The Anonymous Widower

Harringay Station – 20th November 2022

This article on Rail Advent, is entitled Essential Improvements Programme For Harringay Station Gets Underway!

These two paragraphs outline the work to be done.

Harringay station will see major improvement work carried out including vital work to reinforce the footbridge which is located inside the station, making it fit for purpose into the future. The bridge is also the home of the old ticket office which will also be relocated in order to comply with building regulations.

Both platforms will see brand new waiting shelters and will allow passengers heading to destinations like Welwyn Garden City, Stevenage and Moorgate are able to keep dry in a sheltered location whilst waiting for their train leading to improved passenger experience.

It appears the work will not inconvenience passengers.

So earlier today, I went to have a look at Harringay station.

Note.

  1. All trains calling at the station are Class 717 trains.
  2. The old ticket office is on the bridge.
  3. The platforms are rather narrow.
  4. The train-platform access is not good.

The bridge has certainly seen better days, but then it does date from 1885.

I have some thoughts.

Digital Signalling

Digital signalling is being installed on the Great Northern route and the Hertford Loop Line and this could mean up to ten trains per hour (tph) into Moorgate.

The Current Service

At present there seems to be only two tph on these two routes.

  • Moorgate and Stevenage via Hertford North
  • Moorgate and Welwyn Garden City

This is an insult and both routes need at least four tph all day to attract passengers.

The Ultimate Service

It can certainly have a frequency of around eight tph between Moorgate and Alexandra Palace stations.

But no predictions have been made about what frequency will be used once the signalling is complete.

 

November 20, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Cambridgeshire Company’s Self-Charging Trains Project Wins Government Funds

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

These four paragraphs outline what the company is developing and how they received government funding.

Echion Technologies, based in Sawston near Cambridge, is creating train batteries that can charge from overheard wires, the Department for Transport said.

The trains would be able to use the batteries on unelectrified track.

The project was among the winners of the government’s First of a Kind competition.

The competition aims to award funding to projects that could transform the future of transport.

I have a few thoughts.

The Description In The First Of A Kind 2022 Winners Document

In this document, this is said.

Project No: 10039100

Project title: UBER – Ultra-high power Battery for low Emission Rail
Lead organisation: ECHION TECHNOLOGIES LTD
Project grant: £59,917

Public description: Project UBER (Ultra-high power Battery for low Emission Rail), aims to demonstrate for the first time, Echion’s XNO(tm) battery chemistry as the preferred battery technology for certain classes of battery electric trains. It targets Theme 1 of this competition.

Specifically, UBER aims to demonstrate the suitability of XNO(tm) for passenger trains that can be powered by the AC overhead electrification and charge a battery from the overhead wire (or another form of ‘standard’ trackside power — e.g. 3rd rail), to then run in battery-only mode on unelectrified section of a route. An example of such a train is the Revolution Very Light Rail (Revolution VLR) developed by Transport Design International (TDI), who is a partner in UBER.

Applying The Echion Technologies Batteries To Electric Trains

Consider.

  • The BBC article is accompanied by a picture of a Class 717 train, which like the Class 700 train is dual voltage.
  • Southeastern have thirty similar Class 707 trains, which are third-rail, although according to Wikipedia, were tested as dual-voltage trains.
  • Most modern trains, like these Desiro City units made by Siemens, have a mix of motored and trailer cars, with one or more pantograph cars  between the two driver cars.
  • Because power is needed in all cars, there will be an electrical bus from one end of the train to distribute power.
  • All trains in the family appear to have at least one trailer car, which will also be connected to the electrical bus.

With a family of trains like the Desiro City, Alstom’s Aventra, CAF’s Civity, Hitachi’s AT-200 or AT-300 or Stadler’s FLIRTs, train manufacturers assemble various cars, interiors and electrical gubbins together, to get the train performance and capability.

I would expect that the battery would be placed, where there is space and the most likely place is under the trailer car.

In some ways, it would work like the battery in a laptop computer, where operation is as follows.

  • If there is external power, the computer runs on that power and the battery is also charged, if it is not fully-charged.
  • If there is no external power, the computer runs on battery power, until the battery goes flat.

With a battery-electric train, operation is similar, with an important addition.

  • If there is external power, the train runs on that power and the battery is also charged, if it is not fully-charged.
  • If there is no external power, the train runs on battery power, until the battery goes flat.
  • Desiro City and many other electric trains have regenerative braking and under braking, the electricity generated is is stored in the battery, if it is not fully-charged.

It could be considered by some, that regenerative braking is self-charging. But unfortunately, regenerative braking doesn’t recover all energy during braking. But it can be up to 70-80 % efficient.

Connecting The Echion Technologies Battery To The Train

The battery will have to be connected to the electrical bus, that runs the full length of the train.

As a Control Engineer, I suspect there will be a sophisticated control system, that will switch the battery between various modes and control the pantograph and third-rail shoes.

Perhaps, Echion Technologies have developed an all-purpose controller that could fit all trains?

 

November 16, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Improving The Wood Green And Moorgate Public Transport Corridor

This morning I went for coffee with an old school friend from Minchenden Grammar School at Southgate station.

Southgate is not a bad place to meet someone.

  • There are a couple of good coffee shops.
  • There are plenty of buses.
  • It has a couple of the better chain restaurants including a Pizza Express.
  • The area also has a lot of memories for me.

It also has one of London’s most iconic Underground stations.

It may look familiar, as it regularly crops up in film and television dramas.

  • One station guy told me, that the ticket barriers have been designed to be easy to remove, so filming of an historic drama is possible.
  • It was used in The End Of The Affair to portray a Central London station.
  • As the escalators have the same bronze fittings as Moscow, they could be used in a story set in Russia.

As the Piccadilly Line doesn’t go anywhere near my house, to get to Southgate, I take a 141 bus to and from a convenient Piccadilly Line station.

  • Going North, I changed at Manor House station.
  • Coming South, I changed at Turnpike Lane station.
  • I could have also have changed at Wood Green station.

The journey home had four major problems.

