The Anonymous Widower

London’s Housing Market Is Changing

This article in Construction Enquirer is entitled Quintain launches London’s largest build to rent site.

Quintain are to build thousands of rental homes at Wembley Park around Wembley Stadium.

Reading the article, they seem to be making a professional job of it.

  • 3,000 houses will start construction this year.
  • 5,000 houses will be built  over seven years.
  • There will be a primary School, a seven acre park and a landscaped square.
  • Four companies will share the building.
  • Quintain have even set up their own company to manage the properties and their rental.
  • Brent Council seem to have given the development their blessing.

Looking back to the 1970s, when C, myself and our three boys were looking for somewhere to live, and were unable to get a mortgage because my income wasn’t in any way guaranteed, we had no option but to rent.

We had one choice of a quality development in London, where we could rent and that was the Barbican.

I don’t think we’d have gone to Wembley, but we would have loved to have had a choice.

I suspect we could see other developments like this all over the country.

Everyone will benefit.

February 7, 2017 Posted by | World | , | Leave a comment

Worcester Parkway Station Given The Green Light

According to this article in the Worcester News, Worcester Parkway station has been given the green light by the Government.

Clearing of the site will start this winter.

This is another station project to be given the go-ahead, since I wrote Government Focuses On New Stations And Trains. So it could  be that Chris Grayling has changed direction at the Department of Transport.

The Worcester News article gives more details of the station.

  • New Class 800 trains will go direct on the Cotswold Line to Oxford and Paddington.
  • Services between Gloucester and Birmingham will also stop.
  • The station is close to Junction 7 of the M5.
  • The station will have 500 parking spaces.

It should be noted that Worcester Foregate Street station is on a restricted site and has no parking and Worcester Shrub Hill station has only 121 spaces. I suspect that the two current stations don’t probably encourage mode shift from car to train by travellers.

The article says this about funding.

The majority of the budget for the scheme will be self-funded through station car park fees and access charges levied on the Train Operating Companies, along with £8.3 million from the Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership through the Government’s Growth Deal.

Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership is very hopeful that the new station will be good for the local economy and employment.

It certainly looks like it will improve the journey of commuters and travellers from the Worcester area to Birmingham and London.

I also wonder, if once the station is built, there will be opportunities for the train companies to use trains more efficiently and add extra services to and from Worcester. Could some of these inefficiencies release valuable development land in the centre of Worcester?

Worcester Parkway is not a normal station project reliant on a lot of local and central government funding, but one with several different ways of raising the finance.

January 30, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

What Is Happening At Old Oak Common?

I ask this question as I have just read this article on the New Civil Engineer web site which is entitled Old Oak Common Megadeck Momentum Slows.

This is said.

Momentum for the 7ha deck to be built over the Crossrail depot in the new Old Oak and Park Royal development in west London has slowed according to the chief executive of the regeneration body in charge of the work.

Sadiq Khan is blaming Boris, as any politician would.

It is truly a massive site, as this Google Map shows.

oldoakcommon

The two stations at the top of the map is Willesden Junction station.

Running across the map is the Great Western Main Line, with the various depots and Cargiant to the North.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines in the area.

oldoakcommondepoys

This aerial view of the area is from Crossrail.

oldoakcommondepot

The megadeck is needed to go over much of this area, so that housing and other developments can be built.

 

January 26, 2017 Posted by | Travel, World | , , | Leave a comment

An Upbeat View Of Hackney Wick

Hackney Wick is the sort of area of London, where traditionally it has dumped things that most people don’t want to know about. Although, the area does have a thriving artistic and indistrial community, much of the latter has moved out.

But this article in Building Design and Construction, which is entitled 25 Million Pounds Devoted to Hackney Wick For Upgrades, paints a very different upbeat view of the area.

So where has the money for the work come from?

  • A million from Tower Hamlets Council.
  • A million from Hackney Council.

There is also a sizeable donation from the London Legacy Development Corporation.

But then an updated Hackney Wick station, will provide much better access to the Olympic Stadium and all the housing being built around the Olympic Park.

The article finished like this.

Through this, the infrastructure of this particular area of North London will be greatly improved, allowing for better property conditions, better employment opportunities and of course better transport conditions for its locals. Mister Jon Fox of Transport for London also put in a word in for the advancement of Hackney Wick Overground, which will improve the conditions of millions of people from all over the capital.

We need a lot more well-designed and much better stations to generate growth.

January 26, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Start Of Change At Victoria Tube Station

On the early-evening BBC London News last night, the BBC showed preview pictures of the new entrance to Victoria tube station, which they indicated is on Brettenham Place.

The station certainly needs more capacity, as this extract from Wikipedia indicates.

Victoria is currently the fourth busiest station on the London Underground, after Waterloo, Oxford Circus and King’s Cross St. Pancras, with nearly 85 million using the station (not including interchanging passengers) in 2013, of which around 60 million (including interchanges) use the Victoria line platforms. The station was not built for this number of passengers, which results in severe overcrowding. To prevent any dangerous situations like crowds pushing people off the platforms onto the track, crowd control measures are in place at the busiest times. This effectively means closing all the entrances to the Underground platforms and operating as an exit-only station until the overcrowding is relieved. These measures can last anywhere between a couple of minutes (when minor delays are occurring) up to several hours (during major incidents).

As to the layout of lines through the station, Victoria tube station is fairly simple, as this map from carto.metro.free.fr shows.

victorialines

Note.

  • The Circle and District Lines have a typical Victorian layout, with two platforms on the outside of the tracks.
  • The 1960s designers of the Victoria Line at least left a lot of space between the two tracks.
  • The Victoria Line also incorporates two full sidings, numbered 22 and 23 between the tracks.

As nearly all trains throughout the day run run between Walthamstow Central and Brixton, the use of these sidings must only be for purposes like overnight stabling and parking failied trains.

According to Wikipedia, currently each set of lines have their own ticket offices on different levels and built over a hundred years apart.

Walking between the Circle/District Lines and the main line station is not for the faint-hearted or those with need for step-free access. The 1960s designers at least made walking between the Victoria Line and the main line station a bit easier, but there is still a flight of steps to be overcome.

If I go to Victoria station with a wheeled bag, which is not often, I take the easy route of a 38 or N38 bus from around the corner, direct from around the corner from my house.

So what is happening over this weekend?

This Google Map shows the area to the North of the station.

victoriastation

Note.

  • North of Victoria Street is a massive building site.
  • The rows of white-roofed red buses on the station forecourt..

Wikipedia says this about the current upgrade.

To provide a lasting solution to this problem preparatory building work has begun on major upgrade of the station. This will include a new northern exit/entrance on the north-west corner of Victoria Street which will be accessible via a new additional ticket office under Bressenden Place that will lead to both the Victoria line and the Circle and District line platforms.

I will go and do some more digging.

The Victoria Line Platforms

Currently, the Victoria Line platforms have two sets of escalators.

  • The original set of three, that so up into the Victoria Line ticket hall under the bus station.
  • A second set of three, that go from the platforms into a series of passages underneath the Circle and District Line platforms, to which they connect with short sets of stairs.

These pictures show the Victoria Line platforms, various passages and works.

It looks like there are two new sets of works.

One set could just be an extension of the current lobby at the bottom of the original escalators. This would increase the capacity between the Victoria Line and the main line station.

Judging by the sign saying Cardinal Place on the other works at the Northern End of the platforms, it would appear that these works are a new entrance from Cardinal Place.

The Cardinal Place Entrance

On the surface, the Cardinal Place Entrance is clearly visible, outside the Cardinal Place development.

According to a personable member of the station staff, The new entrance will open sometime after ten on Monday morning.

At Cardinal Place, the overall design would appear to be simple, where an escalator shaft has been dug between the Northern end of the Victoria Line platforms and a new entrance hall beneath Bressenden Place, which then has the simple pop-up entrance shown in my pictures

The constructure, appears to have been carried out, without massive closures of the Victoria Line platforms.

The surface building also looks very similar in concept to the new standalone glass and steel entrances at Kings Cross St. Pancras and Tottenham Court Road stations.

So I wonder how many new entrances can be created at existing stations, by using a similar design and building method.

Walthamstow Central Station

Walthamstow Central station suffers very bad overcrowding , with only two escalators and no lifts having to cope with the passengers from over 40 trains per hour.

This map from carto.metro.free,fr shows the layout of platforms at the station.

wcp

Note how there is a wide lobby at the Eastern end of the platforms underneath the Overground lines, which is used to accommodate the escalators and the waiting queues of passengers.

The crossover to the West of the station was installed in August 2015 and I suspect that this work didn’t compromise any of Transport for London’s thoughts  of improving capacity at Walthamstow Central.

It could be tight to dig a shaft for three escalators into this area, but at least the area on top is mainly grass, market stalls and not the best of buildings, with the exception of the Library.

If you look at the length of the current escalators at the station, they indicate that the Victoria Line is not deep. So that would help.

I suspect we could see a very innovative and simple solution to create a new Western entrance at Walthamstow Central station.

I would also be possible to build the entrance without any disruption to either existing train services or passengers in the existing station.

 

 

January 14, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Kempton Park Racecourse Could Close For Housing

This article on the BBC is entitled Kempton Park racecourse faces closure to make way for housing.

This Google Map shows Kempton Park racecourse and the surrounding area.

Kempton Park

Kempton Park

It is a large site of about a third of a square mile, bounded on the Southern side by the Thames, with the Shepperton Branch to Waterloo on the Northern side.

Note.

  • London needs lots of quality housing and it would certainly provide that.
  • Kempton Park station currently has two trains per hour (tph) taking 44 minutes to and from Waterloo.
  • As I said in An Analysis Of Waterloo Suburban Services Proposed To Move To Crossrail 2, whether Crossrail 2 is built or not, four tph could run on the Shepperton Branch to Waterloo in perhaps 30 minutes.
  • There might be space for a section station on the London side of Kempton Park station.
  • Road connections are good to the M3 and M25.
  • A black-cab or mini-cab to Heathrow wouldn’t be outrageous.

On this rough look it certainly looks to be a good site for housing.

It is also possibly the only site owned by The Jockey Club, whose sale would create enough cash for thei improvements to go ahead.

But as on Radio 5 tonight, not all horse racing participants and fans will like this decision.

January 10, 2017 Posted by | Sport, World | , , | Leave a comment

Are Murphy Group Playing A Long Game?

This news release on the Murphy Group web site is entitled Murphy Wins £60M+ London Overground Electrification Project.

Given, that it was known to be a difficult project, I don’t think I am alone in thinking that Murphy’s contract price was good value for London Overground.

Since then, progress has not been at a fast pace and some challenging problems seem to have emerged, but on whole professional commentators in magazines like Modern Railways an Rail Engineer have been broadly praising of the way the work is being done and what has so far been finished.

The troubles on the Holloway Road Bridge, which is not in Murphy’s contract, that I wrote about in Did The Project Management Go Wrong On The Holloway Road Bridge?, can’t have helped either.

I do wonder though, if the Murphy Group could be a beneficiary of the successful electrification of the Gospel Oak to Barking Line (GOBlin).

This Google Map shows the area between Gospel Oak and Kentish Town stations.

Murphy Group's Site In Kentish Town

Murphy Group’s Site In Kentish Town

Note.

  • Gospel Oak station in the top left, where the GOBlin meets the North London Line.
  • The Midland Main Line curves across the bottom of the map, with Kentish Town station, just off the bottom right corner.
  • There is another rail line (Tottenham North Curve ?) connecting the GOBlin to the Midland Main Line, that is current used by freight trains.

Between all these lines is a massive builders yard, which is the home of the Murphy Group.

In some ways giving the Murphy Group, the contract for the GOBlin upgrade and electrification, is like giving your local builder, the job of upgrading your house.

The Murphy Group have even accessed some parts of the work, by putting gates in the security fence between the railway and their yard.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr, shows the railway lines in the are.

Lines Between Gospel Oak And Kentish Town

Lines Between Gospel Oak And Kentish Town

It shows how at times in the past, the rail connections from this area, were some of the most comprehensive in London.

There are already plans for some of the railways in the area.

  • The Tottenham North Curve from Carlton Road Junction to Junction Road Junction is being electrified, so that electric-hauled freight trains can run between Barking and the Midland Main Line.
  • Passenger services could be introduced on the Tottenham North Curve to create a second route across North London, linking Barking and Acton via West Hampstead Thameslink and the Dudding Hill Line.
  • Could we even see a re-opened Highgate Road station?

I have a feeling, that all this, together with London’s enormous need for new housing will see the Murphy Group site developed, in a manner that is best for London. And the Murphy Group!

Consider.

  • The development will have very good transport links.
  • A reopened Highgate Road station, would be in the middle of the development.
  • The development site is occupied by largely one company.
  • The site is well-connected to railways for the transport of building materials and spoil.
  • The site could be developed gradually, as the Murphy Group released the space.

Probably, the biggest problem would be finding the Murphy Group a new site.

It will be very interesting to see what happens on this very valuable site!

 

 

 

 

November 17, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 2 Comments

What Are They Doing With Auntie?

I took these pictures around the old BBC Television Centre in White City.

Everybody must have their favourite image of the site from years ago.

I particularly remember an episode of Michael Bentine‘s It’s A Square World, where they flooded the building, using some superb special effects and lots of real water. I think that section started with Bentine interviewing Jack Hawkins and talking about making wartime naval dramas, with a big screen showing the sea, which then burst out of the screen. According to Wikipedia, he also sent the building into space.

But then Bentine was a unique comic genius.

November 4, 2016 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

The New Beam Park Station

Beam Park station is a new station that is to support a large housing development of the same name, which will be built on the London, Tilbury and Southend Railway, between Dagenham Dock and Rainham stations.

This map shows the development, with the station numbered at six.

Beam Park

Beam Park

The station is the Westernmost number on the Southern boundary of Beam Park.

  • It is possibly located where Kent Avenue crosses over the railway.
  • Note that some sources call it Beam Reach station.
  • With up to 5,000 new homes in the area, I would think that the station is needed.

I think it is interesting that London is getting two new stations; Barking Riverside and Beam Park, in the same area of London.

October 17, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | 1 Comment

An Innovative Scheme For A Rail Link To Glasgow Airport

This article on Renfrewshire 24 is entitled New Option Could See Glasgow Airport Rail Link Run From Relocated Glasgow St. James Station.

The new option, which is proposed by Junction 29 (Scotland) Ltd, would relocate Paisley St. James Street station nearer to the airport and it would be connected to the airport using a PRT system similar to that used at Terminal 5 at Heathrow.

This Google Map shows the area.

glasgowairport29

Note.

  • Junction 29 of the M8 is the mass of spaghetti in the upper middle of the map, with the Inverclyde Line passing to the South-west of the junction.
  • Paisley St. James station is towards the bottom of the map.
  • Junction 29 (Scotland) Ltd. own the block of land to the West of the railway and the new station would be built in this area, where the PRT system would connect to the Airport.

I think it could be a feasible plan and these are my thoughts.

A Proven System

Wikipedia says this about the PRT System at Heathrow.

Construction of the guideway was completed in October 2008. The line is largely elevated, but includes a ground level section where the route passes under the approach to the airport’s northern runway. Following various trials, including some using airport staff as test passengers, the line opened to the public in May 2011 as a passenger trial. Subsequently it was made fully operational and the bus service between the business car park and Terminal 5 was discontinued. The pods use 50% less energy than a bus. They run 22 hours a day. Unlike all UK road and rail traffic, which drives on the left, the PRT system drives on the right. As of May 2013 the system passed the 600,000th passenger milestone.

The interesting thing, is that it runs under the runway approach, so it must have a fairly small footprint.

I actually think that using this system has other advantages.

  • It could go on a roundabout route between the station and the Airport, serving car parks and other important places.
  • It could serve the car parks, which are also proposed for the site.
  • It could bring those with movement difficulties to the station for the Park-and-Ride to Paisley and Glasgow.
  • It is very much a proven system.
  • The tram-train alternative works in many places in the world, but the concept seems to cause Network Rail indegestion.
  • The PRT System is independent of the railway.

But in my view the system’s biggest advantage is that it could have a serious wow factor for children of all ages.

Cost

The cost of the PRT option is quoted at £70-£80m, as opposed to £144m for the tram-train alternative.

Journey Times

Journey times to the airport will certainly be competitive, but I think the wow factor will encourage passengers to use it, whether they come by train or car to the station.

Why Would You Want To Close The Existing Station?

I would not close the existing Paisley St. James station for these reasons.

  • It serves Paisley Town centre and St. Mirren Football Club.
  • Closing it could be a hassle.
  • Extra stations are never a bad thing.
  • Modern trains stop and start again at a station very quickly.
  • The new station could be called Glasgow Airport to avoid confusion.

But then there may be better reasons to close it.

Train Frequency

There needs to be at least four trains per hour (tph) to Paisley Gilmour Street and Glasgow.

If not more, as the frequency of the PRT system will annoy passengers waiting for the trains.

I also think that a turnback facility should be provided, so that a posh Airport shuttle train could work a 2 tph limited-stop service to Glasgow Central.

If Glasgow got its act together, the posh train could also serve Edinburgh.

Construction

It is stated in the Renfrewshire 24 article, that the new station and the PRT system could be built in twelve months alongside the existing network.

As all the land is owned by the Airport, Junction 29 and Network Rail, this must help, unless they find newts.

They could even lift a lot of the design of some of the other new stations like Kirkstall Forge.

Future Development

I’m sure Junction 29 (Scotland) Ltd. have got some good plans for the rest of their site.

Conclusion

Go for it! Glasgow has been procrastinating for far too long!

I think we’ll see a lot of systems like this around the world!

The system is described here in Wikipedia.

It’s British by the way and was developed in Cardiff and Bristol.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 14, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | 1 Comment