The Anonymous Widower

Epping Station – 30th August 2021

In Essex Councillors Call For Underground Link, I discussed the pros and cons of extending the Central Line from Epping station to Harlow.

As I didn’t have any pictures of Epping station. I went to the station and took these.

This map from cartometro.com shows the track layout at Epping station.

Note.

  1. There are two platforms both of which are used to terminate trains.
  2. Platform 2 is step-free, but Platform 1 is only step-free for exit only.
  3. There is a large car park with 541 spaces including twelve for disabled drivers.

I suspect this means, that someone who has difficulty with the bridge and has parked their car in the car park has a problem.

To my mind there are two obvious solutions.

  • Put in a second step-free bridge at the station.
  • If no trains go past the ends of the platform, it might be possible to build a level walkway across the two tracks.

It would all depend on the budget and any plans to extend the Central Line to Harlow or on to the tracks of the Epping Ongar Railway.

It would certainly be possible to extend Platform 1 to serve as a platform for the Epping Ongar Railway and have a walkway across the tracks  to give step-free access between all three platforms.

  • It would make the heritage Epping Ongar Railway into a unique London tourist attraction with direct access from the Underground.
  • It might even be possible for the heritage railway to run connection services between Epping and Ongar at times, when they would be financially worthwhile and operationally possible.

There are certainly possibilities.

August 30, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Essex Councillors Call For Underground Link

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Railnews.

This is the first paragraph.

Councillors in Harlow are calling for a new Underground link, saying that they are examining ‘all possibilities for improving and modernising transport connections’.

I’ve tackled this subject before in Does Harlow Need An Improved Train Service?, but this time I’m starting with what is possible and working backwards.

Harlow’s Current Train Service

Currently, these trains serve Harlow Town station.

  • Stratford and Bishops Stortford – 2 tph – via Lea Bridge, Tottenham Hale, Waltham Cross, Cheshunt, Broxbourne and Sawbridgeworth
  • London Liverpool Street and Cambridge North – 1 tph – via Tottenham Hale, Cheshunt, Broxbourne, Bishop’s Stortford, Audley End, Whittlesford Parkway and Cambridge
  • London Liverpool Street and Cambridge North – 1 tph – via Tottenham Hale, Cheshunt, Broxbourne, Roydon, Sawbridgeworth, Bishop’s Stortford, Stansted Mountfitchet, Elsenham, Newport, Audley End, Great Chesterford, Whittlesford Parkway, Shelford and Cambridge
  • London Liverpool Street and Stansted Airport – 1 tph – via Tottenham Hale
  • London Liverpool Street and Stansted Airport – 1 tph – via Tottenham Hale and Stansted Mountfitchet

In addition these services run through Harlow Town station without stopping.

  • London Liverpool Street and Stansted Airport – 2 tph – via Tottenham Hale

Note.

  1. tph is trains per hour
  2. The Stansted services are fast services and take 29 minutes between London Liverpool Street and Harlow Town.
  3. The other services seem to take a few minutes longer.

Summarising the services gives the following.

  • Eight tph pass through the station of which six tph stop.
  • Cambridge and Cambridge North has a 2 tph service.
  • London Liverpool Street has a 4 tph service.
  • Stansted Airport has a 2 tph service.
  • Stratford has a 2 tph service.
  • Tottenham Hale has a 6 tph service.

Each of Greater Anglia’s new Class 720 trains, when working as a ten-car formation can carry well over a thousand passengers.

Harlow Town station has a fairly good service, but it could probably be improved.

What Are Harlow’s Councillors Suggesting

This paragraph in the Railnews article gives the councillors wish list.

Harlow Councillor Michael Hardware is portfolio holder for strategic growth. He said: ‘With Harlow’s close proximity to London our plans include investigating the potential for the extension of the central line to Harlow, lobbying to extend London Transport Zones to Harlow, examining connectivity to Crossrail 2 and promoting four tracking of the main line to Stansted Airport as well as improving existing public transport links in and out of the town.

I’ll look at each proposal in turn.

Extending The Central Line To Harlow

Epping and Harlow are about nine miles apart.

This Google Map shows the two towns and the M11 that runs to the East of both towns.

Note.

  1. Epping is in the South-West corner of the map.
  2. Harlow, which is a large town of nearly 90,000 residents is at the top of the map.
  3. The M11 runs North-South across the map to the East of both towns.
  4. North Weald Airfield lies to the East of the motorway.

Would it be possible to run an extension of the Central Line from Epping to Harlow?

It could run up the West side of the motorway.

  • The terminus could be in South-East Harlow close to Junction 7 of the M11.
  • Any plans for the development of North Weald Airfield could have a big effect on any plans.

This Google Map shows the location of Epping station with respect to the motorway.

Note Epping station is in the South-West corner of the map.

Running North-East from the station, the dark green scar of the single-track Epping Ongar Railway can be picked out, as it runs between St. Margaret’s Hospital and the village of Coopersale.

This third Google Map shows the railway as it passes under the M11.

Would it be possible to use the route of this line to connect to a new line alongside the motorway?

This fourth Google Map shows Epping tube station.

Note.

  1. The station has two platforms, but is not step-free.
  2. It has a large car-park.
  3. Trains take thirty-seven minutes between Epping and Liverpool Street stations.
  4. Trains have a frequency of nine tph.

This map from cartometro.com shows the track layout at Epping station and the interface with the Epping Ongar Railway.

Note.

  1. The Epping Ongar Railway has always been single track.
  2. The crossovers to the South of Epping station allow either platform to be used for Central Line services.
  3. When the Central Line ran to Ongar, it looks like all services used Platform 1 at Epping.

I feel that it might be possible to create an extension to Harlow, by doing something like the following.

  • Add a second bi-directional  track alongside the Epping Ongar Railway between Epping station and the M11.
  • Extend Platform 1 to the North, so that the heritage trains can load and unload passengers at Epping station.
  • The Central Line platforms would be unaltered, so could still handle the nine tph they currently handle.
  • Trains to and from Harlow would always use Platform 2.

At the M11, the new bi-directional track would turn North and become double-track to Harlow.

  • The double-track would allow trains to pass.
  • If the rolling stock for the Central Line has been renewed, it might be possible to run the extension on battery power.
  • If Harlow had a single platform, it would be possible to run four tph to Harlow.
  • The current 2012 Stock trains have a capacity of around a thousand passengers.
  • I estimate that trains would take about ten minutes between Epping station and the new Harlow station.

I feel something is possible, but building the line might be easier if new battery-electric trains were available, as this would probably allow the extension to be built without electrification.

On the other hand, it might not have the greatest financial case.

  • It could be difficult to add large numbers of passengers to the Central Line.
  • At around forty-seven minutes, the Central Line service will be slower than the main line trains, which currently take around a dozen minutes less.

I’ll be interested to see what the professionals say.

Extending London Transport Zones To Harlow

Harlow Town station has ticket barriers, but I don’t think it is part of London’s contactless card zone.

Adding Harlow Town and all stations between Harlow Town and the zone could be very beneficial to passengers and train companies.

Examining Connectivity To Crossrail 2

I think that in the current economic situation this should be discounted.

  • It is a very expensive project.
  • Building it will cause tremendous disruption on the West Anglia Main Line.
  • It is only planned to go as far as Broxbourne station.

But I don’t think politicians from outside London and the South-East would sanction another massive project for London.

I don’t think Crossrail 2 will ever be build in its currently proposed form.

Four Tracking Of The Main Line To Stansted Airport

Consider.

  • Currently, the numbers of trains on the West Anglia Main Line is under twelve tph.
  • Modern double-track railways with the latest digital in-cab signalling like Thameslink and Crossrail can handle twice this number of trains.
  • The West Anglia Main Line will be getting new trains with better acceleration.

Four-tracking is mainly needed to cut times to Cambridge and Stansted Airport, but I suspect that with some clever design and improved signalling, the current double-track can be improved significantly.

Improving Existing Public Transport Links In And Out Of The Town

I think that this could be a fruitful area.

  • As I said earlier, Harlow has only 6 tph trains stopping in the station.
  • I believe this could be increased to at least 10 tph, if the West Anglia Main Line were to be modernised.
  • Extending London Transport Zones To Harlow, which I discussed earlier would surely help.
  • Is there enough car parking?
  • Are there enough buses to the stations?
  • Would a fleet of zero-carbon buses tempt people to use them?
  • Would it be possible to run a hydrogen commuter bus service up and down the M11 between say Harlow and Ilford for Crossrail?, as is being done in Dublin, that I wrote about in Three Hydrogen Double Decker Buses Set For Dublin.

Hopefully, Harlow’s councillors would have a few good ideas.

A Few Thoughts On What Is Possible

These are a few of my thoughts on what is possible.

Digital Signalling Could Increase The Number of Trains Per Hour Significantly

Consider.

  • Currently, the West Anglia Main Line handles ten tph between Liverpool Street and Bishops Stortford.
  • Thameslink handles 24 tph with digital signalling.
  • Crossrail will handle 24 tph with digital signalling.
  • High Speed Two will handle eighteen tph.

I certainly believe that another four tph could be easily handled through the two Harlow stations, with full digital signalling.

Perhaps a frequency of eight tph, that would match TfL Rail between London Liverpool Street and Shenfield would be ideal.

If it works for Shenfield it should work for Harlow!

Rebuild Cheshunt Station

Cheshunt station with its level crossing is a bottleneck and any increase in the number of trains through the station will need the level crossing to be replaced by a bridge.

But developers are talking of high class housing in the area and removal of the level crossing appears to be in their plans.

New High-Capacity Class 720 Trains

Pairs of five-car Class 720 trains are coming to the West Anglia Main Line and each pair will carry over a thousand passengers.

These will be used on four tph, that call at Harlow Town station.

Turn Trains In The High Meads Loop at Stratford Station

The single-track Wirral Line Loop under Liverpool handles up to sixteen tph.

Network Rail built a double-track loop under the Eastfield Shopping Centre, which calls at Platforms 11 and 12 in Stratford.

If this loop was used to turn trains it could probably handle at least twelve tph on one platform.

Liverpool Street currently handles these trains that go up the West Anglia Main Line or the Lea Valley Lines.

  • 6 tph – Greater Anglia
  • 6 tph – London Overground

It looks to me that the terminal capacity in London could be as high as 20 tph.

Run More Trains On A Digitally-Signalled Route Through Seven Sisters

Just four tph run on the London Overground route through Seven Sisters station.

Compare that with the East London Line of the London Overground, where sixteen tph run between Dalston Junction and Surrey Quays stations.

The London Overground has ambitions to run four tph to Cheshunt and Enfield Town, as they do to Chingford, but that would only up the frequency through Seven Sisters to eight tph.

The tracks in the area also allow trains from Stratford to use the lines through Seven Sisters stations to go North.

Run West Anglia And Lea Valley Services Together

Currently, Greater Anglia and London Overground seem to do their own things, but surely properly integrated and with the moving of more services to the London Overground, I suspect that everything could be more efficient.

I believe that by using Liverpool Street and Stratford as twin London terminals for Lea Valley services, that upwards of twenty tph can on digitally-signalled West Anglia Main Line and the Lea Valley Lines.

These are the current trains.

  • Bishops Stortford – 2 tph
  • Cambridge North – 2 tph
  • Cheshunt – 2 tph
  • Chingford – 4 tph
  • Enfield Town – 2 tph
  • Hertford East – 2 tph
  • Stansted Airport – 4 tph

Note.

  1. This is a total of eighteen tph
  2. The pinch point is surely the stretch between Bethnal Green and Clapton stations, which handles 14 tph including a mix of fast expresses and London Overground services.
  3. On the other hand the route through Seven Sisters is handling just four tph.
  4. Ten tph run between Tottenham Hale and Cheshunt stations on the West Anglia Main Line.
  5. Only two tph terminate in Stratford.

If the Cheshunt and Enfield Town services are increased to 4 tph, as is London Overground’s aspirations we get the following.

  • Bishops Stortford – 2 tph
  • Cambridge North – 2 tph
  • Cheshunt – 4 tph
  • Chingford – 4 tph
  • Enfield Town – 4 tph
  • Hertford East – 2 tph
  • Stansted Airport – 4 tph

Note.

This is a total of twenty-two tph.

But there is still plenty of spare capacity at Stratford and through Seven Sisters.

If our objective is more trains through Harlow, why not double up the Stratford and Bishops Stortford service.

  • Bishops Stortford – 4 tph
  • Cambridge North – 2 tph
  • Cheshunt – 4 tph
  • Chingford – 4 tph
  • Enfield Town – 4 tph
  • Hertford East – 2 tph
  • Stansted Airport – 4 tph

Note.

  1. This is a total of twenty-four tph.
  2. Harlow will have eight tph to and from London.
  3. There will be 8 tph through Seven Sisters.
  4. There will be twelve tph between Tottenham Hale and Cheshunt stations on the West Anglia Main Line.
  5. Four tph will terminate at Stratford.

Perhaps to reduce the trains on the West Anglia Main Line, the Hertford East trains could go via Seven Sisters.

But that would mean that stations like Brimsdown and Ponders End would lose a lot of their service.

So why not add extra stops to the Bishops Stortford services?

Conclusion

I believe that by doing the following.

  • Adding digital signalling to all lines.
  • Turning more trains at Stratford.
  • Using the route through Seven Sisters at a much higher frequency.
  • Rebuilding Cheshunt station and level crossing.
  • Reorganising stops on the West Anglia Main Line.

That it would be possible to create a high-frequency Metro up the Lea Valley.

Except for the digital signalling and Cheshunt station, there is not much work to do on the infrastructure.

 

 

 

 

 

August 14, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Will London Overground Procure Some Class 230 Trains?

Transport for London has a cash flow problem caused by various factors.

  • The reduction in grant from Central Government.
  • A fall in bus revenue caused by traffic congestion.
  • The freeze of fares by the Mayor.
  • The need to add services to stimulate much-needed housing.

This article in Rail Magazine is entitled Vivarail’s D-Trains Confirmed For Bedford-Bletchley.

As West Midlands Trains have now confirmed the order for the Class 230 trains, does this mean that buying Vivarail’s innovative refurbished London Underground D78 Stock, is now a less-risky train purchase?

Battery Or Diesel Class 230 Trains?

Would Transport for London buy a diesel or battery version of the Class 230 train?

Transport for London will have an exclusively electric fleet in a few months, when they have passed the Class 172 trains to West Midlands Trains.

I can’t believe they’d want to buy a small number of diesel trains, so I suspect they’ll go for battery versions.

Advantages Of Class 230 Trains For Transport for London

The trains must have advantages for Transport for London.

  • They are simple trains, built for remote servicing.
  • In some applications, their short length of just two cars must help, in that expensive platform extensions will not be needed.
  • I would suspect that one two-car train is designed to rescue another.
  • Capacity can be increased by adding a third-car.
  • Transport for London must also have a lot of expertise on how to get the most out of these trains.

Possible Routes

There are a handful of possible routes.

Greenford Branch Line

The Greenford Branch Line must be a prime candidate for running with two-car battery version of a Class 230 train.

Consider.

  • Using a four-car train, like a Class 710 train would require the platform at Greenford to be lengthened.
  • A Class 230 train would only need some form of simple electrification at Greenford and/or West Ealing stations.
  • Class 230 trains, would probably fit all platforms easily and give level access for wheelchairs and buggies.
  • Could London Overground’s third-rail engineers add suitable electrification to charge the batteries at Greenford station?
  • The branch is only four kilometres long.
  • The branch only has the two tph passenger service and the occasional freight train.
  • All trains use the new bay platform at West Ealing station.

One train could obviously work the current two trains per hour (tph) timetable, but could two trains and a possible spare run a four tph service on the branch?

The advantages of using Class 230 trains over a more conventional approach using perhaps Class 710 trains would include.

  • No electrification of the branch.
  • No platform lengthening and possibly little platform modification.
  • Only a short length of third-rail electrification would be needed to charge the batteries.
  • A four tph service might be possible.

The big advantage would be that it would be a low-cost project.

Romford To Upminster Line

The Romford To Upminster Line is currently run by a single four-car Class 315 train, which was to be replaced by a new Class 710 train.

In the March 2018 Edition of Modern Railways, whilst discussing nine more Class 71 trains for the London Overground, it is said, that a Class 315 train will be retained for the Romford To Upminster Line.

Why not procure another Class 230 train and use that to shuttle along the branch?

Consider.

  • The electrification can be removed from the line, to save maintenance costs.
  • A short length of third-rail electrification can be used to charge the batteries at Upminster station.
  • The trains could be stabled at Upminster Depot.

The line used to have a short passing loop between Romford and Emerson Park station, that could be long enough for a two-car Class 230 train. If this loop were to be reinstated without electrification, if might allow a four tph service.

It would be another low-cost project.

Bromley North Line

The Bromley North Line is currently served by Southeastern.

Reading Wikipedia for the line, I get the impression, that the line isn’t a major problem, but there are little annoyances.

  • Services are not frequent enough at some times of the day and week.
  • Connection to services to and from London aren’t always convenient.
  • It is not the easiest branch to provide with trains and drivers.

In addition, Southeastern would appear to be amenable to pass the line to Transport for London.

The track layout for the line has the following characteristics.

  • Double-track throughout.
  • There is a single platform at Grove Park station.
  • There are two platforms at Bromley North station.
  • The intermediate station; Sundridge Park has two platforms.

It looks like the line was designed so that two trains can operate simultaneously.

  • Two Class 230 trains could run a four tph service.
  • Stabling and servicing could be in Bromley North station.
  • Trains could be third-rail or battery.
  • A spare train could be held ready if it was felt needed.

It would be a self-contained low-cost solution.

Epping To Ongar

The Epping to Ongar service on the Central Line is no more, but would it be viable now with a Class 230 train?

Brentford Branch Line

The Brentford Branch Line has been proposed for reopening.

Class 230 trains powered by batteries would be ideal rolling stock.

The trains would be charged in Southall station.

West London Orbital

This article on Global Rail News is entitled Commitment To West London Orbital rail line.

This is said.

A press release distributed by the office of London Mayor Sadiq Khan said: “This new line, delivered through TfL, the West London Alliance, boroughs and Network Rail, could potentially support the delivery of an additional 20,000 homes, as well as employment growth in west London.”

In this article on Ian Visits, this is said about the service on the proposed West London Orbital line.

Phase 1: 4 trains per hour from West Hampstead to Hounslow, calling at West Hampstead, Cricklewood, Neasden, Harlesden, OOC, Acton Central, South Acton, Brentford, Syon Lane, Isleworth, Hounslow.

Phase 2: additional 4 trains per hour from Hendon to Kew Bridge, calling at Hendon, Brent Cross/Staples Corner, Neasden, Harlesden, OOC, Acton Central, South Acton, Kew Bridge.

The track is all in place and with a new bay platform at Hounslow, Class 230 trains could work Phase 1 on batteries with ease.

The key to the intermediate stations is property development. At Neasden, Harlesden and Old Oak Common, there is a lot of spare land around the Dudding Hill Line, where the trains will run. Developers will be told to build an appropriate amount of housing with a new station underneath.

The West London Orbital could be built to the following specification.

  • No full electrification.
  • Battery trains.
  • Platforms long enough for four-car Class 710 trains.
  • Bay platforms with possible charging at West Hampstead, Hendon, Hounslow and Key Bridge stations.
  • Four tph on both routes.

It lends itself to a very efficient way of building the railway.

  1. Build a platform on the freight line through West Hampstead Thameslink station.
  2. Build a bay platform that will accept a four-car train at Hounslow station.
  3. Establish a four tph shuttle service between West Hampstead  Thameslink and Hounslow stations calling at Acton Central, South Acton, Brentford, Syon Lane and Isleworth.
  4. Stations could be built at Neasden, Harlesden and Old Oak Common, where there is a generous amount of brownfield land, with lots of space for housing above the tracks and platforms.

Note.

  1. Batteries would be charged between Acton Central and Hounslow using the existing third-rail electrification.
  2. About five miles of the route would not be electrified.
  3. Housing developments on top of a station are a property developers dream.

The service could be started using Class 230 trains, with the option to switch to four-car Class 710 trains, powered by batteries, when more capacity is needed and Bombardier have fully developed the battery Aventra.

Phase two of the project would need development of platforms at Hendon and Kew Bridge stations.

The beauty of the West London Orbital, is that the only costs for Transport for London are four new platforms, some track-work and a fleet of new trains.

Hopefully, the development of the intermediate stations would be down to property developers, as they will make a fortune out of the housing!

Conclusion

I think the answer to my original question posed in the title of this post is Yes!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 3, 2018 Posted by | Energy Storage, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Eastern Central Line Stations To Be Made Step-Free

Five stations at the Eastern End of the Central Line are to be made step-free.

These pictures show the various stations. on the 22nd January 2018.

Buckhurst Hill

Work is already underway to reopen an old subway at the Southern end of the station. A completion date of Summer 2018 is displayed.

Will lifts be added to this subway?

Debden

No work has started yet! Will the current bridge be replaced?

Newbury Park

Work has started. A completion date of Summer 2018 is displayed.

Snaresbrook

No work has started yet! Will the current bridge be replaced?

South Woodford

No work has started yet!

Summary

These stations were built by the Great Eastern Railway in the nineteenth century, with the exception of Newbury Park, which was built for the Central Line after the Second World War.

The Great Eastern stations show their heritage with good brickwork, period features and a good selection of wrought iron bridges.

Newbury Park station is Grade II Listed because of the hideous concrete bus station.

What Are Transport for London’s Plans?

Transport for London have stated that their aim is to eventually have all Underground stations with full step-free access.

There are twenty station East of Stratford station on the Central Line.

Currently, four have some degree of step-free access, so these five added stations would bring the step-free stations to forty-five percent.

Could all this work, be due to the fact, that when Crossrail opens, the Eastern section of the Central Line will effectively become a branch of London’s new line? The two lines will have a step-free cross-platform interchange at Stratford.

Will this give a marketing advantage, as there will now be a totally step-free route from a lot of Eastern Central Line stations to the West End, Paddington and Heathrow?

Could car parking be a factor?

  • Only Debden and Newbury Park stations, of those being made step-free have car parks with over a hundred spaces.
  • Disabled spaces are generally less than ten.
  • Of the other step-free stations in the area, only Epping has a large car park.

It is probably more affordable to add step-free access to stations, than provide disabled parking spaces, closer into London.

Onward To Ongar

Currently, there are no plans to extend the Central Line to Ongar.

But I do wonder, if this could be reconsidered in the future.

  • The roads will get more congested.
  • More housing is built in this part of Essex.
  • Crossrail will probably attrack passengers to use the Central Line.
  • The Central Line’s new trains in a few years will cut journey times and add capacity.

What will probably decide the matter is overcrowding at Epping station.

 

 

 

 

January 23, 2018 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 5 Comments