The Anonymous Widower

Back To Two Trains Per Hour On The Gospel Oak To Barking Line

Checking this morning, it appears that four trains per hour (tph), which has been flagged up all week, will not be happening tomorrow according to the on-line timetable.

March 22, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

It Gets Stranger On The Gospel Oak To Barking Line

I’ve just looked at the on-line National Rail  timetable for the next few days in trains per hour (tph)

  • Friday, Mar 22nd – Two tph
  • Saturday, Mar 23rd – Four tph
  • Sunday, Mar 24th – Four tph
  • Monday, Mar 25th – Twotph
  • Tuesday Mar 26th – Two tph

We shall see what happens.


March 21, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

Have Bombardier And Transport for London Pressed The Publicity Button On The Gospel Oak To Barking Line?

This morning, both the National Rail and Transport for London Journey Planners are still showing a Saturday March the 23rd service of four trains per hour (tph) on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line.

To run a four tph service will need six trains, which is a bit difficult with only three four-car Class 378 trains.

There are only three possibilities.

  1. Both timetables are wrong. But they have been like that all week and surely a mistake would have been rectified.
  2. They have shortened three more Class 378 trains and these will be joining the party. But it is known that other lines are under pressure because of the smaller fleet, so this is unlikely.
  3. Three Class 710 trains will come to the aid of the party.

Possibility three is the only practical one.

There is also another event on Saturday. A steam train will be passing along the route, with these tiomings.

  • Barking – 8:42
  • Leyton Midland Road – 8:51
  • South |Tottenham – 9:02
  • Upper Holloway – 9:11
  • Gospel Oak – 9:15

The steam train will also be coming back later in the day.

Is it a coincidence that it appears the full four tph electric service on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line starts on the day that a steam train uses the route?

Think of all those publicity pictures!

Or has it been organised to see if the steam trains interfere with the sophisticated computing on the Class 710 trains?


March 21, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Should The Three Class 378 Trains Saving The Gospel Oak To Barking Line Be Named?

Lots of passengers will be eternally grateful, if over the next few or more weeks, the three Class 378 trains, currently working the line provide an acceptable service across North London, until the Class 710 trains take over the route.

So after they return to normal service should they be given names?

I would suggest Faith, Hope and Charity, as these names wouldn’t cause offence to anyone.

But they would constantly remind the Mayor, Transport for London and Bombardier, that their failure to plan properly for non-arrival of the Class 710 trains, could have had a much more embarrassing outcome.

March 19, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

The Design Of The Class 378 Trains Keeps The Gospel Oak To Barking Line Running

In some ways, London Overground’s Class 378 trains are the ultimate Electrostars.

These ten-year-old trains are  no high-performance trains, but they are people carriers par excellence.

Wikipedia describes their interiors like this.

The design is similar to the Class 376 trains used by Southeastern, featuring the same wider metro-style sliding pocket doors for more efficient boarding and alighting. However, it also has significant differences from the Class 376, such as fully longitudinal seating similar to that used on London Underground rolling stock to give more standing and less seating capacity and reduce overcrowding, suitable for the high-volume metro-style services on London Overground.

This picture shows a view through the five cars of a standard-length train.

At the present time they are the only heavy rail train with this seating layout. Although London Overground will soon be running some Class 710 trains with a similar layout.

  • The seats are reasonably comfortable.
  • All passengers get at least one arm-rest.
  • Passengers can walk between cars to find a seat or more space.
  • The aisle between the seats is wide enough for passengers to stretch their legs and others to walk through, when all seats are taken.
  • There’s plenty of space for standees and lots of handholds.
  • In less busy times, everybody gets at least one seat.

There are also wide lobbies and doors for easy embarking and alighting.

Note the perches either side of the door and the numerous handholds.

In my travels across Europe, I’ve never found a better inner-city commuter train.

To run a four trains per hour (tph) service on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line, ideally eight trains are needed; six to run the service, one in maintenance and a spare.

But all London Overground can scrape together is three Class 378 trains shortened to four-cars.

  • This limited number of trains can only run a two tph service.
  • The four-car Class 378 trains have 152 seats (including tip-up seats) and thirty-two double perch seats.
  • The two-car Class 172 trains have 124 seats.

This gives these seats per hour for the two services.

  • Class 172 trains – four tph – 496
  • Class 378 trains – two tph – 432

The Class 378 trains may offer less seats, but each four-car train can hold a lot of standees.

This article on Railway Gazette is entitled London Overground Class 378 Ready To Enter Service, says that four-car versions of Class 378 trains can hold up to 700 passengers.

If you’ve ever travelled on the East and North London Lines around Dalston in the Peak, you’ll know how many people these trains can hold at a push!

Since the two tph service started yesterday I’ve done several trips on the Gospel Oak to Baring Line over two days.

  • 09:20 – Gospel Oak to Barking
  • 10:33 – Barking to Blackhorse Road
  • 14:27 – Harringay Green Lanes to Gospel Oak
  • 14:50 – Gospel Oak to Barking
  • 15:33 – Barking to Gospel Oak
  • 07:33 – Barking to Gospel Oak

Only the last trip can really be considered to be in the Peak.

I have the following observations on the Off Peak trips.

  • There were typically at least twenty per cent of seats available.
  • No-one was ever forced to stand, although some were.
  • A proportion of passengers were doing short trips of one or two stops.
  • Some stops like Crouch Hill, Blackhorse Road and Leyton Midland Road seemed to have more passenger traffic than others.
  • The trains had more passengers towards the Barking end of the route.
  • I asked a few passengers, if they’d had to wait long and all said, they’d read the timetable and arrived accordingly.
  • The usual accessories like dogs, buggies and baggage were carried by a proportion of passengers.
  • Two station staff said passengers were only complaining about the frequency.

It appears to me, that Off Peak journeys on the route will be adequate if not as frequent as passengers want.

I have the following observations for the single Peak journey at 07:33 this morning.

  • Nearly all seats were taken for the whole route.
  • Dwell times were slowed at certain stations, due to the numbers wanting to enter and alight.
  • All standees had a decent hand-hold.
  • Some passengers were still doing short trips of one or two stops.
  • Blackhorse Road with its connection to the Victoria Line was busy.
  • A staff member told me, that it all gets less busy after eight o’clock.

I should also say, that one passenger was complaining hard, as he had to stand for his short journey from Crouch Hill to Gospel Oak. But then he was dressed like he would pay for a First Class seat.

On arrival at Gospel Oak, I took a North London Line train to Hampstead Heath and that was carrying more passengers per car.. This added a perspective to the trip.

But then, in my part of London, at times, there are more overcrowded trains that I use regularly.

  • The Central, Victoria and Northern Lines on the Underground.
  • The North and East London Lines of the Overground.
  • The Northern City Line into Moorgate station.

Today’s Peak trip was no worse, than some I’ve experienced in the North of England.


The three gallant Class 378 trains are coping well and if they don’t suffer any failures, I suspect they can hold the line, until reinforcements arrive.

My trip today, illustrated the strengths of the train design as a large number of passengers were transported in a half-hour journey across North London.

Bombardier must also be pleased that it is three of their ten year-old-trains, that have been quickly reconfigured and have made up for their software shortcomings, that are causing late delivery of the Class 710 trains.






March 19, 2019 Posted by | Computing, Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Sunday On The Gospel Oak To Barking Line With Three Trains

I went to have a look this morning to see how many passengers were braving the cold and limited service on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line.

The pictures show, that there weren’t too many punters about.

I used the train all the way from Gospel Oak to Barking and by the time it reached the destination, there was perhaps a dozen empty seats.

Incidentally, there were few long faces and no-one seemed to be complaining about the lack of trains.

It will probably be different in tomorrow’s Peak.

Is this good news, that I have clipped from the on-line timetable?

Let’s hope so!

March 17, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

Fact Or Fiction On The Gospel Oak To Barking Line

I just took a short ride between Harringay Green Lanes and Gospel Oak stations.

At Harringay Green Lanes station, this was shown on the station display.

Saturday 16th to Sunday 22nd trains will be 30 minute intervals.

At Gospel  Oak station, this was shown on the station display.

Saturday 16th to Sunday 22nd trains will be 30 minute intervals.

I was also given a leaflet, which said.

Trains will run about every 30 minutes on weekdays, calling at all stations.

It also said that there will be service changes at weekend and on public holidays.

So what does the National Rail on-line timetable say?

  • Monday, March 18th – 2 trains per hour (tph)
  • Saturday, March 23rd – 4 tph
  • Sunday, March 24th – 4 tph
  • Monday, March 25th – 4 tph

I don’t believe it!

For four tph, that means they have to find three extra trains. Are they Class 710 trains or have they borrowed some surplus Pacers from Northern?

March 15, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Are TfL Playing A Canny Game On The Gospel Oak To Barking Line?

Transport for London (TfL) have now stated that from the 18th March, the service on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line (GOBlin) will be run by three four-car Class 378 trains.

This will mean a two train per hour (rph) service instead of the current four tph.

Will the Class 378 trains cope?

Let’s look at a few facts and my observations.

Class 378 Train Capacity

The Class 378 trains may have twice the number of cars than the Class 172 trains, but having used Class 378 trains in the Peak quite a few times in the last ten years, they do have the capacity to swallow large numbers of passengers.

TfL will know how many passengers can squeeze uncomfortably into a four-car Class 378 train.

I doubt it’s what Bombardier says in the specification.

The Class 378 Trains Seem To Have Attracted More Passengers

Over the last few weeks, I have ridden regularly on the GOBlin and it appears to me, that passenger numbers are increasing.

  • I have been on a couple of Class 378 trains in the Off Peak, with most of the seats taken.
  • I’ve also seen a packed Eastbound-platform at Blackhorse Road station on a couiple of times.
  • I also was one of perhaps thirty passengers, who transferred at Barking from a c2c train from Grays.

It looks to me, that Londoners are ducking-and-diving, as only they can!

I also have spoken to a couple of passengers, who were using the OBlin for the first time.

Has all the publicity persusaded some travellers to give the route a try?

Improved Interchange At Blackhorse Road

Blackhorse Road station is now a partly step-free interchange interchange between the GOBlin and Victoria Lines.

Judging by the numbers of passengers, who seem to be changing trains at the station, this is becoming an increasingly important part of passengers journeys.

Short And Long Distance Travellers

If you travel on the line from one end to the other, I have noticed that a lot of passengers use the line for just a stop or two.

I would expect few use it regularly for the whole length on a daily basis.

On a fine day, if you are going one stop, do some passengers walk, if they just miss a train?

There Are Alternative Routes

My son has lived in the Walthamstow area for perhaps twenty years and he seems to use another route, when say he preferred one of the Victoria Line is not working. Which is rare.

I visit him regularly and use different routes according to my mood.

The one problem he has in Walthamstow is getting to Stratford and you can understand why the local MP; Stella Creasy is pushing for the reinstatement of the Hall Farm Curve.

The GOBlin has  the following connections.

  • Barking – c2c, District and Hammersmith & City Lines
  • Woodgrange Park – Out of station interchange with Manor Park on Crossrail.
  • Wansted Park – Out of station interchange with Forest Gate on Crossrail.
  • Leytonstone High Road – Out of station interchange with Leytonstone on the Central Line.
  • Walthamstow Queens Road – Out of station interchange with Walthamstow Central on the Overground and Victoria Line.
  • Blackhorse Road – Victoria Line
  • South Tottenham – Out of station interchange with Seven Sisters on National Rail and the Victoria Line.
  • Harringay Green Lanes – Out of station interchange with Harringay on National Rail.
  • Upper Holloway – Out of station interchange with Archway on the Northern Line.
  • Gospel Oak – North London Line

Several stations are also on high-frequency North-South bus routes.

It should also be noted that in the last couple of months, Manor Park and Forest Gate stations have been dramatically improved for Crossrail.

Passengers Managed Well During The Closures Of The Last Couple Of Years

Over the last couple of years of electrification work, there have been times, when the line has been closed. People have moaned, but most seem to have got round the closure, by using alternative routes.

It hasn’t been ideal, but lots of passengers are still using the line and haven’t given up rail travel.

Transport for London Have Got The Bad News Out First

TfL’s statement has been released two weeks before the 18th March.

Will this have the effect to get passengers to consider their routes?

I certainly wouldn’t be surprised to see passenger numbers fall back a bit, because of TfL’s timely, honest statement.

So What Will Happen?

How would a service run by three Class 378 trains perform?

Time Keeping

With a train every thirty minutes, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the trains keeping very much to time, as generally they do on the GOBlin now.

This will make it easier for passengers to time their journeys to catch a train.

Passengers Will Adjust Their Routes

Passengers will adjust their routes and behaviour, so they find the easiest route.

As I said earlier there are lots of interchanges and also some less obvious ones for the stronger walkers.

Frequency Problems

The half-hourly frequency could cause problems, but most stations have reasonably wide platforms and often have cafes or coffee kiosks nearby.

The Trains Will Be Crowded

This will of course happen, but when you see how many passengers can cram themselves into the five-car Class 378 trains on the North London Line, I suspect their smaller four-car sisters will cope.

The Class 378 train has a London Underground interior and is unlike any other surface train in the UK.

They will cope with the increased numbers.

What Else Will TfL Do?

I think that the most important thing, is that the GOBLIN and the other lines in the area keep working at their optimum capacity.

A failure on the Victoria Line would really louse things up.

There will be more buses as well.

Introducing The Class 710 Trains

I would expect, that TfL have a date, where they can be pretty certain, that they will have the first Class 710 train will be available for service.

This figure may be a month or it could even be six, but as someone who has delivered very complex software systems, I know how difficult it can be be.

Depending on this date they will need to adopt a different philosophy.

If it is just a few weeks, then perhaps a grin and bare it strategy will work, especially if the new trains are seen on the line.

But it would only work, if they can get the drivers trained and I do hope that TfL are training drivers on the Class 710 trains that are running up and down.

Increasing the fleet, a train at a time would gradually improve the service.

But if it is going to be several months, there would be no alternative than to bring in some other trains.


The GOBlin will cope, but it could be very crowded

On the other hand, passengers will adjust their routes and behaviour, which will help.

March 6, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Latest On The Class 710 Trains For The Gospel Oak To Barking Line

This message has been tweeted by Richard Clinnick; the Assistant Editor of Rail Magazine.

Confirmed by TfL that London Overground 710s won’t be ready when last 172s go to WMT. A half-hourly service on Goblin starts on March 18. Driver training on the Bombardier Aventras is underway, but no date confirmed for introduction.

At least driver training is underway, which probably means the trains are at least working with a Bombardier technician on board.

March 5, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | 1 Comment

The GOBlin Users Think Things Are Looking Up

This was one of their tweets tonight.

Two Class 710s out on the WCML tonight and they’ve allowed onto the fast lines as well with no shadowing ROG diesel! Things are looking up!

So are they right?

TfL and Bombardier are being increasingly brave with where they are taking the trains.

Pictures have been taken of Class 710 trains in these places.

  • During the day at Gospel Oak, Walthamstow Queens Road and Upney.
  • At night on the West Coast Main Line

As a software man of at least forty years experience, I wouldn’t be surprised to be told, that the important train control software is now working as it should in most situations.

  • And in those situations where it doesn’t work, Bombardier have probably got a work-round. Even if it is stop and reboot! We’re all familiar with that on our desk- or lap-tops.
  • It would mean a trained technician on each train, but as there are twenty trains al;ready built, testing and driver training can continue on as many trains, as can be accommodated on the various test tracks and routes.

As I have said many times, there has been a major failure on the part of all European train manufacturers and governments, to make sure there is enough testing facilities for all the trains ordered from European manufacturers in the last few years for both Europe and export.

Software needs a lot of testing and with desktop software, you need to have tens of testers, each with their own installation.

Why should trains, which these days are just computers on wheels be any different?

I suspect that the cabs and control systems in the various classes of Aventra, with the exception of the Class 345 train, are identical.

  • Bombardier have said the the 345s have an older computer architecture based on the Electrostar.
  • Having the same software on every Aventra must make testing and acceptance into service so much easier.
  • The software would be configured for the each train size and application.

I wouldn’t be surprised, if Bombardier retrofitted the 345s with the computer system of all other Aventras.

Identical computer systems across all Aventras would have benefits for Bombardier.

  • A mixed fleet of Aventras of different sizes and performance could be driven by all drivers, with the appropriate route knowledge.
  • New versions of the software could be distributed automatically over the Internet.
  • It would be easier to add new hardware and software features to the trains.

Aircraft manufacturers like Boeing and Airbus have been using similar philosophies for years.

If I’m right about this, I would expect to see the following after the 710s are working reliably on the GOBlin and the Watford DC Line.

  • A rapid introduction of the 710s on the Lea Valley Lines limited only by train testing and mileage accumulation, and driver training.
  • The next fleet of Aventras start to be tested for another operator.

Bombardier are gearing up for high production rates of Aventras, so there will not necessarily be serial production of fleets.

  • London Overground might take the initial twenty and run them for a year to ascertain any small design changes they need, which will be incorporated into the rest of the trains.
  • Greater Anglia may get some of their fleet, so they can train drivers and see what changes are needed on their platforms etc.

I actually think, that train companies would like to call off trains from Bombardier at a rate that they can bring into service. As Bombardier are producing a large number of very similar trains, they can then build them in the order that suits their customers and Bombardier’s cash flow.

But to do this successfully, you need orders for a large number of similar trains!



March 1, 2019 Posted by | Computing, Transport | , , , , , | 2 Comments