As Poplar is the station on the DLR, where the North-South and the East-West routes cross, this is one of the better connectivity features of Crossrail.
Poplar serves a junction in four directions:
- Eastbound towards Beckton and Woolwich Arsenal.
- Northbound towards Stratford and Stratford International.
- Southbound towards the Isle of Dogs, Greenwich and Lewisham.
- Westbound towards Bank and Tower Gateway.
At present to get to Greenwich and Lewisham, you need to change at Canary Wharf DLR station, but as there is a reasonable walking route between Canary Wharf station and Canary Wharf DLR station, passengers for Lewisham could use that route.
As Crossrail will also have a reasonable link to the DLR at both Stratford and Woolwich, I wonder if we’ll see some reorganisation of services on the North-South DLR route between Lewishan and Stratford International.
Will some services go all the way between Lewisham and Stratford International?
Obviously, this will be determined by the routes travellers take after Crossrail opens.
There will also be affects due to the Law of Unexpected Consequences.
I am fairly sure, that Crossrail trains on the two Eastern branches will interface well at Whitechapel station, so passengers going between a station on the Abbey Wood branch to one on the Shenfield branch may prefer to go via Whitechapel, as it will be a simple cross-platform interchange.
How will this affect passenger numbers on the Jubilee Line and the DLR?
I suspect that passengers will use the route that is best for them and this can only mean spare capacity on the two historic routes.
As Crossrail will also be a bypass for the Central Line with connections between the two lines at Stratford, Liverpool Street, Tottenham Court Road, Bond Street and Ealing Broadway, the Greater East London area will be a big beneficiary from Crossrail.
We’ll have to wait and see how passenger numbers work out, but I think that the North-South route of the DLR could be blessed with spare capacity because of Crossrail, so there may be scope to extend the route past Stratford International and Lewisham.
Two possible extensions from Lewisham are detailed on Wikipedia.
But there is nothing past Stratford International. The DLR Horizon 2020 Study, does propose an extension up the Lea Valley to Tottenham Hale. This is the report’s summary of this route.
A DLR extension to Tottenham Hale via the Lea Valley was tested extending all services (15tph) onwards from Stratford International. The route would run alongside the Lea Valley rail route. The DLR extension is seen as serving intermediate markets (heavy rail would only stop at Tottenham Hale and Stratford) and would serve the Olympic site(s) and the Olympic legacy with additional stops at Lea Bridge and Walthamstow Marshes. Potential drawbacks are largely environmental, covering concerns over Hackney Marshes and the Lea Valley reservoirs.
I talked about it in a sub-section of The High Meads Loop At Stratford. This is a summary of what I said.
Extension of the DLR to Tottenham Hale was mooted a few years ago and a document called DLR Horizon 2020 talked about extending the system from Stratford International up alongside the Lea Valley Lines to Tottenham Hale station
It may be a worthy idea, but does it really make economic sense, when according to what you believe a lot of things may be happening in the area.
- A new Lea Bridge station has been created.
- A new Hall Farm Curve will happen.
- A rebuilt Hackney Wick station is being constructed.
- Crossrail 2 is being promoted and will serve Tottenham Hale and to the North.
- Transport for London have taken over the Lea Valley Lines.
- There will be a a major upgrade in the Tottenham Hale area, which is described in this document on the Haringey Council web site.
- Four-tracking will happen through Tottenham Hale station.
When the heavy rail expansion is sorted and the area between Tottenham and Walthamstow is developed as housing and a very large wetland and leisure area, the case for a Lea Valley Light Railway may be stronger and in need of reassessment.
What happens to the North-South route will be driven by the consequences of Crossrail and the massive need for housing in London and the transport links to serve it.
The Mayor’s Plan For A Galion’s Reach Extension
The latest plan is to extend the DLR from Galion’s Reach across the Thames to Thamesmead and Abbey Wood.
I wrote about this plan in The Mayor’s Plans For East London River Crossings.
I shall repeat what I said, as I think this is a plan with legs.
A BBC article says this about this proposal.
A DLR crossing at Gallions Reach, helping support the development of around 17,000 new homes across Newham and the Royal Borough of Greenwich
It is different to the original proposal of a Docklands Light Railway extension to Dagenham Dock, which stayed on the North bank of the Thames.
This map shows the area of London from Gallions Reach to Abbey Wood.
- Gallions Reach DLR station is marked with the red arrow.
- Just to the North of Gallions Reach station is the main DLR depot, which would probably be an excellent site to start a tunnel.
- The tunnel would probably emerge on the South bank of the Thames to the West of Thamesmead.
- It could then weave its way along the side of the main road.
- The North Kent Line with Abbey Wood and Belvedere stations runs along the bottom of the map.
- Crossrail could be extended to Gravesend.
- Crossrail should also be extended Ebbsfleet International for European rail services.
If the DLR extension went from Gallions Reach DLR station to Abbey Wood station it will be a loop on Crossrail serving a lot of areas ripe for quality housing and commercial development.
It certainly looks a feasible area to think about taking the DLR.
I also think if more destinations are created in the East, then this will need other developments.
- More capacity in the new trains, that are being ordered.
- Extra destinations in the West
- Expansion of the North-South route t balance the network.
The North and South extensions were covered earlier.
Extension To The West
I have written about this in Extending The Docklands Light Railway West From Bank Station.
The Docklands Light Railway must be one of the best stop-gap transport projects ever created.
Crossrail’s affects on the DLR will be more about providing opportunities, than creating problems.
We also shouldn’t underestimate the role of the DLR in bringing passengers to Crossrail.
The East London Line platforms at Whitechapwl station are now full length.
The roof is coming on too!
I still think that Whitechapel Will Be The Jewel In The East.
The station will open to Crossrail in December 2018. This document on the Crossrail web site gives details of the schedule of works in 2017.
This article in Rail Technology Magazine is entitled Greater Anglia to lobby government for investment in 10-point upgrade plea.
So what do they want?
- Haughley Junction upgrade.
- Ely area upgrade.
- Ely to Soham track doubling
- Trowse swing bridge replacement with a double track fixed link.
- Long loops at Colchester and Witham to allow fast trains to pass slow ones.
- Digital re-signalling between Colchester and London.
- Capacity upgrade to allow four trains between Angel Road and Stratford.
- Four-tracking between Coppermill Junction and Broxbourne.
- Wider level-crossing upgrade program.
- Platform and concourse upgrade at Liverspool Street station.
Should we call it ambitious, greedy or sensible?
1. Haughley Junction Upgrade
This has been requested for years, so I suspect it has been thought about for a long time.
But the new East Anglia Franchise has plans that will affect the traffic through Haughley Junction.
- Three express trains per hour (tph) between Ipswich and Norwich – Up from 2 tph.
- Two tph between Ipswich and Bury St. Edmunds – Up from three trains per two hours.
To make matters worse, an increasing number of freight trains between Felixstowe and Peterborough will be going through the junction.
This Google Map shows the junction.
- Stowmarket, Felixstowe and Ipswich are to the South.
- There is a handy level crossing where station road crosses the tracks.
- Diss and Norwich is to the North.
- Bury St. Edmunds, Cambridge and Peterborough are to the North West.
You could naively think, that around the junction is nothing but farmland and a few trees, but the owners of |Tiptree Fram probably have lived three for decades.
You are the driver of one of Greater Anglia’s new crack Stadler express electric multiple units scheduled to reach Norwich in ninety minutes from London
Going North, you have just stopped at Stowmarket station. But you can’t leave as Haughley Junction is blocked by one of the many long freight trains crossing the flat junction from the line to Peterborough to go South to Felixstowe.
So bang goes your schedule!
Going South, you have a similar problem, in that freight trains could delay progress, whilst they cross from the Peterborough Line.
Freight trains and passenger trains joining the Peterborough line from the South, would appear to not cause such a large problem, as they just turn left without crossing any lines.
In an ideal world, there probably needs to be a single-track flyover, so that trains from Peterborough to Stowmarket can cross the Norwich lines without delaying trains. A similar flyover at Hitchin cost £47million.
So it wouldn’t be cheap and would the locals fight the construction of such a structure in the midst of Suffolk countryside to benefit commuters from Norfolk?
A complete scheme would also add a loop line just to the West of Haugthley Junction, so that long freight trains could wait without getting in the way, until there was a suitable time to cross.
I suspect, that to keep costs down and avoid annoying the natives, all that will happen at Haughley Junction is a limited scheme so that trains can wait before crossing.
Over the last few years, Network Rail have developed some innovative junctions and crossings, so let’s hope that they come up with a scheme that’s efficient, affordable and can be built without closing either of the important routes through the area.
But whatever is done here will certainlt help Greater Anglia achieve their objective of three tph between London and Norwich in ninety minutes.
Knowing the area well, I suspect that there will also be an enormous fight over if Network Rail decided to close the level crossing shown on the map.
2. Ely Area Upgrade
I looked at this in Are The Trains In Ely Finally To Be Sorted?
Whatever is proposed here will not be just a few millions and probably very disruptive to implement, but it is essential to acommodate the planned extra services through the area.
3. Ely To Soham Track Doubling
Upgrading this six miles of single track might appear to be easy across the flat lands of Cambridgeshire, but the line does include a couple of level crossings and a couple of bridges.
This Google Map shows the ely end of the route at Ely Dock Junction.
Note the single-track Hawk Bridge over the Great Ouse.
Luckily, a freight train derailed on the original single-track bridge and virtually demolished it. The new bridge may be only single-track, but provision was made for a second track.
A few times, I’ve passed Ely Dock Junction on a train or stood on the platform at Ely and seen a freight train waiting at the Dock Junction to pass through the spaghetti at Ely.
Double-tracking would mean waiting freight trains wouldn’t delay Eastbound services on the Ipswich to Ely Line.
But will a chord be built so services can go directly between Cambridge North station and the Ipswich line?
This could enable Colchester Peterborough services to take a route of Bury St. Edmunds-Cambridge North
The Google Map shows the site of the original Soham station.
Note that the line reverts back to double-track, just South of the former station site.
So will doubling of line include provision for building a new station at Soham, as Cambridgeshire Council have proposed?
You can certainly see, why Greater Anglia want this section of line to be doubled.
4. Trowse Swing Bridge Replacement
It’s definitely the railway equivalent of having a single-lane section for both directions on a motorway.
In Is This The Worst Bottleneck On The UK Rail Network?, I proposed the following under An Affordable Alternative.
It has to be said, that perhaps the most affordable solution would be to build a stylish fixed link, probably with a double-track railway and foot and cycle bridges.
As to the boat users, all boats that need to go under the bridge regularly would be modified so their masts could be lowered at no cost to their owners.
Other bribes could be given to occasional users.
There will be many bridges to cross, before Trowse bridge is replaced with a modern structure, more suited to a modern railway.
Unless of course, the rusting and decrepit bridge decides to do the honourable thing and falls down of its own volition.
It’s probably too much to hope, that a freight train derails on the bridge, as one fortunately did on the Hawk Bridge at Ely.
5. Long Loops At Colchester And Witham
Colchester station is not a station that would win awards for efficiency.
This description of the platforms is from Wikipedia.
The “up” (London-bound) side comprises two platforms, numbers 3 and 4, which have an unusual layout: 3 is on the up main line and is served by intercity trains from Norwich, while 4 is on the up branch line which merges with the up main line where the two platforms join end-to-end. The junction is protected by a trap leading to friction buffer stops. There are also bay platforms at both ends of the up main platform. The London-end bay (platform 6) is used for peak trains to and from London. Previously this platform was used for frequent services for the Sudbury Branch Line. However, most of these services were truncated to terminate at Marks Tey from the mid-1990s. The other bay platform (platform 5) is used for services to Colchester Town and Walton-on-the-Naze. The “down” side platform is an island platform with two faces, one on the down main, and one on the down branch line. Platform 1 is mainly used for Clacton-on-Sea trains and occasionally for Norwich trains.
The new franchise has plans, that should make the station more efficient, but much busier.
- Norwich to London trains will have a frequency of three tph.
- A new one tph service will link Colchester and Peterborough, which would mean that Colchester to Stowmarket via Manningree and Ipswich would have a frequency of four tph.
But the interesting idea is to extend the service between Sudbury and Marks Tey stations to Colchester Town station via Colchester.
The service between Sudbury and Colchester Town could be two tph, as the trains could pass each other between Colchester and Marks Tey, if the track allowed.
This Press Release from Network Rail is entitled More Reliable Railway For Essex As £100M+ Upgrade Is Completed.
This is said.
The last piece of the jigsaw included the commissioning of new ‘bi-directional’ signalling on the Great Eastern main line between Colchester and Marks Tey – meaning trains can now travel in both directions on both lines. This allows them to bypass problems should they occur and will improve flexibility and help reduce delays.
I have just flown my helicopter over the junction at Marks Tey and it looks like there is a short loop line of about a kilometre on the South side of the main line, which is connected by a series of crossovers to the \Gainsborough Line. On the other side of the main line, there would also appear to be a connection between the two lines.
So a train from Colchester Town could do the following.
- Travel to Colchester station on the Sunshine Coast Line.
- Stop in Platform 4 at Colchester station.
- Travel on the main line towards Marks Tey.
- Switch to the loop North of Marks Tey.
- Cross over the main lines and enter the Gainsborough Line to stop in Marks Tey station.
- Travel to Sudbury and back.
- After stopping at Marks Tey station return via the main line to Colchester and then on to Colchester Town.
Currently, a train is scheduled to go from Colchester Town to Marks Tey in 13 minutes, with the round trip from Marks Tey to Sudbury taking about 45 minutes.
If the service between Colchester Town and Sudbury was to be two tph, the Marks Tey to Sudbury round trip must be under thirty minutes, so that only one train is on the branch line at a time.
The service is currently run using various trains like a Class 153 train, which have a top speed of 75 mph and acceleration to match, whereas the mosdern Class 170 train has a 100 mph capability. The Gainsborough Line also has a speed limit of just 50 mph.
So I suspect, that with some judicious engineering on the branch and modern trains, that a thirty minute round trip is possible, thus making two tph on the Gainsborough Line a distinct possibility.
All these service changes could simplify the pattern of trains through Colchester station.
- Most trains stop in the station and continue on their journey.
- Peterborough trains could use the bay platform 5 or a reversing siding to turn back.
- The bay platform 6 could be used as a terminus for trains from London as now.
So will the tracks be arranged so that there is an avoiding line between the platforms just as there is at Ipswich station and used to be at Chelmsford station?
The certainly would appear to be enough space.
This picture illustrates the problems at Witham station.
- The freight train was going towards London and was slowly going through the station.
- The two lines in the middle are the two main lines, where trains generally stop.
- When the new Stadler and Aventra trains enter service in a couple of years, there will be more trains going through the station.
- At times, trains could be separated by just a few minutes.
- As these trains are designed expedite stops, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more trains doing a Touch-and-Go.
This article on the EssexLive web site is entitled Witham loop could happen by 2024 with added faster trains to Liverpool Street.
It says that the loop will be built North of Witham station and would allow faster trains to pass slower ones by 2024, but that Simon Burns MP will be pushing to have it built sooner.
This Google Map shows Witham station and the line to the North.
Note the Braintree Branch Line going off to the North-West.
It does appear that there would be space for the necessary extra tracks to create passing loops North of Witham station.
These would mean that passing wouldn’t have to be dome with the slower train blocking a slow platform.
It certainly looks as if that both loops will be beneficial to all train operators and passengers.
6. Digital re-signalling between Colchester and London
Given the following on the Great Eastern Main Line South of Colchester.
- Increased numbers of trains.
- Speeds of 100 mph and possibly more.
- The need to do very fast stops and maintain headway of a few minutes.
- The trains will be new.
I suspect that digital signalling will be a necessity to maintain the required service frequency.
7. Capacity upgrade to allow four trains between Angel Road and Stratford
There is certainly pressure for this service from the local Councils in the area.
Would it include the preliminary works from the upgrade of Angel Road station?
8. Four-tracking between Coppermill Junction and Broxbourne
This is important both for Greater Anglia services to Stansted Airport and Cambridge and Crossrail 2.
I wrote about this in Crossrail 2 ‘Cannot Go Ahead’ Without Four-Tracking Of West Anglia Line.
But it will be a large and very disruptive project.
9. Wider level-crossing upgrade program
I have been held up so many times by level crossing incidents, this can’t happen to soon.
10. Platform and concourse upgrade at Liverpool Street station
I thought that this was going to happen, as soon as the Crossrail trains go into the tunnels.
Greater Anglia are not asking for the stars and it is a generally sensible wish list.
Possibly the most expensive projects are the following.
- Ely area upgrade.
- Trowse swing bridge replacement with a double track fixed link.
- Digital re-signalling between Colchester and London.
- Four-tracking between Coppermill Junction and Broxbourne.
But some like the four-tracking of the West Anglia Main Line are not urgent, until Crossrail 2 gets an opening date.
This article on Global Rail News describes how they were installed.
It’s a pity, that there are not more to cover the new white walls, which are there because the station has been expanded for Crossrail.
This page on the Crossrail web site has several up-to-date aerial views of stations.
This image shows the Crossrail station at Paddington station.
Crossrail have said this about the station.
The Elizabeth line station runs along the full length of the existing Paddington Main Line station. A 90 metre clear opening – a unique feature for an urban underground station design – will be covered by a dramatic steel and glass canopy eight metres above the ground that will allow natural light to flood down to the station platforms.
This Google Map shows Paddington station and where Crossrail comes to the surface to the West of Royal Oak station.
If you look in the top-left corner of the map, you can see a road named as Westbourne Park Villas. The foot-bridge across the railway from this road is the one in The Footbridge At Westbourne Park, from which I took pictures of the Crossrail tunnel portal at Royal Oak.
This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the layout of Crossrail and the Underground Lines at Paddington station.
So it looks like the Crossrail lines go under all the lines into Paddington and then they surface by the Westway, before going under the footbridge and linking with the main line out of Paddington.
A link between the Bakerloo Line and Crossrail is being constructed, which I wrote about in Paddington Is Operational Again, but is there going to be a link between the Circle/District Lines and Crossrail?
Custom House station will close on the DLR on February 3rd until late December 2017, so I went to take some pictures to see how far the builders have got.
It would appear that not to much has changed since I last visited and wrote this post called Custom House Station – 24th July 2016.
These pictures show work at Platform 13 and 14 at Paddington station.
It will only be a temporary arrangement as in 2019, Heathrow Connect trains will use the core tunnel under London.
- 4 tph between Abbey Wood and Heathrow Terminal 4.
There will also be 4 tph on Heathrowc Express from Psaddington to Hrathrow Terminal 5.
So it looks Heathrow will be trying to con passengers to use the expensive Heathrow Express. Edpecially from Terminal 5!
It is only continuing to fleece passengers, as it is totally pointless for savvy travellers.
Quite frankly, if you’re anywhere to the East of Paddington, would you change at Paddington to waste money, when a change at Heathrow Central will be free?
It would be far better to run 8 tph to the Airport, with four tph going to each of Terminal 4 and Terminal 5. Four tph could start at Shenfield and four tph at Abbey Wood.
And then there’s the problem of vFreedom Passes. Will I be able to use my pass on Crossrail to get to Heathrow?
These pictures show the track layout, where the Greenford Branch Line leaves the Great Western Main Line.
The basic track layout is simple.
The track from the bay platform 5 in West Ealing station and a track that joins to the Up Slow Line through platform 4 come together in a short length of single track, that then splits again to form the double track of the Greenford Branch Line.
Whilst I was waiting on West Ealing station, a freight train came down the Down Slow Line and then through Platform 3 of the station, before going down the branch line. So there must be another crossover to allow trains to change tracks.
The pictures are described in detail as follows.
- The Greenford Branch Splits/Joins Outside West Ealing Station – The track to the left, goes to the bay platform 5.
- The Greenford Branch Changes From Single To Double Track At The Start Of The Branch – The branch is double-track until outside Greenford station.
- West Ealing Sidings To The Top-Left And The Greenford Branch To The Right – The Plasser site is in the middle.
- The Greenford Branch Joins The Great Western Main Line – The bay platform 5 is straight ahead.
I suspect that when the timetable changes in May, the track layout will be in its final form.
I took these pictures as I passed the Acton Dive-Under going towards Paddington.
It looks substantially complete.
The dive-under is on the Slow Line into Paddington, soon after Ealing Broadway station.
It was a very clever piece of engineering to create the Acton Dive-Under in the middle of a working railway with trains passing on either side.
I’m certain, there are other places on the UK’s rail network, where a similar technique can be used to sort out places, where two rail lines need to cross each other.
It seemed to work very well, except for the signalling, which was generally on the blink on the Great Western Main Line, this morning.
I don’t think that GWR had been giving out their information well, about what was happening on the branch.
I met two passengers, who hadn’t heard it was a shuttle and one was surprised that she had to change to get to Paddington.
There was no-one to ask either and another passenger and myself gave the best information we knew or couple find.
The Future Of The Branch
It will be interesting to see what happens to the service on this branch.
This page from AlwaysTouchOut includes this.
The Greenford – Paddington half-hourly branch line service would be cut back to West Ealing to avoid conflicts with Crossrail services; however, to compensate for this, the frequency will be doubled to every 15 minutes with connections to Crossrail trains at West Ealing.
As each trip takes about twelve minutes, one train can do two out-and-back trips in an hour which explains the two trains per hour (tph) frequency for the shuttle.
To run four tph would require a second train.
- One train would start at Greenford and the other at West Ealing on the hour, at say XX:00.
- They would arrive at the other end at XX:12, before returning at XX:15.
- They would arrive at their start station at XX:27, before returning at XX:30..
- They would arrive at the other end at XX:42, before returning at XX:45.
- Finally, the trains would return to their start station at XX:57.
The process would go on all day.
There could be problems with such a service.
- Freight trains share use of the line and could sufficient paths be created in the timetable?
- The Class 165 trains are not of a modern design and would need to be updated with wi-fi and poossibly other features.
- Running longer than two-car trains could need platform lengthening at the intermediate stations.
One plan that has been mentioned on the Internet could be to handover the branch to London Overground, who would use two of their four-car Class 710 trains.
- They are electric trains, but Bombardier have confirmed to me, that the trains are wired to be fitted with onboard energy storage.
- So they could charge their storage, whilst waiting in the bay platform at West Ealing station and travel back and forth on stored energy.
- The Class 710 electric trains would probably be faster than the current Class 165 diesel trains.
- Four electric tph would be a true Turn-Up-And-Go service and a powerful passenger magnet.
- They are too long for the platforms at Drayton Green, Castle Bar Park and South Greenford station, but selective door opening could be used.
- As the trains will be walk-through, passengers would move to an appropriate place to enter and exit the train.
I suspect too, that as Network Rail and Chiltern Railways have plans to use the Acton-Northolt Line to access a second Chiltern terminal at Old Oak Common station, that some innovative uses of the Greenford Branch Line might be suggested.
If two Class 710 trains did work the branch, it would be a doubled frequency and a four-fold increase in hourly capacity.