The Anonymous Widower

Are Transport for London Planning For The Future In The West?

Over a dozen Underground stations in West London have been earmarked for upgrading to step-free access.

I listed them in West London Stations To Be Made Step-Free.

There are various common properties.

  • Boston Manor and Osterley stations are on the Heathrow branch of the Piccadilly Line, which when updated would make the branch  seventy percent step-free.
  • Hanger Lane and Northolt stations are on the West Ruislip branch of the Central Line, which when updated would make the branch seventy-one percent step-free.
  • Ickenham, Ruislip, Sudbury Hill and Park Royal are on the Uxbridge branch of the Piccadilly Line, which when updated would make the branch  sixty percent step-free.
  • Hanger Lane and Park Royal stations are a valid out-of-station interchange.
  • Sudbury Hill and Sudbury Hill Harrow are a valid out-of-station interchange.
  • Ickenham and West Ruislip are a valid out-of-station interchange.
  • Ealing Broadway and Old Oak Common are developing into major interchanges.

With Crossrail going through West London and due to be fully-open in a couple of years, transport in West London is certainly going to get better for all.

But other things will or possibly could happen.

New Trains On The Piccadilly Line

The Piccadilly Line is in some ways an odd one out of London Underground lines.

  • Only 28 % of the line’s stations have an interchange with other lines or National Rail compared with 94 % for the Victoria Line.
  • Only two of the major London terminals; Kings Cross and St. Pancras International, are served by the Piccadilly Line and very badly in truth!
  • The line has no interchange with Crossrail.
  • The line has a terminus at Heathrow.
  • The line runs extensively in West London on old District Line tracks, so there are a lot of stations in the area, where platform-to-train access is bad.

The trains are also some of the oldest on the London Underground.

Under Future Upgrades in the Wikipedia entry for the line, this is said.

The intention is for the new trains to eventually operate on the Bakerloo, Central, Piccadilly and Waterloo & City lines. On current plans, resignalling work on the Piccadilly line will begin in 2019 and new trains should be in service by 2022.

Wikipedia also says this about the trains.

  • The trains will be lightweight, low-energy and semi-articulated.
  • The trains will have a battery capability to take them to the next station in case of power failure.
  • The trains will have a low-floor. Will this be lower than current trains? Probably yes, as it would increase headroom.
  • The trains will have an 11 % higher capacity than the existing trains.
  • The trains could have air-conditioning.

I would add the following comments and pedictions.

  1. The trains will be designed for quicker exit and entry to the trains.
  2. The trains will shorten journey times.
  3. The trains will be wheelchair and buggy friendly.
  4. The batteries on the train will be used to handle regenerative braking.
  5. The trains will have air-conditioning, as passengers will demand it.
  6. A solution will be found, so that there is level platform-to-train access at all stations.

Point six will be difficult, but in my view this must be done to enable trains to spend as little time as possible, whilst calling at a station.

Perhaps trains will adjust their ride height as they approach a station, by adding and releasing air from the suspension.

If this level access can be achieved by a clever train design, the expense and disruption of rebuilding station platforms substantially, could be reduced.

Unfortunately, some Piccadilly Line platforms are also used by the larger S Stock trains, so any technological advantages must be made on the new Piccadilly Line trains.

Piccadilly Line To Ealing Broadway

Ealing Broadway station is being upgraded for Crossrail.

In the November 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, there is a Capital Connection supplement, which discusses London’s railways.

On Page 7 in a section about the sub-surface lines, this is said.

One possibility being discussed is that the Piccadilly should take over the District’s Ealing Broadway service. This would free up space on the South side of the inner-London circle for more City trains off the Wimbledon branch, one of the sub-surface network’s most-crowded routes.

On Page 15 in a section about the Mayor’s plans, this is said.

It is suggested Piccadilly Line services run to Ealing Broadway instead of the District Line, enabling increased frequencies on the latter’s Richmond and Wimbledon branches.

As the plan is mentioned twice, certainly the proposal is being thought about.

I discussed this in some detail in Is There Going To Be More Change At Ealing Broadway Station?

Distilling my thoughts from last year and what I’ve seen recently, I have the following thoughts, if the Piccadilly Line had a branch to Ealing Nroadway station.

  • The Piccadilly Line would have a two-platform step-free terminus, capable of handling twelve trains per hour (tph)
  • Increasing Piccadilly Line frequencies through the core, probably needs another high capacity terminal in the West.
  • The Piccadilly Line would have an interchange with Crossrail and Great Western Railway for Heathrow, Oxford and Reading.
  • In the later 2020s, when the Piccadilly and Central Lines are running the same new deep-level trains, Ealing Broadway would only handle one type of Underground train.
  • As Ealing Broadway, Ealing Common and Acton Town stations would only handle the new deep-level Underground trains, platform-to-train access problems could be solved by lowering the platforms.

The current Piccadilly Line service in the West is as follows.

  • Twelve tph to Heathrow
  • Six tph to Rayner Lane station, with three tph continuing to Uxbridge.
  • Three tph to Northfields

The new trains and signalling, must surely increase the core frequency from the current 21 tph to something approaching the 36 tph of the Victoria Line.

I suspect that twelve tph to Ealing Broadway would fit well, with both the needs of the Piccadilly Line and Crossrail’s frequency of twelve tph.

There are other problems to sort out, but Piccadilly Line trains to Ealing Broadway station could be an excellent plan.

Piccadilly Line To Heathrow

The Heathrow branch of the Piccadilly Line will be seventy percent step-free, after Boston Manor and Osterley stations are upgraded.

I think the time will come in the next few years to bite the bullet and do the following on the branch.

  • Make all street-to-platform fully step-free.
  • Lower the platforms to give level platform-to-train access to the new deep-level trains.

As this branch is Piccadilly Line-only, there should be few related problems.

Piccadilly Line To Rayners Lane and Uxbridge

The Uvbridge branch of the Piccadilly Line will be sixty percent step-free, after Ickenham, Ruislip, Sudbury Hill and Park Royal stations are upgraded.

As with the Heathrow branch, I think that the following should be done.

  • Make all street-to-platform fully step-free.
  • Lower the platforms to give level platform-to-train access tothe new deep-level trains.

The problem is between Rayners Lane and Uxbridge stations, where the branch is shared with the Metropolitan Line.

The following could be done.

  1. Put in extra tracks and platforms.
  2. Live with the  current platforms and step down into a Piccadilly Line train.
  3. All Piccadilly Line trains could terminate at Rayners Lane and from Rayners Lane to Uxbridge is served by Metropolitan Line only
  4. As the platforms are long and all trains are walk-through, clever platform design with Harrington Humps could be a solution.

Only option 4 would be an affordable solution, that might be acceptable to all stakeholders.

Central Line To Uxbridge

In the Wikipedia entry for the Central Line, this is said.

The Central crosses over the Metropolitan and Piccadilly lines’ shared Uxbridge branch near West Ruislip depot, and a single track linking the two routes was laid in 1973. The London Borough of Hillingdon has lobbied TfL to divert some or all Central trains along this to Uxbridge, as West Ruislip station is located in a quiet suburb and Uxbridge is a much more densely populated regional centre. TfL has stated that the link will be impossible until the Metropolitan line’s signalling is upgraded in 2017.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines around Ruislip Depot.

Note.

  1. The Central Line is shown in red.
  2. The track used by the Piccadilly and Metropolitan Lines is the bluey colour.
  3. The Chiltern Main Line is shown in black.
  4. Ickenham and Ruislip stations will soon have some measure of step-free access.
  5. Ickenham and West Ruislip stations are a  valid out-of-station interchange, with a walk of 1.1 miles.

Would running Central Line trains to Uxbridge be feasible?

Uxbridge station has four platforms and currently has the following Off Peak services.

  • Metropolitan  – 8 tph to Aldgate
  • Piccadilly – 3 tph to Cockfosters

With these frequencies in the morning Peak.

  • Metropolitan  – 6 tph to Aldgate
  • Metropolitan  – 4 tph to Baker Street
  • Piccadilly – 6 tph to Cockfosters

West Ruislip has a 3 tph Off Peak service.

Uxbridge with four platforms can probably handle up to twenty-four tph with modern signalling, so there should be scope once the the new signalling is installed on the Metropolitan Line for changes to be made.

It may need new trains on both the Central and the Piccadilly Line, that can use the new signalling, before full advantage could be taken of running Central Line trains to Uxbridge.

But at some time in the future, it looks like the following would be possible on the West Ruislip branch of the Central Line.

  • 4 tph to West Ruislip
  • 4 tph to Uxbridge

That would be a very worthwhile service.

The Greenford Branch

The Greenford Branch is one of those lines in London and the South East, that have a low priority for the train operating companies.

Others include.

Twenty years ago, you would have included the North London and the Gospel Oak to Barking Lines. But look at those two now!

The Greenford Branch is typical of this sort of line.

  • Single platform at each end.
  • Two tph run by a single train.
  • Elderly trains.
  • No electrification
  • No Sunday service
  • More information.
  • Virtually no marketing.
  • Poor interchange at West Ealing station, although interchange at Greenford is excellent.

All of these lines could benefit from a common philosophy.

  • Four tph where possible, to encourage Turn-Up-And-Go.
  • A viable train use philosophy.
  • Modern electric trains that attract passengers.
  • Good interchange at the principal station or stations.

A plan for the Greenford Branch has yet to emerge.

However Crossrail will change everything.

  • Up to twelve tph could stop at West Ealing station.
  • West Ealing station will have full step-free access between the Greenford Branch, Crossrail and GWR services.
  • Passengers might use the line with heavy bags to get to and from Heathrow.
  • Management of West Ealing station may pass to Transport for London.

On a cold, wet day, passengers changing to the Greenford Branch will not want to wait half an hour for the next train to Greenford and the intermediate stations.

Increased passenger numbers and pressure for good service will require a four tph frequency on the Greenford branch.

  • This will require two trains.
  • Better customer service will be needed.

|As the two end stations could both be under Transport for London control, would it be sensible to pass management of the line to that organisation and run the line under the Overground banner?

But what trains could be used?

  • As the line is not electrified and platforms can only handle two- or possibly three-car trains, London Overground’s standard four-car Class 710 trains would not be suitable.
  • Class 172 trains could be used, but these are going to West Midlands Trains.
  • Passengers might accept a modernised British Rail era diesel like a Class 150 train.
  • There is also the Class 230 train, which West Midlands Trains will be using on the Marston Vale Line.
  • Could Bombardier create a three-car Aventra with on board energy storage, that would be charged at either or both ends?

My money would be on one of the last two options.

  • A standard electric train would require electrification of the branch.
  • There would be servicing problems with a small diesel fleet.
  • Class 230 trains have been designed for remote servicing, so three trains would work.
  • The diesel trains and the Class 230 train would require little if no infrastructure changes.
  • The branch is under three miles long, so a return trip is probably well within range of a battery train.
  • A three-car Aventra with on board energy storage would have many applications in the UK.
  • The Aventra with on board energy storage  would require little if no infrastructure changes, except for some extra overhead wires to create a charging point at West Ealing.

London Overground will probably go for a surprising, but cost-effective solution.

Onward From Greenford

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines at Greenford station.

There must surely be possibilities to extend the current passenger service to the West.

  • It would create a West Ealing to West Ruislip feeder service for Crossrail.
  • Greenford station would need extra platforms on the Acton-Northolt Line.
  • Train length would be less of a problem and four-car trains could probably be used.

It would fit well with restoring passenger services on the Acton-Northolt Line.

Old Oak Common To West Ruislip On The Acton-Northolt Line

Network Rail have plans to reinstate passenger services on the Acton-Northolt Line, so that Chiltern Railways can have an extra London terminal with a connection to Crossrail, High Speed 2 and the London Overground. Under Chiltern Main Line Connection, in the Wikipedia entry for Old Oak Common station, this is said.

Network Rail has proposed that the Chiltern Main Line should have a second terminal at Old Oak Common to increase capacity on the route as there is no room to expand the station at Marylebone. To do so, services would use the Acton–Northolt line (formerly the “New North Main Line”) and perhaps see Chiltern trains terminating here rather than Marylebone.

A summary report by Network Rail, which was released in 2017, forecast that a new London terminal will be needed by 2043 and proposed Old Oak Common for this role, with upgrading of the Acton-Northolt Line.

I doubt that I’ll see it, as I’ll be 96!

But it does seem a credible idea with questions to ask!

  • Will the route be double- or single-track?
  • Will there be express and/or Metro services?
  • How many interchanges will there be with the Central Line?
  • Will the route be used by Crossrail?
  • Will the route be electrified?

I do think that there will be some very serious thinking going on.

A few thoughts on what could define what might ensue.

High Wycombe Station

High Wycombe station is a three platform station, with a lot of space between the tracks, as this Google Map shows.

It would appear there is space for the station to be developed, as a terminus for more services from London.

The Chiltern Metro

According to Wikipedia, Chiltern Railways have ambition to create a Chiltern Metro. Wikipedia says this.

New Chiltern Metro Service that would operate 4+tph for Wembley Stadium, Sudbury & Harrow Road, Sudbury Hill Harrow, Northolt Park, South Ruislip and West Ruislip. This would require a reversing facility at West Ruislip, passing loops at Sudbury Hill Harrow, and a passing loop at Wembley Stadium (part of the old down fast line is in use as a central reversing siding, for stock movements and additionally for 8-car football shuttles to convey passengers to the stadium for events). This ‘Chiltern Metro’ service was not programmed into the last round of franchising agreements.

This sounds to be a good idea but it would need a dedicated platform at Marylebone and is there sufficient capacity on the Chiltern Main Line to accommodate the number of extra trains required to West Ruislip.

Crossrail

How Crossrail will affect London is totally unpredictable.

  • Currently, the system is planned to run 24 tph between Heathrow, Paddington and Reading in the West and Abbey Wood and Shenfield in the East.
  • Various sources show that Crossrail has been built for 30 tph.
  • I wouldn’t be surprised to see the route move to a Thameslink or East London Line model, where two or four tph run to other destinations outside the core.

Ebbsfleet, Gravesend and Milton Keynes have been mentioned for expansion, but what about Basingstoke, Beaulieu, High Wycombe, Oxford and Southend?

Electrification

Three factors will be the main drivers if the Acton-Northolt Line is electrified for Network Rail’s proposed passenger services to Old Oak Common.

  • Extension of Crossrail to High Wycombe would surely need the Acton-Northolt Line to be electrified and possibly double-tracked.
  • The next generation of multi-mode trains will operate on a mixture of electric, diesel, hydrogen and battery power.
  • The ambition of Chiltern Railways.

I think on balance, if the Acton-Northolt Line is reopened to passenger services, it will be electrified.

Space could be limited as this picture from Hangar Lane station shows.

But most problems should be possible to solve, by lowering track  and rebuilding some bridges.

North Acton Station

North Action station could be updated in the following ways.

  • Extra platforms for the Acton-Northolt Line.
  • A connection to the North London Line.
  • Over-site development.
  • More spacious station buildings.

Note also that North Acton station could be a calling point on the West London Orbital Railway.

On the other hand, Old Oak Common station might handle a lot of these connections, so I suspect that if North Acton station has a connection, it will be led by the needs of property developers.

Park Royal Station

Park Royal station could be rebuilt with Hanger Lane station as an interchange between the Central and Piccadilly Lines, with extra platforms for the Acton-Northolt Line.

Again, property development will decide what happens.

Hanger Lane Station

This Google Map shows the location of Hanger Lane station in the middle of the Hanger Lane Gyratory.

Note the following.

  • The Central Line train in the Westbound platform.
  • The double-track of the Acton-Northolt Line to the North of the Central Line station.
  • Inside the ring of roads, there would appear to be a large site, that could be suitable for redevelopment, as perhaps offices or housing.

These pictures show the site in the middle of the roads.

Note.

  1. To call the site a junk-yard would be a compliment.
  2. Hanger Lane station is going to be made step-free.
  3. A  tunnel for HS2 will pass underneath., following the route of the Acton-Northolt Line.
  4. There are HS2 notices about. Are HS2 going to use the dump for a ventilation shaft for a tunnel underneath?

It would not be the most difficult design project in the world to make provision for platforms on the Acton-Northolt Line, to future-proof the station for Crossrail or any Chiltern service to Old Oak Common.

This is the sort of development that I like!

Imagine the following.

  • A cluster of perhaps four very high residential and office towers, reaching above the pollution and noise of the traffic.
  • A ring of trees could also shield the development from the traffic.
  • The tracks of the Acton-Northolt Line could be slewed to take advantage of an island platform.
  • Trains running at least four tph to Old Oak Common.
  • Crossrail could continue across Central London.
  • Trains could run to West Ruislip or High Wycombe in the West.
  • London Underground running up to ten tph on the Central Line.
  • Developers will integrate the station, the development and the required local services.

The possibilities are dramatic.

In the next decade or so, as vehicles get less polluting, developments like this will become more common.

Perivale Station

Perivale station is Grade II Listed with some of the worst steps I’ve seen on the London Underground.

Extra platforms on the Acton-Northolt Line and a step-free station would be very difficult.

 

I doubt, there are many stations worse for step-free access in London!

Greenford Station

Greenford station is already step-free, but extra platforms on the Acton-Northolt Line, could be very difficult, due to the different track levels.

But Action-Northolt Line platforms with a step-free connection would give easy access to the Greenford Branch.

Northolt Station

Northolt station is being made step-free and could be extended with extra platforms on the Acton-Northolt Line.

The picture was taken from the Central Line platform and shows  the station building, which almost looks as if it was built to be extended to a platform on the Acton-Northolt Line, which is to the left of the electrified Central Line track.

South Ruislip Station

South Ruislip station already has platforms on both lines.

Ruislip Gardens Station

Ruislip Gardens station probably wouldn’t need a connection to the Chiltern Line.

West Ruislip Station

West Ruislip station already has platforms on both lines.

A Possible Heavy Rail Service Between Old Oak Common and West Ruislip

Consider.

  • Central Line trains take seventeen minutes between North Acton and West Ruislip with six intermediate stops.
  • So I think it likely that a modern train could travel from Old Oak Common to West Ruislip in about fifteen minutes, with perhaps stops at three or four stations like North Acton, Hanger Lane, Greenford, Northolt and South Ruislip.
  • The Acton-Northolt Line is a mixture of single and double track. with some space for a second track.
  • All stations except Old Oak Common could have step-free interchanges with the bCentral Line.

It could either be a service linked to Chiltern or Crossrail.

I can’t help feeling that eventually, this service will be part of Crossrail.

Conclusion

The railway changes that are happening will certainly allow a lot more development in West London.

 

 

 

 

January 31, 2018 Posted by | Travel, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Could Three-Car Aventras Run Services On The Greenford Branch?

Services on the Greenford Branch Line between West Ealing and Greenford stations, are currently provided by a two-car Class 165 train.

Consider.

  • There are no plans to electrify the line.
  • West Ealing station has a recently-constructed bay platform to serve the branch.
  • The branch line is a 2.7 mile double-track line with three stations.
  • The intermediate stations at Drayton GreenCastle Bar Park and South Greenford have short platforms, that can only accept two-car trains.
  • The service frequency is two trains per hour (tph).
  • Each trip takes eleven minutes.

In an ideal world, the service would be electric and four tph.

Proposals For New Trains

Most proposals seem to suggest moving the branch line to the London Overground and using one of their Class 172 trains. But these trains are now being moved to West Midlands Trains, so that proposal would seem to be a non-starter.

Three-Car Aventras

Could three-car Aventras run services on the line using battery power?

I discussed such a train in A Detailed Look At A Three-Car Aventra, after West Midlands Trains ordered thirty-six of the trains.

These are my thoughts.

Capacity Increase

A three-car train would give a fifty percent increase in capacity on the line.

Is this capacity increase needed?

The Link With Crossrail

Under Services in the Wikipedia entry for Crossrail, it is indicated that twelve tph will pass through West Ealing station, although it is not yet known how many will stop.

Surely, when Crossrail opens fully, an integrated service with good connections will be created at West Ealing.

I believe Crossrail will work in one of two ways at West Ealing.

  1. In a London Underground-like manner, all trains will stop.
  2. Perhaps four or six tph will stop.

I suspect that Londoners won’t accept the second pattern, as they are used to the Underground and the Overground, where there are not many limited-stop services and a train comes along every few minutes.

So this would mean that there will be trains every five minutes in both directions at West Ealing station, creating a steady stream of passengers for the Greenford Branch Line.

Passengers will get fed up waiting thirty minutes for the branch line train.

As West Ealing will be a well-equipped station, waiting fifteen minutes for a train will probably be acceptable to passengers.

Anything less and there will be masses of complaints.

The Link With The Central Line

What applies at West Ealing with Crossrail, surely applies at Greenford with the Central Line.

Short Platforms

I feel that selective door opening on the Aventra could handle the short platforms on the branch.

Four Trains Per Hour

I think it be possible to work a four tph West Ealing to Greenford shuttle, as the branch line is double-track.

But it may need another cross-over to be installed.

Four tph would need two operational trains.

Charging The Trains

The trains could be charged at either end of the branch line, although for practical reasons, charging might use 25 KVAC overhead at West Ealing and 750 VDC at Greenford, as these are used on other tracks in the respective stations.

But as Aventras can be dual voltage, this could be handled by the trains.

As the line is only 2.7 miles long, charging could probably be done at one end only.

Other Alternatives

It would not be balanced to ignore other possibilities.

Refurbished Two-Car Diesel Trains

Two refurbished two-car diesel trains, like say Class 150 trains could also work four tph. on the branch.

But these would probably present services and refuelling problems.

Class 230 Trains

Two Class 230 trains could also work four tph. on the branch.

Consider.

  • They could work the branch on diesel or battery, or a combination of both.
  • Trains would be refurbished to a modern standard, with wi-fi and power sockets.
  • Two-car trains would fit the stations on the branch.
  • They are designed for remote servicing.

I think that a dedicated fleet of three two-car Class 230 trains would be a viable alternative.

Conclusion

Three-car Aventras could provide a good service on the Greenford Branch Line, but there are issues and it may be more complicated than anyone thinks to run a service, that is acceptable to passengers.

But three two-car Class 230 trains would be a viable alternative.

October 19, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | 3 Comments

What Is Happening To The Greenford Branch?

It appears to me, that the Greenford Branch Line has been quietly shunted into a siding, as it has been some months since any statements of any worth have come from the Department of Transport, Transport for London, Great Western Raiiway or Network Rail.

The line now gets a two trains per hour  shuttle service between Greenford and West Ealing stations. Trains that use the branch line to don’t go to Paddington any more.

West Ealing station is being rebuilt and looks like it won’t be complete for a couple of years.

This article on City AM is entitled Ealing Council seeks ‘urgent clarity’ over five delayed Crossrail stations as Network Rail retenders contracts to save money, which says a lot and may even explain, why nothing has been decided about the future of this branch line.

Current Speculation And Rumours

Various reports and forums outline solutions that suggest or include the following.

  • It is probably not the easiest line operationally, as the train has to be stabled some distance away.
  • Four trains per hour.
  • Transfer of the line to the Overground.
  • Run a shuttle from High Wycombe to West Ealing.
  • Use London Overground’s Class 172 trains, when the Gospel Oak to Barking Line is electrified.

But there are a few problems.

  • The incomplete West Ealing station.
  • The platform at Greenford is rather short.
  • Electrification would be difficult.

I hope all the silence is because the DfT, TfL, GWR, Network Rail and perhaps a train manufacturer are working hard to create an innovative solution for short branch lines like the Greenford Branch.

London’s Other Branches

London has two other short branch lines, that currently carry passengers.

Both are electrified and are run by a four-car shuttle using a bog-standard electric multiple unit.

But I doubt, they are some of most profitable routes in London.

In one forum, it was suggested that London Overground might use the Romford to Upminster Line for driving training on the new Class 710 trains.

In addition, there is the Brentford Branch Line, which has been proposed for reopening.

The Marlow Branch Line

I’m including the Marlow Branch Line, as according to the August 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, Network Rail have devised an innovative track layout for Bourne End station, that will allow trains to pass in the station and thus allow at least a two trains per hour service all day.

Modern Railways says  this about financing the new track layout at Bourne End.

The LEP has allocated £1.5million to the infrastructure change needed to accommodate this proposal and GWR is seeking to close the funding gap on it.

There is also an informative diagram.

This Google Map shows Bourne End station.

 

Note how a two-car Class 165 train is parked in the station with lots of space. These trains have two 23 metre long cars, so it would appear that a three-car train with possibly shorter length cars could be accommodated.

I wonder what is the maximum length train that the design team are working with.

Two three-car trains per hour would be a tripling of capacity over the current single two-car train per hour at present.

This innovative proposal certainly looks like one, that has a high chance of realisation.

Other Branch Lines

The UK probably has several short branch lines, with a similar profile to the Bromley North, Greenford and Marlow Lines, where often the service is inadequate or expensive and difficult to provide.

A Train For Branch Lines

Would it be possible to create a train using existing stock, that was ideal for these lines?

Vivarail with their Class 230 train have attempted to do this.

  • Two or three cars.
  • Diesel-electric or battery power.
  • Designed to be serviced remotely.

It may turn out to be a high-class and reliable train, but there may be operational and marketing disadvantages, due to the train’s London Underground history.

But it is certainly a possibility.

Otherwise it is probably necessary to carry on as before with a two-car diesel multiple unit.

But at least, London Overground will be releasing eight Class 172 trains in Spring 2018.

The Unconventional Solution

Although two or three-car diesel multiple units will serve these branches well, I just wonder whether applying the same thinking that led to the Class 319 Flex train could produce a much better solution.

In their brochure for the train, Porterbrook state that they are thinking of adding a battery option to the train. The electrical layout of the Class 319 train leads me to believe it is certainly possible.

These branch lines are not arduous, so why not do the following.

  • Replace one diesel power-pack of the Class 319 Flex train with a battery pack.
  • Remove the trailer car to create a three-car train.
  • Give the trains a good refurbished interior.

Note.

  1. A three-car train would probably not be a 100 mph train.
  2. A three-car Class 319 Flex train would only be fourteen metres longer than a two-car Class 165 train.
  3. Several similar four-car Class 321 trains have been converted to three-car Class 320 trains.
  4. Being able to run on electrified lines would ease operation, open up new services and charge the batteries.

I feel that having both diesel and battery power for working away from electrified lines would give the trains a high degree of reliability.

These trains could certainly work the Brentford, Greenford, Marlow and Windsor Branches.

The Bombardier Solution

In Will London Overground Fit On-board Energy Storage To Class 378 Trains?, I mused about this statement, after reading this article in Rail Technology Magazine entitled Bombardier enters key analysis phase of IPEMU. Marc Phillips of Bombardier is quoted as saying this in the article.

All Electrostars to some degree can be retrofitted with batteries. We are talking the newer generation EMU as well as the older generation. So, the 387s and 378s are the ones where we have re-gen braking where we can top-up the batteries and use the braking energy to charge the batteries. That gives us the best cost-benefit over operational life.

So it would seem that the Class 378 trains of the London Overground are candidates for fitting with batteries.

These trains started out with just three cars and have grown twice, by adding another motor car and a trailer car. So they are now five-car trains.

London Overground have said that they might lengthen the trains again to six cars.

I would suspect that Bombardier can play musical carriages and create, some six-car trains and a few three-car trains.

Fit batteries to the three-car trains and you have a battery-powered train for a short branch line, that starts in an electrified station.

Services on the Brentford, Greenford and Marlow branches could probably be run by these three-car battery-electric trains.

If the Class 378 train is too spartan, then there is always other Electrostars.

Just remember, that 4 + 4 = 5 + 3!

Conclusion

Don’t be surprised to see an innovative solution at Greenford.

August 10, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 2 Comments

Track Layout At West Ealing For The Greenford Branch Line

These pictures show the track layout, where the Greenford Branch Line leaves the Great Western Main Line.

The basic track layout is simple.

The track from the bay platform 5 in West Ealing station and a track that joins to the Up Slow Line through platform 4 come together in a short length of single track, that then splits again to form the double track of the Greenford Branch Line.

Whilst I was waiting on West Ealing station, a freight train came down the Down Slow Line and then  through Platform 3 of the station, before going down the branch line. So there must be another crossover to allow trains to change tracks.

The pictures are described in detail as follows.

  1.  The Greenford Branch Splits/Joins Outside West Ealing Station – The track to the left, goes to the bay platform 5.
  2. The Greenford Branch Changes From Single To Double Track At The Start Of The Branch – The branch is double-track until outside Greenford station.
  3. West Ealing Sidings To The Top-Left And The Greenford Branch To The Right – The Plasser site is in the middle.
  4.  The Greenford Branch Joins The Great Western Main Line – The bay platform 5 is straight ahead.

I suspect that when the timetable changes in May, the track layout will be in its final form.

 

January 4, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Changing At West Ealing Station

This morning I changed at West Ealing station onto the Greenford Branch Line, after taking one of the new Class 387 trains from Paddington, which now run at a frequency of two trains per hour (tph).

It was not the best of experiences.

My train arrived and I assumed that they would be a few minutes to allow me to get across from Platform 3 to Platform 5.

But by the time I got there, the train had long since left, so I had a twenty-seven minute wait on a draughty and cold platform.

GWR could do one of three things.

  • Arrange the schedules, so that transferring passengers have time to catch the shuttle train.
  • Put up a temporary shelter, until the new station is built.
  • Run four tph on the Greenford Branch.

I wasn’t the only passenger, who was a bit fed up.

January 4, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Drayton Green Station

Drayton Green station is the first station on the Greenford Branch Line.

I took these pictures of the station and the nearby bridge, this morning.

Note.

  • The station is a tidy station, with shelters and information.
  • There are gentle steps up and down from the nearby road bridge to access the two platforms.
  • The station fits the current two-car Class 156 train, that works the branch.

I’ve seen far worse stations on my travels around the UK.

The Current Service

The current two trains per hour (tph) service is provided by  a single two-car Class 156 train, that shuttles between bay platforms at West Ealing  and Greenford stations.

Two trains could provide a four tph service.

Electrification

In an ideal world, the branch would be electrified.

  • There is occasional freight traffic.
  • It might serve as a diversion route.
  • It might be a way of serving Old Oak Common station and the nearby depots.
  • Crossrail will increase the number of passengers on the branch.

But to electrify the area around Drayton Green station could be expensive.

I’m no expert, but it does strike me, that not only is the bridge rather low, but also the parapets of the bridge certainly are.

So I suspect that electrification of the branch meeting all the regulations, would need an expensive new bridge, which would need several months of closure, with the resulting inconvenience to passengers.

But there is an alternative for passengers and that is to use electric trains with onboard energy storage to work the line.

Consider.

  • Greenford station is electrified with 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • West Ealing station is electrified with 25 KVAC electrification.
  • Out and back is only 5.4 miles.

Or the current Class 156 train could continue until it fell to pieces.

As the branch is not busy, two two-car trains delivering a 4 tph service could be sufficient for some years.

But I very much feel that the operator and the passengers would prefer an modern electric train.

 

 

 

January 4, 2017 Posted by | Travel, Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Shuttling Between Greenford And West Ealing Stations

T took these pictures as my Class 165 train shuttled between Greenford station and the new bay platform at West Ealing station on the Greenford Branch Line.

It seemed to work very well, except for the signalling, which was generally on the blink on the Great Western Main Line, this morning.

I don’t think that GWR had been giving out their information well, about what was happening on the branch.

I met two passengers, who hadn’t heard it was a shuttle and one was surprised that she had to change to get to Paddington.

There was no-one to ask either and another passenger and myself gave the best information we knew or couple find.

The Future Of The Branch

It will be interesting to see what happens to the service on this branch.

This page from AlwaysTouchOut includes this.

The Greenford – Paddington half-hourly branch line service would be cut back to West Ealing to avoid conflicts with Crossrail services; however, to compensate for this, the frequency will be doubled to every 15 minutes with connections to Crossrail trains at West Ealing.

As each trip takes about twelve minutes, one train can do two out-and-back trips in an hour which explains the two  trains per hour (tph) frequency for the shuttle.

To run four tph would require a second train.

  • One train would start at Greenford and the other at West Ealing on the hour, at say XX:00.
  • They would arrive at the other end at XX:12, before returning at XX:15.
  • They would arrive at their start station at XX:27, before returning at XX:30..
  • They would arrive at the other end at XX:42, before returning at XX:45.
  • Finally, the trains would return to their start station at XX:57.

The process would go on all day.

There could be problems with such a service.

  • Freight trains share use of the line and could sufficient paths be created in the timetable?
  • The Class 165 trains are not of a modern design and would need to be updated with wi-fi and poossibly other features.
  • Running longer than two-car trains could need platform lengthening at the intermediate stations.

One plan that has been mentioned on the Internet could be to handover the branch to London Overground, who would use two of their four-car Class 710 trains.

Consider.

  • They are electric trains, but Bombardier have confirmed to me, that the trains are wired to be fitted with onboard energy storage.
  • So they could charge their storage, whilst waiting in the bay platform at West Ealing station and travel back and forth on stored energy.
  • The Class 710 electric trains would probably be faster than the current Class 165 diesel trains.
  • Four electric tph would be a true Turn-Up-And-Go service and a powerful passenger magnet.
  • They are too long for the platforms at Drayton Green, Castle Bar Park and South Greenford station, but selective door opening could be used.
  • As the trains will be walk-through, passengers would move to an appropriate place to enter and exit the train.

I suspect too, that as Network Rail and Chiltern Railways have plans to use the Acton-Northolt Line to access a second Chiltern terminal at Old Oak Common station, that some innovative uses of the Greenford Branch Line might be suggested.

If two Class 710 trains did work the branch, it would be a doubled frequency and a four-fold increase in hourly capacity.

 

 

 

 

January 3, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , | 2 Comments

Timetable Updates At West Ealing

I’ve just been looking at the National Rail Journey Planner, and it appears that starting from January 9th 2016, to get between Greenford and Paddington, you’ll need to change at West Ealing station.

So this means that Platform 5 at West Ealing station will be opening after Christmas and the New Year.

But it also appears that the frequency of the shuttle on the Greenford Branch is still two trains per hour (tph).

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the layout of lines at West Ealing station.

westealing

Note the track to the new bay Platform 5, shown as a dotted line.

But note that if a train uses the bay platform, the track layout does not allow it to return to Greenford on the correct left-hand line as there is no cross-over.

This means that if two trains are working the shuttle, there is no way they could pass and it restricts the shuttle to 2 tph.

To get to the promised 4 tph, a cross-over needs to be installed.

As the current bridge at West Ealing station, is one of the worst disabled-unfriendly horrors in London, I suspect that until there is a decent bridge across the line, the shuttle will be restricted to 2 tph.

I think the only way, that they could start a 4 tph shuttle earlier, that wouldn’t cause problems will be, if the bridge is one that has already been assembled off-site and it will be lifted in during a convenient blockade.

October 23, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , | Leave a comment

A Low Key Launch Of New Electric Trains

This morning at 07:15, I was on the first Class 387 train out of Paddington for Hayes and Hsrlington.

It was a new train of eight coaches, complete with that smell that all new vehicles have for a few weeks.

At the moment GWR only have four Class 387 trains in service, which should be enough for a two trains per hour (tph) shuttle with eight coaches in each service.

But because the new bay platform for the Greenford Branch has not been completed yet at West Ealing station, there are only a few services a day.

This page on the GWR web site gives more details and says this about services in 2017.

From January, all Greenford trains will terminate at West Ealing; as we increase our electric service between Hayes & Harlington and London Paddington to every 30 minutes.

From May, these trains will start running to and from Maidenhead, as we replace our existing diesel fleet.

Does this mean that from  January 2017, the Greenford branch will be served by a four tph shuttle? Or will that be later?

September 5, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 3 Comments

Is The New Bay Platform At West Ealing Opening On August 1st?

I heard a rumour that the new bay platform at West Ealing station was going to open on the first of August, but I have just found a change in the timetable, that could mean that it is true.

If you look at the on-line timetables, you will find the following.

At present the first two trains after 07:00 from Greenford to West Ealing, are the 07:16 and the 07:46, which go on to Paddington in twenty-six minutes.

From the first of August, they are the 07:13 and 07:43 which are shown as only going as far as West Ealing, where you change for Paddington and do the journey in twenty-eight minutes.

The strange thing is that these two trains are the only ones before nine, that require a change for Paddington.

The times of trains from Hayes and Harlington to Paddington appear to change on the first too!

There is also an additional electric service leaving for Hayes and Harlington at 07:18.

Could it be that electric services are starting on the first of August too?

June 3, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment