The Anonymous Widower

Connecting Ebbsfleet International To South London

In the May 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, there is an article entitled Kent Capacity Constraints Highlighted.

The article says this.

The provision of a direct connection from Ebbsfleet to South London is proposed using the route from Swanley to Fawkham Junction, which was used by Eurostar services to Waterloo. Options include providing a new terminal platform at Ebbsfleet adjacent to the existing lines or a connection into the existing domestic platforms.

This Google Map shows the Chatham Main Line between Farningham Road and Longfield stations.


  1. The Chatham Main Line goes from West to East across the map.
  2. Fawkham Junction to the West of Longfield station.
  3. The rail line curves away North-Easterly to Ebbsfleet International station, using the same track-bed as the former Gravesend West Line.

This Google Map shows Ebbsfleet International station.


  1. HS1 runs North-South through the station.
  2. HighSpeed services to Thanet destinations use the line that runs across the map from North-West to East.
  3. HighSpeed services to Ashford Internationl station have their own separate platforms on HS1.

The local line into Ebbsfleet International station can be as simple or complicated as the budget will allow.

The simplest arrangement would be where a single track chord connects the Gravesend West Line into the space between the stations and its Eastern car parks.

This Google Map shows the station and the Gravesend West Line.

It almost looks like a good bit of space was left to connect Ebbsfleet International station to Fawkham Junction.

Train Services To Ebbsfleet

Southeastern and Thamesline are probably in pole position to provide services, as their services call at Swanley station which would be directly connected to Ebbsfleet International by the new link.

The most efficient solution would be a shuttle train or even a tram-train, at a frequency of four trains per hour.

But we shouldn’t forget Crossrail, that could be extended to Gravesend.

May 14, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Options For High Speed To Hastings

The May 2017 Edition of Modern Railways has an article entitled Kent Capacity Constraints Highlighted.

One sub-section is entitled High Speed To Hastings and it lists options as to how high-speed services could be run to Hastings via Ashford International station and the Marshlink Line.

Before I list the options, I’ll list a few facts and questions about the current service to Hastings, the various lines and stations.

Ashford International Station

This Google Map shows Ashford International station.

Note the Marshlink Line goes off the map to the East of the two small roundabouts at the bottom.

The biggest factor that needs to be considered is that some form flyover or dive-under may be needed so that trains can run between the Marshlink Line and the two platforms on the North side of the station, where Highspeed services to and from St. Pancras International call.

Will All Highspeed Services Using The Marshlink Line Stop At Ashford International Station?

Consider the following.

  • Passengers might like to go between places on the South Coast, like Hastings and Brighton, and Europe, by changing at Ashford International station
  • If a voltage change were needed, Ashford International station is already used for this purpose.

I would think it unlikely that services would not stop at Ashford International station.

Class 395 and Class 80x Trains

The Class 395 trains and the various forms of Class 800 trains are all members of Hitachi’s A-Train family.

The Class 395 trains have the following features.

  • Dual voltage
  • 6-car sets.
  • 140 mph on HS1
  • 100 mph on DC Lines
  • Automatic coupling and uncoupling.

The Class 800 and Class 802 trains have the following features.

  • Electro-diesel
  • 25 KVAC only.
  • 5- and 9-car sets.
  • 140 mph on HS1 (Stated in Modern Railways)
  • 100 mph on diesel power only.
  • Automatic coupling and uncoupling (assumed)

The only difference between Class 800 and Class 802 appears to be the size of the full tanks and manufacturing site.

I would think it unlikely, that Hitachi could not produce a Class 80x train with the following features.

  • Electro-diesel
  • Dual voltage
  • 6-car sets
  • 140 mph on HS1
  • 100 mph on diesel power only.
  • 100 mph on DC Lines

The trains could even have a Class 395 style interior.

Looking at the Class 395 and Class 80x trains, I suspect that these trains could be built, so that they could automatically couple and uncouple with each other.

This coupling ability would be important.

  • Hastings and Thanet services could couple and uncouple at Ashford International.
  • Class 80x trains could be used instead of Class 395 trains for operational reasons.
  • It would make it easier to rescue a stalled train.

There is also this document on the IEP Trains web site, which is entitled Technical & Build Specifications Of The IEP Trains, contains a lot of useful information.

  • Five-car electro-diesel trains have three power units.
  • Nine-car electro-diesel trains have five power units.
  • Electric trains have a small generator that can be used to slowly move a train stranded by overhead power failure to a safe place for passengers to disembark.

Nothing is said about batteries, but Hitachi have run battery trains in Japan.

I would be very surprised, if the A-train family was not designed, so that it could incorporate batteries, when the technology has been sufficiently developed

The Current London  To Hastings Timings

Fastest timings I can find are as follows.

  • London Cannon Street to Hastings – 1 hour 48 minutes
  • London Charing Cross to Hastings – 1 hour 51 minutes
  • London St. Pancras to Hastings – 1 hour 36 minutes, which a change at Ashford International
  • London Victoria – 2 hours 1 minute.

I think the surprising time is the one with a change at Ashford International.

It takes 37 minutes between St. Pancras and Ashford International and 40 minutes from Ashford International to Hastings, but passengers are allowed nineteen minutes to change trains.

Could Timings On The Marshlink Line Be Improved?

The Marshlink Line has a maximum operating speed of just 60 mph, whereas the East Coastway Line between Hastings and Brighton has an oiperating speed of 90 mph.

Other improvements are needed to improve the timings and oiperation of the line.

  • Removal of a couple of level crossings.
  • Provision of a passing loop at Rye.
  • Some platform lengthening to handle the longest trains that would use the line.

It doesn’t appear impossible to reduce St. Pancras to Hasting timings by several minutes.

Are More Class 395 Trains Needed For Other Routes?

I ask this question, as if they are, then surely a combined order for new trains  would be better value.

The Various Options

I shall now look at the various options mentioned in the article in turn.

Option 1 – Electrify Ashford To Hastings At 25 KVAC

This would cost between £250million and £500million.

It would allow the current Class 395 trains to work through to Hastings and as far as Brighton or even Southampton if required.

Voltage changeover would take place at a convenient station, such as Ore.

But how would various groups react to 25 KVAC catenary being strung up all over Romney Marsh?

Option 2 – Electrify Ashford To Hastings At 750 VDC

This would cost between £100million and £250million.

As with Option 1, it could use the current Class 395 trains.

Option 3 – Use Class 802 Electro-Diesel Trains

Class 802 trains could be an interesting option.


  • According to the Modern Railways article, Class 802 trains would have the same 140 mph performance, as the Class 395 trains on HS1.
  • Both trains are Hitachi A trains.
  • Class 802 trains would run on diesel between Ashford International and Hastings.
  • Class 802 trains would probably be fitted with third-rail equipment to work onward from Hastings.
  • No electrification of the Marshlink Line would be required.
  • St. Pancras to Hastings could be under seventy minutes.
  • Three trains would be needed to provide an hourly service to Hastings.
  • A crude estimate gives that one six-car Class 802 train would cost around £12.5million.

I think this option has a big advantage in that if it were possible to run twelve-car trains from St. Pancras to Brighton via Eastbourne, Hastings, Ebbsfleet International and Stratford International stations, the route might offer valuable alternative routes.

Option 4 – Use Class 395 Or Class 801 Trains With Batteries

Either of Class 395 or Class 801 trains could probably be fitted with batteries with sufficient range to take the train between Ashford and Hastings.


  • Both trains would have 140 mph performance on HS1.
  • Trains would run on batteries between Ashford International and Ore.
  • The Marshlink Line is not the most taxing of railways, with only six stops.
  • Trains would probably be fitted with third-rail equipment to work onward from Hastings.
  • No electrification of the Marshlink Line would be required.
  • St. Pancras to Hastings could be under seventy minutes.
  • To ensure sufficient battery power to bridge Hastings to Ashford, trains could if necessary reverse at Seaford or Brighton.

As with Option 3, it has the advantage of providing an alternative London to Brighton service.


All options require the following to be done.

  • Create an efficient connection between HS1 and the Marshlink Line.
  • Improve the operating speed on the Marshlink Line.
  • Remove a couple of level crossings on the Marshlink Line.
  • Create a passing loop at Rye.
  • Perform some platform lengthening.

As Options 1 and 2 require electrification and cost more, I would feel they are unlikely to proceed.

The choice between Options 3 and 4 would depend on what Hitachi offer and what the required number of trains cost.

Option 3 based on a Class 802 train would definitely work and could probably be proven with a test run of one of the GWR or VTEC Class 800 prototypes.

But these Class 800/801/802 trains are designed so that the diesel engines can be removed, when they are no longer needed. So could Hitachi replace the diesel engine with a battery pack charged at either end of the route on the 25 KVAC of HS1 or the 750 VDC of the East Coastway Line between Hastings and Brighton.

It’s all about selling trains and a company that had a 140 mph or 225 kph high-speed electric train, that could do perhaps 25 miles or 40 kilometres on batteries, would have a valuable addition to their product range.



May 8, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Could Old Oak Common Be London’s Super Hub Station?

Old Oak Common station is going to be a very important rail hub in the future, with all the services that various companies and organisations would like to see serving the proposed station.

This map shows some of the existing and proposed rail lines in the area.


Rail Lines At Old Oak Common

Rail Lines At Old Oak Common

Current Plans

I’ll now list the lines shown in the map or that go through the area. and are listed in Wikipedia, as having connections at the proposed Old Oak Common station.

1. Bakerloo Line

The Bakerloo Line will call

2. Central Line

The Central Line will call.

The Central Line acts as a loop from Crossrail through Central London, serving stations not on the direct route, in Central London between Stratford and Bond Street.

I wrote about the relationship between Crossrail and the Central Line in Ducking And Diving Between Crossrail And The Central Line.

3. Crossrail

Crossrail goes through the area and development of a station has been proposed.

4. Great Western Main Line

The Great Western Main Line goes through the area and local and other services may call.

5. HS2

HS2 will be building a station at Old Oak Common.

6. North London Line

The North London Line is consulting on a new station as I wrote about in Should An Overground Station Be Built At Hythe Road?

The North London Line acts as another East-West line across London and will probably have a frequency of upwards of the current  4 trains per hour (tph) between Richmond and its Eastern connection to Crossrail at Stratford.

7. West Coast Main Line

The West Coast Main Line  goes through the area and local and other services may call.

8. West London Line

The West London Line will call and this line gives an easy route to Balham, Clapham Junction and East Croydon stations, which by-passes Central London.

I suspect that the frequency of trains on this route will be increased.

Eight lines is an large amount of connectivity.

Other Possibilities

If that isn’t enough connectivity, there are also these extra possibilities.

1. Chiltern Railways

Chiltern Railways have ambitions to use Old Oak Common station as another London terminus, with perhaps 2 tph.

I wrote about it in Linking Chiltern To Crossrail.

2. Dudding Hill Line

The Dudding Hill Line, runs to the West of Old Oak Common station. It could be electrified and have a station that is connected to Old Oak Common station.

For various reasons, both the Brent and Cricklewood \curves would be electrified, thus giving fully electrified access to and from North and South on the Midland Main Line.

3. Gospel Oak To Barking Line

Transport for London have published ideas to extend the Gospel Oak to Barking Line along an electrified Dudding Hill Line.

Suggestions have talked about 4 tph between Hounslow and Gospel Oak stations.

4. Heathrow Express

Heathrow Express uses the Crossrail route, so it could call.

5. Midland Main Line

If Chiltern can justify using Old Oak Common station, I suspect that services on the Midland Main Line can make the same arguments for using Old Oak Common station as a terminal.


It would give passengers from the East Midlands much better access to London and the South East.

6. Thameslink

There are no plans to link Thameslink to Old Oak Common station, but why not?

I proposed this in Will The Third Runway At Heathrow Be Actually Built In The Near Future?

Under Integration With Both HS1 And HS2, I said this.

It would be possible to do the following.

  •  Arrange for Heathrow Express and/or Crossrail to call at Old Oak Common for HS2.
  • Terminate some Thameslink services at Old Oak Common, thus linking HS1 and HS2.
  • Build an easy entrance at St. Pancras to Thameslink close to Eurostar.
  • It goes without saying, that Old Oak |Common will make interchange easy between the umpteen lines meeting there.

The Dudding Hill Line would be electrified.

This proposal and the related electrification of the Dudding Hill Line would do the following.

  • Give Chiltern, Crossrail, GWR and Heathrow Express a  connection to HS1.
  • Give Thameslink a better connection to HS2 and the West Coast Main Line
  • Create a fast ink between HS1 and HS2.

What could a Thameslink service to Old Oak Common station look like?

  • I would terminate 4 tph trains at Old Oak Common to give an  adequate level of service.
  • It might be advantageous to use eight-car Class 700 trains on this route, so that all trains North of Cricklewood could be twelve-car trains.
  • Could the trains going to Old Oak Common be the Wimbledon Loop trains?
  • There could be advantages in having 2 tph between Old Oak Common and London Bridge.

Obviously, passenger statistics would determine the services required.

Old Oak Common As An Airport Hub

If all or some of these plans come to pass, Old Oak Common station will be well-connected to the following airports.

  • Birmingham – Under 50 minutes by HS2.
  • City – Under 20 minutes by Crossrail
  • Gatwick – Under 50 minutes by Thameslink
  • Heathrow – Around 20 minutes by Crossrail and around 15 minutes by Heathrow Express
  • Luton – Under 30 minutes by Midland Main Line.
  • Manchester – Around an hour by HS2.
  • Southend – Around 80 minutes by Crossrail and Greater Anglia.
  • Stansted – Around 55 minutes by Crossrail and Stansted Express.

The figures are very much my best estimates, as the Thameslink and HS2 web sites don’t have simple journey time calculators as does the Crossrail web site.

But these timings do show some interesting facts, that will effect the developments of airports in Southern England.

  • Birmingham Airport is a practical alternative for those living with easy access to the HS2 stations at Euston or Old Oak Common.
  • Gatwick access needs to be faster to compete with Heathrow and Luton.
  • When HS2 reaches Manchester Aiorport, it will be a practical alternative for Middle England.
  • Southend Airport will be good for those East of London, but the journey time needs to be cut, by running faster trains to London.
  • Stansted Airport needs a faster connection to London and they will push for the four-tracking of the West Anglia Main Line.

There will be a massive battle for passengers and Network Rail will be under tremendous pressure to perform.

Rail Companies, Lines And Terminals, Without A Direct Connection To Old Oak Common Station

There is quite a few, even if you cut out train operators like Arriva Trains Wales, Scotrail, Northern and TransPennine, that don’t serve London.

1. Caledonian Sleeper

With all its connectivity, would Old Oak Common be the logical destination for the Caledonian Sleeper?

Could Old Oak Common, be London’s hub for all sleeper trains?


2. Circle, District And Metropolitan Lines

There are various ways to get on the Circle, District and Metropolitan Lines depending on where you want to go.

Just as the Central Line acts as a loop from Crossrail, the Sub-Surface Lines have various loops running parallel to Crossrail through Central London.

  • Circle and Metropolitan Lines, running North of Crossrail,  from Paddington to Whitechapel.
  • Circle and District Lines, running South of Crossrail,  from Paddington to Whitechapel.
  • District Line, running, South of Crossrail,  from Ealing Broadway to Whitechapel.

My prediction in Is Whitechapel Station Going To Be A Jewel In The East?, seems to becoming true.

3. c2c

As I said in Will c2c Push For Access To Stratford And Liverpool Street?, c2c needs a connection to a station on Crossrail.

With some reorganisation of services, I believe that it might possible to have a 4 tph service to Stratford and Liverpool Street stations, which would give passengers in the c2c area, access to Crossrail

4. East Coast Main Line

These are routes between Old Oak Common and Kings Cross station for the East Coast Main Line.

  • Crossrail to Farringdon and then the Metropolitan Line
  • North London Line to Highbury and Islington and then the Victoria Line.
  • Bakerloo Line to Oxford Circus and then the Victoria Line.
  • Crossrail to Tottenham Court Road and then a 10, 73 or 390 bus.
  • Narrow boat on the canals.
  • If Thameslink should in the future serve Old Oak Common, that can be taken to St. Pancras Thameslink, followed by a walk.

None of the routes are of the best.

If you had plenty of time, Tottenham Court Road station and then a bus would be a good route, as the bus drops you in the front of Kings Cross station, with totally flat access to the trains. If you’re early and it’s sunny, you can sit in the best Waiting Room at a London station.

For local services on the East Coast Main Line, there are two slower alternatives.

  • Crossrail to Moorgate and then use the Great Northern Metro.
  • Thameslink to St. Pancras Thameslink, cross to the other platform and take Thameslink to Cambridge or Peterborough.

The second route, would be much easier, if St. Psncras had an island platform for Thameslink. At least it’s only escalators and lifts.

There is one development, that might happen, that could improve journeys to and from Kings Cross station. That is the reopening of Maiden Lane station.

5. Jubilee Line

The Jubilee Line has interchanges with Crossrail at Bond Street, Canary Wharf and Stratford stations, with an interchange with Thameslink at London Bridge station.

It also has a step-free interchange with the Bakerloo Line at Baker Street station.

The Jubilee Line also acts as a loop from Crossrail serving stations away from the main route through Central London between Stratford and Bond Street.

6. London Bridge, Cannon Street And Charing Cross

I have grouped all these three stations together as the rebuilding of London Bridge station and the Thameslink Programme have connected these three stations in a way that will change passenger patterns dramatically for users of these three stations.

For myself, it will mean that to access any trains from Cannon Street and Charing Cross or on Thameslink going South, I will probably use a bus to the superb London Bridge station with all its escalators and lifts, rather than fight my way through Central London.

Others will also choose to go direct to London Bridge, possibly by using the Jubilee or Northern Linse. It will be interesting to see how passenger usage changes at Cannon Street and Charing Cross stations.

London Bridge shows what could have been done, if they’d spent the money wisely at the dreadful St. Pancras.

There are four main routes between London Bridge and Old Oak Common stations.

  • Bakerloo Line to Waterloo and then the Jubilee Line.
  • Crossrail to Bond Street and then the loop of the Jubilee Line.
  • Crossrail to Farringdon and then Thmeslink
  • If Thameslink serves Old Oak Common, there could even be a direct train.

I suspect there are other routes and it will all be down to personal preference and where you catch your next train in London Bridge.

Cannon Street station could almost be considered a London Bridge North station.

  • It has seven terminal platforms. Try fitting more into London Bridge.
  • It is within easy walking distance of much of the City of London.
  • On a nice day, many might even walk from Cannon Street to Moorgate for Crossrail, as this route could be pedestrianised.
  • It has access to the Circle and District Lines, which with a change at Paddington give access to Crossrail and Old Oak Common station.
  • In a few years time, it will have good access to the Northern and Central Lines at Bank station.

Cannon Street station will become more important, as Network Rail and the various operators learn how to use the new infrstructure.

Sometimes, I struggle to see the point of Charing Cross station, but as it’s a very busy station others certainly see the station’s purpose.

It’s on the Bakerloo, Circle, District and Northern Lines, so getting to Old Oak Common won’t be a problem.

Transport for London are looking to take over South London inner suburban routes, so I think we’ll see changes in the management of Cannon Street and Charing Cross stations if this happens.

7. Northern Line

Both branches of the Northern Line are directly connected to Crossrail.

  • Tottenham Court Road station connects to the Charing Cross Branch.
  • Moorgate station connects to the Bank Branch.

Connections to the Northern Line might improve, if two separate lines are created

8. Piccadilly And Victoria Lines

The Piccadilly and Victoria Lines share three interchanges, but unfortunately they have no interfaces with Crossrail and only one poor one with Thameslink.

The best bet is to get on the Bakerloo Line and change at either Oxford or Picadilly Circus.

9. Victoria

Victoria station is another tricky station from which to get to and from Old Oak Common.

  • Bakerloo Line to Oxford Circus and then Victoria Line.
  • Crossrail to Paddington and then Circle or District Line.

As some services out of Victoria stop at stations served by the West London Line, it is possible to use that line to by-pass Central London.

10. Waterloo

Like London Bridge, Waterloo station is very well connected to Crossrail and the Old Oak Common hub.

  • Bakerloo Line direct.
  • Crossrail to Bond Street and then the loop of the Jubilee Line.
  • Crossrail to Tottenham Court Road and then the Northern Line.

As some services out of Waterloo stop at stations served by the West London Line, it is possible to use that line to by-pass Central London.


I have come to the following conclusions.

Everybody will want to be connected to Old Oak Common station.

Groups of lines across London are emerging.

  • East to West – Crossrail, Central, District, Metropolitan, North London, Gospel Oak To Barking, Dudding Hill.
  • North to South – Thameslink, West London,East London, Northern.
  • North-East to South-West – Crossrail 2, Piccadilly, Victoria.
  • North-West to South-East – Bakerloo, Jubilee

A very strong grid with good interchanges is probably the main objective.

Looking at these groups, makes me think, that actions are suggested, that would strengthen the network.

  • Build Crossrail 2
  • Increase the capacity on the Bakerloo Line
  • Split the Northern Line into Charing Cross and Bank branches.

London will quickly fill the extra capacity.




October 29, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Will The Third Runway At Heathrow Be Actually Built In The Near Future?

If nothing else the 25th ofSeptember 2026 statement by the Government, stated that the UK is going to build another runway in the South-East.

But I have my doubts, that a third runway will be open at Heathrow in the near future.

Building The Third Runway

As I said in Building The Third Runway At Heathrow, I don’t believe that the actual construction of the Airport would present any problems for any large construction company or more likely  consortium. This is illustrated today, by this article on the BBC, which is entitled New Heathrow runway may be built above the M25, which says to me that engineers are looking for easier and more affordable ways to build the new runway.

Rebuilding The Current Terminals

Heathrow are also disclosing a master-plan, for rebuilding a lot of the airport to make it more efficient and up with the best.

  • There will be two main terminals; Heathrow West and Heathrow East with satellites in between handling the actual planes.
  • These two terminals and the satellites will be between the two existing runways, with a passenger and baggage transport system beneath.
  • Terminal Five will become Heathrow West.
  • An extended Terminal Two will become Heathrow East.
  • Crossrail, Heathrow Express and the Underground will serve both main terminals.
  • A Terminal Six would be mainly for the third runway, would effectively be part of Heathrow West.

I believe that this rebuilding could start well before the third runway is even given the go-ahead, as many of the works will be within the current Airport boundary.

Rail Links To The Airport

Part of the master-plan is extensive rail links to the Airport.

  • Crossrail, Heathrow Express and the Underground will serve London.
  • There will be rail links to both the West and South.
  • There will be a rail link to both HS1 and HS2.
  • Could we even see a rail-based cargo transport system running under all the terminals, bringing in supplies for the terminals and the planes?

This map from shows the current rail links at Heathrow.

Rail Lines At Heathrow

Rail Lines At Heathrow


  • The Piccadilly Line is shown in blue.
  • The lines going South lead to Terminal Four.
  • Crossrail has Terminal Four as its terminus
  • The Heathrow West and Heathrow East concept fits the rail lines well.
  • Terminal Five station is ready for access from the West.

I think just as Gatwick are embracing rail with a vengeance, rail can be a major force in the development of Heathrow.

We could even be seeing the current rail line through Terminals Two and Five becoming a high-capacity rail line connecting all the terminals to the West, East and South.

A Greener Airport

If as many of the traffic movements in and around the airport could be moved from polluting road transport to electric trains, Heathrow’s pollution footprint could be reduced.

As an example, you could envisage a factory in a low cost area by a rail line to the West of Heathrow creating airline meals. These would be packaged by flight number and then taken by electric cargo train direct to the appropriate terminal or satellite, ready for loading onto the plane.

Could we even see an airport, where very few trucks and service vehicles, use the runways and aprons? You certainly see a lot less vehicles on an airport, than you did decades ago.

I found this page on the Heathrow  web site, which is entitled Our Vehicle Fleet Is Making The Switch.

This is a paragraph.

850 vehicles in the airside fleet at Heathrow are electric, making it one of the largest fleets of electric airside vehicles in Europe. As well as electric tugs that move baggage around the airfield, we use electric cars and vans to transport our people. We are trialling electric specialist ground support vehicles such as belt loaders, cargo loaders and push back tractors.

I was surprised to see pushback tractors mentioned, as some weigh up to fifty tonnes. But according to the Wikipedia entry for pushback, there are interesting developments in this field. This is said about robotic push back tractors.

The Lahav Division of Israel Aerospace Industries has developed a semi-robotic towbarless tractor it calls Taxibot that can tow an aircraft from the terminal gate to the take-off point (taxi-out phase) and return it to the gate after landing (taxi-in phase). The Taxibot eliminates the use of airplane engines during taxi-in and until immediately prior to take-off during taxi-out potentially saving airlines billions of dollars in fuel that is used. The Taxibot is controlled by the pilot from the cockpit using the regular pilot controls.

Even as a trained Control Engineer and a private pilot with over a thousand hours in command, I can’t help but wonder at the concept.

As a final thought, surely if all unnecessary vehicles could be removed from air-side, this must improve safety and security.

What too, would low or even zero carbon operations, do for the image of the airport?

Travelling To The Airport

One consequence of the rebuilding of the terminals with rail links to both London and the West, will be a reduction in the number of travellers, who drive or are driven to to the airport.

In the London Olympics every event ticket came with a London Travelcard, so that you used public transport. Could we see public transport tickets bundled in with air tickets to cut the need for vehicles to drive to and from the airport?

I certainly think, that we’ll see rail-connected parking to the airport, just because land close to an airport is so expensive.

Local Transport To The Airport

I suspect that a lot of journeys to and from the airport are quite local, as they concern local residents, employees or travellers perhaps spending a night after or before a flight close to the airport.

These journeys have not been forgotten in the master-plan, as it talks of improving bus services.

But the most interesting development is the ULTra PRT system, I talked about in A Visit To Heathrow Terminal 5.

A Heathrow-wide system has been proposed. This is said in Wikipedia.

In May 2013 Heathrow Airport Limited announced as part of its draft five year (2014-2019) master plan that it intended to use the PRT system to connect terminal 2 and terminal 3 to their respective business carparks. The proposal was not included in the final plan due to spending priority given to other capital projects and has been deferred.

There have been suggestions that they will extend the service throughout the airport and to nearby hotels using 400 pods.

The system at Heathrow may not be built, but expect something like it at an airport near you.

Imagine turning up in a convenient car park or train station, with family and baggage, ready to travel on holiday. You scan your pre-printed boarding pass or click one on your phone and a pod arrives, which takes you to the satellite your flight will use.

As they travelled, passengers could scan passports and they would be given up-to-date flight information.

Flying is a total pain, best summed up by the old pilot’s moto.

Time to spare, go by air!

A decent system to bring people to the airport, could make flying more of a pleasure.

Integration With Thameslink

I believe that it would be possible to have a direct Thameslink connection into Heathrow using the |Dudding Hill Line to link to Crossrail.

In Could Thameslink Connect To Heathrow?, I show how it would be possible to create a four tph service between Heathrow and Thameslink.

This could create an easy link to and from Gatwick and Luton Airports and Kings Cross, St. Pancras and London Bridge stations.

Integration With HS2

I’m taking this first, as it’s probably easier than linking to HS1

When Phase 2 of HS2 opens, services Northward from Old Oak Common station are proposed to be.

  • Birmingham – 3 tph
  • Edinburgh – 2 tph
  • Glasgow – 2 tph
  • Leeds – 3 tph
  • Liverpool – 2 tph
  • Manchester – 3 tph
  • Newcastle – 2 tph
  • Preston – 1 tph
  • Sheffield – 2 tph
  • York – 1 tph

I estimate that Heathrow to Old Oak Common will be about 20 minutes by Crossrail and Heathrow Express.

As changing planes at Heathrow, according to the Airport takes between 75 and 90 minutes, using HS2 would be competitive.

,Especially if the interchange at Old oak Common was well-designed.

Leeds will be about ninety minutes from Old Oak Common. so if the interchange timings are right, a passenger could be in the centre of Leeds around two hours after coming through Arrivals at Heathrow. A chauffeur-driven Ferrari couldn’t do that legally.

Integration With HS1

This is more difficult, as neither Crossrail nor Heathrow Express serves St. Pancras.

There are a choice of routes.

  • Crossrail to Farringdon and then Thameslink or the Metropolitan Line to Kings Cross St. Pancras.
  • Heathrow Express to Paddington and then a taxi.
  • Heathrow Express to Paddington and then the Metropolitan Line
  • Piccadilly Line to Kings Cross St. Pancras.

Interchange could have been designed to be a lot better.

I seem to remember that original plans for the Heathrow Express envisaged St. Pancras as a second London terminal, using the Dudding Hill Line.

But this route is probably impossible owing to there not being enough platforms at St. Pancras, which is A Fur Coat And No Knickers Station.

As there are other operators, who need extra platform space at St. Pancras, perhaps a couple of extra platforms could be built.

But I doubt it!

If Heathrow were to be linked to Thameslink, as I indicated earlier, this would solve the problem.


Terminals And The Third Runway

Extra terminal capacity, will be able to handle more passengers, but will the runways be able to handle the extra planes?

I suspect there are various strategies, that will keep the number of flights within the capacity of a two-runway airport.

  • Larger aircraft with more capacity, will make better use of slots. 737s and A320s are carrying more passengers.
  • Quieter aircraft, linked to better air traffic control, might givenoise and capacity advantages. Thuis page on the Heathrow web site, is entitled Steeper approach trial report.
  • Reorganisation of air cargo to release slots.
  • Use of Crossrail and/or Heathrow Express to connect to HS1 and HS2.

The more Heathrow use their intelligence, the further into the future the date for the third runway will recede.

Looking At The Cash Flow

Obviously, I don’t have any figures, but sorting out the terminals early and creating extra passenger capacity, may give Heathrow better cash flow to generate the vast sums needed to build the completely new Terminal Six and the third runway.

I’d love to see their full cash flow, but I suspect that the third runway, will only be needed when to expand the traffic, they need m the slots it will deliver.

The early costs would and could be.

  • Fighting the protestors and the politicians.
  • Obtaining Planning Permission.
  • Buying up the private .properties in the way.
  • Rolling out an anti-pollution philosophy.
  • Creating Heathrow West (Terminal Five) and Heathrow East (An Extended Terminal Two)
  • Extending the rail network.
  • Professional fees.

Perhaps by the early 2020s, they would have a strong cash flow and ownership of all the land they might need.

Then at an appropriate time, they would build the new runway and any terminals needed, in the space they had acquired.

As today’s article on the BBC indicated, they wouldn’t even have to build a tunnel for the M25.

It would hopefully be a large, but reasonable straightforward construction operation.

The Opposition Is Gathering

This article in the Independent is entitled Heathrow expansion: Airlines react to Government’s airport decision.

  • Stewart Wingate of Gatwick of Gatwick is quoted as being disappointed and saying he’ll read the Government’s reasons in detail.
  • Dame Carolyn McCall of easyJet, said their planned move to Heathrow is contingent on the right deal.
  • Willie Walsh of BA’s parent said he was pleased a decision had been made.
  • Craig Kreeger of Virgin Atlantic, said: “We support expansion, provided it delivers for our customers.”
  • Nick Burton of Luton Airport said that we must now focus on demand before the new runway is built in 10-15 years time.
  • Charlie Cornish, chief executive of Stansted’s owner, Manchester Airports Group, said that we should make the best use of the runways we’ve got.

That doesn’t sound like a vote of confidence to me.

And I haven’t included all those who will lose their homes, the environmental protesters and those like me who don’t like Heathrow’s attitude.

The statistics are also not on Heathrow’s side either, as traffic is growing fast and another runway is needed soon, with a second one perhaps ten years later, to satisfy rising demand for air travel.

So What Could Happen?

Much of this is speculation, but Nostradamus couldn’t predict this one.

  •  In The Planemakers’ View On The South East’s New Runway, I quoted from an article in The Times, which said that Heathrow’s hub model is superseded by the views of the planemakers, who think it’s all about point-to-point flights in appropriate aircraft.
  • Gatwick could probably apply for permission for a second runway in 2019.
  • Luton, Southend and Stansted Airports are ambitious and want to expand.
  • Better rail services to Stansred Airport have been announced.
  • Luton Airport wants a better rail service.
  • Birmingham Airport gets a connection to HS2 in the mid-2020s.
  • Eurostar and other companies will increasingly add rail services to Europe.

These and other factors will eat into Heathrow’s market share, thus delaying that crucial point, where the third runway needs to be built.

But that doesn’t really solve the short term problem  The only way to satisfy that is to create a runway in the South-East as soon as possible.

And the only place that can be built is Gatwick.

The growth in air traffic will continue and a few years later, Heathrow will get its runway.



October 26, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

A South London Metro

Some of my recent posts including.

Are leading me to the conclusion that it would be possible to create a South London Metro, that worked under similar principles to the East London Line.

The East London Line

If anybody doesn’t believe that the East London Line is one of the best creations on the world’s railways in recent years, then they should go and read something else now.


  • There is a core section between Dalston Junction and Surrey Quays stations, where sixteen trains per hour (tph) shuttle passengers under the river in modern trains.
  • In Increased Frequencies On The East London Line, I indicated that TfL are planning to increase this frequency to 20 tph.
  • At the Northern end four dedicated platforms at two different termini; Dalston Junction and Highbury and Islington give passengers choices of onward routes.
  • At the Southern end, there are four separate termini; Clapham Junction, Crystal Palace, New Cross and West Croydon.
  • Three of the southern termini have excellent onward connections and if the Tramlink is sorted at West Croydon, then that would be improved.
  • The line has excellent connections to the Victoria and Jubilee Lines of the Underground and other rail lines.

It has been a marvellous success.

The North London Line

The North London Line is not as radical in its design as the East London Line, as it effectively just a a simple line across North London, that carries up to eight trains per hour and a lot of freight.

It has been successful, but not as successful as the East London Line.

The Future Of The Overground In North And East London

The success of removing, third-rate trains on the North and East London Lines is now being repeated on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line, where two-car diesel trains are being replaced with four-car electric ones.

But this is only the start, as other plans are being put together in North London.

But to use the well-known phase – “You ain’t seen nothing yet!”

South London In The Slow Lane

South London is very second-rate compared to the North with respect to railways.

My mother always told me to never go South of the River, as I’d get lost.

Look at the historic radial routes out of East, North and West London termini like Euston, Fenchurch Street, Kings Cross, Liverpool Street, Marylebone, Paddington and St. Pancras and the lines have a simple structure that the average child of ten could understand. The Underground also follows a simple structure.

But if you look at trains South of the River, there is not even any logic as to which terminus you use to get your train, with the exception perhaps of Waterloo. Only South London’s crazy rules would mean that going to East Kent would be from the most western Southern terminus at Victoria.

It is mainly down to the fact that much of the rail network South of the River were developed by companies, whose idea of co-operation was stopping the other companies from expanding.

My mother was so very right!

There are problems galore of inadequate infrastructure.

  • Some stations are in desperate need of more platforms.
  • Lines often cross each other in flat junctions, which severely limit capacity.
  • Many of the lines have heavy peak-hour use from commuters and infrequent services in the off-peak.
  • Any electrification is non-standard third-rail.
  • The main lines don’t have enough capacity.
  • Commuters are also often very vocal opponents of even the smallest change.

Even new lines like the Channel Tunnel Rail Link at Ebbsfleet International and Crossrail at Abbey Wood are only partly integrated into the existing network and don’t share a station.

The engineers are doing their best with innovative schemes like the Bermondsey Dive-Under, but the railways in South London need a whole new philosophy to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century.

North London may have a long list of projects in the pipeline, but after the upgrading of Thameslink and the Northern Line Extension to Battersea, South London’s future plan is very thin.

In some ways Crossrail 2 sums up the South. North London will be affected by this line’s construction, but all of the protests are from Chelsea, which can probably be ignored, and South London.

The Centre For London Proposals

In the June 2016 Edition of Modern Railways, there was an article entitled Turning South London Orange, which is a radical set of proposals from an organisation called the Centre for London, with the aim of improving rail services in South London.

This is a summary of their proposals, as they affect the lines across South London from Victoria to Peckham Rye, Herne Hill and Surrey Quays.

  • A tunnel should be built from Battersea to South of Herne Hill under Brixton to remove fast services from Victoria to Kent from the area.
  • The four-track South London Line should be reconfigured so that London Overground services use the Northern rather than the Southern pair of tracks.
  • A new station is built at Battersea linking the Northern Line Extension to the South London Line.

One of the consequences of this, is that it would be possible to create three modern step-free stations at Wandsworth Road, Clapham High Street and Brixton, with the latter two connected to the Northern and Victoria Lines of the Underground using escalators and/or lifts.

A South London Metro

So what would a South London Metro look like?

I will assume the following.

  • The fast line tunnel under Brixton is built.
  • The South London Line is reconfigured to put the London Overground service on the Northern pair of tracks.
  • A new interchange station is built at Battersea.

In the next few sections, I will look at the various parts of the South London Metro.

The Brixton Tunnel

Although not actually part of the South London Metro, the Brixton Tunnel must be built before the Metro can be created, as it removes all the fast Chatham Main Line services between Victoria and Kent, from the lines across South London.

Trains will use a tunnel between Battersea and South of Herne Hill.

So what Southeastern Mainline services, that serve Victoria could use the tunnel?

  • 1 tph to Ramsgate via Chatham with a first stop at Bromley South.
  • 1 tph to Dover via Chatham with a first stop at Bromley South.
  • 1 tph to Dover via Chatham with a first stop at Orpington and a second at Bromley South.
  • 1 tph to Canterbury West via Maidstone East with a first stop at Bromley South.
  • 1 tph to Ashford International via Maidstone East with a first stop at Bromley South.

There are another nine trains per day running in the peak.

The question has to be asked, if extra services can be provided through a fast tunnel, as the current number of trains might even be within the capacity of a single-track tunnel.

But I suspect that for redundancy and safety reasons that the five-kilometre tunnel would probably be built as double track or a twin-bore tunnel.

At present non-stop services take sixteen minutes between Victoria and Bromley South stations, which is a distance of 20.4 kilometres, which gives a start-to-stop average speed of about 75 kph. At that speed the trains would take around four minutes to pass through the  tunnel. So even if the Class 375 trains, that generally work the line went through at full speed of 160 kph, not much would be saved on the journey.

But given the transit time through the tunnel of four minutes or less and the generally low number of trains through the tunnel, I suspect that a single-track tunnel is under serious consideration.

But I would future-proof the line by providing a double-track tunnel.

As Bombardier have said, that the Class 375 trains could be retro-fitted with on-board energy storage, I suspect too that the tunnel could even be left without electrification, as an electrically-dead tunnel must be safer in the unlikely event of a train needing to be evacuated. Evacuation will probably be through the side doors of the trains onto a walkway, as is proposed for Crossrail.

I think that the developments in infrastructure creation and the powering of trains in the last few years could enable a very radical and affordable approach to building this tunnel.

I think there’s a chance we’ll see this five kilometre tunnel bored as a single bore, with either one or two tracks, but no electrification.

Remember that the Severn Tunnel, which is the longest main line rail tunnel in the UK and was built by the Victorians, is seven kilometres long.

London’s latest tunnel which is the Lee Tunnel for sewage  is just under seven kilometres long, seven metres in diameter and at a depth of over seventy-five metres under East London. It is probably big enough for a third-rail electrified double-track railway. According to Wikipedia, the Lee Tunnel cost an estimated £635 million.

As we’re moving towards a Golden Age of Tunnelling, I think we’ll be seeing more tunnels proposed.

The Core Section

I would define the core section of the South London Metro as between Wandsworth Road and Peckham Rye stations, so it would also include the following intermediate stations.

  • Clapham High Street
  • Brixton
  • Denmark Hill

If fast services from Victoria to Kent are in a tunnel under Brixton and Herne Hill, the Centre for London Report says that it would be possible for London Overground services to use the Northern pair of tracks rather than the Southern ones. Freight, empty stock movements and other non-stopping services would continue to use the Southern tracks.

At present there are just four tph  each way on the Overground along the current line, but as the East London Line core is currently handling sixteen tph, I would think it possible, subject to some reorganisation of the tracks at the two ends of the core section, that all Metro and Overground services could share the Northern tracks and platforms.

Similar sharing has been done successfully between New Cross Gate and Norwood Junction on the Overground, since the East London Line was extended to West Croydon in 2010. On that existing route, the fast trains have their own separate tracks out of the way, just as under the Centre for London proposals, fast trains between Victoria and Kent will be separated in a tunnel under Brixton.

As to the ultimate capacity of the core section, who knows? Figures of 24 tph have been quoted as possible for the East London Line, but twenty through the core will do well for several years.

I suspect that as the only trains on the Northern pair of tracks through South London will be slow Overground/Metro trains, that any routing problems could be solved by simple flat junctions, of which there are many already.

So how would this affect the stations on the core section?

  • Wandsworth Road would have two new Northern platforms. As the lines split for Victoria and Clapham Junction just after the station, would each pair of lines and platforms  be for appropriate destinations?
  • Clapham High Street would have two new Northern platforms for Metro/Overground services. As the Northern platforms are closer to Clapham North station, it might be sensible to create an escalator connection between the two stations and not generally use the Southern platforms.
  • East Brixton is a station, that has been discussed for rebuilding.
  • Brixton would have reopened Northern platforms for Metro/Overground services. Services via Herne Hill would still use the current platforms and as no trains on the high-level lines over the station would stop, providing step-free access between the Victoria Line and Metro/Overground services would be much easier.
  • Many believe that Loughborough Junction station should be connected to the Overground. If Metro/Overground services are moved to the Northern tracks as they go over Loughborough Junction station, I believe that step-free connection between new Metro/Overground platforms and Loughborough Junction is now possible.
  • Denmark Hill station would need some reorganisation, but it is already step-free.
  • Peckham Rye station would need some reorganisation and it is on the list of being made step-free.

The list of projects to create a core section of the South London Metro would include.

  • Build the Brixton Tunnel
  • Add the extra platforms and station infrastructure at Wandsworth Road station.
  • Add the extra platforms and station infrastructure at Clapham High Street station.
  • Create an escalator/lift connection between Clapham High Street and the Northern Line at Clapham North station.
  • Reopen the Northern platforms at Brixton station.
  • Create an escalator/lift connection between the low-level platforms at Brixton with the Victoria Line.
  • Add two high-level platforms at Loughborough Junction station on the Metro/Overground lines.
  • Make Loughbrough Junction station fully step-free.
  • Make various changes to the tracks, so that all required routes are possible.

There would obviously be other small projects, but I can’t see anything major except for the building of the Brixton Tunnel, that would be needed to create a sixteen train-per-hour route from Victoria across South London.

All projects and that includes the Brixton Tunnel could be carried out without large disruption of the existing train services, which in my view is a tribute to the Centre for London proposals.

I think that without any further major infrastructure after the Brixton Tunnel has been built, and some other smaller projects that are already being planned, the core section of the South London Metro could be a run of step-free stations interchanging with the Northern and Victoria Lines, Thameslink and other services out of Victoria and London Bridge.

Reversal Stations

I also wonder if any of the core stations could be created with an island platform, so that passengers can reverse direction without going up and down stairs. This can already be done at Queens Road Peckham station if say you are on a Dalston Junction to Clapham Junction train and want to go to South Bermondsey or London Bridge.

Never underestimate passengers’ ability to duck and dive!

Connectivity just encourages passengers to take more outrageous, faster and convenient routes.

The Western Termini

At present there are two western termini for the services along the South London Line; Victoria and Clapham Junction and Victoria.

There is probably not enough platforms, if it is desired to run sixteen tph or more through the core, as is done on the East London Line.

Clapham Junction As A Western Terminus

At present 4 tph run to Clapham Junction and as I wrote in Increased Frequencies On The East London Line, this will be increased to 6 tph in 2019.

I suspect that despite the rather unusual platform arrangements at Clapham Junction, which I call The Clapham Kiss, that 6 tph can be handled at the station.

So I think it will be very much Carry On Clapham!

Victoria As A Western Terminus

At present, the following services serve Victoria along the South London Line.

  • 4 tph to Orpington, which turn off at Brixton.
  • 2 tph to Dartford via Bexleyheath, which turn off at Peckham Rye.

Combined with the 6 tph from Clapham Junction, between Wandsworth Road and Brixton, there are 12 tph.

Given that Victoria is crowded and needs more platforms, would it be possible to handle the South London Metro from a dedicated platform or pair of platforms in Victoria?

Assigned platforms at Dalston Junction certainly helps passengers, as you know where your train to the various destinations will call.

  • Through Platform 1 for Highbury and Islington
  • Bay Platform 2 for New Cross
  • Bay Platform 3 for Clapham Junction
  • Through Platform 4 for Crystal Palace and West Croydon

This is certainly what is happening today as I write.

I think it would be a great advantage if you went to a particular platform or pair of platforms to pick up the South London Metro.

This mini sub-station concept is used at.

  • Cheshunt for the Lea Valley Lines
  • Clapham Junction for the East London Line.
  • Crystal Palace for the East London Line.
  • Liverpool Street for the Lea Valley Lines.
  • Richmond for the North London Line.
  • Stratford for the North London Line.

Usually, you just look for the orange!

Battersea As A Western Terminus

Given that Victoria is crowded and probably needs more platforms, an alternative terminus is probably needed.

Just as when Dalston Junction was rebuilt for the East London Line, two bay platforms were incorporated, could the same thing be done at the new Battersea station?

Certainly, the system works well at Dalston Junction, so why wouldn’t a similar arrangement work at Batttersea?

  • Passengers needing to get to Victoria on a train terminating at Battersea would just walk across the platform and wait a couple of minutes for the train to Victoria.
  • Passengers from Victoria on a train going to a wrong destination would only have to go to Wandsworth Road to get a train to any destination, including those served from Clapham Junction.

It is a system, where to do any journey you either do it direct, or with a single same-platform change.

Old Oak Common As A Western Terminus

Because of the capacity problems and the unusual layout at Clapham Junction station, it might also be possible to use somewhere on the West London Line as a Western terminus.

Old Oak Common station with its connections to the West Coast Main Line, HS2, Crossrail and the North London Line would be an obvious choice.

The Eastern Termini

At present services from Victoria and Clapham Junction, go although the South London Line to the following destinations.

  • Dalston Junction – 4 tph from Clapham Junction – 6 tph from 2019
  • Dartford – 2 tph from Victoria via Bexleyheath
  • Orpington – 4 tph from Victoria

Even with Dartford services raised to 4 tph, that is probably still below the capacity of the core section of the line.

Dalston Junction As An Eastern Terminus

I would assume that the current Dalston Junction to Clapham Junction service will continue.

Currently there are 4 tph, but this will go to 6 tph in 2019 as I wrote about in Increased Frequencies On The East London Line.

As  TfL’s predictions in the document I found for 2016 and 2017 have already happened, I would think the 6 tph is likely, if the new Class 710 trains are delivered to boost the fleet.

With the increase in service frequency, London Overground Syndrome means that the passengers using the service will increase.

Dartford As An Eastern Terminus

At present, 2 tph go between Victoria and Dartford via Bexleyheath.

But is Dartford, the best terminal in the area for the South London Metro?


I wouldn’t be surprised to see 4 tph service along a South London Metro to a Dartford station, where Crossrail calls to give a direct link to HS2 at Ebbsfleet International.

London Bridge As An Eastern Terminus

As London Bridge station used to be linked along the South London Line to Victoria, this important station must be added.

Especially, as there were a lot of passengers, who objected to losing the direct service along the South London Line between London Bridge and Victoria.

On the East London Line, there is a short 4 tph service between Dalston Junction and New Cross which is used as a short direct service through the core, perhaps to boost train frequencies there.

So could a  service with a similar frequency  be run on the South London Line between Victoria and London Bridge? It could call at.

  • South Bermondsey
  • Queen’s Road Peckham
  • Peckham Rye
  • Denmark Hill
  • Loughborough Junction
  • Brixton
  • Clapham High Street
  • Wandsworth Road
  • Battersea

It would have step-free connections to the Northern and Victoria Lines and Thameslink, if the appropriate stations were upgraded.

Orpington As An Eastern Terminus

I think that Orpington has the greatest potential as a terminal.

This map from shows the route from Kent House station via Beckenham Junction and Bromley South to Orpington.

From Kent House Via BromleySouth To Orpington

From Kent House Via BromleySouth To Orpington

It has very good connectivity.

Because of all this connectivity, Bromley and Orpington might be able to provide enough passengers for more than four trains per hour going to Victoria and/or Battersea.

Remember there will still be the five fast trains per hour through the Brixton Tunnel  in addition to the stopping ones of the Metro.

Bellingham As An Eastern Terminus

When the Overground took over the line, there was some discussion about a service between Victoria and Bellingham.

So could Bellingham station be a terminus?

This Google Map shows the area around Bellingham station.

Bellingham Station

Bellingham Station

There doesn’t seem to be much of importance in the area, except the leisure centre.

In addition.

  • The station doesn’t seem to have a suitable bay platform, but there may be space to build one.
  • The station would provide a link to Thameslink.
  • It only handles a couple of trains an hour most of the day, so perhaps the terminating of trains was to be slipped in the large gaps.

Perhaps it was all to stimulate development in the area.

An HS1 to HS2 Link

If Old Oak Common is chosen as a Western Terminus with a 4 tph service down the West London Line and the core route of the South London Metro, what would be a suitable terminal in the East?

Given what I said about Dartford as an Eastern terminus, surely a four tph service across South London linking HS1 and HS2 must enter into the route planners’ thinking.

As Crossrail does the business linking HS1 and HS2 for North and Central London, a South London Metro could be configured to do a similar job for a whole swath of South and West London.

A Brockley Interchange

The Centre for London report proposes a new pair of platforms on the South London Line between Nunhead and Lewisham stations, providing interchange with the existing Brockley station.

I gave my views on Brockley station in A Report On The Bakerloo Line Extension, which I now repeat in an edited form.

This Google Map shows Brockley  station.

Brockley Station

The Bexleyheath Line between Nunhead and Lewisham stations crosses the East London Line and Brockley station at a high level.

I wrote A Four-Poster Station about connecting these two lines.

It would appear that Transport for London have advanced this project from one word in their 2050 Infrastructure Plan to a proposal.

If the South London Metro included the services to Dartford via Bexleyheath, then this interchange at Brockley station might make some passengers journeys a lot easier.

A Penge Interchange

The Centre for London report proposes an interchange between Penge East station on the Chatham Main Line with Penge West station on the East London Line.

This Google Map shows the lines and the two Penge stations.

Penge Stations

Penge Stations

The report suggests that it would be possible to reduce the walking distance between the two stations from 650 to 400 metres and there might be potential to move Penge West station to the North of the High Street.

As the walking appears substantially to be flat, I wonder if a section of travelator would be possible!

I recently walked from East to West station and took these pictures.

One of the station staff said that they need step-ladders to access the Crystal Palace line, that runs over the top.

The walk incidentally took me fifteen minutes, so if it decreases from 650 to 400 metres, by moving the station North of the High Street that should reduce the time to under ten minutes.

Will a travelator be added.

As with the extra platforms at Brockley station, this interchange has the potential to ease some passengers journeys.

My Proposed Schedule

I will give my view of the trains on a South London Metro.

  • 6 tph between Dalston Junction and Clapham Junction.
  • 4 tph between Dartford and Old Oak Common.
  • 4 tph between Victoria/Battersea and London Bridge
  • 6 tph between Victoria/Battersea and Orpington

This gives a total of 20 tph, which would be the same as the East London Line will be in 2019.

The Rolling Stock

Due to platform restrictions on the East London Line, I would envisage that the trains between Dalston Junction and Clapham Junction will probably still be the same five-car Class 378 trains.

The trains on the other destinations can probably be anything suitable and would include Class 375, Class 377 or even some new Class 710 trains.

But as there is no platform restrictions to the other destinations, the trains could probably be any desired formation between four and twelve cars.

Any new platforms would of course be built to accept twelve-car trains.

Getting To Heathrow

At the present time, getting to Heathrow can be a bit of a problem from some places in South London.

But after Crossrail and Old Oak Common station are opened, it would just be a matter of getting one of a 4 tph South London Metro train to Old Oak Common and changing for Crossrail.

It may of course be easier to use one of the other possible routes to Crossrail.

  • Take the Northern Line to Tottenham Court Road from Battersea or Clapham North.
  • Take Thameslink to Tottenham Court Road.
  • Go via Whitechapel.

We’ll all develop our favourite routes.

Getting To Gatwick

At the present time, Thameslink haven’t published their full route yet, but anybody on the South London Metro should be able to do one of the following.

  • Go to Clapham Junction and get a direct train.
  • Go to Victoria and get Gatwick Express.
  • Go to London Bridge and get Thameslink.

Unfortunately, it looks like I might lose my option of going to New Cross Gate and getting a direct train.


A South London Metro running 16 tph or more between Wandsworth Road and Peckham Rye stations, with multiple termini at either end, must be a feasible and affordable possibility, if the following is done.

  • The Brixton Tunnel is built to give fast Victoria to Kent services a by-pass.
  • The Overground/Metro services are moved to the Northern pair of tracks on the South London Line.
  • Various station and track improvements are carried out.

It looks to me, that this project could transform South London and improve the lot of people like me, who live on the East London Line.





May 29, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

How Long Would An IPEMU Take From St. Leonard’s To St. Pancras International?

If an IPEMU is going to be used between St. Leonard’s and St. Pancras International station, there are two possibilities.

  • A 110 mph IPEMU based on existing Class 387 trains.
  • A 125 mph IPEMU based on a purpose-built Aventra. Ian Walmsley stated in the April 2016 Edition of Modern Railways that a 125 mph Aventra is possible.

This compares with the 143 mph and 100 mph speeds of a Class 395 train on high speed and classic lines respectively.

For this estimate, I will make the following assumptions.

  • St. Leonards takes four minutes longer than Hastings.
  • The baseline time from St. Pancras to Ashford is 38 minutes in a Class 395 train.
  • Times on the high speed section are in proportion to the train speed.
  • The baseline time from St. Leonard’s to Ashford is 46 minutes in a Class 171 train.
  • All trains on the unelectrified section are limited to 100 mph.

Times From St.Leonards to Ashford

The Class 171 train takes 46 minutes, but it is only a benchmark, as few would go to Ashford and then get on a Class 395 train on High Speed 1.

The Class 395 train and the IPEMUs would be quicker as they would save a couple of minutes at each of the typical five stops, because of their faster acceleration.

Two minutes a stop would save ten minutes.

Times From Ashford to St. Pancras

Doing a simple calculation based on train speed gives the following times.

  • Class 395 train – 38 minutes
  • Class 387 IPEMU – 48 minutes
  • Aventra IPEMU – 43 minutes.

Times from St. Leonards to St. Pancras

Adding the two times together gives.

  • Class 395 train – 74 minutes
  • Class 387 IPEMU – 84 minutes
  • Aventra IPEMU – 79 minutes.

With Hastings it will be four minutes less.

In Wikipedia, there is a section called Future for the entry for the Marshlink Line. This is said.

The line is strategically important, as electrification and junction improvements would mean that High Speed 1 trains could travel directly from St Pancras International to Hastings. Amber Rudd, Member of Parliament for Hastings, has campaigned for electrification works to start by 2017. The aim is to reduce times to London from Hastings to 68 minutes, and from Rye to under an hour. This would require remodelling Ashford International station so the existing Marshlink line could connect to HS1, installing power systems, and adding a passing loop at Rye, all in addition to requiring new trains.

I think that the aim of 68 minutes from London to Hastings is a modest one, but as my crude estimate was only six minutes longer, I think the 68 minutes is totally attainable, especially as my times from St. Leonards to Ashford are just based on current timings and taking off a couple of minutes for each stop.

But if the Marshlink Line could be significantly improved, then time reductions of several minutes could well be achieved.

March 29, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Will We See IPEMUs In Hastings?

I have just been pointed to this article in the Hastings Observer, which is entitled Hybrid trains alternative to electrifying 1066 country railway. This is said.

Battery-powered high-speed trains were proclaimed as the way to decrease rail journey times in 1066 country at a transport summit today (Friday, March 18).

Hybrid Javelin trains would eliminate the need to electrify the Marshlink but still reduce the time it takes to get to London, according to transport representatives at Sussex Coast College.

Network Rail’s senior strategic planner in the south east Paul Best explained how they are proposing an ‘incremental approach’ to electrifying the railway between Ashford and Bexhill.

He said they can increase speed limits in certain places but also look into using hybrid trains with a battery so they can be used on the normal track and electric line from St Pancras to Ashford, which would reduce journey times

So let’s look at this statement in detail. Note that I use Independently-Powered Electric Multiple Unit or IPEMU instead of battery trains.

I think it will be unlikely, that if this comes to pass, that the trains will be Class 395 trains, colloquially known as Javelins.

  • I don’t think Hitachi could deliver their made-in-Japan product for some time due to busy production schedules.
  • Hitachi have not disclosed any plans for a battery variant of a Class 395 train.
  • Paul Best of Network Rail isn’t reported as mentioning Javelins.

Hitachi may be able to deliver such a train in the future and I may be wrong about their capabilities.

I think if we see Paul Best’s hybrid trains working between St. Pancras and 1066 country, then there is only one proven train; an IPEMU or battery-powered version of the Class 387 train.

  • Soon, there could be several of the trains sitting in sidings or being built at Bombardier’s factory in Derby.
  • All or most of the Class 387 trains are owned by Porterbrook. Leasing companies are not charities and like their assets to sweat.
  • Bombardier and Network Rail demonstrated the IPEMU technology in public service over twelve months ago.
  • Class 387/2 trains destined for Gatwick Express have been extensively tested on the West Coast Main Line. Has their 200 kph capability been explored?
  • Southern, who have lots of experience of running Class 387 trains, are responsible for the services between Hastings and Ashford International.
  • Adding the required signalling and certifying the Class 387 trains for HS1, shouldn’t be a difficult problem.
  • Jumping the electrification gap of the Marshlink Line, is well within the capability of a Class 387 train with an IPEMU capability.

The only problem I can see, is that they are only a 110 mph train as opposed to the 140 mph of the Class 395 train, when that train runs on HS1. So would this cause route planning problems? But then the line can accommodate slower freight trains.

But I did say the following in Will Southern Create A South Coast Express Using IPEMUs?, about an electrified service on the Marshlink Line.

Using IPEMU trains would simplify the job and mean no electrification would be needed.

It would appear that Network Rail are thinking along similar lines.

The High Speed Battery Train

Are Bombardier creating a genuine high speed train with a 200 kph capability and the ability to run for at least fifty miles on battery power.

  • Bombardier certainly have the experience to build a 200 kph train for the UK, in that both Class 221 trains and Class 222 trains were built by Bombardier.
  • If they had to settle for the 175 kph of the current Class 387 train, that wouldn’t be too serious a problem. Especially, if they could squeeze the extra 25 kph in a few years, with an upgrade.
  • Class 387 trains have been running on Thameslink since December 2014.
  • A lot of technology like LED lights, regenerative braking, efficient air-conditioning and automatic train control systems are available to make trains use less electricity.
  • The battery technology has been reported as going through extensive testing in Mannheim.

Without doubt Bombardier can produce a 175 kph (110 mph) train based on the Class 387 train and they could be able to stretch that to a 200 kph (125 mph) one!

That would be some train!

The IPEMU Market

If they can produce a high speed train with an onboard energy storage, it is not a speculative product without a market.

In addition to the Marshlink Line, all of these lines have a proportion of running at around 160 kph or over and then an extension, that is not electrified.

  • Liverpool Street to Lowestoft – This route is in the new Greater Anglia franchise.
  • Liverpool Street to Yarmouth via Cambridge, Ely and Norwich.
  • Liverpool Street to Peterborough via Cambridge.
  • Ipswich to Cambridge, Ely and Peterborough.
  • Kings Cross to Grimsby, Hull and Lincoln.
  • Kings Cross to Hartlepool, Middlesbrough and Sunderland.
  • Liverpool to Newcastle and Edinburgh via Manchester, Huddersfield and Leeds.
  • Liverpool to Hull via Warrington, Manchester, Sheffield and Doncaster.
  • Blackpool to Leeds via Preston and the Calder Valley Line.
  • St. Pancras to Corby and Leicester
  • Euston to Barrow, Blackpool, Chester, Huddersfield and Shrewsbury
  • Paddington to Bedwyn, Henley, Marlowe, Newbury, Oxford and Windsor

In addition, there are some routes , which could be served, with some short stretches of electrification or a means of charging the train at the terminus.

  • Waterloo to Exeter via Salisbury.
  • York to Scarborough
  • Edinburgh to Tweedbank
  • Settle to Carlisle
  • Carlisle to Newcastle.

And then there’s all the branch lines!


Could we be witnessing a rail revolution powered by batteries?

I certainly think we are and have thought so for some time.

Who’ve have thought that Network Rail would spill the beans in Hastings about a rather charming line across the Romney Marsh?








March 19, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Small-Scale Connectivity To Crossrail

I live about twenty-five minutes from my nearest Crossrail station at Moorgate on a 141 bus and as I walked around today, I just wondered what will be the best way to access London’s new East-West rail line when it opens in a few years time.

So what do I mean by small-scale connectivity?

I think it is best defined as any method that isn’t more than perhaps ten stations on heavy rail, light rail, the Underground or trams.

And of course, you might substitute Thameslink for Crossrail! Or if you don’t live in London, it could be your major cross-city line.

So in my case, the following would be small-scale connectivity to Crossrail.

  • Walking
  • Cycling
  • Car
  • Taxi
  • Bus

I do have a heavy rail link to Crossrail in the form of the East London Line between Dalston Junction and Whitechapel, so that will be included as it is only a short stretch of line of four stations.

These are the methods available to me in Dalston.


For good connectivity, the walking routes around a station should be properly mapped and signposted on a physical wayfinding system, like Legible London used all over the capital.

I also think it is essential that a common format is used, along a line.

So this probably means that London will decide how walking maps and signposts at Crossrail stations in Essex and Berkshire will look.

Will that be acceptable to towns and cities, that have called in consultants to design their ideal wayfinding system?

One problem with wayfinding systems, is that in some places the locals who know the city or area well, say they don’t need the system and think it a waste of money.

You also have the problem in areas with more than one local authority, that each go their own way, rather than agree on a common system.

Remember too, that London is so large, that the average resident finds themselves regularly in an area of the city they don’t know. So Londoners on the whole are very pro-Legible London.

I feel that we need to impose the same wayfinding system all over the UK.


Just as there should be good walking routes to a station, the cycling routes should be obvious and well-signposted.

And if  bikes are provided for hire at the station, the payment system must be compatible with London’s.

Perhaps we need a nationwide bike hire system?


Many people will want to drive to their local Crossrail station and park their car before they get the train.

i have a feeling that when Crossrail opens, the biggest complaint will be the lack of car parking at stations.


For about the last three months, I’ve been suffering badly from plantar fasciitis and because of the limited mobility, it gives me at times, I now feel very strongly that every Crossrail station, should have a proper black taxi rank.

Recently Transport for London have announced that one of my local stations; Highbury and Islington, is going to have a taxi rank. I have yet to find a taxi driver who is against the idea and I believe this could be a winner for both passengers and black cab drivers.


Every London rail and tube station is a bus hub with its own spider map, which details all of the buses and their routes from the area. This is my lovcal bus spider map for Dalston.

Dalston Bus Spider Map

Dalston Bus Spider Map

Venture outside of London and in many places, bus mapping is often missing or very bad to give it the benefit of the doubt.

As with walking maps, local authorities outside of London with a Crossrail station, will have to adopt London’s system.

Other Rail Lines

Crossrail does connect to quite a number of heavy rail, Underground and Overground Lines.

  • Bakerloo Line
  • Central Line
  • Circle Line
  • District Line
  • East London Line
  • Great Eastern Main Line
  • Great Western Main Line
  • HS1 – After extension to Gravesend
  • HS2 – After Old Oak Common
  • Jubilee Line
  • Metropolitan Line
  • North Kent Line
  • Northern Line
  • Northern City Line
  • North London Line
  • Thameslink
  • West Anglia Main Line
  • West Coast Main Line – After extension to West Coast Main Line
  • West London Line

I have included links to extensions to Gravesend and the West Coast Main Line and Old Oak Common in this list.

Small Branch Lines

But it also  connects with several smaller branch lines or perhaps in the future, some tram and light rail lines.

I believe that Local Authorities will develop these smaller lines and create others to maximise their benefit from Crossrail,

A Metro In The East

The two lines that I think have the most likely chance of being developed, are the Romford to Upminster and Shenfield to Southend Lines.

  • The main line rail company; c2c, is very ambitious.
  • In the next couple of decades, South East Essex will be an important economic growth area.
  • Better links are needed to Southend Airport and the London Gateway.
  • There is substantial development of jobs, housing and leisure opportunities in the areas the lines serve.
  • Give the people of Essex an opportunity and they embrace it fully.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see a substantial metro network created in the area, based on Billericay, Shenfield, Southend and Thurrock.

A Metro In The West

If a metro network can be successfully developed at the eastern end of Crossrail, is there the potential of creating something similar at the western end?


  • Heathrow dominates thinking in West London and feels that everybody should jump to its tune.
  • Heathrow should wake up to the fact that it will never get a third runway, as London’s electorate will always vote to block this.
  • There will always be a Heathrow, but in time, it will cease to dominate the air travel market in the UK, as it does now!
  • Heathrow has very limited rail connections to Basingstoke, Reading and the West.
  • If you look at the list of small branch lines, several are clustered around the western end of Crossrail, with its two hub stations of Slough and Reading.

A metro in the west could be developed based on hubs at Basingstoke, Heathrow, Slough and Reading. The Windsor Link Railway is surely thinking along those lines.

A Metro In The South East

Of all the stations on Crossrail, Abbey Wood is one of the most disappointing.

As a terminus for Crossrail, that connects to the North Kent Line and to services to South East London and the Dartford area, four platforms doesn’t seem enough, when you compare the station to the other terminals of Reading and Shenfield.

Transport for London have proposed that the Gospel Oak to Barking Line could cross the river to serve Abbey Wood and if this should happen, there must be opportunities to create another metro system based on Abbey Wood.

A Metro In The North

There are proposals to extend Crossrail to Milton Keynes from Old Oak Common.

This would surely, bring in the possibility of a network of local lines based on Watford.

  • The Abbey Line is one of those difficult-to-run lines, that needs substantial improvement.
  • The Croxley Rail Link could be expanded to serve Amersham.
  • Local services on the West Coast Main Line and the Watford DC Line are very crowded.

This will only be developed once Crossrail serves Watford.


Crossrail in 2030, will be an entirely different line to that being created today.

February 28, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Will Southern Create A South Coast Express Using IPEMUs?

This post is pure speculation on my part,which I’ve written to illustrate the capabilities of an IPEMU.

What is an IPEMU?

Many rail passengers in the UK, have ridden in one of Bombardier’s fairly ubiquitous Electrostar trains. Here’s a short list of some of the types and the services they run.

A Class 379 was used to create the IPEMU or Independently Powered Electric Multiple Unit and a year ago, I rode this train in public service between Manningtree and Harwich.

A battery pack had been added to the four-car train, which was charged up, when the train is running on an electrified line; third rail or overhead and the energy can then be used to propel the train on a line without electrification.

I was told by the engineer sitting opposite me,monitoring train performance on a laptop, that this Class 379 IPEMU had the following characteristics.

  • A range of upwards of sixty miles on battery power.
  • Similar performance on battery or direct power.
  • Virtually identical driving experience.

I would also add that the passenger experience was virtually identical.

Network Rail and Bombardier have put a lot of time, effort and money into the IPEMU. They believe, that IPEMUs and their battery power will have the following applications.

  • Providing affordable electric services on branch lines or other lines that are difficult to electrify.
  • Moving trains around in depots and sidings that have not been electrified.
  • Train recovery and diversion, when the power fails.
  • Used in conjunction with regenerative braking, IPEMU technology saves electricity.

Obviously, Bombardier very much believe in the technology, as their new train; the Aventra has been designed to use energy storage.

IPEMU is an acronym, that will increasingly be used with trains.

The Class 387 Train

Southern, who operate a lot of services south of London are users of Class 387 trains.

The Class 387/1 trains will be replaced by Class 700 trains, as they arrive from Germany.

Unfortunately, due to the well-documented problems of Network Rail’s electrification, it looks like a lot of these twenty-nine trains could be put into storage.

I believe that some of these trains will be given an IPEMU capability to be used to provide electric train services on certain lines.

As they are closely related to the Class 379 train used for the prototype, I feel that most of the technical problems have been solved.

Along The South Coast From Southampton to Ashford

The South Coast from Southampton to Ashford is covered by two separate rail routes.

If you want to travel between say Hastings and Worthing, you will have to change trains at Brighton.

This usually means a wait of a few minutes and a change of platform.

Any sane person would believe that if a single train could run all the way from Southampton to Ashford, this would be better for many reasons.

  • The train company would probably need less trains.
  • Passengers wouldn’t have to change trains at Brighton.
  • There could probably be a simpler interchange between Coastway and Brighton Main Line services at Brighton station, which might release platform space.
  • Both Coastway routes are limited to speeds below 80 mph and are fairly straight, so perhaps with some improvements, faster services could be introduced.

Until recently, the only trains capable of going from Ashford to Southampton would have been diesel multiple units, but as the only part of the route that is not electrified is the Marshlink Line from Ore to Ashford, it would now be possible to run the service using an IPEMU variant of a Class 387 train.  The train would charge its on-board batteries between Southampton and Ore and at Ashford and then use battery power to bridge the gap of about thirty miles on the Marshlink Line.

As IPEMUs have a range of sixty miles, then it would seem that there should be few problems in running the trains between Ashford and Ore.

This approach has benefits.

  • The Class 387 train is an 110 mph electric train with regenerative braking, so services could be faster.
  • GTR has quite a few of the standard Class 387 trains in service, so the company and their drivers probably know them well.
  • GTR could say they have removed a number of diesel trains and they are a greener company.
  • Network Rail would only have to update the track and signalling of the Marshlink Line for four-car trains and wouldn’t need to electrify any of the route.

Currently, to go from Ashford to Southampton takes three hours forty-five minutes and it is quicker to go via St. Pancras and Waterloo. But with a 110 mph train and no changes, timings must be possible in the region of three hours.

I suspect that with some selected track improvements, a limited-stop service could be a real South Coast Express.

There certainly is some scope and I’ll detail each improvements on the main East and West Coastways separately,

The Marshlink Line

The Marshlink Line is not fully double-tracked, has several level crossings and a low speed limit, which if improved, would probably be welcomed.

The Marshlink Line Action Group web site has an extensive report about improving the line, of which this is an extract, from a report which discusses extending the Class 395 train service from Ashford to Hastings.

The basics of the project are substantially as presented last year with line speeds generally expected to be 60-90 mph from Ashford to Doleham and 40-60 mph onwards to Hastings. But the ongoing big question for NR (and of concern to MLAG from an environmental point of view and compatibility with rolling stock in the surrounding lines) is whether the power source would be third rail (as MLAG would prefer) or overhead. NR acknowledges the difficulty of overhead power along the Marsh with gantries having to be built on (obviously) marsh land and with the strong winds. Whichever, some 30 miles of track would need to be laid but, apparently, only about half a mile of dualled track to the west of Rye.

Incidentally, there has been talk about running Class 395 trains from St. Pancras to Eastbourne via HS1 to Ashford and the Marshlink Line. It would undoubtedly be a fast service, but it has some inherent disadvatages.

  • The Marshlink Line would need to be electrified, probably with 25KVAC overhead wires.
  • Some people might object to the wires across the marshes?
  • Would it need some extra Class 395 trains to be purchased?
  • Would it mean that one franchise was encroaching on the territory of another?

On the other hand, using IPEMU trains would simplify the job and mean no electrification would be needed.

However, it would probably be a good idea to make sure that as much dualled track was created, to maintain an efficient service on the line in the future.

The Willingdon Chord And Eastbourne

There has been talk about reinstating the Willingdon Chord, which could shorten the line by making it possible for trains to by-pass Eastbourne, But the locals fear, that Eastbourne would lose services.

However, surely some fast long-distance services along the South Coast could by-pass the town.

A skilled compiler of timetables could probable devise one for Eastbourne, that gave the town, faster and better services to Brighton, Southampton and London.

Lewes And The Wealden Line

It is an aspiration of many to reinstate the Wealden Line, as a new route to London to take pressure off the Brighton Main Line.

In Musical Trains In Sussex, I gave my reasons for believing that the Uckfield Branch could be run using Class 387 IPEMUs.

I also believe that if the Wealden Line is reinsatated that it will use the same type of train.

Obviously, Network Rail and Southern, will make sure that the Wealden Line project doesn’t conflict with a desire to run fast trains along the South Coast.

Hove Station

Hove station is a busy one with up to eight services an hour passing through in both directions, to and from Victoria and Gatwick Airport as well as Brighton.

There were aspirations that in the future to add the London Bridge to Littlehampton via Hove service to Thameslink. The service would use the Cliftonville Curve to access the Brighton Main Line, as it does now.

This would give all stations on the West Coastway Line between Hove and Littlehampton, two trains per hour through to London Bridge and beyond

Except for the Future Developments section in the Wikipedia entry for Hove station, I can’t find any more about this proposal.

The Arundel Chord

One piece of infrastructural that gets mentioned is a chord at Arundel that would connect the West Coastway Line to the Arun Valley Line between Angmering and Ford stations.

If it were to be built, it would create another route between Brighton and Three Bridges using the eastern part of the West Coastway and the Arun Valley Line.

Westward From Littlehampton

My only experience of the western end of the West Coastway line, was missing a train and having to wait an hour on a freezing and deserted Bosham station for the next train.

The service could probably benefit from a rethink.


Brighton is the major interchange between the two Coastway services and the Brighton Main Line with its Gatwick Express, Victoria and Thameslink services.

Brighton station certainly needs improvement to cope with the large increase in capacity to the city, that Thameslink and its new Class 700 trains will bring.

Each twelve-car Class 700 train, will have a capacity approaching 1,800 passengers and there will be four of these trains to and from Central London and beyond every hour.

Obviously, the trains won’t be full at Brightpon and not all passengers will be walking to and from the station, so there needs to be better connections to buses and the two Coastway Lines.

At present, it takes a few minutes and a platform change to pass through Brighton if you’re going between services at the station.

  • Brighton Main Line, Gatwick Express and Thameslink services.
  • East Coastway services
  • West Coastway services.
  • Great Western Railway services to the West.

The platform layout at Brighton doesn’t look as if it was designed to make train services for passengers and train companies efficient.

So surely, if Coastway services could be linked, so that they came into the station, set down and picked up passengers before going out in the other direction, this would be a more efficient way to organise trains at the station.

It would also make the interchange between Coastway and Brighton Main Line services easier and hopefully, just a walk across a platform.

A reorganised Brighton could probably contribute several minutes to the savings in journey times along the Coastway.

This Google Map shows Brighton station and the two Coastway Lines coming into the station.

Brighton Station And The Coastways

Brighton Station And The Coastways

I don’t think it would be an affordable or even a sensible solution, to combine the two Coastways together north of Brighton station.

The Wivelsfield Alternative

But Network Rail have come up with an alternative solution, so that the two Coastways can be connected together.

Just sixteen kilometres north of Brighton is Wivelsfield station. It is possible to access the East Coastway Line just south of the station at Keymer Junction, which unfortunately is not grade-separated and probably needs to be to improve Eastbourne services from Victoria.

Wikipedia has a section on the future of Wivelsfield station, which says this.

In Autumn 2015 Network Rail released the Sussex Area Route Study, where two options for the proposed grade separation of Keymer Junction are detailed, both of which would transform the station dramatically. Option 1 is the minimal option and creates a new platform 0 on the west side of the station served by a 3rd track from the new flyover line from Lewes. Option 2 is much more ambitious and builds on option 1 by adding an additional 4th platform on the east side of the station as well, served by a 4th track on the line to Lewes. Whilst this would enable each line to the south to have a dedicated platform the primary benefit would be that the existing platforms could be used to turn back trains in either direction as needed without blocking the main lines.

As services can access the West Coastway Line through the Cliftonville Tunnel to Hove, which is a couple of miles north of Brighton station, it would appear that the two Coastways could be connected, with a reverse at Wivelsfield.

The route would be.

This is not a complete solution, as there would have to be a way to get to Brighton station, by probably changing at Lewes, Wivelsfield or Hove.

A Brighton Metro

In a trip to Brighton, I travelled to Seaford using the East Coastway and the Seaford Branch. Even on a Sunday morning in February, the three-car Class 313 train was pretty full, especially around the University of Sussex at Falmer station.

So could the half-hourly Brighton-Seaford service be extended to the west of the City to perhaps Hove, Littlehampton or even Bognor Regis?

It would surely generate its own traffic across the city, which could help to reduce Brighton’s bad traffic jams. Stations could be.

I think if you can sort out Brighton station or create the Wivelsfield alternative, you could run a four trains per hour stopping service across the city for as far as you want.

Perhaps the slower stopping trains would go via Brighton and the semi-fast services would go via Wivelsfield.

It’s a problem, that I suspect Network Rail have thought through fully!

Train Movements At Brighton

The only problem would be that the combined Coastway Line would need to cross the throat of the station, probably in a flat junction.

Say the Joint Coastway Line had the following services at Brighton.

  • 2-4 trains per hour between Seaford and Littlehampton/Bognor, that would stop at all stations including Brighton.
  • 2-4 trains per hour between Ashford International and Portsmouth Harbour and/or Southampton Central, that would stop at major stations only.

These would come into a platform or platforms on the Eastern side of the station, which would mean any train going to or coming from the West Coastway, would have to cross the Brighton Main Line to London.

The services to and from London after Thameslink is fully opened could be.

  • 3 trains per hour to Victoria.
  • 4 trains per hour on Thameslink

I’m no signalling expert, but I do feel that much more onerous train movements are coped with in stations like Manchester Piccadilly, Paddington and Waterloo.

Note the four trains per hour frequency on Thameslink (two from Cambridge and two from Bedford) Surely, if Coastway services are four trains per hour, then all services should have a pattern, so journeys like Seaford to Cambridge, involved just a walk across a platform at Brighton.

I’m sure some clever train scheduler can come up with an optimal pattern of changing trains at Brighton, especially if some trains used the alternative route via Wivelsfield.

But my feeling is that as Brighton is such an important station, that all Coastway services must either terminate or stop in the station.

At least there does not appear to be significant freight running on the Coastways.

Capacity At Brighton Station

The Thameslink Program and its Class 700 trains, will probably increase passengers through Brighton station.

Knowing the quality of Network Rail’s passenger transport modelling, I would not bet against Thameslink being so successful between London and Brighton, that additional services have to be added.

As the Thameslink trains will be new and they serve lots of destinations in London and beyond, I think it is a given, that passengers from places like Eastbourne and Worthing, might use Thameslink instead of their local direct route, changing at either Brighton or Gatwick Airport.


Improvement of the Coastways, is just one part of an evolving plan for rail and air services in Kent, Surrey and Sussex.

As there are important lines in the area that are not electrified, I’m certain that IPEMUs will play a part in this development.

After all, the technology works and we will soon have lots of Class 387 trains sitting in sidings.


February 6, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Government “not pursuing” HS1-HS2 Rail Link

This is the title of an article on Global Rail News.

The report entitled High Speed Two: East and West The next steps to Crewe and beyond considers it is just too difficult.

Section twelve of the report entitled Connecting to High Speed 1, goes into details.

They suggest an enhanced pedestrian link and say this for rail.

For rail, we considered a range of direct link options. It was, however, not possible to identify a viable rail option capable of meeting the strategic aspirations whilst successfully addressing stakeholder concerns. This was because the options were complex and expensive to construct and would have delivered infrequent, less attractive train services for HS2 passenger travelling to European destinations. As a result we do not intend to take forward proposals for a direct rail between HS2 and HS1 or include active or passive provision to support the construction of such a link in the future.

In my view, the only direct rail link possible, without demolishing half of Camden, would be a totally tunnelled double-tracked route from a few miles north of Euston to somewhere like Barking to connect with the Channel Tunnel Rail Link. It could also be used to get freight trains between the West Coast Main Line and the Channel Tunnel and the ports in the South East.

But it would have a cost of almost the level of the tunnels for Crossrail or Crossrail 2. Have we got a spare ten billion pounds?

The Pedestrian Link

From drawings of Euston station after HS2 is opened, it would appear that the HS2 platforms are on the western side of the station.

Does this make the pedestrian link difficult?

The Crossrail Alternative

When HS2 opens in2026, it will stop at Old Oak Common station, where it will interface with a myriad of lines including Crossrail.

Crossrail at present only goes as far as Abbey Wood, but the route is safeguarded to Gravesend. As I showed in Crossrail Extension To Gravesend, extending Crossrail to Ebbsfleet International station, would not be a multi-billion pound project.

As the HS2 station at Old Oak Common is not finalised yet, I do hope when it is, that it is simple interchange between HS2 and Crossrail.

With a simple interchange between Crossrail and HS1, the link between HS1 and HS2 via Crossrail would not be as simple as a direct link, but it could have other advantages, when you look at the using Crossrail as a preferred link.

Convenience For Passengers

If Crossrail served Ebbsfleet International, this would mean that passengers from many more places would have a direct or one-change link to Continental services.

But the biggest winners would be those wanting to go between Heathrow and the Continent. What the direct frequency would be between  Heathrow and Ebbsfleet International would be up to the planners, but I can’t expect there would be less than four trains per hour

I live close to Dalston Junction and might prefer to use Crossrail from Whitechapel to Ebbsfleet, at certain times of the day, when my routes to St. Pancras are extremely busy!

I believe that Crossrail should go be exected to Ebbsfleet International as soon as is feasible!

St. Pancras Is Too Small

I believe that in a few years time, London to Paris and London to Brussels will be turn-up-and-go services.

Given too, that plans exist for direct services to Amsterdam/Rotterdam, Marseilles and Cologne, it strikes me that a four-platform St. Pancras station will be too small in perhaps ten years.

Also, what would happen if say easyRail or RyanRail wanted to run low-cost services to Europe, which is or will be allowed by European Union competition rules?

With Crossrail linked to Ebbsfleet International, where there is plenty of space for more platforms, it would be possible that services could terminate there and use Crossrail to and from Central London.

Customs And Immigration

Once Crossrail is a feasible route to Continental services and the travel statistics start to be reliable, it might be possible so sort out our archaic customs and immigration arrangements.

When I travel between say Brussels and Frankfurt, I just have to have a valid ticket, but how long before I need to show my passport and have my baggage scanned on a journey like this?

Incidentally, if you travel on some long-distance trains in Spain, your baggage is scanned.

I think that with all the problems of terrorism and illegal immigration, that cross-border trains within the Schengen area, will come under tighter security rules in the near future.

Will  regulations like this mean, when I am travelling from say Cologne to London, that I would undergo the same checks as another passenger going from Cologne to Brussels?

I certainly hope so!

Modern Ticketing

Surely with e-passports and contactless bank cards, we should be able to do something a lot better than exists today.

Imagine turning up at any major station on either side of the Channel, where you can board a train for the other side.

You put your e-passport on the turn-up-and-go terminal, which checks you against the passport. You just indicate on a screen where you want to go, choose your train and, pay for it and then walk through to the waiting area.

If you have already bought your ticket, the terminal would recognise you and after checking the bar code on your ticket or your bank card, you would also be let through.

The only thing to do before boarding, who be the personal and baggage scan.

All the technology to create a ticketing system like this is available today.

On the other hand, I would hate to see a system that was so slow, that you had to spend an hour in a station before travelling.

Thoughts On The Camden HS1-HS2 Link

After writing the previous sections and reading this section on Wikipedia about the link, I had the following thoughts.

  • Trains between the Continent and HS2 would not stop in Central London. This might cause logistical problems for groups of travellers.
  • To call at St. Pancras, trains would need to reverse at St. Pancras. Would there be enough platforms?
  • Would Customs and Immigration services have to be provided at every HS2 station?

I suspect others have had the same and other thoughts and have thus decided that a pedestrian route is the best way to change between Euston and St. Pancras.

Journey Times

I wouldn’t use Ebbsfleet if the total journey time was a lot longer.

The following assumptions and facts can be considered.

  • Ticketing, boarding or disembarking at St. Pancras or Ebbsfleet shouldn’t take different times.
  • From Eurostar’s timetable St. Pancras to Ebbsfleet takes twenty minutes.
  • From Eurostar’s timetable St. Pancras to Paris by the fastest train takes two hours sixteen minutes.
  • From Eurostar’s timetable Ebbsfleet to Paris by the fastest train takes two hours five minutes.
  • From Crossrail’s predictions, Old Oak Common to Abbey Wood will take thirty two minutes.
  • I estimate that Abbey Wood to Ebbsfleet International would take perhaps fifteen minutes.
  • I estimate that Old Oak Common to |St. Pancras via a direct HS1-HS2 link would take perhaps fifteen minutes or a bit more, if the train had to reverse at St. Pancras.

This would give the following estimated times.

  • Old Oak Common to Paris via St. Pancras would take two hours thirty-one minutes.
  • Old Oak Common to Paris via Crossrail would take two hours fifty-two minutes.

So not building a direct link means that passengers using HS2 to get to Paris take another twenty-one minutes.

On the other hand, how many would book separate trains with a generous connection time and whilst crossing central London would have a relaxing meal?


I think that to save twenty-one minutes in a journey from HS2 to Paris, but completely rebuild the lines North of Euston and St. Pancras is a trade-off not worth making.



December 3, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment