The Anonymous Widower

Travelling From Edinburgh To London Next Wednesday

I am going to Scotland for a couple of days and will be returning on Wednesday.

I have just booked a First Class Advance Ticket for £69.30

  • I used my Senior Railcard.
  • The train leaves at 19:36 and s the last direct train South.
  • The train arrives in London at 01:05, which isn’t too late for me, as I can get a taxi home, for a reasonable fare.
  • I can even get an all-night bus to the stop round the corner.
  • I will be served complimentary snacks on the train.

Out of curiosity, I looked up easyJet

These were possible flights and prices, between Edinburgh and Gatwick Airports.

  • 06:05 – 07:35 – 65.55
  • 13:40 – 15:20 – £82.72
  • 15:35 – 17:15 – £88.78
  • 21:15 – 22:45 – £125.14

In addition, I would have to add about a tenner for getting to the Airports and perhaps ninety minutes before and after the flight.

So it looks to me, that my train ticket is better value, quicker and may get me home only an hour or so, later than the last flight, which will be twice the price.

 

August 17, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A First Ride In One Of LNER’s New Azumas

The Azuma is the name given by LNER‘s new Class 800 trains.

I rode in one today from Peterborough to Kings Cross after deliberately doing the trip the other way in an InterCity 125.

I took these pictures.

These are my thoughts.

The Brand-Name

The Azuma brand-name is one of those names, that was either thought-up for a fee of several million pounds by a specialist agency or it was thought up by a few serious real-ale drinkers in a comfortable pub, in front of a roaring fire or a blazing sun.

  • It is actually Japanese for East, so I doubt it will be controversial.
  • It is catchy and if say Simon Calder said that he liked the new Azuma, it might result in extra ticket sales.
  • It will differentiate LNER from their competitors running differently-liveried examples of the same Class 800 train.
  • Does it suggest speed in English, with the zoom in the middle?

LNER obviously like it, as Wikipedia says they retained the name, which was devised by the previous franchise holder; Virgin Trains East Coast.

Thinking through the history of the East Coast Main Line, I can only remember one class of locomotives or trains, that got a name; the Class 55 locomotive or Deltic. For those of my generation, Deltics are often iconic. In The Thunder of Three-Thousand Three-Hundred Horses, I describe a memorable trip behind a Deltic.

The Livery

The livery is distinctly cheeky, with an eye suggested around the front side-window!

The eye certainly stands out, which could be a good way to get extra seat sales.

It also appears that the livery has changed from the original Virgin East Coast design.

I like it!

The Interior

The interior is simple, practical and bright with some innovative touches.

  • I was in Standard and there were a reasonable number of good-sized tables, which is always welcome.
  • The seats seemed better than those fitted to the Class 800 trains on Great Western Railway (GWR).
  • The electronic seat registration status displays were clear and understandable.
  • I didn’t use the wi-fi or the charging points, but others were using them and one guy said they worked fine.
  • Our ticket collector had a moan and I suspect there are a few problems that will be corrected as necessary.

But then trains always get a lot better after their first major update.

Comparison With Great Western Railway’s Version

The general consensus between two other passengers and myself, was that the seats in the Azuma were more comfortable, than those of GWR’s Class 800 trains.

A Three Class Train

Like some other services in the UK, the Azuma is effectively a three-class train.

  • First Class
  • Standard Class with a table.
  • Bog Standard Class

I find it interesting that East Midlands Railway are promising that all seats will have tables, which already happens on some services on Chiltern Railways.

I wonder if LNER’s competitors; East Coast Trains, Grand Central and Hull Trains will offer more tables.

As a regular user of Chiltern Railways, I can see more tables being added to all main line services.

Performance

As the pictures show, I followed the train speed with the Speedview app on my phone.

After accelerating away from Peterborough 125 mph was held to Stevenage and then after slowing for the twin-track section over the Digswell Viaduct, the train maintained 100 mph for most opf the way until Kings Cross.

I think we will see improved performance onf the East Coast Main Line, with speeds increasing and journey times decreasing.

  • There are plans to add extra tracks between Huntingdon and Peterborough.
  • The flyunder at Werrington will be completed.
  • There are plans for improvements to the North at Newark, Doncaster and York.
  • Digital signalling will allow 140 mph running of Azumas and other Class 800 trains.
  • It has been suggested that capacity on the route would improve with 125 mph trains running to Kings Lynn.

If all operators were running Class 800 trains, this would surely increase capacity.

Splitting And Joining

This document on the Hitachi web site is entitled Development of Class 800/801 High-Speed Rolling Stock For UK Intercity Express Programme.

This is a sentence from the document.

It also incorporates an automatic coupling system that shortens the time taken to couple or uncouple trains while stopped at a station.

Their Kentish cousins have been at it for several years.

LNER have not disclosed how they will use splitting and joining, but there are possibilities, where two five-car trains leave London as a ten-car train and then split en route to serve two destinations.

  • London to Aberdeen and Inverness, splitting, at Edinburgh.
  • London to Harrogate or Skipton and Middlesborough, splitting at Leeds.
  • London to Lincoln and Hull, splitting at Newark.

Trains would join at the same stations, when returning South.

The splitting and joining has advantages over the current fixed-length InterCity 125 and InterCity 225.

  • A five-car Azuma, only needs a 130 metre long platform. So services to destinations like Lincoln, Middlesbrough, Scarborough and Sunderland without a long platform become possible without expensive platform extensions.
  • Train paths on the East Coast Main Line are being used more efficiently, as in some cases two destinations are served by one service into Kings Cross.

There are some disadvantages.

  • Travellers must make sure they get into the correct part of the train.
  • There is probably more staff on the train, as both five-car trains need a full crew.
  • Returning South, trains must keep to time precisely to the joining station, to avoid delaying another service.
  • All possible calling points on the East Coast Main Line, must be able to handle ten-car trains But as these are less than twenty metres longer than an InterCity 225, lengthening shouldn’t be a major exercise.

It’s probably best to consider the two five-car trains as separate services, which happened to be coupled together on the Southern section of the East Coast Main Line.

It should also be noted that several stations like Kings Cross, Doncaster, York and others have entrances in the middle of the platform, which is convenient for either the front or rear train.

Bicycles, Surf Boards And Oversized Luggage

I don’t think you get many surfboards on London to Leeds services, but a member of LNER’s staff told me, that during the recent Tour de Yorkshire, there were a lot of passengers with bicycles. This could be a problem on the Azuma,, as the nine-car train has only four spaces, with a five-car just two.

With the conversion of Scottish services to Azumas, I can see that luggage could be a problem.

I took this picture at Edinburgh, where this luggage is about to be swallowed by the locomotive of an InterCity 125.

I can see a time, when there will be a need to add another car to some nine-car trains, to make sure all the bicycles, surf boards and oversized luggage can be accommodated on the train.

  • Are LNER cutting themselves off from upmarket golf tours, where passengers travel between London and Gleneagles in First Class luxury?
  • GWR have a similar problem on South West England services and I think, it will get more serious in the next few years, as more people take up cycling and surfing.
  • It appears GWR have resorted to banning surf-boards.
  • ScotRail have opted to convert redundant single-car Class 153 trains, into multi-purpose additional carriages to enhance services on the West Highland Line.

I can also see a problem on the London to Inverness services. In Promoting The Highland Main Line, I wrote about the efforts of the Highland Main Line Community Rail Partnership to encourage more visitors to their iconic line and the surrounding area.

Many of the visitors that are attracted to the area, might come with bicycles, golf bags, climbing equipment and other oversized baggage.

So could we see an extra multi-purpose car added to some Azumas working between London and Scotland?

  • The Class 800 trains can be lengthened to as long as twelve cars.
  • Manufacturing of extra cars in the next few years, should be relatively easy.
  • Adding extra cars is a simple cut-and-paste, with the train software ascertaining the train formation.
  • Most platforms are probably long enough for at least ten-car trains.
  • A ten-car Class 800 formation is only fifteen metres longer than a nine-car InterCity 225.
  • There may be opportunities to carry high-value, urgent or perishable freight.

Obviously, the train operators’ needs to satisfy their markets and their finances will decide if extra cars are worth adding.

But I think, that we’ll see some ten-car Azumas on the London and Aerdeen, Edinburgh and Inverness routes.

Conclusion

The train appears to meet the specification, but as regards bulky luggage, it could be that the specification is lacking.

 

 

 

May 16, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 6 Comments

Two East Midland Power Cars In Kings Cross

I was surprised to see two East Midlands Class 43 locomotives in Kings Cross station yesterday.

I have noticed an East Midlands-branded set recently and it looks like they have been separated.

 

 

April 21, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | 2 Comments

Could London Get A New Tube Line Between Canary Wharf And Euston?

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

The article makes some interesting points.

  • The line has been proposed by the owners of Canary Wharf.
  • Getting to Canary Wharf from Euston, Kings Cross and St. Pancras is difficult.
  • Property developers have always decided where London’s railways go.
  • The plan would seem to have just one intermediate stop at Blackfriars station.

These new or improved services will be happening in the next ten years.

  • More and faster services to/from the Midlands and the North West at Euston.
  • High Speed Two services at Euston
  • More and faster services to/from the East Midlands and Sheffield at St. Pancras.
  • More Continental services at St. Pancras
  • More and faster services to/from Yorkshire, the North East and Scotland at Kings Cross.

These lead me to the conclusion, that a new rail link is needed across London.

A Possible Western Extension To The Docklands Light Railway

In A Connection Between City Thameslink Station And The Docklands Light Railway, I wrote about a possible Western extension of the Docklands Light Railway.

his map from Transport for London, shows this possible Western extension of the DLR.

This was my analysis.

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

Consider,

  • Victoria, Euston and St. Pancras are prosposed Crossrail 2 stations.
  • It would link Canary Wharf and the City of London to Eurostar, Northern and Scottish services and High Speed 2.
  • It would give all of the Docklands Light Railway network access to Thameslink.
  • A pair of well-designed termini at Euston and St. Panras would probably increase frequency and capacity on the Bank branch of the system.
  • The DLR is getting new higher capacity trains.
  • Bank station is being upgraded with forty percent more passenger capacity.
  • Holborn station is being upgraded and hopefully will be future-proofed for this extension.
  • One big advantage at City Thameslink, is that Thameslink and the proposed DLR extension will cross at right-angles, thus probably making designing a good step-free interchange easier.
  • The Bank Branch of the DLR currently handles 15 tph, but could probably handle more, if they went on to two terminal stations at St Pancras and Victoria..
  • Waterloo and City Line can run at twenty-four tph.

Cinderella she may be, but then she always delivers, when there is a desperate need, just as she did magnificently at the 2012 Olympics.

The only problem with this extension of the DLR, is that compared to the rest of the system, the views will be terrible.

For myself and all the others living along the East London Line, with a step-free change at Shadwell, we would get excellent access to Euston, Saint Pancras and Victoria

But could the line still be called the Docklands Light Railway, as it spreads its tentacles further?

Will Cinderella come to the help of Canary Wharf for a second time?

I remember, when the Lewisham extension of the DLR was built without fuss, fanfare and cost and time overruns a couple of decades ago.

It was a triumph of sensible engineering.

April 18, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 9 Comments

Trains Ordered For 2021 Launch Of ‘High-Quality, Low Fare’ London – Edinburgh Service

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

This is the first paragraph.

FirstGroup has finalised an order for five Hitachi AT300 electric trainsets which it will use to launch a London – Edinburgh open access service in autumn 2021.

The trains are Class 802 trains, similar to those used by FirstGroup companies; Hull Trains and Great Western Railway.

These are some points from the article.

  • FirstGroup is targeting the two-thirds of passengers, who fly between London and Edinburgh.
  • They are also targeting business passengers, as the first train arrives in Edinburgh at 10:00.
  • The trains are five-cars.
  • The trains are one class with onboard catering, air-conditioning, power sockets and free wi-fi.
  • Stops will be five trains per day with stops at Stevenage, Newcastle and Morpeth.
  • The trains will take around four hours.
  • The service will start in Autumn 2021.

These are my observations.

Earlier Start

I suspect that the service can’t start earlier, due to one of the following.

  • The lead time in building the trains.
  • Completion of the new Werrington Junction.
  • Completion of the sorting of Kings Cross.
  • Completion of the works at Stevenage station.

The track works will probably be needed to create the extra paths needed on the East Coast Main Line.

Electric-Only Trains

Most other Class 802 trains are bi-mode trains, but will these be electric-only?

Capacity Issues

If the trains prove too small, they can just add extra carriages or two trains can run as a pair.

Timetables

Trains will probably take nine hours for a round-trip, allowing 30 minutes for turnround.

This would mean that two trains leaving London and Edinburgh at six, would arrive back at home after two round trips around midnight.

Conclusion

I think it will be a successful service.

March 22, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Nervous Operators Force Network Rail To Defer King’s Cross Plan

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

King’s Cross station has to be closed for three months, so that tracks, electrification and signalling can be replaced and modernised for about 1.5 miles from the buffer stops at the station.

The original dates of the closure were to have been between December 2019 and March 2020, but now it looks like it could be delayed by up to a year.

The article on the web site, is a shortened version of the article in the magazine, where this is said.

Closure dates have yet to be announced, and NR is still developing a passenger handling strategy which could include long-distance services at Finsbury Park or some services terminating at Peterborough. Some trains could even be rerouted into London Liverpool Street.

I wonder, if Network Rail’s planners are cursing that the around thirty miles between Peterborough and Ely is not electrified.

If it were electrified, it would allow electric trains as well as diesel and bi-mode trains to access Liverpool Street station via the West Anglia Main Line.

What Benefits Would There Be From Electrifying Peterborough To Ely?

I can imagine Oxford-educated civil servants in the Department of Transport and The Treasury dismissing calls for more electrification in the backwater of East Anglia, after the successful electrification to Norwich in the 1980s.

But now Cambridge is powering ahead and East Anglia is on the rise, with the massive Port of Felixstowe needing large numbers of freight trains to other parts of mainland UK.

This East Anglian success gives reasons for the electrification of the Peterborough-Ely Line.

Direct Electric Trains Between Peterborough And Cambridge

I have met Cambridge thinkers, who believe that Peterborough is the ideal place for businesses, who need to expand from Cambridge.

Peterborough has the space that Cambridge lacks.

But the transport links between the two cities are abysmal.

  • The A14 is only a two-lane dual-carriageway, although a motorway-standard section is being added around Huntingdon.
  • Peterborough station has been improved in recent years.
  • The direct train service is an hourly three-car diesel service between Birmingham and Stansted Airport, which doesn’t stop at the increasingly-important Cambridge North station.

The road will get better, but the rail service needs improvement.

  • There needs to be at least two direct trains per hour (tph) between Cambridge and Peterborough.
  • They would stop at Cambridge North, Waterbeach, Ely and March.
  • End-to-end timing would be under an hour.
  • Greater Anglia will have the four-car bi-mode Class 755 trains, which would be ideal for the route from next year.

If the Peterborough- Ely Line was electrified, Greater Anglia could use five-car Class 720 trains.

An Electric Diversion Route For The East Coast Main Line

The works at Kings Cross station, and the possible proposal to run some trains into Liverpool Street station, show that an electric diversion route would be useful, when there are closures or problems on the East Coast Main Line.

In the case of the Kings Cross closure, if Peterborough were to be used as the terminal for some trains from the North, then I suspect some high-capacity Class 800 trains could shuttle passengers to Liverpool Street.

If the date of the Kings Cross closure is 2020, then certain things may help.

  • Crossrail will be running.
  • Extra trains will be running from Finsbury Park to Moorgate.
  • Hull Trains will be running bi-mode Class 802 trains.
  • There could be more capacity on the West Anglia Main Line.
  • There could be more capacity and some longer platforms at Liverpool Street.

What would really help, is the proposed four-tracking of the West Anglia Main Line.

The latter could prove extremely useful, when Network Rail decide to bite the bullet and four-track the Digswell Viaduct.

Extending Greater Anglia’s Network

Greater Anglia have bought new bi-mode Class 755 trains.

This would appear to be more than enough to covering the current services, as they are replacing twenty-six trains with a total of fifty-eight coaches with thirty-eight trains with a total of one hundred and thirty-eight coaches.

That is 46 % more trains and 137 % more coaches.

The new trains are also genuine 100 mph trains on both electricity and diesel.

Obviously, Greater Anglia will be running extra services, but with the explosive growth around Cambridge, coupled with the new Cambridge North station, I feel they will be running extra services on the Peterborough to Cambridge route and perhaps further.

The new Werrington Grade Separation will make a difference.

  • It will open in a couple of years.
  • Trains between Peterborough and Lincoln won’t block the East Coast Main Line.
  • The Leicester route could also be improved.

So services to and from Lincoln and Leicester would probably be easier to run from Cambridge and Stansted Airport.

CrossCountry run a service between Birmingham New Street and Stansted Airport stations.

  • The service stops at Coleshill Parlway, Nuneaton, Leicester, Melton Mowbray, Oakham, Stamford, Peterborough, March, Ely and.Cambridge and Audley End stations.
  • The service doesn’t stop at Cambridge North station.
  • The service is run by an inadequate Class 170 train, which sometimes is only two coaches and totally full.
  • Trains take just over three hours ten minutes for the journey.

Will Greater Anglia take over this route? Or possibly run a second train as far as Leicester?

Their Class 755 trains with better performance and specification would offer the following.

  • Electric running between Ely and Stansted Airport stations.
  • Greater passenger capacity.
  • wi-fi, plugs and USB sockets.
  • A three hour journey both ways.
  • The extra performance would probably allow an extra important stop at Cambridge North station.

The new trains would certainly offer what passengers want.

CrossCountry run an extra train between Birmingham New Street and Leicester, so perhaps at the Western end, the Greater Anglia service need only go as far as Leicester.

At the Stansted end of the route, there will be an hourly train between Stansted Airport and Norwich, so there could be scope for perhaps cutting one the services back to Cambridge.

Obviously, time-tabling would sort it out to the benefit of the train operators and passengers, but I can envisage a set of services like this.

  • Norwich and Stansted Airport – Greater Anglia – 1 tph
  • Birmingham New Street and Stansted Airport – CrossCountry – 1 tph
  • Leicester and Cambridge – Greater Anglia – 1 tph
  • Colchester and Peterborough – 1 tph
  • Norwich and Nottingham (Currently Liverpool Lime Street) – 1 tph

Adding these up you get.

  • Stansted Airport and Cambridge – 2 tph – As now!
  • Stansted Airport and Cambridge North – 2 tph – New service!
  • Cambridge and Ely – 4 tph – At least!
  • Ely and Peterborough – 4 tph – At least!
  • Cambridge and Peterborough – 2 tph – Up from 1 tph
  • Stansted Airport and Peterbough – 1 tph – As now!
  • Cambridge and Leicester – 2 tph = Up from 1 tph.

This pattern or something like it would be much better for all.

If the Ely-Peterborough section of the were to be electrified then it would enable the following.

  • A reduced journey time for electric or bi-mode trains.
  • If required Greater Anglia could run an extra electric service using Class 720 trains between Stansted Airport and Peterbough.

I said earlier that the Werrington Grade Separation will make it easier to run services between Peterborough and Lincoln.

So why not add an hourly service between Cambridge and Lincoln?

I can envisage, when the West Anglia Main Line is four-tracked at the southern end, that there might be enough capacity for a Liverpool Street to Lincoln service via Cambridge, Cambridge North, Ely, Peterborough, Spalding and Sleaford.

But whatever happens Greater Anglia’s choice of bi-mode Class 755 trains, seems to give them the flexibility to match services to passengers needs.

Electro-Diesel and Battery-Electric Freight Locomotives

The Class 88 locomotive is an electro-diesel freight locomotive, that can use either power from overhead electrification or an pnboard diesel engine.

I believe that locomotives like this will become more common and that eventually, we’ll see a battery-electric heavy freight locomotive.

I wrote about the latter in Thoughts On A Battery/Electric Replacement For A Class 66 Locomotive.

The Peterborough-Ely Line will see increasing numbers of trains hauled by these powerful electric locomotives, with either diesel or battery power to propel them over the gaps in the electrification.

Electrifying the line would speed these hybrid trains through and increase the capacity of the route.

Conclusion

Network Rail have annoyed the train operators with their planning and timing of the upgrade at Kings Cross station.

It looks to me, that the part of the problem, is that there is no viable electrified secondary route to London.

Bi-mode trains can use the Peterborough-Ely Line to go to Liverpool Street via Cambridge.

This line is one of those routes that sits in a sea of electrification, which carries a lot of traffic, that would bring several benefits if it were to be electrified.

  • Direct electric trains between Cambridge and Peterborough, would greatly improve the spasmodic service between the two cities, with large economic benefits to the county.
  • An electric diversion route would be created from Peterborough to Liverpool Street via Ely and Cambridge.
  • It would allow Greater Anglia to develop routes West of Cambridge to places like Lincoln and Leicester using their future fleet of Class 755 trains.
  • It would also make it easier for battery-electric freight locomotives to cover the busy freight route between Felixstowe and Peterborough.

I also feel that it wouldn’t be the most difficult route to electrify.

The Fens are flat.

There is no history of mining.

The track is fairly straight and simple.

I suspect that it could become a high-quality 90-100 mph, electrified line.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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December 8, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pedestrian Tunnels In London’s Transport System

I take particular interest in pedestrian tunnels, as I believe properly designed tunnels can be a solution to improving access to stations.

This list will be extended as I photograph more.

Bank – Bank And Monument Escalator Connection

I still think of this tunnel, as an escalator connection, as that was how it was marked on the tube map in the 1950s.

It is two escalators down a walk between the Docklands Light Railway platforms and then two escalators up at the other end.

Verdict – The connection is being upgraded.

Bank- Central To Northern Interchange Tunnel

This is the shortest way from the Central Line to the Northern Line.

It does involve a descent of a circular staircase.

When the Bank station upgrade is complete this route will be replaced by an escalator connection between the two lines.

This visualisation shows the connecting escalators.

Note.

  1. The two wide highest level tunnels are the Central Line.
  2. The infamous curved Central Line platforms,create a large gap to mind.
  3. The two mid-level crossed tunnels are the existing Bank and Monument Escalator Connection and the Waterloo & City Tunnel.
  4. The four narrower lowest level tunnels are from bottom to top; the Southbound Northern Line, a new tunnel with a travelator; the old Southbound Northern Line tunnel and the Northbound Northern Line tunnel.
  5. The old Southbound Northern Line tunnel will become a passenger walkway.

Poking through all this spaghetti are the three escalators connecting the Central Line level with the Northern Line level.

Verdict – This connection will become much better.

Bank – Waterloo & City Inclined Travelator

The inclined travelators that link the Waterloo & City Line platforms and the main station entrances around Bank junction, are unique on the London Underground.

There are other travelators, but no others are inclined.

Verdict – I wonder why there are no others, as this pair seem to work very well.

Bank – Waterloo & City Tunnel

This tunnel connects the Waterloo & City Line platforms at Bank station to the central tunnel at Bank station.

Verdict – It is a linear oasis in an otherwise dingy and cramped station.

Bond Street – Northern Entrance Tunnel

This new tunnel connects the new Northern entrance at Bond Street station to the platforms.

Incidentally, I’d arrived at Bond Street station through the main entrance and it was an awfully overcrowded scrum. The Northern entrance was quiet, as the pictures show.

The entrance is steps or a lift between the street and its own gate line and then a well-lit wide passage to the escalators.

In future, it will link to a wide tunnel to the Western end of the Crossrail platforms at the station.

It is much better way to enter Bond Street station.

Verdict – London and other cities with underground railways, need more new station entrances like this.

Green Park – Interchange Tunnel

This tunnel connects the Jubilee, Piccadilly and Victoria Lines at Green Park station.

The opening dates of the three lines, through the station were.

  • Piccadilly Line – 1906 – Modernised in the 1930s with escalators.
  • Victoria Line – 1969
  • Jubilee Line – 1979

Since 1979 the station has been continually improved and is step-free.

This map from carto.metre.free.fr shows the lines at Green Park station.

Note that the Jubilee Line is below the other lines and when the extension was built, it was a radical change to what was originally planned. The lines to the right lead to Charing Cross station and those going South to Westminster station.

The interchange tunnel is long and usually very crowded. I had an incident recently, where I was walking slowly to the Victoria Line and a group of tourists all with four-wheeled cases, were nudging me to go faster. When we all got to the steps at the end, there was an enforced slow down.

Verdict – I avoid interchanging at Green Park like the plague.

Kings Cross – Eastern Tunnel

This tunnel runs which used to be part of the access to the old Kings Cross Thameslink station, runs from East of Kings Cross station and then has access to the main tunnel connecting the Northern, Piccadilly and Victoria Lines.

It has partial escalator access at the Eastern end, where the buses from Islington and the East stop outside the old station entrance. Although getting buses to the East mens crossing the busy Pentonville Road.

Verdict – Needs improvement

Kings Cross – Interchange Tunnel

This tunnel connects the Eastern Tunnel at Kings Cross to the escalators and lifts that lead to the Northern ticket hall Kings Cross St. Pancras tube station. On the way is connects to the Victoria, Piccadilly and Northern Lines.

It is a long walk, especially, if you have accessed it, as I often do, from the Eastern Tunnel which is convenient for buses from Islington and Dalston.

Verdict – Too long and boring

Kings Cross – St. Pancras Tunnel

This tunnel connects St. Pancras station to the Northern ticket hall at Kings Cross St. Pancras tube station.

It is a wide, comfortable tunnel with a double handrail down the middle.

Note that the middle picture shows the connection to the next tunnel.

Verdict – Useful and a better walk than the surface alternative in cold or wet weather.

Kings Cross – Pancras Square Tunnel

This tunnel connects St. Pancras Square to the underground tunnel, that links St. Pancras station to the Northern ticket hall of Kings Cross St. Pancras tube station.

It is a good example of how to create a tunnel.

It has up and down escalators at the St. Pancras Square entrance.

Verdict – Good design and a pleasant walk.

Knightsbridge – Northern Exit Tunnel

This tunnel at Knightsbridge station was built in 2010 to connect the new entrance on the North side of Knightsbridge.

It looks to me that Transport for London had to make do with less space than they needed.

Verdict – Rather narrow and utilitarian.

Paddington – Bakerloo Line Link

This project to create a pedestrian link between the Bakerloo Line and Crossrail at Paddington is currently being built.

  • It will be one hundred and thirty metres long.
  • It will be twenty-five metres below the Paddington station concourse.
  • The design uses a route to avoid existing station facilities.
  • The tunnel is being built without major disruption to Bakerloo Line passengers.
  • It will have lifts and escalators at both ends.
  • The tunnel will handle five thousand passengers per hour in the Peak.

In August 2016, I wrote Paddington Is Operational Again, which describes the tunnel in detail.

Verdict – I have a feeling that this could be one of the most impressive parts of Crossrail.

I can’t wait for this tunnel to open.

South Kensington – Exhibition Road Pedestrian Tunnel

The Exhibition Road Pedestrian Tunnel at South Kensington station is unique in London, as it was built in 1885 and it is Grade II Listed.

As the pictures show, it can get very busy.

Verdict – A Victorian idea, that hasn’t been copied much.

Tottenham Court Road – Interchange Tunnel

This tunnel connect the Central and Northern Lines at Tottenham Court Road station.

It is a bit lacking in colour to my liking. But at least there is some of Eduardo palotzi’s tiles at one end.

Verdict – Bland and too long.

Victoria – New Tunnels

Victoria station has had a new entrance at Cardinal Place and a lot of new tunnels to sort out the poor connectivity, added in the last couple of years.

As the pictures show, not all the tunnels are finished.

Verdict – Victoria is no longer a station yo avoid

Waterloo – Interchange Travelator

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the Underground lines at Waterloo station.

Note the large separation of the platforms of the Jubilee Line and those of the Bakerloo and Northern Lines.

The solution was to install a travelator, when the Jubilee Line Extension was built.

Although expense wasn’t spared on the project, I think we would give it a more decorative lining today.

Verdict – It works.

Whitechapel – Refurbished Overground Staircases

There are two staircases between the District/Hammersmith & City Lines and the East London Line, that are being refurbished for Crossrail.

It looks like the work is of a high quality and that the old rails have not been replaced.

Verdict – These were scruffy tunnels a couple of years ago.

Summing Up

Some tunnels are obviously better than others, but what surprised me, was how well the Exhibition Rpad Tunnel to the museums coped with large numbers of passengers.

Perhaps, the Victorians got it right, as some of the best tunnels in my examples are the wider ones.

Comparing the Northern Exit Tunnel at Knightsbridge with the Northern Entrance Tunnel at Bond Street, shows how a wide tunnel and entrance, built with a lift, is a much better solution, than a narrow tunnel and entrance, without a lift.

The only narrow tunnel, that seems to work well is the tunnel connecting the Waterloo & City Line to the main Bank station complex.

But this tunnel is well-lit and I suspect tends to have passengers going the same way most of the time.

It also appears that recent tunnels like those at Bond Street and Victoria, are much better than those built about ten years ago, like the tunnel at Knightsbridge.

The Future

After Crossrail, London has a number of large station projects in the pipeline, some of which will require new connecting tunnels for passengers.

  • The upgrading of Bank station is underway, where tunnels are being dug and escalators, travelators and lifts and being installed.
  • The upgrading of Knightsbridge station is underway, but this will be simpler and I don’t think the upgrade includes more tunnels.
  • The upgrading of Camden Town, Holborn and Walthamstow stations are in the planning stage. All will probably involve creating a new entrance connected to the existing platforms with lifts and escalators, but no long tunnels.
  • Oxford Circus station is likely to be the subject of a major upgrade.
  • Euston and Euston Square stations are being upgraded for the arrival of High Speed Two and there will be new tunnels to dig, between the two stations.

There are also possible new lines to consider, which may or may not be built.

  • Bakerloo Line Extension
  • Crossrail 2
  • Docklands Light Railway to Thamesmead
  • Docklands Light Railway to Euston, St. Pancras and Victoria.

All will be built with lots of entrances and exits, and interchanges with existing lines, so it is likely, there will be quite a few connecting tunnels.

Conclusion

I think that three tunnel projects will define a lot of the thinking about pedestrian access in the future.

  • The Northern Entrance Tunnel at Bond Street, which surfaces in a commercial development.
  • The Paddington Bakerloo Line Link, which appears to be setting new standards of design and construction.
  • The narrow well-lit tunnel at Bank.

Could we see lessons learned with these newly-built tunnels applied to projects like Oxford Circus and Euston stations?

 

 

November 23, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Google Grabs The Best Site In London For Its Massive Groundscraper

This Google Map the site where the massive groundscraper is being built.

Note.

  1. Kings Cross station, which is on the right of the map, has extensive connections to the North-East of England and Scotland.
  2. St. Pancras station, which is on the left of the map, has extensive connections to the Midlands and Belgium, France and the Netherlands, with more services to come including Germany, Switzerland and Western France.
  3. Thameslink runs North-South beneath St. Pancras station, has extensive connections to Bedfordshire, Herfordshire, Kent, Surrey and Sussex.
  4. There are also six Underground Lines.
  5. Gatwick and Luton Airports have direct connections and City, Heathrow and Southend Airports  only need a step-free change.
  6. Improvements in the next few years could mean that HS2 and all of London’s five airports will have a fast direct connection to the area.

In the middle of all these railway lines, sits Google’s groundscraper, which shows as a white structure towards the top of the map.

These pictures show the area between the two stations, the under-construction groundscraper and the new blocks.

And these pictures show the progress on the site.

There is not much that is visible yet!

More Pictures!

But the building will be more visible soon! For those who can’t wait, this article from the Daily Mail has a lot of visualisations.

 

November 8, 2018 Posted by | Computing, World | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Should A Mega-Station Be Created At Kings Cross-St. Pancras-Euston?

The three important stations of Kings Cross, St. Pancras and Euston sit like three isolated islands on Euston Road.

Kings Cross Station

Kings Cross station was extended and refurbished in 2012 and is the most modern of the three, with a well-designed square in front of the station.

Kings Cross serves as a terminus for East Coast Main Line and some Cambridge services.

Underground

Kings Cross has connections to the following Underground lines at Kings Cross St. Pancras tube station.

  • Circle, Hammersmith and City and Metropolitan.
  • Northern
  • Piccadilly
  • Victoria

On the whole, the connections to the Underground are generally good, but crowded.

Buses

If you want to go East connectivity is good, but when taking a bus to the West or South, finding the stop can be difficult.

Taxis

The taxi rank at Kings Cross generally works well, as it was reconfigured when the station was updated.

Summing Up Kings Cross Station

Kings Cross has a lot of space both inside and outside and using the station can be an easy process compared to many.

St. Pancras Station

St. Pancras station was rebuilt and extended for Eurostar and Southeastern Highspeed services in 2007.

I always describe St, Pancras as a Fur-Coat-And-No-Knickers station.

It may look spectacular, but it wasn’t designed for passengers or staff, due to the dreadful connectivity between the various services at the station.

  • Continental
  • Midland Main Line
  • Southeastern Highspeed
  • Thameslink

With all these services set to expand, I have a feeling that St. Pancras faces a capacity problem.

Underground

To further complicate matters, it’s a often a long walk to the Underground line you need, as these were designed to serve Kings Cross.

  • Circle, Hammersmith and City and Metropolitan.
  • Northern
  • Piccadilly
  • Victoria

There is a ticket hall at the front of the station, but it’s often very crowded with large numbers of Eurostar passengers queuing for tickets.

Buses

It’s a walk to Kings Cross in most cases unless you can find a way across the busy Euston Road.

Taxis

I always walk to Kings Cross, as like most passenger facilities at St. Pnncras, the taxi rank wasn’t well-designed.

Summing Up St. Pancras

St. Pancras doesn’t have the space inside or outside that Kings Cross has and often feels cramped with every seat taken.

With the increase in all services expected in the next few years, passengers should think hard about how they can avoid the station,

Euston Station

Euston station is going to be rebuilt in the next few years for HS2.

Currently, it serves as a terminus for West Coast Main Line and a few suburban services.

Underground

The Underground at Euston is a mess with Euston tube station handling the following lines.

  • Both branches of the Northern
  • Victoria

Round the corner is the cramped Euston Square station which handles the Circle, Hammersmith and City and Metropolitan Lines.

Neither station is fully step-free and the Underground connection will need expansion for HS2.

Buses

Euston has a good bus station if you’re going East, but going West means crossing the busy Euston Road.

Taxis

Euston has an underground taxi rank, that seems to work well.

Summing Up Euston Station

Space is at a premium in Euston station and the Underground connections need urgent improvement.

Crossrail 2

Crossrail 2 is being put forward  as the project that will sort out the problems of the three stations on the Euston Road.

A mega station is to be built called Euston St. Pancras, which will serve all three stations.

But Euston and St. Pancras need extra capacity in connecting services now, not in the early 2030s!

Existing Lines

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the current Underground Lines at the three stations.

Can these lines be improved to help solve the capacity problems?

Victoria Line

If you want an example of the quality of the engineers working on the London Underground, you only have to look at the Victoria Line.

Fifty years old next year, the line was built on the cheap, but with superb automatic systems and some clever station layouts and now every year, more trains seem to be squeezed down its pair of tunnels. Currently, the frequency of trains is thirty-six trains per hour (tph) along its whole length.

As the Victoria Line calls at all three stations, any improvements to Dear Old Vicky, like step-free access at Euston, will help.

Northern Line

The Northern Line has three major projects underway.

  • The extension to Battersea
  • The upgrading of Camden Town station.
  • The upgrading of Bank station

When these are complete around 2024, it will be possible to split the line into two separate lines each handling 36 tph.

But more trains will be needed.

Piccadilly Line

The major upgrade for the Piccadilly Line will be new trains, which should arrive from 2022, which will bring a double-digit increase in capacity.

It should also be noted that the frequency in the core is only twenty-one tph, so upwards of thorty tph must be an objectve.

Unlike the Northern And Victoria Lines, the Piccadilly Line doesn’t call at Euston station.

Circle, Hammersmith and City and Metropolitan Lines

The Circle, Hammersmith and City and Metropolitan Lines are being upgraded. This is said on Wikipedia.

Together with the introduction of S Stock trains, the track, electrical supply and signalling systems are being upgraded in a programme planned to increase peak-hour capacity on the Circle and Hammersmith & City lines by 65 per cent by the end of 2018. A single control room for the sub-surface railway is to be established in Hammersmith and an automatic train control (ATC) system will replace signalling equipment installed from the 1940s. The cross-London Crossrail line, planned to open in 2018, is expected to reduce crowding between Paddington and Whitechapel.

This should result in a large increase in capacity between Baker Street and Liverpool Street.

 

Crossrail

Although Crossrail doesn’t fully open until December 2019, and doesn’t even call at Kings Cross, St.Pancras and Euston stations, the new line will have an effect on passengers travelling to the three stations.

  • In my quote  from Wikipedia, it says that Crossrail is expected to reduce crowding between Paddington and Whitechapel.
  • Crossrail is expected to have a link with HS2 at Old Oak Common station.
  • Crossrail may be extended up the West Coast Main Line.

The latter two points would allow passengers to bypass Euston.

Thameslink

Thameslink when it is running fully at the design frequency of 24 tph will certainly have effects on passenger traffic.

But it is difficult to say what they will be.

Difficult Interchanges

If you look at the interchanges between the various lines, in my opinion, the following are the more difficult interchanges.

  • Euston Square tube station to Euston station.
  • Euston station to St. Pancras station.
  • Victoria Line to Thameslink at St. Pancras station.
  • Circle, Hammersmith and City and Metropolitan Lines ro Thameslink at St. Pancras station.
  • Euston Square tube station to Northern Line at Euston station.

In addition Euston Square and Euston stations are not step-free.

Transport for London probably know the improvements that would offer the most benefit.

Euston Square Station And Euston Station

The poor connectivity between Euston Square tube station and Euston station, is a major problem.

Sort this bad connectivity, when Euston station is rebuilt for HS2 and world’s oldest underground railway, dating from 1863, will be providing a high-frequency service to the UK’s premier high-speed railway.

Euston Road

Euston Road, which can be very busy, is a major problem for passengers needing to cross to perhaps use buses going to the West.

The experience of using the stations could be improved for a proportion of travellers, if crossing the road was easier.

Should A Mega-Station Be Created At Kings Cross-St. Pancras-Euston?

I’ll return to the original question I asked.

  • If Crossrail 2 is built, there will obviously be a mega station at Euston St. Pancras.
  • But I believe that all the other improvements that will happen before HS2 opens may well be enough to cope with the extra capacity needed for a few years.

Obviously though, any improvements must not compromise the building of Crossrail 2’s mega-station.

Conclusion

I believe it is possible to improve connectivity to the three major stations of King Cross, St. Pancras and Euston, by doing the following.

  • Improving the frequency and capacity on the various Underground lines serving the three stations.
  • Splitting the Northern Line into two separate lines.
  • Improving the links between the existing Nation Rail and Underground Lines.
  • Integrating Euston Square station into Euston station, when Euston is rebuilt for HS2.
  • Improving the crossing of Euston Road on foot.

In some ways the last-but-one point is the most important, as it cures the worst interchange.

 

 

 

 

 

September 29, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Please Do Not Wait In The Green Lanes

These pictures show an experiment in Kings Cross St. Pancras tube station, on the Southbound Victoria Line platform, which aims to make boarding and unloading of trains faster.

The idea is you don’t wait on the green lines, which are reserved for those getting on and off the trains.

The pictures were taken at ten in the morning, so I’ll go back one day in the Peak, to see how it works at a busy time.

But I do think it could be a good idea and a bit like platform edge doors, without the expense of the doors.

Note how the train stops precisely as indicated by the green lines. But then the stopping position of the train is determined automatically and has been since the Victoria Lie opened in 1967.

September 5, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment