The Anonymous Widower

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, Travel | , | 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 | Travel | , , , | 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 | Travel | , , , | 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 | Travel | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Great Northern Metro

Govia Thameslink Railway have just announced their proposals to create a Great Northern Metro.

This was something I speculated about in A North London Metro.

GTR’s Proposals

This document on their web site gives these outline proposals.

  • 2018 timetable will provide new connections and increase capacity.
  • More frequent trains to provide a ‘true’ metro service.
  • New air-conditioned trains from 2018.

It looks like I got those right

These are other proposals.

14 Trains Per Hour To/From Moorgate in The High Peak

Currently, a maximum of 12 trains per hour (tph) can get in and out from Moorgate station in the High Peak.

Raising it by two to 14 tph surprised me, but it says that they have found a way with the new trains to save time possibly by using better technology to change the voltage quicker at Drayton Park.

Effectively, the headway between trains is being reduced from five minutes to four and a half minutes.

One big advantage for people like me, who live close to a Southern station on the line, as I do with Essex Road station, is that going North in the morning rush and South in the evening rush, will be easy.

Services To/From Moorgate in The Off Peak

This is a summary of the changes in the Off Peak.

On the other hand, it appears there will now be no direct trains between Moorgate and Letchworth Garden City.

My local station is Essex Road and I regularly use the line to go North and South between Moorgate and Alexandra Palace.

Instead of a measly six tph, I’ll now be getting 10 tph all day, with 8 tph on Sundays.

I thought it would be four tph to Hertford North and Welwyn Garden City, so they’re actually going to do better than I thought they would.

An Eastward Shift In Services

The two branches used to be treated fairly equally with 3 tph on each.

But now it appears that Hertford North gets preference.

But then the East Coast Main Line will be getting Thameslink services.

  • 6 tph stopping at Finsbury Park
  • 0 tph stopping at Alexandra Palace
  • 2 tph stopping at Potters Bar
  • 2 tph stopping at Welwyn Garden City
  • 6 tph stopping at Stevenage

Note that these are very much a summary.

Problem! – Will Thameslink Stop At Alexandra Palace?

,I do hope that Thameslink services not stopping at Alexandra Palace, when they stop at places like Oakleigh Park is a typo.

Consider.

  • Alexandra Palace is the last station before the Hertford Loop Line splits from the East Coast Main Line.
  • Alexandra Palace has an attraction that passengers might want to visit.
  • Alexandra Palace station may well be served by Crossrail 2.

But most importantly, Alexandra Palace could have a cross-platform and/or same-platform interchange between Great Northern Metro services on both routes and Thameslink.

So it would be a good interchange for eighty-year-old Aunt Mabel going from Enfield Chase to Gatwick Airport with her suitacse full of presents for her grandchildren.

My Link To Thameslink Going North

I laid this out in My Links to Thameslink and I suspect from 2018, I’ll take bus to Essex Road station and then take the Great Northern Metro to Finsbury Park.

 

I don’t think I’ll be alone, in using the Great Northern Metro to get access to Thameslink to go North.

My Link To Thameslink Going South

I laid this out in My Links to Thameslink and I suspect from 2018, I accept what GTR offer or take the Essex Road and Finsbury Park route.

  • Highbury And Islington Station

But what would help everybody within a couple of miles or so of Highbury and Islington station, is to upgrade the station to the Twentieth Century.

  • Provide a second entrance on the North side of Highbury Corner roundabout, where there is a disused station entrance.
  • Provide a better connection between the Northbound and Southbound deep-level platforms.
  • Provide full step-free access to the deep-level platforms.
  • Improve the lighting and ambience in the deep-level platforms.

Talking to someone who works in the station and is obviously familiar with the tunnels, he felt, as I do, that there are fairly simple solutions to sorting out the deep-level platforms.

I would do the following.

  • Open up the second entrance.
  • Create a subway under Holloway Road.
  • Improve the walking routes and access to buses outside the station.
  • Put lift access from the new entrance to a passage that would  cross all four deep-level lines.
  • Provide step-free access from the cross-passage to the four deep-level lines.
  • Replace the stairs connecting the two Southbound platforms

Unfortunately, I suspect that the new road bridge over the railway in front of the station has probably been built without leaving space for the subway.

The Link To Crossrail

In Liverpool Street Crossrail Station Disentangled, I showed that changing between Crossrail and the Northern City Line at Moorgate could be easy.

Now that the service into Moorgate will be 10 tph all day, with 8 tph on Sundays, the line will become an important link to Crossrail for a large area of North London.

Consider.

  • The Piccadlly Line has no connection with Crossrail, so changing at Finsbury Park for Moorgate might be the quickest way to get to the new line.
  • The Victoria Line has no connection with Crossrail, but there is cross-platform interchange at Highbury and Islington with the Great Northern Metro.
  • The North London Line connects to the Greater London Metro at Highbury and Islington.

Taken together, the Piccadilly Line, Victoria Line and the Great London Metro, with help from more local transport methods like bikes and buses, will certainly improve the link to Crossrail for a large area of Enfield, Hackney, Haringey, Islington and Waltham Forest.

My only worry, is that as the Great Northern Metro gives such good access to Crossrail for such a wide area of London and South Hertfordshire, that the planned 10 tph into Moorgate all day, with 8 tph on Sundays, will be too low.

At least the improvements to the service are coming in around 2018, which would be before Crossrail opens in 2019.

Once Crossrail opens, I suspect, it will give me a better link to Thameslink, especially when I need to go South.

Conclusions

The service is a great improvement on the current one. But I predicted that!

The service is going to meet what I suspect,  GTR hope it will.

As an average punter on the Northern City route from Essex Road, I will get a lot more trains.

I shall certainly use Essex Road and Finsbury Park to get to Cambridge.

It’s a pity it doesn’t help to use Thameslink in the difficult direction to the South.

Related Posts

GTR’s 2018 Timetable Consultation

Liverpool Street Crossrail Station Disentangled

My Links To Thameslink

Thameslink To Rainham

 

September 19, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Could Passenger Services Be Run On The Canonbury Curve?

The Canonbury Curve is described like this in the Wikipedia entry for Canonbury station.

To the west of the station is the Canonbury curve, a freight-only connection through the Canonbury tunnel to the East Coast Main Line at Finsbury Park.

The curve is an electrified single-track.

This picture shows where the curve joins and leaves the North London Line.

The Canonbury Curve To The East Coast Main Line

The Canonbury Curve To The East Coast Main Line

I don’t know how much traffic uses the line, but I think it is only a few freight trains.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the track layout of the Canonbury Curve.

The Canonbury Curve

The Canonbury Curve

Note that it only has a connection to the North London Line, which is the more Northerly of the two pairs of lines. The East London Line is the other pair of lines and only carries third-rail electric services to Dalston Junction and on to the South.

In order for trains to go between Finsbury Park and the East London Line, there would need to some changes to Canonbury West Junction.

This Google Map shows Canonbury West Junction in detail.

Canonbury West Junction

Canonbury West Junction

The elliptical-shaped tower is an evacuation and vent shaft for the Channel Tunnel Rail Link.

There does seem to be space between the lines and I suspect that it would be possible to modify Canonbury West Junction.

The line is also visible as it passes by Drayton Park station to the South of Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium.

Drayton Park Station

Drayton Park Station

The line is the single track line to the right of the platform roof of the station. This image doesn’t show a true picture, as the line is at a higher level than the Northern City Line.

I think it is true to say, that there is quite a bit of space around Drayton Park station.

When the line gets to Finsbury Park station, the track seems to be extremely complicated, but I’m sure that it is possible to run a passenger train between Canonbury and Finsbury Park stations, as freight trains already make the journey.

A Second Thameslink Route Between Finsbury Park And East Croydon

I feel that a train service could be run between Finsbury Park and East Croydon stations via the Canonbury Curve and the East London Line.

It would require the appropriate political and commercial wills. Some track modifications would be needed.

In the next few sections, I will describe the various issues that will effect, whether such a service is created.

Objectives Of The Route

As a passenger from the East, I see the major objective is to link all those, who travel to and from London’s Eastern boroughs, like Bromley, Croydon, Greenwich, Hackney, Haringey, Lewisham, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest, with a better North-South railway.

But Govia Thameslink Railway, London Overground and Sadiq Khan may see things differently.

The East London Line may terminate in a decent purpose-built terminal at Highbury and Islington station, with these connections.

  • North London Line to the West.
  • Northern City services to the North.
  • Victoria Line services to the West End and four major stations.
  • Victoria Line to Waltham Forest.

But the termini in the South mean there is often a second change to get where you actually want to go.

  • Many passengers want to go to East Croydon station rather than West Croydon station.
  • There is no direct link to Thameslink, with all the extra destinations that would bring.
  • Getting to London Bridge, Gatwick Airport, Kent and the South Coast is not easy.

I’m not the only one who is unhappy, as there has been a petition to the London Assembley to get Thameslink to call at Norwood Junction.

I think a lot of the problems were caused by the following.

  • The East London Line was designed after Thameslink.
  • Thameslink designers thought the East London Line was a short route from Whitechapel to New Cross and New Cross Gate.
  • Thameslink is a National Rail project, whereas the East London Line is promoted by Transport for London.

On the other hand, East London does particularly well with two branches of Crossrail, so the connection to the East London Line at Whitechapel, will truly be a Jewel In The East.

Extending the East London Line to Finsbury Park in the North would give the following improvements.

  • Links to the Piccadilly and Victoria Lines
  • Links to Great Northern services to Hertford North, Welwyn Garden City, Letchworth Garden City and Cambridge
  • Links to Thameslink services to Peterborough and Cambridge.

Connecting to East Croydon in the South would also be valuable.

  • Links to Outer London suburban services to places like Epsom, Caterham and Oxted.
  • Links to Thameslink services going to Gatwick Airport, Brighton and the South Coast.
  • Links to London Tramlink across South London.

This connectivity at the North and South termini will not only make it better for those living in East London, but visitors and commuters needing to go to the area will find their journey much improved.

Now is the time to properly link Thameslkink and the East London Line to the benefit of users of both systems!

It could be the third line in London’s Crossrail/Thameslink network.

Advantages For Myself

I wouldn’t be being totally honest, if I didn’t point out my personal advantages of a Finsbury Park to East Croydon service.

I live within walking distance of Dalston Junction station and I would get single-change access to places like Brighton, Cambridge, Gatwick Airport and Peterborough.

But then so would the hundreds of thousands of people, who or work live near stations between Canonbury and Norwood Junction on the East London Line.

Thameslink, The Northern City Line And The Canonbury Curve

Thameslink, the Northern City Line to Moorgate and the line through the Canonbury Curve all come together at Finsbury Park station.

There would be opportunities to create a cross- and same-platform interchange between all three services.

I do think that the  Northern City Line will because of its important link to Crossrail at Moorgate grow into a high-capacity link between Crossrail, the City of London and Canary Wharf at its Southern end and Finsbury Park, North London and Hertfordshire at its Northern end.

Added together Thameslink and the Moorgate trains could create a 12 tph service up the East Coast Main Line, as far as Welwyn Garden City.

My thoughts on this line are laid out in A North London Metro.

How Many Trains Would Be Needed To Run A Service Between Finsbury Park And East Croydon?

As things stand the current Class 717 trains, that have been ordered for the Northern City Line, couldn’t work the route, as the route is only able to accept five-car trains, but it could probably be run by the following.

Current timings on the various sections are.

  • Finsbury Park to Highbury and Islington – 4 minutes – Great Northern
  • Highbury and Islington to New Cross Gate – 26 minutes – London Overground
  • New Cross Gate to East Croydon – 22 minutes – Southern

So this would give a timing of 52 minutes, which could probably be beaten by a direct modern train, that could change current collection on the fly and took the Canonbury Curve short cut.

Any time around fifty minutes, would mean that a train could do the round trip in two hours and that eight trains being needed to run a 4 tph service.

The Design Of An Ideal Terminus

The branches of the East London Line at Clapham Junction, Crystal Palace, Dalston Junction, Highbury and Islington and New Cross end in their own dedicated bay platforms. At West Croydon, a reversing siding is used, as I wrote about in The Bay Platform And The Reversing Siding At West Croydon.

As rarely do any operational problems surface, I feel that a single platform or reversing siding would be sufficient for a route, that is not much longer than Highbury and Islington to West Croydon.

Passengers would also require.

  • Decent step-free interchange between services.
  • Lots of useful connecting trains and buses.
  • Shops, kiosks and cafes.
  • An attraction like a market, museum, shopping centre or an entertainment venue.

Perhaps even a place to sit in the sun, like the park at Crystal  Palace or Dalston Square at Dalston Junction.

Looking at this, what idiot thought about using the dreadfully dreary and totally useless West Croydon?

An interesting concept is that the last two or three stations are used as a joint terminus, to give passengers more choice of onward routes, either by foot or by train, tram or bus.

You have Cannon Street, which is the actual terminus, but all services will also stop at London Bridge, when Thameslink is complete.

Other pairs include.

  • Liverpool Street and Stratford
  • Charing Cross, Waterloo East and London Bridge
  • Edinburgh Waverley and Edinburgh Haymarket
  • Birmingham New Street and Birmingham International
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Oxford Road.
  • Highbury and Islington and Dalston Junction

Some have been purposely designed that way, whilst others have just happened.

In the case of choosing the two termini for the Finsbury Park to East Croydon route, they must be within a time that allows the train operator to to use a sensible operating policy to run trains.

It looks like, that if the trip time is fifty minutes or less, that is ideal, as the round trip can be two hours. But even if it’s a few minutes longer, you just add another train into the fleet and work on a two hours fifteen minutes cycle say.

The Northern Terminus

In this example, I have used Finsbury Park station as a Northern Terminus, but I think that as long as Finsbury Park is served by the route, a station to the North could be used instead.

A few thoughts.

  • Using Drayton Park could mean an extra change for passengers.
  • Crossrail 2 could be coming to New Southgate and/or Alexandra Palace in the future
  • A terminus North of where the Hertford Loop Line joins the East Coast Main Line might be confusing and/or annoying for passengers.
  • There needs to be space for an elegant solution to the step-free change of train.

I think there are two main possibilities; Finsbury Park and Alexandra Palace.

In some ways, Alexandra Palace would work better as there is more space.

In Could A Reversing Siding Be Built At Alexandra Palace?, I examined the possibility of building a reversing siding at Alexandra Palace station.

I came to the conclusion that it is feasible and also found out that one already exists at Bowes Park station.

So a train reversing at the Northern end of the new route would go through the following procedure.

  • The train from the South, would arrive at a down interchange platform in Finsbury Park, where all down Thameslink and local services call, probably with Main Line services on one platform face and Hertford Loop Line services on the other.
  • Reversing trains would probably use the Hertford Loop Line platform.
  • After discharging passengers, it would proceed to the down Hertford Loop Line platform 4 at Alexandra Palace.
  • Any passengers still left, would leave the station or catch another train.
  • The train would then proceed to the reversing siding between the two lines of the Hertford Loop Line.
  • The train would then start its return journey in the up Hertford Loop Line platform 1 or 2 at Alexandra Palace.
  • The train would then return to Finsbury Park.
  • It would call in the up interchange platform, before continuing on its way.

Effectively, the route would have a two station terminus with interchange to other trains at both Finsbury Park and Alexandra Palace, with train reversing at the latter.

Note.

  • As a maximum of six tph will be using the Hertford Loop line, there is plenty of spare capacity to fit in another four trains.
  • Reversing sidings are always useful when there are problems like failed trains or blockades.
  • It could be used by Northern City services to Moorgate.
  • If it could take an eight-car Class 700 train, it might have uses for Thameslink.

It is one of those small lengths of railway, that if it were properly designed could have a lot more uses than is obvious.

I am also actually surprised that as the space is there between the tracks of the Hertford Loop Line, that it hasn’t been used for something productive before.

The Southern Terminus

Just as the Northern end of the route must serve Finsbury Park, the Southern end must serve East Croydon, as so many services call at the station.

  • Thameslink
  • Gatwick Express
  • Southern services all over the South.
  • Tramlink

Another possibility would be to perhaps have a dedicated bay platform at South Croydon station, with services calling at East Croydon before reversing in a dedicated bay platform or a reversing siding at South Croydon.

South Croydon station also has form as a past Southern terminus for the West London Line route to Milton Keynes Central.

This Google Map shows the South Croydon station and the area immediately to the South.

South Croydon Station

South Croydon Station

At a quick look, it would appear that fitting a bay platform into the Northern end of the station could be difficult.

But, there could be space in the tangle of lines South of the station to create a reversing siding.

There’s certainly more space than there is at East Croydon.

Perhaps, if the station was to be properly sorted as a Southern terminus for the East London Line, it could also become the terminus for an uprated service on the West London Line to the West Coast Main Line.

Drayton Park Station

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines through Drayton Park station.

Drayton Park Station

Drayton Park Station

The lines either side of the island platform are the two tracks of the Northern City Line to Moorgate.

The line on the right in the map, links Finsbury Park station to the Canonbury Curve through the Canonbury Tunnel. This line is at a higher level, as this picture taken looking South along the platform at Drayton Park station shows.

Drayton Park Station

Drayton Park Station

The line is behind the retaining wall at the left. It’s position is betrayed by the overhead wires visible in the picture.

If a platform was to be put on this connecting line at Drayton Park, it would not be simple.

But help could be at hand!

In the map of the tracks at the station, there is a disused track labelled Depot. There is quite a large area of land around the station and any housing built on the site, should surely incorporate a new station underneath, with provision for a platform on the connecting line.

It would be a disaster, if housing was built all over the Drayton Park station site, without leaving provision for a station on the Canonbury to Finsbury Park Line.

The Canonbury Curve

As I pointed out earlier, the Canonbury Curve would need modification to enable trains to get between Finsbury Park and Canonbury stations.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the Overground through Canonbury and the two Dalston stations.

North And East London Lines Through Canonbury And Dalston

North And East London Lines Through Canonbury And Dalston

The various East-West tracks through the area from North to South are.

  • The Eastbound North London Line to Stratford
  • The Westbound North London Line to Highbury and Islington and Richmond.
  • The Southbound East London Line to Dalston Junction and Croydon
  • The Northbound East London Line to Highbury and Islington

A Finsbury Park to Dalston Junction service would do something like the following.

  • Take the Canonbury Curve to the Eastbound North London Line.
  • Stop in Plstform 4 at Canonbury station.
  • Cross over to the Southbound East London Line using two new crossings.
  • Continue South after stopping in Platform 4 at Dalston Junction station.

A service going the other way would do something like the following.

  • Call in Platform 1 at Dalston Junction station.
  • Cross over to the Westbound North London Line using two new crossings. (One would probably be used both ways.)
  • Stop in Platform 3 at Canonbury station.
  • After leaving Canonbury station take the existing crossover to the Eastbund North London Line.
  • Take the Canonbury Curve to Finsbury Park station.

I don’t know whether my route would be possible, but I’m sure that an expert at Network Rail could come up with a workable and very safe solution.

At least there are factors that help.

  • The line has been rebuilt in the last few years, so it must be well-documented.
  • There are a lot of crossovers South of Dalston Junction station.
  • The signalling is capable of handling bi-directional running.

But the most important factor is that to the East of the former Mildmay Park station, there is space for more track, as it would sappear there was an island platform between the pairs of lines. It is actually shown on the map of the lines through Canonbury and Dalston, earlier in this section.

These are some pictures of the lines between the Canonbury Curve and Mildmay Park.

I was really surprised to see how much space there is between Dalston and Highbury and Islington and I don’t believe it would be an impossible task to create a route between Dalston Junction and Finsbury Park stations via the Canonbury Curve.

I think the biggest problem could be where to switch from the third-rail electrification of the East London Line to the overhead electrification of the North London Line and the Canonbury Curve.

One of the solutions would be to use trains with on-board energy storage and they would automatically deploy pantograph or pick-up shoe, once they were on the electrified sections.

Six-Car Trains On The East London Line

Over the years there have been mixed messages about whether six-car trains will ever run on the East London Line.

The problems of lengthening some of the platforms at stations like Shadwell, Wapping and Rotherhithe mean that the current five-car trains need to use selective door opening.

But as this is probably the only problem to running longer trains, I suspect that running six-car Class 378 trains through the Thames Tunnel, is still an option to increase capacity on the East London Line.

So if six-car Class 378 trains with selective door opening can run from Dalston Junction to Surrey Quays and several stations in the South, surely six-car Class 717 trains could do the same, if they had selective door opening fitted.

As both trains are walk-through trains, selective door opening is not a great inconvenience to passengers, as with comprehensive information on the train, the passengers move to doors that open.

I can’t see any reason, why with a few simple modifications, Great Northern’s Class 717 trains could not use the East London Line to connect North and South London.

Frequency Between Finsbury Park And East Croydon

London Overground’s services on the East London Line and some other lines is based on the rule of four.

If you provide at least four tph, then passengers will turn up and go.

So there must be at least four trains between Finsbury Park and Croydon in both directions in every hour.

The upper limit to the frequency would probably be determined by two main questions.

  • How many trains could negotiate through the Canonbury Curve and Canonbury station in an hour?
  • How many spare paths exist through the Thames Tunnel?

The question also has to be asked if four tph were going to East Croydon, do four tph still need to go to West Croydon?

I think all this will mean that the probable frequency will be four tph.

Alternative Routes

I have been parochial and have concentrated on the core service between Finsbury Park and East Croydon, which would be of the greatest benefits to those like me, who live on the current East London Line.

But if trains can work the route profitably, why does there have to be a limit of where they can go?

Possible termini in the North include all of the current ones used as termini by services into Moorgate.

  • Alexandra Palace
  • Gordon Hill
  • Hertford North
  • Letchworth Garden City
  • Welwyn Garden City

I have added Alexandra Palace, as it could have a reversing siding and could be invaluable in maintaining the stability of the service. It is also the last station on the route, that serves both Northern branches.

In the South, the possible termini include the following.

  • Caterham, which was a Thameslink possible and has now been discarded.
  • Gatwick Airport, because it likes to have its fingers in everything.
  • Purley, because Southern are using it as a station to split Caterham and Tattenham Corner services.
  • South Croydon, because it has form and is in a convenient location.
  • Tattenham Corner, which was a Thameslink possible and has now been discarded.

I calculated the core time between Finsbury Park and East Croydon using these current journeys.

  • Finsbury Park to Highbury and Islington – 4 minutes – Great Northern
  • Highbury and Islington to New Cross Gate – 26 minutes – London Overground
  • New Cross Gate to East Croydon – 22 minutes – Southern

This gives a time of 52 minutes, between Finsbury Park and East Croydon which until proven otherwise is a good base time.

It is also the current scheduled time for London Overground’s Highbury and Islington to West Croydon service.

The following should be borne in mind.

  • New trains could shave a twenty seconds or so from each of the nineteen stops.
  • Cutting the corner using the Canonbury Curve should save time.
  • Modern trains would be able to change voltage quicker.

I would think that a sub-fifty minute time between Finsbury Park and East Croydon is possible.

The times between Finsbury Park and my possible Northern termini are.

  • Alexandra Palace – 7 minutes
  • Gordon Hill – 21 minutes
  • Hertford North – 37 minutes
  • Letchworth Garden City – 62 minutes
  • Welwyn Garden City – 20 minutes

And those between East Croydon and possible Southern termini are.

  • Caterham – 25 minutes
  • Gatwick Airport – 15 minutes
  • Purley – 6-9 minutes
  • South Croydon – 3 minutes
  • Tattenham Corner – 33 minutes

When linked to passenger statistics and the capacity on the various routes, I suspect that some routes could be shown to be a lot better than others.

Conclusions

If the following projects can be successfully delivered.

  • A suitable Northern terminal platform or other arrangement.
  • A suitable Southern terminal platform or other arrangement.
  • An updated Canonbury Curve to connect the East London Line to Finsbury Park station.
  • The procurement of suitable dual-voltage trains.

I can see no reason why a train service from Finsbury Park to East Croydon couldn’t be successfully run via the Canonbury Curve.

It would give the following benefits.

  • Extra connectivity for those going to and from stations between Finsbury Park and East Croydon.
  • Better access to Canary Wharf, Dalston, Gatwick Airport and Shoreditch.
  • It would take some of the pressure off Moorgate services, if Crossrail loads them up.
  • Development of a quality Southern terminus, might enable a better service from East Croydon to Old Oak Common and the West Coast Main Line using the West London Line.

Perhaps though, the biggest benefit would be that more trains could be running on the East London Line, without needing extra platform capacity at the current termini.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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September 12, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Step-Free Interchanges In East London

This map from carto.metro.free,fr shows the lines around where I live, which can be best described as a post code of N1.

Lines Around N1

Lines Around N1

I live halfway on the diagonal line between Dalston Kingsland and Essex Road stations. Years ago, there used to be a station at Mildmay Park, between Dalston Kingsland and Csnonbury, which if it still existed would be very useful for me, as it would be about a hundred and fifty metres away.

So my journeys often start from one of the half dozen bus routes, that have stops within fifty metres or so of where I live.

  • I’ll take a 38, 30, 56 or 277 to Dalston Kingsland or Dalston Junction stations for the North London Line and East London Line respectively.
  • I’ll take a 141 to Manor House station for the Piccadilly Line.
  • I’ll take a 38 or 56 bus to Essex Road station for the Northern City Line
  • I’ll take a 38 or 56 bus to Angel station for the Northern Line.
  • I’ll take a 21 or 141 bus to Moorgate for the Metropolitan and Circle Lines
  • I’ll take a 21 or 141 bus to London Bridge for main line trains.
  • I’ll take a 21 or 141 bus to Bank for the Central and Waterloo and City Lines
  • I’ll take a 56 bus to St. Paul’s for the Central Line
  • I’ll take 30 bus to Kings Cross, St. Pancras and Euston for main line trains.

Who said the three most important things when buying a house, are location, location and location?

Strangely, I rarely go directly to Highbury and Islington station, as the station is one of the worst in London for passenger convenience, with long and crowded tunnels and no step-free access to the deep tunnels.

If I need to go North on the Victoria Line, I will sometimes go to Essex Road and then take the Northern City Line for one stop to Highbury and Islington station, where there is a step-free level interchange to the Victoria Line.

There are several of these interchanges in East London, making train and tube travel easier.

Northern City And Victoria Lines At Highbury And Islington Station

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

HighburyAndIslingtonLines

Note how the two Northbound lines and the two Southbound lines of the Victoria and Northern City Lines are paired, so that passengers can just walk through one of several short tunnels that connect the two platforms.

This connection will get more important in the future, as improvements will bring more passengers through the interchange.

  • Highbuty and Islington station will be rebuilt, with access to the deep level platforms much improved.
  • If traffic said it was needed, the Southbound and Northbound deep-level platforms, which are not far apart might even be connected together and to a second entrance on the other side of Holloway Road.
  • The Northern City Line is getting new Class 717 trains, which will give an increase in capacity and I believe that the frequency on the Northern City Line will improve to 6, 8 or even 10 trains per hour (tph), thus making my ducking and diving easier.
  • The Northern City Line will connect to Crossrail and for the first time N1 to lots of places, will be one change at Moorgate from the Northern City Line to Crossrail.
  • The Victoria Line will increase in frequency to possibly 40 tph and benefit from station improvements at stations like Tottenham Hale, Blackhorse Road and Walthamstow Central.

It should also be noted how the Crossrail connection at Moorgate will help me.

When going to football at Ipswich, I may walk to Essex Road and then get a train to Moorgate, where I will take Crossrail to perhaps Shenfield for a fast train to Ipswich.

But who knows what I’ll do, as there will be several different routes, all of which will have their advantages?

East London Line To North London Line At Highbury And Islington Station

This is only from the East London Line trains arriving from West Croydon in Platform 2 at Highbury and Islington station to Westbound trains on the North London Line in Platform 7.

Although not as powerful as the double interchange at Highbury and Islington station between the Victoria and Northern City Lines, it is typical of well-thought out connections all over the Overground.

Piccadilly And Victoria Lines At Finsbury Park Station

This is a cross-platform interchange, that is heavily used as effectively it gives a simple choice of route through Central London for passengers from the Northern ends of the Piccadilly and Northern Lines. It’s a pity that the interchange between the two lines at Kings Cross St Pancras and Green Park aren’t as simple.

Metropolitan/District And Central Lines At Mile End Station

This picture gives a flavour of the interchange at Mile End station.

Cross-Platform Interchange At Mile End Station

Cross-Platform Interchange At Mile End Station

It is a cross-platform interchange, that I use more and more, to go to the East on the Central Line. I usually arrive on a Metropolitan/District Line train from Whitechapel station, which is just a few stops down the East London Line.

Central Line And Shenfield Metro/Crossrail At Stratford Station

This interchange at Stratford station is going to be an integral part of Crossrail, as it will firmly connect the new line to the Central Line, with advantages to both.

This picture shows the interchange on the Eastbound platform.

Central Line To Shenfield Metro/Crossrail Interchange

Central Line To Shenfield Metro/Crossrail Interchange

This interchange is certainly well-used and Crossrail will only increase that use.

Why Is This Not Done More Often?

These interchanges seem to work well!

But what always puzzles me, is why this layout is not used more often. And I don’t just mean in London. In all my travels, I can’t remember getting off a train in Europe and just walking across the platform to get a metro or a tram.

I suspect it could be because to get this type of interchange, you need to build some expensive railway infrastructure.

All of the examples I have given concern where a new line is being added to an existing network.

I am surprised that Crossrail doesn’t use a similar interchange anywhere else on its route.

Look at the Crossrail stations I documented in How Are Crossrail’s Eastern Stations Progressing?

In all stations, the Crossrail and fast lines are in pairs, whereas to get Cross-platform interchange between fast and stopping services, probably needs a different layout. That is not the fault of Crossrail, but the way the Great Eastern Main Line was built decades ago.

At the London end of  the East Coast Main Line, the two slow lines are on either side of the two fast lines. At Stevenage, they have put two island platforms between the slow and fast lines, so that passengers have a cross-platform interchange between trains.

Stevenage Station

Stevenage Station

The Google Map clearly shows the layout.

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 5, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Stations For Inclined Lifts

After the superb installation at Greenford, I wonder if stations like these will get inclined lifts in their third space.

It would probably be dependent on the layout of the stations, but we’ll certainly see more.

Highbury and Islington station might be able to have a central inclined lift, but then to get to the platforms, there are further difficult stairs. If ever a station was built that would be difficult to provide step-free access, it is this one.

October 28, 2015 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Do Pedestrians Accept Their Lot?

I regularly get a 30 or 277 bus to Highbury and Islington station to get the Victoria Line and it has never been the most convenient walk from the stop, as you have to cross two busy roads on controlled crossings. Over the last few months, they have been rebuilding the bridge at the station, which means they’ve moved one crossing making the journey longer.

Do Pedestrians Accept Their Lot?

Do Pedestrians Accept Their Lot?

The picture shows the second crossing.

Pedestrians seem to be accepting the extra walk without complaint.

Hopefully, there’ll be light at the end of the tunnel, when the bridge is completed and the traffic is properly reorganised.

July 22, 2015 Posted by | Travel | , | Leave a comment

Sorting Out Highbury Corner And Highbury And Islington Station

Highbury Corner is an important transport hub in Islington, where traffic from the City starts to squeeze up the A1 to get North. It also contains the important but badly-designed rail station of Highbury and Islington. This Google Earth image shows the area.

Highbury Corner

Highbury Corner

Note the green space named as Highbury Island in the middle of the junction with traffic going all the way round in both directions.

The road leading off to the North West (top-left) is the A1, which goes up the Holloway Road to Archway, which is another major junction, that needs a good sorting. The road leading to the East is St. Paul’s Road, which leads to the Balls Pond Road and Dalston Junction. The roads leading to the south from the island are extremely congested at all times and all the way to the Angel and Old Street respectively. They are the sort of roads, that make me glad, I don’t drive any more.

The junction is a pedestrian’s nightmare, as you are constantly crossing busy roads on light-controlled crossings.

What I find particularly difficult is that to get from the stop where buses from my house arrive in St.Paul’s Road to Highbury and Islington station involves two road crossings. It’s so tiresome, that often if I need the Victoria or Northern City Line at the station, I’ll walk to Dalston Junction station and get the North London Line for two stops. Coming home, I’ll get the North London Line back to Dalston Junction and then get any of four buses back towards Highbury Corner to my house.

It’s not quicker, but it’s certainly easier and definitely more pleasant in bad weather.

This illustrates how bad Highbury Corner is for buses, which like the vehicle routes need a very good sorting.

Add to this that Highbury and Islington station is a dreadful 1960s station, that has inadequate access to the two deep lines. To be fair though, access to the four London Overground platforms is a lot better. I have written before that there could also be access to these platforms from the other end, but that may well happen, when a new station is developed.

At the present time, work is ongoing to clear the area in front of the station, by removing the old Post Office, before the main bridge that carries the A1 over the railway is replaced.

In July 2004, Islington Council produced a planning framework for the area. It is packed full of information and some worthwhile proposals.

It suggests the following.

1. Giving public access to Highbury Island and turning it into a green oasis with facilities.

2. Proposals to simplify the traffic flows, with a strong hint, that traffic on the Western side of the Highbury island be closed off.

3. In the rebuilding of the station, it says that building could incorporate extensive development over the North London Line tracks for residential or other purposes.

4. Using the old Highbury and Islington station on the North side of the junction to create a new access for escalators and lifts to the lines deep under the station.

The report also told me, the purpose of the strange elliptical building on the north side of the North London Line, which is at the top-right of the Google image. It’s the vent shaft for the Channel Tunnel Rail Link.

Hopefully, in the next few years, we’ll see the sorting out of the area.

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April 12, 2015 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment