The Anonymous Widower

Thameslink Trains Are Going Through London Bridge Station

This article on Rail Technology Magazine is entitled Thameslink Test trains Travel Through New London Bridge Platform For First Time.

This is said.

 GTR’s first test passenger trains have made the trip through the new platform 5 at London Bridge following the completion of nearly three years of work.

The eight-carriage Class 700 RLU was the first passenger train to complete a journey over the new Bermondsey Dive-Under, as it came into London Bridge from New Cross Gate on New Year’s Day.

But they have increased their testing since.

This is a screen capture from Real Time Trains, showing Thameslink trains around 19:00 last night.

Note.

  1. Under the Platform column 4 and 5 are shown.
  2. Some trains appear to be stopping.

I’ve just checked this morning and it appears that Northbound trains are stopping in Platform 5 and Southbound services are going through Platform 4.

 

January 11, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , | Leave a comment

The Western Arcade At London Bridge Station

These pictures show the Western Arcade at London Bridge station, which opened after Christmas.

The Arcade connects the spacious double concourse under the tracks of the National Rail station with the Underground station.

All it needs now, is for the shops to be occupied.

January 8, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Thameslink Begins Testing At Redeveloped London Bridge

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

This is said.

Direct trains from Blackfriars to London Bridge stopped in January 2015, but will resume this month once further testing and driver training has been completed. A full service introduction is planned for May.

That sounds like good news to me!

January 5, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , | 2 Comments

London Bridge Station Gets The Last Five New Platforms

The last five platforms, numbered 1 to 5, at London Bridge station, opened this morning.

It is now possible to judge the station as a whole.

The Spacious Concourse

In my experience, the layout of the spacious concourse is unique in all the stations I have visited. And I’ve visited quite a few! And not just in the UK, but all over Europe.

Effectively, it is like a city square, with separate stations on viaducts above.

  • The one-platform station (Platform 1) for trains from Cannon Street to SE London and Kent.
  • The two-platform island station (Platforms 2 and 3) for trains from SE London and Kent to Cannon Street.
  • The two platform island station (Platform 4 and 5) for trains for Thameslink services going North and South,
  • The two-platform island station (Platform 6 and 7) for trains from Charing Cross and Waterloo East to SE London, Kent and Sussex
  • The two-platform island station (Platform 8 and 9) for trains from Waterloo East to SE London, Kent and Sussex to Charing-Cross and Waterloo.
  • The six-platform terminal station (Platforms 10-15) for trains to SE London, Surrey And Sussex.

All platforms have two or more escalators, stairs and a lift to and from the spacious concourse.

  • The circulation space is uncluttered with just one fast food outlet discretely to one side. Others will be slotted in.
  • The lighting is excellent, with lots of natural light. Many stations are dingy, despite having been built or rebuilt in the last few years.

Ticketing and security is ensured by several lines of ticket gates, leading to a surrounding unticketed concourse.

The Double-Concourse Design

|Effectively, London Bridge station has two concourses.

The ticketed concourse, that connects to all the platforms and the trains.

There is also a second concourse surrounding the ticketed concourse.

  • This second concourse extends through the station from Tooley Street to St. Thomas Street.
  • The streets outside the station are effectively parts of the second concourse.
  • Level walking routes to the Underground, the River, Guys Hospital and London Bridge are provided.
  • A separate escalator connection links to the bus station, from the second concourse.
  • There are more shops and a ticket office.

Where else could this concept be employed?

The obvious example is surely Manchester Piccadilly station, where there will effectively be three stations.

  • The HS2 station.
  • A terminal station for trains going to and from the South.
  • A two-platform through station capable of handling sixteen trains per hour, replacing the dreaded Platforms 13 and 14.

All would be linked by a huge London Bridge-sized area under the tracks, with both a ticketed and unticketed area.

  • The tram station would be at the same level as the concourse, accessible from the unticketed area.
  • Shops would be mainly in the unticketed area, with a minimum in the ticketed area.
  • A clutter-free design is needed.

The aim would be to ensure that quick and easy interchange between various transport modes was created.

The concept would also work at a rebuilt Euston and should probably have been used instead of the very passenger and staff-unfriendly design at St. Pancras, where interchange between separate services is not for those that are not 100% fit.

I also think that a similar concept of a split concourse, with ticketed and unticketed areas could be applied at a traditional terminal station like Brighton, Liverpool Street, Liverpool Lime Street or Waterloo, where significant numbers of passengers interchange between services at the station.

  • A second ticketed concourse could be created between the gate line and the actual platforms.
  • The concourse outside the ticket gates should be extended into the surrounding streets, as it effectively has been at Kings Cross.
  • A lot of decluttering should go on.

Hopefully, as each new station is designed, the concept will be improved.

Wide Island Platforms

Can platforms be too wide? Probably only accountants can answer that question.

But we certainly need more island platforms!

They make it so easy for passengers to reverse direction, without going up onto a bridge or down into a subway.

If say you were going between Bedford and Cambridge on Thameslink, perhaps with a heavy case or in a wheel-chair, it might  be easier to go as far South as London Bridge station, where you could just cross the platform for the second train.

Unfortunately, no-one thought to build the important Thameslink station at St. Pancras with an island platform.

Lights Above The Ticket Gates

The lights on some of London’s ticket gates are difficult to see, as you approach, but these are so much better.

Surely, as people will line up a few metres away and walk straight towards the gate, this might increase passenger throughput.

Can we have more of this please?

Information Above The Escalators And Stairs

This is good, but it could be better.

Imagine a one-line display on top of the main display, which could be used for title, important or emergency information.

Examples could be.

  • Trains To Waterloo East And Charing Cross
  • Way Out!
  • Do Not Enter!!
  • RMT Call Off Strike Tomorrow!

The standard display for the various platforms at London Bridge could be.

Platform 1 – Cannon Street To SE London And Kent

Platform 2 and 3 – To Cannon Street

Platforms 4 and 5 – Thameslink – 4 To South – 5 To North

Platform 6 and 7 – Charing Cross To SE London, Kent And Sussex

Platforms 8 and 9 – To Waterloo East And Charing Cross

Platforms 10 to 15 – To SE London, Surrey And Sussex

Ticket Machines

There are no ticket machines in the ticketed area.

In Germany, there is often a ticket machine after you have passed the gate.

I find it very useful, as they can be used to buy tickets for a later journey or look up future connections.

I only know of one ticket machine inside the ticketed area in the UK and that is on Platform 8 at Stratford station.

We need more of these!

The need will get more urgent after Crossrail and Thameslink are fully open.

Suppose you are doing a journey from somewhere in the Oyster/contactless card area like Ealing Broadway or Ilford to perhaps Hastings, Ipswich or Oxford, which are not.

  • You might not be starting your journey at a station with a ticket office.
  • Because you never go outside the Oyster/contactless card area, you haven’t bought a ticket in some time.
  • You might like me be a Freedom Pass holder.

So you might arrive at London Bridge or Stratford, without a valid ticket for the rest of your journey.

Currently, at London Bridge station, you have to go outside the ticketed area to get your onward ticket.

A ticket machine or machines inside the ticketed area would be better.

It could also.

  • Provide information.
  • Print intineraries
  • Display advertising.

Perhaps, like cash machines, ticket machines might be provided by third-party operators?

Seats

Are there enough seats?

Time will tell! But I think more will be added!

 

 

 

 

 

January 2, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Conditions And Thoughts On The New Southeastern Franchise

The January 2018 Edition of Modern Railways gives a review of the conditions, that the Department for Transport are imposing on bidders.

The First Sentence

This is the first sentence of the article.

The Department for Transport says bidders for the next Southeastern franchise will be required to provide space for at least 40,000 additional passengers in the morning rush hour with 12-car services on the busiest routes.

This raises an interesting question.

Does the DfT mean actual twelve-car trains or ones as long as current twelve-car trains?

In Big On The Inside And The Same Size On The Outside, I discussed how by using  good design, Bombardier were getting more passengers in a train of the same length.

This is an extract from c2c’s Press Release.

The Aventra is one of the fastest-selling trains in the UK rail industry, and these new trains will be manufactured at Bombardier’s factory in Derby. Each new train, which will operate in a fixed set of 10-carriages, will include over 900 seats, plus air-conditioning, wifi, plug sockets and three toilets onboard. Each new carriage is larger and contains more seats than on c2c’s current trains, so each 10-carriage new train provides capacity for 15% more passengers onboard compared to a current 12-carriage c2c train.

So three x four-car trains working as a twelve-car train are replaced by one ten-car train, just as with Greater Anglia. Note the claimed fifteen percent capacity increase!

Metro Services

The article says this about Metro services,

Metro-style trains will be introduced on suburban routes, similar to those on other high-capacity routes into London.

Is the DfT thinking of trains like Crossrail’s Class 345 trains?

Changes Of London Terminals

The DfT was thinking of all inner suburban services going to a single London terminal, but this has been dropped following opposition.

Changes are still proposed, to stop conflicts at Lewisham.

  • Bexleyheath Line services will switch from Victoria to Cannon Street or Charing Cross.
  • Hayes Line services will not serve Victoria and Charing Cross, but not Cannon Street.
  • North Kent Line services will run to Cannon Street.
  • Sidcup Line services will run to Charing Cross and Cannon Street in the Peak.
  • Extra services will serve Abbey Wood for Crossrail.
  • More twelve-car trains.

The objective is a turn-up-and-go Metro-style service on suburban routes.

To London Overground, Merseyrail and other commuters around the K, that means four trains per hour.

As there was with the proposal Network Rail made to curtail Sutton Loop Line services at Blackfriars, there will be complaints. Especially, from those who were at Eton with certain MPs!

Hopefully the design of London Bridge station will help smooth things over.

Twelve-Car Trains At Charing Cross And Waterloo East

If most trains are twelve-car trains, then surely all platforms at Cannon Street, Charing Cross, London Bridge, Victoria and Waterloo East stations, must surely be able to handle trains of this length.

As it is specifically mentioned, Charing Cross and Waterloo East stations must be the most problem.

There have been suggestions of rebuilding the two stations, with the platforms at Charing Cross extending over the Thames.

Consider.

  • Modern signalling could handle twenty-four trains per hour between Charing Cross and London Bridge.
  • Connections to the Jubilee Line could be better.
  • The Bakerloo Line is planned to be extended to Lewisham.
  • Waterloo East station could surely have over-site development.
  • Techniques borrowed from London Underground could be used to turn trains faster at Charing Cross.

I have a feeling that we will see something fairly radical happen in the next few years to increase capacity across the South Bank.

Faster Services To Hastings

This is said about services to and from Hastings.

DfT has specified a new two trains per hour service between London, Tonbridge and Ashford, allowing services to Hastings to be speeded up by removing calls at Orpington, Sevenoaks and Hildenborough.

Bidders are incentivised to develop further proposals for reducing journey times, including for deliveringn high speed services between London St. Pancras, Hastings and Bexhill via Ashford.

That all sounds good for Hastings.

More Trains Between Strood And Tonbridge

This route along the Medway Valley Line will have two trains per hour all day.

Trains For The Franchise

The DfT has specified the trains in a fairly detailed way.

Cars No Longer Than Twenty Metres

This is probably because of curved platforms and other restrictions on the various routes.

It is also a similar car length to the current Class 465 trains and Class 377 trains.

No Extra Selective Door Opening, Except At Waterloo East

I suspect this could be that selective door opening, confuses passengers and perhaps slow the stops.

First Class To Be Removed By September 2020

Will this be popular with all passengers?

There doesn’t seem to have been too many protests about the future removal of First Class on Greater Anglia’s services in Essex.

But it will allow the capacity of the train to be increased, to provide space for some of those 40,000 additional passengers.

ETCS Will Have To Be Deployed

European Train Control System (ETCS)  can enable higher frequencies of trains in a safe manner and mandating that it be deployed is a sensible move.

At Least One Accessible Toilet On Main Line And High Speed Trains

I think most train operating companies would do this!

Adequate Wi-Fi

Not providing wi-fi and in addition 4G signals, is probably an easy way to reduce ridership.

Walk Through Trains

The fleets that have been bought recently, are all of this type, so I think it would be unlikely, that any new trains for the Southeastern franchise would be different.

My Thoughts

Train Length

 

Greater Anglia, Great Western Railway, South Western Railway and Virgin Trains East Coast have set a pattern, by ordering trains and half-trains, that can probably be used in a flexible manner.

Half-train/Full-train ratios for the various companies are.

  • Great Western Railway – 1.6
  • Greater Anglia – 4.0
  • South Western Railway 0.5
  • Virgin Trains East Coast – 0.5

Each company has chosen an appropriate number of trains for their routes, but each can adjust numbers by running two half-trains as a full train.

So will we see the same strategy on a future Southeastern franchise?

Perhaps most trains will be twelve-car trains with a small number of six-car trains, that can work together as required.

Train Speed

In Kent On The Cusp Of Change – Elimination Of Slow Trains, I came to this conclusion.

All trains incapable of running a service at 100 mph should be eliminated, just as the two operators;Greater Anglia and South Western Railway, are planning to do.

All of the new Southeastern franchise’s trains should be 100 mph trains.

 

 

 

December 22, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Thameslink Services Through Brockley

This post is a follow up to Thameslink’s 24tph Introduction Held Over To 2019, which I wrote yesterday, after doing a little bit of digging anf buying the printed copy of Rail Magazine.

When the full 24 trains per hour (tph) timetable is fully implemented the routing of Thameslink services through South London could be as in the provisional timetable in Wikipedia.

  • 1/2 – Bedford to Brighton – via London Bridge, East Croydon and Gatwick Airport
  • 3/4 – Bedford to Gatwick Airport – via London Bridge and East Croydon
  • 5/6 – Peterborough to Horsham – via London Bridge and East Croydon
  • 7/8 – Cambridge to Brighton – via London Bridge, East Croydon and Gatwick Airport
  • 9/10 – Cambridge to Maidstone East – via London Bridge, New Cross and Swanley
  • 11/12 – Bedford to East Grinstead – via London Bridge and East Croydon
  • 13/14 – Bedford to Littlehampton – via London Bridge, East Croydon and Gatwick Airport
  • 15/16 – Luton to Rainham – via London Bridge, New Cross and Greenwich
  • 17/20 – St. Albans to Sutton – Bia London Blackfriars and the Sutton Loop
  • 21/22 – Luton or Kentish Town to Orpington – via London Blackfriars and Catford
  • 23/24 – Welwyn Garden City to Sevenoaks – via London Blackfriars, Catford and Otford.

 

Looking at the routes of these trains shows.

  • Twelve tph will run between London Bridge and East Croydon along the Brighton Main Line through stations between Brockley Norwood Junction.
  • Ten tph serve Gatwick Airport.
  • Ten tph serve Luton Airport.

This morning I stood on Brockley stations and counted trains on the two fast lines of the Brighton Main Line.

In half an hour, I counted less than eight trains in each direction of which one was Network Rail’s leaf cleaning train and another was the Thameslink service between London Bridge and Brighton.

This article in Rail Magazine is entitled Thameslink’s 24tph Introduction Held Over To 2019.

This is a paragraph.

However, GTR will start running some trains on routes earlier than planned. Speaking exclusively to RAIL on November 15, Chris Gibb, chairman of the Thameslink Programme Industry Readiness Board, said that as soon as drivers were trained, GTR services would be diverted via London Bridge from January instead of May, and via the Canal Tunnels from April.

From my observations this morning and my scrutiny of the proposed timetable, it would appear that the twelve tph between London Bridge and East Croydon can be accommodated on the fast lines of the Brighton Main Line, given the following conditions.

  • The track and signalling between London Blackfriars and New Cross Gate via London Bridge is completed.
  • The London Bridge to Brighton service is discontinued, as Thameslink will replace it.

Thameslink running through London Bridge from January, will surely mean the following.

  • Faster and more reliable services between London and Gatwick Airport and the South Coast, using more direct route and the Brighton Main Line, North of East Croydon.
  • Less congestion on the Blackfriars route for Thameslink, as it winds through South London.

At present only four tph run on Thameslink, that could use the new direct route.

So if these transfer in January to their own platforms in London Bridge, there will be improvements.

In the Rail Magazine article, Chris Gibb also stated that the Canal Tunnels will be in use by April.

So will we see services gradually added to the Thameslink service, as the route proves it is capable of handling the trains?

This is no Big Bang change, but a simple step-by-step process.

More Details In The Print Copy Of Rail Magazine

The full Rail Magazine article has now been published in print and I have a copy.

Chris Gibb describes the May 2018 timetable change as a Big Bang.

  • Capacity increase of 35,000-40,000 into the core at Peak periods.
  • New service between Cambridge and Brighton.
  • New service between Horsham and Peterborough.
  • New service between Luton and the Medway Towns.
  • New service between Littlehampton and Bedford.
  • New service between East Grinstead and Bedford.

There will be 18 tph through the core.

The article say this frequency will rise to 20 tph in December 2018 and 22 tph in May 2019.

A Possible Thirty Tph Through The Core

The Rail Magazine article also says this.

He (Chris Gibb) explained that 30 tph could run through the core, but that infrastructure either side of it, would not support this.

This increase must open up the possibility of new destinations to the North and South.

Everybody would have their favourites.

Mine could be.

  • Ashford International for Eurostar.
  • Old Oak Common via the Dudding Hill Line.
  • Kettering and Corby
  • Milton Keynes

It will be interesting to see what is proposed, let alone implemented.

 

 

November 22, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

The Beginning Of The End For The Thameslink Works

They seem to have been going on for ever, but this article in Rail Engineer entitled Thameslink – The Final Countdown, describes the work in the last few months before the new Thameslink service opens next year.

This is the first paragraph.

With just a few months to go, including two major commissionings, the rebuilt, remodelled and resignalled London Bridge becomes fully operational on 2 January 2018. The Thameslink service resumes through the high level station via the new segregated alignment between Blackfriars and Bricklayers Arms Junction, engineered into the remodelled layout as a key objective of the project together with the introduction of Automatic Train Operation (ATO) overlay to ETCS.

So it looks like from January 2nd, 2018, instead of a jolly round South London, Thameslink trains will be calling at their own pair of platforms in London Bridge.

Other points and milestones flagged up in the article include.

  • British Rail’s Network South East proposed thought up this plan in 1990.
  • The complete concourse at London Bridge opens in January 2018.
  • Other fit out work in London Bridge station will continue until May 2018.
  • Most of the track works at London Bridge will be sorted during the August Bank Holiday blockade.
  • The Christmas 2017 Blockade will finish things off for the January 2nd opening.
  • ATO (Automatic Train Control) will go live on 2nd January 2018 and allow twenty trains per hour (tph), through the Central Core of Thameslink.
  • 24 tph will start with the May 2018 timetable change.

Let’s hope it’s all been worth the trouble and strife.

Certainly, the flag-ship of the scheme; London Bridge station looks capable of becoming one of the world’s great railway stations.

  • Interchange between the various routes at the station is easy.
  • Signage and information set new standards.
  • It has a proper bus station and taxi rank.
  • Although not completed yet the connection to the Underground looks like it will be much better than most .

But to me, the biggest advantage is that London Bridge will become an easy-to-access rail hub, which will be my starting point for many journeys, as I have a regular bus service to the station from virtually outside my house.

The high-frequency rail link between London Bridge and Waterloo East station, also gives me a  relaxed route home from Waterloo station using the 141 bus from London Bridge station to a stop perhaps fifty metres from my house.

Going to London Bridge station, the walk is a perhaps a hundred metres to the bus stop, but there is no roads to cross. The buses run from five in the morning to midnight and during the day, there is a bus every few minutes, which takes just under half-an-hour to London Bridge. According to Transport for London’s Journey Planner, the fastest journey is thirty-three minutes with a lot more walking, the Overground and the Jubilee Line.

St. Pancras takes the same time with a long underground walk to Thameslink, so it looks like my fastest way to Gatwick and Brighton will start with a bus to London Bridge station.

Conclusion

I don’t know what it’s like in other cities, but in London, it’s often as quick, but easier and more pleasant to use the buses rather than the Underground or equivalent, if the journey is short.

August 22, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | 2 Comments

What Is Happening At Platform 9 At London Bridge Station?

I regularly come home from Waterloo station, by walking to Waterloo East station and then getting a Southeastern train to London Bridge station, from where, I get a 141 bus to a zebra crossing on the corner opposite my house.

Location is important, when buying a house!

You might ask, why I don’t use the Jubilee Line between Waterloo and London Bridge. I prefer not to be in a dark tunnel in an small-diameter Underground train, when there is a full-size alternative on the surface.

When the new Southeastern Franchise is awarded, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a succession of large-windowed trains, like Aventras,  replacing the over twenty-years-old Class 466 trains. They could become a tourist attraction linking Greenwich and Westminster via The Shard, that would be so much more interesting than the Jubilee Line.

This diagram from Wikipedia shows the proposed platform layout for London Bridge station from 2018.

Note.

  • The island Platform 6 and 7 is flanked by two lines coming from Charing Cross station.
  • The island Platform 8 and 9 is flanked by two lines going io Charing Cross station.
  • The tracks through Platforms 6 and 9 appear to be on loops from the track going through the other paired platform.

I assume the layout is to get sufficient platform capacity for the ten-car trains going through the station.

Look at this Google Map of the station.

The Platforms are numbered from top-right to bottom-left.

  • Platform 1 doesn’t appear to be complete and will be a bi-directional platform into Cannon Street station.
  • Platforms 2 and 3 are the first through island platform and serve Cannon Street.
  • Platforms 4 and 5 are the second through island platform are are for Thameslink.
  • Platforms 6 and 7 are for trains coming from Charing Cross.
  • Platforms 8 and 9 are for trains going to Charing Cross.
  • Platform 10 upwards are bay platforms for terminating services.

Note.

  • The generous width of the through island platforms.
  • Ot appears it might be possible to put a second platform on the other side of the track through Platform 9. Let’s call it Platform 9a
  • This extra Platform 9a and the bay Platform 10 could be easily connected, with a walk-through.

These pictures were taken from outside the station and show the area to the West of Platform 9.

Some substantial construction work is going on.

These pictures were taken inside the station.

I wonder what the final outcome will be!

 

August 20, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | 2 Comments

In The Brick Caverns Under London

I took these pictures as I walked through London Bridge station to the Underground.

I do like well-executed brickwork! I hope they don’t cover it with plaster or concrete.

I certainly don’t think they’re finished yet! The lights are for light rather than to a design that fits.

This set of brick arches will form a level passageway between the inner concourse of the station and the exits towards the City and the Underground.

London Bridge looks like it could take the mantle of London’s best railway station from Kings Cross.

December 20, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , | 3 Comments

Crawling Home From Gatwick

Getting home from Gatwick for me, should be an easy process.

  • Touch in with my American Express card at Gatwick Airport station.
  • Train to East Croydon station.
  • Touch out to close the transaction.
  • Train to London Bridge.
  • 141 bus to home.

But there was trouble in this simple plan.

  • Thameslink services appeared to have problems.
  • The tragic Croydon tram accident.
  • There appeared to be a shortage pf trains to East Croydon.
  • Staff weren’t very numerous.
  • The closure of ower Bridge.

I eventually got to East Croydon and touched out without going through the barrier, so I was now in Freedom Pass territory. The train from Gatwick was a Class 377 train, which although brilliant for commuters, is not designed for anybody with a suitcase.

There needs to be a reader on the platform at East Croydon, so that passengers with Freedom Passes can touch in and out, without going to the barrier. But sorting this minor irritation, is probably the least of Southern’s worries.

After a wait of about thirty minutes, I got on a trainto London Bridge and although, I’d intended to get the Overground from Brockley, I missed the stop as in the dark, I missed the stop, so I went to London Bridge, which should be quicker anyway.

But it wasn’t, as on arrival at the station, there were no buses and only a couple of taxis.

I took the taxi and the amiable driver immediately turned off the meter.

It was all due to the total gridlock created by works on both Tower and London bridges.

After crossing the river, it was more or less plain sailing.

It could be argued that my journey would have been easier, if I hadn’t wanted to go via East Croydon, so that I could save a few pounds.

I don’t need the money but other travellers do! The system certainly doesn’t cope well with those, who want to change from using their Freedom Pass to a ticket at East Croydon station.

If I’m going out and back through Gatwick, the problem can also be solved by buying a return ticket from East Croydon to Gatwick Airport from a ticket machine from certain companies like the Overground and Thameslink.

 

I

November 10, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 1 Comment