The Anonymous Widower

The Bank Station Upgrade And The Western Extension Of The DLR

This map from Transport for London (TfL), shows the possible Western extension of the Docklands Light Railway (DLR).

With all the problems of the funding of Crossrail 2, that I wrote about in Crossrail 2 Review Prompts Fresh Delays, could this extension of the DLR, be a good idea?

If you look at the Bank Station Upgrade in detail, the DLR gets a much needed boost in the upgrade.

The two DLR platforms underneath the Northern Line get a triple-escalator connection to the Northern Line level, from where they have the following.

  • Level access to the Northern Line.
  • Escalator access to the Cannon Street entrance.
  • Travelator/escalator access to the Central Line.
  • Access to the current escalators and lifts to the various entrances around Bank Junction.

There will also be lifts everywhere.

According to Services in the Wikipedia entry for the DLR, the following services turn at Bank station.

  • 22.5 trains per hour (tph) in the Peak.
  • 18 tph in the Off Peak.

So the turnback is handling a train around every three minutes.

I have no idea, what is the maximum frequency of the DLR, but as it is an automated system, with new trains to be delivered in the next few years, I suspect the frequency will be pushed higher in the future.

The Bank Station Upgrade has been designed to handle more passengers using the DLR, so there should be no problem about handling more passengers in the two platforms deep in Bank station.

The limiting factor would more likely be in the turnback.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr, shows the DLR lines at Bank station.

Note the turnback for the DLR, under the Central Line platforms 5/6, running alongside the Northern Line.

  • Trains stop in the arrivals platform 10 at Bank station and unload all passengers.
  • They then move to the turnback and the automation then switches to the other end.
  • They then move to the departures platform 9 to pick up passengers.

It is an inefficient way to turn trains. A through station at Bank would have a much greater capacity.

If you look at the map of the proposed Western extension, it has two branches which join and split at City Thameslink station.

  • Charing Cross, Green Park and Victoria.
  • Holborn, Euston and St. Pancras

It should be noted that the two-platform terminal station at Lewisham currently handles upwards of 20 tph in the Peak.

This would mean that if both Western branches had a two-platform terminus, then there could be a theoretical total of forty tph through Bank station.

If Dear Old Vicky can manage thirty-six tph with ten year-old-trains and less automation, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the DLR manage the magic forty tph, with twenty tph on each branch.

Obviously, though there would be other considerations and capacity limits, but I can see a big increase in the numbers of passengers using the DLR.

I would expect that the improvement to the DLR access being added in the Bank Station Upgrade must have been designed to handle the highest number of DLR trains and passengers that anybody can practically envisage.

It should also be noted that the DLR station is below the Northern Line and the turnback siding, which is shown in the map of the lines, will be well out of the way of the new Northern Line and travelator tunnels.

The map of the Western DLR Western Extension,  also shows the extension going West away from the Northern Line tunnels. This would mean it would comfortably  pass underneath the new Southbound Northern Line tunnel.

It therefor looks to me, that the Bank Station Upgrade is very much preparing Bank station for the DLR Western Extension to be built.

So will the DLR Western Extension be constructed?

Why Is It Needed?

Various reasons Have been given.

Better Connection To The Docklands Light Railway for Commuters From The South

The DLR Western Extension will connect to commuter routes at the following stations.

  • Charing Cross
  • City Thameslink
  • Victoria

This should help commuters get to the City and the business areas of East London.

Another Direct Connection Between East London And West Central London

It will also help travellers get betweenEast London and West Cerntral London without changing or using the overcrowded Victoria Line.

A few points.

  1. c2c commuters would also be able to change at Limehouse station to trains going further than Bank station.
  2. It would help me get to places South of Crossrail and Victoria becomes much easier.
  3. Access to Thameslink from the East will be improved, if you’re not near a Crossrail station.
  4. New housing in the East will get the transport links it needs.

East London has a great need for the DLR Western Extension.

Increase The Number Of Trains Serving Bank Station

The Mayor wants to extend the DLR to Abbey Wood and Thamesmead in the South East.

This will mean that extra capacity is needed in the West to turn the trains.

The DLR Western Extension and the Bank Station Upgrade seems a pretty good way to obtain this much-needed capacity.

The People Mover Between High Speed One, High Speed Two, West Coast Main Line And The East Coast Main Line

Proposals exist for a high capacity people mover between High Speed One at St. Pancras and High Speed Two at Euston.

The DLR Western Extension will accept this challenge and do it superbly and could even have connections to the East Coast Main Line.

Take The Pressure Off The Northern Line

Consider.

  • The Northern Line connects Euston and Bank stations via Kings Cross St. Pancras.
  • The Northern Line is supposed to take ten minutes.
  • The route is overcrowded and it is impossible to get a seat, for most of the day.
  • When High Speed Two opens in 2026, more travellers will want to travel to and from the City.

The DLR Western Extension could give as many as twenty tph on the following route.

  • St. Pancras
  • Euston
  • Holborn
  • City Thameslink
  • Bank

With the new DLR trains and the full automation of the DLR, the route will certainly outperform the Northern Line and possibly a black cab, driven  by Lewis Hamilton.

Improve Capacity Between Victoria And The City

Just as the DLR Western Extension will improve the route between Euston and the City of London, the other branch will improve the route between Victoria and the City

I’ve taken a District Line train from .Whitechapel to Victoria station and there are better ways to enjoy yourself.

It’s The Poor People’s Crossrail 2

Crossrail 2 with its mega station at Euston/Kings Cross/St. Pancras will give North-East London much better access to National Rail services going North.

To get to any of these stations now, I have to take a bus to either Angel or Moorgate stations and then get a tube.

I used to be able to get a bus to Highbury & Islington station, but the Mayor from South London has halved the service, so I don’t bother to wait fifteen minutes for a bus and go via Angel.

If the DLR Western Extension were to be opened, I’d get an Overground train to Shadwell station and change to the required route.

Agility – The DLR Advantage

I must say something about the big advantage of the DLR.

The trains have the ability to twist, turn and climb gradients, that a conventional train would find impossible.

This means that the tracks can be threaded through places, where heavy rail just can’t go!

Tunnels

The DLR tunnels and platforms at Bank station are the deepest in London. This article in the Telegraph says this about the deepest station in Central London.

It is the DLR concourse at Bank, which is 41.4 metres below.

Crossrail’s depth by comparison is described in this page on the Crossrail web site like this.

A network of new rail tunnels have been built by eight giant tunnel boring machines, to carry Crossrail’s trains eastbound and westbound. Each tunnel is 21 kilometres/13 miles long, 6.2 metres in diameter and up to 40 metres below ground.

The DLR Western Extension tunnels would cross Crossrail close to Holborn station, so they would probably need to go below Crossrail at this point.

Designing the route of the tunnels is probably the easy part, as construction will be much harder and will take a lot of planning.

Consider, the places for construction sites, where a tunnel boring machine (TBM) could be inserted or the spoil could be taken out.

  • Bank, St. Pancras and Victoria stations are very crowded places, with most of the land already built on.
  • There are the Royal Parks and London’s leafy squares, on the route.
  • This article on IanVisits describes the railway sidings under Smithfield Meat Market, which could be somewhere to start digging. Could spoil be taken out at night by train on Thameslink?
  • As Holborn station is getting a second entrance, this could also be a key site in the construction of the tunnels.

The tunnellers might use the techniques employed in the Bank Station Upgrade, where the tunnel was dug without a TBM and spoil was taken out by truck. But the tunnels for the DLR Western Extension will be much larger.

Stations

It is worth looking at the stations on the route.

Charing Cross

Charing Cross station has been rebuilt in recent decades and still has the two former Jubilee Line platforms in working order, that might be able to be reused.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines around Charing Cross station.

Note.

  1. The old Jubilee Line tunnels go through the platforms.
  2. They are long enough to hold two trains.
  3. The tunnels would have to be enlarged to fit the larger DLR trains.

As these platforms and tunnels were built to be extended on a route not unlike that of the DLR extension, I suspect TfL have ideas about how this station could be rebuilt to be part of the Western DLR extension.

City Thameslink

– City Thameslink station is a reasonably-modern, one-line double-ended step-free station.

The DLR Extension would cross the station at right-angles, deep below Thameslink.

Euston

Euston station is being rebuilt for HS2 and the Underground station will be extensively improved.

I would be very surprised, if the new station, has been designed without a feasible place for DLR platforms to be added.

Green Park

Green Park station has been updated several times and I suspect that TfL have ideas about how the station could be served by the extension.

Holborn

Holborn station is being extended with a new entrance. As with Euston, I suspect it has been designed with a feasible place for DLR platforms to be added.

This document on the TfL web site, gives more details of what is proposed at Holborn station.

I extracted this visualisation of the proposed station.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines in the through and around the station.

.Note, Crossrail, which is shown by dotted lines passes to the North of the station.

This diagram from Crossrail shows a depth profile of the tunnels between Farringdon and Bond Street stations.

Note.

  1. The blue dot indicating the Piccadilly Line.
  2. The red dot indicating the Central Line

These two lines are close to Holborn station.

I would feel that the DLR Western Extension could be accommodated in the lower level of the updated station. If required, it could use the DLR’s agility to use a route, no normal railway could.

St. Pancras

St. Pancras station is virtually a new station, so at least, the surveys and drawings are up-to-date. This might make designing two platforms below the current complex a bit easier.

Although, actually building them might be more difficult.

Victoria

The Underground station has been substantially remodelled and rebuilding of the National Rail station is in the pipeline.

Plans are also being drawn up, as to how this station will connect to Crossrail 2.

Hopefully, they’ve taken the DLR Extension into account.

Should There Be Any Other Stations?

The DLR Western Extension must be built, so that if required, the two new branches can be extended.

Extending From St. Pancras

One article, I’ve read, says that this branch should be extended to Camden Town.

In Maiden Lane And York Road Stations, I suggested that it should be extended to these two former stations. I said this.

But why stop at S. Pancras? The DLR could be extended under Kings Cross station, stopping where required to finish at York Road station.

  • Only the building would be used.
  • There would be no connection to the Piccadilly Line.
  • The Docklands Light Railway tunnels would be several metres down to travel under buildings and the stations.
  • An underground passage could be built to a reopened Maiden Lane station.

A worthwhile use would have been found for an iconic building and Kings Cross Central would have much better public transport connections.

Given that over the next few years, there will be a large increase in capacity on the North London Line through Maiden Lane station, this could be a very important extension.

Extending further in the future from York Road would be enabled. Next stop Finsbury Park?

Or would it be better to create a connection to the Piccadilly Line at the combined York Road/Maiden Lane station complex?

Extending From Victoria

Obviously, if the Victoria Branch could be extended to Waterloo, this would be an ideal solution.

I would look at the possibility of having a very easy interchange between the Victoria Line and the DLR at Victoria.

Cross-platform interchange would probably be difficult, but if the DLR platforms were under those of the Victoria Line, I would feel a fast step-free interchange could be designed.

This would effectively mean that the Victoria Line would be a virtual extension to the Victoria Branch of the DLR Western Extension.

A Connection To Crossrail

Surely, the DLR Western Extension should connect to Crossrail. Especially, as it connects to Thameslink!

Conclusion

Build the DLR Western Extension!

Why?

  • It will add capacity between Euston and the City.
  • It will add capacity between Victoria and the City
  • It will unlock capacity at Bank and allow more services to the East.

It is the poor people’s Crossrail 2

It won’t be built though!

  • East London isn’t a priority and it’s where the scum and great unwashed live.
  • It doesn’t do much for South and West London, where important people live.
  • The North of England will object, as it’s another London project!

But I’m hoping that it will be built, as it will transform the lives of many who live in the East and/or rely on the DLR.

In 2010, I wrote Cinderella Will Take You to the Ball!, where I was looking forward to the Olympics.

After the Olympics, I was told by a Senior Manager of the DLR, whilst riding on a DLR train, that the system had performed magnificently at the Games and carried more passengers than everybody expected it would!

There certainly weren’t any complaints.

But I did find this article on Rail Magazine, which is entitled The Secret Of Serco’s Success.

This is the first two paragraphs.

In January 2013 Serco was awarded an 18-month contract extension to operate the Docklands Light Railway, one of the most reliable train services in the UK.

This extension (to September 2014) to the original seven-year franchise rewarded a remarkable performance in 2012, a performance that was also a principal reason for National Rail Awards judges awarding Serco Docklands the City & Metro Operator of the Year accolade.

So they got a Gold Medal too!

This is said about their performance during the year.

Almost 12 million passengers were carried during the entire Games period, and during the busiest times, passenger numbers reached more than double the normal level. Numbers peaked at around 500,000 passengers in a single day, over 125,000 more than DLR’s previous record. And yet, despite all that extra pressure, 2012 was DLR’s most reliable year ever.

Sexy the DLR is not, but like the character I name her after, this light railway, works incredibly hard and to a high standard!

It is a true heavyweight amongst urban transport systems.

Perhaps we should abandon Crossrail 2 and just extend the Docklands Light Railway?

 

 

December 2, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Updating The Central Line

The Central Line will breathe two huge sighs of relief in the next eighteen months.

  • The Elizabeth Line will open between Abbey Wood and Paddington stations in December 2018.
  • The Elizabeth Line will open between Shenfield and Paddington stations in May 2019.

Travellers, from London, other parts of the UK and abroad will then have the following.

  • Five  East-West interconnected routes across Central London; Metropolitan, Central, Elizabeth, District and Jubilee Lines.
  • Massive transport interchanges at Canary Wharf, Stratford, Whitechapel, Liverpool Street, Farringdon, Tottenham Court Road, Bond Street and Paddington will tie it all together.
  • Liverpool Street. Whitechapel and Stratford will allocate passengers in the East of Central London.
  • Paddington will allocate passengers in the West of Central London.

And this is before the Elizabeth Line opens between Paddington and all stations to Heathrow and Reading in December 2019.

The Central Line After the Elizabeth Line Opens

So will the Central Line become a little-used backwater?

  • Holborn is a major interchange with the Piccadilly Line, which is that line’s only access to the Central or Elizabeth Lines.
  • Oxford Circus is a major interchange with the Victoria  Line, which is that line’s only access to the Central or Elizabeth Lines.
  • Holborn, Oxford Circus, Marble Arch and other stations are destinations in their own right.
  • The overcrowding of the Central Line probably kept passengers away and after freeing up will they come back?

I suspect that in a few years time it will be as busy as it ever was!

Improving the Central Line

It is my view, and probably that of Transport for London, that improvements need to be made to the Central Line.

Three projects are underway.

The Central Line Train Upgrade

This article on Railway-news.com is untitled London Underground’s Central Line Trains Set For Upgrade.

Currently, the Central Line‘s 1992 Stock have DC motors, which will be replaced by more efficient AC motors  and a sophisticated control system.

The cost of the upgrade will be £112.1 million or about £1.3 million per train.

Transport for London are only making a reliability claim for the upgrade. Hopefully, if the trains are more reliable, then more can be in service. so can a higher frequency be run?

I also think in addition, the trains could possibly accelerate faster from stops, thus reducing the dwell times at stations and ultimately the journey times.

  • Epping to West Ruislip currently takes ninety minutes with 38 stops.
  • Ealing Broadway to Newbury Park takes sixty minutes with 24 stops.
  • Northolt to Loughton takes sixty-seven minutes with 28 stops.

Saving just ten seconds on each stop will reduce journey times by several minutes.

I suspect that Transport for London will rearrange the timetable to increase the service frequency from the current twenty-four trains per hour (tph).

It will be interesting to see what frequency of trains and journey times are achieved, when all the Central Line trains have been updated.

Bank Station Capacity Upgrade

This page on the Transport for London web site gives details of this important upgrade at Bank station, which is already underway. It starts with this paragraph.

Bank and Monument stations form the third busiest interchange on the London Underground network. Work we’re doing to substantially improve the capacity of Bank station should finish in 2022.

It lists these improvements.

  • A new railway tunnel and platform for the Northern line that will reduce interchange times and create more space for passengers
  • Step-free access to the Northern line and DLR platforms
  • More direct routes within the station, with two new moving walkways
  • Two new lifts and 12 new escalators
  • A new station entrance in Cannon Street

There will also be a new entrance in Wallbrook Square under the Bloomberg Building, which is planned to open this year.

Comprehensive is a good word to describe the upgrade.

I avoid the Northern Line platforms at Bank because they are so narrow. After the upgrade, I will have no need.

Holborn Station Capacity Upgrade

This page on the Transport for London web site, gives details of this important upgrade at Holborn station. It starts with this paragraph.

We’re proposing changes at Holborn station that would make it substantially easier for customers to enter, exit and move around the station. Subject to funding and permissions, work on the station would start in the early 2020s.

I don’t think this upgrade can come too soon.

As with some parts of Bank station, I avoid Holborn station.

What Still Needs To Be Planned?

The major projects left must surely be upgrading the capacity and providing step-free access at the following Central London stations.

St. Paul’s And Chancery Lane

St. Paul’s and Chancery Lane stations both need step-free access, but the problems of installing lifts at the two stations would be surprisingly similar, as both stations have a similar layout.

  • Both stations will need lift access to the ticket halls, which are below street level.
  • At both stations, the two Central Line tracks are unusually arranged one on top of the other.
  • Even more unusually, the Westbound tunnel is on top at St. Paul’s and the Eastbound tunnel at Chancery Lane.
  • At both stations, escalators lead down to a spacious lobby, which has direct access to the top platform.
  • St. Paul’s has two escalators and a staircase, whereas Chancery Lane has three escalators.
  • From the low-level lobby, two short escalators and a staircase lead down to the bottom platform.

It may be possible to provide lifts that go from the ticket hall to both platforms as before rebuilding in the 1930s, this arrangement was used.

Both stations might also be suitable for the application of inclined lifts.

For instance, would two escalators and an inclined lift handle the lower transfer at both stations?

Oxford Circus

Oxford Circus is a busy interchange, where the Bakerloo, Central and Victoria Lines cross each other.

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

Note.

  1. The Cemtral Line, shown in red, was built under Oxford Street to avoid disturbing the buildings.
  2. The Bakerloo Line, shown in brown, was built under Regent Street.
  3. The Victoria Line, shown in light blue was cleverly threaded through in the 1960s to give cross-platform interchange with the Bakerloo Line.
  4. The dotted purple lines are the Elizabeth Line.
  5. Between the two dotted lines, the Eastern End of the platforms at Bond Street station can be seen.

These pictures show the buildings at the four corners of Oxford Circus.

Wikipedia says this about these buildings.

Oxford Circus was designed as part of the development of Regent Street by the architect John Nash in 1810. The four quadrants of the circus were designed by Sir Henry Tanner and constructed between 1913 and 1928.

Note.

  1. The building on the North-East corner used to be Peter Robinson and is Grade II Listed.
  2. The other three corner buildings are also Listed.
  3. The shops in the two Southern corners are being refurbished.

I believe that the following is needed at Oxford Circus station.

  • Measures to alleviate the overcrowding.
  • Full step-free access to all platforms.
  • Improved access to the Central Line platforms.
  • Better interchange between the Bakerloo/Victoria platforms and the Central Line.

In some ways, the biggest problem in the next few years will be passengers changing between the Victoria and Elizabeth Lines. Passengers between say Walthamstow and Heathrow will probably want to change between Oxford Circus station and the new Hanover Square entrance to Bond Street station.

  • The planned pedestrianisation of Oxford Street will obviously help, especially if the roads around Hanover Square, like Harewood Place and Princes Street are similarly treated.
  • Joining the Victoria Line at Oxford Circus is not a problem, as there are four entrances to the ticket hall under Oxford Circus, a large number of entrance gates and four escalators down to the trains.
  • But on arrival at the station, you are forced to exit from the station about fifty metres East of the station, which means you’re going the wrong way for the Elizabeth Line.

It strikes me what is needed is a new entrance to the station on the South Western corner of Oxford Circus.

But would this alone satisfy the needs of this station?

More Station Entrances On Oxford Street

For Crossrail, Bond Street station is being given two new entrances in Davies Street and Hanover Square.

But it is also being given another entrance on the North side of Oxford Street, to give better access to the Central and Jubilee Lines.

The picture shows the new entrance tucked away in what will probably become a new development.

So could this technique be used on Oxford Street to improve station access?

Look at the map of the lines at Oxford Circus station earlier in the post and you will notice that the Central Line platforms extend to the East. I took these pictures around where the platforms could end.

Could there be space to squeeze in another entrance to the Eastern end of the Central Line platforms?

It probably won’t be possible whilst traffic is running up and down Oxford Street. But after the road is pedestrianised, it would surely be much easier to dig down to the Central Line , which is not very deep below the surface of Oxford Street.

Marble Arch

Marble Arch station is at the Western end of Oxford Street. Wikipedia says this about the station.

The station was modernised (2010) resulting in new finishes in all areas of the station, apart from the retention of various of the decorative enamel panels at platform level.

But has it got the capacity needed?

It is also not step-free and needs lifts.

New Trains In The Mid 2020s

Under Future and Cancelled Plans in the Wikipedia entry for the Central Line, this is said.

The Central line was the first Underground line to receive a complete refurbishment in the early 1990s, including the introduction of new rolling stock. A new generation of deep-level tube trains, as well as signaling upgrades, is planned for the mid-2020s, starting with the Piccadilly line, followed by the Bakerloo Line and the Central Line.

The new trains would fit well to replace the current trains and give an increase of capacity to the line.

Possible Developments

These are possible developments.

Shoreditch High Street Station

There is a possibility of connecting Shoreditch High Street station to the Central Line.

This is said under Plans in the Wikipedia entry for the station.

There have also been discussions of creating an interchange with the Central line between Liverpool Street and Bethnal Green which runs almost underneath the station. However, this would not be able to happen until after the Crossrail 1 project is complete, due to extreme crowding on the Central line during peak hours.

Given that in a few years time, the following will have happened.

  • There will have been a lot of development in Shoreditch.
  • The East London Line will  have a frequency of twenty-four trains per hour.

The connection may be worth creating.

On the other hand, the Elizabeth Line may make the connection unnecessary, as travellers can use the two connections at Stratford and Whitechapel stations.

Mile End Station

If ever there was a station, where step-free access would surely be worthwhile it must be Mile End station.

Consider.

  • It is a busy station.
  • It has cross-platform access between District/Metropolitan and the Central Lines.
  • It has a cab rank.

Knowing the station fairly well, I suspect fitting the probably three lifts required would not be the most challenging of tasks.

Eastern Improvements

Crossrail has a step-free cross-platform interchange with the Central Line at Stratford, which will have the following effects.

Changing at Stratford will give better access to and from  Oxford Street, Paddington and Heathrow.

Crossrail trains will be larger, more comfortable, better equipped and probably less crowded.

Journey time savings will be six minutes to Bond Street and nineteen minutes to Ealing Broadway stations.

Taken with the improved Central Line trains, it all must result in increased patronage in the East.

But there are twenty stations East of Stratford, of which only four are step-free.

So I suspect that Transport for London will make strenuous efforts to improve the Eastern end of the Central Line.

  • More step-free access.
  • Better bus services.
  • More small retail outlets at stations.

I believe that in ten years time, the Eastern station will be very different.

Western Improvements

West of Marble Arch, there are seventeen stations, of which by 2020 only two will be step-free.; Ealing Broadway and Greenford.

Improvements will probably a similar pattern to the East, although there are rumours of rebuilding some stations.

Conclusion

There’s a lot of scope for improvement in the Central Line.

 

 

November 12, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment