The Anonymous Widower

London Over/Underground And New York Subway Compared

This article on Business Insider, is entitled I rode London’s famous Underground system for a week — and I saw why New York’s subway will never catch up.

It is good read.

August 18, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Reflections At Seventy

I completed by seventh decade this morning at about three, if I remember what my mother told me about the time of my birth correctly.

Dreams Of A Shared Retirement With Celia

Perhaps twelve years ago, my wife;Celia and I made a decision and that was to sell everything in Suffolk, after she retired from the law in perhaps 2015 or so and retire to a much smaller house in somewhere like Hampstead in London.

I remember too, that we discussed retirement in detail on my sixtieth birthday holiday in Majorca.

But of course, things didn’t work out as planned.

Two Deaths And A Stroke

Celia died of a squamous cell carcinoma of the heart on December 11th, 2007.

Then three years later, our youngest son died of pancreatic cancer.

Whether, these two deaths had anything to do with my stroke, I shall never know!

Moving To Dalston

Why would anybody in their right mind move to Dalston in 2010?

It is my spiritual home, with my maternal grandmother being born opposite Dalston Junction station,my father being being born just up the road at the Angel and grandfathers and their ancestors clustered together in Clerkenwell and Shoreditch. My Dalstonian grandmother was from a posh Devonian family called Upcott and I suspect she bequeathed me some of my stubbornness. My other grandmother was a Spencer from Peterborough and she could be difficult too! But that could be because she was widowed at forty-nine!

Celia and I had tried to move to De Beauvoir Town in the 1970s, but couldn’t get a mortgage for a house that cost £7,500, which would now be worth around two million.

So when I gave up driving because the stroke had damaged my eyesight, Dalston and De Beauvoir Town were towards the top of places, where I would move.

I would be following a plan of which Celia would have approved and possibly we would have done, had she lived.

But the clincher was the London Overground, as Dalston was to become the junction between the North London and East London Lines. Surely, if I could find a suitable property in the area, it wouldn’t lose value.

But I didn’t forsee the rise of Dalston!

Taking Control Of My Recovery

I do feel that if I’d been allowed to do what I wanted by my GP, which was to go on Warfarin and test my own INR, I’d have got away with just the first very small stroke I had in about 2009.

In about 2011, one of the world’s top cardiologists told me, that if I got the Warfarin right, I wouldn’t have another stroke.

As a Control Engineer, with all the survival instincts of my genes that have been honed in London, Liverpool and Suffolk, I have now progressed to the drug regime, I wanted after that first small stroke.

I still seem to be keeping the Devil at bay.

Conclusion

I’m ready to fight the next ten years.

 

August 16, 2017 Posted by | Health, Travel, World | , , | 2 Comments

Is Highbury And Islington Station To Get An Upgrade?

This article on IanVisits is entitled New Entrance Planned For Highbury and Islington Station.

If this happens, it will be good news for me, as Highbury and Islington station is my nearest Underground station.

But it is a cramped, very busy station with extremely poor access. According to Wikipedia, it is the fifteenth busiest station in the UK and in terms of passenger numbers, handles more in a year, than Manchester Piccadilly, Edinburgh Waverley, Glasgow Queen Street and Liverpool Lime Street.

A lot of these high passenger numbers are due to the unrivalled carrying capacity and success of the Victoria Line and the recently-rebuilt North London Line.

Proximity to Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium has also added thousands of passengers.

The future will draw even more passengers to the station.

For the last two years, passengers like me,  have tended to avoid the station, as contractors have been rebuilding the road bridge in front of the station.

But this will finish soon and Islington Council and Transport for London have grand plans to create a very pedestrian-friendly environment outside the station.

And then there’s Crossrail and the Northern City Line!

Crossrail doesn’t connect to the Victoria Line, but thanks to the Northern City Line, Highbury and Islington station has a good connection to Crossrail.

The Northern City Line is also getting new Class 717 trains and increased frequencies between Moorgate and Hertfordshire.

It all adds up to more pressure for something to be done at Highbury and Islington station.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines at Hoghbury and Islington station.

Note how the Northern City and Victoria Lines have cross-platform access, courtesy of some clever platform swapping, when the Victoria Line was built.

Two developments will give alternative routes that might take the pressure off the station.

The doubling in capacity of the Gospel Oak to Barking Line from early next year, will help.

Crossrail will benefit the station, in that a lot of passengers wanting to go between Eastern parts of London and the West End, currently use the Overground and the Victoria Line. Some of these passengers will use Crossrail to go direct.

But something needs to be done.

The four Overground platforms have full step-free access, but the deep-level Victoria Line and the Northern City Line both rely on just two crowded escalators.

If you look at the layout of the four deep-level platforms, they lie together and because the two Northern City Line platforms were dug as a pair in the first few years of the last century, I suspect that all platforms are roughly the same level.

As the lift shafts from the old Northern City Line station are still intact, although full of equipment, I feel that the plan of using this abandoned station to create another entrance to the deep-level platforms will be possible.

  • A new ticket office can be provided in a quality building.
  • It will need escalators, as well as lifts.
  • It should be possible to connect directly to the four platforms, with perhaps a wide passenger tunnel under Holloway Road.
  • This tunnel could also have lifts on the other side of the road to the Overground.

It is one of those smaller intricate projects, that can be really good value.

August 7, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Gibbs Report – Options For Change

This paragraph is from the Gibbs 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

Gibbs Report – Moorgate Services Could Be Transferred To The London Overground

The Gibbs Report, looks in detail at services out of Moorgate station on the Northern City Line in detail.

Note that current plans for this line include.

It could also be rebranded as the Great Northern Metro.

Chris Gibbs flags up various issues with this service. He says this about the infrastructure.

25 new Class 717 six-car trains are being built by Siemens as a dedicated fleet for this route, and will be maintained by GTR at their Hornsey Depot. The line between Drayton Park and Moorgate is a former underground line transferred to BR in 1976 and partly converted for main line trains.

It retains various Underground characteristics, such as third rail electrification with a fourth return rail, and tripcocks at all signals, and I believe Old Street and Moorgate stations are owned by London Underground as part of shared stations, and are in need of modernisation. The track and signalling is owned and operated by Network Rail.

I would add a personal observation. Highbury and Islington station is a station where the below-ground platforms are in desperate need of improvement and step-free access. Over the last year or so, with GTR’s labour troubles, the operation of the station at times, has not been smooth, much to the exasperation of London Underground/Overground staff.

Chris Gibbs also notes several issues with the employment of staff after 2018.

Other current Great Northern services run between Kings Lynn, Cambridge, Peterborough and Kings Cross, and these will be part of the Thameslink operation from 2018, with most services continuing to destinations south of London and a few running to Kings Cross. I understand Great Northern drivers will be “temporarily” split between Metro and Thameslink in 2017 to avoid them all having to learn the cross London routes and Class 700 trains, so there may then be a some division for TUPE purposes.

At present it is proposed not to initially train about 100 drivers on Class 700 trains, spread across several locations, and it is proposed to open new drivers depots, for example at Welwyn Garden City and Finsbury Park. These proposals have not yet been approved by DfT, and recruitment has not yet begun. However there is still risk that splitting the driver workforce, who currently enjoy variety of work, may be unpopular, and more work is required to evaluate this. All Great Northern Metro services are currently DOO.

It looks like a disaster waiting to happen to me.

He finishes his discussion on the Great Northern Metro like this.

I believe there is an option to transfer the Great Northern Metro operation to TfL and it’s London Overground concession in 2018. If TfL / the London Overground concessionaire were to take the lead in this transfer, and the implementation of the new trains and service, this could reduce risks associated with the Thameslink programme, led by GTR. 

However to do this, a decision should be made immediately, and discussions commenced with
TfL, GTR and the London Overground concessionaire.

Personally, I think that this would be a very good idea.

In this area of London, we have three stations that need to be dramatically improved; Old Street, Essex Road and Highbury and Islingtont.

All are on the Northern City Line and they could start with a deep clean at Essex Road, which was probably cleaner when it opened in the same year my father was born.

But being serious, these three stations could be serious development opportunities.

  • Highbury and Islington is a major interchange that hasn’t been rebuilt properly since it was bombed in World War 2 and was changed on the cheap to squeeze the Victoria Line through underground.
  • Essex Road could also be redeveloped with a modern step-free station underneath.
  • Old Street is now surrounded by towers and the road layout is being simpified, so why not put a massive tower on the site and build a modern station underneath?

Having only one operator at the stations must surely ease redevelopment.

I think if the split between GTR and the Great Northern Metro was thought through properly, there could be advantages all round.

  • All services North of Welwyn Garden City on the East Coast Main Line and the Cambridge Line would be provided by GTR.
  • All Hertford Loop Line services would be provided by London Overground.
  • All Hertford Loop Line stations would be managed by London Overground.
  • All stations South of Welwyn Garden City on the East Coast Main Line would be managed by London Overground.
  • A turnback platform would be built at Stevenage.
  • Welwyn Garden City and Stevenage stations would be updated to allow easy interchange between GTR and Great Northern Metro services.
  • Alexandra Palace station is developed, so that cross platform interchange is possible between GTR and Great Northern Metro services.

It certainly looks like a properly integrated 100 mph suburban rail route can be built to Stevenage, with similar fleets of 100 mph Class 700 trains and Class 717 trains on Thameslink and the Great Northern Metro respectively.

The East Coast Main Line would work as now.

  • Great Northern Metro services between Moorgate and Welwyn Garden City
  • Outer suburban services between Kings Cross and Stevenage, Peterborough and Cambridge.
  • In 2018, Thamelink will link St. Pancras to Stevenage, Peteborough and Cambridge.

On the Hertford Loop Line, there would just be a Great Northern Metro service between Moorgate and Stevenage, via Hertford North.

There could be possible problems and questions.

  • Would residents of Hertfordshire, object to services being controlled by the London Mayor?
  • Who would pay for the required turn-back platform at Stevenage?
  • Could London Overground absorb the route without too many problems?
  • Would there be enough paths on the East Coast Main Line?
  • Where would the depot for the Class 717 trains be located?
  • How will Siemens respond to the change of operator for their Class 717 trains?

But there are some other factors in favour.

  • The Great Northern Metro service on the Hertford Loop Line would effectively be an independent double-track railway capable of handling as many six-car Class 717 trains as were desired. The current three trains per hour (tph) is probably way below the theoretical capacity, which is probably determined by the single platform at Stevenage.
  • London Overground successfully integrated the Lea Valley Lines into their operation.
  • London Overground and the Great Northern Metro both work under DOO.
  • Hopefully, Transport for London have the knowledge to integrate the Class 717 trains into the tunnels to Moorgate. But they have an excellent museum!
  • London Overground’s working practices would appear to be similar to those on the Great Northern Metro.
  • London Overground’s station manning policies are better for passengers and may even be better for staff, who always seem to be courteous and enjoying their work.

But surely the biggest thing in the transfer’s favour, is that it gives responsibility to new train introduction and updating of the Great Northern Metro to another operator, who has a proven record in this field, so that GTR can concentrate on launching Thameslink services.

Collateral Benefits Of Updating Great Northern Metro Services

After train replacement the Great Northern Metro will be run by modern 100 mph trains, as opposed to 75 mph scrapyard specials.

Currently, the Class 313 trains take the following times.

  • Moorgate and Hertford North – 45 minutes – 13 stops
  • Moorgate and Letchworth Garden City – 79 minutes – 16 stops.
  • Moorgate and Stevenage – 63 minutes – 15 stops.
  • Moorgate and Welwyn Garden City – 49 minutes – 16 stops

As modern trains can save a minute or two on each stop, there must be the possibilities of faster services, with the serious possibility of Letchworth Garden City within an hour from Moorgate, with the new 100 mph Class 717 trains.

Stevenage would certainly be well within the hour and I suspect that because of the extra speed an additional fourth train could be run to both Hertford North and Welwyn Garden City, with all Hertford North trains running on and terminating at Stevenage, once the turnback platform is built.

To run four tph each route would require just eight trains or sixteen trains in total.

If you split the order for twenty-five trains into two, that would mean twelve trains would be available for each route, which are enough trains to have the following service.

  • 6 tph – Moorgate to Welwyn Garden City
  • 6 tph – Moorgate to Stevenage via Hertford North

These are the sort of frequencies that train operating companies like to run in South London.

Alexandra Palace to Moorgate would have a massive twelve tph.

The current timetable handles this frequency in the Peak, so it could be possible all day, with very little work needed on the infrastructure. London Underground would probably laugh at 12 tph, when you consider the Northern and Victoria Lines handle three times as many trains to a two platform below ground terminal.

But is it really needed?

If you look at the timing of the fast Class 387 trains between Stevenage and Finsbury Park, they take around twenty minutes going fast down the East Coast Main Line, as against the Class 313 trains which take forty-four minutes using the Hertford Loop Line. On a rough estimate the new Class 717 trains might be able to do this trip in perhaps twenty-five minutes on an updated Hertford Loop Line.

A fast high-capacity service on this route that has been neglected, must be capable of development with perhaps a Park-and-Ride and a couple of new stations.

It may not be a bad idea to update the Hrtyford Loop Line with modern signalling and to allow faster running, as surely if the normal trains on the loop were modern 100 mph units, then extra paths could be found to act as diversion routes for the bottleneck of the double-track Digswell Viaduct.

It’s amazing how faster trains can unlock the potential of a rail route.

Conclusion

Chris Gibbs has made an interesting proposal.

There are good reasons to transfer the Great Northern Metro to London Overground.

  • London Overground have the expertise to introduce the new trains.
  • Transport for London have the expertise to redevelop the stations on the route at the Southern end.
  • GTR will be able to concentrate on Thameslink
  • Moorgate, Old Street, Essex Road and Highbury and Islington stations become Transport for London-only stations.
  • London would gain a new Metro line between Moorgate and Alexandra Palace via Highbury and Islington and Finsbury Park, that extends into Hertfordshire and has a frequency of at least twelve tph.
  • Crossrail gets another North-South feeder line.
  • Highbury and Islington and Finsbury Park will become high quality interchanges.
  • The Hertford Loop Line can be developed independently of Thameslink and the East Coast Main Line to be a high-capacity North-South Metro from North London to Stevenage.
  • The Victoria Line gets a cross-platform connection to the Great Northern Metro for Crossrail at Highbury and Islington.

The only problem, is that it might remove some of the reasons for extending Crossrail 2 to New Southgate.

Overall it strikes me that GTR have been working totally without any vision or any idea about how their new trains will transform the Great Northern Metro.

 

July 8, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Should We Rethink City Centre Public Transport Access And Pricing?

In my view, certain city and town centres in the UK, have too many vehicles going through.

London certainly does!

But London has a plan to increase capacity on its Underground and Overground network.

  • Crossrail to increase E-W capacity – Opening by 2020.
  • Thameslink to increase N-S capacity  – Opening in 2018.
  • The Northern Line Extension to Battersea to increase N-S capacity  – Opening by 2020.
  • The Northern Line will be split into two lines, after rebuilding Camden Town station – From 2025.
  • The New Tube for London to increase capacity on the Deep Tube Lines – From 2023.
  • The Sub-Surface Lines are being upgraded
  • New trains on the Overground from Liverpool Street – From 2018.
  • New trains on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line – From 2018.
  • Infrastructure on the Underground is being improved with more lifts, escalators, wi-fi and 4G access.
  • The Bakerloo Line is being extended – From 2028/2029.

In addition, there will be a lot of improvement to walking and cycling routes in the City Centre.

Crossing the City Centre will be the Magnificent Seven

Just these major services add up to a total of over three thousand cars an hour passing through the City Centre.

Note.

  1. The Northern Line counts as two lines, as once Camden Town station is rebuilt, it will be split.
  2. The other five lies are either new or have been substantially modernised.
  3. I have deliberately chosen end stations either in Zone 1 or Zone 2.
  4. The Central and Jubilee Lines can almost be considered subsidiary lines of Crossrail, running stopping services that call at a lot more stations.

And then there are the second level of unmodernised lines or ones just outside the City Centre.

  • The Bakerloo Line will be running at least the current twenty six-car trains per hour between Paddington station in the North and Elephant and Castle station in the South, via ten intermediate stations including Marylebone, Baker Street, Oxford Circus, Charing Cross and Waterloo.
  • The Circle Line will be running at least six seven-car trains per hour in a circle around Zone 1 and on a spur to Hammersmith station.
  • The District Line will be running at least eighteen seven-car trains per hour between Whitechapel station in the East and Earl’s Court station in the West across the South of Zone 1, via fourteen intermediate stations including Cannon Street, Blackfriars, Charing Cross and Victoria.
  • The East London Line will be running at least twenty six-car trains between Shreditch High Street station in the North and Canada Water station in the South, via four intermediate stations including Whitechapel and Shadwell.
  • The Hammersmith and City Line will be running at least six seven-car trains per hour between Whitechapel station in the East and Paddington station in the West across the North of Zone 1, via nine intermediate stations including Liverpool Street, Moorgate, Farringdon, Kings Cross St. Pancras and Baker Street.
  • The Metropolitan Line will be running at least eleven eight-car trains per hour between Aldgate station in the East and Baker Street station in the West via seven intermediate stations including Liverpool Street, Moorgate, Farringdon and Kings Cross St. Pancras.
  • The Northern City Line will be running at least ten six-car trains between Highbury and Islington station in the North and Moorgate station in the South, via Essex Road station.
  • The Piccadilly Line will be running at least the current twenty-one six-car trains per hour between Finsbury Park station in the North and Earl’s Court station in the West, via fourteen intermediate stations including Holborn, Piccadilly Circus and Green Park.
  • The Waterloo and City Line will be running at least eighteen six-car trains per hour between Waterloo and Bank stations.

Note.

  1. I have included some Overground and National Rail Lines in this group.
  2. These routes add approximately forty percent capacity to the City Centre routes.
  3. Don’t underestimate the Northern City Line.

All of these lines create an extensive network of lines in London’s City Centre.

London’s City Centre has the following problems.

  • Traffic congestion.
  • Virtually no available parking.
  • Limited parking for the disabled.
  • The air pollution is getting worse.
  • No space to put any new roads or parking spaces.
  • Safety for pedestrians and cyclists could be improved.

I return to half the question I asked in the title of this post.

Should We Rethink City Centre Public Transport Access?

I think the answer is yes, as get it better and travellers might be persuaded to abandon their cars further away from the City Centre.

These are a few things, I’d improve or change.

Enough Car Parking At Outlying Stations

This is not always the case. There should also be enough parking for the disabled.

Good Bus Routes At Outlying Stations

Outlying stations in London are better than most, but some stations need more and better bus routes with better information.

Get it right and it might mean that the need for more car parking is avoided.

Step-Free Access

All stations, platforms, lifts and trains must be suitable for a list of approved scooters, wheel-chairs and buggies.

Better  Interchanges

Some interchanges like Kings Cross St. Pancras, Green Park and Waterloo are designed for people, who like to walk down endless tunnels. Transport for London can do better as this picture from Bank station shows.

Some certainly need travelators and more escalators and lifts.

My particular least favourite station is Kings Cross St. Pancras, where I always go by bus and come home by taxi, as Underground to and from train, can be a real case of walking for miles.

It’s as if the station complex was designed by someone with a real sadistic streak.

I’m going to Chesterfield from St. Pancras on East Midlands Trains today and will get a bus to in front of the station and walk the length of the station to the platforms at the other end.

When Thameslink is fully open, everybody will be complaining about the lack of lift connections between Thameslink and the EMT platforms, which are on top of each other.

You can’t win with St. Pancras!

More Entrances And Exits At Stations

At Victoria and Shepherds Bush stations, new entrance/exits have been added, and the future Bank, Bond Street and Camden Town stations, will have multiple ways to get in and out.

In addition the massive Crossrail stations at Moorgate/Liverpool Street and Tottenham Court Road will be labyrinthine, with two or more entrances.

More Interchanges

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows how the East London and Central Lines cross at Shoreditch High Street station.

This would be my choice for an extra interchange, as it would mean that I would get easy access to the Central Line after three stations from Dalston Junction station, which is my nearest access to trains.

And What About Pricing?

Crossrail and Thameslink could be railways with an unusual usage profile. I believe that outside of the Peak, the central sections of these two routes could have a much more relaxed feel with the ability to handle lots of passengers in the Off Peak. They will also be like express motorways taking the pressure off lines like the Central, Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly in the City Centre.

So will this spare capacity, change passengers habits and attract more leisure travellers into the City Centre?

Get the access right and make the City Centre, easy to access from everywhere, with all stations step-free and especially in the City Centre itself, and couple this with the new capacity, I believe that we can reduce the traffic in the City Centre, by encouraging drivers to leave their vehicles further out.

Pricing of tickets could be the smart weapon to encourage this use of Park-and-Ride.

London’s ticketing system, which is based increasing on contactless bank cards collects masses of data about passengers movements and thus Transport for London know all the busy routes and stations.

The system works by logging your various journeys throughout the day and then charging the card overnight, applying any daily, weekly or monthly caps.

Very radical ideas could be applied to the ticketing rules.

For example, anybody who has come into the City Centre from the suburbs can have as many Zone 1 journeys in the day as they want.

So a couple of typical Essex Girls might leave their expensive wheels at Chadwell Heath and just tap in and out all day, as they travelled between Bond Street, Eastfield, Knightsbridge, Marble Arch and Westfield.

How much economic activity would this sort of behaviour generate?

Secondary Effects

If London can persuade anybody coming into the Centre, that the place for a vehicle is not in the Centre, then there will be secondary effects.

Air pollution levels will drop, especially if all taxis and commercial vehicles are zero-emission.

Bus numbers can be reduced, if the Underground is more convenient and free for short journeys in the City Centre.

If traffic in the centre drops, more and more journeys will be done on foot or a bicycle.

 

Would it also mean, that vehicles could be properly charged for coming into the Centre and checked.accordingly. Would this drop all forms of crime?

What About Other Cities?

Some towns and cities in the UK are developing city centre networks.

To be continued…

 

June 7, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 2 Comments

Could The Romford To Upminster Line Handle Four Trains Per Hour?

If you look at the current version of this page on Transport for London’s web site, which is entitled Track Closures Six Month Ahead, you will notice that there are the following closures on the Romford to Upminster Line.

  • Sunday May 28th to Monday May 29th 2017.
  • Sunday Aug 27th to Monday August 28th 2017.
  • Saturday Oct 21st to Sunday October 22nd 2017.

It could be a periodic closure for track or station maintenance as the three closures are three months apart, but I’ve noticed closures on this line before.

I’ve also searched the Internet and can find no references to any ongoing work or improvements on the line or the intermediate station at Emerson Park..

But the entries got me thinking about whether services could be improved on this line.

Various factors will come into play.

The Crossrail Affect

From May 22nd 2017, the new Class 345 trains will start running through Romford station on Crossrail‘s initial service between Liverpool Street and Shenfield stations.

How will Crossrail affect usage of the Romford to Upminster Line?

A lot of journeys from c2c territory in South East Essex will be quicker or easier using Crossrail and the Romford to Upminster Line.

I’ll give Southend to Heathrow as an example.

c2c’s Ambitions

It should also be pointed out that c2c are an ambitious company with new Italian owners and I think they will add new destinations and routes to their network.

I can see a lot of commercial and residential property being built along the North Bank of the Thames at Tilbury and London Gateway.

But if c2c have a problem, it is that it has good connections to the City of London at Fenchurch Street station, but getting to some parts of London like Euston, Kings Cross, the West End and Heathrow Airport is not easy.

There are good onward connections across the City at Barking, Limehouse and West Ham stations, which will be improved with the electrification of the Gospel Oak to Barking Line.

c2c To Liverpool Street

c2c use Liverpool Street station at occasions on Saturdays and Sundays and I have read that they would like to open a second London terminal at Liverpool Street, as this would also allow services to serve Stratford station with the Eastfield Shopping Centre and the Olympic Park.

But I can’t see Greater Anglia and London Overground allowing another operator into the crowded Liverpool Street station.

Could c2c Have Direct Access To Romford?

In an ideal world, where the Romford to Upminster Line would be double-tracked feeding into adequate bay platform or platforms at Romford station, c2c would be able to run a direct service between Romford and Grays stations via UpminsterOckendon and Chafford Hundred Lakeside, if they felt the service would be worthwhile.

It is one thing to run a four-car shuttle between Romford and Upminster, but look at this Google Map of Upminster station.

Note.

  • The c2c lines are South of the District Lines.
  • The Romford to Upminster Line goes off to the North-West.

A c2c train going between Romford and Grays would have to cross the busy District Lines, that terminate at Upminster station.

It would probably be possible, but only with the great expense of a massive fly-over or dive-under.

c2c’s Best Access To Crossrail

I would think that c2c’s best access to Crossrail would lie in a frequent service along the Romford to Upminster Line. The current two trains per hour is not enough, so could the branch handle three or even four trains per hour?

The Current Service On the Romford To Upminster Line

The single Class 315 train, that I saw today trundles along at 60 kph and takes a total of nine minutes to go between Romford and Upminster. Turnroumnd at Romford and Upminster take eight and four minutes respectively.

The single train does a round trip in thirty minutes, so it easily does two round trips in an hour.

Emerson Park Station

I went to Emerson Park station this afternoon to see if there was any evidence of improvements.

I found the following.

  • The catenary appears to have been given a good refurbishment.
  • The station has been tidied up.
  • The station is now staffed.
  • CCTV is being installed.
  • An office is being built.
  • New hand-rails are being fitted.
  • The station couldn’t accept a train longer than four-cars.

I got the overall impression that London Overground are expecting a lot more passengers to be using Emerson Park station. Wikipedia says this about passenger usage at the station.

It has relatively low but fast-growing patronage for a suburban railway station, with 260,000 passenger entries/exits in 2015/16, compared to 82,000 five years prior and just 32,000 ten years prior.

Given the platform length restriction and the convenience of passengers, I am led to the conclusion that a higher frequency of trains would be beneficial to passengers and operator alike.

How Fast Could An Aventra Travel Between Romford And Upminster?

If you look at a typical three station run on the Overground, such as Dalston Junction-Haggerston-Hoxton, it can tqke between three and five minutes in a Class 378 train, which is probably marginally slower than the new Aventra.

But that is only part of the time, as the driver of the train has to change ends between trips. I walked the length of a Class 378 train today and it took me a minute, so with a well-designed cab and some degree of automation, I suspect that a driver could safely change ends in under two minutes.

As the Aventra will be optimised for fast trips like these, I can see no reason, why a train can’t travel between Romford and Upminster in seven minutes.

Conclusion

A seven minute trip would mean the train could perform the required four trips per hour.

One major problem would be if say there was an incident on the train, like a passenger becoming seriously unwell. The driver would call the emergency services and proceed to the next station. After dealing with the emergency and perhaps seeing the passenger safely in the care of paramedics, the driver would resume the timetable. As there is only one train on the line at all times, service recovery is just a matter of restarting.

 

 

May 10, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | 1 Comment

Are Transport for London Reorganising Train Deliveries?

In the May 5th Newsletter of the Barking – Gospel Oak Rail Users Group, this is said.

It is now looking increasingly likely that the first of our new 4-carriage electric trains will arrive around the turn of the year and be diverted to another London Overground service because Barking – Gospel Oak is still without energised overhead wires.

The first 14 of the new trains (Class 710/2) were due to be shared between the Barking – Gospel Oak and Euston – Watford Junction services, the remainder (Class 710/1) going to Romford – Upminster and Liverpool Street – Cheshunt/Chingford/Enfield Town services.

It has been said in a couple of places, that to get electrified freight trains through North London, whilst the hiatus at Hackney Wick station was taking place, needed to get the wires on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line (GOBlin) switched on as soon as possible. Now it appears that the electrification won’t be available this year.

I think that Transport for London may be rescheduling how the trains are delivered.

I would perhaps introduce the new Class 710 trains like this.

Note that there are two types of Class 710 Trains.

Could this be TfL’s strategy?

  1. Put a 710/1 on Romford to Upminster Line for initial testing and driver training.
  2. Replace trains on Cheshunt and Chingford services to bed in the new Class 710/1  trains.
  3. Replace Watford DC Line trains with new Class 710/2 trains.
  4. Cascade the current Watford DC Line  Class 378 trains to the North and East London Lines as planned to boost services.
  5. Check out all Class 710/2 trains for the GOBlin by running on the Watford DC Line.
  6. Finish the electrification on the GOBlin, whilst running services with the current Class 172 trains.
  7. When the GOBlin electrification tests successfully, introduce the Class 710/2 trains.
  8. Cascade the Class 172 trains.

I think this strategy is low-risk and has the following advantages.

  • Romford/Upminster with its need for just a single train would surely be an ideal line for initial testing and driver testing.
  • Cheshunt, Chingford and Watford DC services, shouldn’t be particularly difficult lines on which to replace one electric train with another.
  • The Class 378 trains from the Watford DC services would be available to boost Stratford to Gospel Oak services before electric trains run between Barking and Gospel Oak.
  • The dual-voltage Class 7810/2 trains will be fully tested on the Watford DC Line before any deplayment on the Goblin.
  • The Class 172 trains would only be cascaded, when TfL have accepted the GOBlin and its new Class 710/2 trains.

But provided the track of the Gospel Oak to Barking Line is usable, the Class 172 trains and diesel-hauled freight will always get through.

 

 

May 10, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Could There Be An Overground Station At East Brixton?

This post is based on another snippet from the Kent Route Study, which you can download from this page on the Network Rail web site.

The study says this about the possibility of reopening East Brixton station.

5.15.17. There was a station at East Brixton on the rail route between
Denmark Hill and London Victoria which closed in 1976. The station
site sits within the London Borough of Lambeth.

5.15.18. As with Camberwell, there have been numerous calls from
local stakeholders to reopen the station over the years. The London
Borough of Lambeth is keen to reopen the station to improve the
connectivity of Brixton town centre to orbital rail routes, building on
the success of the London Overground route to Clapham Junction
which opened in 2012. If reopened the station would be served
solely by London Overground services operating to and from
Clapham Junction via the East London Line.

5.15.19. The London Borough of Lambeth are therefore leading a
review of the business case and demand for East Brixton station
with support from Transport for London and Network Rail. This
review will include consideration of the impact of a new station on
local development opportunities. It is expected to complete during
early 2017 and will determine whether or not the station has a
viable business case. Any further developments will be reported in
the final Route Study.

If you look at this map from carto.metro.free.fr.

East Brixton station is clearly shown on the tracks now used by the East London Line.

These pictures show the railway and what remains of the station on Moorland Road.

I spotted the station because of the signature brickwork of the window, which you see in several stations in South London like Peckham Rye station, which was designed by Charles Henry Driver.

This Google Map shows the location of the station.

Loughborough Junction station is in the North-East corner of the map, with Brixton station in the South-West corner.

Note that the venue; Brixton East 1871 is shown in the pictures and on the map.

In an ideal world Loughborough Junction and Brixton stations should have platforms on the Overground, but budgets are not limitless, so neither of them has.

But perhaps an option to build a station at East Brixton is a good compromise and will break up the long stretch between Denmark Hill and Clapham High Street stations.

It may look a stiff climb to the platforms, but it is no more than some other Overground and DLR stations. Lifts would be essential.

 

 

 

March 19, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

A Bactrian Station

Canonbury station has now got two Harrington Humps.

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Does that make it a Bactrian station?

It’s certainly the sort of thing, that you’ll see in posh Islington and would never see in plebian Hackney.

February 14, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment