The Anonymous Widower

Musings On The West Anglia Main Line

The West Anglia Main Line is the main railway between Liverpool Street station in the City of London and the Scientific Powerhouse of Cambridge via Stansred Airport.

This post started off as The Mother Of All Level Crossing Jams, when I got caught in a jam caused by the level crossing at Enfield Lock station.

It has since grown into a long post of the inadequacies of this important main line.

The Mother Of All Level Crossing Jams

These are pictures I took at Enfield Lock station in mid-morning.

I had arrived at the station at 11:04 and my train had departed on its way at 11:08.

I was in no hurry taking the pictures and I left at 11:22 after eight trains had gone through, without the gates being raised.

In two of the pictures, you can see a discarded broken gate. Was it caused by an irate motorist?

After I got back to the station, the barriers were still going up and down like a whore’s drawers and talking to a fellow passenger, she said it happens all the time.

Improving The West Anglia Main Line

Consider the following, which could effect what happens in the future.

  • Stansted Airport, Greater Anglia, Transport for London, the London Borough of Enfield, Cambridge City Council and the local MPs, all want the line to be four-tracked so that services to Cambridge and Stansted Airport can have their own dedicated fast lines.
  • ,Greater Anglia have lots of new trains and I suspect they want to run much-needed extra services into both Stratford and Liverpool Street stations.
  • Enfield Lock could be a Crossrail 2 station in ten years or so.
  • Crossrail 2 would want to run up to twelve trains per hour (tph).

It is a certainly a case of squeezing a couple of gallons into a pint pot.

Enfield Lock And Brimsdown

To make matters worse there is another equally congested level crossing at the next station to the South; Brimsdown.

This Google Map shows the area.

Note.

  1. Enfield Lock station is in the North West corner of the map, with Brimsdown in the South West corner.
  2. Mollinson Avenue, which tracks along the railway to its East, is nearly all dual carriageway.
  3. These is a lot of industrial premises in the area.
  4. There are a lot of distribution depots that need road access for heavy trucks.
  5. It is going to use all the ingenuity that Network Rail can muster to squeeze two extra tracks between those two stations.

If ever there was an area that needs an increased rail service it is this stretch of the West Anglia Main Line between Tottenham Hale and Cheshunt stations.

Improving The Lea Valley Lines

I suspect that British Rail foresaw the problem in the 1950s, as by 1960, they had electrified all the Lea Valley Lines including the goods-only Southbury Loop, which is now part of the London Overground, who run two tph on the route.

Both London Overground and Greater Anglia are getting new Aventra trains, which should increase the capacity and speed up services on both routes.

However, this could create a problem, in that they are such good trains, they may persuade more commuters to leave their cars at home and take the trains.

More Frequent Services

London Overground like to run four tph on their various routes.

At present, their Lea Valley services are as follows.

  • 4 tph from Liverpool Street to Chingford.
  • 2 tph from Liverpool Street to Enfield Town, with more services in the Peak and when Spurs are playing at home.
  • 2 tph from Liverpool Street to Cheshunt.

I suspect that they would like to run four tph all day and that after Crossrail opens and releases some platforms at Liverpool Street, this might happen.

Greater Anglia must be looking to improve services on the West Anglia Main Line, so that all stations South of Broxbourne get four tph, with perhaps two tph to each of  Liverpool Street and Stratford.

And then there’s STAR, which is a new service between Stratford and Angel Road stations. This article on IanVisits, which is entitled One of London’s quietest train stations set for major upgrade, gives a good explanation of this service, which will provide four tph between Stratford and a rebuilt Angel Road station, which will be renamed Meridian Water.

More Terminal Capacity In London

Adding these services together, I feel that  more capacity is needed at the London terminals of Liverpool Street and Stratford.

There are two short term solutions and one long term one.

Create More Capacity At Liverpool Street

This is the simplest short-term solution.

In the Wikipedia entry for Liverpool Street station, this is said.

Once Crossrail opens, platform 18 at the main Liverpool Street station will be decommissioned to allow platforms 16 and 17 to be extended, enabling them to accommodate longer trains.

I would assume this platform-lengthening is to accommodate the full-length Class 345 trains, that will run the Peak Hour service between Liverpool Street and Gidea Park stations.

I suppose too, having two platforms in Liverpool Street, that are capable of handling Crossrail trains must also be useful in special or exceptional circumstances.

Platform 18 is a curiosity, in that it is used by c2c as a diversion platform, when Fenchurch Street station is closed because of engineering works.

So after the work on platforms 16 and 17 is complete, will it be recommissioned?

That leaves fifteen platforms for Greater Anglia and London Overground to argue over.

If you compare the way Liverpool Street is organised compared to some more modern stations, I suspect that more modern trains can be handled without any expensive modifications to the existing station.

Modern practice means that a single platform can easily handle four tph, so as destinations like Norwich and Southend will only have three tph, could it mean that these destinations can be served by a single platform?

It would certainly make it easy for me, if I knew the fast Ipswich trains always left from platform 9.

I suspect that as London Overground has only three destinations; Cheshunt, Chingford and Enfield Town, whiich have a maximum frequency of four tph, that they could easily manage with four platforms; one for each destination and a spare.

This would give Greater Anglia eleven platforms.

Note this about Greater Anglia’s new trains.

  • The Class 745 trains will be of a fixed formation of twelve cars.
  • Will the three-car and four-car Class 755 trains have the ability to join and split automatically?
  • Will the five-car Class 720 trains have the ability to join and split automatically?

Having seen how Class 395 trains and others can do this in under a couple of minutes and the flexibility of destinations it gives, I will be very surprised if Greater Anglia haven’t specified this capability.

  • As an example, two four-car Class 755 trains could start at Lowestoft and Bury St. Edmunds respectively and then join at Ipswich, before proceeding to London as an eight-car train.
  • Would it be sensible that all trains go into Liverpool Street at maximum length?
  • Trains might split and join at Ipswich, Colchester and perhaps Chelmsford. All that is needed is a long platform.

Perhaps Greater Anglia’s platforms at Liverpool Street could be allocated something like this.

For Flirts (Class 745 and Class 755)

  • Norwich
  • Ipswich/Lowestoft
  • Stansted Airport
  • Cambridge

For Aventras (Class 720)

  • Bishops Stordford/Broxbourne/Hertford East
  • Colchester/Harwich
  • Clacton/Walton
  • Chelmsford/Braintree
  • Southend

On this rough assessment, it would appear that at least for a few years Liverpool Street station could cope.

Developing Stratford As A Second Terminal

Consider these facts about the railway hub at Stratford.

  • Stratford has not been fully developed as a terminal for the West Anglia routes and only handles two tph to and from Bishops Stortford.
  • Stratford has two platforms 11 and 12, that were built to serve the West Anglia routes; the West Anglia Main Line and the Lea Valley Lines.
  • Platforms 11 and 12 are on the High Meads Loop, which would reverse the trains on West Anglia routes.
  • Stratford is well connected to Crossrail, Central and Jubilee Lines of the Underground, the DLR, the Overground , Highspeed services to Kent and Greater Anglia services on the Great Eastern Main Line.
  • Stratford has better connections than Liverpool Street to London Bridge and Waterloo
  • Stratford could have excellent connections to Highspeed services to Kent and Continental services at Ashford International.
  • Stratford will be only a few minutes from Liverpool Street on Crossrail.

Stratford is also a destination in its own right, with the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and the massive shopping complex.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the complex at Stratford.

It is very much capable of development.

  • Better connections could be made between Stratford International and the main station.
  • The subways in the complex could be improved.
  • The Hall Farm Curve could be reinstated to give direct connections between Stratford and Walthamstow/Chingford.

I would not be surprised if Greater Anglia increased their services to and from Stratford.

I could also envisage a timetable, where trains alternate between the two terminals., as every passenger will have their favoured terninal.

Crossrail 2

Crossrail 2 is the long-term solution.

Upwards of ten tph will run between Broxbourne and Tottenham Hale, before entering the tunnel to Central and South West London.

It will obviously handle all the local services South of Broxbourne, with just the services from the North continuing to Liverpool Street and Stratford.

Following Abbey Wood, Reading and Shenfield stations on Crossrail, I think that we would see Broxbourne station developed as a simple interchange between longer distance services and Crossrail 2.

Both services would have their own tracks to London.

Conclusion

The West Anglia Main Line urgently needs improvement and this improvement can be broken down into a series of smaller projects, the first three of which have already started and could be completed by 2020.

  1. Creation of STAR – The Stratford-Angel Road Metro – Already started.
  2. Building of new Meridian Water station to replace Angel Road station – Already started.
  3. Rebuilding of Tottenham Hale station – Already started.
  4. Post-Crossrail Improvements at Liverpool Street and Stratford stations.
  5. Removal of level crossings at Brimsdown, Enfield Lock and Waltham Cross
  6. Four-tracking between Tottenham Hale and Broxbourne.
  7. Step-Free Stations
  8. Reinstatement of the Hall Farm Curve.

These projects will also get the main line Crossrail 2-ready.

This process has already started with the creation of STAR, which will create a third track as far as Angel Road station. In the article on IanVisits, this is said.

Along the tracks nearby there are already hi-vis wearing Network Rail contractors clearing the land to prepare it for the Stratford to Angel Road (STAR) rail upgrade project which will see a third railway track added. Passive provision for a fourth track will be included for Crossrail 2.

This work has already closed the level crossing at Nothumberland Park station.

In Innovation In Railway Projects, I describe how Network Rail are aiming to create a pipeline of smaller projects.

I feel that some parts of the updating of the West Anglia Main Line can be done in this way.

 

 

 

August 1, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Could Enfield Lock Station Have A Bay Platform?

In West Anglia Route Improvement – Modern Railways March 2017, I mentioned that Crossrail 2 might like to have turnback platform at Enfield Lock station.

As this morning, I turned back myself at Enfield Lock station, as it’s the Freedom Pass limit, I took these pictures.

This Google Map shows the middle of the station.

If you look at the West side of the station by the Down line, you’ll notice the house, which from the pictures could be a candidate for demolition.

So I do think, it might be possible to squeeze an extra platform, by the Down Line.

This Google Map shows the Southern end of the platforms.

The space available would certainly be enough for an extra platform, but will there be enough for two fast lines between the current Up Line and the houses?

I suspect that there is, if the current lines could be moved slightly to the West.

But as at Tottenham  Hale and Brimsdown, fitting the two fast lines through \Enfield Lock, is going to need a cunning plan.

H

March 20, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

West Anglia Route Improvement – Lea Bridge Station To Enfield Lock Station – 20th March 2017

I took these pictures of the works between Lea Bridge and Enfield Lock stations from the 09:06 train from Lea Bridge.

Work seems to be progressing.

  • It looks like the area to the South of the Chingford Line is being levelled.
  • The route of the Hall Farm Curve is being cleared.
  • The level crossing at Coppermill Lane has been closed.
  • The bridges are being rebuilt to take at least a single-track.
  • The track-bed appears to be being created.

Incidentally, there still isn’t any sign of any overhead line equipment.

 

March 20, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

West Anglia Route Improvement – Enfield Lock Station – 22nd February 2017

I took these pictures at Enfield Lock station.

This Google Map shows a closeup of the station.

Enfield Lock Station

Enfield Lock Station

Note.

  • The level crossing.
  • The Google Map shows an underpass so that pedestrians and cyclists can bypass the level crossing.
  • The truly dreadful footbridge.
  • The tired station facilities.
  • Will the houses behind the London-bound platform like having 20 tph, thundering past their back gardens.

There isn’t much space to the West of the line, but with a bit of selective demolition and moving of line-side equipment, I suspect that two extra tracks could be squeezed through.

In a related post I’ve proposed a Level Crossing Replacement Station.

This might be a way of doing the following.

  • Removing the level crossing.
  • Building a new modern station.
  • Providing easy level access across the railway at all times for pedestrians, cyclists and those in wheelchairs.

The good people of Enfield would get a modern station and the railways would get rid of a troublesome level crossing.

February 22, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | 2 Comments

West Anglia Route Improvement – Works Around Coppermill Junction And Along The West Anglia Main Line

There is a lot of work going on around Coppermill Junction and on the West Anglia Main Line between the junction and Northumberland Park station.

The map from carto.metro free.fr shows the lines around the junction.

Coppermill Junction

Coppermill Junction

Tottenham Hale station is on the West Anglia Main Line, which effectively starts and runs North West from Coppermill Junction.

In Rumours Of Curves In Walthamstow, I talked about how I’d heard rumours of the following.

  • The Hall Farm Curve would be reinstated as a single bi-directional track to allow rains to go between Stratford in the Soithe and Walthamstow and Chingford in the East.
  • The Coppermill Curve would be reinstated as a double-track curve to allow empty stock movements to Chingford, where there are several sidings.

There’s also the problem of Crossrail 2 going through the area, which will need a connection to the Central Tunnel and four-tracking of the West Anglia Main Line from Coppermill Junction North to Broxbourne station.

In the next few sections, I shall show the pictures I took this morning.

The Hall Farm Curve From The Chingford Branch

I took these pictures going between Clapton and St. James Street stations on the Chingford Branch Line.

Note how the area is quite large.

The work seems to have cleared all the old track, which in typical British Rail fashion seems to have been abandoned to the wildlife.

Tottenham Hale Station

I took these pictures around Tottenham Hale station.

There is quite a bit going on.

A helpful station man told me the following was happening.

  • Space is being created, so that two tracks can go through between the station and Hale Village.
  • The taxi rank in the forecourt of the station is being moved Northwards.
  • The current footbridge over the lines is going.
  • A new step-free footbridge is going to be built.

Effectively, there seems to be a cunning plan to rebuild the station around the working railway, which is confirmed in this document on the Transport for London web site. This is said about works on the bridge.

We plan to keep the station open during the work so that any potential disruption will be kept to a minimum.

That is a good start.

Obviously, the architects and engineers, who have designed the replacement station, but it does seem to me, that squeezing two tracks into the space behind Platform 2 at the station will need a very large and strong shoehorn.

From Tottenham Hale To Lea Bridge

I took these pictures between Tottenham Hale and Lea Bridge stations.

Note.

  • A new cable duct has certainly been installed.
  • The Hall Farm Curve has been cleared of rubbish and vintage track.
  • It also looks like the route of the replacement Coppermill Curve is being cleared through the scrub.
  • There didn’t appear to be any electrification piles or gantries.

I can’t believe Network Rail would clear the two curves unless they were going to reinstate them.

From Tottenham Hale To Enfield Lock

I took these pictures between Tottenham Hale and Enfield Lock stations.

Note.

  • It would appear that there is space to the East of the current two-track West Anglia Main Line to squeeze in two extra tracks.
  • There are level crossings at Northumberland Park, Brimsdown and Enfield Lock stations.
  • The quality of some of the buildings that would probably be demolished is best described as suspect.
  • Meridean Way, which runs alongside the railway from Angel Road Northwards is an inadequate highway.
  • I wonder how many people have booked the Premier Inn because it is close to Angel Road station, only to find that there are few trains.

I say more about the level crossings in Level Crossing Issues.

The Current Stations

These posts describe the current state of the stations between Tottenham Hale and Broxbourne around the 22nd February 2017.

Northumberland Park Station

Ponders End Station

Brimsdown Station

Enfield Lock Station

Waltham Cross Station

Broxbourne Station

There are also some relevant related posts.

How Many Fast Services Will Go Through Tottenham Hale Station?

How Many Slow Services Will Go Through Tottenham Hale Station?

Level Crossing Issues

A Level Crossing Replacement Station

What Is STAR?

Hopefully, this will mean I can add content without making this post overly long.

What Frequency Will Crossrail 2 Trains Have On The West Anglia Main Line?

The Crossrail 2 entry on Wikipedia says this about the Northern Regional branches.

Running at between 10 and 15 trains per hour on new rails above ground, connected to a junction north of Dalston:

I can’t see any space being found for two new tracks and I don’t think Greater Anglia will want this number of trains mixing with their fast services, so I must assume that they will share the two slow lines to Broxbourne with Greater Anglia’s slow services.

What Will Be The Platform Layout At Tottenham Hale?

The station looks to be gaining two new lines on the East side of the station.

But will they be slow or fast lines?

My pictures show that it will be very tight to put new platforms on these lines, as there just isn’t enough space.

I have read the planning documents  on the Harringey Council web site for Tottenham Hale station and came to these conclusions.

  • There are no definite plans for a platform 3 and/or 4.
  • There is controversy about if they are built, as to if or when they will get lifts.
  • There is talk of starting STAR, which would provide four trains per hour (tph) between Stratford and Angel Road stations.

This page on the Crossrail 2 web site says this.

In order to accommodate Crossrail 2 services at Tottenham Hale, we would add at least one new platform and carry out other station improvement works too.

Wikipedia says that a third platform is being worked on.

I suspect that it could be necessary that fast services will stop at Tottenham Hale, to allow  passengers to change to and from services on the following lines.

  • Victoria Line
  • Crossrail 2
  • Local services to Liverpool Street.
  • Local services to Stratford.

It should also be born in mind, that Crossrail will call at both Stratford and Liverpool Street, s say you’re going shopping at Oxford Street, to work at anary Wharf or to New York via Heathrow, would you mind which terminus you used in London, provided it was efficient?

At present both fast and slow services on the  main line all share the same platform at ottenham Hale, using 1 to go South and 2 to go North.

If this arrangement was to continue, after the new lines are built, the following would apply.

  • Interchange between services would be as now.
  • Fast services for London would stop in platform 1 before going to either Liverpool Street or Stratford.
  • Both platforms could be made step-free with lifts and a bridge at the London end of the platform.

It is workable, but you would still have the crowded platforms you get today, although the step-free bridge would make passenger circulation easier.

But what happens when Greater Anglia decide to increase fast frequencies or Crossrail 2 arrives.

Exclusive Fast Lines Between Tottenham Hale And Broxbourne Stations

One arrangement that could work, would be to use the two new lines exclusively for fast services from Tottenham Hale to Broxbourne, with trains stopping only at Broxbourne and Tottenham Hale as required.

  • With more Stansted services, some could be non-stop from Liverpool Street to Stansted to reduce the load on Tottenham Hale station.
  • Some Cambridge services might make their first stop at Broxbourne.
  • Fast commuter services not stopping South of Broxborne are possible.

Greater Anglia will be replacing their current trains on the line with new Stadler or Aventra trains, which will in some ways compensate.

At some point hopefully Crossrail 2 will arrive.

Using the two new lines exclusively for fast traffic, with slow services on the exiting lines  would have the following effects.

  • Speed up services by a few minutes.
  • Double capacity between Broxbourne and Tottenham Hale.
  • All trains on the slow lines would be Crossrail’s or Greater Anglia’s Aventras, which can probably run together efficiently.
  • 20 plus tph could probably run on the slow lines
  • The only trains on the fast lines would be Greater Anglia’s Stadler expresses, which could do Broxbourne to Tottenham Hale inperhaps eiht minutes, travelling all the way at 100 mph or possibly more.

Removing fast trains from the slow lines would probably mean that a frequency of upwards of 10 tph could run on Crossrail 2 between Broxbourne and Tottenham Hale. South of Tottenham Hale they would be out of the way in the Central Tunnel.

South Of Tottenham Hale Station

Trains between Tottenham Hale station and Stratford or Liverpool Street stations, take one of the three following routes.

  1. To and from Lea Bridge and Stratford station
  2. To and from Hackney Downs and Liverpool Street stations taking the fast lines South of Hackney Downs.
  3. To and from Hackney Downs and Liverpool Street stations taking the slow lines South of Hackney Downs.

To complicate matters trains to and from the Chingford Branch and some Greater Anglia slow services  use the fast lines South of Hackney Downs and change over around Bethnal Green station.

So could we see a bit of a reorganisation, so that all slow services are moved to the slow lines, through Hackney Downs station, so that the fast services to and from Cambridge and Stansted get a clear run between Clapton and Liverpool Street. That must save a minute or two.

It also looks like that with the opening of Lea Bridge station, some services will go to Stratford rather than Liverpool Street. These could include some services from the Chingford Branch, if the Hall Farm Curve is reopened, which some of my pictures indicate might be happening.

It should be born in mind, that Stratford has two platforms 11 and 12, connected to the lines to Lea Bridge station but only platform 11 is used.

After Crossrail opens will it matter if some of Greater Anglia’s suburban services go to Stratford rather than Liverpool Street?

In fact, it’s starting to happen, as today coming back from Cheshunt, I was on a train between Bishops Stortford and Stratford.

The Problem Of Clapton Station

Clapton station is not a massive problem, but it is on the route taken by fast Cambridge and Stansted trains to and from Liverpool Street.

Last year, Clapton station handled 1.6 million passengers, which is probably just about average or slightly above average for the Chingford Branch Line.

So there is probably not much to be gained by cutting services, as there are a lot of people to complain. But the Overground’s new Class 710 trains will have a better stop-start performance and could reduce the problem, especially if they used the slow lines through Hackney Downs.

A Pseudo-Crossrail 2

We might even see a pseudo-Crossrail 2, between Tottenham Hale and Broxbourne.

Suppose Greater Anglia on their slow lines ran something like the following services.

  • 4 tph between Liverpool Street or Stratford and Hertford East.
  • 2 tph between Liverpool Street or Stratford and Cambridge
  • 4 tph between Liverpool Street or Stratford and Bishops Stortford

This would give a ten tph service between Tottenham Hale and Broxbourne stopping at all stations.

As the slow lines would be for exclusive use of these services, except for a few freight trains, the  lines would cope admirably.

Everybody on the line would have a superb Turn-Up-And-Go-Service.

The Design Of Broxbourne Station

It could  be arranged that at Broxbourne, there was cross-platform interchange between fast and slow services going in the same direction. So a passenger between say Brimsdown station and Stansted Airport, would have the one change at Broxbourne.

The Design of The Fast Line Platforms At Tottenham Hale Station

The space limitiations at Tottenham Hale would probably mean that only one extra platform could be squeezed in. Perhaps it could be an island platform between the two lines. Being an island it would only need one lift and this would save all-important width and cost.

If it was thought a narrow island platform with fast trains that might run through, the platform could surely be fitted with platform edge doors.

But the required step-free change to Crossrail 2, Victoria Line and local services would be created.

I’m suspicious that my pictures show that through Tottenham Hale station, there is only room for a single extra line, if a platform is needed. It certainly looks as if, the cable ducts have been moved to only allow only one line.

So could we see platform 2 extended to have a second platform 3 on the opposite face, which gave access to a single bi-directional line through the station?

  • It would use the lift on Platform 2.
  • There would be cross-platform access from a fast train to London to a slow one.
  • Only access from a slow train out of London to a fast one would need the bridge.
  • Bi-directional working is increasing being used.

Once through Tottenham Hale station, the fast lines would result to normal double-track working.,

I suspect that when Tottenham Hale station was rebuilt in the 1990s, no-one thought that the station would be on a line with four-tracks.

 

 

February 20, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment