The Anonymous Widower

The Future Of The Class 387 And Class 379 Trains

This post is to try to get some logic into everybody’s comments on UK’s First 100mph Battery-Diesel Hybrid Train Enters Passenger Service, which are about the Class 379 trains.

Here are my thoughts about the current situation.

Class 379 Trains

I regularly use Hackney Downs and Liverpool Street stations.

A few months ago, you would see Class 379 trains on services to Cambridge and Hertford North.

At the present time, you rarely see them, as these services now seem to be run by new Class 720 trains, with the Stansted services being run by Class 745 trains.

There are also articles like this one on Rail Technology Magazine, which is entitled Greater Anglia’s New Rolling Stock Helps To Drive Record Autumn Results.

These are the first three paragraphs.

Greater Anglia’s new rolling stock has helped drive the operators record-beating autumn performance results over the challenging autumn months.

During autumn 2021 Greater Anglia recorded an overall punctuality score of 94.48% from 19th September 2021 – 8th January 2022.

This was the best autumn performance ever recorded by the train company.

It would appear that Greater Anglia are pleased with their new stock, which surely means that the thirty Class 379 trains can be moved on, stored or converted to battery-electric operation.

c2c’s Class 387 Trains

c2c has six Class 387 trains, which are similar to the Class 379 trains.

Currently, because of cracks in Class 800 trains, three of them are on loan to GWR.

But in the next year or so, these six trains will be moved on or stored as c2c have ordered twelve Class 720 trains to replace the Class 387 trains.

Southern’s Class 387 Trains

Southern has twenty-seven Class 387 trains for the Gatwick Express, of which three are used by Great Northern, who are a sister company of Southern, and six are on loan to GWR

Great Northern’s Class 387 Trains

Great Northern has twenty-nine Class 387 trains of its own and three on loan from Southern.

These trains are used mainly on Cambridge, Ely and Kings Lynn services out of King’s Cross.

Great Western Railway (GWR)’s Class 387 Trains

Great Western Railway has forty-five Class 387 trains of its own, three on loan from c2c and six on loan from Southern.

The Battery-Electric Class 379 Train

I rode this prototype train in 2015.

An Outwardly Normal Class 379 Train

I think it is reasonable to assume, that as battery technology has improved in the seven years since I rode this train, that converting Class 379 trains to battery-electric operation would not be a challenging project.

Creating A Battery-Electric Class 387 Train

If the Class 387 train is as internally similar to the Class 379 train as it outwardly looks, I couldn’t believe that converting them to battery-electric operation would be that difficult.


I feel the way to proceed is to create a small fleet of both battery-electric Class 379 and Class 387 trains and assess their performance, reliability and customer acceptance.



February 11, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Full Steam Ahead For Second Entrance At Hackney Central Overground Station

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on the Hackney Gazette.


The first paragraph says it all.

A second entrance at Hackney Central Overground station could be up and running by the end of 2021, after receiving planning approval yesterday.

I’m pleased and this was my comment to the article.

I am 73 and live between Dalston Junction and Highbury Corner, so if I’ve been to the Eastfield Shopping Centre and am coming home with a heavy parcel, I sometimes find it heavy going, as I either have to cross the footbridge at Hackney Central and get a 38 bus or do a bit of shuttling about to get one of the buses from Dalston Junction.

This entrance will mean I can get out at Hackney Central and get the bus in Graham Road.

Provided of course, the pedestrian crossings are arranged with the new entrance and the buses.

I don’t think we can ever have too many station entrances.


December 4, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | Leave a comment

My First Ride In A Class 710/1 Train

I got on the Class 710/1 train at Liverpool Street station and took it as far as Bush Hill Park station, before catching it at the same station on its return from Enfield Town station.

I took it as far as Hackney Downs station, from where I got a 56 bus home.

Door Control Detail

These pictures show the comprehensiveness layout of the door controls on the Class 710 train.

Note that there are the following controls.

  1. Opening and closing buttons on both sides of the door inside the cars.
  2. An opening button in the middle of the pair of doors, on the inside of each car.
  3. An opening button in the middle of the pair of doors, on the outside of each car.

All these buttons must make entry and exit through the doors faster.

March 10, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Will Hackney Central Station Get A Second Entrance?

Hackney Central station is a station that has been designed by that well-known architectural practice; Topsy and Partners.

When I moved back to London, the station was very simple with a crude concrete footbridge.

And now there is talk of a second entrance at Hackney Central station in Graham Road.

This article on Ian Visits is entitled Hackney Central Overground Station Could Get A Second Entrance

This is the first paragraph.

A second entrance for Hackney Central station to deal with overcrowding is being explored as part of a joint project between the council and Transport for London.

And this Google Map shows the plot of land, where the entrance would be built.

Graham Road runs across the bottom of the map and there is a gap in the houses on the North side, that leads up to the railway.

I took these pictures as I walked from West to East along Graham Road.

Notice the sign on the site, which says Development Site Sold.

The Ian Visits article says this about development of the second entrance.

Hackney council and TfL have agreed in principle to contribute to the scheme and work together with Network Rail on the project. Initial feasibility work has started and ground investigations are expected to begin in October. Depending on feasibility work and funding arrangements, construction of the second entrance may start next year.

Doubtless the new entrance will be funded by the usual over site development, but it is on the end of a row of residential houses, so a block of flats would not be overly out of place here.

Ian also states that the land is owned by Hackney Council.

Could it be that we’re looking at a plan being put together, by a property developer bearing in mind, the wishes of Hackney Council?

  • The Council have sold the land with conditions on development.
  • There would be an appropriately-sized block of apartments.
  • Some would be affordable.
  • The block would contain an entrance to the station.

It would certainly be a well-located housing development.

  • It would have a convenience entrance to the station, with trains every few minutes  to the North, South, East and West.
  • There are three frequent bus services on Graham Road.
  • Walk to the North and you are in Hackney’s main shopping area.
  • Walk to the South and you come to the Hackney Cultural Quarter that comprises the Town Hall, Library, the Hackney Empire theatre and the cinema.

I doubt there would be much if any car parking in the block and it will be difficult locally.

What Would The Station Entrance Do For Rail Passengers?

Obviously, it would help those who lived by the entrance, but it would also help other groups.

Passengers From The Cultural Quarter Going West

Currently, if you’re going from say the Town Hall to perhaps Highbury & Islington for the Victoria Line of Hampstead Heath for a constitutional, you have to walk under the railway, enter the station on the Stratford-bound platform and then use the footbridge to cross the tracks.

Wjen the second entrance opens, you would use it to go direct to the Westbound platform.

Passengers Arriving From Stratford Wanting To Catch A Bus To The West

I regularly come home from Stratford, after shopping in the big Marks & Spencer in Eastfield.

It is a tricky journey, as whatever way you take, there seems to be steps at some point.

When the second entrance opens, I will use it to catch one of the frequent 38 buses stopping outside the station to get home.

I don’t think, I will be the only person using this route..

Passengers Of Reduced Mobility And Those With Baggage, Bikes And Buggies

A Second Entrance on Graham Road would certainly make it easier for any of these groups of passengers.

Increased Services On The North London Line

Services on the North London Line are currently si-eight trains per hour (tph) and this frequency wil surely increase to reduce overcrowding.

There will be more passengers wanting to use train services at Hackney Central, making an additional entrance more necessary.


A Second Entrance to Hackney Central station on Graham Road would be a valuable additio to the increasingly busy Hackney Central/Hackney Downs station complex.





October 3, 2019 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Hackney Downs Station To Go Step-Free

This document on the Government web site is entitled Access for All: 73 Stations Set To Benefit From Additional Funding.

Hackney Downs station, which I use regularly is on the list.

In Is Hackney Downs Station A Suitable Case For Treatment?, I mused at the possibilities for the station, after a chance meeting with an architect, surveyor or planner from Transport for London at the station, who had just had a look behind the locked doors at the station.

Let’s hope that if there is something worth preserving behind those forbidding brick walls!

Other than the obvious step-free access, my ideas for the station would include.

  • Better use of the rooms on the platforms.
  • A couple of enclosed waiting rooms.
  • Improved bus stop locations.
  • A light-controlled crossing outside the station.

But the biggest opportunities would surely be opened up, if London Overground’s services were reorganised.

At present, the station has the following services in trains per hour (tph)

  • Liverpool Street and Chesthunt – two tph
  • Liverpool Street and Chingford – four tph
  • Liverpool Street and Enfield Town – two tph

Plans also exist to increase the Enfield Town services to four tph.

These are not overly high frequency services compared to some services in London.

In Could London Overground Extend To Hertford East Station?, I speculated on  a rumour that Hertford East services would be given to the London Overground.

If this does happen, I believe that some local services would have to terminate in the High Meads Loop under the Eastfield shopping centre at Stratford.

In the other post I say this.

If as I proposed the following trains run through Seven Sisters station.

  • Two tph between Liverpool Street and Cheshunt/Broxbourne or Hertford East.
  • Two tph between Stratford and Cheshunt/Broxbourne or Hertford East.
  • Two tph between Liverpool Street and Enfield Town.
  • Two tph between Stratford and Enfield Town.

This means that Hackney Downs would have the following services.

  • Two tph between Liverpool Street and Cheshunt/Broxbourne or Hertford East.
  • Two tph between Liverpool Street and Enfield Town.
  • Four tph between Liverpool Street and Chingford.

Would it not be more efficient, if all of these services used the slow tracks into Liverpool Street?

This would give the expresses exclusive use of the fast lines into Liverpool Street.

It’s probably a naive analysis, but I believe services at Hackney Downs station could well include regular services between Liverpool Street and Broxbourne/Hertford East.


Step-free access at Hackney Downs station could be part of a package, that sees extra services and destinations added to the station.


April 6, 2019 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 2 Comments

The New Orchard At Hackney Downs Station

I took these pictures of some of the new trees installed on the sunny side of Hackney Downs station.

It surprised me, that they are apple trees.

May 22, 2017 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , | Leave a comment

Is Hackney Downs Station A Suitable Case For Treatment?

Some of the stations on the London Overground, are architectural gems.

The picture shows some the internal detail of the refurbished Grade II Listed Crystal Palace station. The cafe was created in an area of the station, that few realised existed.

There is also work going on at Peckham Rye station, where an enormous Victorian waiting room has been discovered. An architect called Benedict O’Looney seems to be on a mission to restore the station to its former glory.

Peckham Rye station could be step-free as early as 2019, so I suspect that the station could become more important in the grand scheme of things.

What would Del Boy have thought?

There is also Camden Road station, which is in pretty-good nick.

If Camden Road station has a problem, it is that the station possibly needs more passenger capacity and perhaps one of the closed platforms to be reopened.

I’d love to know what is behind those windows on the top floor.

Hackney Central station has a similar building to Camden Road station.

It looks like Hackney Central will get a modern station building to go with the step-free footbridge. But I suspect everything is on hold until the plan for Crossrail 2 is finally decided.

Yesterday, I was in Hackney Downs station and I was told that the bland station building abandoned by British Rail, might be worth restoring.


Who knows what lies behind the brick walls and lurks in the dark spaces under the tracks in the old station building?

Knowing the way, many of these railway stations were built, I wonder if London Overground could come up with an imaginative scheme to create a Victorian counterbalance to the more modern Hackney Central, in what will inevitably be Hackney Interchange.


April 19, 2017 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Hackney Downs/Central Link Is Now Open

The Hackney Downs/Central Link opened at 11:00 this morning.

I’d thought something was finally happening, as there was a group of suits with clipboards about when I had passed through earlier. So after my trip to Surrey, I popped back to get my supper at the Hackney Marks and Spencer. As the link  was now open, I took these pictures.

I shall certainly use the walkway regularly, as I often come from Walthamstow or on one the other Lea Valley Lines and either need to go West on the North London Line or like today, get some food at Marks. The walkway will of course be dry in the rain and some might feel safer at night!

I suspect that London Overground might get some ticketing issues with this link.

Take a little old lady with a Freedom Pass, who lives near the current Hackney Downs entrance to what is now a large double-station complex, who perhaps wants to go to the shops on Mare Street in the rain. Being as she’s from Hackney, she would be streetwise and would therefore use her Freedom Pass to work the barrier at the Hackney Downs entrance and then climb up the stairs to Platform 1. She’d then walk down the platform and take the walkway to Central, where she would exit into Mare Street using her Freedom Pass. In other words, she would have done the long walk substantially out of the rain, at no cost to herself.

So what do Transport for London do with someone, who uses an Oyster or contactless card to do the same trip? Will they be charged?

An engineer on Crossrail, who has walked some of the enormous stations, said to me, that in the rain, some of Crossrail stations are so comprehensive, she would use them to keep out of the rain. So we could have the same problem here?

If Transport for London charges, are we discriminating against those who pay for their transport?

Surely, if you come out of the same station complex within the time it takes to walk from one end to the other, you shouldn’t be charged!

What do you get charged now, if you enter a station through the barriers and then you realise you perhaps didn’t pick up your paper or coffee before you did and you return through the barriers virtually immediately?

Remember that if there’s a walking short-cut, Londoners and especially East Enders will find it!

July 23, 2015 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 2 Comments

It Looks Like The Hackney Downs/Central Link Is Ready To Open

I took these pictures at Hackney Downs  and Hackney Central stations today,

I don’t think it will be long before when I come back from Walthamstow, I can arrive at Downs station, walk through the link to go out on the street at Central station station to get a 38 bus home. The advantage of this route, as opposed to getting a 56 bus by Downs station, will be that I can do some food shopping if necessary in the Hackney Marks and Spencer.

I can’t help feeling that passengers will press for links between the other platforms and lifts to the platforms from the subway at Hackney Downs station.

The reopening of Lea Bridge station and the possible reopening of the Hall Farm Curve are both developments that could affect any future work at Downs  and Central stations. This Google Map shows the layout of the two stations.

Hackney Downs/Central Link

Hackney Downs/Central Link

Downs station is at the top and Central station is at the right.

You can actually see some sections of the new link in place, so the image must have been taken recently. The large oval object at the left (west) of the image is the ventilation and evacuation shaft for the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, which is easily seen from trains on the North London Line. It is connected by a concrete roadway to Graham Road.

Note how it is possible to walk inside the railway land to Graham Road. I believe it would be possible to create a southern entrance for the two stations, by the two bridges, that would give access to the westbound platform at Central station and possibly perhaps using a lift to Platform 4 at Downs station. These pictures show the area of Graham Road, where the two bridges cross.

This is an enlarged Google Map of Graham Road, the two bridges and the two access roads.

An Enlarged Map

An Enlarged Map

In order from the west, the features are.

  • The Ventilation and Evacuation Shaft for the CTRL
  • The Access Road to the CTRL shaft
  • The two-track Curve that connects the Lea Valley Line to the North London Line.
  • The four-track Lea Valley Line
  • The Network Rail Access Road

The footbridge at Central station is shown at the far right.

As the pictures and the map show there is an embankment, so to get to a possible southern entrance, there might need to be some serious engineering.

On the other hand their is already a light-controlled crossing on Graham Road by the bridges.

The only problem of putting a second link on the southern side of the tracks, is that signalling cables and equipment may get in the way. This necessitated a big redesign of the link, that is now being created. This page on the contractor’s web site, which describes the current link, says this.

An earlier proposal had to be abandoned because it would interfere with Network Rail signalling equipment. The latest plan avoids this problem by building the interchange on the northern side of the track.

So this probably partly explains, why the new walkway is not a small structure.

I also heard in the evening that the link will open next week, possibly on Tuesday.

In the nearly five years, I’ve lived in Hackney, the development of the area around the two Hackney stations has been extensive and it is showing no sign of slowing down.

The London Borough of Hackney is now one of the more desireble boroughs in which to live.

July 2, 2015 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | 1 Comment

The Downs End Of The Hackney Downs/Central Link

It isn’t as easy to see the Hackney Downs end of the Hackney Downs/Central Link, which is shown from the Hackney Central end in this post. However, I was able to take these pictures.

Some of them were actually taken from a pretty dirty Abellio Greater Anglia Class 315 train. Hopefully, when these trains are taken over by London Overground, they’ll be a lot cleaner. To get an idea of how complicated the pedestrian link will be, look at this Google Earth image of the North Eastern angle between the North-South Lea Valley Lines through Hackney Downs station and the East West North London Line through Hackney Central station.

Hackney Downs And Central Stations

Hackney Downs And Central Stations

Note that in the South-Western corner of this map is the Graham Road Ventilation Shaft for the Channel Tunnel Rail Link.

To further investigate I walked from Hackney Downs station parallel to the railway, before turning under the newly-reconstructed rail bridge on Marcon Place (Click here for a construction video!) and then walking round Spurstowe Road. This enlarged image shows where I walked better.

Enlarged Image

Enlarged Image

For information, the platforms at Hackney Downs station are numbered 4, 3, 2 and 1 from West to East (left to right).

These are the pictures I took as I walked.

I don’t think massive is an appropriate word for this walkway high in the sky. It certainly couldn’t be described as flimsy!

These pictures sort out a lot of questions, but they still don’t show how you walk from the top of the stairs and lift into Hackney Downs station.

This plan that I clipped from this page on the Dalstonist web site, appears to show that there will be a gap made in the wall behind Platform 1 to access the walkway.

Hackney Link Plan

Hackney Link Plan

TfL obviously have the figures and know the details of the various passenger interchanges between the two stations, but I can’t help feeling that at least one direct interchange other than between Platform 1 at Downs and Platform 2 at Central may well be necessary.

I would assume that there are plans for adding lifts between the platforms and the subway at Hackney Downs, but that will still mean a step-free walk from Platform 2, 3 or 4 at Hackney Downs to Platform 1 at Hackney Central will be four lift journeys.

If I look at my  own  use of the walkway, it will be in probably in changing between a train going East to one going North or the reverse. Both could need three lift journeys, although I generally can easily manage the foot bridge at Hackney Central.

However, mine and the usage of many others of the interchange would be improved or minimised, if Transport for London develop the Lea Valley Lines and other transport links in East London as many expect they will.

1. Higher frequencies from Hackney Downs to Chingford, Cheshunt and Enfield Town, which are currently four, two and two trains per hour respectively.

2. More trains between Stratford and Cheshunt via the new Lea Bridge station.

3. A reinstated Hall Farm Curve allowing trains to run from Chingford and Walthamstow to Stratford for Crossrail and all Stratford’s other services. Walthamstow to Stratford could go from a 43 minute journey to one of just twelve.

4. We’ve already had notice of a blockade on the Victoria Line this summer to enable track work, that will increase frequency to 36 trains per hour.

I also have a few questions that I would like to see answered.

1. There is a curve under the former Olympic Village that enables trains to go between the North London Line the Lea Valley Lines.  Are there any future plans for this curve?

2. Many passengers using the trains to and from Hackney arrive at the complex by bus. As the area around the stations is developed, will we see a much better bus interchange?

3. My personal favourite addition to the Hackney station complex would be to see a second entrance at Hackney Central direct into the westbound Platform 1, which for many journeys would avoid the need to cross between the two platforms at Hackney Central. Are there any plans to improve this access?

I suspect a lot more will be revealed in a few months.



May 25, 2015 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | Leave a comment