The Anonymous Widower

Borders Railway: More Than 4 Million Journeys In 3 Years

The title of this post is the same as that of this article in Global Rail News.

The Borders Railway may only be a thirty mile route with a frequency of two trains per hour, but I believe it shows the economic and lifestyle benefits that new rail routes can bring.

And all at a cost of around £200million.

We should be looking to build other lines like this in the UK.

And all over the World!

September 10, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , | Leave a comment

Walking The Crossrail Route Between Farringdon And Moorgate Stations

I took these pictures on the route between Farringdon and Moorgate stations via Barbican station.

Note.

  • The massive amount of new development along the route.
  • The new site for the Museum of London.
  • Smithfield Market, which surely will be developed or refurbished.
  • The large amount of housing in the Barbican Estate.
  • The new office developments surrounding Moorgate station.

To me, one of the most interesting developments, is the creation of new walkways across the Barbican Estate and through the new office developments to link Batrbican and Moorgate stations to London Wall and walking routes going towards St. Pauls, Bank and the River.

Crossrail will serve the City indirectly using a modicum of walking in at a pleasant height away from the traffic.

September 4, 2018 Posted by | Travel, World | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Access To York Station As Part Of Major Brownfield Redevelopment Plans

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

This the first paragraph.

New plans including a new access point to York station and the expansion of the National Railway Museum headline groundbreaking proposals of creating 6,500 jobs in the city.

The development is a partnership between.

  • Homes England
  • Network Rail
  • York City Council
  • National Railway Museum

This page on the York City Council web site, is entitled Major Developments At York Central.

This is the first paragraph.

York Central is the large brownfield site to the west of the city’s railway station. It lies between the A19 and A59 road corridors, and is contained by operational rail lines.

The document goes on to say that redevelopment of parts of the site could include.

  • 1,000 to 2,500 homes
  • 60,000m2 to 120,000m2 of office, leisure and retail uses

To gauge the size of the site, this Google Map shows the area.

Note the large York station towards the right of the map.

This looks to me to be the sort of development we need to do more of in this country.

August 15, 2018 Posted by | Travel, World | , , | 1 Comment

Windsor Link Railway Becomes Serious

I’ve always thought that the thinking behind the Windsor Link Railway was something of which I could approve.

It is a simple idea to connect Windsor’s two rail links and in a second phase provide Western rail access to Heathrow Airport.

This article on Global Rail News is entitled Consortium Submits Proposal For Windsor Link Railway In The UK.

This is the first two paragraphs of the article.

A consortium including global investor Meridiam has submitted a market-led proposal to the UK government to build the Windsor Link Railway.

Phase 1 of the project will cost £370 million and will see a new rail tunnel constructed in Windsor – as well as new houses – to connect the South Western and Great Western main lines. Phase 2 will connect Heathrow to the west.

I detailed the route in Walking The Proposed Route Of The Windsor Link Railway.

But what impressed me about the proposal, was the opportunities that it gives for new housing.

New housing is mentioned in my extract from the Global Rail News article and I put forward my thoughts in Is This One Of The Most Valuable Sites For New Development In The UK?.

This was my conclusion two years ago, when I wrote that post.

The Windsor Link Railway, is a project that must be judged as a whole.

But do that and there is a lot of money to be made from property development, which would more than pay for the railway.

If anything, after the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, there is more money to be made from the Windsor Link Railway.

I am not surprised,, Meridiam have backed the project.

 

 

 

August 1, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , | 1 Comment

West Hampstead Station – 7th July 2018

The new bridge at the West Hampstead station is now in use and it looks like the new station will be completed by the end of the year.

As the last picture shows this could be one of those station developments, where a deck could have been built over the North London Line to increase the number of flats built in the development on the South side of the railway.

This Google Map shows West Hampstead station on the North London Line and West Hampstead tube station on the Jubilee and Metropolitan Lines, although the latter don’t stop.

Note the development stretches a long way to the West between the North London Line and Underground Lines.

There have been plans to create a West Hampstead Interchange on West End Lane.

As these envisaged moving the Overground station to the East side of West End Lane and the new station is being built on the West side, It would appear there’s been a rethink.

Perhaps the Underground station is to be moved to the West side of West End Lane and will have an entrance on the small square in front of the M & S Simply Food and alongside the new Overground station.

This Google Map shows an enlargement of the area.

The new station could have platforms on the following lines.

  • Jubilee Line
  • Metropolitan Line
  • Cjhiltern Railway

It would be a very worthwhile interchange. Especially, as passengers could do the following.

  • Walk across the square for the Overground for East London.
  • Walk perhaps another hundred metres to West Hampstead Thameslink station, which is also proposed as the terminus of the West London Orbital Railway.

There could also be a development on the top of the new station, which would hopefully contribute to the cost.

I have no idea, if anything will happen here, but Transport for London are looking to create new stations with over-site development. The Mayor also seems keen on the West London Orbital Railway, as it is based on under-used infrastructure and requires no new track or tunnels.

 

 

July 7, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

London To Rainham And Back On Thameslink

Today was the first Monday of a new timetable and I took a trip to Rainham (Kent) station from London Bridge on the new Thameslink service,, before returning to Abbey Wood station.

Note.

  1. I took a picture at each station as we went out to Rainham.
  2. There is a lot of housing and commercial development going on by Dartford and Rochester stations.
  3. Thameslink are scheduled to run trains between Luton and Rainham (Kent) stations every thirty minutes.
  4. There were two Class 345 trains at Abbey Wood station.
  5. I went in a Class 700 train with eight-cars.

There was the odd cancelled train on the route, but what surprised me on the return journey, was that my train passed four Class 700 trains going in the other direction.

I must assume, that Thameslink were training more drivers for the route.

The Service I Took

The Thameslink service between Luton and Rainham, that I took from London Bridge to Rainham is a replacement for the Southeastern service between Charing Cross and Gillingham.

  • Both services use the same route between London Bridge and Gillingham.
  • Both services stop everywhere between London Bridge and Gillingham.
  • Both services are well-connected to other services at Abbey Wood (Crossrail), Woolwich Arsenal (DLR), Greenwich (DLR) and London Bridge (Northern and Jubilee).
  • The previous Southeastern service took 66 minutes between London Bridge and Gillingham,
  • The current Thameslink service is timetabled to take 82 minutes.
  • The Thameslink service takes over forty minutes to turn round at Rainham.

Given that the Thameslink Class 700 trains are 100 mph trains and the previous Class 465 trains are only 75 mph trains, I find it extraordinary that faster and more modern trains are delivering a slower service.

Complaints

There have been complaints about the new timetable, so I asked a couple of station staff, what they felt about the new Thameslink service from Luton to Rainham.

They seemed in favour and added, these points about the service.

  • It would help with getting the service out of trouble, when there were delays East of Rainham.
  • It gives a direct connection to Dartford.
  • The extra capacity will help.

The service to Rainham will surely act as a collector service for those changing to Crossrail at Abbey Wood.

Rainham to Bond Street with a change at Abbey Wood, should be under an hour and a half.

May 21, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Square Comes Full Circle For Grosvenor Estate

The title of this post is the same as that of an article in the Business section of today’s copy of The Times.

It describes the history of Grosvenor Square and its relationship to the Grosvenor family.

There has been an American presence in the square since 1785, but with the moving of the American Embassy to Nine Elms earlier this year, the need for security measures has  decreased and control of the square has  returned to the Grosvenor Estate.

These are the last two paragraphs of the article.

After a public consultation, Grosvenor is seeking ideas from urban designers, architects and artists to “recreate a place fit for the 21st century”.

Craig McWilliam, chief executive, said that Grosvenor Britain and Ireland wanted to create “a haven where locals and visitors can enjoy the best of the city”.

Donald Trump has stated that moving to Nine Elms is crazy, but London will gain immensely from that move.

May 11, 2018 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

Barratt To Pay For Fire Safety Cladding Upgrade On Croydon Block

The title of this post is the same of that on this article on ITV.com.

This is the first couple of paragrphs.

Developers of a high-rise block that failed fire safety tests will pay for safety measures estimated to run into the millions of pounds, including replacing its Grenfell-style cladding, the Government has said.

Barratt Developments has said it will pay for backdated and future fire safety costs to make the Citiscape housing complex in Croydon, south London, safe, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said.

The ITV article has a video report.

I feel that they are in a difficult place, as their architects probably thought the cladding was safe to use. So I don’t think there has been too much malfeasance on the part of Barratt.

But to hold up their hand and say we’ll fix it, probably means everyone will be a winner.

  • Barratt get to fix the block for the cost of two or three of their more expensive houses.
  • If Barratt get an agreement on the deal, they should avoid complex and expensive legal wrangles.
  • Replacing the cladding now, will probably be a lot easier on a new building, that was probably built to a high standard in the last couple of years.
  • The Government should be pleased as there appears that the hand of Sajid Javid has applied some pressure.
  • Croydon Council should be pleased, as it is unlikely many owners will need to be moved to emeergency accommodation.
  • Hopefully, the owners will be pleased, as it appears they should get the value of their properties back.

The ITV article quotes a Barratt’s spokesman as saying.

Following the recent ruling that the costs for necessary recladding at Citiscape will fall on the individual apartment owners, many of whom were originally Barratt customers when it was built in 2002, we have decided that we will pay for the work. “Citiscape was built in line with all building regulations in place at the time of construction. While we don’t own the building or have any liability for the cladding, we are committed to putting our customers first. “The important thing now is ensuring that owners and residents have peace of mind.

I suppose Barratt could be accused of spinning a good line, but it is all good publicity for the houses they are building.

Whether other developers, who used the same cladding, as that involved in the tragedy of Grenfell, will follow Barratt’s example is another manner!

 

 

April 20, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

New Heathrow Rail Link To Lead The Way For Future Transport Funding Schemes

The title of this post, is the same as that of this Press Release on the Department of Transport web site.

This is the opening two paragraphs.

Private companies have been asked to come forward with ideas to deliver a new southern rail link to Heathrow Airport.

The link will be one of the first projects under government plans to invite third parties – such as local authorities and private sector companies – to invest in the rail network, over and above the £47 billion the government is already planning for the next 5 years.

In the past, I have talked about two privately-funded schemes for access from the South to Heathrow.

The Times is saying today, that it could be the second scheme.

But Heathrow can be such a money-earner, you do wonder if other schemes to serve the airport will be put forward.

How Would A Scheme Work In Practice?

A consortium consisting of engineering, financial and railway interests would put forward a scheme.

They would do the following.

  • Design the scheme and ensure it was acceptable to all stakeholders, including Network Rail, the Office of Rail and Road, local authorities, train operating companies, passengers, residents and in the case of Heathrow, the airport itself.
  • Raise the finance to build the scheme from appropriate institutions like insurance companies, banks and pension funds.
  • Build the scheme and get it approved by the appropriate companies, authorities and regulators.
  • Once the scheme is commissioned, trains using the scheme would pay appropriate track access charges, in the same way, that they do now, when they use Network Rail’s tracks.
  • Maintenance would be the responsibility of the consortium, that built the scheme.

In some ways the consortium functions like a mini-Network Rail, as it obeys all the same standards with regards to engineering and safety.

But.

  • The finance is not provided by taxpayers.
  • Any profits go to those, who conceived, built or financed the project.
  • Risks associated with the project are not borne by the Government or taxpayers.

If say in ten years time, the consortium goes bust, then I suspect that the assets would be bought on the cheap, by either Network Rail or another investor, who would learn from the original consortium’s mistakes.

Not that I think that will happen!

Has Anything Similar Been Done Before In The UK?

I think it is true to say, that various innovative ways have been found to fund railways in the UK.

The article from the Independent, which was written in 1992 is entitled Canary Wharf Banks Agree Funding For Jubilee Line.

This is a paragraph from the article.

The Government has always insisted that the scheme will not go ahead without private funding. In return for the financing, the banks are believed to be insisting that the Government chooses Canary Wharf as the site for the relocation of about 3,000 civil servants from the Department of Environment and the Department of Transport. It is also considering three other sites in the area.

So it looks like relocating three thousand civil servants got the Jubilee Line built!

Chiltern Railways have expanded by leaps and bounds over the years and some of their methods have been professional and innovative.

Project Evergreen with three phases has expanded and improved their passenger services.

This is an extract from the section of Wikipedia, that talks about the project.

Chiltern Railways former chairman Adrian Shooter said, “This is the biggest passenger rail project for several generations not to call on the taxpayer for support. Working closely with Network Rail, we are going to create a new main-line railway for the people of Oxfordshire and the Midlands. This deal demonstrates that real improvements to rail services can be paid for without public subsidy by attracting people out of their cars and on to trains.”

I don’t know whether this relates to all of Project Evergreen or just one part.

This is also said.

Network Rail provided the capital for the upgrade and will recover this through a facility charge over the subsequent 30 years, initially payable by Chiltern until its franchise expires, and then by the next franchisee. The infrastructure upgrade was carried out by main contractor BAM Nuttall, in partnership with Jarvis and WS Atkins.

It may all sound complicated, but Chiltern Railways is a train operating company that commuters don’t seem to complain about.

Could Any Other Schemes Be Funded Using The Department for Transport’s New Model?

Building the southern access into Heathrow Airport will be a large project costing more than a billion pounds.

But that doesn’t that all projects need to be that size!

I suspect, that the DfT’s model will be applied to some projects, as small as a hundred million pounds.

These are my thoughts on future projects, which I have split into various sections.

Airports

If a scheme like the Heathrow scheme  gets the go-ahead, then I think this could lead to other airport links being designed, funded and built using a similar model.

At present, Aberdeen, Bristol, Doncaster-Sheffield, East Midlands, Glasgow, Leeds and Liverpool airports are looking to improve rail access and the DfT’s model may be a way to build some, if the demand is there.

Network Extensions

The proposed Heathrow Southern Railway is effectively a well-thought out extension to three networks; Crossrail, Heathrow Express and South Western Railway to all of their mutual benefit.

I doubt there’ll be such big extensions, but there are some useful ones being planned.

  • Bramley Line -The track-bed of this route is still there and connecting March to Wisbech could create a new commuter route for Cambridge.
  • Fawley Branch Line – This would provide a passenger service and serve new housing developmemts in Hythe and Fawley.
  • Ivanhoe Line – Proposals to improve this service in Leicestershire with new stations.
  • Merseyrail Northern Line Extensions – The £300 million extension to Skelmersdale is being planned and another from Ormskirk to Preston is proposed using battery trains.
  • North Downs Line – This line could be updated to provide an improbred Reading- Gatwick. Would it make a freight route for Minis from Oxford to the Channel Tunnel?
  • Skipton To Colne Reinstatement – This  project of just a dozen miles is high profile amongst Conservative politicians and would provide another route across the Pennines.
  • West London Orbital – This £264 million extension to the London Overground would create two new lines in North West London.

This is by no means a complete list, but it shows how many routes could benefit with reinstatement or improvement.

Electrification

Why shouldn’t electrification be privately funded, with the builders and investors getting their returns, through an electrification access charge, which would be similar to a track access charge.

I discuss possible electrification schemes in Charting An Electric Freight Future.

The linked article is mainly about freight, but I suspect there are examples, where some shortish stretches of electrification could be privately-funded.

If electrification experts identified the problems of the past few years and how to solve them, there must be a case to formulate a business that merged engineering, finance and construction, that was able to install electrification on time and on budget.

Depots

Greater Anglia has commissioned a new depot at Brampton on a design, finance and build basis and it’s not the only depot built this way.

But that is more traditional financing.

Stations

The financing of some stations has been extraordinarily innovative.

I suspect that that some deals will get even more so.

Some will even charge for passengers per day.

Conclusion

One of the reasons, I like the DfT’s proposal of mixing design, finance and build with a good helping of innovation, is that this closely follows the model that we used with Metier Management Systems, when we started the company in the 1970s, to develop our Project Management system called Artemis.

  • We designed the systems.
  • We financed the systems.
  • We installed the systems
  • We maintained the systems.
  • The customers wanted the systems.
  • Customers paid so much a month.

The cream on top was the lashings of innovation.

There might be a lot of extra finance flowing into UK railways!

 

 

 

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March 20, 2018 Posted by | Finance, Travel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

TfL Drives Forward With ‘Hugely Exciting’ Tube Station Development

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

The station involved is South Kensington station,

Work to be done includes.

  • New housing will be added.
  • Upgrading of the Grade II listed shopping arcade.
  • A second entrance developed via the pedestrian subway will be developed.
  • Facilities will be improved for  current and new residents.
  • Step-free access will be provided to the District and Circle Lines.

This article in the Architects Journal gives more details.

The article also hopes everything can be completed by 2022.

Is this development the shape of things to come?

You have the following.

  • A tube station which is not in the best condition.
  • There is space to add much-needed housing.
  • It is an important transport location.
  • Annual passenger entry and exit in 2016 was 33.6 million.
  • It is a building with a partial Grade II Listing.
  • TfL have appointed a world-class firm of architects.

A successful property developer, with access to finance, could turn this into something that benefits all stakeholders; local residents;TfL, London taxpayers, staff and passengers.

Within walking distance or a short bus ride of my house, there are seven stations.

  • Dalston Junction is a new station with step-free access and high-rise housing on top.
  • Haggerston station is a new step-free station, that is probably fully developed.
  • Canonbury station is an older station, that has been made step-free. It is fully-developed.

But, the other four need development.

Dalston Kingsland

Dalston Kingsland station was rebuilt in the last couple of years with a new gate line and booking office.

  • The station has narrow platforms, not much shelter and no step-free access.
  • Passenger entry and exit for 2016-17 were over six million.
  • Next door, Taylor Wimpey are building a residential tower called 57 East.

Full development of this station is probably waiting for a decision about Crossrail 2.

Essex Road

Essex Road station is a station out of another era, but what era is hard to say.

  • It is a solid red brick building, built around the start of the Twentieth Century.
  • The building has little architectural merit.
  • Underground, the history of the station is echoed by faded Underground and Network Southeast liveries.
  • It could do with a good clean.
  • Access to the trains is by lifts and could probably stand-in for access to one of London’s Second World War bunkers.
  • It may have lifts, but it is not step-free.
  • Passenger entry and exit in 2016-17 was under a million.

It is a seriously neglected station.

This Google Map shows the location of the station.

It is on a junction of two major roads, with some gardens, a few local stops and several important bus routes.

If the train-related parts of the building were updated with modern decor and lighting, full step-free access, this station could see a serious increase in passenger traffic.

The following, should also be born in mind.

  • The rather rudimentary forty-year old Class 313 trains will be replaced by brand-new Class 717 trains designed for the unique operation of the Northern City Line.
  • The new trains should bring an increase in frequency in trains through Essex Road station.
  • At the end of 2018, the Northern City Line will have a step-free connection to Crossrail and a dry underground waking route to Liverpool Street station at Moorgate station.

There is also the possibility, that was raised by Chris Gibb, of transferring the Northern City Line to the London Overground. I wrote about this in Gibb Report – Moorgate Services Could Be Transferred To The London Overground.

So it would appear that whatever happens, the train service and station will be improved and Essex Road station will become a lot more important.

Surely, the obvious way to pay for the improvements at Essex Road station, is to develop the building into some housing in keeping with the area.

Highbury and Islington

Highbury and Islington station is the fifteenth busiest station in the UK and is busier than Manchester Piccadilly and Edinburgh Waverley.

It is a major interchange between the following lines.

  • East London Line
  • North London Line
  • Victoria Line
  • Northern City Line

Currently, it handles nearly thirty million passengers a year.

But that number is surely going to increase.

  • The East London Line is adding another four trains per hour (tph)
  • Extra trains will be running on the North London Line.
  • Dear Old Vicky will cram more passengers in.
  • The improved Northern City line will have more and better trains.
  • The Northern City Line will provide a step-free connection for Victoria Line passengers to Crossrail.

Highbury and Islington station is a station where the below-ground platforms are in desperate need of improvement and step-free access.

At least there should be no problems demolishing the station buildings at Highbury and Islington, as a flying bomb did that in 1944.

It was an impressive building.

However, there are factors that will help an architect,  after the Nazi damage and some unsympathetic 1960s development, when the Victoria Line was built.

  • The flying bomb destroyed all parts of the station with architectural merit.
  • The Victorian bridge over the Overground lines is being replaced.
  • The traffic is being sorted.
  • Pedestrian areas are being created to link the station entrance to the green space in the middle of Highbury Corner.
  • There is already an unused and intact second entrance to the station on the other side of Holloway Road.

This could be one of the best stations in London, with perhaps some of the best places to live in London on top.

Old Street

Old Street station is another bad station.

  • It sits in the middle of a roundabout called Silicon Roundabout.
  • The roundabout is surrounded by tower blocks, which are both residential and commercial.
  • It is owned by Transport for London.
  • It is served by the Northern and Northern City Lines.
  • Passenger entrances and exits are amos thirty million a year.
  • The station has escalators, but is not step-free.

This is surely, a site, where a tall residential block should be built above an improved station.

But getting the right building and mix will be difficult.

Conclusion

These four could all be redeveloped by imaginative architects and property developers to create better transport hubs and a sensible amount of useful housing development.

I hope TfL, architects and developers are scouring London for suitable sites.

 

March 6, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment