The Anonymous Widower

Was The London Mayoral Election A Low Turnout?

When I voted for the Mayor in 2012, I seem to remember that the Polling Station was much more busy.

The BBC has said tonight, that that is their information.

But what do you expect with such a lacklustre collection of candidates?

At previous elections, thee has been party activists outside, but today the street was empty except for a rather nice tabby and white cat.

He didn’t tell me who he was representing. I would guess, it was himself!

May 5, 2016 Posted by | World | , | 1 Comment

Will Old Oak Common Station And The Wimbledon To Sutton Tramlink Extension Get The Go-Ahead?

This article in Rail Engineer is entitled TfL Budget Confirms Rail Projects. This is said.

The GLA budget, announced in February 2016, included a £250 million fund for two new overground stations at Old Oak Common, linking with Crossrail, national rail and HS2, and £100 million towards a potential extension to the tram network to Sutton.

So will we be seeing a start to the planning for these two projects?

Obviously, nothing will be decided until the new Mayor is elected.

March 18, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Will There Be An Eight-Month Closure On The Gospel Oak To Barking Line?

This has been stated in several articles on the Internet, but I’ll use this article from London 24 entitled Barking to Gospel Oak Overground line “to close for EIGHT months this year”. This is said.

A closure is necessary so the diesel stock can be replaced with electric trains and to increase capacity on the hugely-overcrowded route.

A £60m contract was awarded to J. Murphy and Sons to electrify the line in September last year but there has been no announcement from the Department of Transport, Network Rail or TfL.

London24 understands negotiations have been ongoing between the organisations over the length and nature of the closure while electrification takes place.

Shutting it will cause mayhem for thousands of passengers who will have to find alternative routes, which will often take longer and be more expensive.

I have also heard from a reliable source that there will be an eight month closure and the Gospel Oak to Barking Line (GOBlin) will open with new trains.

I feel that Murphys are electrifying the line in a novel way and I wrote about it in Are We Seeing A New Approach To Electrification On The Gospel Oak To Barking Line?

I have no specific or private information, but only what I have read in the media or seen with my own eyes.

I will of course be using my own experience of many years of supporting and observing large projects.

What Would Be An Acceptable Closure?

In Summer 2015. the Victoria Line was closed for two months, to replace a cross-over at Walthamstow Central. This was just about acceptable to the locals, but the alternative routes and Rail Replacement Buses coped.

At the right time of the year, I suspect that the residents of North London could endure a closure of perhaps 3-4 months. But of course, they’d prefer it, if there wasn’t any closures, except for odd days at weekends.

At least there are alternative routes.

  • The upgraded Victoria Line can help between Walthamstow and Upper Holloway, with assistance from buses.
  • After the 17th April, there would appear to be no North London Line closures.
  • The Victoria Line to Highbury and Islington can partly replace going to Gospel Oak for the North London Line.
  • There are a couple of out of station interchanges.

Freight trains can be routed via the North London Line.

How Much Work Can Be Done?

The key to doing anything, is the number of hours that work can be done and the amount of resources that can be used.

This is the current list of closures on the GOBlin.

  • Sun 31 Jan 16 – Gospel Oak to Barking
  • Sun 07 Feb 16 – Gospel Oak to Barking until 12:00
  • Sun 14 Feb 16 – Gospel Oak to Barking until 12:00
  • Sun 21 Feb 16 – Gospel Oak to Barking until 12:00
  • Sun 28 Feb 16 – Gospel Oak to Barking until 12:00
  • Sun 06 Mar 16 – Gospel Oak to Barking until 12:00
  • Sun 20 Mar 16 – Gospel Oak to Barking until 12:00
  • Sun 27 Mar 16 – Gospel Oak to Barking until 12:00
  • Sun 03 Apr 16 – Gospel Oak to Barking until 12:00
  • Sun 10 Apr 16 – Gospel Oak to Barking
  • Sat 16 to Sun 17 Apr 16 – Gospel Oak to Barking
  • Sat 23 to Sun 24 Apr 16 – Gospel Oak to Barking
  • Sat 30 Apr to Mon  02 May 16 – Gospel Oak to Barking
  • Sat 07 to Sun 08 May 16 – Gospel Oak to Barking
  • Sat 14 to Sun 15 May 16 – Gospel Oak to Barking
  • Sat 21 to Sun 22 May 16 – Gospel Oak to Barking
  • Sat 28 to Tue 31 May 16 – Gospel Oak to Barking
  • Sat 04 to Sun 05 Jun 16 – Gospel Oak to Barking
  • Sat 11 to Sun 12 Jun 16 – Gospel Oak to Barking
  • Sat 18 to Sun 19 Jun 16 – Gospel Oak to Barking
  • Sat 25 to Sun 26 Jun 16 – Gospel Oak to Barking
  • Sat 02 to Sun 03 Jul 16 – Gospel Oak to Barking
  • Sat 09 to Sun 10 Jul 16 – Gospel Oak to Barking
  • Sat 16 to Sun 17 Jul 16 – Gospel Oak to Barking
  • Sat 23 to Sun 24 Jul 16 – Gospel Oak to Barking

No long closure seems to have been announced yet!

Note the following.

  • There doesn’t appear to be any working day closures, so it would appear that Transport for London/Network Rail are looking after the passengers! And the revenue!
  • I should also say, that an engineer working on an unrelated station project in London, said that it was typical to work on a twenty-four hour basis. Thus a weekend closure could give over fifty continuous hours for working.
  • There are two longer closures in May at the Bank Holidays, so what is planned for these weekends?
  • None of the work is in tunnels!
  • The line could be blockaded at night to allow work to continue all through the night.
  • Important freight could use the North London Line.
  • The line connects a string of roads together, where there are various facilities like cafes and shops. I bet if someone is peckish at two in the morning, they can get a sandwich.
  • I would suspect, that they will apply some of the lessons learned at Dawlish.
  • J Murphy and Sons have a reputation for using lots of sub-contractors.
  • A lot of the work is taking place close to Murphy’s depot!
  • They can get the lights out and use the summer months to great advantage.
  • Days can be used to get everything ready for the following night’s work.
  • The extension of the line to Barking Riverside can be done later after the GOBlin has reopened.

I think that someone is doing a universe-class project management job and has realised that by clever working practices and selected weekend and overnight closures, there could be masses of time and resources available for the job.

Could this explain, that when the eight month closure is discussed, Mike Stubbs from London Overground is always quoted as saying no final decision has been made?

Perhaps every day, project managers are telling him a smaller and less disruptive figure.

Have the freight companies been told, that the line will be closed to them for eight months, so they can plan accordingly? It would be very sensible and I suspect they have already made alternative arrangements.

I think that Murphy’s orange army will get an amazing amount of actual work done before the end of 2016.

If the electrification gets delivered on time and budget, a great number of men and women, will be telling their grandchildren exaggerated tales about how they rebuilt London’s railways!

Trains

One problem is the Class 710 trains, as they can’t be delivered until 2018, so I suspect that opening after the eight month closure with new trains, should be opening with four-car electric trains.

In a section in my related post entitled Where Are The Trains?, I said this.

I believe that the Class 387 trains, are the only acceptable and available trains, that will be available to open the service after an eight-month blockade.

Nothing else except some old trains from British Rail’s dustbin are available.

The Class 387 trains will be available as Bombardier have sorted the production. I wrote about this in Class 387 Trains On Track

Political Considerations

In May we have the London Mayoral Election and if there is an eight-month blockade of the GOBlin, I don’t think it would be to Zac Goldsmith’s advantage.

But supposing by mid-April a plan has been published and evidence of masts and wires is creeping along between Gospel Oak and Barking!

So why has the eight months closure been so widely publicised?

I’m no spin-doctor, but wouldn’t it be better to give people low expectations and then say that there’ll be new electric trains at the end of the year.

A couple of months ago, Modern Railways published an editorial saying Network Rail needed a win to restore their image in the eyes of the general public.

Could this be their strategy to go for a win?

If it fails, it will be an own goal of horrendous proportions.

Conclusions

I am led to the following conclusions.

  • Between now and December 2016, there is a very large number of man-hours available to electrify the GOBlin.
  • The line can be blockaded every night and work could continue under lights
  • Eight four-car Class 387 trains could be borrowed to start the electric service.
  • Zac Goldsmith, Boris Johnson, Network Rail and Peter Hendy, and J. Murphy and Sons have a lot to gain if this line is electrified on time and on budget.

I have a feeling that if we don’t get biblical rain, plague and pestilence, London is in for a surprise.

January 28, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 1 Comment

I’m All For This!

This article on the BBC web site entitled Lib Dems pledge to halve London morning commuter fares, caught my eye. This is said.

London mayoral candidate Caroline Pidgeon has promised if she is elected in May she will cut Tube and rail fares for journeys before 07:30 by half.

As someone who has generally started work before eight, ever since I marked up newspapers at 05:30 in the morning as a sixteen-year-old, if I’d worked in London over the years, I would have saved money.

Now of course, I don’t pay, as I have a Freedom Pass. it would be interesting to see how many journeys, I do start before 07:30. It’s probably about four a week.

This is one of those ideas that could be tested using sound Control Engineering principles.

At the present time, any journey starting before 04:30 is in the Off Peak.

So for a period of six-months say, you would use 05:00 and see how the usage and revenue changes.

And then later, you move it to 05:30 for a period.

With some clever analysis of the data, I suspect that the time that is the best compromise between customer satisfaction, service costs and revenue can be found.

Giving a fixed time now, is totally wrong!

But in my view, if a politician said, they were aiming to increase the time in which Off Peak fares applied, it would be a sensible policy.

 

January 6, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , | 2 Comments

An Open Letter To London Mayor Candidates About East London River Crossings

This started as a post on my infrastructure blog, about the Silvertown Tunnel, but now that TfL has launched a consultation about the  tunnel, I decided to update it and send it to you.

I am a sixty-eight year-old widower, living alone in Hackney, who has given up driving, so my personal feelings about the Silvertown Tunnel are that it is irrelevant to me, except that it might help some trucks bring goods that I buy on-line or at a local shop.

East London needs more cross-river routes and after recent trips to Birmingham, Nottingham and Germany and reading every word of London’s transport plans for 2050, I feel that whatever is done the Gospel Oak to Barking Line (GOBLin ) must be connected to Abbey Wood.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve made quite a few trips to South East London, including  one where I walked along Bazalgette’s sewer between Plumstead and Abbey Wood.

It is a land that London has truly forgotten.

Some transport developments, like the DLR and the East London Line has made a difference, but connections are still not the best.

TfL has talked about a  tunnel extending the GOBLin from Barking Riverside to Thamesmead and Abbey Wood.

After a visit to Karlsruhe specifically to see their tram-trains, I now believe that these could be the way to create a universe-class connection across the Thames. Tram-trains like those in Karlsruhe, which are soon to be trialled between Sheffield and Rotherham, could run on the GOBLin and then perhaps do a little loop at Barking Riverside before returning to Gospel Oak.

Note that we’re not talking untried technology here as you can see the tram-trains running on the streets and railway tracks of several German cities. Undoubtedly, if the Germans were extending the GOBlin, they would use tram-trains, as they could serve build several stops with the money needed to build Barking Riverside station.  And all the stops, like those on the London Tramlink would be fully step-free.

The loop in Barking Riverside, could extend across the river.

I think that a tunnel under the Thames would be a case of hiding your biggest light under an enormous bushel.

So why not create a high bridge to allow the biggest ships underneath, with a tram track or two, a cycle path and a walking route?

It would have some of the best views in London. Forget the Garden Bridge! This would create a transport link, that those living on both sides of the river could use and enjoy every day to get to work or for leisure reasons. Tourists would come to view London, as they do on large entry bridges in cities like New York and Lisbon.

Effectively, you have a conventional tram connecting Barking, Barking Riverside, Thamesmead and Abbey Wood. At Barking and Abbey Wood, the tram-trains become trains and could go to Gospel Oak and perhaps Meriandian Water, Romford, Upminster or Tilbury in the North and perhaps Woolwich, Lewisham, Dartford or Bluewater in the South.

Everything you would need to create such a link is tried and tested technology or designs that have been implemented in either the UK or Germany over the last few years.

In TfL’s plans for 2050, I found the words Penge and Brockley High Level buried in an Appendix listing places where there could be new transport interchanges.

I believe that an interchange at Penge would link the East London Line to the South Eastern Main Line and trains between Victoria and Orpington. Another interchange at Brockley would link the East London Line to the trains going across South London between Lewisham and Abbey Wood.

Conventional thinking says that these interchanges will be difficult to build, but Birmingham has already created a station that solves the problem at Smethwick Galton Bridge.

As London Overground have the capacity to run twenty four trains every hour each way on the East London Line, these two interchanges would help solve the chronic connectivity to and from South East London. They would also bring more passengers to the East London Line to fill all those trains.

One of the things that the increased number of trains on the East London Line would need is another southern terminal and possibilities include Beckenham Junction or Orpington.

I think it is true to say that there are more possibilities to improve connectivity east of the East London Line, both North and South of the River, than both London’s Mayors have ever dreamed about.

To be fair to both of them, it’s only in recent years that tram-trains have been seriously thought about in the UK, although the Germans have had them for a decade or so.

Get it right and the Silvertown Tunnel would be a very different scheme.

It might even be just be an entry in that large directory of projects that were never started.

 

October 6, 2015 Posted by | Travel | , | Leave a comment

What Is The New Mayor Of London Going To Do For Car Drivers?

Most of the London Mayor candidates for 2016 seem to ignore car drivers.

As a non-driver, I wouldn’t mind if the new Mayor decreed that no-one in London could own a car, but if he or she did, they wouldn’t get elected.

I do occasionally need to be transported by car and as I don’t have the expense of actually owning one, I can afford to take a black cab, which I do perhaps a dozen times a year, at a total cost of perhaps three hundred pounds.

The most difficult journeys are ones where say, a friend is picking me up and taking me somewhere, so they have to drive into Hackney and out the other side again. Which just adds to the congestion unneccesarily.

The other tricky thing for car-drivers, is those coming into London often have no convenient Park-and-Ride. I was lucky, when I lived near Newmarket, as I could park at Whittlesford Parkway and get a train into Liverpool Street.

But when years ago, when I lived near Ipswich, parking was very limited and I had to get a taxi to the station. I once had a letter from British Rail suggesting that I ask my wife to drive me to the train.

I also see problems with the new Night Tube. This will generate an amazing night life all over the centre of London and I think we’ll see large numbers of people using the Tube late into the night and early morning. Those living in London will be able to use the Tube, but as there is little adequate parking at or around stations just inside the M25, visitors and those working late in the evening, may well lead to a lot of parking congestion around the stations.

To add to that, as London becomes an increasingly twenty four hour/seven day a week city, there will be an increasing need for some form of parking for night workers.

I have checked the map and the only Tube and rail stations close to a junction of the M25 will parking, can be counted on the fingers of one hand.

I believe that London needs a ring of well-designed car/bus/train interchanges around the M25. I did propose one at Waltham Cross, but that idea was not put together properly.

The interchanges would be designed for the following services.

1. Park-And-Ride, particularly aimed at those not wanting to stay all day. So perhaps the parking charges would be sensible for say the first four hours and then draconian afterwards. Obviously, at weekends and in the evenings, they would be reduced and aimed at those perhaps going to a sporting event or seeing a show or concert.

2. Pick-Up and Drop-Off of passengers, perhaps linked to something like thirty minutes free parking.

3. Car Hire for those living in London.

4. Long Distance Coach Services

5. Motorway Services

Obviously, there would be a frequent service into Central London. The service would have to be step-free and wi-fi enabled. I also think that like Cambridge’s superb Park-and-Ride, it would be linked into the cycle network.

Get it right and it would cut vehicular traffic into London.

 

 

June 25, 2015 Posted by | Travel | , | 2 Comments

Boris Gets A Statue

Boris Johnson’s father, Stanley unveiled a statue called Boris yesterday.  But it is a large polar bear in front of Peter Jones in no way connected to the Mayor of London.

There’s more about the statue here.

I liked it and would vote for Boris to stay.

I doubt a lady who got on the bus towards Wandsworth would though, as she was wearing a fur coat.

January 15, 2013 Posted by | News, World | , , , | Leave a comment

London Moves To Licence Pedicabs

I have seen some horrific incidents with pedicabs and according to this report, it would appear that the Mayor and Transport for London are moving towards licencing them and driving the illegal ones off the road.

Having seen at first hand, how they contribute to jams in the West End, I think it’s about time too! Although, I’ve never ridden in one in this country.

December 14, 2012 Posted by | Travel | , | Leave a comment

Seb Coe For London Mayor

He was impressive today on BBC Breakfast.

I think he would make a wonderful successor to Boris.  He’s also only 20/1 with Paddy Power.

November 13, 2012 Posted by | News | , , | Leave a comment

“The Jubilee was one of the greatest aquatic triumphs of the British people”

This was said by Boris Johnson on American television, when he was promoting his book. There’s a video of it here.

Have we ever had a politician like Boris before?

Boris hints that he could be President of the United States as he was born in New York.

I suspect, he’d make a better fist of it, than some of second-raters, who’ve held the job in my lifetime.

June 7, 2012 Posted by | News | , , , | Leave a comment