The Anonymous Widower

Ashford Spurs On Track

The title of this post is the same as an article in the December 2017 Edition of Modern Railways.

I wrote about the Ashford Spurs in Kent On The Cusp Of Change – Ashford Spurs.

The Modern Railways article starts with this paragraph.

The launch of Eurostar e320 services from Ashford International has been pencilled in for 3 April 2018, foillowing progress with the Ashford Spurs project.

Surely, a result of their completion will be that more services will stop at Ashford International station.

November 27, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Waterloo Upgrade August 2017 – 5th August 2017

It’s all change at Waterloo station with Platforms 20 to 24 open for business.

I think what has been revealed today is an excellent stop-gap to allow platforms 1 to 9 to be extended.

  • Network Rail and South West Trains are also to be congratulated on putting a large number of informed staff on the platforms to answer passegers’ questions.
  • With luck too, the vast open spaces around platform 20 to 24 will help to calm passengers.
  • But they weren’t lucky in that everything was disrupted by a signal failure early in the day.

If I have any criticism it is over the length of time it has taken to get these platforms open.

The International platforms were closed about the time my wife died in December 2007.

That closure has just been too long.

Passenger And Train Capacity

From what I saw today, Network Rail have opened five new platforms numbered 20 to 24, with the following features.

  • The ability to handle twelve-car trains.
  • Wide platforms for large numbers of passengers.
  • A new very wide gate line.
  • Lots of natural light and fresh air.

Passengers will wish all stations could be this good.

Just imagine five packed commuter trains arriving at those new platforms at around the same time.

  • Each pair of new five-car Class 707 train can hold just over sixteen hundred passengers.
  • A ten-car Class 720 train, which must be similar to South Western Railway’s new trains can hold around fifteen hundred passengers.

So can the platforms, gates and concourse handle all those passengers?

As the flow of passengers seems straight down wide platforms and into the Underground or out of the station through the Victory Arch, I suspect that the station has been designed to handle the greatest number of passengers, the trains can deliver.

With Crossrail, the stations at Shenfield and Abbey Wood will be handling twelve trains per hour (tph) in a two platform layout or 6 tph at each platform.

I suspect that the signalling and track layout at platforms 20-24 at Waterloo station, is such that each platform can handle at least four tph and possibly the six, that will be achieved at Shenfield and Abbey Wood.

If they can handle six, that is an unbelievable thirty tph.

This figure is probably way in excess of other capacity constraints in the complex rail network out of Waterloo, but at least platform capacity won’t be a constraint on growth in the future.

But four tph on each platform, would give a theoretical capacity of twenty tph or around thirty thousand passengers per hour. That is a massive increase in the capacity of the station.

It has to be taken into account, that part of the Waterloo Upgrade for August 2017 is lengthening Platforms 1 to 4 at the station and improving the track layout for the lower-numbered platforms. Access to the Underground is also being improved at platforms 1 to 4.

Are Network Rail creating another high-capacity set of four platforms at the other end of the station?

What is happening at platforms 1 to 4 will be revealed at the end of the month.

Conclusion

The work has whetted my appetite as to what the station will eventually look like!

In An Analysis Of Waterloo Suburban Services Proposed To Move To Crossrail 2, I came to the following conclusion.

Crossrail 2’s proposals for the suburban branch lines from Waterloo to the four destinations of Chessington South, Epsom, Hampton Court and Shepperton stations, can be fulfilled using the following.

  • More platform capacity at Waterloo.
  • Modern high-performance 100 mph trains like Class 707 trains.
  • Some improvements to track and signals between Waterloo and Wimbledon stations.
  • Wimbledon station would only need minor modifications.
  • A measure of ATO between Waterloo and Wimbledon stations.

What effect will this have on the design of Crossrail 2?

The Class 707 trains will not be arriving, but high performance Aventras will.

This August’s Upgrade will certainly make substantial increases in service frequencies and passenger capacity possible.

August 5, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 3 Comments

London To Karlsruhe Via Paris

I took Eurostar and a TGV to Karlsruhe, using these trains.

  1. Eurostar – St. Pancras 08:19 – Paris Nord 11:47 – £115 from Eurostar
  2. TGV – Paris Est 13:55 – Karlsruhe 16:25 – £69.19 from Voyages SNCF

I took these pictures on the way.

Note.

  1. I bought both tickets on-line.
  2. Premium Economy in the new Eurostar trains is more cramped than the old ones.
  3. Eurostar’s Premium Economy gluten-free breakfast more than filled a hole.
  4. Paris Nord to Paris Est is just a Metro.
  5. I took a diversion via Republik, which was a good place to wait in the sun.
  6. I stayed in the Schlosshotel in Karlsruhe, which was one of several acceptable ones by the station.

I could probably have done the journey cheaper by flying, but it would have had more hassle.

April 30, 2017 Posted by | Food, Travel | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Extending The Docklands Light Railway West From Bank Station

Two possible routes have been proposed foe extending the Docklands Light Railway to the West

Whether either is worth developing, I don’t know.

But consider.

  • The Thameslink Programme will improve access between London Bridge and Charing Cross stations, which could take pressure off the Jubilee Line.
  • The Thameslink Programme will improve Southeastern services into Cannon Street and Charing Cross stations.
  • Charing Cross station has a couple of spare platforms, that some would like to re-use.
  • Euston and St. Pancras stations have bad access to Canary Wharf and South East London.
  • The Bakerloo Line Extension has been given the green light.
  • Crossrail connects Canary Wharf to Bond Strreet, Heathrow, Liverpool Street and Paddington.

But the big issue, is what happens about Crossrail 2.

I feel that the more likely extension to the West is to go from Bank to Euston via City Thameslink and Holborn and/or Tottenham Court Road stations and finish by going on to St. Pancras.

It could link HS2 at Euston and European services at St. Pancras to the following.

  • Thameslink at City Thameslink station.
  • Crossrail at Tottenham Court Road station.
  • Bank and Canary Wharf stations.

It would also provide a decent link between the long distance services at Euston, Kings Cross and St. Pancras.

These factors would also influence the design of the DLR Extension.

  • The DLR has all the agility of a mountain coat to climb hills and turn sharply, so it might be possible to squeeze it through places impossible for a Crossrail or an Underground line.
  • 3D-design techniques are getting better every year.
  • Tunnel boring machines are getting more accurate.
  • Escalators are getting longer.

So could we see the extension going from Bank to City Thameslink as a traditional extension and then going in a long double-track loop via some or all of the following stations.

  • Holborn
  • Tottenham Court Road
  • Oxford Circus
  • Regents Park
  • Euston
  • St. Pancras
  • Covent Garden

It would all depend on where they could squeeze the tracks through.

  • Stations could be island platforms between the tracks.
  • Platform edge doors could be fitted.
  • Escalators and lifts could link the platforms to existing station.

There’s no reason why the line should be designed traditionally for the DLR.

 

February 17, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment

The Eurostar Platforms At Waterloo Station Are Being Brought Back Into Use

When travelling to Shepperton, I walked from Waterloo East station to the balcony at Waterloo station.

You get a good view of the disused Eurostar plaforms, which are being brought back into use.

I also took a few as my train left the station.

At least this monument to bad planning of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, is being put to a laudable use of providing more capacity at Waterloo.

There’s some more pictures from before the work started in Waterloo’s Blue Elephant.

October 31, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 2 Comments

A Design Crime – Ebbsfleet International Station

If there is one station in the UK, that has been deliberately designed to be difficult to use, it is Ebbsfleet #international station.

Take this evening, when I had taken a lift to the station after the football at Ipswich, as the Great Eastern Main Line was having its annual rebuild and I didn’t want to spend an hour in a rickety bus, rather than in a comfortable Mark 3 coach.

Arrive at most stations in the UK or the world for that matter, and the first thing that you see is a ticket office or a ticket machine.

But not at Ebbsfleet International!

You are presented with a departure board, which tells you where trains will be going and if like me, you are going to St. Pancras International station, you notice that alternative trains leave from platform 2 and 5. Platform 2 is to the left on the level and platform 5 is to the right down a set of steps

So if you have just a fewminutes before your train, perhaps it would be a good idea to buy a ticket, as you enter the station.

But you can’t, as the only ticket machines are by the platforms. on either side.

Whose stupid idea was this?

If ever a station needed a ticket machine as you come in, with a sign saying that the next St. Pancras train leaves from platform X, it is Ebbsfleet International.

As it was, after about four minutes, I was able to determine that I had twelve minutes before the next train from platform 5, so I was able to walk down the set of steps, buy a ticket and get to the draughty platform about eight minutes before the train arrived.

Is Ebbsfleet International, the only station in the UK, where to transfer across a concourse between two ends, there is a set of steps in the middle?

It could be considered that Manchester Piccadilly has steps, but it does have fifteen platforms and was designed over a period of well over a hundred years.

The entry problem could be eliminated by more or relocated ticket machines and a small display telling passengers for St. Pancras, where to go.

It is all down to the bizarre layout of the station.

This Google Map shows the two-station layout of the station.

Ebbsfleet International Station

Ebbsfleet International Station

The lines going North South through the station are the Eurostar and the HighSpeed domestic services between St. Pancras International and Ashford International stations. The lines branching off to the South East, take the Highspeed domestic services to Faversham.

The Faversham lines have their own platforms 5 and 6 and there are two other platforms 2 and 3 in the other side of the station, sandwiched in-between the Eurostar lines.

This station was built on a green field site with plenty of space, so surely a better layout of lines could have been provided so that all Highspeed domestic services used the same pair of platforms.

Getting There

Ebbsfleet International was certainly designed to be difficult to get to from other parts of the London and the South East.

Romford is a major station in East London, with this recommended route to Ebbfleet Inyternational.

  • TfL Rail to Stratford
  • DLR to Stratford International
  • Highspeed to Ebbsfleet International.

It may be step-free, but there is certainly quite a distance on the flat.

This is the route from Guildford

  • South West Trains to Vauxhall
  • Victoria Line to St. Pancras
  • Highspeed to Ebbsfleet International

Not a route that I’d recommend to anybody with a heavy  case or any difficulty in walking.

This is the route from Greenwich.

  • Southeastern to Charlton
  • Southeastern to Gravesend
  • Highspeed to Ebbsfleet International

That route truly is a corker.

This one might improve as according to Modern Railways for August 2016, that Thameslink will be starting a service between Luton and Rainham via Dartford and Greenwich. Hopefully this would mean a route from Greenwich to Ebbsfleet Internation as follows.

  • Thameslink to Gravesend
  • Highspeed to Ebbsfleet International

That is only one change, but you’d still need to go over the step-free bridge at Gravesend.

The solution would be to do either of the following.

  • Create a proper passenger connection between Northfleet and Ebbsfleet International stations.
  • Allow North Kent services that go to and from Dartford to call at Ebbsfleet International station.

Why didn’t the traditional North Kent services call at Ebbsfleet International station from Day 1?

Get the connection right and all those stations between London Bridge and Rainham would have a two trains per hour service to Ebbsfleet International.

Future Expansion

Ebbsfleet International also seems to be designed deliberately to make extension difficult.

Space for extra platforms for these possible services seems not to have been left.

  • Termination of Continental services, should St. Pancras get too busy.
  • A Crossrail extension from Abbey Wood station.
  • An East-West service from Reading and Gatwick.

Expansion can only probably be achieved by  adding further complication and difficulties for passengers at this truly dreadful station.

The designer’s dictionary, certainly didn’t include that important word future-proofing.

He certainly gave Eurostar and the Highspeed domestic services, one of the least passenger-friendly stations in the world. that fits well with Eurostar’s other crap stations.

  • The extremely passenger-unfriendly St. Pancras.
  • The bleak, isolated and draughty Stratford International

Perhaps the airline industry had a hand in its design, in the hope they could strangle the whole enterprise!

Stratford and Ebbsfleet could also have been designed the way they are, so that they didn’t have easy and quick interchanges with Crossrail.

That would have meant, that passengers would use this more affordable service rather than the expensive Highspeed domestic ones, that always seem half-empty, when I use them.

The three stations are all certainly design crimes and taken together they make the Channel Tunnel Rail Link a design crime of the most immense proportions

But given that it is impossible to do much with the station, what should be done now?

  • The draughty space between the two separate stations, should be made more welcoming.
  • Information should tell passengers the next trains to all stations.
  • Ticket machines must be provided as you enter, rather than being hidden away.
  • The steps to platforms 5 and 6, should be replaced by short escalators and an inclined lift.

Perhaps most importantly, contactless ticketing using bank cards and Oyster must be available on all Highspeed domestic services. I can use that to get to Gatwick Airport, so why not Ebbsfleet International?

Related Posts

A Trip To Sheppey

A Twelve-Car Ready Railway

Along The North Kent Line

Between Abbey Wood And Belvedere Stations

Connecting North Kent And The Medway Towns To Ebbsfleet International Station

Extending Crossrail To Gravesend

Rainham (Kent) Station

Thameslink To Rainham

Through The Medway Towns

What Do You Do With A Problem Like Sheppey?

 

 

September 18, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 7 Comments

Brussels Station Has Got A Whole Lot Worse!

I think in future, if I have the choice of Eurostar terminals in Europe, I won’t be choosing Brussels!

I arrived in Brussels with about three hours to waste before my train to London left.

So I thought, I’d perhaps take a Metro train somewhere sensible and have coffee and breakfast. There’s nothing in the station that is gluten-free, so forget that one!

But they’ve changed the ticketing on the Metro and it looks like you need to use an Oyster-style ticket. I don’t do those sorts of things, as usually ou have to load a lot mopre money than the ticket and when you go back, you of course forget the card.

Why can’t these places allowed a contactless bankcard as a ticket like London?

So I thought, I’d go to the Tourist Office upstairs and complain! But that has been closed.

I tried the guy doing the train information for Belgian Railways and he couldn’t help. He also told me, he was fed up with the situation.

The Tourist Office is some distance away and you need to use the Metro.

So only go through Brussels, if you don’t want to use the Metro, get advice from the Tourist Office or eat something that is gluten-free.

I couldn’t even find a McDonalds, where I could buy some gluten-free chips.

If Brussels station is going to go downhill like this, the sooner, that Cologne is a Eurostar destination the better.

May 15, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , | 3 Comments

Eurostar Is Testing To Amsterdam

This article in Global Rail News is entitled Velaro Under Test In The Netherlands. This is the first two paragraphs.

NS and Siemens have completed the first tests of Eurostar’s new e320 train on the Dutch rail network.

Eurostar plans to launch direct services between Amsterdam Central and London St Pancras in 2017 and has now begun testing its new fleet on the Dutch HSL-Zuid.

It would appear that St. Pancras to Amsterdam will take about four hours.

I suspect they still got a few details to sort out.

  • Immigration control, as the UK is not in Schengen.
  • The Dutch signalling system.
  • The unusual Dutch train voltage of 1,500 VDC, as opposed to the British, French and HSL-Zuid of 25 KVAC.
  • To complicate matters the Germans use 15 KVAC and drive on the right.

It’s a pity for many, that HSL-Zuid was built deliberately to avoid calling at Den Haag.

May 4, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

So Near And Yet So Far!

This Google Map shows the geographical relationship between Northfleet station on the North Kent Line and Ebbsfleet International station on the High Speed 1 Rail Link.

Northfleet And Ebbsfleet International Stations

Northfleet And Ebbsfleet International Stations

Note Swancombe station at the top left, which is also on the North Kent Line.

In my view the designers of High Speed 1, lost sight of the ball here, just as they did at Stratford International station.

To many people and especially to a lot of rail commentators and builders, connectivity is very important, as it often gives passengers the ability to do difficult journeys easily with a simple cross-platform interchange.

If you look at the positions of Northfleet and Ebbsfleet International stations, as the crow flies it is about four hundred metres. But to walk it along the A226, Thames Way and a loop into Ebbsfleet International station took me thirty-eight minutes.

I took these pictures as I walked.

I am left with the following conclusions.

  • Northfleet station appears to only stand up because the woodworm keep holding hands.
  • Northfleet station is very welcoming to visitors to the town!
  • The current route is a badly-signposted disgrace.
  • I didn’t see any signposts pointing the other way.
  • It would be a nightmare in bad weather.
  • It is a step-free route.

It would not be the most difficult feat of engineering to build a walkway from Northfleet station to the Car Park C on the Northfleet side of Ebbsfleet International station.

Incidentally, the Ebbsfleet International station web site says this about getting to the station by rail.

If you can’t reach us direct then we’re just a 10 minute walk from Northfleet domestic station which is serviced by the North Kent Line.

For my age and health, I can walk reasonably fast, but it took me over three times as long. Did they hire Mo Farah to do the time test?

I think someone measured it on a map as four hundred metres and said that he or she could walk it in ten minutes.

If they did, it is downright incompetence.

I challenge Eurostar to find anybody over sixty-five, who doesn’t have form as an athlete, to walk the signposted route in ten minutes!

If they find someone, who can do it, I’ll give fifty pounds to Railway Children!

December 7, 2015 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment

Any Dutch Station By Eurostar From London

I complained to Eurostar about the lack of this ticket after my last trip to The Hague.

I got this reply.

Good morning,

although we currently don’t offer a ticket to “Any Dutch Station” on our UK website this product is available through our call centre on 0844 848 5848.   Please specify when booking that you don’t require the “Thalys” trains and that you will be using regular “Classic” trains onwards from, and back to, Brussels, and they will be able to booking the ticket for you.

Although this product was withdrawn from our website around the time that the High Speed link was introduced the position regarding the sale of this ticket on our website is under review.  In the meantime, though, please ring our contact centre who are open 0800 to 1900 on Mondays to Fridays and 0900 to 1700 on Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays.

Not perfect, but it looks like they’re on the case.

October 22, 2015 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment