The Anonymous Widower

Southbound Thameslink To Eastbound Elizabeth Line At Farringdon Station

I travelled today from St. Pancras International station to Whitechapel station, using the following route.

These pictures show my walk at Farringdon station.

Note.

  1. I was riding at the back of the train, so I had a long walk to the lifts.
  2. It would be better to travel in the Southern end of the Thameslink train, as the lifts are at the Southern end of the Southbound Thameslink platform.
  3. I used the lifts to descend to the Elizabeth Line platforms.
  4. It is only a short walk between the lifts and the Elizabeth Line trains.

As the last picture indicates, the connecting lifts that I used, can also be used to go from the Southbound Thameslink to the Westbound Elizabeth Line at Farringdon Station.

These connecting lifts can also be used in the reverse direction to go from all Elizabeth Line services to Southbound Thameslink services to London Bridge, East Croydon, Gatwick Airport, Brighton and all the other Southern Thameslink destinations!

If you want to avoid the lifts, as it appears they can busy, you have to climb the stairs to get to the concourse and then descend to get the escalator down to the Elizabeth Line, that I wrote about in Westbound Elizabeth Line To Northbound Thameslink At Farringdon Station.

Conclusion

There would appear to be an imbalance of quality between the connections between the Elizabeth Line and the two Thameslink platforms.

  • Those going between the Elizabeth Line and the Northbound Thameslink platform will find it easy, as most of the route is on an escalator.
  • On the other hand, those using the Southbound Thameslink platform at busy times could find it congested and slow.

I suspect that regular users of the station, will develop their own routes through the station.

 

June 18, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Gatwick Airport Station – 30th March 2022

Gatwick Airport station is being upgraded and I took these pictures as I passed through twice today on my way to and from Brighton.

It will be a much bigger and better station when the upgrade is complete.

March 30, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 2 Comments

Network Rail Invest In A New Footbridge For Goring-by-Sea

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Rail Technology Magazine.

It describes work being done at Goring-by-Sea station, which includes.

  • Platform lengthening.
  • Refurbishment of the footbridge.

This Google Map shows the station.

 

Note the footbridge, by the level crossing, at the Western end of the station.

It would appear, that the platform lengthening is being done to support a new timetable, whilst Gatwick Airport station is upgraded.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Arundel Chord built, as has been proposed as a Beeching Reversal project, which I wrote about in Beeching Reversal – Arundel Chord.

I visited on the 8th of December 2020 and took these pictures.

Note.

  1. It appears the Eastbound platform has been extended.
  2. From what I could see of the footbridge, it is certainly showing its age and needs a make-over.
  3. Whilst I was there, the level crossing by the station, was shut for thirteen minutes.

Are Network Rail going to do something about the level crossing?

 

 

December 7, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 1 Comment

Redhill To Ashford International Via Tonbridge

I did this trip to find out what the current service was like after writing Gatwick Rail Service Could Link Far Reaches Of The South East.

The journey can be broken into sections.

Changing At Redhill Station

I arrived at Redhill station and took these pictures as I changed to the train for Tonbridge station.

The three services are in Redhill station at approximately the same time.

  • The Southern service to and from Tonbridge used Platform 1a.
  • The GWR service from Reading to Gatwick used Platform 1.
  • The GWR service from Gatwick to Reading used Platform 0.

I think if you’re nippy on the stairs, travellers wanting to go between Reading and Ashford or vice-versa could manage the train, but a direct through service would be preferred by some travellers.

Between Redhill And Tonbridge Stations

I took these pictures as the train ran between Redhill and Tonbridge.

Note.

  1. The train was a smart three-car Class 377 train.
  2. It is a route with a quiet calm along the Downs.
  3. There are new housing and commercial developments along the route.

Some of the stations could do with improvement, which should probably include step-free access, as at Redhill and Tonbridge stations.

Changing At Tonbridge Station

These pictures show Tonbridge station.

Note.

  • The station is step-free with lifts.
  • I had to use the bridge to get from one side of the station to the other to catch my next train.
  • There seemed to be several passengers, who continued their journey from Tonbridge.

After a wait of nearly thirty minutes I was on my way to Ashford International station.

Thoughts On The Service

These are my thoughts on the service.

Battery Electric Trains

Having seen this service in operation, I feel that this must be one of the most suitable services for battery electric trains in the UK.

In Gatwick Rail Service Could Link Far Reaches Of The South East, I broke the route down into electrified and non-electrified sections.

  • Ashford and Tonbridge – Electrified – 26.5 miles – 38 minutes
  • Tonbridge and Redhill – Electrified – 20 miles – 35 minutes
  • Redhill and Gatwick – Electrified – 7 miles – 8 minutes
  • Gatwick and Redhill – Electrified – 7 miles – 8 minutes
  • Redhill and Reigate – Electrified – 2 miles – 4 minutes
  • Reigate and Shalford Junction – Not Electrified – 17 miles – 20 minutes
  • Shalford Junction and North Camp – Electrified – 9 miles – 11 minutes
  • North Camp and Wokingham – Not Electrified – 11 miles – 14 minutes
  • Wokingham and Reading – Electrified – 7 miles and 9 minutes

Note.

  1. Ashford, Tonbridge, Redhill, Gatwick, Guildford, Wokingham and Reading are all fully-electrified main line stations.
  2. Most of the route and the two ends are electrified.
  3. All electrification is 750 VDC third rail.
  4. All sections without electrification are less than twenty miles.
  5. The route is more than 75 % electrified.

There are several trains, which have been fitted with batteries, plans to fit them with batteries exist or would be suitable to be fitted with batteries.

All trains have similar specifications.

  • Four cars.
  • 100 mph operating speed.
  • All are modern trains.
  • They either have third-rail shoes or can be fitted with them.

In addition, no infrastructure changes would be needed.

I also feel, that the same class of train could be used on these services in the South-East.

  • Oxted and Uckfield
  • Ashford International and Hastings

Why not use one class of battery electric trains for all these routes?

The Three Reverses

The full service between Reading and Ashford International stations will require three reverses at Gatwick and Redhill (twice).

Having seen the current system in operation at Redhill station, I feel the following operation would work, using a version of London Underground’s stepping-up.

From Reading to Ashford International the following sequence would apply.

  • The train from Reading would stop in Platform 1 at Redhill, as they do now.
  • A second driver would step-up into the rear cab and take control of the train.
  • The original or first driver, who’d driven the train from Reading would stay in the cab.
  • The second driver would drive the train to Gatwick.
  • When, the train is ready to leave, the first driver takes control from his cab.
  • The second driver, who’d driven the train from Redhill would stay in the cab.
  • The first driver would drive the train back to Platform 0 at Redhill, as they do now.
  • When, the train is ready to leave, the second driver takes control from his cab.
  • The first driver would step down and probably have a break, before he is needed to drive another train.
  • The second driver would drive the train to Ashford International.

Trains going the other way would do a similar sequence in reverse.

Other than the battery system, the trains may need a communication and safety system between the two cabs.

Hydrogen Trains

Consider these points about using a hydrogen-powered train between Reading and Ashford International.

  • The maximum distance without electrification is just 20 miles.
  • The route is over 75 % electrified.
  • Hydrogen fuelling and supply systems would need to be provided.
  • Hydrogen trains would require changes to maintenance.

In my view, using a hydrogen-powered train would be like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

Gatwick Connect

Could the service be considered to be a Gatwick Connect service?

The full Reading and Ashford International service would call at these major locations

  • In the West – Reading, Winnersh, Wokingham, Crowthorne, Farnborough, Guildford, Dorking and Reigate
  • In the East – Ashford International, Paddock Wood and Tonbridge.

Both the Eastern and Western legs also call at Redhill.

Could the service be extended in the West?

The obvious destination would be Heathrow.

Once the future of Heathrow is sorted, there will probably be some form of Southern or South-Western access into Heathrow.

Could this service connect Gatwick and Heathrow?

  • Perhaps there would be a reverse at Reading!
  • Or it might use one of numerous schemes put forward to access Heathrow from the West.

In any case, as Reading is one of the best-connected stations in England, passengers will use this connectivity to get to Gatwick.

Could the service be extended in the East?

Like Reading, Ashford International is a well-connected station.

It would be possible to extend the service to perhaps Canterbury or Dover?

There must also be the possibility of running a service to Maidstone West or Strood in the East!

Conclusion

There could be a lot of possibilities for this route.

I also feel, that it is one of the best routes to be run by battery trains in the UK. These trains could also be the same, as those working Oxted-Uckfield and Ashford International-Hastings.

There would be no need for any new infrastructure, as there is electrification at both ends of the route.

 

 

September 27, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Gatwick Rail Service Could Link Far Reaches Of The South East

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

Despite being reported on Surrey Live and the fact that Gatwick is in Sussex, the plan has been proposed by Kent County Council’s Rail Project Manager.

The plan would extend the existing Great Western railway line – which runs from Reading to Gatwick via Redhill – to mid and east Kent.

The article suggests the service could go between Reading and Canterbury West stations.

This table sums up the connectivity.

I have a few thoughts.

The Terminal Stations

The suitability of the two proposed terminals can be summed up.

  • Reading has been designed as a terminal station, with five bay platforms, three of which can be used by Gatwick services.
  • Canterbury West has not been designed as a terminal station and has no bay platforms.

Perhaps Ashford International station would be a better Eastern terminal?

  • It has Eurostar services.
  • Trains can terminate in Platform 1 and go to Tonbridge.
  • It has lots of car parking.

Dover Priority and Ramsgate could also be possibilities as they have terminal platforms.

Connecting At Gatwick Airport

It looks like a combined service might get complicated in the Redhill/Gatwick area.

  • Trains between Reading and Gatwick go via Redhill station, where they reverse.
  • There is no direct route between Tonbridge and Gatwick, so trains will probably have to reverse at Redhill, to go between Tonbridge and Gatwick.

Would a service between Reading and Ashford, that reversed twice at Redhill and once at Gatwick, be rather tricky to operate? Or even unpopular with passengers?

This Google Map shows Redhill station and the lines leading South from the station.

Note.

  • Redhill station at the top of the map.
  • The Brighton Main Line running North-South in the middle of the map.
  • The North Downs Line to Guildford and Reading curving West from the station.
  • The Redhill and Tonbridge Line to Tonbridge and Ashford leaving the map in the South-East corner.

I suspect that adding extra tracks in a very crowded area will be very difficult.

What Do The Timings Show?

A quick calculation, which is based on current timings, can give a journey time for between Ashford and Gatwick Airport.

  • Ashford and Tonbridge – Southeastern timing – 38 minutes
  • Tonbridge and Redhill – Southern timing – 35 minutes
  • Reverse at Redhill – GWR timing – 4 minutes
  • Redhill and Gatwick – GWR timing – 8 minutes

This gives a total of eighty-five minutes.

  • Google says that you can drive it in sixty-three minutes.
  • If you took the train today, between Ashford International and Gatwick Airport stations, the fastest rail journey is around 110 minutes with a change at St. Pancras International.

It does look though that a faster train between Kent and Gatwick Airport could be competitive, as going via London certainly isn’t!

Could Simplification And Automation Provide A Solution?

Consider.

  • The Ashford International and Tonbridge timing, that I have used includes five stops.
  • The Tonbridge and Redhill timing, that I have used includes five stops.
  • How much time would be saved by only stopping at Tonbridge between Ashford International and Gatwick?
  • Could automation handle a fast reverse at Redhill, where passengers couldn’t board or leave the train?
  • Would a driver in each cab, allow the reverses to be done faster?

Trains going between Reading and Ashford International, would call at the following stations between Guildford and Tonbridge.

  • Dorking Deepdene
  • Reigate
  • Redhill
  • Gatwick Airport
  • Redhill – A quick Touch-And-Go.
  • Tonbridge
  • Paddock Wood

If two minutes a stop could be saved at each of the nine omitted stops and at each reverse, this would save twenty minutes East of Gatwick, which would give the following timings.

  • Gatwick and Tonbridge – 27 minutes
  • Gatwick and Ashford International – 65 minutes

Timings would be compatible with driving.

West of Gatwick, the service would be as the current GWR service.

  • After arriving at Gatwick from Ashford, the train would reverse.
  • En route it would reverse at Redhill, to continue to Reading.

Passengers wanting to go between say Tonbridge and Redhill, would use this reverse at Redhill to join and leave the train.

It would be an unusual way to operate a train service, but I feel it could be made to work, especially with the right automation and/or a second driver.

Trains For The Service

The service can be split into various legs between Ashford and Reading.

  • Ashford and Tonbridge – Electrified – 26.5 miles – 38 minutes
  • Tonbridge and Redhill – Electrified – 20 miles – 35 minutes
  • Redhill and Gatwick – Electrified – 7 miles – 8 minutes
  • Gatwick and Redhill – Electrified – 7 miles – 8 minutes
  • Redhill and Reigate – Electrified – 2 miles – 4 minutes
  • Reigate and Shalford Junction – Not Electrified – 17 miles – 20 minutes
  • Shalford Junction and North Camp – Electrified – 9 miles – 11 minutes
  • North Camp and Wokingham – Not Electrified – 11 miles – 14 minutes
  • Wokingham and Reading – Electrified – 7 miles and 9 minutes

Note.

  1. Ashford, Tonbridge, Redhill, Gatwick, Guildford, Wokingham and Reading are all fully-electrified main line stations.
  2. Most of the route and the two ends are electrified.
  3. All electrification is 750 VDC third rail.
  4. All sections without electrification are less than twenty miles.

This route would surely be ideal for a battery electric train.

As both the Heathrow and Gatwick Express services are run using Class 387 trains and the Stansted Express has used Class 379 trains for the last few years, similar trains to these might be an ideal choice, if they could be fitted with battery power and the ability to use 750 VDC third-rail electrification.

The facts seem to be on the side of this service.

  • There are spare Class 387 trains and some more will be released by c2c in the next few years.
  • Greater Anglia will be replacing their Class 379 trains with new Class 745 trains.
  • A Class 379 train was used to test the concept of battery electric trains.
  • Both class of trains could be fitted with third-rail gear.

Either of these trains could be used for the service.

As they are 100 or 110 mph trains with good acceleration, they might even save a few minutes on the journey.

Infrastructure Changes

I suspect they could be minimal, once it was worked out how to handle the three reverses in the Gatwick and Redhill area.

Conclusion

I think it would be a feasible plan to run an Ashford and Reading service via Gatwick.

I would also decarbonise the route at the same time, as it must be one of the easiest routes in the country to run using battery electric trains.

  • There is electrification at both ends and in the middle.
  • The longest stretch of track without electrification is just seventeen miles.
  • All charging could be done using existing electrification.
  • There are platforms at both ends, where trains can get a full charge.
  • There are trains available, that are suitable for conversion to battery trains for the route.
  • No extra infrastructure would be needed.
  • Battery electric trains would allow extension of the route to Oxford in the West.

How many extra passengers would be persuaded to take the train to Gatwick, by the novelty of a battery electric Aurport Express?

Marketing men and women would love the last point!

 

 

September 19, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Beeching Reversal – Arundel Chord

This is one of the Beeching Reversal projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts.

This Google Map shows where the chord will be built.

Note.

  1. The railway line going North is the Arun Valley Line that goes North to Arundel and Horsham stations.
  2. The line going East is the West Coastway Line that goes East to Angmering, Worthing, Shoreham and Brighton stations.
  3. The two lines join at Arundel Junction and trains go South and West to Bognor Regis, Littlehampton, Portsmouth and Southampton.

The new chord will join the Arun Valley Line to the North with the West Coastway Line going to the East.

This will give an alternative route between London and Brighton, when the Brighton Main Line is blocked.

  • I would assume it will be a simple flat junction at both ends of the chord, as under normal circumstances it won’t get a lot of use.
  • It would also needed to be able to accommodate the largest 12-car trains wanting to use the route.
  • Also, in the last couple of years, Network Rail have done a lot of work to stop flooding and increase the resilience of the Brighton Main Line.

So is there another plan?

After all, it’s a lot of work to do for a route that only gets used occasionally.

So here’s a few ideas and reasons.

The Rebuilding Of Gatwick Airport And East Croydon Stations

Gatwick Airport and East Croydon stations are due to be rebuilt in the near future and if the Arundel Chord has been built, it offers an alternative route to London for trains from Brighton.

COVID-19

COVID-19 won’t have any direct effects on running the trains, but it could play havoc with the scheduling of any building work on the Brighton Main Line and at the stations, that passengers and trains use to get to London.

Again an alternative route might be useful.

A Service Between London and Hove Via The Arun Valley Line

This route may have advantages in that it might use a less crowded route to London.

A West Sussex Loop

I like loops.

  • They can be used to cut the number of platforms needed.
  • The driver doesn’t have to change ends.
  • Trains can be turned quicker at the destination.

If you’re still sceptical, go to Liverpool and investigate the operation of the Wirral Line, which has five stations in an underground loop under Liverpool city centre. It also handles upwards of twelve trains per hour.

Once the Arundel Chord is built trains could do the following.

  • Come South down the Brighton Main Line calling at stations like East Croydon, Gatwick Airport, Three Bridge and Haywards Heath. as required.
  • After Preston Park station, the trains would take the West Coastway Line.
  • Continue West, calling at stations like Hove, Shoreham, Worthing and Angmering as required.
  • On reaching the Arundel Chord, the trains would turn North for Arundel and Horsham.
  • Trains would continue back to Three Bridges, stopping as required.

Note.

  1. As it is a double-track loop, trains could use it both ways.
  2. Most of the route is in West Sussex, with a few miles in the City of Brighton and Hove.
  3. Trains don’t have to start in London, but could perhaps turn back at Redhill or Gatwick Airport. This might remove some trains through East Croydon.

Would this service encourage the locals to use the train to travel to Gatwick Airport?

Operating Issues

Network Rail, Southern or Thameslink may have operational reasons, like getting the trains back to depot, if they fail.

More Affordable Than Reopening Uckfield And Lewes

I think it could have similar capacity improvements and advantages to re-opening Uckfield and Lewes, but it is a lot more affordable.

Conclusion

This project seems to have dropped down the list in previous years.

Perhaps something that needs it has come up!

July 2, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 4 Comments

Network Rail Consults On Reigate Turnback Platform Plans

The title of this post, is the same as that of an article in Rail Magazine.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Network Rail is consulting with the public over plans to build a 12-car turnback platform at Reigate.

The third paragraph says this.

NR says “Reigate is hampered by platforms that are four-car in length. This means that Southern trains must split/join at Redhill, adding time to journeys and limiting capacity”

Other points are also made.

  • Thameslink’s Class 700 trains which are fixed formations of eight or twelve cars can’t call at Reigate station.
  • Power is poor at Reigate limiting the length of trains.
  • Passengers from Reigate to London Bridge and beyond need to change at Redhill or East Croydon.

This Google Map shows the station.

The new bay platform, which will be numbered 3, will go on the South side of the tracks at the East end of the station, where the car-park currently is situated.

Future Services At Reigate Station

In the Wikipedia entry for Reigate station, under Future, this is said.

In 2020, Network Rail announced that they are planning to upgrade Reigate station, which includes constructing a new 12-carriage bay platform (number 3) on the south side of the station, and extending the existing platform 2 to also accommodate 12-car trains. Currently the track layout just east of the station forces Southern to turn its trains around on platform 2, and since this platform is not long enough to accommodate 8-car sets, Southern services to and from Reigate are limited to 4 carriages in length. The upgrade would enable longer trains to serve the station, and the new bay platform would allow trains to/from London to terminate there instead of occupying the through westbound track, thus improving reliability on the whole line. 

Once the upgrade is delivered, there are further proposals to introduce Thameslink services running to London Bridge, London St Pancras and beyond to destinations north of London, replacing the current Southern services to London Victoria.

In some ways, this work at Reigate is all part of a larger series of projects, that are aiming to improve reliability and create more capacity on the Brighton Main Line.

The Brighton Main Line Improvement Project

This £300 million project is described on this page on the Network Rail web site.

The improvement project focussed on the southern end of the Brighton Main Line between Three Bridges and Brighton / Lewes. Major engineering work was planned for the Victorian-era tunnels at Balcombe, Clayton, Haywards Heath and Patcham and the railway which runs through them.

We stemmed leaks into the tunnels and improved drainage, while the third rail power supply and signalling were replaced or upgraded.

Elsewhere on the closed section, we replaced the track and sets of points, which enable trains to switch between tracks.

The project is now complete and won an award at the Railway Innovation Awards 2019.

Upgrading Gatwick Airport StationThis £150 million project is described on this page on the Network Rail web site.The size of Gatwick Airport station will be doubled to improve the journey between train and plane.Benefits will include.

  • Improved Accessibility
  • A better journey experience
  • Improved train performance

Works will include.

  • Doubling the size of the station concourse.
  • Eight new lifts, five new escalators and four new stairways.
  • Widened platforms 5 and 6.
  • Upgraded connections to the terminal.

The works will start in May 2020 and finish in 2023.

Access for All At Crawley Station

This £3.9 million project is described on this page of the Network Rail web site.

Crawley station is being upgraded to full step-free access, which should be complete in Autumn 2020.

It looks like a second bridge is being installed over the tracks.

I do wonder, if Crawley station is being upgraded, so that it can be used as a back-up access to Gatwick Airport, if some of the construction work at Gatwick Airport station means that the station will be closed.

The dates certainly fit and the station has two trains per hour (tph) to both London Bridge and Victoria stations.

Unblocking The Croydon Bottleneck

This £300 million project is described on this page of the Network Rail web site.

This is the introductory paragraph.

We are proposing an upgrade to the Brighton Main Line, to provide more reliable, more frequent and faster services for the 300,000 passengers who rely on it each weekday, and to provide the capacity needed for future growth.

There is also what looks to be a fairly frank video.

Platform 0 At Redhill Station

Redhill station gained a new Platform 0 a couple of years ago.

This long platform must help the operation of the station.

Thoughts On The Reigate Scheme

These are my thoughts on the building of two twelve-car platforms at Reigate station.

Thameslink To Reigate

This document on the Network Rail web site is entitled Connecting Reigate To Thameslink.

Currently, train services to the Reigate/Gatwick Airport/Crawley area are as follows.

  • Southern – Two tph – London Victoria and Reigate via East Croydon, Purley, Coulsdon South, Merstham and Redhill.
  • Southern – Two tph – London Victoria and Southampton/Portsmouth via East Croydon, Gatwick Airport, Three Bridges, Crawley and Horsham
  • Thameslink – Two tph – Peterborough and Horsham via East Croydon, Purley, Coulsdon South, Merstham, Redhill, Horley, Gatwick Airport, Three Bridges and Crawley
  • Thameslink – Two tph – Bedford and Gatwick Airport via East Croydon, Purley, Coulsdon South, Merstham, Redhill, Earlswood, Salfords and Horley.
  • Thameslink – Two tph – Cambridge and Brighton via East Croydon and Gatwick Airport
  • Thameslink – Two tph – Bedford and Brighton via East Croydon and Gatwick Airport
  • Gatwick Express – Two tph – London Victoria and Brighton via Gatwick Airport
  • Gatwick Express – Two tph – London Victoria and Gatwick Airport
  • Great Western Railway – One tph – Reading and Gatwick Airport via Reigate and Redhill

Stations around Gatwick will get the following services from London

  • Coulsdon South – Six tph
  • Crawley – Four tph
  • Earlswood – Two tph
  • Gatwick Airport – Sixteen tph
  • Horley – Four tph
  • Merstham – Six tph
  • Redhill – Six tph
  • Reigate – Two tph
  • Salfords – Two tph

I can see good reasons for terminating the Bedford and Gatwick Airport service at Reigate.

  • Gatwick Airport has sixteen tph to Central London.
  • During the rebuilding of Gatwick, it might be a good idea not to have trains terminating at Gatwick.
  • Reigate is under seven miles from Gatwick Airport and a coach service would take under twelve minutes.

This would mean that, train services to the Reigate/Gatwick Airport/Crawley area are as follows.

  • Southern – Two tph – London Victoria and Southampton/Portsmouth via East Croydon, Coulsdon South, Merstham, Redhill, Earlswood, Salfords, Horley, Gatwick Airport, Three Bridges, Crawley and Horsham
  • Thameslink – Two tph – Peterborough and Horsham via East Croydon, Purley, Coulsdon South, Merstham, Redhill, Horley, Gatwick Airport, Three Bridges and Crawley
  • Thameslink – Two tph – Bedford and Reigate via East Croydon and Redhill
  • Thameslink – Two tph – Cambridge and Brighton via East Croydon and Gatwick Airport
  • Thameslink – Two tph – Bedford and Brighton via East Croydon and Gatwick Airport
  • Gatwick Express – Two tph – London Victoria and Brighton via Gatwick Airport
  • Gatwick Express – Two tph – London Victoria and Gatwick Airport
  • Great Western Railway – One tph – Reading and Gatwick Airport via Reigate and Redhill

Stations around Gatwick will get the following services from London

  • Coulsdon South – Four tph
  • Crawley – Four tph
  • Earlswood – Two tph
  • Gatwick Airport – Fourteen tph
  • Horley – Four tph
  • Merstham – Four tph
  • Redhill – Six tph
  • Reigate – Two tph
  • Salfords – Two tph

Note.

  1. I have adjusted calling patterns to what is shown in the document called Connecting Reigate to Thameslink.
  2. Southern and Gatwick Express services will go to Victoria
  3. Thameslink services will go via London Bridge and St. Pancras.
  4. Passengers will be able to change at Redhill or East Croydon to swap their London terminal between Victoria and London Bridge/St. Pancras.

Obviously, Network Rail must have their own and better plans to run the services.

Will Platform 3 At Reigate Be Used As An Emergency Platform?

With the right track layout and signalling a  bay platform can easily handle four tph, as platforms on the London Overground do at Clapham Junction, Crystal Palace, Dalston Junction, Highbury & Islington, New Cross and West Croydon stations. Some of these platforms will be going to six tph within a couple of years.

Over the next three years, Gatwick Airport station is being rebuilt.

Surely, Reigate would make an ideal station to turn trains, if the Brighton Main Line was blockaded.

  • Passengers could be taken by bus to Gatwick.
  • The two twelve-car platforms would be able to handle the longest trains on the Brighton Main Line.
  • The car park could be used as a bus terminal.

It looks to me, like Network Rail are planning for the worst.

Electrification To Guildford?

Consider.

  • One of the sub-projects of the rebuilding of the platforms at Reigate station will be boosting the power supply.
  • Within two years, Great Western Railway will be running Class 769 trains with a third-rail capability between Reading and Redhill/Gatwick.
  • All passenger trains running between Redhill and Reigate will have a third-rail capability.
  • There is a 750 VDC electricity supply for electrification at Guildford.

So why, shouldn’t the line be electrified to Guildford station?

Thameslink To Guildford?

Consider.

  • Trains between Reigate and Guildford take twenty-five minutes to do the twenty miles on the North Downs Line.
  • I have read somewhere, that Guildford station is to be rebuilt.
  • The North Downs Line passes through the sizeable town of Dorking.
  • Two tph between Reading and Gatwick and two tph between Guildford and Redhill could surely share tracks between Guildford and Redhill.

If the line between Reigate and Guildford had been electrified, would it be worthwhile extending Thameslink from Reigate to Guildford?

Conclusion

I like this scheme at Reigate, but I do think there’s more behind it than has been disclosed.

March 25, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 5 Comments

What Will Boris Do About The Proposed Third Runway At Heathrow?

I have tackled this before in October 2016 in a post called Changing Sides.

This was how I started that post.

There is an interesting article in The Sunday Times today, entitled Boris Retreats In Fight Against Third Runway.

Boris is apparently saying he won’t oppose a third runway at Heathrow, so if anything he’s being consistent in changing horses, just as he did with Michael Gove.

But perhaps more surprisingly, Willie Walsh, the Chief Executive of IAG, who own BA, is quoted as calling Heathrow a fantasy project, which has been gold-plated and inflated by the owners to maximise their returns, at the expense of the airlines.

The paper also says that Gatwick will build a new runway anyway.

Remember, it was written before Theresa May’s government decided to allow Heathrow’s Third Runway.

Since the decision to allow Heathrow to build a Third Runway was made nearly three years ago in October 2016, there have been a lot of changes.

Notably, Boris has gone from Foreign Secretary and an MP in a Heathrow Expansion-opposing constituency to Prime Minister.

As Prime Minister he is supposed to look at the bigger picture.

Unless he’s totally stupid he must have noted the following.

Brexit Has Changed From A Simple Quick Exit Into A Slow And Very Tortuous Process

I would expect an opinion poll would show that the UK population thinks that sorting out Brexit is a much more important problem, than the decision on a new runway in the South East of England.

So will Boris put Heathrow’s Third Runway on the back burner, given the following factors

Gatwick Will Build A Second Runway Anyway

In the Wikipedia entry for Gatwick Airport, there is a section entitled Expansion Proposals, where this is the first paragraph.

Gatwick has been included in a number of reviews of airport capacity in southeastern England. Expansion options have included a third terminal and a second runway, although a 40-year agreement not to build a second runway was made in 1979 with West Sussex County Council. Expanded operations would allow Gatwick to handle more passengers than Heathrow does today, with a new terminal between two wide-spaced runways. This would complement or replace the South Terminal, depending on expected future traffic.

My project management knowledge tells me, that Gatwick could add a second runway and upgrade the terminals in a shorter time, than Heathrow can build a third runway.

But more importantly, Gatwick Airport could build the extra runway and terminal without disruption to airport passengers, aircraft and road traffic on the nearby M23.

Boris’s only problem with Gatwick expansion, is the amount of post he’ll get from Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells.

Disruption Must Be Avoided

Recent timetabling and construction fiascoes on Thameslink and Northern Rail should have sent a message to politicians, that large infrastructure projects must be created without disrupting train or air passengers and road traffic.

Can Heathrow Be Built Without Disrupting Traffic On The M25?

It is interesting to look back at the basic facts at the construction of Heathrow Terminal 5.

  • A public enquiry into the project lasted 525 days.
  • The terminal sits on a 260 hectare site.
  • Construction started in 2002.
  • The terminal opened in 2008.
  • Construction finisged in 2011.
  • The terminal cost £4.2billion.

The construction of Terminal 5, also needed the M25 to be widened and linked to the terminal.

This Google Map shows Heathrow Terminal 5 and its relationship to Heathrow’s current two runways and the M25.

I remember the construction of Terminal 5 well, if only because, I was stuck in or moving slowly along that section of the M25 so many times.

As this immense construction project, is probably in living memory of much of the population of West London, how will they react to the thought of all the disruption, that building the third runway will cause.

Would Uxbridge, throw Boris out, if he approved the building of a third runway at Heathrow?

Heathrow Is A Pollution Blackspot

Various factors mean, that the surroundings of Heathrow are a pollution blackspot, mainly caused by the large number of diesel vehicles on the M4 and M25 motorways and others bringing passengers and goods to the airport.

I believe that any Planning Permission for the third runway, will require Heathrow to do something about the pollution. This could be easier than anybody thinks, as more of us will be using electric vehicles by the time the runway opens.

Heathrow are already proposing their ULEZ or Ulta Low Emission Zone.

Heathrow Rail Access Will Improve

Crossrail will eventually serve Heathrow in a year or so and this will improve rail access to the Airport significantly.

Other rail links are also in prospect.

The first two would be privately financed.

This better rail access may reduce the traffic and pollution around the airport, but it will make it easier, for passengers to use the airport and traffic will grow.

High Speed Rail

Increasingly, Heathrow and the other London airports, will come under competition from High Speed Rail.

Eurostar has upwards of seventy percent of the London-Paris and London-Brussels passenger markets.

I have travelled a few times from London to Amsterdam on Eurostar and feel that four hours is my limit for comfortable train travel.

I estimate the following journeys would be possible on Eurostar.

  • London and Cologne via Brussels in four hours
  • London and Bordeaux via Paris in four and a half hours.
  • London and Frankfurt in Five hours.

Another competitor to air services out of London will be London and Edinburgh services on the East Coast Main Line, which are being updated with new faster trains and journey times under four hours.

Air Cargo And Heathrow

I looked up air cargo in Wikipedia and these points are there.

  • Fifty-percent of all air frieght is belly-cargo on airlines.
  • An industry expert estimates that 15-20 tonnes of air cargo is worth 30-40 economy passenger seats, when both are on passenger planes.
  • In 2017, the IATA observed a 9% rise in freight tonne kilometres
  •  Boeing is doubling its 767F production since 2016 to three per month in 2020.

Heathrow dominates the air cargo traffic into and out of the UK and last year it handled 1,788,815 tonnes of cargo, which was a 5.3% increase in tonnage on 2017.

However, it does appear that the second largest cargo airport in the UK; East Midlands, handled about the same amount of freight as Heathrow in April 2018.

There is also the East Midlands Gateway close to that airport, which will be a massive logistics park., with a rail connection.

Perhaps the pressures of the congested Heathrow, with some nudging from the Government could remove the cargo aircraft from the airport to more suitable airports like East Midlands and Doncaster Sheffield.

Manchester Airport Is The Most Important Airport North Of London

Manchester Airport is the busiest Airport after Heathrow and Gatwick and over the next few years it will catch up to a certain extent.

In Changes Signalled For HS2 Route In North, I said this about Manchester Airport’s rail connectivity if High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail are combined across the Pennines.

If High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail are developed as laid out in the Transport for the North report, the following cities will be connected to Manchester Airport.

  • Birmingham – High Speed Two
  • Blackpool – Northern Powerhouse Rail/West Coast Main Line
  • Bradford – High Speed Two/Northern Powerhouse Rail
  • Carlisle – Northern Powerhouse Rail/West Coast Main Line
  • Edinburgh – Northern Powerhouse Rail/East Coast Main Line
  • Glasgow – Northern Powerhouse Rail/West Coast Main Line
  • Hull – High Speed Two/Northern Powerhouse Rail
  • Leeds – High Speed Two/Northern Powerhouse Rail
  • London – High Speed Two
  • Newcastle -High Speed Two/Northern Powerhouse Rail
  • Preston – Northern Powerhouse Rail/West Coast Main Line
  • Sheffield – Northern Powerhouse Rail
  • Sunderland –  Northern Powerhouse Rail
  • York – High Speed Two/Northern Powerhouse Rail

Manchester Airport will probably become the most important station in the North with High Speed connections to a large part of England and Scotland.

Heathrow and Gatwick will find they have a very big and well-connected Northern competitor.

Extinction Rebellion And Other Environmental Protesters

Most of the environmental protesters like Extinction Rebellion seem to have focused their attention on Heathrow, where airports are concerned.

They will fight tooth and nail to stop Heathrow’s third runway.

Will Heathrow Get The Planning Permission They Need?

I think that this is the sort of planning decision, that will end up with the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; Theresa Villiers.

Her Wikipedia entry says this.

Villiers favours construction of a high-speed rail link from London to Birmingham and Manchester, arguing that flyers could use capacity at airports such as Birmingham International and Manchester International Airport.

She is also quoted as being against a third runway at Heathrow, when she was a member of Davisd Cameron’s cabinet.

Grant Schapps, who is the current Secretary of State for Transport, could be more supportive to Heathrow’s application.

The Mood Of The UK About The Environment

The view of the average UK voter on the environment has changed markedly in the last few years, driven by documentaries, events and politics from around the world.

Boris’s father; Stanley Johnson has written books on the environment and received the Greenpeace Award for Outstanding Services to the Environment, so this could fit with his opposition to a third runway at Heathrow, when he was Mayor of London.

Do Heathrow Airport Have A Plan B?

In Heathrow Plans Runway Over M25 In 30-Year Expansion, I outlined how I thought the runway would be built.

The Times says this about the construction program.

Only the runway would be built by the opening date of early 2026.

Other facilities such as new terminals, car parks, hotels and transit systems would open from 2030, with an expansion of Terminal 5 the priority

This means that the extra runway capacity can be used initially to better accommodate the same number of flights.

Perhaps Plan B would mean changing the order of construction, leaving a space for the third runway and getting Planning Permission to build it in perhaps starting in 2028.

Conclusion

This is a tough one to call and I know what I would do. I would just let it fester until the decision was forced by another factor.

But Boris is the Prime Minister and will have to make a decision!

 

 

 

 

D

September 1, 2019 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Is There A Need For A Waterloo To Gatwick Service?

Whilst writing Are Network Rail And Heathrow Southern Railway Moving Towards A Joint Project On Western And Southern Access To Heathrow Airport?, I got to thinking about connectivity to London’s two main airports; Heathrow and Gatwick.

If both the Western Approach To Heathrow (WRAtH) and Heathrow Southern Railway (HSR) schemes are completed, Heathrow will have direct connections to the following major stations and areas.

  • Canary Wharf using Crossrail
  • City of London using Crossrail
  • Clapham Junction using HSR
  • HS1 using a future Crossrail to Ebbsfleet
  • HS2 using Crossrail
  • Liverpool Street using Crossrail
  • Reading using WRAtH
  • Waterloo using HSR
  • West End using Crossrail

Many more places will need a single change at Clapham Junction, Farringdon, Reading, Stratford, Waterloo or Woking.

Awkward stations to get to and from Heathrow include Kings Cross, London Bridge, St. Pancras and Victoria.

Admittedly, Kings Cross, London Bridge and St. Pancras can be reached using Crossrail and Thameslink or the Underground, but Victoria is not easy as Crossrail doesn’t have an interchange with the Victoria Line.

Gatwick will have direct connections to the following major stations and areas.

  • City of London using Thameslink
  • HS1 using Thameslink
  • Reading using GWR
  • Victoria using Southern or Gatwick Express
  • West End using Thameslink

Many more places will need a single change at Clapham Junction, Farringdon, Reading, or Victoria.

Awkward stations to and from Gatwick include Canary Wharf, Euston, Liverpool Street, Paddington and Waterloo.

Consider these points about Waterloo station.

Waterloo Has The Connectivity

Waterloo is on four Underground lines.

  • Bakerloo Line for North West London, Paddington, West End,, South East London and North East London in collaboration with Dear Old Vicky!
  • Charing Cross Branch of the Northern Line for North London, Euston and the West End.
  • Jubilee Line for North West London, West End, Canary Wharf and Stratford.
  • Waterloo & City Line for Bank and the City of London.

Waterloo also has its own network of frequent and comprehensive services to South West London and further afield.

Waterloo Could Be Getting Crossrail 2

In Sadiq Khan’s dreams!

The Bakerloo Line Extension and the West London Orbital Railway are much more urgent to be built, but they don’t serve Surrey, where posh commuters live!

Waterloo Is Almost A Tourist Destination

I say almost, as it is just a short walk from Westminster, several important museums and galleries, and the Thames.

Waterloo Station Is A Place To Meet Friends And Business Associates

I regularly meet friends as they pass through Waterloo station, as it has several restaurants, where you can sit, eat, drink and chat.

Waterloo Station Is Going To Be Developed

Plans are being developed to build above Waterloo station.

Could this include more hotels, in addition to offices and housing?

Why Has There Been Talk Of A Service Between Waterloo and Heathrow For Years, But Nothing About A Link To Gatwick?

Heathrow AirTrack was proposed by BAA some years ago and now Heathrow Southern Railway are putting in a privately-funded proposal.

But search for a proposal for a direct service between Waterloo and Gatwick and you find nothing sensible.

  • Could it be that the route is too difficult or there is not enough capacity at Gatwick and/or Waterloo?
  • Is it that a route to Heathrow would be much more profitable, as it is so much bigger?
  • Is it tradition? Waterloo serves the South West and London Bridge and Victoria serves the South.

But time is moving on, a larger Waterloo and Gatwick stations are coming and Network Rail are getting some of their best brains around digital signalling.

A Waterloo And Gatwick Airport Service

As Gatwick expands, I believe that a direct service between Waterloo and Gatwick Airport will become more necessary.

The Route Of The Service

I’m not sure of this, but I believe that there is a route between Waterloo and Streatham Common or East Croydon stations, which could be used for a Waterloo to Gatwick service.

  • It may need to use the flyover at Waterloo, that used to be used by Eurostar.
  • I wrote about using the flyover in Waterloo Upgrade August 2017 – Waterloo To Sevenoaks.
  • Could it use a route like Brixton, Herne Hill, Tulse Hill, West Norwood, Gipsy Hill, Crystal Palace, Norwood Junction and East Croydon?
  • Once on the Brighton Main Line it would be plain sailing.
  • Of the stations on the route I mentioned, only Norwood Junction has a direct service to Gatwick.
  • A rebuilt Brixton station with its Victoria Line connection could be a valuable interchange.
  • Crystal Palace will have a six trains per hour (tph) service on the Overground to Highbury & Islington.
  • The route is fully electrified using third-rail.

I’m sure a practical and useful route can be found.

The Frequency Of The Service

Gatwick, Heathrow and Stansted Express services have a frequency of four tph.

So I wouldn’t think it unreasonable for a service between Waterloo and Gatwick Airport stations to have the same frquency.

Express Or Typical Suburban Service

Airport trains around London fall into two styles.

  • Express – Gatwick Express, Heatrow Express and Stansted Express.
  • Typical Standard Suburban Train – Crossrail and Thameslink.

As I am happy to use Thameslink to Gatwick, I have no particular preference. Except that if getting an early flight out of Gatwick, I take a night bus to Victoria and then use Gatwick Express, as it runs all night.

Passenger demand would decide, the level of service.

Trains For The Service

An appropriate train would be chosen to match the service style.

Both would do a very capable job.

Platforms At Waterloo

If I assume that Heathrow Southern Railway’s four tph service between Waterloo and Heathrow uses a single platform at Waterloo, I would expect it will be one of the higher-numbered platforms.

So could a Gatwick service with the same frequency use the next door platform?

This would surely be very convenient.

Conclusion

I think it is quite likely that a service between Waterloo and Gatwick Airport could be run.

But whether it is worthwhile is another matter.

 

 

 

April 29, 2019 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

It’s Not Just Drones We Should Worry About!

In The Private Thoughts of Engineers and Scientists, I talked about a discussion, I had with a chemist about the production of sarin gas.

His view was that if amateurs tried to make the deadly gas, there was a high chance, they’d kill themselves, but he had a better idea to cause havoc in a city, which I will not disclose.

I too, have a couple of non-lethal methods, that would bring an airport or a city to a standstill.

One idea is so simple, that I suspect many terrorists could think it up.

Again, I will not disclose my ideas, but they are probably just two of many.

In some ways, the success of the drones in closing Gatwick Airport will only encourage others to think of new ways to disrupt our lives.

We still don’t now, who were behind the Gatwick Airport drones, but there must be a long list of suspects.

  • Extinction Rebellion
  • Anti-Airport Protesters
  • Russia – It worked better than Novichok!
  • North Korea – Unlikely, as they don’t seem to have any spats with the UK.

One thing that may rule out a lot of groups, is that sophisticated high-performance drones are not cheap.

Other groups will be ruled out, because they want to kill hundreds of innocent people and a couple of drones are unlikely to do this.

December 21, 2018 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 2 Comments