The Anonymous Widower

Could Modern Technology And Developments Improve the Abbey Line?

The Abbey Line runs between Watford Junction and St. Albans Abbey stations.

It has a few problems.

Frequency

The track layout means that trains generally run every forty-five minutes, which is not very passenger friendly.

The line needs at least a half-hourly service and it would appear from Wikipedia and other sources, that this could be achieved by re-instating the passing loop at Bricket Wood station.

Elderly Trains

West Midlands Trains have promised new trains for the line, to replace the current Class 319 train.

Although, these Class 319 trains are much better than their arge, as I said in A Very Smart Class 319 Train.

As West Midlands Trains, use these trains for services on the West Coast Main Line, it probably helps with staffing and maintenance.

But these trains are being replaced by five-car Class 730 trains. Will the shittle train be replaced by another Aventra?

Reliability

Search the Internet for “Abbey Line St. Albans” and you find news stories with headlines like these.

  • No Abbey Flyer Trains Between St. Albans And Watford
  • Abbey Line Breaks Down Again
  • St. Albans Abbey Flyer Users Fund Raising To Improve Train Line
  • No Trains On St Albans Abbey Flyer Line After Fault With Shut

It would appear that the Abbey Line has a reliability problem.

A Simple Solution

The simplest possible solution to improve the line with a half-hourly service would be as follows.

  • Reinstate the passing loop at Bricket Wood station.
  • Acquire a fleet of three Class 730 trains of an appropriate length.

This Google Map shows Bricket Wood station.

Note the single platform with a single track.

There would appear to be plenty of space for a passing loop on the opposite side to the platform..

The Class 730 trains are Bombardier Aventras and I believe strongly, that all Aventras have batteries. So surely this is just the place to be innovative, with the use of battery technology?

The loop would be built without electrification and the track layout would be such that two trains could easily pass using battery power. Pantographs would be raised and lowered as required.

Suppose the loop started in the middle of the platform and perhaps extended for two hundred metres in the Watford direction..

  • The two trains would arrive at the station, with one on each side of the entry to the loop.
  • The Watford-bound train, would switch to battery power in the station and use the loop to pass the other train to continue towards Watford.
  • The Watford-bound train could either switch back to overhead power as soon as it regained the electrified track or wait until it is safely in the next station.
  • When the line is clear, the St. Albans-bound train would continue on its way, using overhead power.

It might also be possible for trains to go towards St. Albans using the overhead power and towards Watford on battery power, with all changeovers of power source taking place at the terminal stations, where turn-round time will be several minutes.

These are some pictures of Bricket Wood station.

My only worry is that the platforms may only be big enough for six-car trains.

Perhaps, to avoid lengthening the platforms at Bricket Wood station, two three-car Class 730 trains could be used?

Use of the five-car trains would probably require electrification of the loop, a second platform and a footbridge, which would be a much more expensive solution.

A Class 769 Train Solution

The Class 769 train is a bi-mode version of the Class 319 train. So could these work the simple passing loop without electrification?

At four-cars, they may be short enough to work the route without building a second platform at Bricket Wood station.

But the solution would probably need the current platform to be extended to accommodate two trains.

They would use diesel power to go through the passing loop.

Passengers would effectively get a twice as frequent service, using similar trains to the current ones.

A Class 230 Train Solution

As West Midlands Trains are also using Class 230 trains on the Marston Vale Line, which can work on electric, diesel and battery power, I can’t see any reason, why these trains couldn’t be used on the Abbey Line.

They would use diesel or battery power to navigate the loop without electrification.

These trains are affordable, short in length and are designed for remote servicing, but is capacity  and speed sufficient?

A Tram-Train Solution

The same Stadler tram-trains with batteries, that are being used on the South Wales Metro could also be used on the Abbey Line.

They would operate as trains, in the same ways as the Aventras, using batteries to navigate a passing loop without electrification.

This solution would have the disadvantage of West Midlands Trains introducing another type of train, but the tram-trains could go walkabout in Watford and/or St. Albans at the two ends of the route.

Under Past Proposals in the Wikipedia entry for the Abbey Line, this is said about a possible conversion to light rail.

In October 2009 Secretary of State for Transport Lord Adonis announced a plan to increase frequency on the line by allowing Hertfordshire County Council to lease the line from Network Rail and converting it to light rail from 2011. It was hoped that this would be possible for the same amount of subsidy the line received, as the new infrastructure required, such as a passing loop would be cheaper for light rail than heavy rail. Longer-term proposals envisaged extensions into Watford town centre via Clarendon Road and High Street, and St Albans city centre, possibly as far as St Albans City railway station, and possible re-instatement of the line to Hatfield.

This Google Map shows Watford Junction station

Note.

  1. The Abbey Line leaves the map in the North East corner.
  2. Clarendon Road runs South from the middle of the map.

I think it would be possible to build a bridge to take the trams over the railway.

There could even be a high-level platform for the tram-trains above the station with connections to the current heavy rail platforms.

What I have outlined here, is a classic use of a tram-train to allow trains on a heavy rail route, to extend to a town or city centre, by operating as trams.

Could Thr Abbey Line Be Linked To The Troubled Croxley Rail Link?

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines at Watford Junction.

Note.

  1. The Abbey Line goes North from Platform 11.
  2. The lines shown in orange are the Watford DC Line of the London Overground, that go to London via Watford High Street station.
  3. The dotted purple line is the proposed route of the Croxley Rail Link.

I can’t find any references on the Internet to the possibility of a connection between the Abbey Line and the Croxley Rail Link.

I doubt that Metropolitan Line trains could go to St. Albans.

  • They are too long at 133 metres.
  • Extensive modifications to the track and platforms would be needed.
  • They lack the batteries to navigate the proposed passing loop.

But Stadler’s tram-trains might be able to go to Croxley station.

  • They are under forty metres long.
  • They weigh under seventy tonnes, which could help in the bridge design.
  • They could work the Abbey Line using the overhead power.
  • Batteries would enable using the proposed passing loop at Bricket Wood station.
  • I’m sure that Stadler’s innovative engineers could make their tram-trains run on third and London Underground rail electrification.
  • Battery power could be used on some of the route between Watford High Street and Croxley stations.

I’m sure that after sorting out Cardiff Bay, Stadler’s engineers will welcome the challenge of Watford Junction.

Developments At Watford Junction Station

Over the last few years, there have been various plans about improving train services through Watford Junction station.

  • It has been proposed that Crossrail is extended through the station.
  • The Bakerloo Line will be extended and it has been proposed that it terminate at Watford Junction.
  • West Midlands Trains will add extra services.
  • How will HS2 affect services on the West Coast Main Line?

In addition there are plans for more car parking and other developments at the station.

It strkes me that there is a possibility that an innovative architect will come up with a striking scheme, that could enable bridges for trams across the West Coast Main Line.

Conclusion

There are various possibilities to improve the Abbey Line, brought about by recent innovations in the use of batteries on trains and tram-trains.

In all cases, the line gets a half-hourly frequency from new trains.

On the other hand, as with the Croxley Rail Link, there seems to be a lot of ideas and plans in Watford, but no real leadership to get anything built at an affordable cost!

 

 

June 24, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 2 Comments

Is There Hope Yet For The Metropolitan Line Extension?

This article in the Watford Observer is entitled Hertfordshire County Council Tables Plans For Met Line Extension Project To Still Go ahead.

This is the start of the article.

Plans will be tabled for the Metropolitan Line Extension to go ahead despite last month’s shock rejection from the Mayor of London.

An emergency cross-party motion has been tabled for Hertfordshire County Council’s budget council on February 20 in a bid to show there is still political support for the project is still ongoing.

The motion has been agreed with the Conservative leader of the council, David Williams, and Liberal Democrat group leader Cllr Stephen Giles-Medhurst.

The plug was pulled on the scheme last month despite additional government funding of almost £74m.

It looks to be more optimistic about this difficult project.

The article makes the point that TfL are paying for step-free access at Amersham and Rickmansworth, which outside the London area.

I can’t help feeling though that this project is all about politics and very little about seeing, if a more pragmatic solution can be found.

There are several rail projects that serve Watford that need to be taken together.

  • Crossrail up the West Coast Main Line.
  • New trains for the Watford DC Line.
  • The future of the Milton Keynes to East Croydon service.
  • What to do with the Northern end of the Bakerloo Line.
  • Improved Watford services by West Midlands Trains.
  • Possible Chiltern Railways access to Watford Junction along the Metropolitan Line Extension.

I suspect that if all projects are looked at together, a better solution can be found.

February 10, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Worries About The Metropolitan Line Extension

The title of this article in the Evening Standard is Metropolitan line extension to Watford Junction could be axed due to £50m funding gap.

That obviously is causing worries.

In December 2016 I wrote Is The Croxley Rail Link To Be Given Lower Priority?, where I went through the design and concluded that a simler scheme might be enough and just as useful.

After looking at all the other possible new train services to Watford, which include.

  • The Bakerloo Line Extension
  • The London Overground
  • Crossrail
  • Southern
  • London Midland
  • Metropolitan Line Upgrade
  • Chiltern Railways

I postulated if a lower cost link could be built.

And then I wrote this conclusion.

I believe that Watford will get a better train service, whether the Croxley Rail Link is built or not.

Politics will decide the priority of the Croxley Rail Link, with the left-leaning South Londoner Sadiq Khan on one side and right-leaning Bucks-raised Chris Grayling on the other. In some ways, Watford is a piggy-in-the-middle.

My feeling is that on a Londonwide  basis, that the Bakerloo Line Extension to Watford, solves or enables the solution of a lot of wider problems and the Croxley Rail Link is much more a local solution.

I think it could turn out to be.

  • A mainly double-track route from Watford Junction to Amersham, but with portions of single track.
  • No new electrification.
  • Stations at Watford High Street, Watford Vicarage Road, Cassiobridge, Croxley and then all stations to Amersham.
  • Four Class 710 trains per hour (tph), running on existing electrification and batteries between Watford Junction and Amersham.
  • A redeveloped Watford station keeps its four tph to London.

It might even be simpler.

It would certainly by more affordable.

March 18, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Has Work Stopped On The Met Line Extension?

This question is asked in the title of this article in the St. Albans Review.

The full title is.

Has work stopped on the Met Line extension? TfL worker says work is suspended.

TfL say the project is just being examined in detail.

I think, that when the Croxley Rail Link is built, it will be very different to what Hertfordshire planned.

I gave my view in TfL Seeks New Procurement Plan For Metropolitan Line Extension

I proposed a simpler design.

  • Watford station would remain open.
  • A four tph link would run all day between Watford Junction and Amersham stations.
  • Trains could be Class 710 trains or similar.
  • Stops would be at Watford High Street, Vicarage Road, Cassiobridge, Croxley, Rickmansworth, Chorleywood and Chalfont & Latimer.
  • No new electrification.
  • Single-track in places to reduce costs.

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.

 

January 24, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

TfL Seeks New Procurement Plan For Metropolitan Line Extension

This is the title of an article in Construction News.

With money tight because of several factors, including Brexit and the Mayor’s fare freeze, the article states that Transport for London is looking for ways to save money on the Metropolitan Line Extension or as it was formerly known, the Croxley Rail Link.

I looked at this project  recently in Is The Croxley Rail Link To Be Given Lower Priority?, and came to the following conclusion.

I believe that Watford will get a better train service, whether the Croxley Rail Link is built or not.

Politics will decide the priority of the Croxley Rail Link, with the left-leaning South Londoner Sadiq Khan on one side and right-leaning Bucks-raised Chris Grayling on the other. In some ways, Watford is a piggy-in-the-middle.

My feeling is that on a Londonwide  basis, that the Bakerloo Line Extension to Watford, solves or enables the solution of a lot of wider problems and the Croxley Rail Link is much more a local solution.

This leads me to the further conclusion, that the Croxley Rail Link should return to its roots and become a more Hertfordshire-centric project.

Objectives Of The Project

The objectives of the project could be something like.

  • Provide better links between Watford Junction across Watford to Rickmansworth and/or Amersham, serving the High Street, Watford Hospital and Vicarage Road Stadium.
  • Keep the project as simple as possible.
  • Build the link very much on existing infrastructure.

A subsidiary objective is that it should enable better links to London, for areas in Watford, where they need improvement.

There are various projects in the pipeline, that could substantially increase capacity to Watford.

Transport for London’s passenger figures will show which is the capacity increase most needed.

Issues And Questions

I will ask a few questions first.

What Are The Current Passenger Numbers At Metropolitan Line Stations?

These are 2015 figures.

For comparison, I’ll add these nearby Metropolitan Line stations.

And then there’s Watford High Street station on the Watford DC Line, which managed 1.15 million in 23014/15.

How will Passenger Numbers Change, If The Croxley Rail Link Is Built?

I’ve seen no projections!

Why Shut Watford Station?

There has been considerable protests about the shutting of Watford station. This is an extract from the station’s Wikipedia entry under Future.

The plan to close the station has been the subject of some local opposition, and campaigners have argued for the station to remain open with a reduced shuttle service operating on the branch. In 2012 the transport watchdog London TravelWatch compiled a report on the closure plans which concluded that inconvenience to passengers would be alleviated by the new stations being opened in the area, and that a small number of existing passengers would experience an increase in journey times of more than 15 minutes. It recommended that a shuttle train service should be trialled, and that in the event of closure a bus service should be provided from Cassiobury to one of the new stations to mitigate any inconvenience.

Consider.

  • Currently Watford station has a four trains per hour (tph) service to Baker Street station in the Off Peak.
  • It handles more trains in the Peak.
  • It is also a two-platform terminal station, so it could probably handle at least 5-6 tph, if they were needed.
  • Watford services use the four-track London to Aylesbury Line to get to and from London.
  • Watford station seems to attract similar levels of traffic to other stations in the area.

On the other hand, closing the station could release a valuable site for development.

At a rough look, there would have to be some very pressing reasons to close Watford station.

Will The Bakerloo Line Be Extended To Watford?

I’m asking this question first, as it does have an affect on both the Watford DC Line and the Croxley Rail Link.

There are some handy platforms at Watford Junction, but is it the best way to increase capacity between Queen’s Park station and Watford?

I think that the platform height issue of mixing deep-level Underground and Overground trains will become increasingly important.

  • The rebuilt centre section and the Southern extension of the Bakerloo Line will be substantially step free to modern standards.
  • Passengers in wheelchairs and buggy pushers will rightly expect easy roll-across access to the trains.
  • The Northern platforms could possibly be rebuilt, but they would probably be operationally complicated and would still need ramps to be used.

The most Northerly station on the Bakerloo Line, where full step-free access is possible is Queen’s Park station.

  • The station is a major terminus for Bakerloo Line trains, where 11 tph out of 20 tph in the Off Peak change direction.
  • There is step-across access between Bakerloo and Watford DC Line services at the station.
  • If Bakerloo Line frequencies were increased to say 25-30 tph, it would probably be easier if extra services were terminated at Queen’s Park.

So could we see the Bakerloo Line cut back to Queen’s Park and services North of the station handled to a greater extent by the London Overground?

  • The Watford DC Line service could go to at least the preferred 4 tph all day.
  • If more capacity is needed in the Peak , would it be better to run some of the new Class 710 trains as eight-car trains.
  • Bakerloo Line trains could still run on the line to access the depot at Stonebridge Park and to provide services for grumpy old die-hards, who won’t change at Queen’s Park.
  • Passengers needing step-free access would change to the Overground at Queen’s Park.

North of Stonebridge Park station, the line would be served exclusively by the new Class 710 trains.

  • One train type on a line must be more efficient.
  • Is a mix of four- and eight-car Class 710 trains better than the current five-car Class 378 trains?
  • As there are nine stops between Stonebridge Park and as the Class 710 trains are optimised for fast stops, would a reduction in journey time be possible?
  • Staff would only be dealing with one type of train.
  • Passengers would have a Turn-Up-And-Go 4 tph service.

It might also make it a lot easier to introduce other services like Barking, New Cross or Stratford to Watford, if such services were needed.

A Personal Note – I regularly change at Willesden Junction stations to go to places on the Watford DC Line. A direct train from Canonbury or one of the Dalston stations would be welcomed by myself and the many others who seem to change at Willesden Junction.

Because of these and other issues, I would be very surprised to see the Bakerloo Line extended to Watford.

A Simpler Proposal

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

  • Watford station would remain open.
  • A four tph link would run all day between Watford Junction and Amersham stations.
  • Stops would be at Watford High Street, Vicarage Road, Cassiobridge, 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!

I will cover issues in the next few sections.

How Long Will A Journey Take From Amersham 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.

Why Four Trains Per Hour?

Four tph is becoming a standard, as it encourages Turn-Up-And-Go behaviour from travellers.

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

What Class Of Train Could Be Used?

Four-car Class 378 trains or the new Class 710 trains would be ideal.

They could even use the redundant two-car Class 172 trains from the Gospel Oak to Barking Line.

I would suspect that the length of the Metropolitan Line’s S Stock trains, might cause problems at Watford Junction station. The manufacture of these trains has also finished. So could a few more be ordered?

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.

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.

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.

But if the route were to be worked using Class 172 trains, the new track could be built without electrification.

In addition, 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?

Will The New Stations Have Two Platforms?

I believe that money can be saved by creating simple stations at Cassiobridge and Vicarage Road.

  • 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.

On the other hand, too much single-track is often regretted.

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

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 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 run using Class 172 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.

Four Class 172 trains would work the service, after being released by the arrival of Class 710 trains on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line.

If skates were worn, the link could probably open in 2020.

Conclusion

A simpler and more affordable design for the Metropolitan Line Extension is surely possibly.

 

January 5, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 1 Comment

Is The Croxley Rail Link To Be Given Lower Priority?

Although, I have covered the Croxley Rail Link or Metropolitan Line Extension, on this blog, including in Looking For The Croxley Rail Link, which I wrote after walking the route in November 2014, it is not a project that will have a great deal of affect on my life.

In the last few days, after the publication of the London Mayor’s transport strategy, two newspaper reports have been published.

  • This article in the Watford Observer entitled Have plans to extend the Metropolitan Line derailed?
  • This article in Rail Technology Magazine entitled DfT refuses to provide extra funding for over-budget Croxley rail link

So is everybody getting more lukewarm about the project?

The Watford Observer article also contains these paragraphs.

Save Watford Met campaign group opposes the plans, which would see Watford underground close.

Speaking on their behalf, Lester Wagman said: “While it would be a shame if the [unconfirmed] inference that the Metropolitan Line Extension to Watford Junction may have been dropped as a business plan priority for TfL, we would not really be surprised if this is not such a priority for London and that its Mayor, Sadiq Khan, may have concluded this from reviewing the somewhat contrived and shaky business case.

So perhaps, there is a problem with finances and the people of Watford are not all in favour.

I think that it is time to take a short time of reflection to look at this project and see, if other developments in the future, can improve rail links to Watford sufficiently.

Maps Of The Croxley Rail Link

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the link.

The Croxley Rail Link

The Croxley Rail Link

I don’t think that they are able to show anything more definitive.

This first Google Map shows the Western End of the Croxley Rail Link.

The Western End Of The Croxley Rail Link

The Western End Of The Croxley Rail Link

Note.

  • Croxley station in the bottom left corner and Watford station in the top right, with the Metropolitan Line between them.
  • In the middle is the A412 with its two roundabouts.
  • The scar of the old railway can be seen above the green space in the bottom right corner.

This second Google Map shows the Eastern End of the Croxley Rail Link.

The Eastern End Of The Croxley Rail Link

The Eastern End Of The Croxley Rail Link

Note.

  • Watford High Street station, where the Croxley Rail Link joins the Watford DC Line is in the top right corner of the map.
  • The line goes in a wide curve South of Vicarage Road Stadium and the large Watford Hospital site.

This Google Map shows the area, where the Croxley Rail Link joins the Watford DC Line.

Croxley Rail Link And The Watford DC Line

Croxley Rail Link And The Watford DC Line

Note.

  • Watford High Street station is at the top right.
  • It looks like the original junction was a full triangular one.
  • The road being built is Thomas Sawyer Way, which is a link to open up the area. It opened on the 16th November 2016, as this article on the Watford Council web site announces.

This map shows the site of the proposed Watford Vicarage Road station.

The Site Of Watford Vicarage Road Station

The Site Of Watford Vicarage Road Station

This description of the station is from Wikipedia.

Watford Vicarage Road is to be a newly constructed station on a re-opened section of the former LNWR Watford and Rickmansworth Railway line which was closed by British Rail in 1996. The station is to be located to the west of Vicarage Road, adjacent to Holywell allotments, with the platforms in the railway cutting below the road

The hospital and stadium are to the North on Vicarage Road.

This Google Map shows the site of the proposed Cassiobridge station.

The Site Of Cassiobridge Station

The Site Of Cassiobridge Station

Note.

  • The Grand Union Canal running down the left hand side of the map, with the route of the old railway across it clearly visible.
  • The station is on the single-carriageway branch of Ascot Road.

Wikipedia says it will be a fairly simple station.

Reasons For The Croxley Rail Link.

The Croxley Rail Link or the Metropolitan line Extension has a page on the Transport for London web site.

This is their summary.

The Metropolitan Line extension will re-route and extend the Metropolitan line to Watford Junction. The aim is for the project (formerly the Croxley Rail Link) to be completed in 2020.
The extension will divert Metropolitan line trains to serve the existing Watford Junction and Watford High Street stations.

Two new stations will be created at Cassiobridge and Watford Vicarage Road. The existing Watford station will close after the new stations open.

TfL list the benefits as follows.

  • Improve access to public transport for local residents
  • Create new links to Watford General Hospital, Croxley Business Park and Cardiff Road Industrial Estate, increasing employment opportunities
  • Provide access for Metropolitan line passengers to West Coast mainline National Rail links from Watford Junction station

The case for the line was obviously good enough to raise the finance for the line, but now it appears that the Department for Transport are having second thoughts.

Perhaps some of the other projects are influencing their decision.

The Bakerloo Line Extension

The Bakerloo Line Extension is mainly about South of the Thames, but if the line is running the proposed 27 trains per hour (tph) , these trains will have to terminate somewhere in the North.

There have been various proposals for the Bakerloo Line to take over the Watford DC Line and trains to terminate at Watford Junction station.

Some trains would probably terminate at Queen’s Park, Stonebridge Park and Harrow and Wealdstone stations, but perhaps eight to ten tph might go all the way, calling at both Watford High Street and Watford Junction stations.

The London Overground

Currently, the London Overground runs three tph to Watford Junction from Euston via the Watford DC Line.

The trains are currently five-car Class 378 trains and in a couple of years, they will be replaced by four-car Class 710 trains.

It is rare that the capacity of a route is ever decreased.

So do Transport for London have a cunning plan?

In Platform Height Issues On The Watford DC Line I suggested that the shorter Class 710 trains, might fit better with the 1972 Stock of the Bakerloo Line, thus allowing the current stations on the line to be converted to very customer-friendly step-free stations.

So working an extended Bakerloo Line to Watford Junction station with an appropriate number of Euston to Watford Junction services on the Watford DC Line could be an easier way of increasing capacity to Watford’s main station, without degrading the service of any other passengers.

Crossrail

It has been suggested that Crossrail with its herds of jumbo Class 345 trains should be extended to the West Coast Main Line. Wikipedia says this.

In August 2014, a statement by the transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin indicated that the government was actively evaluating the extension of Crossrail as far as Tring, with potential Crossrail stops at Wembley Central, Harrow & Wealdstone, Bushey, Watford Junction, Kings Langley, Apsley, Hemel Hempstead and Berkhamsted.

Plans change, but if Crossrail goes up the West Coast Main Line, it would surely stop at Watford Junction station.

If it stopped at the stations listed above, it would have good connections to the Bakerloo Line and London Overground, in addition to all the connections at Old Oak Common.

Southern

With all Southern‘s current troubles, I don’t think that their Milton Keynes to East Croydon service is a priority.

It is also a route that in a few years time will be a route, where there could be better alternatives.

Once Old Oak Common station is a reality, passengers from Milton Keynes to South London, would possibly use this type of route.

  • London Midland to Old Oak Common
  • Crossrail to Farringdon
  • Thameslink to East Croydon, Gatwick Airport, Kent, Surrey, Sussex and Wimbledon.

As an alternative, they could also take the West London Line from Old Oak Common to Clapham Junction for all the connections there.

If Crossrail extends up the West Coast Main Line from a fully-developed Old Oak Common station, the reasons for Southern’s service will diminish.

It might be a good idea to replace this service with more London Overground services between Stratford and Clapham Junction via the North and West London Lines!

After all, London Overground will have several five-car Class 378 trains from the Watford DC Line.

London Midland

London Midland‘s franchise comes to an end soon and what goodies will companies propose to keep it?

I think the only new service we will see from London Midland or its successor, is trains calling at the new hub at Old Oak Common.

Metropolitan Line Upgrade

Transport for London are implementing, what they call the Four Lines Modernisation, on the Circle, District, Hammersmith and City and Metropolitan Lines.

TfL give these benefits.

  • A new fleet of air-conditioned trains, with brighter more spacious interiors, low floors and dedicated spaces for wheelchair users, CCTV and other improved features
  • Space for more customers
  • Faster journeys and reduced waiting times
  • Fewer delays as safe but obsolete equipment – dating back to the 1920s in some places – is replaced with modern, computerised signalling and control systems
  • Better live customer information on platforms and to smart devices

It will all be finished by 2023, when 32 tph could be running in the Peak.

The Croxley Rail Link is not mentioned in connection with this modernisation.

This upgrade must benefit services to and from existing Metropolitan Line stations to the West of Watford, but it does nothing to meet the benefits stated for the Croxley Rail Link.

  • Improve access to public transport for local residents
  • Create new links to Watford General Hospital, Croxley Business Park and Cardiff Road Industrial Estate, increasing employment opportunities
  • Provide access for Metropolitan line passengers to West Coast mainline National Rail links from Watford Junction station.

Two additional benefits could be added.

  • Access to the upgraded Vicarage Road Stadium
  • The possibility of services between Amersham and Watford Junction.

Others could also surface, if say a substantial housing or commercial development is proposed.

Chiltern Railways

Never underestimate Chiltern Railways!

The Croxley Rail Link would connect to their Aylesbury Line, which is going to be extended to Milton Keynes.

Once the link is a reality, I’m sure Chiltern will find a way to make use of the line.

Even a well-thought out two tph shuttle to Amersham could probably provide valuable connectivity.

Chiltern will also have an effect on thinking, in that they have opened a similar railway to the Croxley Rail Link, in their extension to Bicester and Oxford.

The Opening Of HS2

HS2 will have one major effect on Watford, in that it will free up paths on the West Coast Main Line.

These could be used to improve services between Watford Junction and Euston.

Could A Lower-Cost Link Be Built?

I ask this question, specifically because of the report that TfL had said no, because the project is over-budget.

Ideally, the link would be built as a double track line from Watford High Street station, to where it joins the double-track branch to the current Watford station.

I have flown my helicopter over the route and there would appear to be a fair bit of space for a double -track line.

But there might be a couple of problems.

This picture, which I took going South, shows the bridge, where the Croxley Rail Link will join the Watford DC Line.

The A4178 Goes Over The Croxley Rail Link

The A4178 Goes Over The Croxley Rail Link

 

It looks fairly sound, but is it large enough for two tracks? I could see the next bridge and that was a modern structure with a lot more space.

Note too, the evidence of clearing up decades of tree growth.

But look at this Google Map of where the Croxley Rail Link will connect to the branch to Watford station.

Over The A412 At Croxley Green

Over The A412 At Croxley Green

Note the branch to Watford station at the top left of the map and the remains of the old railway in the bottom-right, which can also be seen in the map of Cassiobridge station.

It could be difficult to thread a double-track viaduct through the area.

This visualisation from the Watford Observer shows current thinking.

Croxley Link Viaduct

Croxley Link Viaduct

So would money be saved and perhaps a better design be possible?

  • Could the viaduct be built with only a single-track between its junction with the branch to Watford station and the proposed Cassiobridge station? The route could revert to double track just to the East of Cassiobridge station.
  • A single-track design of Cassiobridge station could also save money, but it would probably rule out too many future options.

As most of the route will be double-track, I doubt that a few hundred metres of single-track would have much impact on the operation of the link. It’s not as if, the Croxley Rail Link will be handling 24 tph.

I suspect that engineers and architects are working hard both to cut costs and make the link better.

A Watford Junction To Amersham Service

I think that if there is a good service between Watford Junction and Amersham, this might  offer an alternative solution.

It would connect to London trains as follows.

  • Watford Junction – Bakerloo, London Midland, Southewrn, Watford DC and possible West Coast Main Line services.
  • Watford High Street – Cross-platform connection to Watford DC services.
  • Croxley – Same platform connection to Metropolitan services to the existing Watford station.
  • Rickmanswoth – Chiltern for both London and all stations to Milton Keynes.

I believe that a train like London Overground’s new Class 710 train, which will be running on the Watford DC Line might be able to run the service without any new electrification, it it were to use onboard energy storage between say Watford High Street and Croxley stations.

Conclusion

I believe that Watford will get a better train service, whether the Croxley Rail Link is built or not.

Politics will decide the priority of the Croxley Rail Link, with the left-leaning South Londoner Sadiq Khan on one side and right-leaning Bucks-raised Chris Grayling on the other. In some ways, Watford is a piggy-in-the-middle.

My feeling is that on a Londonwide  basis, that the Bakerloo Line Extension to Watford, solves or enables the solution of a lot of wider problems and the Croxley Rail Link is much more a local solution.

I think it could turn out to be.

  • A mainly double-track route from Watford Junction to Amersham, but with portions of single track.
  • No new electrification.
  • Stations at Watford High Street, Watford Vicarage Road, Cassiobridge, Croxley and then all stations to Amersham.
  • Four Class 710 trains per hour (tph), running on existing electrification and batteries between Watford Junction and Amersham.
  • A redeveloped Watford station keeps its four tph to London.

It might even be simpler.

 

 

December 15, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 6 Comments

The Future Of The Watford DC Line

Primrose Hill Station

I was looking at the tracks through Camden on carto.metro.free.fr, as I wanted to see how the  former Primrose Hill station fitted into the knitting.

Lines Through Camden

Lines Through Camden

Note the two orange tracks of the Watford DC Line from Euston curving to the West around the carriage sidings.

The line through Primrose Hill station from Camden Road is a connection that allows freight trains to  go between the North London Line and the West Coast Main Line.

One of the plans for the area, is to reopen the station. This is said in the station’s Wikipedia entry under Plans.

It has been proposed to re-open Primrose Hill station by bringing the short stretch of line between South Hampstead and Camden Road stations back into the regular passenger service by incorporating it into the London Overground network.

South Hampstead station is just off the map to the West on the Watford DC Line.

No Infrastructure Required To Open Primrose Hill Station

Obviously, the station will have to be rebuilt, but look at this page from the Journey Planner for Sunday, the 2nd of October, when I enquired how you would get between Willesden Junction and Highbury and Islington stations.

Willesden To Highbury and Islington

Willesden To Highbury and Islington

As the Class 378 trains can’t fly, the route via South Hampstead station must be open and available to the trains.

This sequence of pictures shows a train entering Camden Road station after coming through the site of the former Primrose Hill station.

Benefits And Disadvantages Of The Route

The current setup seems to be rather a waste of resources, with two tracks into Euston for the Watford DC Line and the need for platforms with third-rail electrification to handle the short four- and five-car trains.

Euston station is a very busy station and it would probably be glad to lose the Overground services.

So it might be a good idea to divert the three trains per hour (tph) between Watford Junction and Euston, through Primrose Hill and onto perhaps Highbury and Islington or even Stratford stations.

Others might not think so, as all those passengers along the Watford DC Line, would lose their direct connection to Euston.

But in a few years time, the following projects should have been completed or will be in progress.

These projects will mean that the Watford DC Line could and will have to be reorganised. If only to make sure there was enough capacity for commuters in the Peak and electric freight trains.

In my view the service on the Watford DC Line to London,  should be as close to a high-capacity link running perhaps six to eight tph as is possible.

It is not as easy to achieve as many might think.

  • London Midland services stop at stations on the Watford DC Line.
  • The Bakerloo Line runs 6 tph on the line.
  • The train size limit on the Watford DC Line is probably about six cars and might be possible to raise to say eight or ten.
  • The train size limit along the North London Line is currently five-cars and all the Class 378 trains are this length.
  • Six-car trains on the North London Line is probably an upper limit, although I wouldn’t be surprised to see longer platforms in my lifetime.
  • There will be pressure to increase the number of freight trains on the North London Line.
  • A Northern terminal for the Bakerloo Line must be provided.
  • Third-rail electrification must be provided on all track shared with the Bakerloo Line.
  • If possible, the route should avoid Euston, so that the HS2 rebuilding can proceed at a faster pace.

But I suspect an innovative solution will be found to provide a high capacity link between the stations on the Watford DC Line and Central London.

Crossrail

Crossrail will have a massive influence on how passengers use London’s rail network.

Plans have been talked about for extending Crossrail to the West Coast Main Line. Wikipedia says this.

Network Rail’s July 2011 London & South East Route Utilisation Strategy (RUS) recommended diverting West Coast Main Line (WCML) services from stations between London and Milton Keynes Central away from Euston, to Crossrail via Old Oak Common, to free up capacity at Euston for High Speed 2.

The previous Government rejected it as having a bad economic case

But Crossrail with its massive trains carrying fifteen hundred people a time, will strongly influence stations and routes it connects to Central London.

  • At Abbey Wood, it is forcing an update to services on the Noirth Kent Line, which could bring 6-10 tph through the Medway Towns.
  • At Moorgate, it will bring passengers to an updated Great Northern Metro sending 8-10 tph to North London and South Herfordshire.
  • At Reading, it will bring passengers to updated Thames Valley and West Country services.
  • At Shenfield, improvements are in progress to link Crossrail to Essex and East Anglia.

Where Crossrail will lead is an unanswerable question.

North-West from Old Oak Common, there are several stations that could be possible Crossrail termini.

  • High Wycombe for Chiltern.
  • Milton Keynes with its link to the East West Rail Link
  • Tring, which was the original idea
  • Watford Junction has been suggested before.

In the end, passenger numbers will decide where the trains go.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines at Watford Junction station.

Rail Lines Around Watford

Rail Lines Around Watford

The North-South orange line is the Watford DC Line, which goes starts from Watford Junction station and goes through Watford High Street, Bushey and Carpenters Park stations.

Note the Croxley Rail Link going between Croxley and Watford Junction stations.

This short length of new line would also make possible direct services between Amersham and Watford Junction stations.

I’m not going to speculate on where trains on Crossrail and the Watford DC Line will go, but there are lots of possibilities.

I suspect that new housing developments will also be a driver of the routes of services.

The New Class 710 Trains

The Watford DC Line is going to see some some extra trains from the new fleet of Class 710 trains. If we see eight trains of the new dual-voltage fleet going to the GOBlin on a one-for-one replacement basis, that would mean a doubling of capacity on the line, that means that only six trains are left for the Watford DC Line.

But as the Watford DC line runs three tph currently in the Off Peak and the trip takes about fifty-five minutes, then perhaps those six four-car trains might be enough.

When I first read the specification for the Class 710 trains for the GOBlin, I was surprised to see that they were dual voltage. After all between Gospel Oak and Barking stations, there is precisely no third-rail lines.

But if you think about extending GOBlin services, the ability to run on third-rail lines would be needed on the following routes.

  • Willesden Junction to Clapham Junction
  • Willesden Junction to Richmond
  • Willesden Junction to Watford Junction
  • The Barking Riverside Extension to Abbey Wood.

Abbey Wood, Clapham Junction, Richmond and Watford Junction stations all have third-rail platforms.

I doubt all of these routes will be delivered, but at least by making the GOBlin trains with a dual-voltage capability, they are future-proofed for any possible services.

The Future Of The Bakerloo Line

The Bakerloo Line is a line, with spare capacity across Central London, according to many reports I’ve read.

Wikipedia has a section on the Future of the Bakerloo Line in its entry for the Watford DC Line.

This is said.

Various proposals have been made to alter services involving both extending or truncating Bakerloo Line services but there has been no basic change until 2015 other than to rolling stock and service patterns. As of 2015, plans and suggestions (from official bodies and others) connected to development of Crossrail and the Old Oak Common area have current potential consequences.

If the Bakerloo Line is extended into South London, this must have an effect.

Rumours are circulating as I write this, that this is being brought forward to 2029.

This article in New Civil Engineer is entitled £775M Paddington Cube gets green light. It says that the development by Paddington station, will be designed to enhance the area and will upgrade the Bakerloo Line station.

What will upgrades and extensions to the Bakerloo Line do to the Watford DC Line?

I suspect there’s both scope for rationalisation, increased capacity and faster services, along both lines, with the correct design.

There are other factors, that might create something special from an integrated Watford DC/Bakerloo Line.

  • The Milton Keynes to East Croydon service might be increased in frequency and it might share the route.
  • London Midland trains to Birmingham, Northampton and the Midlands could join the party.
  • Train control and signalling is improving fast and might allow all these dissimilar services to share safely and give passengers better routes.
  • Better train and station design could improve the terrible step-down and step-up access to Bakerloo Line trains at some stations.

The Watford DC/Bakerloo Line could end up as another important North South route.

  • 27 tph on the Bakerloo Line.
  • Same platform interchange with trains for Birmingham, Euston, Milton Keynes, Northampton and many other places.
  • Quality step-free interchange to Crossrail and main line services at Paddington.
  • Improved step-free access to main line services at Charing Cross, Marylebone and Waterloo stations.
  • An improved interchange with the Victoria and Central Lines at Oxford Circus station.
  • Interchange with Thameslink at Elephant and Castle station.
  • Interchange with the East London Line at New Cross Gate station.

If all this happens by 2029, it won’t be soon enough!

The Bay Platform 2 At Willesden Junction Station

In posts like this one, entitled More Platform Action At Willesden Junction, I showed work to create a new bay platform 2 at Willesden Junction station.

On Sunday, the 2nd Of October 2016, I took these pictures of the station in use.

What are Transport for London’s plans for this platform, other than stock transfers and Rail Replacement Trains?

As they were doing on that Sunday, they could run a Willesden Junction to Stratford service via a rebuilt Primrose Hill station.

Platform Height Issues

At some station to get in to and out of the Bakerloo  Line 1972 Stock trains, is quite a step and it would be difficult in a wheel-chair.

I have covered this in Platform Height Issues On The Watford DC Line and feel that dual-height platforms could be used.

 

Highbury And Islington Station

In some ways, Highbury and Islington station is the worst station in North London, as after war damage and then the addition of the Victoria, North London and East London Lines, it shows major evidence of Topsy at work.

With better connections between the deep-level Victoria Line and Great Northern Metro and the London Overground, it could be a very useful interchange. At the moment, there’s just too much walking in long underground passageways.

But as the Great Northern Metro will have new Class 717 trains giving a  10-12 tph link to Crossrail and the City at Moorgate, surely improvements at Highbury and Islington station would be worthwhile.

These services will be going through the station in a few years.

  • 6 tph between Highbury and Islington and Crystal Palace – East London Line
  • 4 tph between Highbury and Islington and West Croydon – East London Line
  • 3+ tph between Stratford and Richmond – North London Line
  • 3+ tph between Stratford and Clapham Junction – North London Line
  • 10+ tph between Moorgate and Hertfordshire – Great Northern Metro
  • 36 tph between Brixton and Walthamstow Central – Victoria Line

Admittedly, Crossrail will take some pressure off the station, by providing alternative routes via Moorgate and Stratford, but I can’t believe that Transport for London, aren’t looking to improve the interchange between the various lines.  Especially, as with a few tweaks, Dear Old Vicky could possibly deliver forty tph or a train every ninety seconds, as opposed to the current hundred. These could include.

  • A second entrance at Walthamstow Central station to provide step-free access and cope with the sheer numbers of passengers.
  • A loop at Brixton, with a possible new station at Herne Hill to turn the trains at the Southern end.
  • New trains with a higher performance.
  • Improvements at certain busy stations like Oxford Circus, Euston and Kings Cross St. Pancras.

Other improvements like air-conditioned trains would attract passengers to the line and make greater capacity necessary.

This article on the authorative London Reconnections, which is entitled A Look At The World Class Capacity Upgrades, concludes its thoughts on the Victoria Line with this.

With the Victoria line pushing towards what must be the theoretical limit for a line with that amount of rolling stock and – more importantly – two-platform termini, there are no plans to further improve the service. Indeed the challenge of procuring more trains and finding the depot space for them would probably discourage any such plans on its own. This does not mean that the line will be forgotten, as both Oxford Circus and Walthamstow Central are on TfL’s top ten hit list of stations in need of a major capacity upgrade. Simply that the days of pushing more trains through the same stations more quickly have passed. In the case of Walthamstow Central it is highly likely that the next step will be making the station double-ended, with an entrance near or in the shopping centre.

I have a feeling that forty trains per hour will come sooner rather than later.

Oxford Circus Station

In two sections of my ramblings, Oxford Circus station has had a small mention.

An improved Oxford Circus station could benefit both the Bakerloo and Victoria Lines.

As the station is high on TfL’s list of stations for improvement, I would expect to see something planned to start here before the mid 2020s.

  • Step-free access.
  • Better interchange between Victoria and Bakerloo Lines in different directions.
  • More space around the Central Line.
  • An underground pedestrian link to Crossrail at Bond Street station.
  • Extra entrance and exits to serve pedestrianised Oxford and Regent Streets.

I believe, that adding new passages, entrances, exits, lifts and escalators into the current complex can be organised in a similar way to how Bond Street station has been successfully upgraded over the last few years. Hopefully, Bank and Camden Town stations, will also be upgraded in the same way.

But Oxford Circus is the big one!

 

Conclusion

As I write this, the BBC is announcing that plans will be announced by Sadiq Khan today to bring the Bakerloo Line Upgrade forward to 2029.

I think that this will bring forward a lot of related work to improve the Watford DC Line and the related lines across North London.

The future is brown, with large splashes of orange!

October 26, 2016 Posted by | Transport, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

A Trip To Aylesbury Vale Parkway Station

Aylesbury Vale Parkway station is one of Chiltern Railway’s termini in Buckinghamshire.

It is on the London to Aylesbury Line with services to Marylebone via Amersham, with a journey time of five minutes over the hour.

Plans also exist for the station to be calling point on the proposed service between Marylebone and Milton Keynes. The plans for the station in Wikipedia say this.

East West Rail plans to extend passenger services northwards to Bletchley and Milton Keynes by 2019 using parts of the former Varsity Line. The platform has been built to accommodate a second track if ever implemented, which would create an island platform. At present trains (currently run only as specials onBank Holidays) between Aylesbury and Quainton Road cannot serve Aylesbury Vale as there is no platform on the through route.

The track between Aylesbury and the new station was upgraded to continuous welded rail with a maximum line speed for DMU passenger trains of 60 mph (97 km/h). It is proposed that when services are extended to the north, trains will run via High Wycombe and not Amersham. Trains currently serving the station will thereafter terminate at Aylesbury.

These are some pictures I took of the station.

It is just a simple affair with a bus stand, car parks and the usual facilities, that appears will be soon surrounded by houses.

Chiltern Railways And Electrification

Before discussing how services will link up and down the London to Aylesbury Line, I will look at Chiltern Railways and electrification.

Under Developments and Announcements in the Wikipedia Entry for the East West Rail Link, this is said.

On 10 January 2013 Network Rail announced its intention to construct the western section between Bedford and Oxford, Aylesbury and Milton Keynes, as part of their five-year strategic business plan (2014–2019). The target date for train services to be operational on this section is December 2017. Electrification of the line between Oxford and Bedford was also included in the budget and target completion date was March 2017.

So electrification of the East West Rail Link is included in the project, even if the dates in the announcement are very much out of date now.

Given the following facts about the Chiltern Main Line, I believe it is likely that at some point, everybody will look seriously at providing electric trains from Marylebone to Birmingham Snow Hill station.

  • The line has a close relationship with the East West Rail Link and other electrified or soon-to-be electrified lines.
  • Chiltern finds it difficult to acquire more diesel-powered trains to fulfil their ambitions.
  • Chiltern would like to run faster, larger, more efficient and greener electric multiple units.

Under Electrification in the Wikipedia entry for Chiltern Railways, this is said.

No section of the line is electrified, but in 2010 the chairman of Chiltern Railways, Adrian Shooter, indicated that electrification is being considered, though not in the immediate future. He added: “We could do some very interesting things with high-acceleration EMUs and possibly some further infrastructure work.

At some time in the next ten years, we’ll probably see electric trains between Marylebone and Birmingham Snow Hill.

But there will not necessarily be full electrification, as I believe IPEMU technology will change the way electrification is carried out.

Consider as well that the Chiltern Main Line is just one hundred and eighty kilometres long and the current maximum range of an IPEMU is being quoted as about sixty miles or just under a hundred kilometres, so with the following electrification.

  • Marylebone and for perhaps twenty miles or so to handle local metro services.
  • Birmingham Snow Hill, Birmingham Moor Street and the Snow Hill Lines, where there are local metro services.
  • Banbury to Leamington Spa and other places, so that freight trains powered by bi-mode Class 88 locomotives,  could use the line efficiently.

The Local lines from Marylebone and the Snow Hill Lines would be electrified using the techniques in A Modern Electrified Metro Network Using IPEMU Technology

IPEMUs would be able to run the full length of the line without the need for full electrification in an environmentally-sensitive area, inhabited by touchy people.

Northward To The East West Rail Link And Milton Keynes

Northward from Aylesbury Vale Parkway station, the Wikipedia entry for East West Rail Link, says that the line will be single track and allow 90 mph working. But as my pictures and a quick gander on Google Maps show, there is quite a bit of space available around the current single track. So as the East West Rail Link seems to be being designed as a double-track 100 mph railway, with full electrification, I think there are three possible options between the East West Rail Link and Aylesbury Vale Parkway and Aylesbury stations.

  • Double-track 100 mph with electrification.
  • Single-track 90 mph with electrification.
  • Single-track 90 mph without electrification.

I think the line will be built with some form of electrification, so that electric trains can run from Aylesbury to Milton Keynes.

The line is also used by some freight trains, so double-track might be a good idea.

Aylesbury To London Via Amersham

Returning from Aylesbury today, I was surprised to see that the train ran from Amersham to Harrow-on-the-Hill on the same tracks as the Metropolitan Line. In fact for sixteen  of the thirty-nine miles of the line from Marylebone to Aylesbury Vale Parkway, the line has full London Underground electrification.

Amersham to Aylesbury is about fifteen miles, with the distance between the two Aylesbury station being four miles, which means that Harrow-on-the-Hill to Marylebone is just a few miles.

So if an IPEMU could use the London Underground’s rail-based electrification, starting at Milton Keynes the train would easily arrive at Harrow-on-the-Hill with a full battery, that would take the train to Marylebone and back.

I don’t believe that the technical problems of an IPEMU starting at any station between Aylesbury and Milton Keynes and going to Marylebone and back are insurmountable.

Aylesbury To London Via High Wycombe

This uses the single-track Aylesbury to Princes Risborough Line, which is about a dozen miles long, before running to Marylebone along the Chiltern Main Line, which is another forty miles or so.

So some electrification will be needed.

According to Wikipedia, Chiltern have various plans to improve their network.

  • The restoration of the quadruple track between South Ruislip (Northolt Junction) and West Ruislip, allowing trains to call at both stations without blocking the line. Triple track currently exists at West Ruislip, with the up platform loop still in situ, and at South Ruislip, with the Down Main through line also in situ. This would involve the reconstruction of the new down platform at West Ruislip, and the reconstruction of the up platform at South Ruislip. This ‘Chiltern Metro’ service was not programmed into the last round of franchising agreements.
  • Restoration of fast through lines at Beaconsfield as part of a longer-term aspiration for a 90-minute journey time between London and Birmingham
  • Double-track the line from Princes Risborough to Aylesbury.
  • New Chiltern Metro Service that would operate 4+tph for Wembley Stadium, Sudbury & Harrow Road, Sudbury Hill Harrow, Northolt Park, South Ruislip and West Ruislip. This would require a reversing facility at West Ruislip, passing loops at Sudbury Hill Harrow, and a passing loop at Wembley Stadium (part of the old down fast line is in use as a central reversing siding, for stock movements and additionally for 8-car football shuttles to convey passengers to the stadium for events)

Some would also fit well with adding electrification, so I think that enough electrification can be added to allow an IPEMU to go from Aylesbury to Marylebone.

Oxford To London

Given that there will be electrification between Oxford and Bicester Village stations courtesy of the East West Rail Link, IPEMUs could start at Oxford and reach Princes Risborough, from where they used the same methods as Aylesbury and Birmingham services to get to London.

This article on the BBC, which is entitled Cowley line passenger train service planned for Oxford, says this.

Chiltern Railways has revealed plans for a passenger service to run on the Cowley branch in Oxfordshire.

The line, currently only used for freight, would see two new stations on the route at Oxford Science Park and Oxford Business Park.

So if this service goes to London, it would certainly be another job for an IPEMU.

Watford Junction To Amersham And Aylesbury

The Croxley Rail Link has been designed so it can have a link to Amersham. Wikipedia says this about the link.

A further proposal is to use the existing but seldom-used Metropolitan line chord which allows trains to run from Watford towards Amersham via Rickmansworth. In conjunction with the Croxley Rail Link, this route would allow direct services between Watford Junction and Amersham, thus improving local public transport in Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire.

These are pictures I took, as the train passed the  junction of the branch line to Watford.

It would certainly be a new use for a substantial piece of infrastructure, but would it do much more than link Amersham to Watford Junction.

Chiltern Trains could run an IPEMU from Watford Junction to Aylesbury Vale Parkway calling at all stations, but as passengers could also get to Aylesbury from Milton Keynes, I wonder if it would be well used.

 

April 6, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Croxley Rail Link Is Now The Metropolitan Line Extension

This report in the Railway Gazette is entitled Metropolitan Line Extension Funding Agreed. This is said.

The funding package for the Metropolitan Line Extension project has been finalised, London Underground announced on November 23. Construction is now expected to start next year, with completion due in 2020.

The project has now also changed its name from Croxley Rail Link to Metropolitan Line Extension.

There is now also  this page on Transport for London’s web site, which comes with this new map.

Metropolitan Line Extension

Metropolitan Line Extension

I have to ask, whether the timing of this is significant, as the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement is on Wednesday.

November 23, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

The Natives Seem Reasonably Happy In Watford

According to this article in the Watford Observer, George Osborne gave the green light to the tune of £284 million to the Croxley Rail Link this morning.

Judging by the comments by readers to the article, the natives seem reasonably happy.

As new rail links generally seem to be successful, with perhaps the exception of the Dutch High Speed Line; HSL-Zuid, this rail link will probably be a valuable addition to the rail network in London and the South East.

March 18, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment