The Anonymous Widower

The STAR Track Connection At Lea Bridge Station – 25th April 2018

This picture taken from the end of the platform at Lea Bridge station, shows the new connection, that links the third track being built to the Lea Valley Lines though the station.

Note how trains going North will be able to join the third track and those coming South can join the track to Stratford.

These pictures were taken as I took a train North, a few minutes later.

Note the track layout and that nothing is completed yet.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the track layout at Lea Bridge station.

Note.

  1. The original track layout from the 1800s is shown dotted.
  2. The original crossover was a double one.
  3. Lea Bridge station used to have a third bay platform and space has been left for one.
  4. The two parallel tracks originally connected via the Hall Farm Curve to the Chingford Branch.

This Google Map shows the area to the East of where the Lea Valley Lines and the Chingford Branch cross.

Adding in the curve at a later date would not appear to be compromised, by the current works.

 

April 25, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

How To Build Railway Stations

With all the troubles caused by the failure of Carillion, it is good to report on a company, that is providing new and improved railway infrastructuresubstantially  on time and on budget.

This article on Rail Engineer is entitled VolkerFitzpatrick: Upgrading Stations.

This is the first two paragraphs.

With Network Rail’s comprehensive Railway Upgrade Plan well underway and the modernisation of Britain’s railways firmly in the spotlight, there is a growing need and expectation for first-class stations and infrastructure to accommodate growing numbers of passengers nationwide.

One business with a huge role in the modernisation programme has developed a reputation as an exceptional multi-disciplinary contractor, with extensive capabilities in civil engineering, building and rail, meeting the demands of a wide range of clients across multiple disciplines. It is this consolidated approach that has helped VolkerFitzpatrick deliver several high-profile UK railway station schemes in the last 10 years.

The article then goes on to describe how the company tackled the following stations.

It then goes on to detail the company’s omvolvement in the Lea Valley Improvement Program, which will deliver new stations at Tottenham Hale, Northumberland Park and Meridian Water.

Read the Rail |Engineer article, as it gives a good insight into design and construction.

 

 

January 21, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Bridge In Tottenham Marks The Beginning Of Restoring A Line Lost During The Beeching Era

The title of this post says it all and is the same as this article on Rail Professional.

Some might argue that Beeching got it wrong!

My feelings though are the politicians and British Rail managers of the day  generally didn’t have any vision about how the railways should be simplified to on the one hand save money and on the other perhaps create paths, cycleways and leisure facilities, for the good of everyone.

Harold Wilson’s view that everybody would have their own car and the railways were finished didn’t help either.

The Lea Valley was my childhood playground and I’d regularly cycle to the area. But unlike now, much was closed to the public.

This Google Map shows the location of the bridge.

Note.

  1. The railway line is the West Anglia Mail Line, running South from Tottenham Hale stations.
  2. The bridge carrying the Easter pair of tracks is being replaced.
  3. Tottenham South Junction is North of the bridge and the line going West is the Tottenham South Curve, that links the West Anglia Main Line to the Gospel Oak to Barking Line.
  4. The Markfield Beam Engine is to the West.
  5. The Walthamstow Wetlands are to the East.

The area will get even more complicated in the future, when Crossrail 2 is built.

These are various pictures of the bridge site, taken on different dates

The bridge will be an important link in the development of the railways in the area.

January 12, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Transport for London Warns Crossrail 2 Could Be Delayed By Decade

The title of this post is the same as that of an article in the Financial Times.

It’s all about funding and probably the Government not wanting to finance all of the large rail projects.

  • HS2
  • Crossrail 2
  • Northern Powerhouse Rail
  • East West Rail

HS2 is funded and underway and the last two projects are being sorted, but the cost of Crossrail 2 is too much to digest.

I have believed for some time, that Crossrail 2 is a number of separate projects.

  • Increasing capacity on the Waterloo suburban lines
  • Increasing capacity on the Lea Valley Lines
  • Creation of the mega-station at Euston-St. Pancras
  • New trains
  • The high capacity central tunnel

I will now look at each in detail.

Increasing Capacity On The Waterloo Suburban Lines

In An Analysis Of Waterloo Suburban Services Proposed To Move To Crossrail 2, I showed that it would be possible to run a service with Crossrail 2’s characteristics terminating in Waterloo.

I said the following were needed.

  • More platform capacity in Waterloo.
  • Modern high-performance 100 mph trains like Class 707 trains or Aventras.
  • Some improvements to track and signals between Waterloo and Wimbledon stations.
  • Wimbledon station would only need minor modifications.
  • A measure of ATO between Waterloo and Wimbledon stations.

Much of the infrastructure works have been completed as I reported in It’s All Over Now, Waterloo!.

All it needs is Bombardier to build the new Class 701 trains for South Western Railway.

Increasing Capacity On The Lea Valley Lines

In Could A Lea Valley Metro Be Created?, I looked at the possibility of creating a Lea Valley Metro with the following characteristics.

  • Four-tracks between Tottenham Hale and Broxbourne stations.
  • Step-free stations.
  • Termination in the unused loop at Stratford.
  • 10-15 trains per hour.
  • Links to Crossrail, the Underground and Southeastern Highspeed services at Stratford.

I came to the conclusion it was very much possible.

Creation Of The Mega-Station At Euston-St. Pancras

In Should A Mega-Station Be Created At Kings Cross-St. Pancras-Euston?, I looked at this mega station project for Crossrail 2.

I came to these conclusions.

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

In Should A Mega-Station Be Created At Kings Cross-St. Pancras-Euston?, I proposed a four-level mega-station.

  • Surface level – National Rail and HS2
  • Sub-surface level – Circle, Hammersmith and City and Metropolitan Lines
  • Deep level – Northern, Piccadilly and Victoria Lines.
  • Very deep level – Crossrail 2

Lines would be connected by escalators, travelators and lifts going all over the place.

It would not be that different to the double-ended Crossrail station at Moorgate-Liverpool Street station, which I described in London’s First Underground Roller Coaster, except that it connects three stations instead of two.

This would enable Crossrail 2 to be bored through at a deeper level after Euston station had been rebuilt for HS2.

In terms of Crossrail 2, the creation of the mega station at Euston St. Pancras could be the last project to be completed.

New Trains

This should be the easy bit, as surely using the same Class 345 trains on Crossrail and Crossrail 2, would be an objective, if it were possible.

The High Capacity Central Tunnel

I’ve never built a tunnel, although my software; Artemis helped to build the Channel Tunnel, but I would suspect that building the central tunnel for Crossrail 2 will be easier than building that for Crossrail.

So many things like riding a bike or sex are a lot easier the second time.

There must be so many lessons from Crossrail that can be applied to Crossrail 2.

If all of the central stations on the tunnel, from Dalston to Wimbledon, where there is interchange with Crossrail 2 can be made tunnel-ready, then I don’t see why boring the central tunnel can’t be one of the last jobs to be started.

The tunnel boring machines would then just pass through the stations to link them all together.

It’s probably not as simple as that, but it is going to be a lot easier job than Crossrail.

The Importance Of The Victoria Line

I’ve never seen this said before, but one of the keys to building Crossrail 2 is the Victoria Line or Dear Old Vicky.

I believe the Victoria Line should be updated as follows to be as near the standard of Crossrail as possible, by using the existing trains, track and signalling  and by updating the stations.

  • Addition of the missing escalators and other features left out to save money in the 1960s..
  • Full step-free access at all stations.
  • Addition of new  entrances at Oxford Circus, Highbury and Islington and Walthamstow Central.
  • Better interchange with the Overground at Blackhorse Road and Walthamstow Central.
  • Better interchange with National Rail at Brixton, Vauxhall, Finsbury Park, Seven Sisters and Tottengham Hale.
  • Forty tph between Brixton and Walthamstow Central.

Forty tph may need a reversing loop at Brixton and an extra one-platform station at Herne Hill.

I believe that an update of this type and scale could be applied to the Victoria Line without causing too much grief for passengers. The work on the stations is necessary to cope with the current and increased passenger numbers and could be carried out in much the same way as the upgrade at Victoria station has been done in the last few years.

The Victoria Line would then offer a high capacity link between Tottenham Hale and Vauxhall prior to the building of Crossrail 2’s central tunnel.

Passengers from say Broxbourne to Hampton Court would take the following route.

  • Lea Valley Line from Broxbourne to Tottenham Hale – (10 tph)
  • Victoria Line from Tottenham Hale to Vauxhall – (>30 tph)
  • South Western Railway from Vauxhall to Hampton Court – (4 tph)

Two changes (both hopefully step-free) would be needed, but with improvement to the National Rail routes at both ends, it would be faster than now.

The Importance Of The Bakerloo Line

Ask TfL’s Journey Planner, which is the quickest way from Tottenham Hale to Waterloo and it gives the following route.

  • Victoria Line from Tottenham Hale to Oxford Circus
  • Bakerloo Line from Oxford Circus to Waterloo

There is a simple cross-platform interchange at Oxford Circus, with the two legs taking 16 and 8 minutes respectively.

Currently, the Bakerloo Line has a frequency of twenty-two tph and plans have been mooted, that will see this going to twenty-seven tph by 2033.

It looks like when combining an updated Victoria Line with the current Bakerloo Line, you get a excellent connection that can stand-in for the Crossrail 2 central tunnel between Tottenham Hale and Waterloo.

But the Bakerloo Line might be extended to Lewisham, so will this extension make the combined Victoria/Bakerloo route more important.

The extended Bakerloo Line is not planned to have a connection with Crossrail 2, so using the Victoria Line across Central London will probably be the fastest way from say Lewisham to Enfield Lock.

It looks to me, that the cross-platform interchange at Oxford Circus between the Bakerloo and Victoria Lines is more important than anybody thinks and will continue to be so.

The Splitting Of The Northern Line

TfL would like to split the Northern Line into two branches, but this can’t be done until Camden Town station is rebuilt around 2024.

The only effect this split will have on Crossrail 2, is it will give extra routes to Euston station, which may probably make it less important that Crossrail 2 is completed before HS2.

A Possible Timetable

This is very much speculation on my part.

  • 2020 – Improved Overground services to Cheshunt, Chingford and Enfield Town using new Class 710 trains.
  • 2021 – Increased Greater Anglia services on the Lea Valley Lines using new Class 720 trains.
  • 2021 – Waterloo suburban branches running at four tph using new Class 701 trains.
  • 2024 – Extended Camden Town station opens.
  • 2024 – Splitting of the Northern Line
  • 2024 – More capacity on the Victoria Line
  • 2025  – Increased services on the Lea Valley Line after four-tracking.
  • 2025 – Upgraded Euston station opens with better connection to the Underground.
  • 2026 – Old Oak Common statio opens
  • 2026 – HS2 opens to Birmingham

The Crossrail 2 central tunnel could be built, when traffic levels are predicted to be too much for the Victoria Line.

Conclusion

This analysis says to me that Crossrail 2 could be planned as a series of much smaller projects, that would give passengers benefits from the early-2020s and also ease the funding problems for the line.

But the analysis also says that if the central tunnel is not built before the 2040s, then the Victoria Line must be upgraded to create a high capacity link between Tottenham Hale and Vauxhall or Waterloo using the Bakerloo Line.

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 3, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Could A Lea Valley Metro Be Created?

Crossrail 2 envisages these developments and level of service North along the Lea Valley.

Crossrail 2 also envisages that at Tottenham Hale station, the line will enter a tunnel for Central and South West London.

But there is an unused alternative terminal, that could handle perhaps 16 tph with modern signalling.

Look at this map from carto.metro.free.fr of the lines at Stratford.

Note the double-track  loop that encircles Stratford International station and goes through Platforms 11 and 12 at Stratford station.

Consider.

  • Loops like this can easily handle 12 tph, as they do in Liverpool with the Wirral Line.
  • Stratford is well-connected to the Central, Great Eastern Main, Jubilee and North London Lines, Crossrail and the Docklands Light Railway.
  • The Loop could be connected to Stratford International station for Southeastern Highspeed services.
  • There’s probably enough capacity to allow a couple of Stansted services to terminate in the loop.
  • There is a massive development going on at Meridian Water, where a new station is being built.
  • Liverpool Street station lacks capacity.

I can’t believe that a viable 12 tph service is not possible.

The major works would be as follows.

  • Four-tracking the West Anglia Main Line into two fast and two slow lines.
  • Making all stations step-free.
  • Removing the level crossings.
  • Creating a flyover at Coppermill Junction to connect the fast lines to Liverpool Street and prepare for Crossrail 2.

If Crossrail 2 is built in the future, the Metro service would be diverted into the central tunnel at Tottenham Hale station.

Integration With The London Overground

The Chingford, Cheshunt and Enfield Town services of the London Overground will not only offer alternative routes during the four-tracking of the West Anglia Main Line, but they could be better connected to a Lea Valley Metro.

  • Tne Class 710 trains could enable four tph on each branch.
  • The Class 710 trains will enable faster services on each branch.
  • A reinstated Hall Farm Curve would connect Chingford and Walthamstow to Stratford.
  • Creation of a step-free Cheshunt station would ease transfer between the London Overground and the Lea Valley Metro.

The new trains will be key and may open up more possibilities.

Note too, that moving services to Stratford from Liverpool Street will release capacity at Liverpool Street, that will be well-used by Greater Anglia and London Overground.

Dear Old Vicky

She’s always there when you need her and engineers keep coming up with ways to keep the Victoria Line giving more.

Currently, the frequency of trains between Walthamstow Central and Brixton is 36 tph.

I can’t believe that the engineers working on the line, don’t want to squeeze another four tph out of her, to achieve the fabulous forty.

This might be possible with the trains, tracks and signalling, but the problem is the capacity of some of the 1960s-built stations.

  • Many stations have an empty space, where a third escalator could be.
  • Lifts are few and far between.
  • Some stations don’t have ceilings in the platform tunnels.

These stations could be improved.

Walthamstow Central Station

Walthamstow Central station gets desperate in the Peak, but it could be given a third escalator, a second entrance at the other end of the platforms and a much better step-free connection to the Chingford Branch of the Overground.

Blackhorse Road Station

Blackhorse Road station could be finished and given a third escalator to cope with the extra passengers that will transfer to and from an electrified Gospel Oak to Barking Line.

Tottenham Hale Station

Tottenham Hale station is being rebuilt to increase capacity. Will it get the missing third escalator and ceilings?

Seven Sisters Station

Seven Sisters station will be a Crossrail 2 station and will need updating to cope with an expected eight tph on the Overground.  Expect a major project here.

Finsbury Park Station

Finsbury Park station is one of London’s stations designed by Topsy. Improvements are underway to cope with the extra passengers from Thameslink and an upgraded Northern City Line.

Highbury and Islington Station

Highbury and Islington station suffered worst at the hands of the Nazis and 1960s cost cutting, when the Victoria Line was built. This made it one of London’s worst stations.

However help is at hand.

  • Plans are being prepared for a second entrance to the station on the other side of the Holloway Road.
  • The frequency on the Northern City Line is being upgraded to twelve tph with new larger capacity Class 717 trains.
  • There is space for a third escalator to be added to connect the Overgriound with the deep-level Victoria and Northern City Lines.

It should be born in mind, that Highbury and Islington station is busier than either Manchester Piccadilly or Edinburgh Waverley stations.

But with an upgrade, because it has cross-platform interchange between the Victoria and Northern City Lines, it could be an upgrade that increases the passenger capacity of the Victoria Line.

Euston Station

Euston station will be upgrqaded for HS2.

Oxford Circus Station

Oxford Circus station is desperately in need of more capacity, especially as there will be an upgrade to the Bakerloo Line in the future.

The opportunity at Oxford Circus is that some of the buildings around the junction are tired and some probably need to be replaced.

So will we see a development like Bloomberg Place, that will create a new entrance to Bank station, at Oxford Circus?

Could it also have an subterranean connection to Crossrail’s Hanover Square entrance for Bond Street station?

Victoria Station

Victoria station is in the process of being upgraded.

It certainly appears to be a case of so far so good!

South Of The River

Vauxhall and Brixton stations have rather undeveloped interchanges with the National Rail lines and these could surely be improved.

Under Possible Future Projects in the Wikipedia entry for the Victoria Line, this is said.

For many years there have been proposals to extend the line one stop southwards from Brixton to Herne Hill. Herne Hill station would be on a large reversing loop with one platform. This would remove a critical capacity restriction by eliminating the need for trains to reverse at Brixton. The Mayor of London’s 2020 Vision, published in 2013, proposed extending the Victoria line “out beyond Brixton” by 2030.

This would surely be the last upgrade to squeeze even more out of Dear Old Vicky.

Conclusion

A Lea Valley Metro can be created and eventually, it can be the Northern leg of Crossrail 2.

Before Crossrail 2 is completed, it will have great help in the following ways.

  • In North East London from the London Overground.
  • Across London from the Victoria Line.

Don’t underestimate how Crossrail and an updated Northern City Line will contribute.

 

 

 

 

September 29, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Mathematics Of The Lea Valley Lines

The mixture of Class 315 and Class 317 trains on the Lea Valley Lines are being replaced by new Class 710 trains.

Train For Train Replacement

London Overground currently has the following fleet, which work the Lea Valley Lines.

  • 17 x Class 315 trains – 75 mph
  • 8 x Class 317/7 trains – 100 mph
  • 6 x Class 317/8 trains – 100 mph

All these trains are being replaced by thirty-one Class 710 trains, which are 100 mph trains with a shorter dwell time at stations.

Time savings of over a minute, are claimed for each station stop, by other train manufacturers for their new generation of trains.

As one train is used on the Romford to Upminster Line, that leaves thirty trains to work from Liverpool Street to Cheshunt, Chingford and Enfield Town stations.

The Current Lea Valley Services

The current Lea Valley services can be considered to be two separate four trains per hour (tph) services to the following destinations.

  • Chingford
  • Edmonton Green with 2 tph extended to each of Cheshunt and Enfield Town.

Journey times are as follows from Liverpool Street.

  • Cheshunt – 39 minutes
  • Chingford – 27 minutes
  • Ednonton Green – 31 minutes
  • Enfield Town – 34 minutes

As an illustration of the slowness of some of these times, the fastest Cheshunt services take around twenty-five minutes, but they use the West Anglia Main Line, which has a higher speed limit.

Improving Journey Times

So how can journey times be improved?

The following factors will apply.

The Aventra Advantage

The Aventra and other modern trains will have the following advantages.

  • 100 mph operating speed.
  • Powerful acceleration and smooth regenerative braking.
  • Driver assistance systems to optimise train speed.
  • Level access from train to platform.

The last three factors will minimise the dwell time, when stopping at a station. Savings of up to three minutes have been claimed by some train manufacturers.

All Passenger Trains On The Routes Will Be Aventras

How much time this will save will probably be decided in practice.

Track, Station And Signalling Improvements

The operating speed of the routes is 40-75 mph , which could surely be improved.

Obvious problems include.

  • Level crossings at Bush Hill Park, Highams Park and Theobalds Grove.
  • Platform-train interface.
  • Provision of Harrington Humps.

A detailed analysis will probably be done to iron out any small time delays in running the routes.

Rewrite The Timetables For Aventras

Currently, the timetables are written so that they can be reliably run by the 75 mph Class 315 trains and also to allow for their possible presence on the routes.

How Much Can Be Saved?

This is a bit like asking how long is a piece of string, but assuming savings of a minute a station gives the following times.

  • Cheshunt – 24 minutes
  • Chingford – 20 minutes
  • Ednonton Green – 20 minutes
  • Enfield Town – 21 minutes

I would not be surprised if substantial time savings could be saved,

Liverpool Street Station

The pair of four tph services will mean that there will be a train arriving in Liverpool Street station every seven and a half minutes.

This should be no problem on two platforms, especially as all trains will be identical and designed for a fast turn-round.

Will they arrive and depart from a pair of platforms at Liverpool Street stations, like 2/3 or 4/5, so that passengers would know that their Lea Valley Line train always left from the same gates at the station?

This would surely make it easier for the train presentation teams!

Hopefully, by analysing the turning of trains, minutes can be saved.

Each Route In Detail

 

I shall now look at each individual route.

Liverpool Street To Edmonton Green

North of Hackney Downs station, in the Off Peak, the only trains on the route will be the following services.

  • Two tph between Liverpool Street and Cheshunt
  • Two tph between Liverpool Street and Enfield Town

These will be augmented in the Peak by some Greater Anglia limited-stop services stopping at Edmonton Green, Seven Sisters and Hackney Downs stations.

Current timings on this route are.

  • London Overground – 31 minutes with eleven stops using a 75 mph Class 315 train.
  • Greater Anglia – 23 minutes with two stops using a 100 mph Class 317 train.

As the distance between Liverpool Street and Edmonton Green stations is 8.6 miles, these timings give speeds of 16.6 and 22.4 mph respectively.

The following will speed up services on this route.

  • All trains on the route will be 100 mph Aventras.
  • The performance of the Aventras
  • Track, station and signalling improvements.
  • Driver assistance systems.

I suspect that my initial crude estimate of twenty minutes between Liverpool Street and Edmonton Green will be high.

Cheshunt Services

North of Edmonton Green station, the only service on the route will be the two tph service between Liverpool Street and Cheshunt.

As the route between Edmonton Green and Cheshunt is only 5.5 miles long, with just three stops, I wonder if when combined with the time between Liverpool Street and Edmonton Green, that the round trip time  could be reduced to under an hour, including the turn-round at both ends.

The current two tph service takes a few minutes over an hour-and-a half for a round trip from Liverpool Street, so three trains will be needed to run the service.

But if it could be done in an hour, then only two trains would be needed.

This level of speed improvement may seem ambitious, but the next generation of trains appear to be being built with it in mind.

Chingford Services

If the Chingford trains can do the trip reliably in twenty minutes, this would mean that a train could do a round trip from Liverpool Street to Chingford in under an hour, whereas now they take nearly an hour-and-a-half.

This means that four tph from Liverpool Street to Chingford needs either of the following trains.

  • 4 x Class 710 trains
  • 6 x Class 315/317 trains.

I doubt London Overground will park the spare trains in a siding.

It might even be possible to increase the frequency between Liverpool Street and Chingford. But this would probably need the removal of the level crossing at Highams Park station.

Enfield Town Services

North of Edmonton Green station, the only service on the route will be the two tph service between Liverpool Street and Enfield Town.

This is likely to be a route, where the return trip to Liverpool Street could be under an hour.

This means that two tph from Liverpool Street to Enfield Town needs the following trains.

  • 2 x Class 710 trains
  • 3 x Class 315/317 trains.

Conclusion

It does appear that on a rough look, the number of trains required to provide the current service will be less.

I think the three routes will need the following numbers of Class 710 trains to provide current services.

  • Cheshunt – 2 trains
  • Chingford – 4 trains
  • Enfield – 2 trains

As each train is usually eight-cars, then sixteen trains could be a minimum number to provide the current service.

But to do this, trains on each route must be able to do an out-and-back trip within an hour.

I think this could be possible and the extra trains will obviously be used to provide extra services.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

September 25, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 1 Comment

Musings On The West Anglia Main Line

The West Anglia Main Line is the main railway between Liverpool Street station in the City of London and the Scientific Powerhouse of Cambridge via Stansred Airport.

This post started off as The Mother Of All Level Crossing Jams, when I got caught in a jam caused by the level crossing at Enfield Lock station.

It has since grown into a long post of the inadequacies of this important main line.

The Mother Of All Level Crossing Jams

These are pictures I took at Enfield Lock station in mid-morning.

I had arrived at the station at 11:04 and my train had departed on its way at 11:08.

I was in no hurry taking the pictures and I left at 11:22 after eight trains had gone through, without the gates being raised.

In two of the pictures, you can see a discarded broken gate. Was it caused by an irate motorist?

After I got back to the station, the barriers were still going up and down like a whore’s drawers and talking to a fellow passenger, she said it happens all the time.

Improving The West Anglia Main Line

Consider the following, which could effect what happens in the future.

  • Stansted Airport, Greater Anglia, Transport for London, the London Borough of Enfield, Cambridge City Council and the local MPs, all want the line to be four-tracked so that services to Cambridge and Stansted Airport can have their own dedicated fast lines.
  • ,Greater Anglia have ordered lots of new trains and I suspect they want to run much-needed extra services into both Stratford and Liverpool Street stations.
  • Enfield Lock could be a Crossrail 2 station in ten years or so.
  • Crossrail 2 would want to run up to twelve trains per hour (tph).

It is a certainly a case of squeezing a couple of gallons into a pint pot.

Enfield Lock And Brimsdown

To make matters worse there is another equally congested level crossing at the next station to the South; Brimsdown.

This Google Map shows the area.

Note.

  1. Enfield Lock station is in the North West corner of the map, with Brimsdown in the South West corner.
  2. Mollinson Avenue, which tracks along the railway to its East, is nearly all dual carriageway.
  3. These is a lot of industrial premises in the area.
  4. There are a lot of distribution depots that need road access for heavy trucks.
  5. It is going to use all the ingenuity that Network Rail can muster to squeeze two extra tracks between those two stations.

If ever there was an area that needs an increased rail service it is this stretch of the West Anglia Main Line between Tottenham Hale and Cheshunt stations.

Improving The Lea Valley Lines

I suspect that British Rail foresaw the problem in the 1950s, as by 1960, they had electrified all the Lea Valley Lines including the goods-only Southbury Loop, which is now part of the London Overground, who run two tph on the route.

Both London Overground and Greater Anglia are getting new Aventra trains, which should increase the capacity and speed up services on both routes.

However, this could create a problem, in that they are such good trains, they may persuade more commuters to leave their cars at home and take the trains.

More Frequent Services

London Overground like to run four tph on their various routes.

At present, their Lea Valley services are as follows.

  • 4 tph from Liverpool Street to Chingford.
  • 2 tph from Liverpool Street to Enfield Town, with more services in the Peak and when Spurs are playing at home.
  • 2 tph from Liverpool Street to Cheshunt.

I suspect that they would like to run four tph all day and that after Crossrail opens and releases some platforms at Liverpool Street, this might happen.

However in Increased Frequencies On The East London Line, I publish a table, which says that from 2019, Enfield Town will get four tph.

Greater Anglia must be looking to improve services on the West Anglia Main Line, so that all stations South of Broxbourne get four tph, with perhaps two tph to each of  Liverpool Street and Stratford.

And then there’s STAR, which is a new service between Stratford and Angel Road stations. This article on IanVisits, which is entitled One of London’s quietest train stations set for major upgrade, gives a good explanation of this service, which will provide four tph between Stratford and a rebuilt Angel Road station, which will be renamed Meridian Water.

More Terminal Capacity In London

Adding these services together, I feel that  more capacity is needed at the London terminals of Liverpool Street and Stratford.

There are two short term solutions and one long term one.

Create More Capacity At Liverpool Street

This is the simplest short-term solution.

In the Wikipedia entry for Liverpool Street station, this is said.

Once Crossrail opens, platform 18 at the main Liverpool Street station will be decommissioned to allow platforms 16 and 17 to be extended, enabling them to accommodate longer trains.

I would assume this platform-lengthening is to accommodate the full-length Class 345 trains, that will run the Peak Hour service between Liverpool Street and Gidea Park stations.

I suppose too, having two platforms in Liverpool Street, that are capable of handling Crossrail trains must also be useful in special or exceptional circumstances.

Platform 18 is a curiosity, in that it is used by c2c as a diversion platform, when Fenchurch Street station is closed because of engineering works.

So after the work on platforms 16 and 17 is complete, will it be recommissioned?

That leaves fifteen platforms for Greater Anglia and London Overground to argue over.

If you compare the way Liverpool Street is organised compared to some more modern stations, I suspect that more modern trains can be handled without any expensive modifications to the existing station.

Modern practice means that a single platform can easily handle four tph, so as destinations like Norwich and Southend will only have three tph, could it mean that these destinations can be served by a single platform?

It would certainly make it easy for me, if I knew the fast Ipswich trains always left from platform 9.

I suspect that as London Overground has only three destinations; Cheshunt, Chingford and Enfield Town, whiich have a maximum frequency of four tph, that they could easily manage with four platforms; one for each destination and a spare.

This would give Greater Anglia eleven platforms.

Note this about Greater Anglia’s new trains.

  • The Class 745 trains will be of a fixed formation of twelve cars.
  • Will the three-car and four-car Class 755 trains have the ability to join and split automatically?
  • Will the five-car Class 720 trains have the ability to join and split automatically?

Having seen how Class 395 trains and others can do this in under a couple of minutes and the flexibility of destinations it gives, I will be very surprised if Greater Anglia haven’t specified this capability.

  • As an example, two four-car Class 755 trains could start at Lowestoft and Bury St. Edmunds respectively and then join at Ipswich, before proceeding to London as an eight-car train.
  • Would it be sensible that all trains go into Liverpool Street at maximum length?
  • Trains might split and join at Ipswich, Colchester and perhaps Chelmsford. All that is needed is a long platform.

Perhaps Greater Anglia’s platforms at Liverpool Street could be allocated something like this.

For Flirts (Class 745 and Class 755)

  • Norwich
  • Ipswich/Lowestoft
  • Stansted Airport
  • Cambridge

For Aventras (Class 720)

  • Bishops Stordford/Broxbourne/Hertford East
  • Colchester/Harwich
  • Clacton/Walton
  • Chelmsford/Braintree
  • Southend

On this rough assessment, it would appear that at least for a few years Liverpool Street station could cope.

Developing Stratford As A Second Terminal

Consider these facts about the railway hub at Stratford.

  • Stratford has not been fully developed as a terminal for the West Anglia routes and only handles two tph to and from Bishops Stortford.
  • Stratford has two platforms 11 and 12, that were built to serve the West Anglia routes; the West Anglia Main Line and the Lea Valley Lines.
  • Platforms 11 and 12 are on the High Meads Loop, which would reverse the trains on West Anglia routes.
  • Stratford is well connected to Crossrail, Central and Jubilee Lines of the Underground, the DLR, the Overground , Highspeed services to Kent and Greater Anglia services on the Great Eastern Main Line.
  • Stratford has better connections than Liverpool Street to London Bridge and Waterloo
  • Stratford could have excellent connections to Highspeed services to Kent and Continental services at Ashford International.
  • Stratford will be only a few minutes from Liverpool Street on Crossrail.

Stratford is also a destination in its own right, with the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and the massive shopping complex.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the complex at Stratford.

It is very much capable of development.

  • Better connections could be made between Stratford International and the main station.
  • The subways in the complex could be improved.
  • The Hall Farm Curve could be reinstated to give direct connections between Stratford and Walthamstow/Chingford.

I would not be surprised if Greater Anglia increased their services to and from Stratford.

I could also envisage a timetable, where trains alternate between the two terminals., as every passenger will have their favoured terninal.

Crossrail 2

Crossrail 2 is the long-term solution.

Upwards of ten tph will run between Broxbourne and Tottenham Hale, before entering the tunnel to Central and South West London.

It will obviously handle all the local services South of Broxbourne, with just the services from the North continuing to Liverpool Street and Stratford.

Following Abbey Wood, Reading and Shenfield stations on Crossrail, I think that we would see Broxbourne station developed as a simple interchange between longer distance services and Crossrail 2.

Both services would have their own tracks to London.

Conclusion

The West Anglia Main Line urgently needs improvement and this improvement can be broken down into a series of smaller projects, the first three of which have already started and could be completed by 2020.

  1. Creation of STAR – The Stratford-Angel Road Metro – Already started.
  2. Building of new Meridian Water station to replace Angel Road station – Already started.
  3. Rebuilding of Tottenham Hale station – Already started.
  4. Post-Crossrail Improvements at Liverpool Street and Stratford stations.
  5. Removal of level crossings at Brimsdown, Enfield Lock and Waltham Cross
  6. Four-tracking between Tottenham Hale and Broxbourne.
  7. Step-Free Stations
  8. Reinstatement of the Hall Farm Curve.

These projects will also get the main line Crossrail 2-ready.

This process has already started with the creation of STAR, which will create a third track as far as Angel Road station. In the article on IanVisits, this is said.

Along the tracks nearby there are already hi-vis wearing Network Rail contractors clearing the land to prepare it for the Stratford to Angel Road (STAR) rail upgrade project which will see a third railway track added. Passive provision for a fourth track will be included for Crossrail 2.

This work has already closed the level crossing at Nothumberland Park station.

In Innovation In Railway Projects, I describe how Network Rail are aiming to create a pipeline of smaller projects.

I feel that some parts of the updating of the West Anglia Main Line can be done in this way.

 

 

 

August 1, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Gibb Report – Options For Change

This paragraph is from the Gibb Report, and is labelled Options for Change.

I have quickly reviewed the current operation with both a short term and long-term perspective.

There is a widely held view that GTR is too large, with over 6,000 employees and a diverse group of routes and brands 

The 2018 Thameslink project is the priority, and focus on that is necessary as the project remains high risk on many levels.

Much change and dependency between Southern and Thameslink people and activities will be necessary during this period.

Meanwhile GTR is under significant pressure in respect of industrial action and the poorly performing
Southern services.

It says a lot, with which I agree.

  1. GTR is too large and diverse.
  2. Thameslink is the priority
  3. GTR is under significant pressure in respect of industrial action and poor Southern performance.

I do wonder how much points one and three are related.

I live in East London and when I moved here in 2010, rail services on the Lea Valley Lines were run by Abellio Greater Anglia, from a Head Office in Norwich.

  • Trains and stations were in poor condition and could have done with a very deep clean.
  • Staff appeared demotivated and were probably worried about their prospects.
  • Stations were an information-free zone.
  • Booking offices were not offering a first class service.

Was it out-of-sight-and-out-of-mind management?

Since May 2015, the Lea Valley Lines have been run by London Overground.

  • Staffing levels have improved.
  • Trains have been refreshed and are more reliable.
  • Stations are much cleaner.
  • Booking offices have improved.
  • Information at stations is now comprehensive.
  • New ticket machines have been added.
  • Staff appear to be more motivated.

If you look at the passenger figures for Hackney Downs station, which I use regularly, they are increasing faster than they were.

It will be interesting to see how things improve with the delivery of new Class 710 trains.

So judging on my experience with the Lea Valley Lines being taken from Abellio and given to London Overground, I very much agree with some of Chris Gibbs recommendations to prune some routes and services from GTR. These posts deal with his pruning.

I suspect more could be done.

 

 

 

July 8, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment

West Anglia Route Improvement – A Look At Lea Bridge Station

Lea Bridge station opened in May 2016, so as I was investigating the new STAR service, which will call at the station, I took some pictures.

These are my thoughts on the station and its design.

No-Frills Station

In some ways the station could be considered a no-frills station, with two simple platforms on either side of double-track line with a bridge at one end.

There is none of the following.

  • Car parking.
  • Station buildings.
  • Staff
  • Anything to stop people walking in.

But there is the following.

  • Secure bicycle parking and clearly marked bicycle routes.
  • Several bus routes stopping outside.
  • A step-free bridge.
  • Shelter from the worst of the weather.
  • Enough driver screens for Driver Only Operation to satisfy reasonable union officials.
  • Lots of CCTV cameras.
  • Clear sound system for announcements.

In some ways the station is unusual for one in an inner city area of London.

You can imagine a station like this in a rural county like Suffolk or Wiltshire, perhaps with a bit more shelter.

No Graffiti

I use this station fairly regularly and I’ve never seen any graffiti.

Could the lack of graffiti be bacause.

There are lots of CCTV cameras.

Despite not many trains, there always seems to be passengers around.

Anmy graffiti os quickly cleaned away.

Stephen Bayley has said that good design discourages graffiti.

Whatever the reason is, it seems to work.

The Curious Secure Walkway

When I saw it, I wondered why there was a secure walkway inside security fencing at the station.

I think it must be so that workers can get from the portable offices a couple of hundred metres South of the station to the various worksites for the STAR project, some of which are North of the station.

I wonder when STAR is complete, if the walkway will be converted into a cycle path alongside the railway.

The Cable Duct

A lot of the work at present for the STAR project seems to be moving the cables out of the way and installing a new cable duct.

The pictures show the new cable duct coming from the Tottenham Hale direction along the East side of the railway.

At the North end of the platforms, the duct disappears and looks like it heads under the railway to continue on the other side.

Could this be a deterrent for cable thieves, who now would have to dig up the railway to find them?

The Possible Platform 0

To the Eastern side of the station behind Platform 1, a space would appear to have been left for a possible bay platform.

I have not seen any plans that might need another platform at Lea Bridge station, but if it was absolutely necessary to create one, it wouldn’t be too difficult.

Network Rail score high for future p[roofing here, but it would be good, if it was now standard practice, when a new station is built.

 

 

 

 

 

February 25, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | 3 Comments

West Anglia Route Improvement – What Is STAR?

STAR stands for Stratford-Tottenham-Angel Road and is a proposed four trains per hour (tph) service between Stratford and Angel Road stations, calling at the following stations.

The main purpose is to provide a service to the new £3.5billion housing and commercial development project at Meridian Water, the developers of which will be rebuilding Angel Road station and renaming it to Meridian Water.

Brief details of the project are given in the March 2017 Edition of Modern Railways.

  • STAR will involve laying a third track between Stratford and Angel Road, alongside the West Anglia Main Line and the Temple Mills Branch to Stratford.
  • STAR will be completed at the end of 2018.
  • STAR will run at a frequency of four trans per hour (tph)
  • STAR  will help in the four-tracking of the West Anglia Main Line.

More will certainly emerge in the next few months.

But I have a few questions about STAR.

Will STAR Services Go Beyond Angel Road Station?

The only STAR service at present is the two tph service to either ?Hertford East or Bishops Stortford stations that call at Lea Bridge, then in a rather haphazard pattern up the Lea Valley.

It is not a passenger-friendly service, as you turn up for the half-hourly train and find the destination you want is served on the alternate service.

I have a feeling the service pattern is designed by history, rather than a train planner with a brain.

What Type Of Train Will Be Used?

I think the route STAR will take, has a possible headroom problem at Tottenham Hale.

Ferry Lane Bridge At Tottenham Hale Station

Ferry Lane Bridge At Tottenham Hale Station

When I first saw this bridge and saw the height of the overhead electrification on the existing West Anglia Main Line under the far span, I immediately questioned if they could fit the electrification under either of the blue steel bridges, where STAR might pass, in a manner that would meet all the Health and Safety regulations.

Read this article on the Rail Engineer web site, which is entitled EGIP – electrification clearance woes, to learn more about how regulations are making electrification not just an engineering problem.

So will this mean that STAR will be built without wires?

Diesel trains would work, but wouldn’t fit the profile of Meridian Water as an ecologically-sound development.

I think we could see IPEMUs or electric multiple units with onboard energy storage working the route.

Will STAR Share Platforms With The West Anglia Up Line?

The space for putting the third track for STAR is narrow as this picture at Tottenham Hale shows.

 

Not Much Space For Two Tracks

STAR Will Go Through Here At Tottenham Hale Station

If STAR goes through in the space conveniently marked by green grass, the easiest way to create a platform would be to add a second face on the existing Platform 1.

  • A step-free bridge is being built linking Hale Village to a new station building with step-free access to the existing Platforms 1 and 2.
  • If STAR used the other face of Platform 1, it would share the step-free access of that platform.
  • STAR would have cross-platform access with services to Liverpool Street.
  • There would be step-free access between STAR and the Victoria Line.

It could be a very simple and affordable way of creating a new platform and interchange with full step-free access.

The technique could also be used at Northumberland Park station.

Could STAR Call At Stratford International Station?

One of the many proposals for the Docklands Light Railway was to extend the Stratford International Branch along the Lea Valley. This seems to have been dropped.

But there is a line called the High Meads Loop, that  would appear to allow trains to call at Lea Bridge station and Platform 11 at Stratford station, before looping round Eastfield and Stratford International station and returning through Lea Bridge station. In a forum, a claim is made by I assume a driver, that he’s done this.

If a platform could be built on the High Meads Loop to serve Stratford International station, then STAR services could go round the High Meads Loop and call at the platform.

But if the loop could be used to turnback trains, then it would allow a lot more trains to use Stratford as a destination.

Could A Similar Service To STAR Connect Stratford To Walthamstow And Chingford?

I have been past the work-site between Lea Bridge station and Coppermill Junction several times in the last few days and it would appear that the Hall Farm Curve that would make this service possible is being cleared of fifty-plus years of rubbish.

But, there are other problems in creating this service, like the level crossing at Highams Park station.

Could The Capacity Of STAR Be Increased?

The capacity on the East London Line, which runs a similar 4 tph service on four separate routes, was increased by the simple process of lengthening the trains.

Provided the platforms are built to accept longer trains, this would be the easy way to increase capacity.

What Will Happen To STAR When The Great Anglia Main Line Is Four-Tracked?

STAR will only affect the West Anglia Main Line between Coppermill Junction and Angel Eoad, as this is the only section, where the STAR and the new lines will co-exist.

In How Many Fast Services Will Go Through Tottenham Hale Station?, I concluded that there will be between ten and twelve fast trains per hour in both directions between Tottenham Hale and Broxbourne stations.

I also think, that these trains will go non-stop along the new lines only stopping at Broxbourne, as the timings of the new slow trains could be the same as the current fast ones. See Timings Between Tottenham Hale And Broxbourne Stations for full details.

As the four-tracking will not take place for a few years, I think it is likely that Stadler and Bombardier will be able to fit onboard storage to their trains, so could we see the two new lines squeezed into the small space between STAR and the development at Tottenham Hale without electrification?

Signalling technology would also probably allow such a line to be bi-directional, with trains running alternatively in both directions.

It would certainly save space to have a single bi-directional line without electrification handling the fast trains through Tottenham Hale!

The fast line would revert to a normal double track at Coppermill Junction and Angel Road station.

As closing a rail route is often a difficult process, even after Crossrail 2 is providing a high frquency service between Tottenham Hale and Angel Road, STAR will continue into the future.

Conclusion

STAR is putting down some interesting markers for the future.

 

 

February 25, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | 2 Comments