  • The bus stop at Turnpike Lane station, is a few hundred yards from the station.
  • I waited fifteen minutes for a 141 bus.
  • When it did arrive, it was so packed, it didn’t have space for a miniature dachshund to squeeze in between the feet of the standing passengers.
  • The traffic was very heavy, so the journey was slow.

How can this bus route cope in the Peak, if it can’t cope on a Sunday morning?

Various issues and actions and will make these capacity issues worse.

The Victoria Line Has No Direct Connection With The Elizabeth Line

In my view, this was a mistake, although not that serious, as the young or energetic can probably walk between Oxford Circus and the Hanover Square entrance to Bond Street station on the Elizabeth Line.

Will this connection develop with coffee and snack shops to ease passenger interchanges?

When and if Oxford Circus station is ever made step-free, I can imagine a tunnel, perhaps with a moving walkway being built between  Oxford Circus station and he Hanover Square entrance to Bond Street station.

There is also the cross-platform interchange at Highbury & Islington station with the Northern City Line that links with Moorgate and the City of London.

The Piccadilly Line Has No Direct Connection With The Elizabeth Line

To get between the Northern stations on the Piccadilly Line and the Elizabeth Line is either a double-change at Finsbury Park and Highbury & Islington stations or a ride on the 141 bus.

I wrote about these issues in Extending The Elizabeth Line – Improving The Northern City Line.

The Elizabeth Line Will Attract Travellers To Moorgate

I notice that my own travelling patterns have changed from using the Central, Circle, District, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan Lines to using the Elizabeth Line since it opened and I suspect, when the Elizabeth Line is fully joined up, that more passengers will travel to Moorgate to access the Elizabeth Line.

Transport for London and the Mayor Are Rerouting The 21 Bus

The 21 bus duplicates the 141 bus between Newington Green and Moorgate station.

But it is being rerouted next year, which will increase the loading on the 141 bus.

The 141 Bus Used To Be The 641 Trolleybus

When I was a child, London’s trolleybus network was extensive and to get between Wood Green and Moorgate, you would have used the 641 trolleybus.

Trolleybus Ascending Jolly Butchers Hill in Wood Green

Many like me, look back on trolleybuses with affection.

Does this historical connection encourage passengers to use the 141 bus, which is the 641 trolleybus’s successor on the route?

My parents certainly had lots of trolleybus stories.

So What Could Be Done?

There are a variety of actions that could be taken to strengthen public transport between Moorgate and Wood Green stations.

Improve The 141 Bus Route

In Does London Need High Capacity Bus Routes To Extend Crossrail?, I put forward ideas for using buses to link to the Elizabeth Line.

This was my suggestion.

I suspect any route seen as an extension of Crossrail needs to have the following characteristics.

  • High frequency of perhaps a bus every ten minutes.
  • Interior finish on a par with the Class 345 trains.
  • Wi-fi and phone charging.

I would also hope the buses were carbon-free. Given that some of these routes could be quite long, I would suspect hydrogen with its longer range could be better.

I feel that a high-quality 141 bus running every ten minutes between London Bridge station and Palmers Green, would be just what the passengers would order.

  • Palmers Green bus garage is at the Northern end of the route, so could be used for refuelling or recharging.
  • London Bridge station is at the Southern end of the route and was designed with an efficient bus station.
  • The 141 route connects London Bridge, Bank, Moorgate and Old Street stations in the City of London.

With the right buses, this could be a route with real quality and usefulness.

Increase The Frequency On The Northern City Line

The Northern City Line may have new Class 717 trains, but it still has a pathetic frequency of eight trains per hour (tph)

  • I am sure it could be increased to at least 12 tph between Moorgate and Alexandra Palace stations.
  • Something like six tph would go to Welwyn Garden City, four tph to Hertford East station and two to Stevenage.
  • Large areas of the Northern suburbs would get a much better connection to the Elizabeth Line.

Once the digital signalling is installed and commissioned, no new infrastructure will be needed.

I am sure, that this would be the easiest way to improve public transport in North London.

Add Step-Free Access To As Many Stations As Possible

Moorgate, Finsbury Park, Oakwood and Cockfosters are step-free with lifts.

As many stations as budgetary constraints allow, should be made step-free.

October 9, 2022 Posted by | Food, Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Testing Of Digital Signalling To Close Northern City Line

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Rail Technology Magazine.

This first paragraph indicates what’s happening.

Any passengers travelling on the Northern City Line between Finsbury Park and Moorgate on Sunday 9th October are being asked to check before they travel due to testing.

I hope that when they’ve finished the testing, they will increase the number of trains on this important route.

September 30, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Extending The Elizabeth Line – Improving The Northern City Line

Some parts of North and North-East London, have less-than-good connections with the Elizabeth Line.

  • The Piccadilly Line has no direct connection with the Elizabeth Line.
  • The Victoria Line has no direct connection with the Elizabeth Line.
  • The Bank branch of the Northern Line has only a poor connection with the Elizabeth Line at Moorgate station.
  • The Northern City Line has only a poor connection with the Elizabeth Line at Moorgate station.
  • The Charing Cross branch of the Northern Line has a good connection with the Elizabeth Line at Tottenham Court Road station.
  • The Lea Valley Lines of the London Overground have good connections with the Elizabeth Line at Liverpool Street station.
  • Thameslink has a good connection with the Elizabeth Line at Farringdon station.

It would appear that if you live near one of the Lea Valley Lines or Thameslink stations, you can access the Elizabeth Line fairly easily at Liverpool Street or Farringdon stations, but if you rely on a Northern, Northern City, Piccadilly or Victoria Line local station, you are not so lucky!

Could The Northern City Line Be Improved To Give Better Connections Between North London And The Elizabeth Line?

This map from cartometro.com shows the lines between Finsbury Park and Highbury & Islington stations.

Note.

  1. The dark blue tracks are the Piccadilly Line, which calls at M (Manor House), Finsbury Park, Arsenal, Holloway Road and Caledonian Road, before going South-West to King’s Cross St. Pancras.
  2. The lighter blue tracks are the Victoria Line, which calls at Finsbury Park and Highbury & Islington, before going South-West to King’s Cross St. Pancras.
  3. The black tracks on the Western side of the map are those of the East Coast Main Line into King’s Cross.
  4. The black tracks going South-East from Finsbury Park are the Northern City Line, which calls at Finsbury Park, Drayton Park, Highbury & Islington, E (Essex Road) and Old Street before terminating at Moorgate.

This second map shows the lines through Finsbury Park station.

 

Note.

  1. The dark blue tracks are the Piccadilly Line.
  2. The lighter blue tracks are the Victoria Line.
  3. The black tracks going through Drayton Park station are the Northern City Line.
  4. The platforms of the Piccadilly and Victoria Lines are paired at Finsbury Park station, so that passengers can change lines with a simple walk-across.

This third map shows the lines through Highbury & Islington station.

Note.

  1. The dark blue tracks are the Piccadilly Line.
  2. The lighter blue tracks are the Victoria Line.
  3. The orange tracks are the London Overground.
  4. The black tracks going through Drayton Park and Highbury & Islington stations are the Northern City Line, which terminates at Moorgate station.
  5. The platforms of the Northern City and Victoria Lines are paired at Highbury & Islington station, so that passengers can change lines with a simple walk-across.

The big problem with Highbury & Islington station is that is not step-free.

A Step-Free Route Between Wood Green And Moorgate  Stations

Currently, it is possible to go between Wood Green and Moorgate stations by using three trains.

  • Piccadilly Line – Wood Green to Finsbury Park – 6 mins
  • Victoria Line – Finsbury Park to Highbury & Islington – 6 mins
  • Northern City Line – Highbury & Islington to Moorgate – 10 mins

Note.

  1. These are actual times measured on my phone.
  2. The total time is twenty-two minutes.
  3. I had to wait a couple of minutes at both changes.
  4. Both changes are walk-across.
  5. The changes are not as perfect as they could be, although they would be easily managed with a buggy or a heavy case.

These pictures show the change at Highbury & Islington station.

These pictures show the change at Finsbury Park station.

This route works for all stations Between Manor House and Cockfosters.

  • Cockfosters – Add 15 minutes
  • Oakwood – Add 12 minutes
  • Southgate – Add 9 minutes
  • Arnos Grove – Add 6 minutes
  • Bounds Green – Add 3 minutes
  • Turnpike Lane – Subtract 2 minutes
  • Manor House – Subtract 5 minutes

But look at the frequencies of the three sections in trains per hour (tph)

The Northern City Line frequency is not high enough, as you could have a fifteen minute wait for a train.

Improvements Needed To The Northern City Line

The Northern City Line now has new Class 717 trains, a terminal platform at Stevenage and full digital signalling is being installed.

  • The major improvement needed would be to improve frequency to at least 12 tph.
  • Six tph on both branches should be possible.

I would also install step-free access at more stations.

Moorgate Station’s Northern City Line Platforms

These pictures show the platforms of the Northern City Line at Moorgate station.

Note.

Improved Connections At Moorgate Station

I talked about the connections between the Northern and Elizabeth Lines at Moorgate station in Elizabeth Line To Northern Line At Moorgate Station.

This was my conclusion.

Routes between the Northern and Elizabeth Lines at Moorgate need to be improved.

I feel that some of the improvements could be fairly minor, but adding step-free access to the Northern City Line could be more difficult.

An Improved Connection Between Bank And Moorgate Stations

Currently, there are three ways between Bank and Moorgate stations.

  • Use the Northern Line
  • Use a 21, 43 or 141 bus routes
  • Walk

I believe that it would also be possible to dig a pedestrian tunnel between the two stations and fit it out with a moving walkway.

This visualisation shows the updated Bank station.


Note.

  1. Moorgate station is to the left.
  2. The only more-or-less completed bits are the two Northern Line tunnels and platforms and parallel pedestrian tunnel.
  3. The four cross tunnels can be picked out towards the far end of the station.
  4. Three of the cross tunnels can now be used by passengers.
  5. The moving walkway can be accessed from the two cross tunnels nearest to the Central Line.
  6. The escalators from the yet-to-open Cannon Street entrance appear to lead directly into a cross tunnel and a parallel tunnel to the moving walkway.

I believe that the moving walkway to Moorgate station could connect with the Bank station complex, at the Moorgate end of the new moving walkway in Bank station.

 

September 5, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Train Of My Own!

To get to the the best Marks and Spencer food shop near me, I walk to Essex Road station and take a train to Moorgate or Old Street stations depending on the weather.

As it was sunny today, I took a private train to Old Street station.

Everybody else was asked to get on the Rail Replacement Bus.

November 6, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

A Visit To Stevenage Station’s New Fifth Platform

These pictures show the new fifth platform at Stevenage station.

These are a few thoughts.

The New Spacious Platform

As the pictures show, the platform is spacious with plenty of shelter, which probably indicates that it has been designed to handle more than the current two trains per hour (tph).

Why Is Train-and-Platform Not Step-Free?

Look at this picture.

Surely, with a new platform and trains specifically-designed for the route, passengers in wheelchairs, pushing buggies or trailing heavy cases should be able to just stroll in?

If as is likely this route goes to Transport for London because of their policy of allowing those needing assistance to just turn up, this could become a problem in the future. Especially, if a more intensive service was run on this route between Moorgate and Stevenage, where turnround times have been reduced!

Track Layout

It looks like the new Platform 5 at Stevenage station is directly connected to the Down Line of the Hertford Loop, so that trains from London come straight in from the Down Platform  2 at Watton-at-Stone station. My return train appeared to run the other way until crossing over to the Up Line before it arrived back at Watton-at-Stone station.

Google Maps have not been updated in the area, so I’m not sure of the full track layout.

Following freight trains through Watton-at-Stone, it would appear that they use these platforms at Stevenage station.

  • Platform 1 – Going South
  • Platform 4 – Going North

As would be expected, it looks like it is possible for a freight train to pass through Stevenage to and from the Hertford Loop, with a train in Platform 5.

How Many Trains Per Hour Can Run Between Moorgate And Stevenage?

The timetable has appeared to have been setup, so that a very relaxed two tph can run very reliably between Moorgate and Stevenage stations.

Currently, there are four tph from Moorgate on the Hertford Loop, which alternate between terminating at Hertford North station or the new platform in Stevenage station.

So, if a commuter going home to Stevenage missed his train, they’d be thirty minutes late for supper.

Perhaps not a disaster, but as I indicated in Stevenage Station’s New Fifth Platform Opened A Year Early, Stevenage has an important hospital and increasingly trains for the North are calling at the station.

I suspect, that Network Rail and Great Northern will be investigating, if the two tph to Hertford North station can be extended to Stevenage.

Certain things must be in their favour.

  • It is generally accepted, that a well-designed single platform can turn back up to four, and in some cases, six tph.
  • The new Class 717 trains have better performance than the former Class 313 trains.
  • The route is now run exclusively by the new fleet of trains.
  • There are turn-back platforms at Hertford North and Gordon Hill stations.

But the biggest factor, must be that the Hertford Loop along with the rest of the Southern part of the East Coast Main Line, is going to be equipped with ERTMS digital signalling.

I can certainly see a day in the not-to-distant future, when at certain times in the day four tph run between Moorgate and the new fifth platform at Stevenage.

Freight Trains Through The Hertford Loop

According to Real Time Trains, during yesterday about ten freight trains ran through the Hertford Loop.

In addition, there appear to be up to two-three paths in some hours, which were not used.

In the future, after ERTMS digital signalling has been added to the route and more freight services are equipped, I can see increasing numbers of freight services on the Hertford Loop.

More Passenger Services On The Hertford Loop

In the past, whilst returning from the North to London, during periods of disruption caused by track and catenary problems, engineering works or other incidents, the train has taken some unusual routes. In one instance, the InterCity 125 used the Hertford Loop.

These are timings of trains between Finsbury Park and Stevenage stations.

  • Moorgate services – 51 minutes
  • Thameslink – Cambridge and Brighton – 19 minutes
  • Great Northern – Cambridge Express – 16 minutes

To help with the bottleneck of the Digswell Viaduct, it is likely that the Cambridge Expresses will be 140 mph trains, so they can mix it with all the LNER, East Coast Trains, Hull Trains and the other high speed trains between Kings Cross and Hitchin, as I wrote in Call For ETCS On King’s Lynn Route.

Perhaps, other tricks can be employed using Stevenage station and the Hertford Loop Line.

  • Could some services go non-stop on the Hertford Loop Line instead of over Digswell?
  • Could some services split and join in the long platforms at Stevenage?
  • Could some services from the North turnback at Stevenage?

I obviously don’t know all the technicalities, but it does seem that the recent works at Stevenage and the upcoming ERTMS signalling may open up possibilities.

Conclusion

This looks to be a major improvement at Stevenage!

Except for the lack of step-free access!

I

 

 

August 5, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Stevenage Station’s New Fifth Platform Opened A Year Early

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

A new £40 million platform and track at Stevenage station has been completed more than a year ahead of schedule.

Yesterday, it appears that the first scheduled train left Stevenage for Moorgate at 0502.

Will This Be Good For Travellers?

A few thoughts!

Stevenage Hospital

One of my old school friends lives in Cuffley. From that part of Hertfordshire, the hospital, patients use is in Stevenage. He can drive, but not everybody can!

LNER

Currently, LNER run an hourly service between Stevenage and Leeds, with an hourly service between Stevenage and Lincoln or York via Newark.

North From Enfield, Palmers Green, Southgate, Winchmore Hill and Wood Green

If you live in Enfield or the old London boroughs of Southgate or Wood Green, it could be easier to pick up trains for the North from Stevenage, rather than Kings Cross.

Not Bad For Me Too!

Even, where I live now, which is a mile or so East of Highbury & Islington station, if the timing is right, I can walk or get a bus for four stops to Essex Road station and get a train to Stevenage and then change for Leeds and the North.

East Coast Trains

East Coast Trains will be starting a fast, low-cost London Kings Cross and Edinburgh service, which will call at Stevenage.

Grand Central Trains

Grand Central Trains are currently shut down because of COVID-19, but will they call at Stevenage station, when they restart?

Hull Trains

Some Hull Trains services between London Kings Cross and Hull, call at Stevenage.

Hitachi’s Class 80x Trains

LNER, East Coast Trains and Hull Trains, all run versions of Hitachi’s Class 800 trains or similar.

These trains are built for performance and an extra stop at Stevenage station can probably be incorporated in the timetable without any penalty.

So will we see more trains stopping at Stevenage, if the train operators think it will be worthwhile?

Could Some Services From The North Terminate At Stevenage?

The Digswell Viaduct and the double-track section through Welwyn North station are the major bottleneck on the East Coast Main Line.

But a train returning North at Stevenage wouldn’t go over the viaduct.

Stevenage already has or could have excellent connections to the following.

  • Cambridge, Stansted Airport and East Anglia
  • Moorgate and the City of London and Crossrail.
  • North East London

If keen pricing can encourage travellers to use Stevenage instead of Kings Cross, I can see operators wanting to run extra services, that could start at Stevenage.

I can also see Greater Anglia getting in on the act.

Could Greater Anglia’s Ipswich and Cambridge service be extended to Stevenage via the planned Cambridge South and Royston stations?

Could the service be timed to offer cross-platform interchange with their Norwich and Stansted Airport, at Cambridge South station?

Four important extra services would be created with a step-free interchange.

  • Ipswich and Stansted Airport – 106 minutes – Step-free walk across at Cambridge South station
  • Ipswich and Stevenage – 115 minutes – New direct service
  • Norwich and Stansted Airport – 107 minutes – Existing service
  • Norwich and Stevenage – 116 minutes – Step-free walk across at Cambridge South station.

A large number East Anglian rail journeys would be simpler.

Car Parking

Will there be enough car parking at Stevenage station?

I suppose, it would be possible to build a Stevenage Parkway station between Stevenage and Watton-at-Stone stations.

This Google Map shows the area.

Note, that the railway seems to mark the development limit for the town.

The high performance of the Class 717 trains, would probably mean, that there would be no lengthened journey times.

Conclusion

This project appears to have been well-thought through!

 

 

August 4, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Northern City Line Must Almost Be At Capacity

Most Monday mornings, I go to LEON on Moorgate for breakfast.

I go to that branch, mainly because I can get a proper china mug for my tea and also because a cheery member of staff usually has what I want ready within a minute of my entering the store.

One day, I’ll confuse them by having something different! But then she looks the sort, who enjoys a joke!

To get to Moorgate station, I can take a bus, but I usually go via the Northern City Line from Essex Road station, as it’s quicker in the Peak and drops me in the right side of Moorgate for LEON.

Today, the train was very full and it looked like you’d have had trouble squeezing in any more.

Since the new Class 717 trains have been introduced ridership has grown and the trains are getting more crowded in the Peak. This is despite an 11% increase in capacity, compared to the older Class 313 trains.

Currently, there are the following Off Peak services into Moorgate station.

  • Four trains per hour (tph) – Welwyn Garden City
  • Four tph – Hertford North, Watton-at-Stone and Stevenage.

There are also extra services in the Peak.

Various improvements and developments will affect the number of passengers going to and from Moorgate.

Improvements To Stevenage Station

Stevenage station is a bottleneck on one leg of the services  of the Northern City Line to and from Moorgate station.

An additional platform with full step-free access, is being added to the station and should open this year, to terminate services from Moorgate station.

Currently, services that stop at Stevenage station, that are going North include.

  • One tph – LNER to Leeds or Harrogate.
  • One tph – LNER to Lincoln or York
  • Four tph – Thameslink to Cambridge.
  • Two tph – Thameslink to Peterborough.

These will be joined in Autumn 2021 by East Coast Trains to Edinburgh at a frequency of five trains per day.

I suspect a lot of passengers going between the North and Hertfordshire and Cambridge will change at Stevenage, rather than Kings Cross.

The works at Stevenage also give the impression, that they could handle more than the four tph, that run on the route.

Improvements To Highbury & Islington Station

Highbury & Islington station is going to get more escalators and step-free access to the four deep-level platforms at some point and this will surely attract more passengers to use both the Victoria and the Northern City Lines.

Frequency increases are also planned for the North and East London Lines, in the next year.

Will the Northern City Line be able to handle the extra passengers?

A Second Entrance At Walthamstow Central Station

Walthamstow Central station is one of the constraints on even more trains on the ever-welcoming Dear Old Vicky and may have had money allocated for a second entrance with more escalators and much-needed lifts.

As I said with Highbury & Islington station, will the Northern City Line be able to handle the extra passengers?

Rebuilding Of Essex Road Station

I think that Essex Road station could be a good investment for a creative property developer.

  • The building has little if any architectural merit.
  • The location is convenient on a busy road Junction.
  • Large numbers of buses pass the station, but the positioning of bus stops could be improved.
  • The station needs step-free access.
  • A large number of flats could be built on the site, with good access to the station.
  • Car parking is terrible locally.

I could see this station being transformed.

But if it were to be improved with much better access, it would further increase the number of passengers using the services into Moorgate.

The Gospel Oak And Barking Line

If you are going between Barking and the West End, lots of passengers in the Peak seem to change to the Victoria Line at Blackhorse Road station and numbers doing this seems to have increased since the Gospel Oak and Barking Line was electrified and now, the route  has double the capacity it had before.

Also are more passengers needing the City walking across at Highbury & Islington station.

It should not be forgotten, that the Gospel Oak and Barking Line is being extended to Barking Riverside with a same platform interchange to c2c’s services to and from Grays.

An increase in frequency between Barking and Gospel Oak is also planned.

Developments on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line will increase the number of passengers going to and from Moorgate station.

Crossrail

Consider.

  • The route between Moorgate and Highbury & Islington stations will become an important link between the Victoria Line and Crossrail, as there is no direct connection between the two lines.
  • The short route will also link the North London Line to Crossrail.
  • I suspect too,that passengers from Hertfordshire will go all the way to Moorgate for Crossrail.

In addition, when Crossrail opens, Moorgate station will be fully step-free with umpteen escalators and lifts.

Will there be enough capacity and services on the Northern City Line?

Conclusion

Rough calculations and my instinct suggest that there will need to be an increase of services into Moorgate station.

Currently, in the morning Peak, twelve tph or a train every five minutes run into Moorgate station.

  • This frequency is easily handled in a two platform station.
  • Lines with modern signalling on the London Underground can handle up to thirty-six tph in a two-platform station.
  • The route is double-track between Moorgate and Alexandra Palace stations, where the route splits into two.

Twenty or more tph could be run on this simple route, with modern signalling.

January 13, 2020 Posted by | Food, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Ultimate Capacity Of The Moorgate Line

The Moorgate Line is an important commuter line to and from its terminus at Moorgate station within easy walking distance of the City of London.

I use the line regularly to travel between my house and Moorgate station for breakfast at Leon, followed by shopping in Marks & Spencer on Finsbury Pavement.

  • I catch a 38 or 56 bus from close to my house to Essex Road station.
  • I then take the Northern City Line two stops to Moorgate station.

After my breakfast and shopping, I generally get a bus home, as it means less road crossings to get to my house.

A Useful Line That Needs Improvement

It is a useful and well-used line, that needs improvement in various areas, some of which is already being done or is either in planning or fully planned.

The New Class 717 Trains

The new Class 717 trains are now all running up and down without too many problems.

The trains have been designed for the route, so hopefully they have the following features.

  • Fast and automatic voltage changeover between 25 KVAC overhead and 750 VDC third-rail at Drayton Park station.
  • Ready for ERTMS signalling.
  • 100 mph running, so they don’t get in the way of Thameslink trains on the East Coast Main Line (ECML).
  • Fast acceleration and regenerative braking to batteries for fast station stops and train recovery, when power fails.
  • Optimisation for fast entry and exit to the trains.

I am afraid that they don’t fully meet the last three points, but they should!

It will be interesting to compare these trains, with Statdler’s new Class 777 trains for Merseyrail, which are also replacing similar BR units.

I believe that regenerative braking to batteries is important for trains in tunnels, and as far as I can determine, only Bombardier’s Class 345 trains for Crossrail have it fitted.

  • It reduces the power running in the overhead cables or third-rail in the tunnels, which generates less heat.
  • Conventional braking can be avoided in tunnels.
  • In case of power failure, the train can be moved to the next station for passenger evacuation.

If trains, tunnels and power supply are designed as a complete system, then surely there must be cost savings.

It is also probably true to say about these trains, that if the operator needed some more trains, then Siemens would probably oblige.

Upgrading The Route

The complete route consists of three separate parts.

The big upgrade planned for the East Coast Main Line is to install ERTMS digital signalling between Doncaster and Kings Cross.

Network Rail are doing their first digital signalling design in a darkened room with no communication to the real world, but I believe if the project was designed by experienced engineers, the following will happen.

  • Any train that might use the East Coast Main Line will be fitted with ERTMS signalling.
  • This ERTMS roll-out must include all Class 717 trains, as these can use the East Coast Main Loop to Welwyn Garden City and at Stevenage station.
  • As the Hertford Loop Line is used as a diversion for the East Coast Main Line, it would be logical to install ERTMS signalling on this route.
  • Installing ERTMS  signalling into Moorgate station would surely be beneficial and would surely be needed to get the best of ERTMS  on the East Coast Main Line.

The outcome should be that the whole Moorgate Line will become a fully digitally signalled route.

This should increase train frequency and capacity on all the digitally signalled routes.

  • The fast lines of the East Coast Main Line will become a 140 mph race track.
  • The slow lines of the East Coast Main Line will allow extra services.
  • If coupled with track improvements, extra capacity on the Hertford Loop Line could be used to allow services to by-pass the bottleneck of the Digswell Viaduct with its limited pair of tracks.
  • The Northern and City Line could take extra trains to and from Moorgate.

There could be reorganisation of some services.

  • Kings Cross and Cambridge/Ely/Kings Lynn services would be run by 140 mph trains, so they could use the fast lines on the East Coast Main Line. I feel these services could be extended to Norwich, but that’s another matter. What would Alan Partridge think of High Speed Norwich?
  • Thameslink services serving Peterborough would still use the East Coast Main Line, so they could call at Welwyn North and Knebworth stations, but why not divert the four trains per hour (tph) that serve Cambridge onto the Hertford Loop Line at Stevenage, to ease pressure over the Digswell Viaduct.

Consider.

  • An upgraded Hertford Loop Line with full digital signalling could be able to handle as many as the twenty-four tph of Thameslink and Crossrail,
  • The grade-separated junction with the East Coast Main Line is being improved.
  • There are only infrequent freight trains on the Hertford Loop Line.
  • Various  platform upgrades at Hertford East and Gordon Hill could allow passing and more turnbacks.

My scheduling experience says that with a well-programmed computer calling the shots, that at least twenty tph along the Hertford Loop Line would be a serious possibility.

Improvements At Stevenage

The Stevenage improvements are very comprehensive and are designed so that however many trains run through the Hertford Loop, they can all stop in the station, if required.

Improvements At Alexandra Palace

If you are travelling North from Moorgate and find yourself on an East Coast Main Line service, when you need a Hertford Loop One, there is a cross-platform interchange at Alexandra Palace station, where the two routes are on either side of the platform.

It is convenient, but the platform needs better facilities, like a decent waiting room, better information screens and possibly a coffee stall and toilets.

Going South, there are two separate platforms, but this doesn’t matter, as there is no need to change.

Although surely, if all trains left from the same island, it would be easier for passengers.

The station would be improved with a properly-designed step-free bridge and information screens.

Passengers needing other than Moorgate as a final destination must change at Finsbury Park for Thameslink or the Piccadilly Line

The Knitting At Finsbury Park

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the tangle of lines at Finsbury Park station.

Note that the blue lines are the Victoria and Piccadilly Lines.

Improvements in the last few years have unlocked some of the station’s potential, but there is still plenty of space on the railway land to add extra tracks and possibly reinstate two more platforms.

If there are any train capacity problems, I believe that they can be solved.

The main passenger interchanges at Finsbury Park station are.

  • An up-and-down interchange with the Piccadilly Line
  • A cross platform interchange with Thameslink

Lifts have been added recently.

Improvements At Drayton Park Station

Drayton Park station is one of those stations, that should be given to developers with a blessing and a very detailed set of objectives and timescales  enthrined in a watertight contract.

  • The station sits very close to the Emirates Stadium.
  • The new trains have increased passenger capacity through the station.
  • It could handle much-more match day traffic.
  • Large amounts of housing could be built on top.

If done well, it could provide a lot of housing and take the pressures off the other stations in the area on match days.

Improvements At Highbury & Islington Station

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines at Highbury & Islington station.

The track layout is basically sound.

The cross-platform interface between the Victoria and Moorgate Line is superb and only needs a good team of builders and lighting specialists to give it a modern finish to make it even better.

The Overground will get better too, as service frequencies increase by up to fifty percent.

The big problem at Highbury & Islington station is that access to the deep level platforms is not fit for purpose.

It is an absolute disgrace that The Mayor and Transport for London have put forward no plan to solve the problem of access to the deep level platforms.

The solution would probably involve opening up the disused station entrance on the on the side of Holloway Road and sinking an escalator and lift shaft to the four platforms. As at Drayton Park station, I believe with the right contract, it could be handed to a developer.

At least Crossrail, when it opens might give a bit of relief in the Peak. Many passengers might avoid Highbury & Islington station altogether by changing between the Overground and Crossrail at Whitechapel.

Like water passengers tend to flow through the widest channels and find their own level.

Improvements At Essex Road Station

Essex Road station is a disgusting station, with all the charm of a Victorian slum.

As with Drayton Park station, it should be given to developers with a blessing and a very detailed set of objectives and timescales  enthrined in a watertight contract.

Improvements At Old Street Station

The access to the existing Old Street station is being improved, but it seems to be taking forever.

I do hope, there is a realistic plan to create a flagship station for Silicon Roundabout.

Improvements At Moorgate Station

This station is being fully upgraded for Crossrail.

Eventually, there will be step-free access between the following lines.

  • Central Line
  • Circle Line
  • Crossrail
  • Hammersmith & City Line
  • Northern Line

In addition all the National Rail  lines out of Liverpool Street will be step and weather-free from all the other lines.

This can only increase the number of passengers using the Moorgate Line.

The Ultimate Frequency

I said earlier that the complete route consists of three separate parts.

  • The Northern City Line between Moorgate and Finsbury Park stations.
  • The slow lines of the East Coast Main Line to the South of Welwyn Garden City station.
  • The Hertford Loop Line between Stevenage and Alexandra Palace stations

These are my thoughts on the capacity of each section.

Frequency Of The Northern City Line

I know Walthamstow Central station on the Victoria Line well and have observed the following.

  • Thirty-six tph come and go for most of the day.
  • From the time the brakes are applied after a train arrives until the time they are release when the train leaves is about two and a half minutes.
  • Drivers use a procedure called stepping-up to speed the turnround. The driver leaves the arrived train and a new driver gets in at the other end, to drive it out.
  • There is a lot of passenger congestion in the Peak, due to bad passenger access.

Surely, if Dear Old Vicky can handle thirty-six tph with the following.

  • Two platforms,
  • Modern trains
  • Modern signalling
  • Well-trained staff
  • Not the best passenger access with just two escalators.

Then the new Class 717 trains at Moorgate with the best passenger access can handle a higher frequency than they do now!

I suspect that around twenty tph can be achieved fairly easily, but that in future , a higher frequency will be achieved.

Frequency Of The Slow Lines Of The East Coast Main Line

London has several commuter lines with frequencies of over 10 tph.

  • Foremost, are Crossrail and Thameslink, which are both planned to run at 24 tph
  • The East London Line is also planned to increase from 16 tph to 20 tph.
  • The North London Line is planned to be increased from its current eight tph
  • Waterloo and Wimbledon is upwards of 8 tph.

In addition most London Underground lines have frequencies in exccess of 16 tph.

The slow lines of the East Coast Main Line to be a railway,  in a few years time with the following characteristics between Finbsbury Park and Welwyn Garden City.

  • At least one track in each direction.
  • An operating speed of over 60 mph
  • ERTMS signalling, which will be fitted to all trains on the lines.

I can’t see any reason, why the lines couldn’t be able to handle up to twenty tph in both directions, based on the experience of other lines in London, that have been operating for over a decade.

But strand on the bridge for an hour at a station like Oakleigh Park, at a busy time of day and you’ll be lucky to see ten trains.

There is a lot more capacity on the slow lines of the East Coast Main Line, to use to add extra services between London and Welwyn Garden City.

Adding services that go further North than  Welwyn Garden City will need a solution to the double-track section over the Digswell Viaduct.

Frequency Of The Hertford Loop Line

I said this earlier.

My scheduling experience says that with a well-programmed computer calling the shots, that at least twenty tph along the Hertford Loop Line would be a serious possibility.

I also think that the slow lines of the East Coast Main Line can handle the same frequency, so I very much stand by my original fugure.

Is There An ERTMS-based Solution To The Digswell Viaduct?

Consider.

  • Airliners have been flown automatically and safely from airport to airport for perhaps four decades.
  • The Victoria Line has been running automatically and safely at over twenty tph for five decades.
  • I worked with engineers developing a high-frequency sequence control system for a complicated chemical plant in 1970.

We also can’t deny that computers are getting better and more capable.

For these reasons, I believe there could be an ERTMS-based solution to the problem of the Digswell Viaduct, which could be something like this.

  • All trains running on the two track section over the Digswell Viaduct and through Welwyn North station would be under computer control between Welwyn Garden City and Knebworth stations.
  • Fast trains would be slowed as appropriate to create spaces to allow the slow trains to pass through the section.
  • The driver would be monitoring the computer control, just as they do on the Victoria Line.

Much more complicated automated systems have been created in various applications.

The nearest rail application in the UK, is probably the application of digital signalling to London Underground’s Circle, District, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan Lines.

This is known at the Four Lines Modernisation and it will be completed by 2023 and increase capacity by up to twenty-seven percent.

I don’t think it unreasonable to see the following numbers of services running over the Digswell Viaduct by 2030 in both directions in every hour.

  • Sixteen fast trains
  • Four slow trains

That is one train every three minutes.

Currently, it appears to be about ten fast and two slow.

As someone, who doesn’t like to be on a platform, when a fast train goes through, I believe that some form of advanced safety measures should be installed at Welwyn North station.

Some Questions

Various people over recent months have asked me questions about possible improvements to the Moorgate Line.

Could There Be A Direct Escalator Connection Between Bowes Park Station On The Hertford Loop Line and Bounds Green Station On The Piccadilly Line?

This map from carto.metro.free.fr, shows the two stations.

Bounds Green station is one of the Piccadilly Line’s classic stations.

I took the picture, when I walked between the Bowes Park and Bounds Green stations

It is a level walk, that could be better signed and  if the two stations were to be made step-free it would be an easier interchange than that at Finsbury Park.

In my view, improving the two stations and the local environment, would be much better value than an expensive escalator connection.

Should There Be A Second London Terminal?

Kings Cross is used as a London terminal at times, but would there be much of a necessity.

Passengers can use the following connections to get to Kings Cross and other stations along Euston Road.

  • A cross-platform interchange at Finsbury Park with Thameslink
  • A cross-platform interchange at Highbury & Islington with the Victoria Line
  • When Crossrail opens, there will be a step-free connection with the Circle, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan Lines at Moorgate.

Passenger numbers will decide.

Could The Moorgate Line Be Extended South To Bank Station?

The original Victorian plans for the Moorgate Line show the line extended to a station at Lothbury, which is just behind the Bank of England. This Google Map shows the area.

These pictures show the area, where Lothbury and Moorgate meet.

Given the difficulty of handling the logistics of all the tunnelling for the Bank station upgrade, I don’t think the City of London would look too kindly on a rail extension between Moorgate and Bank, especially, as there is already the Northern Line and even I can walk it easily.

It could be argued as Moorgate is served by Crossrail and Bank station isn’t, that there will be a high level of passenger traffic between the  two stations.

Consider.

  • It is only five hundreds to walk.
  • The Northe Line is jammed solid between London Bridge and Kings Cross in the Peak.
  • After the completion of the massive Liverpool Street-Moorgate double-ended Crossrail station and the Bank Station Capacity Upgrade, a one stop on either the Central Line or the Northern Line will be step-free.
  • The Liverpool Street-Moorgate Crossrail station will hopefully have a selection of entrances with good connections to walking routes leading South towards Bank.
  • The City of London is planning to make the streets of the city more friendly to walking and cycling.
  • More and taller towers are increasing employment in the City.

Will the walking routes and the Central and Northern Lines be overwhelmed?

I think they could be, but there could be other solutions.

  • Opening up of more walking routes and improving the already pretty good street maps and signage.
  • A redesign of the bus network with high capacity electric buses taking over the routes between Old Street and London Bridge stations.

I also wonder, if it would be possible to dig a pedestrian tunnel between the two stations under the existing roads and fit it with travelators.

The ingenuity that has been shown in the Bank Station Capacity Upgrade has probably suggested a few ideas.

But I’m absolutely sure there will be no extension of the railway pass Moorgate.

Is The Interchange With Thameslink At Finsbury Park Frequent Enough?

It seems that Thameslink will run four tph through Finsbury Park station.

  • All will have cross-platform interchange with Moorgate Line services.
  • All services will serve London Bridge, East Croydon and Gatwick Airport stations.

Are these enough services?

Passenger numbers will decide.

Should Some Thameslink Services Use The Hertford Loop?

I said this earlier.

Thameslink services serving Peterborough would still use the East Coast Main Line, so they could call at Welwyn North and Knebworth stations, but why not divert the four trains per hour (tph) that serve Cambridge onto the Hertford Loop Line at Stevenage, to ease pressure over the Digswell Viaduct.

It possibly is an idea, but I also believe, that ERTMS signalling could offer an elegant solution to the Digswell Viaduct problem.

Could The Moorgate Line Have Some New Park-An-Ride Stations?

There are two possibilities on the Hertford Loop Line.

This Google Map shows where the Hertford Loop Line crosses the M25, to the North of Crews Hill station.

It would probably be impossible to build a Park-and-Ride station in this area now, but if the M25 had been designed in an holistic and environmentally-sympathetic manner, it could have been a place for such a facility.

There must also be the possibility of building a Park-and-Ride or more likely a Cycle-and-Ride station to the South of Stevenage, as the town develops, as it surely will in the next decade.

From my helicopter, it doesn’t look promising to add more parking except possibly at Hadley Wood station. This page from Hansard is a good summary of GNER’s original proposal in about 2000.

Should The Moorgate Line Be Taken Over By Transport for London?

Consider.

  • This is certainly a desire of the London Mayor; Saddiq Khan.
  • After the farce of the Metropolitan Line Extension at Watford will Greater London and Hertfordshire be able to work together over the route?
  • There are twelve stations in Hertfordshire and twenty in Greater London.
  • Stations are in four Greater London Boroughs; Barnet, Enfield, Haringey and Islington with Moorgate actually in the City of London.

The line might improve as part of Transport for London, but agreeing the management and development strategy for the line, with all those politicians of different colours, could be a nightmare.

Conclusion

Without doubt all of the parts of the Moorgate Line can handle at least twenty tph and possibly more, once the following conditions are met.

  • Full ERTMS signalling on all lines.
  • The stations are capable of handling the increased number of passengers.
  • There are a few more trains.

Automatic Train Control may need to be used in certain sections, as it will be on Crossrail and Thameslink.

What Would This Mean For Passengers?

The current pattern of train services in the Off Peak is as follows.

  • 4 tph – Welwyn Garden City
  • 2 tph – Hertford North
  • 1 tph – Watton-at-Stone
  • 1 tph – Stevenage

Note.

  1. This is well below the future capacity of the section between Moorgate and Alexandra Palace stations
  2. It needs eight trains for each branch or a total of sixteen trains.

The simplest pattern would be twenty tph between Moorgate and Alexandra Palace stations, which would serve the following destinations.

  • 10 tph – Welwyn Garden City
  • 5 tph – Hertford North
  • 5 tph – Stevenage

Note.

  • Intermediate stations, like New Barnet and Cuffley would get a train every six minutes.
  • The service would need forty trains.
  • I doubt Great Nortern would want to finance the extra trains.

Cutting the service back to somewhere in between would also work.

  • 6 tph – Welwyn Garden City
  • 3 tph – Hertford North
  • 3 tph – Stevenage

Note.

  1. Intermediate stations, like New Barnet and Cuffley would get a train every ten minutes.
  2. The service would need twenty-four trains.

As there are twenty-five Class 717 trains, is this Great Northern’s plan?

It looks to me like a plan designed by Great Northern’s accountants based on the least they can get away with.

An Improved Service For South Hertfordshire

Consider.

  • The extra platform and remodelling at Stevenage station are ambitious and the new platform could probably handle six tph.
  • Stevenage has an LN|ER service to the North of two tph.
  • East Coast Trains intend to start a service linking Stevenage to Newcastle and Edinburgh.
  • Healthcare in South Hertfordshire sends patients to hospitals at Barnet and Stevenage, neither of which are easy from a station like Cuffley
  • Bus services across are not for the frail, elderly and impatient.
  • There is no rail link between Hertford and Hatfield except with a change at Alexandra Palace station, which is not step-free.

Perhaps the Moorgate train service should be as follows.

  • 8 tph – Welwyn Garden City
  • 4 tph – Hertford North
  • 4 tph – Stevenage

Note.

  1. Importantly, there would be four tph to between Alexandra Palace and Stevenage.
  2. The Stevenage services would link up to the improved fast services between Stevenage and the North of England and Scotland.
  3. Intermediate stations, like New Barnet and Cuffley would get a train every seven-eight minutes.
  4. The service would need thirty-two trains, which is probably another eight trains.

I also think, that Alexandra Palace station should be made step-free to ease journeys from one side of Hertfordshire to the other.

 

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December 1, 2019 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments