The Anonymous Widower

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

Woo! There Are Now Brand New Overground Trains Running From Liverpool Street

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

These are going to make a big difference and I”ll go and have a look for them later.

I got a glimpse of two two-car units working together at Hackney Downs station.

One guy told me that three trains were running.

March 4, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , | 6 Comments

Thoughts On Southeastern’s Metro Services

It is regularly proposed that Southeastern‘s Metro services should be taken over by Transport for London (TfL)

What Are The Metro Services?

According to Wikipedia, these are Metro services. I have added a quick thought of my own.

London Cannon Street And London Cannon Street via Greenwich And Bexleyheath

  • This service runs along the North Kent and Bexleyheath Lines at a frequency of two trains per hour (tph).
  • Stations served are London Bridge, Deptford, Greenwich, Maze Hill, Westcombe Park, Charlton, Woolwich Dockyard, Woolwich Arsenal, Plumstead, Abbey Wood, Belvedere, Erith, Slade Green, Barnehurst, Bexleyheath, Welling, Falconwood, Eltham, Kidbrooke, Blackheath, Lewisham, St. Johns, New Cross and London Bridge.
  • The round trip takes around 100 minutes.

This route would surely be ideal for operation by TfL, as it runs totally in Greater London.

London Cannon Street And London Cannon Street via Greenwich And Sidcup

  • This service runs along the North Kent and Sidcup Lines at a frequency of two tph.
  • Stations served are London Bridge, Deptford, Greenwich, Maze Hill, Westcombe Park, Charlton, Woolwich Dockyard, Woolwich Arsenal, Plumstead, Abbey Wood, Belvedere, Erith, Slade Green, Crayford, Bexley, Albany Park, Sidcup, New Eltham, Mottingham, Lee, Hither Green, Lewsisham, St. Johns, New Cross and London Bridge.
  • The round trip takes around 100 minutes.

This route would surely be ideal for operation by TfL, as it runs totally in Greater London.

London Charing Cross And Dartford via Blackheath And Abbey Wood

  • This service runs along the North Kent Line at a frequency of two tph.
  • Stations served are Waterloo East, London Bridge, Woolwich Arsenal, Abbey Wood, Belvedere, Erith, Slade Green, Dartford, Gillingham

Because it is more of an Outer Suburban service, this service would probably stay with Southeastern.

London Charing Cross And Dartford via Bexleyheath

  • This service runs on the Bexleyheath Line at a frequency of two tph.
  • Stations served are Waterloo East, London Bridge,Lewisham, Blackheath, Kidbrooke, Eltham, Falconwood, Welling, Bexleyheath and Barnehurst
  • London Charing Cross and Dartford takes around 60 minutes with a round trip of around 120 minutes.

This route would surely be ideal for operation by TfL, as it runs totally in Greater London except for Dartford.

London Victoria And Gravesend via Bexleyheath

  • This service runs along the Bexleyheath Line at a frequency of two tph.
  • Stations served are Denmark Hill, Peckham Rye, Nunhead, Lewisham, Blackheath, Kidbrooke, Eltham, Falconwood, Welling, Bexleyheath, Barnehurst, Dartford, Greenhithe

Because it is more of an Outer Suburban service, this service would probably stay with Southeastern.

London Charing Cross And Dartford via Sidcup

  • This service runs along the Sidcup Line at a frequency of two tph
  • Stations served are Waterloo East, London Bridge, Hither Green, Lee, Mottingham, New Eltham, Sidcup, Albany Park, Bexley and Crayford
  • London Charing Cross and Dartford takes around 45 minutes with a round trip of around 100 minutes.

This route would surely be ideal for operation by TfL, as it runs totally in Greater London except for Dartford.

London Charing Cross And Gravesend via Sidcup

  • This service runs along the Sidcup Line at a frequency of two tph
  • Stations served are Waterloo East, London Bridge, New Eltham, Sidcup, Bexley, Crayford, Dartford, Stone Crossing, Greenhithe, Swanscombe and Northfleet

Because it is more of an Outer Suburban service, this service would probably stay with Southeastern.

London Cannon Street And Orpington via Grove Park

  • This service runs along the South Eastern Main Line at a frequency of two tph.
  • Stations served are London Bridge, New Cross, St Johns, Lewisham, Hither Green, Grove Park, Elmstead Woods, Chislehurst, Petts Wood
  • London Cannon Street and Orpington takes around 40 minutes with a round trip of around 120 minutes.

This route would surely be ideal for operation by TfL, as it runs totally in Greater London.

London Charing Cross And Sevenoaks via Grove Park

  • This service runs along the South Eastern Main Line at a frequency of two tph.
  • Stations served are Waterloo East, London Bridge, Hither Green, Grove Park, Elmstead Woods, Chislehurst, Petts Wood, Orpington, Chelsfield, Knockholt, Dunton Green

Because it is more of an Outer Suburban service, this service would probably stay with Southeastern.

London Cannon Street And Hayes

  • This service runs along the Hayes Line at a frequency of two tph.
  • Stations served are London Bridge, New Cross, St Johns, Lewisham, Ladywell, Catford Bridge, Lower Sydenham, New Beckenham, Clock House, Elmers End, Eden Park, West Wickham
  • The Hayes Line could be on the Bakerloo Line Extension.
  • London Cannon Street and Hayes takes around 40 minutes with a round trip of just under 90 minutes.

This route would surely be ideal for operation by TfL, as it runs totally in Greater London.

London Charing Cross And Hayes

  • This service runs along the Hayes Line at a frequency of two tph.
  • Stations served are Waterloo East, London Bridge, Ladywell, Catford Bridge, Lower Sydenham, New Beckenham, Clock House, Elmers End, Eden Park, West Wickham
  • The Hayes  Line could be on the Bakerloo Line Extension.
  • London Charing Cross and Hayes takes around 40 minutes with a round trip of just over 90 minutes.

This route would surely be ideal for operation by TfL, as it runs totally in Greater London.

London Victoria And Orpington via Beckenham Junction

  • This service runs along the Chatham Main Line at a frequency of two tph.
  • Stations served are Brixton, Herne Hill, West Dulwich, Sydenham Hill, Penge East, Kent House, Beckenham Junction, Shortlands, Bromley South, Bickley and Petts Wood.
  • London Victoria and Orpington takes around 40 minutes with a round trip of around 95 minutes.

This route would surely be ideal for operation by TfL, as it runs totally in Greater London.

London Victoria And Bromley South via Beckenham Junction

  • This service runs along the Chatham Main Line at a frequency of two tph
  • Stations served are Brixton, Herne Hill, West Dulwich, Sydenham Hill, Penge East, Kent House, Beckenham Junction, Shortlands
  • London Victoria and Bromley South takes around 30 minutes with a round trip of around 67 minutes.

This route would surely be ideal for operation by TfL, as it runs totally in Greater London.

Some General Observations

These are some general observations on all the routes.

  • Lewisham will be on the Bakerloo Line Extension.
  • There are interchanges with TfL services at Abbey Wood, Elmers End, Greenwich, Lewisham, London Bridge, New Cross, Peckham Rye, Waterloo East, Woolwich Arsenal
  • All of the routes appear to be capable of handling 90 mph trains.
  • It is possible that an interchange would be built at Penge between the Chathan Main Line and the East London Line of the London Overground.

A Trip Between London Cannon Street And London Cannon Street via Greenwich And Sidcup

I took this trip on a Class 465 formation.

  • The service is more of a suburban trundler, than a brisk commuter train.
  • I timed the train around 60-65 mph in places, but at times in was running at around 30 mph.
  • Stops always weren’t always performed in the most urgent manner.

I got the impression, that the service could be run faster.

The Current Metro Trains

Currently, the Metro fleet appears to be formed these trains.

  • Class 376 trains – Five cars – Built in 2004-5 – 75 mph maximum – 228 seats
  • Class 465 trains – Four cars – Built in 1994 – 75 mph maximum – 334 seats
  • Class 466 trains – Two cars – Built in 1994 – 75 mph maximum – 168 seats.

Note.

  1. All can run as ten car trains, either as five+five or four+four+two.
  2. All have First Class seating.
  3. None of the trains don’t gangways.
  4. A ten-car Class 376 formation has 456 seats and is just over 200 metres long.
  5. A ten-car Class 465/466 formation has 836 seats and is 205 metres long.
  6. I think there are enough trains to form 99 ten-car trains and 15 twelve-car trains.

But what is the affect on timetables in that all are 75 mph trains?

Possible Replacement Trains

The trains could be replaced by other two hundred metre long trains, as anything longer would probably need platform lengthening.

Various examples of Bombardier Aventras with different interiors must be in the frame, if they can sort their software problems, but other manufacturers could also produce trains.

Performance

Trains must be able to make full use of the track, which appears to be good for 90 mph.

As the new trains will share tracks with Thameslink’s 100 mph Class 700 trains and Southeastern’s 100 mph Class 377 trains, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the new fleet of trains have a 100 mph operating speed and the appropriate acceleration, that this brings.

Length

The current trains are just over 200 metres long, as are the nine-car Class 345 trains.

The new trains will be the same length to avoid large amounts of expensive platform lengthening.

Interior Layout And Capacity

These styles could be used.

  • Class 710-style with longitudinal seating, no toilets – Capacity estimate -482 seated and 1282 standing passengers.
  • Class 345-style with longitudinal/transverse seating, no toilets – Capacity – 450 seated, 4 wheelchair, 1,500 people total[passengers.
  • Class 701-style with transverse seating toilets – Capacity –  556 seats, 740 standing.

This will be a big increase in capacity.

Other Features

Trains will probably have these other features.

  • Full digital signalling, either fitted or future-proofed.
  • Ability to walk through the train.
  • Step-free access between platform and train.
  • Wi-fi, power sockets and 5G boosting.

First Class and toilets would be at the discretion of the operator, but TfL Rail and the London Overground see no point in fitting them.

Transfer To The London Overground

As I said earlier there is more than a chance, than some or all of the Metro routes will be transferred to the London Overground.

As Kent County Council doesn’t like the idea of London having control of their train services, I would suspect that a compromise would be reached, whereby any service wholly within Greater London or terminating at Dartford would be transferred to the London Overground.

This would mean that these services would be transferred.

  • London Cannon Street And London Cannon Street via Greenwich And Bexleyheath
  • London Cannon Street And London Cannon Street via Greenwich And Sidcup
  • London Charing Cross And Dartford via Bexleyheath
  • London Charing Cross And Dartford via Sidcup
  • London Cannon Street And Orpington via Grove Park
  • London Cannon Street And Hayes
  • London Charing Cross And Hayes
  • London Victoria And Orpington via Beckenham Junction
  • London Victoria And Bromley South via Beckenham Junction

All services would be run by high capacity 200 metre long trains.

  • The frequency would be two tph, with many doubling up to give four tph.
  • There would be no First Class seating.
  • Seating could be longitudinal, with no on-train toilets.
  • Step-free access between platform and train.

As the train will have better performance, services could be faster with shorter journey times.

Will Passengers Accept The Spartan Trains?

Some passengers might not like the lack of First Class, the longitudinal seating and no toilets.

But consider.

  • In the next few months, London Overground will be replacing conventional Class 315 trains between Liverpool Street and Chingford, Cheshunt and Enfield Town. Currently, these trains don’t have First Class or toilets and it will be interesting to see how the new Class 710 trains on these routes are received.
  • When Crossrail extends to Ebbsfleet and/or Gravesend, they’ll get more of this type of train.
  • Trains with longitudinal seating have a much increased capacity at all times and especially in the Peak, where it is needed.
  • If you look at passenger numbers on the London Overground there is a very steady climb. So London Overground must be doing something right.
  • Toilets are being removed on several Metro services from London to Heathrow, Hertford North, Reading, Shenfield and Stevenage.
  • It may be better and more affordable to build more toilets in stations.

I think there is more than a chance, that if TfL take over these Southeastern Metro routes, that a less austere train could be used.

Perhaps for compatibility with Crossrail, Class 345 trains with their mixture of longitudinal and conventional seating would be used.

Penge Interchange

I wrote about TfL’s plans for Penge Interchange in this post called Penge Interchange.

This new station, should be one of the conditions of TfL taking over Southeastern’s Metro services.

The new station could be fully step-free and would seriously improve connections to and from South East London.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 14, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Could The Northern Section Of The Bakerloo Line And The Watford DC Line Be Combined?

The Bakerloo and Watford DC Lines to the North of Queen’s Park station annoy me.

There are two very different classes of trains.

Which are different sizes and ideally need different platform heights for step-free access between train and platform.

Often, you need to step up and down into the trains.

The pictures show a typical steps on Bakerloo Line and Class 710 trains.

They give a new meaning to Mind The Gap.

It would be so much easier, for passengers in wheelchairs or those pushing buggies or trailing heavy cases for there to be no step between train and platform.

I once remarked to a station guy, not in the first flush of youth, as he manhandled a ramp into place, that what he was doing must be the worst part of his job. He smiled and agreed.

Surely in this day and age, we can create a railway, where everything is as efficient as possible.

These are a few of my thoughts.

Could The Two Lines Be Run By A Unified Fleet Of Trains?

If the two lines were to be run using the same trains, this would give advantages.

  • All trains could be maintained together.
  • Platform-to-train access would be much easier to make step-free.
  • Staff would only deal with one type of train.
  • A certain amount of automatic train control could be used to increase frequencies.

Obviously, a National Rail-size train couldn’t use the Bakerloo Line tunnels, but a train built for the Underground could use the current Watford DC Line into Euston.

Siemens are designing a New Tube For London and this will be used on the Bakerloo Line.

I suspect, that they could design a train that would easily run into Euston.

Would An Underground Train Provide Enough Capacity Into Euston?

The current trains on both lines have the following capacity and length.

  • The 1972 Stock on the Bakerloo Line are 113 metres long and have a capacity of 851 passengers
  • The Class 710 trains on the Watford DC Line are 82 metres long and have a capacity of 678 passengers.

Now there’s a surprise! The smaller Underground trains hold more passengers.

This picture shows the spare platform length at Euston, after a Class 710 train has just arrived.

I don’t think capacity or platform length will be a problem!

What Would Be The Frequency Into Euston?

Consider.

  • The current Watford DC Line service into Euston uses a double-track line terminating in Platform 9 at Euston station.
  • The service frequency on this route, has recently been increased from three trains per hour (tph) to four tph.
  • The Overground is soon to start to run six tph on routes with a similar track layout.

I believe that a six tph service could be run between Euston and Watford Junction stations.

What Would Be The Frequency In The Bakerloo Line Tunnel To Elephant & Castle And Lewisham?

Note that I’m assuming an extended Bakerloo Line runs to Lewisham, although, it could run to Hayes station.

Dear Old Vicky (aka the Victoria Line) handles a train every hundred seconds or thirty-six tph.

I can’t see any reason, why all parts of the Watford Junction to Lewisham route can’t be designed to handle this frequency.

If six tph went to Euston, then this would mean the service South of Queen’s Park station would be as follows.

  • Up to thirty tph or a train every two minutes between Queen’s Park and Lewisham stations.
  • It would connect the National Rail stations of Paddington, Marylebone, Charing Cross, Waterloo, Elephant & Castle, New Cross Gate and Lewisham.
  • A high capacity pedestrian link to Crossrail at Paddington, will be ready to open with Crossrail.
  • Connections to the Central, Circle, District, Hammersmith & City, Metropolitan, Northern, Piccadilly and Victoria Lines of the Underground.
  • Oxford Circus would have a high-capacity cross-platform interchange between the Bakerloo and Victoria Lines, both running in excess of thirty tph.

It would be a much needed capacity upgrade to the Underground.

Would Stations On The Combined Line Be Made Step-Free?

The combined route will have a total of 34 existing stations and four new stations.

I suspect the new stations will be step-free.

Of the existing stations, the following are fully or partially step-free.

  • Watford Junction
  • Bushey
  • Carpenders Park
  • Harrow & Wealdstone
  • Wembley Central
  • Willesden Junction
  • Queen’s Park – Scheduled to be made step-free.
  • Paddington – Will be step-free, when Crossrail opens.

The Bakerloo Line must be one of the worst lines for step-free access on the London Underground.

But then it has some of the oldest and least-capable trains and has been neglected for decades.

The station most in need of step-free access is probably Oxford Circus, where the Bakerloo and Victoria Lines have a cross-platform step-free interchange.

I lay out ideas for this station in Thoughts On Step-Free Access At Oxford Circus Station.

Upgrading The Lines

I think that Transport for London have a unique opportunity with the upgrading of the Bakerloo Line to Extension From upgrade the line as a series of separate projects, phased to be delivered in a continuous stream, rather than as one big launch, which was tried and failed with Crossrail.

Extension From Elephant & Castle To Lewisham Or Hayes

This project can be built independently, just like the Battersea Power Station Extension of The Northern Line. I detailed the latest thinking on this extension in TfL Moots Bakerloo Line To Hayes.

  • It is the only project that needs substantial tunnelling.
  • It probably needs a depot to be relocated.
  • Lewisham station would need some rebuilding.
  • It would need more trains to be delivered before it opens.

It could even be the last project to be delivered, which would allow time for the trains.

January 23, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 3 Comments

Hertfordshire County Council’s Aspiration For A Watford Junction And Aylesbury Service

This article on Ian Visits is entitled Watford Junction Station Could Become A “Super-Hub”.

This is the introductory paragraph.

A new Watford Junction to Aylesbury rail service, along with a new link between Stevenage and Luton are two of the proposals being put forward by Hertfordshire Council.

The proposals are contained in this document on the Hertfordshire County Council web site, which is entitled Rail Strategy.

In TfL Seeks New Procurement Plan For Metropolitan Line Extension, I proposed a service run by Chiltern Railways between Watford Junction and Amersham stations.

The rest of this article is a rewrite of part of that linked post, which explores the possibilities of a service between Watford Junction and Aylesbury stations.

This Was My Original Simple  Proposal

I think it would be possible to design a simpler link with the following characteristics.

  • Watford station would remain open.
  • A four trains per hour (tph) link would run all day between Watford Junction and Amersham stations.
  • Stops would be at Watford High Street, Vicarage RoadCassiobridge, Croxley, Rickmansworth, Chorleywood and Chalfont & Latimer.

No-one would get a worse service than currently and the new stations of Cassiobridge and Vicarage Road, would make rail an alternative for many travellers.

The cross-Watford service would give access to these London services.

  • Chiltern at all stations between Croxley and Amersham.
  • London Midland at Watford Junction.
  • Metropolitan Line at Croxley, Rickmansworth and Amersham.
  • Virgin Trains at Watford Junction,
  • Watford DC Line at Watford High Street and Watford Junction

The Bakerloo Line at Watford Junction and Watford High Street, could possibly be added, if the line is extended. Which I doubt, it will be!

Hertfordshire is proposing the terminal is Aylesbury, which seems to be a good idea. But I’ll examine that later.

The next few sections, will cover various issues with the route.

New Track

There would need to be new track between Croxley and Watford High Street stations.

Will The New Stations Have Two Platforms?

All proposals have shown new stations on the new track at Cassiobridge and Vicarage Road.

I believe that money can be saved by creating two much simpler stations.

  • Only one platform, but probably an island platform with two faces like Watford High Street station.
  • No expensive footbridge if possible.
  • Only one lift.

Cassiobridge would be more complicated because of the viaduct connecting the line towards Croxley station.

This visualisation shows the viaduct and the location of Cassiobridge station.

croxley-rail-link-proposed-viaduct-connecting-the-existing-metropolitan-line-with-disused-croxley-green-branch-line

Cassiobridge station will be behind the trees towards the top-right of the image.

Would The New Track Be Single Or Double-Track?

There is space for double-track and the two ends of the route are already electrified double-track.

But surely the viaduct shown above would be much more affordable, if it were to be built for only one track!

Trains would need to pass at places East of Croxley station, but then if the line was double-track through and to the East of Cassiobridge station, trains could pass with impunity.

Consider.

  • The Borders Railway looks to have too much single-track
  • The Barking Riverside Extension is being built with a double track.

Too much single-track is often regretted.

Why Four Trains Per Hour?

Four trains per hour (tph) is becoming a standard, as it encourages Turn-Up-And-Go behaviour from travellers.

It also fits well with keeping the four tph Metropolitan Line service to Watford station, as this could give a same platform interchange at Croxley station.

Would The New Track Be Electrified?

The only part of the route that is not electrified is the about three miles of new track between  the Watford Branch and the Watford DC Line.

All current electrification is either third-rail or to the London Underground standard. and any future electrification would probably be to the London Underground standard, so that S Stock can work the route.

I believe that the Class 710 trains will have a limited onboard energy storage capability, which could enable the trains to bridge the cap in the  electrification between Watford High Street and Croxley stations.

How much would not electrifying the new track save?

How Long Will A Journey Take From Amersham Or Aylesbury To Watford Junction?

Consider.

  • Amersham to Croxley takes about 30 minutes, but it does involve a change to a bus.
  • The Overground takes three minutes between Watford Junction and Watford High Street stations.
  • Chiltern Railways achieve a twelve minute time between Amersham and Rickmansworth.

I suspect that a modern train like one of London Overground’s Class 378 trains could do the journey in a few minutes under half-an-hour.

As Amersham to Aylesbury takes about sixteen minutes, that looks like a trip between Aylesbury and Watford Junction would take about forty-five minutes.

Amersham Or Aylesbury?

My original plan used Amersham, as it has a turnback facility.

But Aylesbury looks to have space as this Google Map shows.

It should also be noted that the forty-five minute journey time between Aylesbury and Watford Junction stations, would give a two hour round trip, with relaxed fifteen minute turnround times.

This would allow time to top-up the batteries.

What Class Of Train Could Be Used?

Four-car Class 378 trains or the new Class 710 trains would be ideal. As the Class 378 train is out of production, it would have to be Class 710 trains or something similar from Bombardier. But other manufacturers might have a suitable train.

Battery power would be required, but that is becoming a standard option on metro trains like these.

How Many Trains Would Be Needed?

If the trains could do an Out-and-Back journey in an hour, then four trains would be needed to provide a four tph service.

A two-hour time would need eight trains.

Will The Link Have Any Other Services?

I have seen to plans to use the line for any other passenger or freight services.

Will There Be Infrastructure Issues At Existing Stations?

As all of the trains, I’ve mentioned and the London Underground S Stock trains, share platforms all over North West London, the answer is probably no, with the exception of a few minor adjustments to signs and platforms.

Croxley Station

Croxley station would be unchanged.

But in addition to the 4 tph between Baker Street and Watford, there would be 4 tph between Watford Junction and Amersham.

Platform 1 would handle.

  • Baker Street to Watford
  • Amersham to Watford Junction

Platform 2 would handle.

  • Watford to Baker Street
  • Watford Junction to Amersham

This would mean that if the trains alternated, the maximum wait for a connection would be about 7.5 minutes.

What I feel would be the two most common connections, would just involve a wait on the same platform.

I suspect that those, who timetable trains, would come up with a very passenger-friendly solution.

Watford Station

A property developer once told me, that the most profitable developments, are those where a railway station is involved.

The Platforms At Watford Station

So would the development of the extension involve a rebuild of Watford station to provide the following?

  • A modern future-proofed station, with all the capacity that might be needed in the next forty years or so.
  • Appropriate housing or commercial development on top of the new station.
  • Sensible amounts of parking for travellers.

With four tph to and from London in the basement, it would surely be a profitable development.

Watford Junction Station

Watford Junction station has four bay platforms 1-4, that handle the three tph service on the Watford DC Line.

At stations like Clapham Junction, Crystal Palace, Dalston Junction, Highbury and Islington and New Cross, single platforms handle four tph with ease for London Overground services.

This means that handling four tph to Amersham in addition to current services would not be difficult.

The only work, that I think should be done, is make sure that these platforms are long enough to take two of the future Class 710 trains working as an eight-car train.

There could even be two platforms left for Bakerloo Line services, if it were to be decided, that these services would go to Watford Junction.

Elton John Plays Vicarage Road Stadium

This or some football matches at Vicarage Road Stadium, would be the biggest test of the Link.

Note the following.

  • Some stations  like Watford High Street can already handle longer trains than the hundred metre long, five-car Class 378 trains they currently do.
  • Some stations like Croxley can handle the 133 metre long S Stock trains used on the Metropolitan Line.

So to future-proof the Link for massive one-off events would it be sensible to make the platforms long enough for eight-car trains or two Class 710 trains working as a pair?

Benefits

The benefits of this approach are as follows.

  • Watford station keeps its current service to London.
  • Watford gets a four tph link across the South of the town, serving the Shopping Centre, the Hospital and the Stadium.
  • Amersham or Aylesbury to Croxley stations get a link to the West Coast Main Line.
  • It could be built as a single track line without electrification.
  • Trains to run the services could be more easily available.
  • Simple island platform-based stations could be built at Cassiobridge and Vicarage Road.

In addition, Chiltern Railways, London Midland, London Overground and Underground, all gain a feeder railway bringing travellers to their services to and from London.

Cost Savings

Note.

  1. Transport for London needs cost savings on this project.
  2. Redevelopment of Watford station as a station with oversite development could raise a lot of money.
  3. The Croxley Link could be built as a single-track link without electrification and run initially using battery-electric trains.

I also feel, that building the line this way would deliver it earlier, thus improving cash-flow.

The simple link would need at the minimum.

  • A single- or double-track railway without electrification between Croxley and Watford High Street stations.
  • Two stations with island platforms at Cassiobridge and Vicarage Road
  • A viaduct to connect Cassiobridge station to the Watford Branch.
  • Some Class 710 trains or similar.

If skates were worn, the link could probably open in 2025.

December 20, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

More Trains Watford Junction To London Euston Route Thanks To Class 710s

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

This paragraph sums up the new service.

From Sunday 17 November, Transport for London (TfL) will start to run four trains per hour (approximately every 15 minutes) throughout the day.

Currently, there are only three trains per hour (tph), which until a couple of months ago, were five car trains.

  • So it appears that the service will be increasing from three trains and fifteen cars per hour to four trains and sixteen cars per hour.
  • Checking the on-line timetable, it also appears that service might be a few minutes faster.
  • I can’t be sure of the latter as the on-line timetable or my internet connection seems to be playing up.
  • The Watford DC Line will now have the standard London Overground frequency of four tph.

The big improvement with both the the Watford DC Line and the Gospel Oak and Barking Line using identical trains could be in service recovery.

  • Eight trains are needed to run a full service on both lines.
  • Eighteen trains have been ordered.
  • This would mean one could be in maintenance and one can be kept as a hot spare.

It is not as tight as it looks, because I suspect a five-car Class 378 train can fill in on the Watford DC Line, if required.

 

 

 

November 6, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 2 Comments