The Anonymous Widower

How To Build A Short Railway Branch Line

This article in Global Rail News is entitled London Overground’s Barking Riverside extension given green light.

The Barking Riverside Extension to the Gospel Oak to Barking Line is a 4.5 km. extension to serve a housing development of 10,800 houses at a derelict site by the Thames in Barking.

The article says this.

The Secretary of State, Chris Grayling, has now given his support to the project – approving the Transport and Works Act Order (TWAO) for the extension.

It puzzles me, why Chris Grayling is in the loop, as the £263million project for the extension is funded by Transport for London, with a £172million contribution from the developers of the houses.

TfL’s contribution works out at just over ten pounds for every man woman and child in Greater London.

By comparison, this article in Rail TRechnology Magazine is entitled MPT wins £350m contract to build Metrolink’s Trafford Park extension. Was a TWAO signed by the Minister for that?

This country is far to centralised!

August 4, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | 2 Comments

GOBLIN Electrification On Track For January 2018 Completion

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

This is said.

Network Rail has this week confirmed that the GOBLIN electrification project is expected to be completed in January 2018 ahead of new trains arriving in spring.

About time too!

In An Open Letter To All Those Along The Gospel Oak To Barking Line, I called for an alternative approach. Seeing what might happen in Aukland, that I wrote about in Auckland Mulls Battery-Electric Train Order,

I do wonder if there would have been a better way. This article in Rail Magazine, which is entitled Flex… and flexibility and consists of an interview with Helen Simpson and Mark Isbern of Porterbrook. It gives lots of clues to the thinking behind the Class 319 Fklex train.

July 28, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | 2 Comments

More Closures On The Gospel Oak To Barking Line

This article on the Islington Gazette details the further closures on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line. This is said.

The Barking to Gospel Oak Overground line will be closed for eight weekends as electrification work continues.

It had originally closed for eight months, reopening in February, but work was not finished on time due to design problems and the late delivery of some materials.

The line will be shut every Sunday from June 4 until July 23, with additional Saturday closures on July 9, 16 and 23.

Further temporary closures will be needed in the future to complete the work.

I know the electrification needs to be completed, but the engineers and planners of this job, have not exactly covered themselves in glory.

Compare this project with the one a few miles away, where Volker Fitzpatrick are rebuilding Hackney Wick station, which seems to have gone a lot smoother, despite I would suspect being a much more challenging project.

Several mistakes would appear to have been made on the electrification and I hope the companies and individuals involved will be properly names and shamed.

May 26, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | 2 Comments

Are Transport for London Reorganising Train Deliveries?

In the May 5th Newsletter of the Barking – Gospel Oak Rail Users Group, this is said.

It is now looking increasingly likely that the first of our new 4-carriage electric trains will arrive around the turn of the year and be diverted to another London Overground service because Barking – Gospel Oak is still without energised overhead wires.

The first 14 of the new trains (Class 710/2) were due to be shared between the Barking – Gospel Oak and Euston – Watford Junction services, the remainder (Class 710/1) going to Romford – Upminster and Liverpool Street – Cheshunt/Chingford/Enfield Town services.

It has been said in a couple of places, that to get electrified freight trains through North London, whilst the hiatus at Hackney Wick station was taking place, needed to get the wires on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line (GOBlin) switched on as soon as possible. Now it appears that the electrification won’t be available this year.

I think that Transport for London may be rescheduling how the trains are delivered.

I would perhaps introduce the new Class 710 trains like this.

Note that there are two types of Class 710 Trains.

Could this be TfL’s strategy?

  1. Put a 710/1 on Romford to Upminster Line for initial testing and driver training.
  2. Replace trains on Cheshunt and Chingford services to bed in the new Class 710/1  trains.
  3. Replace Watford DC Line trains with new Class 710/2 trains.
  4. Cascade the current Watford DC Line  Class 378 trains to the North and East London Lines as planned to boost services.
  5. Check out all Class 710/2 trains for the GOBlin by running on the Watford DC Line.
  6. Finish the electrification on the GOBlin, whilst running services with the current Class 172 trains.
  7. When the GOBlin electrification tests successfully, introduce the Class 710/2 trains.
  8. Cascade the Class 172 trains.

I think this strategy is low-risk and has the following advantages.

  • Romford/Upminster with its need for just a single train would surely be an ideal line for initial testing and driver testing.
  • Cheshunt, Chingford and Watford DC services, shouldn’t be particularly difficult lines on which to replace one electric train with another.
  • The Class 378 trains from the Watford DC services would be available to boost Stratford to Gospel Oak services before electric trains run between Barking and Gospel Oak.
  • The dual-voltage Class 7810/2 trains will be fully tested on the Watford DC Line before any deplayment on the Goblin.
  • The Class 172 trains would only be cascaded, when TfL have accepted the GOBlin and its new Class 710/2 trains.

But provided the track of the Gospel Oak to Barking Line is usable, the Class 172 trains and diesel-hauled freight will always get through.



May 10, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Along The Reopened Gospel Oak To Barking Line

The Gospel Oak to Barking Line reopened after its major upgrade on Monday.

The stations generally need need work  in several areas

  • Gantries – Some overhead gantries have not been erected.
  • Lifts – Some stations need lifts.
  • Platform Extensions – Some stations need platform extensions to be completed
  • Ticket Gates – Ticket gates might need to be installed at some stations.
  • Wires – Wires need to be installed.

These are some pictures I have taken along the line.


Barking station is more or less complete.

Might need – Lifts, Platform Extensions

Note the unique step-free double cross-platform interchange to Gospel Oak and c2c services.

Woodgrange Park

Woodgrange Park station is more or less complete.

In progress – Platform Extensions

Needs – Lifts

Note the excellent refuges enclosing the new ticket gates.

Wanstead Park

Wanstead Park station needs a fair bit of work.

In progress – Platform Extensions

Still to do – Gantries, Wires

Needs – Lifts

Leytonstone High Road

Leytonstone High Road station needs a fair bit of work.

In progress – Platform Extensions

Still to do – Gantries, Wires

Needs – Lifts

The station’s brickwork has been sympathetically restored.

Leyton Midland Road

Leyton Midland Road station needs a fair bit of work.

In progress – Platform Extensions

Still to do – Gantries, Wires

Needs – Lifts

I’ve used the station many times and the builders had done a very good job in improving the station with imaginative use of brickwork.

Walthamstow Queens Road

Walthamstow Queens Road station is more or less complete.

In progress – Platform Extensions

Still to do – Gantries, Wires

Migh need – Lifts

Needs – Ticket Gates

I think adding lifts is going to be difficult, but aren’t strictly necessary due to the long ramps.

Blackhorse Road

Blackhorse Road station is more or less complete .

In progress – Lifts, Platform Extensions

Still to do – Gantries, Wires

South Tottenham

South Tottenham station is more or less complete.

In progress – Platform Extensions

Still to do – Wires

Harringay Green Lanes

At Harringay Green Lanes station needs a fair bit of work.

In progress – Platform Extensions

Still to do – Gantries, Wires

Needs – Lifts, Ticket Gates

Crouch Hill

Crouch Hill station needs a fair bit of work.

In progress – Platform Extensions

Still to do – Gantries, Wires

Needs – Lifts, Ticket Gates

There might also be a serious problem with not enough clearance under the station bridge.

Upper Holloway

Upper Holloay station needs a fair bit of work.

In progress – Platform Extensions

Still to do – Wires

Needs – Lifts, Ticket Gates

Gospel Oak

Gospel Oak station is more or less complete.

Might need – Platform Extension

I was glad to see the coffee hut hat been reinstated.

Passengers Comments

Speaking to other passengers, all seemed pleased that the line was back in service and a couple remarked how neat and tidy it all was.

No-one seemed to be bothered work was still ongoing.

I even got praise for the Class 172 trains, which will be replaced by new Class 710 trains in 2018. One guy said there’s no need, although when I told him, they will be bigger, he liked that.



February 28, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 8 Comments

Comparing West Anglia Four-Tracking And Sheffield Tram-Train Projects

This article on Rail Technology Magazine is entitled Delayed Sheffield tram-train completion date finally set.

This project was announced in 2015 and the Class 399 tram-trains were delivered in 2016. So you’d think it would be nearing completion, with the tram-trains tested and the track complete. But no! The link will open in Summer 2018.

But the West Anglia Four-Tracking has not even been announced and the Orange Army is already hard at work to squeeze in the extra tracks along the West Anglia Main Line.

Both construction projects have one important thing in common. They need new track to be laid on land already owned by Network Rail or supporting local authorities, with modifications to the overhead electrification and signalling.

So why has one started before it has been announced and the other has taken for ever to get out of the starting blocks?

Wrst Anglia Four-Tracking has been talked about seriously for over ten years, so Network Rail have had a long time to finalise their design.

So do Network Rail need something like a dozen years to go from the start of design to full on construction?

Perhaps they were caught on the hop with the Gospel Oak to Barking Electrification and hadn’t got a design together?

If a project takes a long time to go from initial design to construction, all of the good engineers, managers and workers move on to something they might see completed in their lifetime. So the project has to be restarted time and time again with new people.

Crossrail was different in that when the politicians said build it, the team was created, who will see it through from design to the trains running throyugh the tunnels.

Let’s hope HS2 gets the same treatment as Crossrail, so that in 2026 we can all experience London to Birmingham in the blink of an eye.

February 23, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Incident At Dalston Kingsland Station

This article in the Hackney Gazette is entitled Dalston Kingsland: Four in hospital after sparks and smoke cause stampede off train.

As the problem was sorted by the London Fire Brigade using a bucket of sand to extinguish a fire in the battery pack of a workman’s drill, it doesn’t appear to have been very serious.

The injuries seem to have been caused by panic, as passengers tried to get away fro the problem.

I know Dalston Kingsland station well and although the entrance, ticket hall and gateline has been updated, the stairs are not the best.

So did everybody try to get out of the station on these stairs and it was this that caused the injuries?

I think there are questions that have to be asked about the design of the station and its operating procedures.

If you look at the passenger numbers for 2015-16 on the North London Line, you get the following.

  • Canonbury – 2.86million
  • Dalston Kingsland – 5.93million
  • Hackney Central – 5.98million
  • Homerton – 4.65 million
  • Hackney Wick – 2.10million

So the station has a fairly high usage.

At the moment, the Gospel Oak to Barking Line is closed, so is the station getting more passengers, who need to get across London?

It looks to me, that the incident could have been a lot worse.

Luckily it wasn’t, but I do believe that something must be done to improve the stairs at Dalston Kingland station.


February 9, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Design Error Delays Gospel Oak to Barking Line Electrification

The title of this post is taken from this article in Global Rail News.

This is said.

In an announcement earlier today, Network Rail said it had been unable to install some of the OLE structures because they had been “incorrectly designed”. It also blamed the late delivery of materials.

But the line will reopen with the Class 172 trains on the 27th February.

In June 2016, I wrote The Signs Of Bad Planning On The Gospel Oak To Barking Line Were There.

In the post, I talk about the rebuilding of three bridges on the line at Wightman Road, Palmerston Road and Holloway Road, which although Palmerston Road was done early and successfully, Holloway Road was going well at the time of writing, but Wightman Road had almost been forgotten.

The closure of Wightman Road for rebuilding certainly caught a lot of people by surprise.

There was also the late rebuilding of Holloway Road bridge, which certainly caught Islington Council on the hop.

If you read a News Release from the Barking – Gospel Oak Rail User Group dated the 6th February 2017, this is said.

Other problems have been accidental breaches of sewers in Walthamstow by pile drivers and the discovery that there will be insufficient clearance for the overhead wires under the road bridge at Crouch Hill station.

It is believed that Network Rail has received a temporary dispensation to run electric trains under the bridge pending a later closure to raise the height of the bridge.

As the guy said, when he breached the sewer – “Shit Happens!”



February 7, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , | 2 Comments

The Reopening Of The Gospel Oak To Barking Line Is Slipping

In October 2016, I wrote The Gospel Oak To Barking Line Is Planned To Reopen On February 6th 2017.

But a couple of weeks ago, this date had slipped to the fourteenth.

I have just checked the reopening date this morning on the National Rail train timetable and it appears to be the 27th of February.

I don’t give it much credence.


January 30, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , | 4 Comments

Up And Down The Gospel Oak To Barking Line

Over the last couple of weeks, I have been taking photographs of various parts of the Gospel Oak to Barking Line (GOBlin).

There would still seem to be a lot to do to restore the railway to operation as a non-electrified railway.

However, the National Rail on-line timetable is showing that from Monday, the 13th of February, 2013, a four trains per hour (tph) service will be working.

It is also worthwhile looking at Transport for London’s Track Closures Six Months Look Ahead. This is usually reliable and states the following.

There is no London Overground service between Gospel Oak and Barking until late February 2017. Replacement buses are running.

It also lists no substantial closures on the GOBlin in the next six months.

There is also this article on Global Rail News, which is entitled Electrification of London Overground’s Gospel Oak-Barking line 80% complete.

These various statements and my pictures could point to a coherent interim set of objectives.

An Interim Set Of Objectives

Both Transport for London and Network Rail will want to get the line open for the following trains as soon as possible.

  • Engineering trains to support the finish of the electrification and station works.
  • Diesel-hauled freight trains.
  • Restoration of the four tph passenger service using the two-car Class 172 trains.

It could be that from the point of view of the electrification, the engineering trains are the most important.

So what will need to be done to meet these interim objectives.

Hopefully, the line will reopen to passenger traffic before the end of February 2017. But no-one would complain, if it happened earlier.

Finishing The Project

Once the limited objectives are met and trains are running, the following will need to be done to complete the modernisation.

  • The completion of platform lengthening, as at Harringay Green Lanes station.
  • Erection of the missing gantries.
  • Installation and testing of the overhead wires.

All of these tasks , can probably be done alongside of the working railway, as similar work has been done on the North and East London Lines and Crossrail.

The contractors will have the following advantages.

  • The track and signalling will be complete.
  • It can probably be arranged that overnight very few trains will use the line.
  • They will have a working double-track railway to bring in supplies and specialist rail-mounted equipment.
  • No electric trains will need to run on the line.
  • They will soon have light evenings in which to work.

If they can fit construction around the passenger service, everybody will benefit.

Handling Regenerative Braking


Little has been said about regenerative braking on the GOBlin.

I think, it will be likely, that the Class 710 trains will be able to use regenerative braking on the line, as it typically saves around 20% of the energy required to drive a train.

In Class 710 Trains And Regenerative Braking, I discussed the issues.

I came to the conclusion, that it is highly likely, that onboard energy storage will be used to handle regenerative braking on the Class 710 trains and thus the method would be used on the GOBlin.

As the prototype Aventra is now being tested, any design issues of handling braking energy will probably be resolved soon.

But prudence probably dictates that regenerative braking with batteries must be shown to work before the electrification design is finalised.

So could this explain, the delay in putting up the overhead wires?

Handling Regenerative Braking For Freight Trains

This is more complicated, as the freight locomotives on the UK network are not the most modern units.

I’m not sure, but the Class 92 could probably work the route using rheostatic braking.


I think that this project has been planned to open up a non-electrified railway before the end of February 2017.

This probably gives least disruption to all of the stakeholders.

  • Passengers get a four tph service.
  • Freight operators can run trains through under diesel haulage.
  • A route for engineering trains is maintained to assist in the finishing of the line.

But also by delaying the electrification, they can make sure they incorporate all of the lessons learned by the test running of the Class 345 trains.

Some might think it’s a bit of a dog’s breakfast, but in truth, it could be some very clever project management, which has minimised the closure of the line.


January 20, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , | 2 Comments