hale station. Could this be called Tottenham Hale North Junction? I will use that name, to make things simple!
  • A new Platform 1 will be built in Meridian Water station.
  • Trains going North between Tottenham Hale and Meridian Water will use the current bi-directional third track and will be able to terminate in either Platform 1 or 2 at Meridian Water station.
  • Trains going South between Meridian Water and Tottenham Hale will use the new fourth track and will be able to start from either Platform 1 or 2 at Meridian Water station.
  • I suspect, Northumberland Park station will need a new Platform 1 for Southbound trains. But the station was designed with that in mind.

A train going between Stratford and Meridian Water stations will do the following.

  • Leave from Platform 11 or 12 at Stratford station.
  • Call in Platform 2 at Lea Bridge station.
  • Switch at Lea Bridge junction to the bi-directional third-track.
  • Call in Platform 2 at Tottenham Hale station.
  • Call in Platform 2 at Northumberland Park station.
  • Terminate in Platform 1 or 2 at Meridian Water station.

A train going between Meridian Water and Stratford stations will do the following.

  • Leave from Platform 1 or 2 at Meridian Water station.
  • Use the new fourth track to come South.
  • Call in Platform 1 at Northumberland Park station.
  • Continue on the bi-directional third-track at Tottenham Hale North Junction.
  • Call in Platform 2 at Tottenham Hale station.
  • Switch at Lea Bridge junction to the Up line of the West Anglia Main Line.
  • Call in Platform 1 at Lea Bridge station.
  • Terminate in Platform  11 or 12 at Stratford station.

The track layout is effectively two double-track sections linked by a bi-directional single track between Lea Bridge Junction and Tottenham Hale North Junction.

  • On the double-track sections of the route trains can pass each other, as they are on different tracks.
  • Lea Bridge and Tottenham Hale stations are 1.9 miles apart.
  • Trains take three or four minutes between Lea Bridge and Tottenham Hale stations. Including the stop at Tottenham Hale on the single track section.

If trains could alternate through the single-track section, this would give a capacity  of well over four tph in both directions.

  • A train going North would wait in Platform 2 at Lea Bridge station until the previous Southbound train had cleared Lea Bridge junction, before proceeding North.
  • A train going South would wait at Tottenham Hale North Junction until the previous Northbound  had safely passed, before proceeded South.

I suspect that the trains need full digital signalling with a degree of Automatic Train Control.

But I suspect we could see six tph in both directions.

  • This would fit nicely, with London Overground’s ambition of six tph on all routes.
  • It could be increased to eight tph in the Peak, by arranging for an appropriate number of Greater Anglia services to and from Liverpool Street at Meridian Water.

I feel that a service that meets all objectives will be possible.

Proposals From The London Rail Freight Strategy That Might Help

These proposals from the London Rail Freight Strategy might help.

It does look to me, that the London Rail Freight Strategy was designed with one eye on improving the passenger train service between North-East and South-West London.

Taking The Pressure Off The Victoria Line

Consider.

  • If you’re going between Walthamstow and the West End or the major stations of Euston, Kings Cross, St. Pancras and Victoria, you will use the Victoria Line.
  • If you live in the new housing, being built at Meridian Water, currently you will be likely to hop to Tottenham Hale station and take the Victoria Line.

Consequently, Northern end of the line can get busy! And not just in the Peak!

But a four tph service between Meridian Water and Stratford, will encourage passengers to go to Stratford to take advantage of the Central and Jubilee Lines and Crossrail.

Hence there will be less passengers, who need to use the Victoria Line.

A Better Interchange Between Camden Road And Camden Town Stations

The essential upgrade of Camden Town station has been put on indefinite hold due to TfL’s financial position.

This is a big mistake.

  • Camden Town station gets dangerously full!
  • It would allow the splitting of the Northern Line into two independent lines, which would increase capacity of the current system.
  • Camden Town station is not step-free but Camden Road station has lifts.

Hopefully, it would result, in a better route between the two stations, rather than the polluted route on a narrow pavement.

I very much believe that the rebuilding of Camden Town station is the most important project to improve London’s Underground and Overground network.

But it won’t get built with the current Mayor, as he’s a South Londoner.

Could A Meridian Water and Clapham Junction Service Be An  Affordable Crossrail 2?

Consider.

  • Crossrail 2 will link Clapham Junction and Meridian Water via Central London and Dalston.
  • A Meridian Water and Clapham Junction service would link the two stations via Shepherd’s Bush, Old Oak Common, West Hampstead, Camden Road, Dalston and Stratford.

Each route has their connectivity advantages.

  • Both have good connections to Crossrail, Thameslink and the Bakerloo, Central and Jubilee Lines.
  • The London Overground route has good connections to the Victoria Line and High Speed Two at Old Oak Common.
  • Crossrail 2 serves important stations in Central London.

A Meridian Water and Clapham Junction service could be a valuable addition to London’s rail infrastructure without too much new expensive infrastructure.

Conclusion

An extension of some London Overground services from Stratford to Meridian Water would be worthwhile.

Implementation of this is made easier by the recommendations of the London Rail Freight Strategy.

 

 

 

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June 25, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Will Camden Road Station Get A Third Platform?

 

London has a rail capacity problem, for both freight and passenger trains.

This report from Network Rail is entitled The London Rail Freight Strategy (LRFS).

One of the recommendations of the report is to build a third platform at Camden Road station. It says this about the third platform.

Reinstatement of a third track and platform on the northern side of Camden Road station, utilising part of
the former 4-track formation through the station.

Camden Road station used to have four platforms, but now it just have two.

This Google Map shows the station as it is today.

Note.

  1. Platform 1 is on the South side of the tracks with the London Overground roundel conveniently shown on the roof.
  2. Platform 2 is on the North side of the tracks.
  3. Regular users of the station can probably pick out the lift at the Eastern end of Platform 2.
  4. There is a bridge to the East of the station which takes the tracks over the junction of Royal College Street and Camden Road.

To the North of this bridge, two further bridges can be seen, that used to take the former third and fourth tracks over the roads and into two additional platforms to the North of the current two.

This map from cartometro.com shows the track layout through Camden Road station.

Note.

  1. The tracks shown in orange are the route of the North London Line of the London Overground.
  2. The two orange platforms labelled 1 and 2 at Camden Road station.
  3. The two former lines passing behind Platform 2, used to rejoin the North London Line to the West of the station.

These pictures were taken on the current Platform 2.

And these are some pictures of the bridge, what is behind the fence and other bridges.

Note.

  1. Most of the pictures of Platform 2, were taken from Platform 1.
  2. Behind the fence on Platform 2, there appears to be a substantial urban forest.
  3. Renewing the bridges and updating the railway arches could improve the area significantly.
  4. Camden Road station is a Grade II Listed building.

I don’t think, that any of the construction would be too challenging.

How Would The Third Platform Be Used?

This is said in the Network Rail document about the third platform at Camden Road station.

This proposal would reinstate a third track and platform on the northern side of Camden Road station, utilising part of the former 4-track formation through the station.

The additional capacity provided would facilitate much greater flexibility in pathing options for trains on this busy central section of the NLL, opening up new options for future service provision and bolstering performance resilience.

Reinstatement of a third platform would enable platform 2 to be used as a central turnback, with platform 3 becoming the eastbound line for through London Overground services and the majority of freight.

Transport for London modelling suggests that the eastern end of the NLL, from Canonbury to Stratford, will see some of the strongest long-term demand growth on the Overground network.

A turnback platform will allow this to be addressed with peak capacity boosting services between Stratford and Camden Road and there would also be the option to operate these through the off-peak, which could offer a means of providing additional passenger capacity where it is most needed.

The availability of an additional platform would also aid performance recovery during perturbation on
the orbital routes.

That all looks fairly sensible and wouldn’t require much work to the current station.

Note.

  1. Platform 2 is currently a fully-accessible platform with a lift and will become a spacious fully-accessible island platform with two faces 2 and 3, both serving London Overground services going East.
  2. There must surely be space on the island platform to build a substantial shelter, where passengers can sit, when long freight trains are passing through.
  3. There could even be space for a coffee kiosk.

The former Platform 3 appeared to be a Westbound platform, but the proposed new one appears to be an Eastbound one.

The Track Layout Immediately To The East Of Camden Road Station

These are my thoughts on the track layout to the East of Camden Road station.

This map from cartometro.com shows the track layout between Camden Road and Highbury & Islington stations.

Much of the route through Caledonian Road and Barnsbury station is four tracks. These tracks are named from North to South as follows.

  • Down North London Reversible
  • Down North London
  • Up North London Reversible
  • Up North London

Note.

  1. Eastbound London Overground services use the Down North London track.
  2. Eastbound freight services use the Down North London Reversible track.
  3. Eastbound freight services are sometimes held by signallers on the Down North London Reversible track.
  4. Westbound London Overground services use the Up North London Reversible track, before crossing over to the Up North London track at Camden Road East Junction.
  5. London Overground services only use the central island platform at Caledonian Road and Barnsbury station.
  6. Westbound freight services use both of the Up North London tracks.
  7. The London Borough of Camden have stated that they would like to see the reopening of Maiden Lane station.

These pictures show the former trackbed between the former Maiden Lane station and Camden Road station.

Looking at these pictures, I can deduce the following.

  • There is very little constructuction of the former trackbed.
  • There would be some signalling equipment to move.
  • Some of the steel bridges would have to be replaced.

I feel,  that a single track could definitely be created between the new Platform 3 at Camden Road station to connect with  both Down North London tracks before the site of the former Maiden Line station.

It may even be possible to squeeze in two tracks.

A new track or tracks would enable the following.

  • Eastbound London Overground services to go from Platform 3 at Camden Road station to Platform 3 at Caledonian Road and Barnsbury station.
  • Eastbound freight services to go from Platform 3 at Camden Road station to either the Down North London Reversible or the Down North London tracks through Caledonian Road and Barnsbury station.

Note.

  1. Westbound services going through Camden Road station would be unaffected.
  2. Westbound London Overground services terminating in Platform 2 at Camden Road station would cross over to the current Up North London Reversible at the current Camden Road Central junction.
  3. Eastbound London Overground services starting in Platform 2 at Camden Road station would cross over to the new track or tracks to proceed to the East.

These are my answers to a few questions.

Will There Be One Or Two Extra Tracks?

Consider.

  • It could probably be organised that the extra track or tracks start perhaps fifty metres or so to the East of Camden Road station.
  • The distance between this point and Westbourne Road Junction is around a mile.
  • Network Rail allows freight trains up to a length of 775 metres.

I am drawn to the conclusion, that if two tracks were to be built, then signallers would be able to hold the longest freight trains on the extended Down North London Reversible track, without interrupting London Overground passenger services.

How Will The Extra Tracks Affect The Camden Highline?

If two new tracks are built, I would expect that it will be impossible to build the Camden Highline.

But if only one is built, I suspect that a narrower Camden Highline might be able to be squeezed in.

Could Provision Be Made So A New Maiden Lane Station Could Be Built?

This map from cartometro.com shows the track layout around the former Maiden Lane station.

Consider.

  • Eastbound London Overground services use the Down North London track and call in Platform 3 at Caledonian Road and Barnsbury station.
  • Westbound London Overground services use the Up North London Reversible track and call in Platform 2 at Caledonian Road and Barnsbury station.
  • To connect Platform 3 at Camden Road station to the Down North London Reversible and Down North London tracks, I suspect that Camden Road East junction will have to be remodelled.

I wonder if by the application of Network Rail’s latest track layout software, space could found for an island platform between the Up North London Reversible and Down North London tracks.

In Is Caledonian Road And Barnsbury An Ideal Four-Track Station?, I discuss the design of Caledonian Road and Barnsbury station,

I think it is a distinct possibility, that provision could be made for a future Maiden Lane station.

Will There Be Changes At Camden Road West Junction?

This map from cartometro.com shows the track layout to the West of Camden Road station.

Note.

  1. Platforms 1 and 2 of Camden Road station at the Eastern end of the map.
  2. Camden Road West junction to the West of the platforms.
  3. The dotted lines of old tracks leading to the former Platform 3 and 4 at Camden Road station.

Two double tracks lead away to the West from Camden Road West junction.

  • The orange tracks are the North London Line to Willesden Junction and Acton.
  • The black and orange tracks are an extension of the Watford DC Line, that links Camden Road station to the West Coast Main Line via Primrose Hill station.

Will both pairs of tracks be connected to the North London Line at Camden Road West junction, as they are now?

  • Currently, a few freight trains per day, use the Primrose Hill route.
  • There have been plans in the past, for the London Overground to use this route.
  • They have also been known to run a Rail Replacement Train between Willesden Junction and Camden Road stations during engineering works, as I wrote about in The Future Of The Watford DC Line.

So I suspect Network Rail will design a comprehensive junction, that is all things to all operators and trains.

Through Running Between The East London Line and Willesden Junction Station

This was originally talked about in the original plans for the London Overground.

If you travel on the Overground to Barking, Blackhorse Road, Canada Water, Highbury & Islington, West Brompton, Hampstead, Whitechapel or Willesden Junction in the Peak, the interchanges are very busy, as passengers are transferring to the Underground.

Was this why through running was originally proposed between the East and North London Lines at Highbury & Islington station, as it would allow direct connection to extra Underground lines?

But one of the aims of the Overground was to enable journeys around London without going via Central London.

Platform 3 at Camden Road station, seems to increase the capacity on the North London Line, so perhaps this upgrade would give extra paths to allow some services to terminate to the West of Highbury & Islington.

This map from cartometro.com shows the track layout to the West of Highbury & Islington station.

I’m sure if Network Rail’s engineers can sort out King’s Cross, then they can come up with a track and signalling system that can handle this,

Could Platform 2 At Camden Road Be Used As An Alternative Terminus For Watford DC Line Services?

Euston station is being rebuilt and Network Rail might like to kick Watford DC Line services out of the station either temporarily or even permanently.

There are two routes that the Watford DC Line could take to get between Harlesden and Camden Road stations.

  1. They can use the route, I took one Sunday, when the London Overground was running a Rail Replacement Train, via Willesden Junction Low Level, Kensal Green, Queens Park, Kilburn High Road and South Hampstead.
  2. They might also be able to join the North London Line an improved Kensal Green junction.

The first route works and the second may need some extra work at Harlesden junction.

I estimate that Platform 2 at Camden Road station is presently as long as 120 metres.

I also estimate that it could be lengthened at both ends, during the building of a new platform 3 alongside.

Could a platform be built long enough to be able to handle two trains simultaneously?

A 200 metre long platform would probably suffice!

I think the concept has possibilities.

  • Willesden Junction station has connections to the Bakerloo Line.
  • West Hampstead station has connections to Thameslink and the Jubilee and further connections could be developed,
  • Camden Road station could be connected to Camden Town station, which is on both branches of the Northern Line.
  • A reopened Primrose Hill station could be connected to Chalk Farm station on the Northern Line.
  • The Northern Line connects to Crossrail at Moorgate and Tottenham Court Road stations.

I suspect, if Camden Town station were to be expanded and rebuilt, that the connection between the two Camden stations would be more likely.

Either route could be taken between Willesden Junction and Camden Road stations.

But I feel, it might be less costly to take the North London Line route, especially, as this connects to West Hampstead station.

Could The Track Layout Be Further Simplified?

I’m no track expert, but it strikes me that a four-track layout could be built between just East of Camden Road station and Westbourne Road junction. From North to South these tracks would be.

  • Eastbound Freight line – Connecting at the Western end to Platform 3 at Camden Road station and following the existing Down North London Reversible track to Westbourne Road junction.
  • Eastbound Overground line – Connecting at the Western end to Platforms 2 and 3 at Camden Road station and following the existing Down North London track through Caledonian Road and Barnsbury station to Westbourne Road junction.
  • Westbound Overground line – Connecting at the Western end to Platforms 1 and 2 at Camden Road station and following the existing Up North London Reversible track through Caledonian Road and Barnsbury station to Westbourne Road junction.
  • Westbound Freight line – Connecting at the Western end to Platform 1 at Camden Road station and following the existing Up North London track to Westbourne Road junction.

Note.

  1. Both freight lines would be long enough for signallers to hold freight trains, so that other services could overtake.
  2. East of Caledonian Road and Barnsbury station, Overground and freight service would share the two tracks, as they do now!
  3. West of Camden Road station, Overground and freight service would share the two tracks, as they do now!

It strikes me that by good design, the capacity and speed through this section of the busy North London Line can be increased.

Related Posts

These are related posts about the London Rail Freight Strategy (LRFS).

Decarbonisation Of London’s Freight Routes

Doubling Harlesden Junction

East Coast Main Line South Bi-Directional Capability

Gauge Improvements Across London

Gospel Oak Speed Increases

Headway Reductions On The Gospel Oak To Barking, North London and West London Lines

Heavy Axle Weight Restrictions

Kensal Green Junction Improvement

Longhedge Junction Speed Increases

Moving The West London Line AC/DC Switchover To Kensington Olympia

Moving The West London Line AC/DC Switchover To Shepherd’s Bush

Nunhead Junction Improvement

Stratford Regulating Point Extension

Will Clapham Junction Station Get A Platform 0?

 

 

 

 

June 19, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

A Trip On An Electric Double Deck Bus On Route 212 Between Chingford And St. James Street Stations

I took these pictures on the route between Chingford and St. James Street stations.

Note.

  • The bus is an Alexander Dennis Enviro 400 EV, which is built on on BYD Auto‘s K10 chassis, powertrain and batteries.
  • Wikipedia quotes a performance of 303 km service range from a 320kWh lithium iron phosphate battery and two 150 kW motors.
  • This range would be comparable with a diesel bus, that typically does 200 miles per day.
  • It certainly handled the route from Chingford well. But then it was very much downhill, so it got help from Newton’s friend.
  • I rode on the top deck up the front and the ride was as I’d expect from a quality busin the UK.

As there wasn’t any sign of charging equipment at either end of the route, I suspect that the route is well-suited for the buses.

I know someone, who used to manage this route and they called it a basket case.

I can certainly understand that.

  • The route is narrow in places with cars parked on both sides of the road. This must delay services.
  • I was lucky with the level crossing at Highams Park station, but at busy times it could be a nightmare.

Will the new Class 710 trains on the parallel Chingford Branch Line improve matters, by attracting passengers away from their cars in the area and the buses?

There has also been talk of a new station at Chingford Hatch, which could also be served by the 212 bus.

May 4, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 2 Comments

Does Harlow Need An Improved Train Service?

I ask this question, because I am increasingly seeing articles like this one on My London, which is entitled The Large Town Just Outside London Desperate For A London Underground Station.

The town is Harlow.

This Google Map shows the West Anglia Main Line, as it runs through the North of the town.

Note.

On the face of it the town seems well-served by the trains.

Harlow Town Station

This Google Map shows Harlow Town station to a larger scale.

Note.

  1. The station has four platforms.
  2. The station has full step-free access.
  3. The station has 697 parking spaces with 18 fully accessible spaces.

The station was built in the 1950s and is a Grade II Listed building.

Train services at the station are as follows.

  • Stratford and Bishops Stortford – 2 tph – via Lea Bridge, Tottenham Hale, Waltham Cross, Cheshunt, Broxbourne and Sawbridgeworth
  • London Liverpool Street and Cambridge North – 1 tph – via Tottenham Hale, Cheshunt, Broxbourne, Bishop’s Stortford, Audley End, Whittlesford Parkway and Cambridge
  • London Liverpool Street and Cambridge North – 1 tph – via Tottenham Hale, Cheshunt, Broxbourne, Roydon, Sawbridgeworth, Bishop’s Stortford, Stansted Mountfitchet, Elsenham, Newport, Audley End, Great Chesterford, Whittlesford Parkway, Shelford and Cambridge
  • London Liverpool Street and Stansted Airport – 1 tph – via Tottenham Hale
  • London Liverpool Street and Stansted Airport – 1 tph – via Tottenham Hale and Stansted Mountfitchet

Note.

  1. tph is trains per hour
  2. The Stansted services are fast services and take 29 minutes between London Liverpool Street and Harlow Town.
  3. The other services seem to take a few minutes longer.
  4. London Liverpool Street or Stratford and Tottenham Hale both get six tph.
  5. Bishop’s Stortford gets a four tph service from Harlow Town.
  6. The two Cambridge stations only get two tph.

Harlow Town station has a fairly good service, but it could probably be improved.

Harlow Mill Station

This Google Map shows Harlow Mill station to a larger scale.

Note.

  1. The station has two platforms.
  2. The station has step-free access to the London-bound platform only.
  3. The station has 29 parking spaces with 1 fully accessible space.

The station was built in the 1840s and gets about 13 % of the passengers compared to Harlow Town station.

Train services at the station are as follows.

  • Stratford and Bishops Stortford – 1 tph – via Lea Bridge, Tottenham Hale, Waltham Cross, Cheshunt, Broxbourne and Sawbridgeworth
  • London Liverpool Street and Cambridge North – 1 tph – via Tottenham Hale, Cheshunt, Broxbourne, Roydon, Sawbridgeworth, Bishop’s Stortford, Stansted Mountfitchet, Elsenham, Newport, Audley End, Great Chesterford, Whittlesford Parkway, Shelford and Cambridge

Note.

  1. tph is trains per hour
  2. London Liverpool Street or Stratford and Tottenham Hale both get only two tph.
  3. Bishop’s Stortford gets two tph service from Harlow Mill.
  4. The two Cambridge stations only get one tph.

Unless you lived or worked nearby, I doubt you would be likely to use Harlow Mill station.

Recent And Planned Improvements

These improvements are planned and it is very unlikely they won’t happen.

Class 710 Trains

London Overground now runs new four-car Class 710 trains between London Liverpool Street and Cheshunt.

  • Each has 189 seats and can accept 489 standing passengers.
  • Busy services to Cheshunt will probably are pair of trains.
  • There are four tph between Cheshunt and London.
  • Will the trains shave a few minutes from journey times?

This massive increase in capacity and train quality must attract some passengers to change to and from the London Overground at Cheshunt.

Class 720 Trains

Greater Anglia has 133 new five-car Class 720 trains on order.

  • Each has 540 seats and can accept 145 standing passengers.
  • They are 100 mph trains.
  • Busy services through Harlow will probably be a pair of these trains.

These new trains will be a massive increase in capacity and should attract more passengers to the route.

Class 745 Trains

Greater Anglia has recently introduced ten new twelve-car Class 745 trains on Stansted Express services.

  • Each has 767 seats.
  • They are 100 mph trains.
  • They run a two tph service between Harlow Town and London Liverpool Street station and Stansted Airport.

These new trains should attract more passengers to the route.

Crossrail

Services through Harlow will connect to Crossrail at both London Liverpool Street and Stratford.

Will this mean that some passengers will switch from the Victoria Line to Crossrail for their onward journeys?

  • Crossrail will have more capacity than the Victoria Line.
  • Bond Street, Canary Wharf, Heathrow, Paddington and West London will be easier by Crossrail.
  • Victoria and Waterloo will probably be easier by the Victoria Line.
  • London Liverpool Street station’s new connection to the Northern Line will give easier access to parts of South London.
  • London Liverpool Street station will have much improved step-free connections to all London Underground lines.

Crossrail will certainly change the way many people travel between Harlow and London.

Four Lines Modernisation

This page on the Transport for London web site explains the Four Lines Modernisation. This is the first paragraph.

We’re transforming the Circle, District, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines. When the work is done we’ll be able to run trains more frequently and reliably to make journeys faster and more comfortable.

The project should increase Peak Hour capacity by 33 %.

This will benefit those who change trains at London Liverpool Street between the West Anglia Main Line and the Circle and Metropolitan Lines.

Possible Improvements

These are possible improvements that may happen.

Crossrail 2

It is unlikely, that a start will be made on Crossrail 2 in the near future.

Victoria Line Improvements

The Victoria Line will continue to do, what it has done reliability for over fifty years.

But there could be improvements.

I also suspect that engineers will find a way to increase the frequency to forty tph.

Four Tracks On The West Anglia Main Line

There are two reasons for four-tracking sections of the West Anglia Main Line.

  • To separate Crossrail 2 trains from fast expresses to Stansted and Cambridge.
  • To speed up services to and from Stansted Airport.

However four-tracking the route between Tottenham Hale and Broxbourne stations would probably be very beneficial.

  • Stansted Airport and Cambridge services could be speeded up.
  • Extra services could be run on the West Anglia Main Line.
  • It could make it easier to extend the Overground from Cheshunt.

Four-tracking will be needed for Crossrail 2, so there is surely the possibility, that it could be done earlier to bring benefits to those living along the Lea Valley.

ERTMS Signalling On The West Anglia Main Line

ERTMS Signalling could speed up services and increase their number on the West Anglia Main Line.

It might also enable four-tracking, which would be very disruptive to both train services and road traffic to be delayed.

Station Improvements On The West Anglia Main Line

The stations between London Liverpool Street and Cambridge are a poor bunch with only Tottenham Hale, Northumberland Park, Meridian Water, Waltham Cross, Broxbourne, Harlow Town, Bishop’s Stortford and Audley End having full step-free access.

Some of the other stations need refurbishment and step-free access.

As step-free access will be needed for Crossrail 2, why not setup a rolling program of station improvements.

Level Crossings On The West Anglia Main Line

There are four level crossings on the route to the South of Broxbourne, including three at Cheshunt, Enfield Lock and Brimsdown stations.

They all need to be removed for safety reasons.

New Trains And Capacity

The new trains being rolled out by Greater Anglia and the London Overground will certainly have effects on the services on the West Anglia Main Line.

  • The better performance could speed up services by a few minutes.
  • The capacity increase on the new trains should be welcome.
  • The trains will be of better quality than those they replace.

I also wonder, if the better quality of the trains and their facilities will surely attract more passengers. I suspect the train companies hope so!

Extending The London Overground

This map from cartometro.com shows Cheshunt station and Cheshunt Junction just to the South.

Note.

  1. The two platforms on the West Anglia Main Line and the single bay platform for the London Overground.
  2. The level crossing to the North of Cheshunt station.
  3. The comprehensive Cheshunt Junction which trains to go between the Southbury Loop and the West Anglia Main Line.

Cheshunt Junction is occasionally used by Greater Anglia trains to access the Southbury Loop.

It certainly seems to me, that the Overground could connect to the West Anglia Main Line.

  • All trains from London going to the North of Cheshunt could use Platform 2.
  • All trains to London coming from the North of Cheshunt could use Platform 1.
  • The bay Platform 3 would still be available to turn local trains on the Southbury Loop.
  • An extra crossover could probably be inserted to allow trains from London on the West Anglia Main Line to use Platform 3.

London Overground trains could run to a terminal further North.

Trains Between Cheshunt And London

It is worth looking at the number of trains between Cheshunt and London.

  • Greater Anglia -2 tph – London Liverpool Street and Hertford East via West Anglia Main Line
  • Greater Anglia – 2 tph – Stratford and Bishop’s Stortford via West Anglia Main Line
  • Greater Anglia – 2 tph – London Liverpool Street and Cambridge North via West Anglia Main Line
  • Greater Anglia – 4 tph – London Liverpool Street and Stansted Airport via West Anglia Main Line
  • London Overground – 4 tph – London Liverpool Street and Cheshunt via the Southbury Loop

This means that the West Anglia Main Line has 10 tph and the Southbury Loop has 4 tph.

This suggests possibilities.

  • Move some services from the West Anglia Main Line to the Southbury Loop.
  • Extend some or all of the London Overground trains to the North of Cheshunt.
  • Stations like Bishop’s Stortford, Broxbourne, Harlow, Hertford East and Ware could get extra services to London.
  • The new services would connect to extra stations without changing trains.

Very little new infrastructure would be required.

Bishop’s Stortford Station As A London Overground Destination

Bishop’s Stortford station has these trains to and from London.

  • Greater Anglia – 2 tph – Stratford and Bishop’s Stortford
  • Greater Anglia – 2 tph – London Liverpool Street and Cambridge North
  • Greater Anglia – 2 tph – London Liverpool Street and Stansted Airport

Consider.

  • Bishop’s Stortford station could probably easily handle up to an extra two tph.
  • London Overground’s Class 710 trains only have an operating speed of only 75 mph.
  • The trains may need a speed upgrade to serve Bishop’s Stortford, as their speed could slow the Cambridge and Stansted Airport expresses.

If the London Overground services ran to Bishop’s Stortford station, all the smaller stations South of Bishop’s Stortford, could travel to and from Stansted Airport with a single change.

Bishop’s Stortford station may be a possibility, as a destination of two tph on the London Overground route to London.

Broxbourne Station As A London Overground Destination

Broxbourne station has these trains to and from London.

  • Greater Anglia -2 tph – London Liverpool Street and Hertford East
  • Greater Anglia – 2 tph – Stratford and Bishop’s Stortford
  • Greater Anglia – 2 tph – London Liverpool Street and Cambridge North

Consider.

  • Broxbourne station could probably easily handle up to an extra two tph.
  • As Broxbourne is only 3.2 miles and six minutes to the North of Cheshunt, the 75 mph speed of the London Overground’s Class 710 trains may not be a problem.

Broxbourne station may be a possibility, as a destination of up to two tph on the London Overground route to London.

Harlow Town Station As A London Overground Destination

Harlow Town station has these trains to and from London.

  • Greater Anglia – 2 tph – Stratford and Bishop’s Stortford
  • Greater Anglia – 2 tph – London Liverpool Street and Cambridge North
  • Greater Anglia – 2 tph – London Liverpool Street and Stansted Airport

Consider.

  • Harlow Town station could probably easilyhandle up to an extra four tph.
  • If one is needed there would appear to be space for a turnback facility or an extra platform.
  • As Harlow Town is only 5.4 miles and eight minutes to the North of Cheshunt, the 75 mph speed of the London Overground’s Class 710 trains may not be a problem.

If the London Overground services ran to Harlow Town station, all the smaller stations South of Harlow Town, could travel to and from Stansted Airport with a single change.

Harlow Town station may be a possibility, as a destination of up to four tph on the London Overground route to London.

Hertford East Station As A London Overground Destination

Hertford East station has these trains to and from London.

  • Greater Anglia -2 tph – London Liverpool Street and Hertford East
  • There is an extra tph in the Peak.

Consider.

  • Hertford East station has platforms long enough for eight-car trains and may need modification to accommodate a pair of Greater Anglia’s Class 720 trains.
  • Ware station would need to be remodelled to increase frequency above three tph.
  • As the route from Broxbourne is on a branch line, the 75 mph speed of the London Overground’s Class 710 trains may not be a problem.

Hertford East station may be a possibility, as a destination of up to two tph on the London Overground route to London.

Conclusion

I think the best two destinations of the London Overground service to the North of Cheshunt would be Harlow and Hertford East.

  • Trains could terminate at Harlow Town station to connect with Stansted Express and Cambridge trains.
  • It appears that the slightly shorter Class 710 trains may have advantages when using the short platforms at Hertford East station.

Perhaps each destination should receive two tph.

  • Harlow Town would be connected to the Overground.
  • Passengers using stations between Hackney Downs and Cheshunt on the Southbury Loop would change at Harlow Town to and from Cambridge and Stansted Airport.
  • But the biggest benefit would be that two paths on the West Anglia Main Line would be released, as the two tph to Hertford East would be using the Southbury Loop.

I feel there are possibilities to increase the number of trains on the West Anglia Main Line without adding expensive extra tracks.

 

 

April 29, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Air-Conditioned Piccadilly Line Train Designs Presented

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Railway Gazette.

The article has four pictures of the final design of the new trains for the Piccadilly Line and the pictures don’t seem to be the same as those I took of the mock-up in October 2013 and can be seen in Siemens’ View Of The Future Of The Underground.

  • The design has a less dramatic nose compared to the mock-up.
  • It also appears to be taller.
  • Judging by the external profile, the design has a clerestory to perhaps add a couple of inches.
  • The seats appear to have a chunky profile. Is the air-conditioning partly behind the seats.

The interior seems to borrow heavily on the design for the London Overground’s Class 710 train.

Note.

  1. The air-conditioning outlets in front of or underneath the seats.
  2. No grilles behind the seats.
  3. The Class 710 train has a clerestory for extra height, but it is not visible on the outside. Does the one on the Siemens’ design have grilles from air entry or exit?

These are some views of seats in current Underground stock.

Note.

  1. The Piccadilly Line trains were fully refurbished in 2001.
  2. The Northern Line trains were fully refurbished in 2013.
  3. The grilles behind the seats on the Northern Line trains.

You can see a progression through the various designs, with the Class 710 trains

It looks like Siemens are using a similar interior layout to current trains on the Underground and the Overground.

A few thoughts.

Heated Floors

Some Bombardier Aventras like Greater Anglia’s Class 720 trains have heated floors. Will Siemens copy this idea?

These trains will go to some of the coldest parts of the Underground around Cockfosters.

USB Charging

This screen-capture from one of the Siemens’ pictures shows the front of the seats.

I thought for a moment, that there was a USB charge point in the front of the seat, but on second thoughts, that is just a fitting to enable extra vertical grab rails.

Siemens should put USB charge points in the arm rests, as Vivarail have done.

Good design is often simple.

Walk-Through Cars

The Railway Gazette article says this about walk-through cars.

The longer cars and walk-through interior of the articulated design would maximise the usable interior space, increasing capacity by 10%.

They say nothing about what I think is there biggest advantage – Passengers can freely circulate in the train, to perhaps get a better seat or be better placed for a quick exit.

Do women feel less vulnerable in wall-through trains?

Step-Free Entry

One of the good points of the mock-up in 2013 was that entrance into the train was step-free, as this picture shows.

But look at this screen-capture for the detailed design.

The doors now seem a couple of inches above the platform.

Have the designers removed a must-have feature?

German trains have a terrible reputation for not being step-free between train and platform, but if Stadler and Merseyrail can do it with the new Class 777 trains, then surely it can be done on the London Underground.

Front End

The previous two pictures do show the front end of the mock-up and final design well.

I do wonder, if the original design with the bar across didn’t go down to well with drivers.

  • The driver on most trains sits to the left.
  • Trains in the UK generally run on the left.
  • Signals on the Underground are usually placed on the left.

So did the bar across get in the way of looking across at passengers, as a train entered a station?

Driver’s Doors

The previous two pictures also show that the original mock-up is without a door for the driver, but that these have been added to the final design.

Perhaps drivers feel a separate door is necessary, as it can’t be blocked by baggage, bicycles or buggies.

Train Length

In Thoughts On The New Tube For London, I speculated about train length and feel that with clever cab design, that the trains can be a bit longer than the platform with the walk-through design.

After all on the East London Line at a few stations, the platforms aren’t long enough for the five-car trains and passengers in the last car are just asked to walk forward.

This picture shows what happens on the Overground at Canada Water station.

Those travelling in the last car of the train have to walk forward to the front doors of the car to exit. I suspect that with Siemens new trains, this will be the case on the Piccadilly Line.

The big advantage is that it avoids lengthening the platforms, which would be extremely tricky and very expensive.

So will the new Siemens trains be made longer, by allowing overhang into the tunnel at the rear and messaging to inform passengers?

I think they might!

Wikipedia gives the length of the new Siemens 2024 Stock as 113.7 metres, which compares with the 106.8 metres of the current 1973 Stock.

So the new trains are 6.9 metres longer.

Does that mean that if the front of the train is at the same position it is now, the rear end of the train will be overhanging the platform, by almost seven metres?

Judging by what happens on the East London Line, I think it would be feasible. It could even be a few metres longer, in which case the first set of double-doors would be outside the platform and wouldn’t open.

Seats Per Car

I believe this screen-capture from one of Siemens pictures shows the view of one of the end cars looking towards the driver’s cab.

Note.

  1. The red and green labels on the door to the driver’s compartment at the far end.
  2. The two pairs of passenger doors and the lobbies with the black floors.
  3. The six banks of seats, each of which have six individual seats.

This means that the driver cars each have thirty-six seats.

According to Wikipedia, each new Siemens train has nine cars and a total of 268 seats.

So that means that the middle seven cars have a total of 196 seats or twenty-eight in each car. What convenient numbers!

Could that mean that the seven intermediate cars have four banks of seven seats arranged around a lobby with a pair of double-doors on both sides?

Could the intermediate cars have just one set of wide doors? I shall be taking a tape measure and my camera to a Class 710 train, to see what Bombardier have done.

So a new Siemens train might look something like this.

  • Car 1 – driver cab – six seats – double-door/lobby – six seats – double-door/lobby – six seats
  • Car 2 – seven seats – double-door/lobby – seven seats
  • Car 3 – seven seats – double-door/lobby – seven seats
  • Car 4 – seven seats – double-door/lobby – seven seats
  • Car 5 – seven seats – double-door/lobby – seven seats
  • Car 6 – seven seats – double-door/lobby – seven seats
  • Car 7 – seven seats – double-door/lobby – seven seats
  • Car 8 – seven seats – double-door/lobby – seven seats
  • Car 9 – six seats – double-door/lobby – six seats – double-door/lobby – six seats- driver cab

Note.

  1. There will be a maximum of fourteen seats between any two entrance and exit lobbies.
  2. The train will have eleven sets of doors on either side.
  3. Trains of different lengths can be made for the Waterloo and City Line, where trains are shorter, and the Jubilee, where trains are longer, by just removing or adding intermediate cars.

For the Piccadilly Line, so long as the distance between the front of the train and the first set of doors is greater than 6.9 metres, these trains can be run using the overhanging into the tunnel method used on the East London Line of the London Overground.

Observations From The Underground And Overground

I went for a look and can say this.

  • The seats on Overground Class 710 trains and Underground S Stock trains have a width of 0.5 metres. So is this a Transport for London standard?
  • Double doors on both trains are around 1.5 metres wide.

On Class 710 trains, some cars have a run of fourteen seats. Is it a design clue for Transport for London train interiors?

There must be some proof somewhere that fourteen 0.5 metre seats and two 1.5 metre lobbies can handle large numbers of passengers.

The new Siemens trains will have an articulated join in the middle.

Could The Trains Be Lengthened?

The only things we know about the lengths of the cars of the new Siemens trains are.

  • The average length of cars is 12.6 metres.
  • The two driving cars are probably identical.
  • The seven intermediate cars are probably identical.
  • The distance between the end of the train and the first set of doors must be long enough to allow the first set of doors to open on the platform, with nearly seven metres of the train in the tunnel.

If we assume that the length of the intermediate car is X metres and it has two banks of seats and one lobby, then the driving car with three banks of seats, two lobbies and a driving cab could be almost twice as long.

I can do a little calculation.

How long would the driver cars be for various lengths of intermediate car?

As the driver car is effectively an intermediate car with an extra pair of doors/lobbie and an overhang containing another set of sets and the driving cab, I can also estimate the between the end of the train and the first set of doors, by subtracting the intermediate car length and two metres for the lobby from the driver car length

  • 9 metres – 25.35 metres – 14.35 metres
  • 9.5 metres – 23.6 metres – 12.1 metres
  • 10 metres – 21.85 metres – 9.85 metres
  • 10.5 metres – 20.1 metres – 7.6 metres
  • 11 metres – 18.35 metres – 5.35 metres
  • 12 metres – 14.85 metres – 0.85 metres

Note.

  1. The three figures are intermediate car length, driver car length and an estimate of the distance between the end of the train and the first set of doors.
  2. I shall improve this table, when I get the measurements from a Class 710 train.
  3. As there is a need for at least an overhang into the tunnel of at least 6.9 metres, it looks like intermediate cars can’t be longer than 10.5 metres.

Suppose that the intermediate car length  is 10.5 metres.

Adding an extra car would mean that the new train length would be 124.2 metres, which would be 17.4 metres longer than the current Piccadilly Line 1973 Stock train.

This would be an overhang of 8.7 metres at both ends of the train, which would probably mean that the train wouldn’t fit the route, as the overhang is not long enough to accommodate it.

But with a length of ten metres, the overhang would be only 8.45 metres, which would appear to be feasible.

I wonder, if it would be possible with appropropriate modifications to the tunnel mouths and by using in-cab signalling to run ten car trains, if the intermediate cars were limited to ten metres.

  • It looks to be possible mathematically.
  • There would need to be no modifications to the platforms.
  • There would be a ten percent increase in capacity.

It will hopefully come clear, when Siemens release the length of the driver and intermediate cars.

I believe that it is possible, that Siemens have designed these trains, so they can be extended without having to lengthen the platforms.

 

March 13, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Greater Anglia Amends Class 720 Order From Bombardier To Increase Flexibility

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

Greater Anglia is changing its order for Class 720 trains from a mixed fleet of 22 x ten-car and 89 x five-car to one of 133 x five-car.

The order is still 665 carriages in total.

In Why Do Some Train Operators Still Buy Half-Trains?, I tried to answer the question in the title of the post.

There have also been articles in railway magazines, questioning the practice of buying short trains and doubling them up.

In the UK, the following companies are running new trains in pairs.

  • Great Western Railway – Class 800 and Class 802
  • LNER – Class 800
  • London Overground – Class 710

The only creditable explanation I have heard was from a driver, who said that if one train in a pair fails, you can still run a short train.

Abd now Greater Anglia say it’s for increased flexibility!

October 8, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A First Ride On A Class 710 Train Between Upminster And Romford

This morning I went to Upminster and took the Class 710 train to Romford and back.

All went well and what a difference from yesterday, which I wrote about in A Last Ride On A Class 315 Train Between Upminster And Romford?

These are my thoughts.

Capacity Improvement

These pictures show the interiors of the Class 710 train and the Class 315 train.

It looks like many more passengers can be squeezed into the Class 710 train, than the Class 315 train.

According to Wikipedia the Class 710 train can hold 189 seated and 489 standing passengers, whilst the Class 315 train has 318 seats.

Ride Improvement

I travelled along the route with a Transport for London engineer, who worked on the Crossrail trains.

We both felt the ride was a large improvement and we both felt that it Network Rail worked a bit of magic on the track, it would be a very good train service.

Could Four Trains Per Hour Be Possible?

My travelling companion had worked on the Docklands Light Railway, and we both felt that with a degree of automation, an increased frequency would be possible.

Consider.

  • There is only one train on the line at any one time.
  • No other trains use the line.
  • The route is under 3.5 miles long.
  • The acceleration and deceleration of the new trains is superior to those of the Class 315 trains.
  • Do the Class 710 trains employ regenerative braking to battery technology?
  • The current operating speed is just 30 mph.
  • I’m sure Network Rail could improve the operating speed.
  • My travelling companion told me, that Crossrail had successfully tested the automated auto-reverse feature on the Class 345 trains

All these points convince me, that, track improvements and simple automation, much less sophisticated, than that of the Victoria Line or the Docklands Light Railway, could run the service at a frequency of four trains per hour (tph).

There is one problem though.

This article on Time 107.5, is entitled New Train To Begin Running Between Romford And Upminster.

This is an extract.

From today, the new Overground train which has changes to certain features, will be implemented.

The key changes include a different colour at the front which has changed from yellow to orange.

Different LED lights have also been fitted to the train.

The new trains are also quieter so may sound different to the older trains.

As a result, Network Rail and Transport for London are reminding pedestrians using level crossings along the route to stay safe.

Network Rail and Transport for London seem to be worried about pedestrians on the level crossings.

I would think, it prudent, that before line speeds and the frequency of the service are increased, there should be a thorough period of testing to see how pedestrians cope with the new trains, at the level crossings.

What methods of automation could be used?

Borrow From Dear Old Vicky

The Victoria Line (aka Dear Old Vicky!) opened in 1968 and runs using a fully-automated system, at frequencies of up to 36 tph.

Under Service And Rolling Stock, in the Wikipedia entry for the Victoria Line, there is this description of the original automation system.

On opening, the line was equipped with a fixed-block Automatic Train Operation system (ATO). The train operator closed the train doors and pressed a pair of “start” buttons and, if the way ahead was clear, the ATO drives the train at a safe speed to the next station. At any point, the driver could switch to manual control if the ATO failed. The system, which operated until 2012, made the Victoria line the world’s first full-scale automatic railway.

The Victoria line runs faster trains than other Underground lines because it has fewer stops, ATO running and modern design. Train speeds can reach up to 50 miles per hour (80 km/h).

Note.

  1. The original ATO system worked for over forty years.
  2. The method of operation seemed to be very safe,
  3. But most remarkably, the electronics that controlled the trains, were 1960s technology and contained a lot of thermionic valves and relays

What would 50 mph running do for timings between Romford and Upminster?

By training I am a Control Engineer, and although, I’ve never worked on large-scale automation systems, I have worked with lots of people who have and firmly believe that a simple system based on Dear Old Vicky’s original design would work.

What sort of times could be achieved between Romford and Upminster?

  • The route can be considered to be two legs; Romford and Emerson Park and Emerson Park and Upminster, both of which are about 1.75 miles long.
  • The fastest way in a train between too stations, is to accelerate to cruising speed, cruise at that speed and then time the deceleration, so you stop neatly in the station.
  • The Class 710 trains probably accelerate and decelerate at around 1 m/sec/sec.
  • The acceleration and deceleration section of each leg will take 22.2 seconds and during that time the train will travel 0.15 miles.
  • So that means the train will cruise at 50 mph for 1.45 miles, which will take 104 seconds.
  • The two legs of the journey will take around 150 second or 2.5 minutes.

The time for a round trip from Romford to Upminster can now be calculated,

  • Four legs between station 4 x 2.5 = 10 mins
  • Two stops Emerson Park 2 x 1 mins = 2 mins
  • One stop at Romford 2 mins = 2 mins
  • One stop at Upminster 2 mins = 2 mins

Note.

  1. This is a total of 16 minutes
  2. The longer stops at Romford and Upminster are needed for the driver to change ends.
  3. I have repeated the calculations for a 60 mph cruise and it saves just 40 seconds.

But I do feel that improving the method of operation could allow four tph.

The Driver Could Control The Train From One End

Consider.

  • Each cab could have a video screen showing the view from the other cab.
  • There could also be video screens on the platforms giving detailed views of the train in a station, as there are on many platforms now!

Would these and perhaps extra automation allow the driver to control the train from one cab, as it shuttled back and forth?

I suspect it would be cab at the Upminster end, as the platform is longer at Romford.

I believe that it would be possible and should allow stops of a minute at the two termini, as the driver wouldn’t be changing ends.

One minute stops would reduce the round-trip time to fourteen minutes and allow four tph.

Full Automation With The Driver In Control

The Docklands Light Railway is fully automated, so why not use a similar system on the Romford and Upminster Line?

But instead of having the system controlled by an operator in a remote signalling centre, the driver on the single train on the route is in control of it all.

The automation would enable fast stops and the driver would not have to change ends.

This would mean that four tph would be able to run at all times.

The System Would Self-Regulate

With public transport, things do go wrong.

Supposing someone turned up in a wheel-chair and it took five minutes to load them onto the train, so it left late.

This would mean that the train would be running late for the rest of the day, unless it was decided to wait for a few minutes, so it had the time of the following service.

After the wait, all trains would be on time.

Put Two Drivers On The Train

This would also be possible.

The train would have a driver in each cab.

  • The driver in the cab at the Romford end of the train would drive the train to Romford.
  • The driver in the cab at the Upminster end of the train would drive the train to Upminster.
  • At each terminus, they would swap over control, just as the two pilots do in an airliner.

There would probably need to be a simple interlock, so that only one driver could drive the train at the same time.

This should give the required four tph, as fast stops could be performed at all stations.

Using two drivers could be the ideal way to test out four tph and see whether it attracted more passengers.

Conclusion

The Romford and Upminster route has been markedly improved with the new Class 710 train.

I believe, that it is now possible to run four tph on this route, with some moderate extra expenditure or using two drivers.

 

 

October 5, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Last Ride On A Class 315 Train Between Upminster And Romford?

This morning I went to Upminster and took the Class 315 train to Romford.

I added the question mark, as when I passed East Ham depot, there were two new Class 710 trains sitting there, covered in graffiti.

Could The Romford And Upminster Line Be Improved?

I see two possible simple improvements

Four Trains Per Hour

London Overground likes to run four trains per hour (tph).

Could this frequency be run on the Romford and Upminster Line?

Three years ago I wrote Could The Romford To Upminster Line Handle Four Trains Per Hour?, and came to this conclusion.

A seven minute trip would mean the train could perform the required four trips per hour.

It would still be tight.

I also investigated an automated shuttle train on the route in An Automated Shuttle Train Between Romford And Upminster, which I felt would be possible, to run a four tph service.

Extension Of The Service

There are various reasons, why the service could be extended from Upminster station, in the Grays direction.

  • It would give travellers from South Essex much better access to Crossrail.
  • It could give a shuttle between Romford and Grays via the Lakeside Shopping Centre
  • Tilbury Riverside station could be a possibility.
  • It could open up possibilities for more housing in the area.
  • If the route were to be extended to a new station at London Gateway, it could make it easier for people to travel to work at the large port.

Obviously, it would have to be viable for the operator, but the big beasts of Crossrail, Lakeside Shopping Centre and London Gateway might make it possible.

Planning the route wouldn’t be that easy.

Consider.

  • The connections to Romford and Grays are on different sides of the District Line, so a flyover or dive-under might be needed.
  • Upminster and Grays is a single-track line with a passing loop at the two-platform Ockenden station.
  • Upminster and Grays used to be worked by a shuttle service.
  • The signalling appears to be able to handle four tph in both directions.
  • The current service between Grays and Upminster is two tph in both directions.
  • There is a bay platform 1A, at Upminster, which faces towards Grays.

It can certainly be said, that the extension of the service can’t be run at four tph.

I also think, that the current track layout at Upminster looks like one of British Rail efforts to stop any expansion of the railway.

This Google Map shows the layout of Upminster station.

Note.

  1. The  platforms are numbered 1 to 6 from South to North.
  2. Platform 1A is the Southernmost platform, which is slightly at an angle.
  3. The main station footbridge is at the Western ends of the platforms.
  4. The station isn’t fully step-free.

Is an alternative approach possible?

Suppose the following were to be arranged.

  • A four tph endless shuttle between Romford and Upminster stations.
  • Full step-free access at Romford station is currently being installed.
  • Full step-free access at Upminster station.
  • A two tph shuttle between Platform 1a and Grays, London Gateway or wherever most passengers want. This service would be arranged to give four tph between Upminster and Grays, when combined with the current services.
  • The two four tph services would be timed to give a convenient interchange at Upminster.

Could it be made to work?

It would only need improvements to Upminster station.

These pictures show Upminster station.

Note.

  1. Platform 1a is fully-electrified and long enough for a Class 710 train.
  2. The bridge at the Eastern end of the station is not step-free but could be updated.
  3. It might be possible to extend this bridge to Platform 6.

Platform 1a could certainly be used to operate a shuttle service to Grays to create a new service across South Essex.

 

 

October 4, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Flexible Train For A Pandemic

Anybody, who believes that COVID-19  will be the last pandemic is an idiot!

The virus has shown, those with evil intentions to take over the world, that a pandemic, started by a weaponised virus, whether natural or man-made, can be a useful tool in your arsenal.

We must prepare for the next pandemic.

So how will we travel by train?

Current Train Interiors And The Need To Social Distance

The need to social distance will remain paramount and some of our current train interiors are better than others for passengers to remain two metres apart.

These are some typical UK train interiors.

Typical London Overground Interior

These pictures show a typical London Overground interior on their Class 378 trains and Class 710 trains.

Distancing at two-metres will reduce the capacity dramatically, but with wide doors and common sense, this layout could allow social distancing to work.

Siemens Desiro City Suburban Interior

These pictures show the interior of the two Siemens Desiro City fleets; Thameslink‘s Class 700 trains, Great Northern‘s Class 717 trains and South Western Railway‘s Class 707 trains.

As with the London Overground layout, as the trains are fairly spacious with wide doors, social distancing could probably be made to work at reduced capacity.

Four Seats And A Table

These pictures show a selection of trains, where you have four seats around a table.

Trains include Greater Anglia’s Class 379 trains, Class 745 trains, Class 755 trains, and a selection of Class 800 trains, Class 377 trains from various operators and a superb reconditioned Class 150 train from Great Western Railway.

Could these be made to work, if there was only one person or self-isolating group living together at each set of four seats?

Designing For A Pandemic

These are my thoughts on various topics.

Seating Layouts

Consider.

  • As the pictures show, maintaining social distancing will be difficult on some trains.
  • Could the number of seats in use, be determined by the avert level of the pandemic?
  • Could seats have lights on them to show their status?
  • Will companies insist on reservations?

As to the last point, some train companies are already doing this!

 

Luggage

Will there be limits on the luggage you can take?

Entering And Leaving The Train

Would someone with a dangerous infectious disease be more likely to pass it on, when entering or leaving a train, through a narrow doorway?

I believe coaches with narrow single end doors make social distancing impossible.

  • Passengers get stuck in the bottleneck that these doors create.
  • Passengers are entering and leaving through the same crowded door.
  • Anybody in a wheelchair, pushing a child in a buggy or dragging a large suitcase, will make the bottleneck worse.

They are not fit for purpose in a post-COVID-19 world!

It might be possible to make the doors work using a traffic light system, which allowed passengers to leave, before any passengers were allowed to enter.

But any safe system, would be likely to increase dwell times in stations.

These pictures show the doors and entry and exit for Greater Anglia’s Class 745 and Class 755 trains.

These trains have been designed to be able to run London and Norwich services over a distance of more than a hundred miles, so the trains could be considered InterCity services in all but name.

Note.

  1. All doors are double and lead into a wide and spacious lobby.
  2. Entry and exit is level, as there is a gap filler between train and platform.
  3. Entry and exit in a wheelchair, pushing a buggy or wheeling a large suitcase doesn’t

Greater Anglia’s new trains would appear to be better in a post-COVID-19 world.

I also think, that these trains are better designed for the disabled, those with young children, and the elderly and just plain worn-out.

Finding A Seat

If you watch people entering a train, they often take forever to find their seat and sit down. Especially, if they’ve got a massive suitcase that won’t fit in the space provided.

Rules on boarding a train and how much luggage you can bring will be developed.

Toilets

Will visiting the toilet still be allowed? Or will toilets even be removed?

Flexibility

I think a degree of flexibility must be built into the design.

I mentioned lights on seats to show which could be used, that could be lit up according to the threat level.

Conclusion

Travelling will get more complicated.

 

 

 

 

May 17, 2020 Posted by | Health, Transport | , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

My First Ride In A Class 710/1 Train

I got on the Class 710/1 train at Liverpool Street station and took it as far as Bush Hill Park station, before catching it at the same station on its return from Enfield Town station.

I took it as far as Hackney Downs station, from where I got a 56 bus home.

Door Control Detail

These pictures show the comprehensiveness layout of the door controls on the Class 710 train.

Note that there are the following controls.

  1. Opening and closing buttons on both sides of the door inside the cars.
  2. An opening button in the middle of the pair of doors, on the inside of each car.
  3. An opening button in the middle of the pair of doors, on the outside of each car.

All these buttons must make entry and exit through the doors faster.

March 10, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment