The Anonymous Widower

A London Overground Replacement For Southern’s East Croydon And Milton Keynes Service

In July 2017, I discussed this suggestion by Chris Gibb in Gibb Report – East Croydon – Milton Keynes Route Should Be Transferred To London Overground.

In an article, in the July 2019 Edition of Modern Railways, , which was entitled ‘710s’ Debut On Goblin, this was this last paragraph.

On the West London Line, TfL is curremtly working with the Department for Transport on options for the devolution of services originally suggested in Chris Gibb’s report on the Govia Thameslink Railway franchise, which could lead to ‘710s’ being deployed here.

It made me think, that further investigation was called for.

An Apology

I apologise, if you think I’m repeating myself.

What The Gibb Report Says

The Gibb Report, says this about the current service between East Croydon and Milton Keynes Central stations.

I believe there is an option to transfer the East Croydon – Milton Keynes operation to TfL and it’s London Overground concession in 2018.

TfL may decide to change the service, for example by not running it north of Watford Junction, or running it to an alternative southern destination other than East Croydon. They could also develop the combined West London line service to better match available capacity to demand.

They would have a number of crewing and rolling stock options, but should be able to operate the service more efficiently than GTR in the longer term, without the involvement of Selhurst.

Selhurst TMD is the depot in South London, where the current Class 377 trains are based.

A few of my thoughts.

The Trains

Using Class 710 trains  as suggested in the Modern Railways article, would surely offer a suitable  crewing and rolling stock option for the route, if they were based at the convenient Willesden TMD, where the fleet of up to twenty-five dual-voltage Class 710/2 trains are stabled.

The Northern Terminus

Chris Gibb suggested the service might not go past Watford Junction.

I think that could be difficult.

  • The longitudinal seating of the Class 710 train, is probably not suitable for outer suburban services North of Watford.
  • East Croydon to Watford Junction takes 69 minutes, which is not a good journey time to create an efficient service.

It would also appear to be tricky for a train to transfer between the West London Line and the Watford DC Line.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the complicated track layout in the Willesden Junction area.

Note.

  1. The two Willesden Junction stations, labelled High Level and Low Level.
  2. The Watford DC Line, which is shown in black and orange, passing to the North of Willesden TMD. and through the Low Level station.
  3. The four tracks shown in black are the West Coast Main Line, with Watford to the West and Euston to the East.
  4. The North London Line to Richmond and the West London Line to Clapham Junction splitting at Wilesden High Level Junction.

The current service between East Croydon and Milton Keynes, is only one train per hour (tph) and uses a succession of flat junctions to take the slow lines to and from Watford.

This is not a good operational procedure and I suspect Network Rail and various train operators, would like to see it discontinued.

So if trains in a new London Overground version of the service, don’t go up the Watford DC Line or the West Coast Main Line, where do they turn back?

Note the siding to the East of the High Level platforms, which is labelled Willesden Junction Turnout.

This is regularly used to turnback London Overground services on the West London Line.

I feel that London Overground will be turning their replacement service in Willesden Junction High Level station.

Current train services at the station include.

  • For passengers, who want to go further North, there is a good connection to the Watford DC Line for Wembley Central, Harrow & Wealdstone and Watford Junction stations.
  • The Watford DC Line can also take you to Euston.
  • The Bakerloo Line between Stonebridge Park and Elephant & Castle via Central London.
  • Frequent North London Line services between Stratford and Richmond.

The station has kiosks, coffee stalls, toilets and waiting rooms.

There are certainly worse places to change trains.

The Southern Terminus

Obviously, existing travellers on the route would like to see as few changes as possible.

East Croydon station must be a possibility for the Southern terminus, as it is the currently used.

But East Croydon is a busy station and perhaps it is not a convenient station for trains to wait in the platform.

On the other hand, West Croydon station offers some advantages.

  • The station has a long bay platform, which might be long enough for nine or ten cars.
  • There is a separate turnback siding.
  • It has space to add another bay platform, but this may have been sold to a developer.
  • It already has a four tph London Overground service to Highbury & Islington station.
  • Using West Croydon avoids the crowded lines to the North of East Croydon station.

It is also managed by London Overground, so the landlord would be co-operative.

How Many Trains Would Be Needed For A West Croydon And Willesden Junction Service?

West Croydon station has two possible routes, that trains could take to Willesden Junction.

  • Via Norwood Junction and Clapham Junction in 55 minutes.
  • Via Selhust and Clapham Junction in 45 minutes.

These times mean that a two-hour round trip between West Croydon and Willesden Junction should be possible.

Trains required for various frequencies would be as follows.

  • One tph – Two trains.
  • Two tph = Four trains.
  • Four tph – Eight trains.

They would need to be dual voltage Class 710/2 trains, as are now running on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line.

Compare the figures with those for the current East Croydon and Milton Keynes service, which needs four pairs of four-car trains for an hourly service.

What Would Be The Frequency?

I think one, two and four tph are all possibilities!

One tph

One tph would be a direct replacement for the current service. But is it enough?

Services at West Croydon could probably share the bay platform with the existing Highbury & Islington station service.

Two tph

Two tph could be a compromise frequency.

Two tph could probably still share the current bay platform with the Highbury & Islington service.

Four tph

Four tph would be a full Turn-Up-And-Go service,

  • It would probably be London Overground’s preference.
  • It would give a very passenger-friendly eight tph between Willesden Junction and Clapham Junction stations.
  • The two services would call at opposite sides of Clapham Junction station.
  • It would give a four tph link between Croydon and High Speed Two.
  • Westfield wouldn’t mind all the extra shoppers at Shepherds Bush!

But there could be downsides.

  • The service could need an extra bay platform at West Croydon.
  • Would it be possible to turn four tph at Willesden Junction?
  • Will the train paths be available through South London.

But four tph would probably would be London Overground’s preference.

It will be interesting to see the reasons, why Transport for London choose a particular frequency.

A Trip Between Imperial Wharf And East Croydon Stations

Today, I took a trip between Imperial Wharf and East Croydon stations at around 11:30.

  • The train was  two four-car Class 377 trains working as an eight-car train.
  • After Clapham Junction it wasn’t very busy.
  • I was in the last car, which was empty, except for myself.

I came to the conclusion, that an eight-car train was too much capacity for the Southern section of the journey.

I suspect that Transport for London have detailed passenger estimates for this route, so they should be able to determine the frequency and length of replacement trains required.

The Upgraded Norwood Junction Station

In Major Upgrade Planned For Norwood Junction Railway Station, I talked about a plan to upgrade Norwood Junction station.

The idea behind the upgrade is to improve connectivity and capacity in the crowded Croydon area.

If the West Croydon and Willesden Junction service, was routed via Norwood Junction station, the upgraded station would give easy access to both East and West Croydon stations.

Conclusion

I’ve always liked Chris Gibb’s suggestion of the transfer of the service between East Croydon and Milton Keynes stations to the London Overground and I can now start to see flesh on the bones!

At the present time and until better data is available, I think the replacement service should be as follows.

  • The Northern terminus should be Willesden Junction.
  • The Southern terminus should be West Croydon station, where there are good tram and train connections.
  • The route would be via Shepherds Bush, Kensington Olympia, West Brompton, Imperial Wharf, Clapham Junction, Wandsworth Common, Balham, Streatham Hill, West Norwood, Gipsy Hill, Crystal Palace and Norwood Junction.
  • Going via Gipsy Hill, rather than the current route via Selhurst, would give access to the connectivity at Norwood Junction.
  • The frequency should be four tph.
  • Trains will be four- or five-car Class 710 trains.

The benefits would be as follows.

  • The rail hubs of Clapham Junction, Norwood Junction, West Croydon and Willesden Junction would be connected together by a Turn-Up-And-Go service.
  • The proposed four tph service would need eight Class 710 trains, whereas the current one tph service needs eight Class 377 trains. Would this be better value?

In the future with a connection to High Speed Two in the Old Oak Common area, the benefits would increase.

  • There would be a simple interchange with High Speed Two.
  • South London from Clapham to Croydon, would get a direct service to High Speed Two.
  • There would also be a better connection to Heathrow Airport and other rail services through Old Oak Common.

I think that the connection to High Speed Two trumps everything else.

July 1, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

‘710s’ Debut On Goblin

The title of this post is the same as an article in the July 2019 Edition of Modern Railways.

The article is mainly about the introduction of the Class 710 trains on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line.

But the last sentence of the article is worth more investigation.

On the West London Line, TfL is curremtly working with the Department for Transport on options for the devolution of services originally suggested in Chris Gibb’s report on the Govia Thameslink Railway franchise, which could lead to ‘710s’ being deployed here.

I investigate it fully in A London Overground Replacement For Southern’s East Croydon And Milton Keynes Service.

This was my conclusion.

At the present time and until better data is available, I think the replacement service should be as follows.

  • The Northern terminus should be Willesden Junction.
  • The Southern terminus should be West Croydon station, where there are good tram and train connections.
  • The route would be via Shepherds Bush, Kensington Olympia, West Brompton, Imperial Wharf, Clapham Junction, Wandsworth Common, Balham, Streatham Hill, West Norwood, Gipsy Hill, Crystal Palace and Norwood Junction.
  • Going via Gipsy Hill, rather than the current route via Selhurst, would give access to the connectivity at Norwood Junction.
  • The frequency should be four tph.
  • Trains will be four- or five-car Class 710 trains.

The benefits would be as follows.

  • The rail hubs of Clapham Junction, Norwood Junction, West Croydon and Willesden Junction would be connected together by a Turn-Up-And-Go service.
  • The proposed four tph service would need eight Class 710 trains, whereas the current one tph service needs eight Class 377 trains. Would this be better value?

In the future with a connection to High Speed Two in the Old Oak Common area, the benefits would increase.

  • There would be a simple interchange with High Speed Two.
  • South London from Clapham to Croydon, would get a direct service to High Speed Two.
  • There would also be a better connection to Heathrow Airport and other rail services through Old Oak Common.

I think that the connection to High Speed Two trumps everything else.

I will keep returning to this vital link down thw West London Line.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June 30, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The East London Line In 2030

The East London Line was opened in May 2010 using pieces of redundant infrastructure in the East of London.

Modern additions were added.

A new fleet of Class 378 trains were purchased and services began between two Northern and four Southern destinations, at a frequency of four trains per hour (tph).

Looking back just over eight years later, the line has been an overwhelming success.

East London Line Capacity

The proof of this success surely is shown in the increasing capacity of the line since 2010.

The Class 378 trains have got longer.

  • In 2010, they started at just three cars.
  • They were soon extended to four cars.
  • In 2016, all trains became five cars.

The trains could go to six cars, but there are platform length issues, that make five cars the current limit.

On the other hand, selective door opening could be used, which works so well with walk-through trains.

Now, Transport for London are going to increase frequencies on the line.

  • In 2018, an additional two tph will run between Dalston Junction and Crystal Palace stations.
  • In 2019, an additional two tph will run between Dalston Junction and Clapham Junction stations.

This would give twenty tph between Dalston Junction and Surrey Quays stations.

Given that Crossrail and Thameslink will handle twenty-four tph in their central tunnels, I suspect that to have the same frequency on the East London Line would not be impossible.

Developments That Will Happen

These developments will happen, that will affect the East London Line.

Crossrail

The Whitechapel station interchange with Crossrail will become the Jewel in the East, as it will give access to Canary Wharf, the West End, Stratford, Liverpool Street, Paddington and Heathrow to all those (like me!), who live along the East London Line.

As both lines will have train frequencies of at least twenty tph, you should never wait more than a few minutes for your train.

I can see, the number of passengers changing between Crossrail and the East London Line being very high.

  • For many travellers it will be their quickest way to Crossrail.
  • The Class 378 trains are more passenger-friendly than Thameslink’s Class 700 trains, which are best avoided, by those with sensitive posteriors.
  • Whitechapel station gives access to both the Eastern branches of Crossrail.
  • All East London Line services call at Whitechapel.

My scheduling experience says that the frequency of trains on Crossrail and the East London Line should be the same, to smooth travellers passage through the station.

So expect Crossrail to eventually push the East London Line to twenty-four tph.

Increased Frequencies On The Underground

The Sub-Surface Lines of the London Underground are being re-signalled, which will mean more capacity, where the District and Metropolitan Lines interchange with the East London Line at Whitechapel station.

There could also be improvements on the Jubilee Line, where it meets the East London Line at Canada Water station.

I doubt we’ll see more improvement to the Victoria Line, as you can only extract blood from a stone for a limited period.

It is also probably true, that Dear Old Vicky needs some relief.

New South Eastern Franchise

The new South Eastern Franchise will be awarded in August 2018, with the new incumbent taking over in December 2018.

The current Southeastern services have little interaction with East London Line services, except at New Cross station, where the following services call.

  • Southeastern – Northbound – Eight tph to Cannon Street via London Bridge.
  • Southeastern – Southbound – Eight tph to Lewisham via St. John’s.
  • Overground – Four tph to and from Dalston Junction.

New Cross is a good interchange for travelling to and from South East London and I suspect the new franchise will only make it more useful.

New Trains On The Northern City Line

The Northern City Line has been ignored for decades and in my view it is a disgrace with elderly Class 313 trains, dirty, dark and dingy stations and unmotivated staff, who seem abandoned by their employers.

If ever there is a line that should join the Overground, it is this one!

At least, the line is getting new Class 717 trains, which will bring the following.

  • Modern trains with wi-fi and hopefully comfortable seats.
  • Increased capacity.
  • Up to twelve tph between Moorgate and Alexandra Palace stations via Highbury & Islington and Finsbury Park stations.
  • More passengers to the East London Line at Highbury & Islington station.
  • A direct cross-platform and step-free link for the Victoria Line to Crossrail.

Planners do not seem to have realised the effects these new trains will cause in North London and at Highbury & Islington station in particular.

North London Line Improvements

In the next few years, there will be improvements on the North London Line.

All these improvements will bring more passengers to the East London Line and put more pressure on Highbury & Islington station.

Property Development Along The East London Line

Only two stations on the East London Line; Dalston Junction and Shoreditch High Street, were designed to have development on top.

Dalston Junction station has now been virtually fully developed and only now are tower blocks starting to grow around and on top of Shoreditch High Street station.

The City of London will also expand to the East, which will mean more offices and housing clustered around stations like Whitechapel, Shadwell and Canada Water.

Property developent will greatly increase the ridership of the East London Line.

Rebuilding Of Highbury & Islington Station

Many travellers in East London, use the Overground to get to Highbury & Islington station for access to the Underground.

The below ground section of this station needs substantial improvement with a second entrance, more escalators and lifts.

Plans get talked about, but nothing happens.

I believe that the new Class 717 trains on the Northern City Line could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, as they will bring more travellers to the station.

But on the other hand the existing cross-platform interchange with the Victoria Line, might mean that less travellers need to go to and from the surface.

I have this feeling, that a rebuilt Highbury & Islington station will happen before 2030 and would attract more travellers to the East London Line.

Developments That Could Happen

These developments could happen, that will affect the East London Line.

Bakerloo Line Extension To Lewisham

I believe extending the Bakerloo Line to Lewisham station is more likely to happen than Crossrail 2 and if it was built it would connect to the East London Line at New Cross Gate station.

This map shows the extension.

I believe that the East London Line and the extended Bakerloo Line will complement each other.

  • The Bakerloo Line will probably have at least twenty tph between Queen’s Park and Lewisham stations via Waterloo, Oxford Circus and Baker Street stations.
  • The East London Line will have at least six tph between Highbury & Islington and Crystal Palace stations and four tph between Highbury & Islington and West Croydon stations.
  • New Cross Gate is currently a step-free station, so I suspect it will be a very smooth interchange.

Connections between South East and the whole of North London will be substantially improved.

Brockley Interchange

It has been suggested that Brockley station be connected to the line between Nunhead and Lewisham stations, which crosses over the station.

Wikipedia says this about the connection.

At the London end the line is crossed by the Nunhead to Lewisham line. At this location adjacent to Brockley station was sited Brockley Lane station which closed in 1917 with the original London, Chatham and Dover Railway branch to Greenwich Park. The connection of that line to Lewisham is a later development. The possibility of opening platforms on this line with direct access to Victoria Station and the Bexleyheath Line to Dartford has often been suggested but is currently low on TfL’s priorities.

In some ways the Bakerloo Line extension to Lewisham does a similar job in connecting the East London Line to Lewisham, but at a much higher frequency.

Another problem with the Brockley Interchange is that there are only two tph between Victoria and Lewisham, that pass over Brockley station and does the capacity at Lewisham station exist to allow this to be increased to a viable frequency, that would make building Brockley Interchange an interchange worth building?

Crossrail 2

Will Crossrail 2 be built or even started before 2030?

I personally doubt it, unless Brexit is an unqualified success and the project is privately-funded.

There are also other projects that might lower the need for Crossrail 2 and allow it to be delayed to beyond 2030.

Extension Of East London Line Services Along The North London Line

I can remember reports, when the London Overground was created, that suggested that some East London Line services, might be extended to the West, possibly to Willesden Junction station.

I think there are two major problems.

  • Trains going West from Highbury & Islington station from the East London Line could stop in Platform 1 or 2 and go straight through on their way to Clendonian Road & Barnsbury station. But those going the other way would probably need to cross tracks on flat junctions!
  • Where is the suitable bay platform to turn the trains?

On the other hand, many passengers would find it useful, as it would avoid a change at Highbury & Islington station.

Penge Interchange

I discuss the possible Penge Interchnge station in Penge Interchange.

 

 

Note that the Penge Interchange offers four tph to and from Victoria, whereas the Brockley Interchange only offers a measly two tph.

Shoreditch High Street Connection To The Central Line

The Central Line passes directly underneath Shoreditch High Street station, as this map from carto.metro.free.fr shows.

Note the reversing sidings at Liverpool Street station in the South-West corner of the map.

Wikipedia says this about the possibility of creating an interchange.

There have also been discussions of creating an interchange with the Central line between Liverpool Street and Bethnal Green which runs almost underneath the station. However, this would not be able to happen until after the Crossrail 1 project is complete, due to extreme crowding on the Central line during peak hours.

Consider.

  • Liverpool Street to Bethnal Green is one of the longest stretches on the Underground without a station.
  • There is a lot of  residential and housing developments, being proposed for around Shoreditch High Street station.
  • Large numbers of passengers use the East London Line to get to Highbury & Islington station for the Underground. Would a Shoreditch High Street connection take the pressure off?
  • It could give East London Line travellers, a single-change connection to Liverpool Street, Bank, St. Paul’s, Chancery Lane and Holborn stations.

For construction and operational reasons, the decision to create this connection will not be taken until Crossrail is fully open.

I suspect passenger statistics will play a large part in the decision.

Southeastern Connections

Southeastern has three main terminals in London.

  • Cannon Street – Jubilee and Northern Lines
  • Charing Cross – Circle and |District Lines
  • Victoria – Circle, District and Victoria Lines.

But they also serve other stations in South London with good connections.

  • Abbey Wood – Crossrail
  • Greenwich -DLR
  • Lewisham – DLR and possibly Bakerloo Line
  • London Bridge – Jubilee and Northern Lines and Thameslink
  • New Cross – East London Line
  • Woolwich Arsenal – DLR

The rebuilding of London Bridge station has probably improved connectivity, but are further improvements needed?

Two of the possible improvements to the East London Line; the Brockley and Penge Interchanges will connect current Southeastern services to and from Victoria to the East London Line.

Would the new South Eastern franchise like a connection to the East London Line?

  • ,Passengers to and from East London surely have have an easier route, than going to Victoria and then using the Underground!
  • Passenger numbers at Victoria might be marginally reduced
  • Both new interchanges would give a route to Crossrail at Whitechapel, which is not an easy connection to and from Victoria.
  • I have looked at timings and it appears that the Whitechapel route is perhaps five minutes slower to the West End or Paddington, but perhaps a dozen minutes faster to the Northern part of the City of London.

It is my view, that if Penge Interchange is built, then Brockley Interchange could be forgotten.

Thameslink Improvements

With all the money spent on Thameslink, it is likely that Network will want to maximise their investment by running as many trains as possible on the route.

Currently, the plan is for twenty-four trains an hour through the central tunnel, which then split as follows.

  • Eight tph via Elephant & Castle
  • Sixteen tph via London Bridge of which twelve tph continue to East Croydon.

It would also appear that there are another five tph between London Bridge and East Croydon, but only one tph runs on the fast lines.

So there would appear to be plenty of capacity between London Bridge and East Croydon stations, even if the central tunnel frequency on Thameslink were to be upgraded to thirty tph.

I think we might see a bit of sorting out of Thameslink to minimise some of the problems, that became evident after the May 2018 timetable change.

A problem I have, which I share with the millions in East London, is that it is difficult to get to Gatwick Airport, as there is no common station between the East London Line and Thameslink.

  • If the Penge Interchange is built, should Thameslink trains stop at the station?
  • When the Bakerloo Line is extended to New Cross Gate station, should Thameslink trains stop at the station?
  • Should all slow trains on the line be run by the London Overground?
  • Should all fast trains on the line be run by Thameslink?

Thameslink could be so much more useful.

West Croydon Or East Croydon

From a personal point of view, when I go to Croydon, I want to get to East Croydon station, as I’m usually taking a train to the South Coast or Gatwick Airport.

  • Inevitably, I end up taking a tram from West Croydon to East Croydon station.
  • Ging the other way is more difficult, as I inevitably get lost trying to find West Croydon station.
  • Although, there are now some trams at East Croydon only going to West Croydon.
  • Trains to the North of Penge West station, never seem to be very full.
  • East Croydon station is more important than West Croydon station.

So would it be better if the East London Line trains went to East Croydon?

The problem is that there is no space in East Croydon station.

Perhaps two new platforms could handle both East London and West London Line services.

West London Line services should also be run by the London Overground, as was proposed by Chris Gibb, as I wrote about in Gibb Report – East Croydon – Milton Keynes Route Should Be Transferred To London Overground.

I would do the following.

  • Sort out Victoria and Thameslink services at East Croydon station, so that all Northbound and Southbound services used a separate pair of platforms, with one platform face for Thameslink and the other for Victoria services.
  • If possible, move services like London Bridge to Uckfield to Thameslink.
  • Put a pair of terminal platforms under the Thameslink and Victoria services platforms, connected to these platforms by escalators and lifts.
  • Most of the tunneling would be under railway property North of East Croydon station.
  • These platforms could probably handle up to six trains per hour (tph) each.
  • It would be possible to run six tph between Highbury and Islington and East Croydon stations.
  • The West London Line could have a highly desirable four tph to the mega-station at Old Oak Common.
  • It might even be possible to use the platforms for service recovery on Thameslink.
  • It could release the pressure on the difficult Windmill Bridge Junction, which is a bit of a bottleneck.

It would be costly, but planned properly, I believe it could be created without any major disruption to the existing East Croydon station.

It would create a simple one-change link between Gatwick Airport, Brighton and other South Coast destinations to the following.

  • Through services to London Bridge, St. Pancras and Victoria.
  • East London Line services to East London and Whitechapel for Crossrail for the City, Central London and Shenfield.
  • West London Line services to West London and Old Oak Common for High Speed 2, West Coast Main Line and Crossrail for Heathrow and Reading.

Capacity at East Croydon would probably be increased.

Conclusion

The East London Line will get better and better.

 

 

June 23, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Plastic Platforms At East Croydon Station

Platforms 1 and 2 at East Croydon station now have glass reinforced plastic surfaces.

They look good and feature.

  • Shorter stepping distance into and out of trains.
  • Underfloor heating to prevent ice and snow build up.
  • Blue LED edge lighting.
  • The lights are blue, so they can’t be confused for signals by the drivers.
  • The lighting is designed to deter suicides.

The keen-eyed will notice that the lights aren’t switched on. Apparently, some have failed!

December 21, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment