The Anonymous Widower

Landscaping Outside Highbury & Islington Station Is Nearing Completion

I took these pictures  outside Highbury & Islington station, this afternoon.

It does appear that this long project is nearing completion.

At least there’s now a large space in front of the station, that leads up towards Upper Street.

September 9, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

More Frequent Trains And A New Station For The London Overground

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

This is a summary of what Ian says.

  • The new Surrey Canal Road station will be built and called New Bermondsey.
  • A second entrance will be built at Surrey Quays station.
  • Updated signalling will allow the frequency of trains  through the core section of the East London Line to rise from sixteen trains per hour (tph) to twenty.
  • The service between Highbury & Islington and Crystal Palace stations will be increased from four to six tph.
  • The service between Dalston Junction and Clapham Junction stations will be increased from four to six tph.

Ian says this about the link between funding and project delivery.

.The funding under the HIF needs to be spent by 2023, so that’s the deadline for the upgrades to be delivered.

It is a substantial upgrade, which is supported by a Government grant of £80.3million to help in the construction of 14,000 homes.

These are my thoughts.

New Bermondsey Station

I covered building this station in Would This Be The Easiest Station To Build In The UK?.

These pictures were taken in 2015.

The station is close to Millwall FC’s stadium  and this Google Map shows the relationship between the stadium and the station.

The stadium is at the top of the map and the station is in the South-East corner of the map and will be built over Surrey Canal Road.

The Second Entrance At Surrey Quays Station

Ian says this about the second entrance at Surrey Quays station.

The very cramped Surrey Quays station gets a second entrance, which will run under the main road and be based on the north side, where the shopping centre car park is today. That avoids crossing two busy roads, which can take some time if you’re waiting for the lights to change.

This Google Map shows the area around the station.

Ian’s description fits well!

Extra Trains

Both the Clapham Junction and Crystal Palace routes take around 40-45 minutes with a generous turnround time, giving a round trip time of two hours.

  • This would mean that currently both these routes both need eight trains.
  • Increase the frequency to six tph and both routes need twelve trains.
  • This means that another eight trains will be needed to boost the frequency from four tph to six on both routes.

The extra trains should preferably be Class 378 trains, as these are certified for working through the Thames Tunnel, whereas the new Class 710 trains are not.

  • Six Class 710 trains are destined for the Watford DC Line, where they will replace the current Class 378 trains, which will go to the East London Line.
  • There are also six five-car Class 710 trains on order to boost services on the North and West London Lines, which could allow a few five-car Class 378 trains to more to the East london Line.

If Bombardier can deliver the Class 710 trains, then I don’t see have any problems in finding enough trains for the East London Line.

In fact, if London Overground decided to run more services through the Thames Tunnel, they probably have enough trains to run 24 tph on the East London Line, if they should wish.

Would It Be Better To Turn Both 6 tph Services At Highbury & Islington Station?

The East London Line has its own dedicated tracks between Dalston Junction and Highbury & Islington stations, with an intermediate stop at Canonbury station.

  • Currently, there are eight tph between Dalston Junction and Highbury & Islington
  • If the Crystal Palace service is increased by two tph, the frequency will increase to ten tph  between Dalston Junction and Highbury & Islington.
  • If the Clapham Junction service is increased by two tph and turns back at Highbury & Islington station, the frequency will increase to twelve tph between Dalston Junction and Highbury & Islington.

To travellers like me, who live halfway between Canonbury and Dalston Junction station, the increased frequency could be very welcome.

  • If I’m coming from the West on the North London Line, I will often change trains at Canonbury, take one stop to Dalston Junction and then take a bus to my house.
  • From the East, I’ll use the cross-platform interchange at Canonbury, and go home via Dalston Junction and a bus.
  • Tranport for London have recently halved the bus service between my house and Highbury & Islington station, so I tend to use the  Canonbury change more often.

The increase in frequency between Canonbury and Dalston Junction stations, will mean that those changing to go South will have less time to wait.

It would surely help at Dalston Junction station, in that if both six tph services, went through to Highbury & Islington, as passengers would sort themselves out better in busy times, as to which platform to use.

  • Platform 1 – 12 tph to Canonbury and Highbury & Islington
  • Plstform 2 – 4 tph to and from Surray Quays and New Cross
  • Platform 3 – 4 tph to and from Surray Quays and West Croydon
  • Platform 4 – 12 trains to Surray Quays and Crystal Palace or Clapham Junction

\s Platforms 3 and 4 share a spacious island platform, effectively it will be a  16 tph Southbound platform.

South of Dalston Junction station, there will be the same increase to 20 tph, no matter where the individual services turn back.

I suspect too, that there if twelve tph by-passed Dalston Junction station, as they do in the through platforms, that operationally, it might be easier.

 

August 18, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Highbury Corner Is Finally Getting There!

I had almost stopped using Highbury & Islington station, due to the construction works at Highbury Corner, which have been going on for several years.

I posted Changes At Highbury Corner in February 2016.

These pictures show it a few days ago!

This map from the linked post shows the intended road layout.

Highbury Corner Changes

Highbury Corner Changes

The map is a good summary of the proposed changes.

It certainly means that my walk from the bus-top to the station isn’t an obstacle course.

May 31, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Funding Secured For New Entrance At Stratford Tube Station

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

The new entrance will give those coming from the Carpenters Estate direct access to Stratford station.

This Google Map shows the South East section of the station.

The main station building has the two station symbols on the top and the Jubilee Line platforms run Southwards from the building.

It would appear that the new entrance will be close to the Southernmost corner of the station building in a staff car park.

Knowing the station well, I suspect it will be a very useful new entrance for both residents and visitors to the Olympic Park.

It will make it easier to avoid the clutches of Eastfield.

The only details on the cost of the scheme is this sentence from Ian’s article.

Newham council has agreed to contribute £1 million to the scheme, which is being funded from its Community Infrastructure Levy.

As it incorporates some extra lifts in the station, the scheme is probably going to be more than a million pound one, but the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) is involved, I suspect that everything is securely funded.

Should There Be Other Small Schemes Like This?

At Shepherd’s Bush station on the Overground, in 2015, a new entrance was built to give better access to Westfield. It is not very busy during the day, but I suspect that workers at Westfield use it more than shopper. Wikipedia says it cost £1.35 million, so I should think that the Stratford scheme wouldn’t cost a great deal more.

I believe there are other places, where extra entrances could be built.

Simple Ungated Entrances

Entrances don’t have to be grand, as I showed in An Ungated Entrance Used To Create Step-Free Access At Crofton Park Station.

These two entrances are just a hole in the station fence, Oyster readers and a bit of tarmac. There must be other places, where these entrances can be installed.

An Entrance At Hackney Central Station Into Graham Road

In It Looks Like The Hackney Downs/Central Link Is Ready To Open, I also talk in detail about adding a Southern entrance to Hackney Central station, that would lead directly into Graham Road. Eith a pedestrian crossing and changes to the bus stops, it would be a very useful step-free entrance for those living between the centres of Hackney and Dalston.

A Second Entrance At Highbury & Islington Station

In Could We Create A Second Entrance To The Overground At Highbury And Islington Station?, I investigated creating a West-facing entrance at Highbury & Islington station, that would improve access for those going to football.

Conclusion

I believe that a lot of stations can be improved, by adding extra entrances in convenient places.

It is probably easier to do in London’s Oyster/contactless card area, as a couple of readers can sort out ticketing.

 

May 18, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

By Overground To High Speed Two

The North London Line will be my route to High Speed Two when it opens in 2026.

This map from Wikipedia, shows how the lines connect.

I will actually have two Overground stations, that I will be able to use.

Note.

  1. Wikipedia says that both stations should open in 2026, which is the same date as High Speed Two.
  2. Hythe Road station is 700 metres from the High Speed Two station.
  3. Old Oak Common Lane station is 350 metres from the High Speed Two station.

Currently, both lines have a four trains per hour (tph) service.

  • The Class 378 trains are five cars, which can get very busy in the Peak.
  • It would need an additional five trains to increase the frequency to five tph on both routes.
  • Six new five-car Class 710 trains are on order for North and West London Line services.
  • I feel the higher frequency could be in operation by the opening of High Speed Two.
  • Most stations between Stratford and Willesden Junction would appear to be able to accept six-car trains, if selective door opening were to be used.

I think by 2026, there will be a more than adequate service between Stratford and High Speed Two.

  • There will be at least ten tph to Stratford, with services split equally between Hythe Road and Old Oak Common Lane stations.
  • Richmond and Clapham Junction stations will get at least five tph.
  • Step-free access is not currently available at Brondesbury Park, Brondesbury, Finchley Road & Frognal, Kentish Town West and Dalston Kingsland stations.

But what other developments will or might happen?

Highbury & Islington Station

Highbury & Islington station is the thirteenth busiest station in the UK and it is in need of a major upgrade to bring the deep level platforms and their access up to the standard of the four London Overground platforms, which all have lifts.

I also think that the track layout at the station could be modified to allow trains on the East London Line to continue further to the West. This was mentioned, when the Oveground was created, but is seldom talked about these days.

Step-Free Access On The North And West London Lines

These two lines which form a Y-shaped railway that splits at Willesden Junction, will provide these services from High Speed Two to major interchange stations.

The only thing that is needed is to complete step free access at all stations on the North and West London Lines.

The Maximum Frequency Across North London

Five tph on both the North and West London Line would give the following turnback frequencies at the four terminals.

  • Clapham Junction – 5 tph
  • Richmond – 5 tph
  • Stratford – 10 tph

This chart from TfL shows planned improvements on the London Overground

Note that it clearly shows that it is possible to run a six tph service between two single platform stations.

I think it likely that it would be possible to run six tph on both routes, provided that the route and the signalling could handle the increased frequency.

Twelve tph between Stratford and Willesden Junction stations would probably be the maximum frequency.

But would the number of freight trains allow this frequency?

A Reduction In Freight Services

Currently, the North London Line carries a lot of freight trains, going between Barking, Felixstowe and London Gateway in the East to virtually everywhere West of London.

  • Noises from the East West Rail Consortium are hinting that services to and to and from Bristol, Liverpool, Manchester, South Wales, Southampton and the West Midlands might use their new route between Oxford and Cambridge.
  • Could more freight use ports like Liverpool and Teesport in the North of England, which would reduce the traffic through the ports in the South?

Whatever happens, the current succession of diesel-hauled freight trains across London is not environmentally-friendly and it will raise increasing numbers of protests.

I think it is inevitable that the number of freight services will reduce, thus allowing more paths for passenger trains.

Digital Signalling

To handle the increasing traffic on the North and West London Lines, I can see digital signalling being installed. There could even be a degree of Automic Train Control.

Six-Car Trains

Only a few stations can handle six-car trains without selective door opening and even the rebuilt West Hampstead station still has platforms for five-cars.

Selective door opening would allow six-car trains to use the five-car platforms and passengers have in London have shown they can cope with moving forward to get out at certain stations. Especially, as the walk-through design of the train, makes this a lot easier.

A Round-The-Corner Service

I can remember reading in Modern Railways, that one of the reasons for the East and North London Lines running parallel through Canonbury to Highbury & Islington was to possibly enable extension of the East London Line to perhaps Willesden Junction, where there is a handy bay platform.

This has not happened and I doubt we’ll ever see something like a New Cross to Willesden Junction service, as Crossrail will effectively provide a faster frequent service between Whitechapel and Old Oak Common stations.

West London Orbital Railway

The proposed West London Orbital Railway will have two routes.

  • West Hampstead Thameslink and Hounslow
  • Brent Cross Thameslink and Kew Bridge

Both routes will have four tph and have a connection to Crossrail, High Speed Two and the North London Line at Old Oak Common station.

The only possible problem would be the eight extra tph through Acton Central station and level crossing and South Acton station.

But it would become an important feeder route to Crossrail, Heathrow Airport and High Speed Two.

Conclusion

The North and West London Line route between Stratford and Willesden has the ability to handle a lot more traffic than it currently does.

Dgital signalling and six-car trains could add over another fifty per cent capacity to the route.

I very much feel that digital signalling will be absolutely necessary.

 

March 26, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Dalston Kingsland Station Problem

One of my local stations on the North London Line is Dalston Kingsland station.

Unlike Hampstead Heath station and the three neighbouring stations of Canonbury, Dalston Junction and Hackney Central, there are no lifts at Dalston Kingsland station and the stairs are narrower without a central rail.

Looking at the passenger traffic at the stations  I have mentioned, gives the following numbers for 2017-18 in millions.

  • Canonbury – 3.0
  • Dalston Junction – 5.7
  • Dalston Kingsland – 5.5
  • Hackney Central – 4.3
  • Hampstead Heath – 3.3

Dalston Kingsland serves almost as many passengers as does the nearby Dalston Junction, but it is a very inferior station.

  • Recently,  a high capacity wide gate-line has been installed.
  • When trains call at the station, it is difficult to get to the platforms, unless you wait until arriving passengers have come up the stairs.
  • There are no lifts.
  • More housing is being built around Dalston Kingsland station.
  • In December 2018, the train frequency through Dalston Kingsland was raised to eight from six trains per hour (tph).

Is Dalston Kingsland station an accident waiting to happen?

Various plans and other improvements will effect the passenger traffic through Dalston Kingsland station.

More Trains Through Dalston Kingsland Station

In Gospel Oak-Barking Fleet Plan Remains Unclear, I calculated that running the current combined eight tph service between Stratford and Clapham Junction/Richmond needs twenty trains.

  • Increasing this service from four tph to five trains per hour to both Western termini, would increase the frequency between Stratford and Willesden Junction to ten tph.
  • It would also require twenty-five trains to run the service.
  • London Overground has six five-car Class 710 trains on order, that will be used to improve the service on the North and West London Lines.

This would leave a spare train to cover failures and maintenance.

So it would appear that Dalston Kingsland station could get a train every six minutes in both directions.

Passengers would appreciate this, but what about the freight operators, that use the line?

Will a twenty-five percent increase in train capacity result in a similar increase in passengers using the stairs at the station?

The Effect Of London Overground Syndrome

In London Overground Syndrome, I described the syndrome like this.

This benign disease, which is probably a modern version of the Victorian railway mania, was first identified in East London in 2011, when it was found that the newly-refurbished East London Line and North London Line were inadequate due to high passenger satisfaction and much increased usage. It has now spread across other parts of the capital, despite various eradication programs.

The North London Line through Dalston Kingsland station seems to have a particularly strong form.of the syndrome.

In December 2018, the frequency through the station was increased by thirty-three percent, but overcrowding in the Peak seems not to have reduced.

Could it be that because the line offers a more pleasant and easier connection between Stratford, Highbury & Islington, Camden, Hampstead, Willesden, Clapham Junction, Acton and Richmond, that any increase in capacity is welcomed and passengers transfer from a more crowded Underground?

There will be more Ducking and Diving!

Crossrail Effects

I suspect only educated guesses can be made, as to what effects Crossrail will have on Dalston Kingsland station.

Judging by the number of passengers, who get on and off Overground trains at Highbury & Islington station, a lot of passengers use the North London and Victoria Lines for commuting and other journeys.

Crossrail, with its connection to the North London Line at Stratford and eventually at Old Oak Common will take passengers from the North London Line and the various connections between the two lines, will further even out passenger traffic.

If it does, it will be Londoners Ducking-and Diving again!

Avoiding Dalston Kingsland Station

I think that some groups of passengers will avoid Dalston Kingsland station.

  • Like me, some travellers have a choice of station.
  • Passengers walking between the two Dalston stations, may choose to use the shorter step-free interchange at Canonbury.
  • As the frequencies on the Overground increases, passengers may find that a less obvious route is better for them.
  • I suspect some savvy passengers take a train from West Croydon at Dalston Junction station and then cross the platform at Highbury & Islington station.

It’s classic animal behaviour to avoid problems and go by a better way.

Northern City Line Effects

The Northerrn City Line between Highbury & Islington and Moorgate stations could have an effect on passenger numbers at Dalston Kingsland station.

In a couple of years, the line will be much improved.

  • Services will be running seven days a week.
  • Elderly Class 313 traiins will have been replaced by new Class 717 trains.
  • There will be a step-free connection to Crossrail at Moorgate station.
  • Frequencies will be significantly increased.

Overall, there will be a new high-capacity line running North-South within walking distance or a couple of bus stops of the two Dalston stations.

I have already started to use the line more, by catching a bus to Essex Road station for a train to Moorgate station. It’s quicker in the morning Peak.

HS2 Effects

I remember using the North London Line in the 1970s, between Broad Street and Willesden stations. It was terrible. But now, when High Speed Two opens in 2026, London’s Mucky Duck which has grown into a swan, will speed you to Old Oak Common station for your journey to the North.

Because many of these travellers will have heavy bags with them, all stations on the North London Line must be made step-free.

Highbury & Islington Station Improvements

Highbury & Islington station was rebuilt for the Victoria Line in the 1960s, when costs were much more important than passenger convenience.

The area outside the station is being sorted, but the plans are starting to be developed to create better and step-free access to the deep level platforms.

A much improved Highbury & Islington station would create a lot of easier routes from both Dalston stations.

Essex Road Station Improvements

Essex Road station has lifts, but is not step-free as the lifts go to well below the platforms, to which the final connection is a long set of steps.

The station sits on what must be a valuable site in Islington, which would be ripe for redevelopment.

Redevelopment of this station will happen and it will make things a lot better for me, as it is within my walking range or a short bus ride.

Bus Improvements

When I moved to Dalston in 2010, there was a good bus service to Highbury & Islington station along the Balls Pond Road.

But now, a South London Mayor has cut this, because I suspect we can use the Overground.

But this assumes that Dalston Kingsland station is has quality access. Which of course it doesn’t!

The buses must be improved along the Balls Pond Road.

Six-Car Trains Through Dalston Kingsland Station

I’ve deliberately left this to last, as it is the biggest and most difficult.

There are two routes through Dalston Kingland station.

  • Four tph on that use the West London Line to go to Clapham Junction station.
  • Four tph on that use the North London Line to go to Richmond station.

One or both of these routes might be possible to be run by six-car trains using selective door opening on the short platforms.

Lengthening the new Class 710 trains will not be a problem, as a few extra coaches would be ordered.

On the other hand lengthening the existing Class 378 trains may be more problematical, as they are out of production. I suppose that two five-car trains could be converted into a six-car and a four-car.

Six-car operation would surely add twenty percent to the passengers going through the station.

The Future Of Dalston Kingsland Station

The extra trains and capacity through Dalston Kingsland station will increase the pressure on the inadequate access at the station.

But some of the other improvements will divert passengers from the station and take the pressure off.

I suspect that Transport for London are hoping this will be sufficient action to keep the station functioning at a comfortable level, until it is rebuilt for Crossrail 2.

But that is a tough ask and could contain a lot of wishful thinking.

Conclusion

Dalston Kingsland station needs lift and wider and safer stairs in the near future.

March 24, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A New Curvy Path At Highbury Corner

The results of the consultation on Highbury Corner are on this page on the TfL web site.

Two options are presented for the arboretum in the middle of the roundabout.

  • 14 per cent chose Option 1 (keep the arboretum closed to the public)
  • 56 per cent chose Option 2 (open up the arboretum for public use)

I voted for Option 2, as it will be a more pleasant walk from bus to train station, on a new path through the trees.

Note.

  • The station is in the top-left with a large pedestrian area in front.
  • I would walk to the station along the leading through the trees

Both options include a new curvy path between the original arboretum and the pedestrian area in front of the pub and McDonalds.

One picture shows a possible cafe on the curvy path.

I like that idea! But no anonymous foreign-registered unhealthy tax-avoiding chain! Please!

 

March 15, 2018 Posted by | Food, Transport | , | Leave a comment

This Year’s Engineers Christmas Party Is At Highbury And Islington Station

Three year’s ago, I wrote VolkerFitzpatrick Are Having A Christmas Party At South Tottenham.

This year’s Engineers Chrismas Party is at Highbury and Islington station, where they are replacing the bridge on the Holloway Road over the North London Line.

These pictures were taken on the 20th of December.

The first action of the rebuilding of the bridge was the shutting of the Post Office outside the station, which I wrote about in Highbury And Islington Post Office Is Now Shut.

That post dates from July 2014 and signs around the station say the bridge will be replaced by Summer 2018.

Four years to rebuild a bridge. Are Network Rail looking for an entry in the Guinness Book Of Records?

But then Network Rail has form with bridges in North London.

On the Gospel Oak to Barking Line, they forgot to rebuild the bridges at Wightman Road and Crouch Hill.

These pictures were taken on the 22nd of December.

These pictures were taken on the 28th of December.

These pictures were taken on the 31st of December.

The large cranes have gone.

The 8th of January marked the reopening of the roads.

I think the bridge will be fully completed in the Summer.

 

 

December 20, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Is Highbury And Islington Station To Get An Upgrade?

This article on IanVisits is entitled New Entrance Planned For Highbury and Islington Station.

If this happens, it will be good news for me, as Highbury and Islington station is my nearest Underground station.

But it is a cramped, very busy station with extremely poor access. According to Wikipedia, it is the fifteenth busiest station in the UK and in terms of passenger numbers, handles more in a year, than Manchester Piccadilly, Edinburgh Waverley, Glasgow Queen Street and Liverpool Lime Street.

A lot of these high passenger numbers are due to the unrivalled carrying capacity and success of the Victoria Line and the recently-rebuilt North London Line.

Proximity to Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium has also added thousands of passengers.

The future will draw even more passengers to the station.

For the last two years, passengers like me,  have tended to avoid the station, as contractors have been rebuilding the road bridge in front of the station.

But this will finish soon and Islington Council and Transport for London have grand plans to create a very pedestrian-friendly environment outside the station.

And then there’s Crossrail and the Northern City Line!

Crossrail doesn’t connect to the Victoria Line, but thanks to the Northern City Line, Highbury and Islington station has a good connection to Crossrail.

The Northern City Line is also getting new Class 717 trains and increased frequencies between Moorgate and Hertfordshire.

It all adds up to more pressure for something to be done at Highbury and Islington station.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines at Hoghbury and Islington station.

Note how the Northern City and Victoria Lines have cross-platform access, courtesy of some clever platform swapping, when the Victoria Line was built.

Two developments will give alternative routes that might take the pressure off the station.

The doubling in capacity of the Gospel Oak to Barking Line from early next year, will help.

Crossrail will benefit the station, in that a lot of passengers wanting to go between Eastern parts of London and the West End, currently use the Overground and the Victoria Line. Some of these passengers will use Crossrail to go direct.

But something needs to be done.

The four Overground platforms have full step-free access, but the deep-level Victoria Line and the Northern City Line both rely on just two crowded escalators.

If you look at the layout of the four deep-level platforms, they lie together and because the two Northern City Line platforms were dug as a pair in the first few years of the last century, I suspect that all platforms are roughly the same level.

As the lift shafts from the old Northern City Line station are still intact, although full of equipment, I feel that the plan of using this abandoned station to create another entrance to the deep-level platforms will be possible.

  • A new ticket office can be provided in a quality building.
  • It will need escalators, as well as lifts.
  • It should be possible to connect directly to the four platforms, with perhaps a wide passenger tunnel under Holloway Road.
  • This tunnel could also have lifts on the other side of the road to the Overground.

It is one of those smaller intricate projects, that can be really good value.

August 7, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Gibb Report – Moorgate Services Could Be Transferred To The London Overground

The Gibb Report, looks in detail at services out of Moorgate station on the Northern City Line in detail.

Note that current plans for this line include.

It could also be rebranded as the Great Northern Metro.

Chris Gibbs flags up various issues with this service. He says this about the infrastructure.

25 new Class 717 six-car trains are being built by Siemens as a dedicated fleet for this route, and will be maintained by GTR at their Hornsey Depot. The line between Drayton Park and Moorgate is a former underground line transferred to BR in 1976 and partly converted for main line trains.

It retains various Underground characteristics, such as third rail electrification with a fourth return rail, and tripcocks at all signals, and I believe Old Street and Moorgate stations are owned by London Underground as part of shared stations, and are in need of modernisation. The track and signalling is owned and operated by Network Rail.

I would add a personal observation. Highbury and Islington station is a station where the below-ground platforms are in desperate need of improvement and step-free access. Over the last year or so, with GTR’s labour troubles, the operation of the station at times, has not been smooth, much to the exasperation of London Underground/Overground staff.

Chris Gibbs also notes several issues with the employment of staff after 2018.

Other current Great Northern services run between Kings Lynn, Cambridge, Peterborough and Kings Cross, and these will be part of the Thameslink operation from 2018, with most services continuing to destinations south of London and a few running to Kings Cross. I understand Great Northern drivers will be “temporarily” split between Metro and Thameslink in 2017 to avoid them all having to learn the cross London routes and Class 700 trains, so there may then be a some division for TUPE purposes.

At present it is proposed not to initially train about 100 drivers on Class 700 trains, spread across several locations, and it is proposed to open new drivers depots, for example at Welwyn Garden City and Finsbury Park. These proposals have not yet been approved by DfT, and recruitment has not yet begun. However there is still risk that splitting the driver workforce, who currently enjoy variety of work, may be unpopular, and more work is required to evaluate this. All Great Northern Metro services are currently DOO.

It looks like a disaster waiting to happen to me.

He finishes his discussion on the Great Northern Metro like this.

I believe there is an option to transfer the Great Northern Metro operation to TfL and it’s London Overground concession in 2018. If TfL / the London Overground concessionaire were to take the lead in this transfer, and the implementation of the new trains and service, this could reduce risks associated with the Thameslink programme, led by GTR. 

However to do this, a decision should be made immediately, and discussions commenced with
TfL, GTR and the London Overground concessionaire.

Personally, I think that this would be a very good idea.

In this area of London, we have three stations that need to be dramatically improved; Old Street, Essex Road and Highbury and Islingtont.

All are on the Northern City Line and they could start with a deep clean at Essex Road, which was probably cleaner when it opened in the same year my father was born.

But being serious, these three stations could be serious development opportunities.

  • Highbury and Islington is a major interchange that hasn’t been rebuilt properly since it was bombed in World War 2 and was changed on the cheap to squeeze the Victoria Line through underground.
  • Essex Road could also be redeveloped with a modern step-free station underneath.
  • Old Street is now surrounded by towers and the road layout is being simpified, so why not put a massive tower on the site and build a modern station underneath?

Having only one operator at the stations must surely ease redevelopment.

I think if the split between GTR and the Great Northern Metro was thought through properly, there could be advantages all round.

  • All services North of Welwyn Garden City on the East Coast Main Line and the Cambridge Line would be provided by GTR.
  • All Hertford Loop Line services would be provided by London Overground.
  • All Hertford Loop Line stations would be managed by London Overground.
  • All stations South of Welwyn Garden City on the East Coast Main Line would be managed by London Overground.
  • A turnback platform would be built at Stevenage.
  • Welwyn Garden City and Stevenage stations would be updated to allow easy interchange between GTR and Great Northern Metro services.
  • Alexandra Palace station is developed, so that cross platform interchange is possible between GTR and Great Northern Metro services.

It certainly looks like a properly integrated 100 mph suburban rail route can be built to Stevenage, with similar fleets of 100 mph Class 700 trains and Class 717 trains on Thameslink and the Great Northern Metro respectively.

The East Coast Main Line would work as now.

  • Great Northern Metro services between Moorgate and Welwyn Garden City
  • Outer suburban services between Kings Cross and Stevenage, Peterborough and Cambridge.
  • In 2018, Thamelink will link St. Pancras to Stevenage, Peteborough and Cambridge.

On the Hertford Loop Line, there would just be a Great Northern Metro service between Moorgate and Stevenage, via Hertford North.

There could be possible problems and questions.

  • Would residents of Hertfordshire, object to services being controlled by the London Mayor?
  • Who would pay for the required turn-back platform at Stevenage?
  • Could London Overground absorb the route without too many problems?
  • Would there be enough paths on the East Coast Main Line?
  • Where would the depot for the Class 717 trains be located?
  • How will Siemens respond to the change of operator for their Class 717 trains?

But there are some other factors in favour.

  • The Great Northern Metro service on the Hertford Loop Line would effectively be an independent double-track railway capable of handling as many six-car Class 717 trains as were desired. The current three trains per hour (tph) is probably way below the theoretical capacity, which is probably determined by the single platform at Stevenage.
  • London Overground successfully integrated the Lea Valley Lines into their operation.
  • London Overground and the Great Northern Metro both work under DOO.
  • Hopefully, Transport for London have the knowledge to integrate the Class 717 trains into the tunnels to Moorgate. But they have an excellent museum!
  • London Overground’s working practices would appear to be similar to those on the Great Northern Metro.
  • London Overground’s station manning policies are better for passengers and may even be better for staff, who always seem to be courteous and enjoying their work.

But surely the biggest thing in the transfer’s favour, is that it gives responsibility to new train introduction and updating of the Great Northern Metro to another operator, who has a proven record in this field, so that GTR can concentrate on launching Thameslink services.

Collateral Benefits Of Updating Great Northern Metro Services

After train replacement the Great Northern Metro will be run by modern 100 mph trains, as opposed to 75 mph scrapyard specials.

Currently, the Class 313 trains take the following times.

  • Moorgate and Hertford North – 45 minutes – 13 stops
  • Moorgate and Letchworth Garden City – 79 minutes – 16 stops.
  • Moorgate and Stevenage – 63 minutes – 15 stops.
  • Moorgate and Welwyn Garden City – 49 minutes – 16 stops

As modern trains can save a minute or two on each stop, there must be the possibilities of faster services, with the serious possibility of Letchworth Garden City within an hour from Moorgate, with the new 100 mph Class 717 trains.

Stevenage would certainly be well within the hour and I suspect that because of the extra speed an additional fourth train could be run to both Hertford North and Welwyn Garden City, with all Hertford North trains running on and terminating at Stevenage, once the turnback platform is built.

To run four tph each route would require just eight trains or sixteen trains in total.

If you split the order for twenty-five trains into two, that would mean twelve trains would be available for each route, which are enough trains to have the following service.

  • 6 tph – Moorgate to Welwyn Garden City
  • 6 tph – Moorgate to Stevenage via Hertford North

These are the sort of frequencies that train operating companies like to run in South London.

Alexandra Palace to Moorgate would have a massive twelve tph.

The current timetable handles this frequency in the Peak, so it could be possible all day, with very little work needed on the infrastructure. London Underground would probably laugh at 12 tph, when you consider the Northern and Victoria Lines handle three times as many trains to a two platform below ground terminal.

But is it really needed?

If you look at the timing of the fast Class 387 trains between Stevenage and Finsbury Park, they take around twenty minutes going fast down the East Coast Main Line, as against the Class 313 trains which take forty-four minutes using the Hertford Loop Line. On a rough estimate the new Class 717 trains might be able to do this trip in perhaps twenty-five minutes on an updated Hertford Loop Line.

A fast high-capacity service on this route that has been neglected, must be capable of development with perhaps a Park-and-Ride and a couple of new stations.

It may not be a bad idea to update the Hrtyford Loop Line with modern signalling and to allow faster running, as surely if the normal trains on the loop were modern 100 mph units, then extra paths could be found to act as diversion routes for the bottleneck of the double-track Digswell Viaduct.

It’s amazing how faster trains can unlock the potential of a rail route.

Conclusion

Chris Gibb has made an interesting proposal.

There are good reasons to transfer the Great Northern Metro to London Overground.

  • London Overground have the expertise to introduce the new trains.
  • Transport for London have the expertise to redevelop the stations on the route at the Southern end.
  • GTR will be able to concentrate on Thameslink
  • Moorgate, Old Street, Essex Road and Highbury and Islington stations become Transport for London-only stations.
  • London would gain a new Metro line between Moorgate and Alexandra Palace via Highbury and Islington and Finsbury Park, that extends into Hertfordshire and has a frequency of at least twelve tph.
  • Crossrail gets another North-South feeder line.
  • Highbury and Islington and Finsbury Park will become high quality interchanges.
  • The Hertford Loop Line can be developed independently of Thameslink and the East Coast Main Line to be a high-capacity North-South Metro from North London to Stevenage.
  • The Victoria Line gets a cross-platform connection to the Great Northern Metro for Crossrail at Highbury and Islington.

The only problem, is that it might remove some of the reasons for extending Crossrail 2 to New Southgate.

Overall it strikes me that GTR have been working totally without any vision or any idea about how their new trains will transform the Great Northern Metro.

 

July 8, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments