The Anonymous Widower

West Anglia Route Improvement – Modern Railways March 2017

The March 2017 Edition of Modern Railways sheds some more light on what is happening at the between Angel Road and Tottenham Hale stations.

They state  the following about the current works.

  • The Stratford area and its station is growing in importance.
  • The line is slated for improvement under the Stratford-Tottenham-Angel Road (STAR) project.
  • STAR will involve laying a third track between Stratford and Angel Road, alongside the West Anglia Main Line and the Temple Mills Branch to Stratford.
  • STAR will be completed at the end of 2018.
  • STAR will run at a frequency of four trans per hour (tph)

A picture in the magazine taken from a footbridge shows very much what my pictures show.

They also state this about Crossrail 2

  • Crossrail 2 would be overlaid on the existing network serving both Liverpool Street and Stratford stations.
  • Coppermill junction could be converted to a grade-separated rather than a flat junction.
  • Crossrail 2 would emerge from the tunnel South of Tottenham Hale.
  • The project would quadruple the West Anglia Main Line from the tunnel portal to Broxbourne.
  • STAR would be built to facilitate this.
  • A turnback platform is being considered at Tottenham Hale
  • A turnback platform is being considered at Enfield Lock
  • Turnback platforms and stabling sidings are considered at Broxbourne.

So how does all this fit with my observations?

STAR

I very much feel that STAR could be only a stop-gap development until Crossrail 2 arrives. In What Is STAR?, I give a few basic details.

After all will it still be needed to run just four tph between Angel Road and Stratford, when there could be upwards of 10-15 tph on Crossrail 2 and other services between Tottenham Hale and Stratford?

Something is needed immediately to serve Angel Road station and the massive Meridian Water development, which will result in the renaming of Angel Road station to Meridian Water,

The timings from Tottenham Hale are currently as follows.

  • Stratford – 14 minutes
  • Lea Bridge – 4 minutes
  • Northumberland Park – 2 ,minutes
  • |Angel Road – 4 minutes

Modern Railways states STAR will use a third track between Stratford and Angel Road. So if it was designed to be straight and flat and if it is running new Aventra trains from either London Overground or Greater Anglia with a fast stop capability, I wonder if timings could be achieved, which would enable just two trains to run the required service.

But I also suspect that STAR would provide a valuable service to link Meridian Water to Tottenham Hale and Stratford stations, even after Crossrail 2 opens.

STAR At Tottenham Hale

This picture shows the available space at Tottenham Hale station, which doesn’t appear to be enough for two lines.

Not Much Space For Two Tracks

Note the newly-installed cable ducts.

Modern Railways states STAR will use a third track between Stratford and Angel Road. A single track would certainly fit through here.

Suppose the current platform 1 on the left, was made an island platform for the existing London-bound line and the track for STAR going along the route that now almost looks like freshly-mowed grass.

  • The new platform could be Platform 0
  • STAR would be worked in a bi-directional  manner, always calling at Platform 0
  • When Tottenham Hale station is re-built in the near future, Platform 0 will have full step-free access to the Victoria Line, courtesy of Platform 1.
  • It would have cross-platform access to Liverpool Street services on Platform 1.
  • Moving some Stansted or Cambridge service from Liverpool Street to Stratford might be operationally worthwhile after Crossrail opens.

Platform usage at Tottenham Hale would be as follows.

  • 0 – All STAR services.
  • 1 – Services to Liverpool Street
  • 2 – Northbound services except STAR.

That would be very logical for passengers and not the most complicated of construction projects.

STAR At Angel Road

If the third track continued to Angel Road station as seems to be proposed, then a  single bay platform could handle the four tph.

Space would have to be left for the two future new lines that will be installed, when the full West Anglia four-tracking takes place.

The STAR track could be close to the current West Anglia Up Line, as it will be at Tottenham Hale with the two new lines on the Eastern side of the station.

If the STAR track was on the outside, there would have to be a flat junction, where the STAR track crossed the two extra lines.

Until Crossrail 2 is built, I also suspect that STAR could be only service calling at Angel Road.

So there will be a lot of flexibility on how the station is built.

STAR At Northumberland Park

This picture shows the current works at Northumberland Park station.

Northumberland Park Station

This picture was taken from the footbridge in the station.

Could the current platform 1 at the station be converted into an island platform between the current West Anglia Up Line and a STAR track between the West Anglia Main Line and the Northumberland Park Depot for the Victoria Line?

I suspect the answer is in the affirmative.

There might even be space for more lines through the area, when the West Anglia Main Line is four-tracked.

STAR At Lea Bridge Station

Lea Bridge station is a recently-opened station on the Temple Mills Branch between Tottenham Hale and Stratford and I doubt  there is sufficient space for a separate track for STAR with its own platform through the station.

This picture is from A Look At Lea Bridge Station, which shows the station in detail.

 

Alongside Lea Bridge Station

 

The STAR track would have to go through here and would probably mean substantial rebuilding of a brand-new station.

So all services to Stratford will call at Platform 1 and all services from Stratford will call at Platform 2.

This will mean a junction North of Lea Bridge station, so that services can get themselves to the right lines for Tottenham Hale or in future the Chingford Branch along a rebuilt Hall Farm Curve.

  • Southbound STAR, Chingford Branch Line and other services to Stratford will merge before Lea Bridge station to pass through Platform 1.
  • Northbound STAR and Chingford Branch Line services will pass through Platform 2 and then cross over the Temple Mills Branch Up Line to the bi-directional STAR track alongside the main lines to Tottenham Hale.
  • Northbound Chingford Branch Line services will take the Hall Farm Curve to get to St. James station and the Chingford Branch Line.
  • Other Northbound services from Stratford will stay on the Temple Mills Branch Down Line and go straight to Platform 2 at Tottenham Hale.

Traffic crossing from the Temple Mills Branch Down Line over the Up Line to get to the STAR track would include.

  • STAR services of four tph.
  • Services from Stratford to Walthamstow and Chingford, which could be between two and four tph.

Due to restrictions on capacity caused by the level crossing at Highams Park station on the Chingford Branch Line, I suspect this could initially be just 2 tph, until a solution for the restriction is found.

STAR at Stratford

One possible problem is the capacity at Stratford station, which only has two possible terminal platforms 11 and 12.

Platform 11 is used for the current two tph that go up and down the West Anglia Main Line, but Platform 12 is currently just giving out messages saying “I’m Free!”

Platforms like these can generally handle four tph, as they do at stations like Highbury and Islington or Dalston Junction. But is a capacity of eight tph enough if some Stansted and Cambridge services are added to the mix.

But there may be other possibilities!

In High Meads Loop, I look at how an existing loop around Eastfield and Stratford International station could be used to turn trains.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr , shows the High Meads Loop.

stratfordlines

Use of the High Meads Loop would enable the following.

  • Probably upwards of 10-12 tph to be turned back at Stratford.
  • Trains would call in either Platform 11 or 12 at Stratford station.
  • Trains could call at Stratford International station.

Currently Platforms 11 and 12 can only handle eight-car trains, but they could be lengthened for the the new 12-car Stadler Flirts, that will work the London to Cambridge and Stansted services in a couple of years.

Cambridge, Stansted and Lea Valley services would have simple changes to the following services at Stratford.

  • Central Line
  • Crossrail for City and East London, Essex, Heathrow, Paddington and the West End.
  • DLR for Docklands and South East London.
  • European services, if they were to call at Stratford International. As they should!
  • Greater Anglia for Chelmsford, Colchester, Ipswich, Norwich and all the branches.
  • Jubilee Line for Canary Wharf, London Bridge, Waterloo and Westminster.
  • North London Line for Clapham Junction, Old Oak Common and West and South West London.
  • Southeastern Highspeed to Ebbsfleet, Kent and East Sussex.

I suspect that London Overground and/or Greater Anglia have a cunning plan to collect all of these services and platforms together in an optimal manner for the benefit of all stakeholders.

But it’s really just the East End of London asserting its true place in London’s hierarchy.

The Stratford/High Meads Advantage

Using the High Meads Loop at Stratford to turn trains from the West Anglia Main Line could be a big advantage in the next few years.

All of these construction projects need to be carried out.

  • Rebuilding of Tottenham Hale station.
  • Updating of Coppermill Junction.
  • Four-tracking of the West Anglia Main Line.
  • Lengthening of platforms at Liverpool Street station.
  • Connection of Crossrail 2 to the West Anglia Main Line.

If a connection between Tottenham Hale and Stratford  via Lea Bridge can be maintained at all times during this massive amount of construction, which given the space available is very possible, then Stratford could be an alternative destination for diverted West Anglia Main Line and local services, that are unable to connect to Liverpool Street.

STAR And Electrification

This picture shows where the single STAR track will pass under the Ferry Lane Bridge at Tottenham Hale station

Ferry Lane Bridge At Tottenham Hale Station

When I first looked at this bridge and saw the height of the overhead electrification on the existing West Anglia Main Line under the far span, I immediately questioned if they could fit the electrification under either of the blue steel bridges, where STAR might pass, in a manner that would meet all the Health and Safety regulations.

The only way to electrify and be certain of the safety would be to replace the bridge with a modern structure. But this would take a couple of years and can it be built without closing an important route to and from London for a couple of months?

So I come to the conclusion that the STAR line will not be electrified and the line will use electric trains with onboard energy storage or IPEMUs.

  • I have been told by the manufacturer that all Aventra trains are wired for onboard energy storage.
  • Both possible operators of the star service; Greater Anglia and London Overground are obtaining sizeable fleets of suitable Aventra trains,
  • Greater Anglia’s Aventras are five-car trains.
  • London Overground’s Class 710 trains are four-car trains.
  • Delivery of London Overground’s trains is scheduled to start in 2018, so they are a just-in-time delivery.
  • The route between Lea Bridge and Stratford is fully electrified, so trains could charge the batteries South of Lea Bridge station.
  • Diesel trains would be an alternative, but probably not appropriate in the Lea Valley.

For added safety, the well-proven method of slab track will be used under the bridge to ensure the train stays stable.

The outcome will be the ecologically sustainable development of Meridian Water gets appropriate electric trains to shuttle residents to Crossrail and the Eastfield Shopping Centre at Stratford.

Crossrail 2

I shall make a few comments about what the article says about Crossrail 2.

Crossrail 2 Would Be Overlaid On The Existing Network

How else is there to do it without building a whole new line on a different route up the Lea Valley?

Incidentally, plans used to exist for extending the Chingford Branch Line to Stansted Airport through Epping Forest. I doubt that will ever happen, especially as Queen Victoria is supposed to have said no!

Coppermill Junction Could Be Converted To A Grade-Separated Rather Than A Flat Junction

These pictures were taken from a train, that was going from Lea Bridge to Tottenham Hale, through the area of Coppermill Junction.

At present the following happens at Coppermill Junction.

  • Trains between Liverpool Street and Chingford pass straight over the junction.
  • Trains from Liverpool Street to Tottenham Hale curve left from the Chingford Branch Line to join the West Anglia Main Line.
  • Trains from Tottenham Hale to Liverpool Street cross in a flat junction over the West Anglia Down Line and the Chingford Branch Down Line to get on track for Liverpool Street.

When the West Anglia Main Line has been four-tracked and the STAR track has been inserted alongside the current tracks, the fast tracks will probably be the two most Easterly tracks through Tottenham Hale.

This will mean that the West Anglia Up Fast will have to cross the following lines to get on the Chingford Up Line.

  • The bi-directional STAR line.
  • The double-track of the Temple Mills Branch to Stratford.
  • The Chingford Down Line.

In the opposite direction, the following tracks will have to be crossed.

  • The double-track of the Temple Mills Branch to Stratford.
  • The bi-directional STAR line.

These movements will need a very complicated Coppermill Junction.

As four-tracking is all about faster services between Liverpool Street and Cambridge and Stansted, it would be detrimental to not have an efficient Coppermill Junction, with some grade separation.

I think we probably need flyovers or dive-unders on the following routes.

  • West Anglia Up Fast to Chingford Branch Up.
  • Chingford Branch Down to West Anglia Down Fast.

Routes would probably need to be provided so that the trains could go between the West Anglia Slow Lines and the Chingford Branch towards London.

In addition, I’ve heard rumours that trains will be able to go both ways between Tottenham Hale and Walthamstow/Chingford.

There is certainly lots of space to build a complicated junction, as the pictures show.

Crossrail 2 Would Emerge From The Tunnel South of Tottenham Hale

I think that has been known for some time and the possible site is full of London’s demolition rubble.

However, the junction with the West Anglia Slow Lines would probably need to be grade separated and integrated with the spaghetti that Coppermill Junction will probably have become.

The Project Would Quadruple The West Anglia Main Line From The Tunnel Portal To Broxbourne

If fast services to Cambridge and Stansted are to be retained, surely this must be done.

Just imagine 10-15 Crossrail 2 trains and ten fast trains, every hour sharing a pair of lines up the Lea Valley.

In my view the fast lines would be the two most Easterly lines and they probably wouldn’t stop very often, if at all between Liverpool Street or Stratford and Broxbourne.

,

STAR Would Be Built To Facilitate Four-Tracking

Everything I’ve seen leads me to think, that the single STAR track will be next to the West Anglia and Temple Mills Branch Up Line, with the two new lines outside to the East.

I also feel that these new lines will be the fast ones and possibly will have few if any platforms between Tottenham Hale and Broxbourne.

STAR could be an independent line, well out of the way operationally of other lines.

  • STAR will be bi-directional North of Lea Bridge station.
  • STAR could share island platforms with the West Anglia Up Line at Angel Road, Northumberland Park and Tottenham Hale stations.
  • There could be no points on the route once it separates North of Lea Bridge station.
  • The fast lines between Liverpool Street and Tottenham Hale could cross the Temple Mills Branch and the STAR line at Coppermill Junction using a flyover.

The last point probably explains the grade-separated junction, I mentioned earlier.

I said earlier that it could be difficult to put extra tracks through Tottenham Hale station. These pictures show the area, where the STAR line and the two new lines will go and also what lies on the other side in the new housing development of Hale Village.

There is more space than I thought earlier. As some of the concrete decking will probably be demolished or modified to build the new entrance and pedestrian bridge for the station, I suspect that the space between the current station and Hale Village can be made wide enough for at least the new lines needed to four-track the West Anglia Main Line.

But I suspect that a way will be found to get the STAR line and the two other lines in what space can be created.

This would mean.

  • The STAR service can continue, as long as it’s needed.
  • There certainly wouldn’t be space for platforms on the two other lines between the current station and Hale Village.
  • So as the slow lines will need platforms, the two new lines will be the fast lines.

North from Tottenham Hale, there is slightly more space, as my picture at Northumberland Park station showed.

As the STAR line is currently planned to terminate at Angel Road station, North from there, the requirement is only the easier one of two tracks and not three.

But if the requirement for three tracks should prove too difficult, as the four-tracking will see Crossrail 2 implemented, I’m sure that the STAR line can be sacrificed to make space. But that would create difficulty in maintaining an adequate service between Angel Road and Stratford whilst the four-tracjing is being carried out.

In some ways STAR has the feel of one of those temporary diversions you get in road works to keep the traffic moving.

  • Tottenham Hale station is going to be rebuilt.
  • Transport is needed urgently for Meridian Water.
  • STAR connects Angel Road to Stratford with all its connections and Crossrail from 2018.
  • When Crossrail 2 is opened, Angel Road, Northumberland Park and Tottenham Hale stations will have a frequent high capacity service.
  • Greater Anglia might move some Cambridge and Stansted services from Liverpool Street to Stratford.

I wouldn’t be sure that STAR  would still exist after Crossrail 2 opens.

  • There will be well upwards of ten tph Crossrail 2 trains in both directions calling at Angel Road station.
  • STAR connects Meridian Water with Stratford.
  • STAR gives a four tph connection between Crossrail 2 at Tottenham Hale and Crossrail at Stratford.

Passenger numbers and patterns will decide.

A Turnback Platform Is Being Considered At Tottenham Hale

Tottenham Hale station is being rebuilt and I suspect that if a turnback platform is being considered the station will have provision for the extra platform to be built.

This picture shows the Southern end of Platform 2 at the station with the Ferry Lane Bridge behind.

dscn0039

It certainly couldn’t be described as good engineering.

Connecting the two current platforms is a 1960s bridge, which has steps at both end and a single escalator to bring passengers arriving from the North onto the bridge to walk to the Victoria Line.

Plans for the station envisage a lot of work being done before the end of next year. Future in the Wikipedia entry for the station includes these plans.

  • creating a new landmark entrance to the Station;
  • increasing the capacity of the Station concourse, by doubling the size of the current ticket hall;
  • improving interchange by relocating the Greater Anglia and London Underground gatelines;
  • providing new access to platforms via the new Access for All (AfA) bridge being delivered separately by Network Rail;
  • removing the existing subway which links the south side of Ferry Lane with the Station;
  • extending the existing bridge to form a new Station entrance from Hale Village, providing improved access from the east to Tottenham Hale transport interchange;
  • re-routing the London Underground escape route and relocating the vent shaft;
  • providing a new, upgraded Station control facility; and
  • retail units.

Nothing is said about a turnback platform.

But I think if the Ferry Lane Bridge was to be rebuilt and the new station was modified appropriately, the turnback platform could be positioned behind and alongside the current platform 2.

  • It would share step-free access with that provided for platform 2.
  • There would be cross-platform for passengers arriving in the turnback platform, with services going further down the line.
  • The current waiting room would be demolished.
  • There would be space for the platform.

Current works at the station are moving the taxi rank, which would help the provision of a turnback platform and other features.

A Turnback Platform Is Being Considered At Enfield Lock

When I looked at Enfield Lock station, I showed this Google Map of Enfield Lock station.

enfieldlock2

Given that there will be two extra lines through the area, will there be any space for a turnback platform?

In Level Crossing Issues, I said this.

The Southernmost three of these crossings; Enfield Lock, Brimsdown and Northumberland Park, are close to the A1055 which is variously called Meridian Way or Mollison Avenue, which was built to serve the various industrial and residential sites between Tottenham Hale and Waltham Cross.

This road should obviously be improved, but look at this Google Map of the Northern End of the road.

Note the West Anglia Main Line crossing the map, in a North-South direction. Waltham Cross station is on the other side of the M25.

Surely this could be a site for a new Park-and-Ride station for Crossrail 2!

Could this be where the turnback platform at Enfield Lock will be located in a new station?

Turnback Platforms And Stabling Sidings Are Considered At Broxbourne

Broxborne station has everything needed to be turned into a superb Northern terminus for Crossrail 2.

  • The station has four platforms; two fast and two slow, with cross-platform change.
  • The station is step-free.
  • There is space to add extra through and turnback platforms.
  • There is space for stabling sidings.
  • There is space for masses amounts of parking.
  • The station has a large water feature including the River Lea and the New River.

The station is even Grade II Listed.

I said more in this post called Broxbourne Station. The final paragraph is.

It would not need a massive amount of money to be spent at Broxbourne to make the station a superb Northern terminus for Crossrail 2. It makes Shenfield and Abbey Wood look decidedly second-class now.

It is not often that the terminus of a new rail line is so easy to develop.

Other Questions And Issues

As I have written this post, several questions and issues have suggested themselves.

  • What will be done about the noise of 100 mph plus trains every few minutes on some parts of the route, like through Enfield Lock and Waltham Cross?
  • Could the two new fast lines be placed in a cut-and-cover tunnel through Tottenham Hale?
  • Do any plans exist for the replacement of the Ferry Lane Bridge at Tottenham Hale?
  • Could the High Meads Loop be used to turn trains at Stratford?
  • Will a station be built on the High Meads Loop to serve Stratford International station?

Like Coppermill Junction, it will all get very complicated.

Conclusion

STAR, Crossrail 2 and four-tracking the West Anglia Main Line will probably bring a lot of benefits, but it is not a simple project.

 

 

February 25, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

A Design Crime – Stratford International Station

I went to Canterbury today and took the Highspeed service from Stratford International station.

These are pictures I took at the station.

Most stations have the odd design issue, but Stratford International has a whole warehouse that’s full of them.

International In Name, But Not Trains

Stratford International station must be the only station in the world, which is billed as an International station, where all trains are domestic.

That to me is fraud!

Should I report the station to the Police?

Connecting With Stratford Station

I travelled to the station via the domestic Stratford station, which meant I had to walk the best part of a mile through the Eastfield Shopping Centre, which was mainly closed as it was earl;y in the morning.

Surely the connection could have been designed to be a shorter walk.

It’s not even straight through the Shopping Centre, but you have to double back after going right through almost to John Lewis.

It’s just designed so you pass as many shops as possible. I was wanting to use a train, not buy something.

 

This Google Map shows the two Stratford stations.

stratford2

Topsy could have designed it better. Even when she was about five!

Surely something better can be done.

The Link To The Docklands Light Railway

You could use the Docklands Light Railway, but then that introduces more changes into to your journey.It is the route recommended by the National Rail Journey Planner.

But the DLR station is on the other side of a road, rather than inside Stratford International station.

The Link To Crossrail

It’s only going to get worse when Crossrail opens, as passengers wanting to go to between say Paddington and East Kent will be drawn to Stratford, only to discover the struggle through Eastfield to Stratford International.

The alternative route via Abbey Wood will be slower and will probably mean extra changes.

There will be one better route available from Crossrail to Stratford International, when the new line opens and that will be to go to Canary Wharf station and, take the short walk to Poplar DLR station. A trip on London’s unique Docklands Light Railway will take you direct to Stratford International station. The DLR always delivers when the chips are down, just as it did in the 2012 Olympics.

No Place To Wait Before The Platforms

Except for a few uncomfortable seats designed by a sadist and what looks to be a comfortable cafe, there is no place to wait on the station concourse before going to the platforms.

A few comfortable seats would be welcome.

The Bleakest Platforms In The UK

That is being charitable, as in all my traels across Europe, even in say a very cold Eastern Europe, any set of platforms as unwelcoming.

Perhaps I should try Siberia!

Appalling Train Access For The Disabled

Considering that the Class 395 trains are the only ones to use the platforms, the disabled acess using a ramp is so nineteenth century.

I joked about the quality of this to a member of staff and they said that in the rush hour, they are sometimes assisting as many as four passengers.

It’s probably lucky that the HighSpeed service is not an intense one, as with this level of disabled access, there would be train delays.

Conclusion

The station and line is a disgrace and especially for the disabled.

Considering it was only built a few years ago, everybody concerned should hang their heads in shame.

What would I do?

  • Where the DLR goes under the main line platforms at Stratford station, between the two subways, I’d extend the DLR platforms underneath and provide direct access between the two levels. This must be possible and would enable passengers to change between main line, Crossrail and Central Line services with the DLR between Canary Wharf and Stratford International.
  • Try and improve the connection to the DLR at Stratford International
  • Replace or modify the Class 395 trains/pltform interface with something fit for purpose, that had level access to the platforms, so wheelchair passengers could just roll in.
  • Do something about the bleakness of the station.

I’d also increase the number of Highspeed services through the station, so that all destinations got at least two direct trains per hour from Stratford.

I would also add some extra new destinations like Eastbourne and Hastings.

 

 

February 14, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Platforms 11 and 12 At Stratford

In December this year, an service hourly service called STAR will be started between Stratford and Angel Road along the Temple Mills Branch of the Lea Valley Lines via Lea Bridge, Tottenham Hale and Northumberland Park stations. Wikipedia says this about services to and from the Angel Road station.

Angel Road is only served by a number of trains every weekday to and from Stratford. No services operate at the station on weekends or public holidays. However, from December 2015 Angel Road will receive an hourly service to Stratford that will start here and vice versa, the service will be known as (STAR).

STAR services will obviously call at the new Lea Bridge station, when it opens next year.

I shall probably use the service occasionally, when I need to get home from Stratford, as Lea Bridge station is on the 56 bus route that passes by my house.

At Stratford, there are two platforms that have been positioned to give easy access to the Temple Mills Branch through Lea Bridge and Tottenham Hale and onwards to Stansted Airport. I took these pictures of the platforms.

They sit at the end of the two London Overground platforms, which are the Eastern terminus of the North London Line. You can see two Class 378 trains peeking out from underneath the rusty bridge. (Not my name, but an East London nickname, I’ve heard from locals and station staff!) This Google Map shows the layout of the platforms.

Stratford Platforms 11 And 12

Stratford Platforms 11 And 12

In the map, platforms 11 and 12 curve away to the North from underneath the rusty bridge, which connects Eastfield to Stratford town centre.

Platform 11 is the Easternmost platform and is used as the terminus of the Stratford to Bishops Stortford service, which has been rumoured many would like extended to Stansted.

Platforms 1 and 2 for the North London Line are connected to the unused Platform 12, by a simple walkway, so in the future if Platform 12 is used for the STAR services, passengers going from anywhere on the North London Line to Tottenham Hale or Angel Road would just have an easy interchange.

As the STAR service will initially be an hourly service and the Bishops Stortford service is half-hourly and they run from platforms connected by a subway, I can’t help feeling that this will be an arrangement that won’t last long, before it is improved.

Suppose you arrive at Stratford wanting to get home to your house near Lea Bridge station and just miss the hourly train. Do you wait an hour for another train or catch the Bishops Stortford train, that will probably stop at Lea Bridge, after the new station opens?

It would be so much easier, if the two local services started from an shared island platform or at lest two platforms with a level walk between them.

This is going to get very complicated, if some of the plans for Stratford services up the Lea Valley are implemented.

  • I’ve read several times, that reinstatement of the link to Stansted Airport is an aspiration of many, especially as Stratford is close to the Olympic Park and it is an important rail interchange and a terminus for two branches of the DLR and the Jubilee and North London Lines.
  • There are also aspirations to start a direct service between the Chingford branch and Stratford using the reinstated Hall Farm Curve.
  • With all of the housing, business and leisure developments along the lower Lea Valley, it will not be long before an hourly STAR service is inadequate.
  • If the Hall Farm Curve is reinstated, would there be a need to run services between the Chingford branch and the North London Line?
  • There is also the Crossrail effect, which in the Lea Valley’s case could not be just Crossrail, but Crossrail 2 if that ever gets built.
  • Perhaps unlikely now, but I feel that at some point the Dalston Eastern Curve will be reopened, so enabling services between say Walthamstow to South London.
  • Is there a need to better connect Stratford International station to the main regional complex?

I can’t help feeling that the layout of Platforms 11 and 12 will at some time not be able to handle all the Lea Valley services.

I suspect though there may be an innovative solution.

Look at the Google Map and you see that the Temple Mills Branch passes over the deep hole of the International station. I wrote Is This The Most Unwelcoming Station In The UK? about that dreadful station.

So could two or three bay platforms to serve the Lea Valley and Stansted Airport, be built alongside the Temple Mills Branch, as it passes over the International station?

This Google Map shows Stratford International station.

Stratford International Station

Stratford International Station

The building at the bottom right is also shown on the previous map that shows Platforms 11 and 12.

If the extra platforms were built over the Eastern end of the International station, it would enable the following.

  • A new Eastern entrance to the International station could be created to give better connections between International and High Speed services from Stratford International and all the other services at Stratford Regional station.
  • Crossrail would have a step-free interchange to Eurostar and other International services, if those services stopped at the International station.
  • Interchange between Lea Valley and North London Line services, would be via a double Clapham Kiss, where passengers would just walk on the level to the other set of platforms.
  • There might be opportunities to extend or improve the connectivity of the DLR. The current DLR station is at the top left of the map.
  • Any direct services between the Temple Mills Branch and the North London Line would use the existing Platforms 11 and 12.

To get the connection right, the pedestrian links would have to be well-designed, but surely there is space to put a travelator effectively between the Regional and International stations.

Stratford International station would end up as what it should be, the International section of Stratford station.

 

 

 

 

September 21, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The High Meads Loop At Stratford

This piece started life as an investigation into a rail line connecting the North London and Lea Valley Lines at Stratford, but it ended up as more of an index to what is happening to trains around Stratford and up the Lea Valley.

If you travel on the North London Line from Hackney Wick station to Stratford station, you’ll see a rail line going off to the North side of the line under the Olympic Village.

High Meads Loop At Stratford Joins North London Line

High Meads Loop At Stratford Joins North London Line

If you travel up the Lea Valley Line, you’ll see the other end of the line.

High Meads Loop At Stratford Joins Lea Valley Line

High Meads Loop At Stratford Joins Lea Valley Line

This is the High Meads Loop and it is generally used to move freight trains. You can see it on this Google Earth image, as it curls round the western side of Stratford International station, starting from the triangular junction to the east of Hackney Wick station and the River Lea and eventually joining the Lea Valley Line between Stratford and the under-construction Lea Bridge station.

High Meads Loop

I walked around the area today starting from Stratford International DLR station and much of it is hidden under concrete in East Village.

What has always surprised me, is that this line doesn’t appear to have provision for a station, especially as it could connect to so many important places in the area.

But then it does seem to me that the design of the rail system in the area of the Olympic Park and Village didn’t put getting an efficient railway first. These questions must be answered.

1. Why was a fully-functional International station, built at Stratford International and has then never been used to run services to the Continent through the Channel Tunnel? This is answered partially in this section in Wikipedia about International services at the station. If Kent gets two stations at Ebbsfleet and Ashford International, then surely East London and Essex deserves one too!

2. Why too, is the link between the two Stratford stations, so much of an afterthought? Today, when I came back from my walk, there was the inevitable lost soul, who’d taken a train to Stratford International and needed to get a train to Romford. And his Narional Rail ticket wasn’t valid for the one-stop hop on the Docklands Light Railway. But this is East London and the Train Captain told him to ride Don’t get me wrong, I like the DLR, but surely for the Olympics we could have put a more spectacular or at least a better link between the two stations?

3. In some ways too, I often think that they used the high-speed service from St. Pancras to Stratford, just to give it something to do. For a start foreign day-trippers to the Olympics should have come straight into Stratford International on Eurostar. Why wasn’t this arranged?

4. I am pretty local to the Olympic Park and can get a train from Dalston Kingsland to Stratford. I went to the Olympic Park that way a couple of times, but to get home, the powers-that-be either sent you to Stratford International or West Ham. In one instance I walked to Clapton and got a bus home as everything was congested. The arrangements might have worked for getting to Central London, but they weren’t good for locals, who like me wanted to walk out of the Olympic Park and then probably get a bus home. One solution would have been to put more capacity on the North London Line, by extending the Class 378 trains to five cars, as is now being done. Why wasn’t this done on the North London Line in time for the Olympics? Especially, as the line has always been overcrowded compared to the East London Line.

5. Soon after the Olympics, I met a big cheese in the Docklands Light Railway on a train. He felt and I probably will agree with him, that the DLR overperformed in the Olympics and dear old Cinderella didn’t miss a beat. I suspect though that to many she has more than a touch of Minnie Mouse, but to East Londoners and knowledgeable visitors, she is the way to travel, where you get a grandstand view much of the time. So why wasn’t more use made of the DLR for the Olympics by designing it into the heart of the Olympic Park?

6. We also had the farce of if you went to the Olympics from St. Pancras, you had to go through the Eastfield shopping centre to get into the Olympic Park. Why? Was the Olympics about sport or shopping?

7. Look at this Google Earth image of the Eastfield shopping centre.

Eastfield

Eastfield

Notice how the DLR goes under the centre and emerges on the west side before curving round to get to the station at Stratford International. It has always puzzled me that no provision has been made for an extra station on this loop. It strikes me that the developers feel most shoppers will bring their cars or not buy anything heavy. I would use the centre more if it was easier to get home from say John Lewis with perhaps something weighing ten or twenty kilos. Why was this extension of the DLR designed to be never more than a timid link?

If I look at some of the rail designs of the last few years, I get the impression, that they are less timid and not designed to be easiest to construct. The London Overground in particular has been innovative in some of its infrastructure to design affordable and efficient railways. Look at the Clapham Kiss as just one example.

In any developments to improve Stratford, there is also a thundering herd of elephants in the room, which will probably have more effect on what happens than any politician.

And that is Crossrail!

What is planned now is only Phase 1 of Crossrail and future developments will give Crossrail a bigger share of London’s passengers and even more influence.

1. Crossrail has been designed to take slightly longer trains and with its massively long platforms, the capacity of the system is quite a bit bigger than what we’ll see when the line opens.

2. Crossrail can also take more trains through the core, so we’ll definitely see extra branches on the line. Ebbsfleet on HS1 is safeguarded and Tring on the West Coast Main Line is being seriously studied.

3. Crossrail lacks an easy and hopefully cross-platform interchange to high speed services to Europe and in the future to the North. An easy interchange to HS1 at St. Pancras and Stratford is impossible, but one at Ebbsfleet could be incorporated with the extension of Crossrail to the station.

So what do I think should be done to sort out the sins of the pre-Olympic rail system development in the Stratford area?

1.  A Better Connection Between The Two Stratford Stations And To The Eastfield Shopping Centre.

Look at this Google Earth image of Stratford station.

Stratford Layout

Stratford Layout

The DLR branch between Stratford International and the core system passes underneath the rail lines, including Crossrail and the Overground , and the Central Line, at right angles.

The passenger connection between the DLR and the lines passing through above is not easy, although it is step-free. If you take the wrong tunnel from the rail lines, you end up on the wrong DLR platform.

As the two subways are one each side of the DLR lines, couldn’t something better be done to make this interchange easier? For a start how about a sign saying take these stairs from the through platform to get your DLR service to Stratford International?

I also think that there should have been a station on the DLR line underneath Eastfield. It would be interesting to know what the shopping centre thinks.

2. Will We Ever See International Services From The Station That Has The Word In Its Name?

If Crossrail extends to Ebbsfleet, this will take a big chunk out of High Speed passengers to Stratford and St. Pancras. If say you lived in East Kent and worked in the City or the West End of London, why would you not take a convenient service, High Speed or otherwise, to Ebbsfleet and then change to Crossrail for where you actually needed to go?

Stratford International also lacks an easy link to all of the other services at Stratford and especially to Crossrail, even if the DLR link is improved. But any cross-platform link is impossible!

Passengers will get increasingly fed up with second-rate stations, when they see some of the modern ones that work, like Reading and Kings Cross. St. Pancras may look spectacular, but it is A Fur Coat And No Knickers Station

So Stratford International, which I find an unwelcoming place,  could become a massive white elephant, that had its brief moment of fame at the Olympics.

3. The Moans In North East London

Read the various Internet forums and web pages and some of the biggest complaints are about the poor transport links to and from places in  North East London and the Lea Valley, like Walthamstow, Leyton and Tottenham.

Things are improving,

The transfer of the Lea Valley Lines to an operator who cares about passengers in London and the uprating of the Victoria Line later this year, can’t be anything but positive.

But more could be done!

4. A Shoreditch High Street Station On The Central Line?

After Crossrail has bedded in, will we finally see a connection between the Central Line and the East London Line at Shoreditch High Street? I think we will as because Crossrail is an effective by-pass for the Central Line from Stratford to Liverpool Street, the Central Line could probably be shut for several months under Shoreditch High Street, whilst the link is created without causing too much inconvenience to passengers, except for those using Bethnal Green. But even those would have the new Whitechapel Crossrail station a couple of bus stops away

5. Extending the DLR to Tottenham Hale

This was mooted a few years ago and a document called DLR Horizon 2020 talked about extending the system from Stratford International up alongside the Lea Valley Lines to Tottenham Hale station. This article on London Reconnections describes the proposal like this.

Extend the DLR from Stratford International to Tottenham Hale via the Lea Valley. The route would run alongside the current Lea Valley rail lines where possible and the line would serve the Olympic site and feature additional stops at Lea Bridge and Walthamstow Marshes.

It may be a worthy idea, but does it really make economic sense, when according to what you believe a lot of things may be happening in the area.

When the heavy rail expansion is sorted and the area between Tottenham and Walthamstow is developed as housing and a very large wetland and leisure area, the case for a Lea Valley Light Railway may be stronger.

6. Using The High Meads Loop For Passengers

Trains can use the High Meads Loop to pass across the northern side of Stratford Intergenerational station. This Google Earth image of the station, shows the lines passing round the North-Western corner.

 

Stratford International Station

Stratford International Station

Note also the Docklands Light Railway station on the northern side of the deep station box, virtually above the DLR logo.

I think with a will a station could be built on the High Meads Loop just to the north of the DLR station, which would allow trains to travel between the North London Line and the Lea Valley Line calling at a station close to the International station and possibly a station in the East Village.

But as with extending the DLR from Stratford International would it all be worthwhile?

Unless of course some developer wants to do a mega-development and pays for the trains and the infrastructure.

7. Conclusion

I think we should leave well enough alone and accept that Stratford International station is probably a shining white elephant.

In the meantime, we should make it easier to transfer between one station too many at Stratford.

The High Meads Loop is probably best left to sort out the freight that has to travel through the area until someone does the right thing and builds a proper freight line that avoids the North London and the Gospel Oak to Barking Lines.

 

 

 

 

 

May 26, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Searching For Gluten-Free Cocktail Sausages

I finally tracked down some of Marks and Spencers gluten-free cocktail sausages in their store at Eastfield.

They have also opened up a new gluten-free section for chilled goods, like fish cakes.

November 27, 2014 Posted by | Food | , , , | Leave a comment

The Best Cafe In Eastfield

Marks and Spencer’s cafes are probably best described as safe, with a boring selection of drinks and pastries, that wouldn’t annoy ladies who drink milky coffee.

But the one on the bridge at their Eastfield store is different.

It’s nice to go to a cafe with proper china and nearly all those in that area of the shopping centre use paper cups.

So it’s a no-brainer as to where I go!

It does mean that if I’m lucky, I have to put up with one of the best views in East London.

As Marks and Spencer now have an extensive range of gluten-free foods in the shop below the cafe, Stratford is an ideal place to break a journey with a pit stop for supplies

 

 

October 9, 2014 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

Inside The Olympic Park

I walked across from the ViewTube to Eastfield.

As the pictures show, there seems to have been a comprehensive upgrading of the site. All it needs now is to finish the Olympic Stadium.

My one doubt is the price of going up the Orbit. Remember that there is a good viewing gallery in John Lewis at Eastfield.

It certainly looks better now, than the site where the Athens Olympics of 2004 took place.

When it is complete with a fully refurbished Olympic stadium, it will be a unique attraction for London.

In some ways for me it could become a special place, as so much of my early years had connections with London’s second river, the Lee.  I used to fish in it, I worked alongside it, I drunk by My youngest son, even lived close to it in Bow.

 

London’s second river has at last found its purpose in life. It’s just a pity that C and our youngest son aren’t here to see it.

April 6, 2014 Posted by | World | , | Leave a comment

After Westfield And Eastfield, Is Croydon Getting Southfield?

It is good that shopping in Croydon is getting a makeover. Surely this one should be called Southfield.

I do hope that the makeover, also makes it easier to get a westbound tram from West Croydon station.

November 26, 2013 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

Getting Lost In John Lewis

After I took the pictures today, I wanted to get the lift down to the ground floor, so I could go to the Waitrose underneath John Lewis.

Getting Lost In John Lewis

Getting Lost In John Lewis

I ended up in the car park, as I just pushed the bottom button.

Surely some annotation wouldn’t be amiss!

August 25, 2013 Posted by | World | , | Leave a comment

The Olympic Park From John Lewis

I took these pictures today of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park from John Lewis in Eastfield.

It looks very different to before and during the Olympics. I took these pictures just over a year ago.

August 25, 2013 Posted by | Sport, World | , , | Leave a comment