The Anonymous Widower

A Central Londoner’s View Of Thameslink

The Thameslink route, which runs North-South across London is used by different purposes, by different passengers.

  • To many, who live close to its outer reaches it is a commuter railway into London.
  • It serves two airports at Gatwick and Luton.
  • Londoners use it to explore the delights of the South Coast of England.

But to those who live in Central London like me, it is a useful rail line.

Kings Cross And London Bridge

I regularly use Thameslink for this route, as compared to the Northern Line.

  • The trains are more spacious and are generally less crowded.
  • It is less walking at Kings Cross.
  • The trains are air-conditioned.
  • The trains have toilets.
  • I have a convenient bus or taxi home from both end stations.

I suspect, I use this route a couple of times a week.

Access To Tate Modern

I like the Tate Modern and the gluten-free egg sandwiches are good.

There is also restaurants in the area; Leon and Carluccio’s for a start, that are good places for lunch or dinner.

So sometimes, I’ll use Thameslink to Blackfriars to visit the Tate Modern and then after my visit, I’ll walk over the Wobbly Bridge and take a bus home.

Thameslink is also an easy way to visit St. Paul’s and in a few years, the new Museum of London will be accessed from Farringdon station.

Access to Gatwick And Luton Airports

I haven’t used Luton Airport in years, as getting there by train is a bit tedious.

But I regularly use Gatwick Airport, usually by getting a bus to and from London Bridge station and then using Thameslink.

West Hampstead Thameslink

West Hampstead station on the Overground has recently been rebuilt and regularly I come home by changing between Thameslink and the Overground.

There is also a Marks & Spencer by the station, which helps too.

The area is becoming a major interchange and if the West London Orbital Railway is created, the Overground will be taking over or adding a platform at West Hampstead Thameslink station.

Does Thameslink Cater For All Passengers?

I say this deliberately, as I think that Thameslink concentrates more on the longer distance and airport passengers, rather than those, who use it as another North-South line across London.

Thameslink Will Run At Rapid Transit Frequencies

In the central core section between Blackfriars and St. Pancras International stations, the trains will run at a frequency of 24 trains per hour (tph) or a train every two and a half minutes.

Trains will run automatically at a frequency, that is higher than many rapid transit systems in the world.

Thameslink Is Part Of London’s Oyster/Contactless Ticketing Zone

From Gatwick Airport in the South to Elstree & Borehamwood and Hadley Wood in the North, Thameslink is part of London’s Oyster/Contactless Ticketing Zone.

In Oyster Card Scheme Extension Agreed, I wrote about how the zone is being extended to Luton Airport Parkway and Welwyn Garden City.

So increasingly, Thameslink will be covered by London’s ticketing, that is increasingly used by residents, commuters and visitors.

Thameslink Has Interchanges With The Underground And Overground

Thameslink has several interchange stations with the Overground and Underground.

These include.

  • Blackfriars
  • Denmark Hill
  • Elephant & Castle
  • Farringdon
  • Finsbury Park
  • Kentish Town
  • London Bridge
  • Peckham Rye
  • St. Pancras Thameslink
  • West Hampstead Thameslink
  • Wimbledon

In addition East Croydon, Mitcham Junction and Wimbledon are interchanges with Tramlink and Blackfriars and London Bridge are interchanges with the river buses.

Thameslink Is Not On The Tube Map

This is a bone of contention with many! Including myself!

According to the Wikipedia entry for the Tube Map, Thameslink was shown on the map between 1977 and 1998.

So why was it removed?

Some Thameslink Stations Don’t Have Tube Maps On The Platforms

I was on the platform at City Thameslink station and needed a Tube Map.

There wasn’t one!

Why not?


Thameslink is very much part of London’s rail network.

It should be treated as such, by doing the following.

  • Extending Oyster/Contactless ticketing to all Thameslink stations.
  • Adding all or part of Thameslink to the Tube Map.
  • Putting a Tube Map on all station platforms in the London area.

But this mess has existed for twenty years, since Thameslink was removed from the Tube Map.



January 25, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Could There Be A Tram-Train Connection At Reeve’s Corner?

A few day’s ago I took the tram from Croydon to IKEA. Coming back, I got off the tram at the Reeve’s Corner stop and took these pictures.

Note how close the trams are to the rail lines just to the West of West Croydon station.

This Google Map shows the area.


  1. The road bridge appears in several of the pictures.
  2. The rail lines appear to have plenty of space to accomodate an updated layout.
  3. The Reeve’s Corner tram stop is only used by trams going to Croydon.
  4. The trams share a single-track section between Reeve’s Corner and Wandle Park tram stop.

The single-track layout must be a restriction on the number of trams that can run between Croydon and Wimbledon.

This map from, shows the layout of the tracks in the area.

This map shows why there is plenty of space, as there are the dotted-lines of the West Croydon to Wimbledon Line, which was closed in 1997 to be converted into the London Tramlink.

This Google Map shows the route between Wandle Park and Revve’s Corner and how it crosses the rail lines.

Note that Reeve’s Corner is just beyond the North-East corner of this map.

Third-Rail Tram-Trains And The London Tramlink

The London Tramlink was designed twenty years ago, well before we had modern tram-trains, like those that are running all over Karlsruhe and have just started services between Sheffield and Rotherham.

I believe that third-rail tram-trains, as I proposed in The Third-Rail Tram-Train, are a viable concept, if they only use third-rail electrification, when running as a train.

Why Create A Tram-Train Connection At Reeve’s Corner?

The obvious reason, is that it would allow tram-trains to run between Wimbledon and West Croydon stations.

To the East of West Croydon, they could go to places like the proposed Steatham Interchange or the existing Crystal Palace, Beckenham Junction or Bromley stations.


Creating a tram-train connection at Reeve’s Corner is one of a number of places, where the trams and South London’s third-rail network can be connected.

I believe that developing these connections could enable several useful routes.

  • Extra train and tram services to Beckenham Junction station.
  • Tram-trains to Bromley South station.
  • Extending the Bromley North Branch using tram-trains to Bromley South station, by street running through Bromley Town Centre.

Tram-trains could even serve Gatwick Airport and provide services around the wider Airport site.


November 7, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Would Third-Rail Tram-Trains Affect The Design Of The Proposed Streatham Interchange Station?

Transport for London’s proposal for the Bakerloo Line Extension comes with a very nice map of the various projects that will be carried out to improve rail services in South London.

It is all good stuff and most is easily explained.

There is a little yellow box, which has a title of Streatham Common and contains the words.

Potential new interchange hub.

This map from shows the rail lines around Streatham and Streatham Common stations.


Streatham Interchange station has been proposed and could be at the major junction to the North of Streatham Common station.

Trains on the following routes could call.

  • Thameslink services on the Sutton Loop Line, through Wimbledon and Sutton.
  • Various Southern services between London Bridge and Victoria in the North and Caterham, Croydon, Epsom and Sutton in the South.
  • Fast services between Victoria and the Brighton Main Line pass through.

I have also seen speculation on respected web sites, that the Overground will be extended to the new Streatham Common  Interchange.

I suspect Transport for London’s plans will improve the lot of many travellers.

Third-Rail Tram-Trains To Streatham

If Streatham Interchange is going to be an important hub, then surely, it should be served by the Tramlink.

Third-Rail tram-trains would be able to run from any of these power sources.

  • Overhead electrification on tramways.
  • Third-rail electrification on rail tracks.
  • Batteries on any tracks, including those without any electrification.

Most power changeovers would take place at tram-stops or stations. Although, I suspect that changing bertween battery and third-rail power would be automatic.

Third-rail tram-trains could run into Streatham Interchange on any standard third-rail track and could use any platform, be it a through platform or a bay one, that is used by standard trains.

These are the two obvious routes.

Use The Sutton Loop Line From Mitcham Junction Station

This map from shows the track layout at Mitcham Junction station and Tramlink between Mitcham and Beddington Lane tram stops.


Note that the black tracks are the Sutton Loop Line with Mitcham Eastfields station to the North and Hackbridge station to the South.

I think it would be possible, from what I have seen on other tram-train systems, to link the Sutton Loop Line to Tramlink, so that tram-trains could go between Bedddington Lane and a proposed Streatham Interchange.

A tram-train going between Croydon and Streatham Interchange would do the following.

  • Stop in Beddington Lane tram stop.
  • Drop the pantograph and change to battery power.
  • Proceed to Mitcham Junction station.
  • Connect to third-rail electrification.
  • Run as a train to Streatham Interchange.

In the opposite direction, the sequence would be reversed.

Use The Sutton Loop Line From Wimbledon Station

This map from shows the track layout at Wimbledon station.

Haydons Road station is on the Sutton Loop Line going towards the proposed Streatham Interchange.

This picture shows a Thameslink train in Platform 9 and a tram in Platform 10b at Wimbledon station.

I think it could be possible to make Platform 10b into a bi-directional Tramlink platform to connect to Streatham Interchange.

Currently, twelve trams per hour turn at Wimbledon and I suspect that this needs two terminating platforms.


Connecting tram-trains at Wimbledon to the Sutton Loop Line may be tricky, but it should be easier at Mitcham Junction.

However, so long as Streatham Interchange has enough capacity for Tramlink services, there shouldn’t be a problem.




September 9, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Tram Extension Between Wimbledon And Sutton Could Come In 2025

The title of this post is the same as that of this article in Your Local Guardian.

The article talks about the project starting in 2022 and being ready in 2025, if there is public support.

This map shows the proposed route of the Tramlink’s Sutton to Wimbledon Extension.

I estimate that the route would be around five miles.

With current battery technology, that is probably too far for total running on battery power, but with the Midland Metro fully embracing the technology, this may open up methods for faster and more affordable construction.

I feel this could be an extension to watch, as after the innovative approach taken on the South Wales Metro, there are a lot of ideas being implemented around the world, that could make an extension to Sutton and on to the Royal Marsden, an affordable reality.




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

Dalston To Gatwick And Back For £6.15

This could be one of the best travel bargains for those like me, who have the privilege of a Freedom Pass.

I can use my pass, as far as East Croydon or West Croydon stations, but I must buy a ticket or use contactless to get to Gatwick Airport.

So I use the following route.

  1. London Overground to West Croydon station using my Freedom Pass.
  2. London Tramlink to East Croydon station using my Freedom Pass.
  3. Thameslink or Southern to Gatwick using a contactless credit card.

I paid £3.10 for the last leg.

These pictures show my journey to Gatwick.

Note that as my flight on Friday was early, I was staying the the Premier Inn, where I watched the World Cup 2018, before taking an early bath and an early bed.

The only problem was finding how to get from the shuttle to the Premier Inn at the Gatwick North Terminal.

Coming back, was just a two-legged journey.

  1. Thameslink to London Bridge station using the ticket I bought on the way out and my Freedom Pass.
  2. A 141 bus to just outside my house from the forecourt of London Bridge to just outside my house using my Freedom Pass.

I paid £3.05 for the ticket between Gatwick and East Croydon.

The Journey Could Be Improved

I do this journey a lot of times, especially as it is an easy way to the South Coast.

  • Getting to Victoria will continue to be difficult, until there is a comprehensive rebuild of Highbury and Islington station.
  • I could go to St. Pancras and get Thameslink, but there are time restrictions on using a Freedom Pass early in the morning.
  • I could get a 141 bus to London Bridge, but going South seems a lot longer than coming North due to traffic, road works and bus frequency.

So what would I do to improve things?

The Overground Should Go To East Croydon Not West Croydon Station

Often, when I do the journey to West Croydon, the train is almost empty from perhaps Penge West station.

So do passengers from the East London Line wanting to go to Croydon choose a train to East Croydon?

  • East Croydon has a cornucopia of services going all over the South.
  • West Croydon has only a few services and no long distance ones.
  • There are no intermediate stations between either station and Norwood Junction station.
  • East Croydon is the hub station of London Tramlink.
  • There is only a tram service going East at West Croydon.
  • To get a tram to Wimbledon at West Croydon, it is a long walk, which is badly signposted.

What is needed is a dedicated Overground platform at East Croydon station.

  • One platform could handle six trains per hour (tph)
  • It would create a simple one-change link between Gatwick Airport, Brighton and other South Coast destinations to East London and especially Whitechapel station, for the Eastern branches of Crossrail.

I know space is difficult, but I suspect that there is a solution somewhere.

Refurbish The Class 700 Trains

The Class 700 trains have only been in service for about two years, but when you travel on one after using another train, you realise their inadequacies.

  • The seats are worse than most and certainly not up to the standard of those on Electrostars, like the Class 377 train, I took to Gatwick.
  • There is no wi-fi.
  • There are no power sockets to charge a mobile phone or laptop.
  • Tables don’t exist in most of Standard Class.
  • There’s nowhere to put a drink.
  • Some drivers, who worked for East Midlands Trains told me, that they are not fast enough for the Midland Main Line.

They are crap design of the highest class. They certainly don’t say “Welcome to the UK”, to arriving passengers at Gatwick.

But I do believe the trains can be sorted, as the Class 707 trains are better.

Extend The Freedom Pass Area

A Freedom Pass works to any station in Fare Zone 6, with a few extensions like Shenfield station using TfL Rail and Watford Junction station using the Overground.

I don’t think that the area, where the Freedom Pass can be used for free, should be extended, but the technology must exist to link a Freedom Pass with a credit or debit card, so that all journeys within the Oyster contactless area are charged appropriately.

I’m surprised that this or something like it hasn’t been implemented yet, as surely it could be an encouragement for Freedom Pass holders to vote for a Mayoral candidate.


Travelling to Gatwick will get easier and more comfortable.





June 14, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

London Tram Enhancements Included In Growth Fund

The title of this post is the same as that of this article in Metro Report International.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Transport for London is to finance around one-third of the cost of double-tracking the Elmers End branch of the tram network, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan announced on May 21.

TfL is to provide £3·3m from its Growth Fund towards the estimated £9m estimated project cost. In addition to double-tracking the short branch, this would add a second tram platform to the Elmers End terminus. TfL says that this would enable service improvements and ‘address reliability issues’ on the network.

This map from, shows the track layout between the Arena tram stop and Elmers End station.

My thoughts on the various works follow.


From the map, it doesn’t appear that a very large amount of track needs to be doubled.

This Google Map shows some of the single track section of the route.

Note the passing loop to the South of Elmers End is visible, at the top of the map.

It would also appear that there is space to add the second track, which used to exist when the tram line was the Addiscombe Line.

These pictures, which were taken from a tram, show the section of line in the map.

I suspect that a second track linking the double track at Arena to the passing loop South of Elmers End can be created.

Electrification Or Battery

Battery trams will soon be running on many tram networks around the world, including Birmingham in the UK.

Tramlink has a problem, in that they have two types of trams.

  • Twenty-four CR4000 delivered before 2000.
  • Twelve Variobahn delivered after 2010.

Because of their age, I think the CR4000 trams might be difficult to be fitted with batteries.

But Munich already has Variobahn trams fitted with batteries.

If battery power were needed just on the route to Elmers End, I think it would not be an economic decision to fit all trams with batteries.

Obviously, if in the future, more trams were to be ordered, there may be other routes, where batteries are ideal.

I don’t think, there will be any issues about putting up more wires.

Being able to use the current trams on the new track to Elmers End would be very convenient

For these and other reasons, I suspect this line will be electrified.

The New Elmers End Platform

Elmers End is the only one of the four Tramlink termini with a single platform, as Beckenham Junction, New Addington and Wimbledon all have two platforms.

So a second platform at Elmers End would surely make running a service easier, when things go a bit awry.

The need was illustrated as my tram left Elmers End. We stopped for a couple of minutes in the passing loop just outside the station to let another tram enter the platform.

After the proposed works, the two trams would have passed on the double-track to the East of the Arena tram stop.

This Google Map shows the platforms at Elmers End station.


These pictures show the station and in particular, the current single tram platform.


  1. Platform level is such, that platform-to-tram is step-free.
  2. The current platform has a cross-platform interchange with the Northbound Platform 2 on the Hayes Line.
  3. It would appear, that there is space alongside for a second platform, although it might mean the loss of some car parking spaces.
  4. Some equipment might need to be moved.
  5. The footbridge could probably need to be made step-free.
  6. There is space to add the gantries for the electrification.

The original Addiscombe Line had a platform on the other side of the tracks as shown in the map earlier in this post.

I doubt this old layout will be used, as a flat junction would be rather difficult to operate and a flyover would be expensive.

Could we see a staggered platform layout, so that both platforms are accessible from Platform 2?

This map from shows the track arrangement at New Addington.

The line appears to be singled a convenient distance from the terminus and then it splits again just outside the platforms.

Beckenham Junction and Wimbledon, both use a similar track layout.

If a layout similar to this were to be applied at Elmers End, it would have the collateral benefit of reducing the current three sets of points to two.

A single track, would also be easy to squeeze through the gap into Elmers End, provided there was space for the points before the platforms.

I believe this layout, would work with staggered platforms.

Would The Elmers End Platforms Be Made Longer?

Wikipedia talks about expanding Tramlink. Under Phase C of Trams 2030, this is said.

Furthermore, if extra capacity is required, tram stops could be lengthened to serve either longer trams or two trams coupled together on services between Wimbledon and Beckenham Junction or Elmers End.

I think that Elmers End will be future-proofed.

An Increase In Frequency To Elmers End

The Wikipedia entry for Elmers End station, says this about current tram frequencies under Services.

Trams depart from the station every 12 minutes; this service falls to four trams per hour during the early morning and evenings. Each tram travels towards Croydon town centre; trams on Route 1 continue to West Croydon tram stop, before travelling back as Route 2 to Beckenham Junction, while trams on Route 4 continue to Wimbledon.

A second platform would surely allow the five trams per hour frequency to be doubled to ten trams per hour, if this was thought necessary.

These trams would either be turned in Croydon or continue to Wimbledon.

Some might use a proposed diverting loop in Dingwall Road, by East Croydon station.

More Trams

If more trams are needed, I’m sure Stadler would oblige with a few new Variobahn trams.

Future Expansion

I also think, that because after the Elmers End scheme is completed, all the Tramlink termini will have two platforms, this will make it much easier to expand the system.


It seems a relatively simple scheme with no serious construction problems.






May 23, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts On The Sutton Loop Line

The Sutton Loop Line is a bit of a problem.

  • It runs two trains per hour (tph) in both directions.
  • Trains are eight-cars.
  • It is not the most heavily-used of lines.

It is deeply political and difficult to make any changes.

Network Rail’s original plan is described under Political Developments in the Thameslink entry in Wikipedia. This is said.

Network Rail had planned to terminate Sutton Loop Thameslink trains at Blackfriars station, rather than have them continue through central London as at present. This would increase the capacity of the central core as the Sutton Loop could only accommodate shorter trains. This upset many residents in South London and their local politicians, who saw it as a reduction in services rather than an improvement. In response to pressure, government has ordered Network Rail to reverse the decision.

Was this design by those, who don’t understand the complexity of designing and running a train service?

On the other hand, the line has some strengths.

  • It is a double-track railway.
  • It is fully-electrified using 750 VDC third-rail.
  • Stations have long platforms.
  • There seems to be quite a bit of housing and other development.

But in some ways,  the line’s biggest strength, is the wide margins at both sides of the tracks.

This section between Hackbridge and Carshalton stations is not untypical.

Adding extra platforms or complete stations would not be difficult.

What solutions are available to improve train services on the Sutton Loop Line, for both passengers and train operators?

Splitting And Joining Trains

In Has Thameslink Got The Wrong Length Of Train?, I proposed the following.

  • Using twelve- and six-car trains on Thameslink.
  • Allowing two six-car trains to work as a twelve-car unit.
  • Trains would be able to join and split automatically, as Hitachi’s Class 395 trains are able to do.

I also proposed the following method of operation for the Sutton Loop Line.

The Sutton Loop Line could be run by using six-car trains that split and join in the area of Streatham station.

This map from shows the track layout at Streatham, at the start of the loop.


  1. Streatham South Junction is the gateway to the Sutton Loop, with the tracks to the West going via Tooting station and those to the South via Mitcham Eastfields station.
  2. There is a lot of spare land in this area.
  3. Transport for London keep talking about creating an interchange at this point.

I think, if and when the interchange is built, it could be designed, so that it increased traffic around the Sutton Loop Line.

  • Two six-car trains running as a twelve-car could split at the interchange.
  • One train would go round the loop clockwise and the other anti-clockwise.
  • The trains would rejoin together at the interchange.

The same procedure could be done at Streatham, without creating the interchange, but it would block the station, if trains got delayed on the loop.

Currently, two trains per hour (tph) are proposed to run in both directions on the Sutton Loop Line.

This requires four eight-car trains and four paths through the central core.

If four six-car trains were to be used, running in pairs splitting at Streatham station or a new Streatham Common interchange, there would still be two tph in both directions round the Sutton Loop, but only two paths would be needed in the central core.

Travellers to and from stations on the loop would see six-car, rather than the current eight-car.

If the number of six-car trains were to be doubled and four paths used in the central core, the Sutton Loop Line would see four tph in both directions.

It sounds complicated but it would work and it has the following advantages.

  • Train frequency could be increased as required.
  • Paths are released in the central core.
  • Twelve-car trains would go through the central core, where the capacity is needed.

The service would need a few more drivers and other staff.

Loop Only Services To A New Streatham Common Interchange

If a new interchange station is built at Streatham Common, then extra services could easily be run round the loop.

  • Thameslink services could be reduced to perhaps one tph in each direction.
  • These would be augmented by perhaps a four tph shuttle around the loop starting and finishing at Streatham Common.
  • The shuttle trains could be any suitable unit, but surely a four-car would suffice.

I suspect that this wouldn’t work, as it would upset the natives.

The German Solution

I can’t help feeling that the Germans and especially those in Karlsruhe would look at the Sutton Loop Line and because there are both trams and trains, in the area, they would come up with a solution based on trains and tram-trains.

As fsr as I know, no-one has ever built a third-rail-powered tram-train!

But I don’t think that a tram-train powered by third-rail electrification, when running as a train is an impossibility. I lay out my ideas in The Third-Rail Tram-Train.


As to safety, look at this picture taken at Mitcham Junction station.

Note how the third electrified rails are in the middle away from the platforms. This is standard practice with this form of electrification.

So if it is deemed to be safe for trains now, it will surely be safe for third-rail train-trams.

When running as trams, the tram-trains will use 750 VDC overhead electrification.

Changing Networks

Tram-trains will need to change between the tram and rail networks.

This map from shows the track layout at Mitcham Junction station.


  1. Wimbledon is to the West and Croydon is to the East.
  2. With the addition of some extra tracks, it should be possible for tram-trains to pass between the networks.
  3. As trams can take tight curves, a chord could allow Westbound tram-trains from Croydon to turn South to Sutton.
  4. Tram-trains will probably change networks using a couple of ininutes of battery power.

I doubt any of the engineering will be too difficult.

Adding The Sutton Loop Line To Tramlink Using Tram-Trains

Tram-trains would take the following route.

  • Arrive from Croydon at Mitcham Junction, where they would turn South onto the Sutton Loop Line.
  • Pass through Hackbridge and Carshalton stations.
  • Call in Sutton station for interchange with trams and National Rail.
  • Continue to Wimbledon station calling in Platform 9 for interchange with trams in Platform 10 and 10b and National Rail.
  • Pass through Hatdons Road and Tooting.
  • Take new chord to cross to the other leg of the Sutton Loop Line.
  • Pass through Itcham Eastfields station.
  • Rejoin the tram route at Micham Junction station.

Tram-trains could also travel in the reverse direction.

Trams And Tram-Trains At Wimbledon

This map from shows the track and platform layout at Wimbledon station.


  1. Currently, Thameslink services on the Sutton Loop Line use Platform 9 in both directions.
  2. Hayons Road station is to the North-East and |Wimbledon Chase station is to the South.
  3. Tram-trains on the Sutton Loop Line would do the same.
  4. Platform 9 probably defines the capacity of the Sutton Loop Line.

Access to the trams in Platforms 10 and 10b, is just a walk across the platform.

The picture was taken from a Thameslink train.

There might even be space for another tram platform, that can be accessed from the Haydons Road direction.

Trams And Tram-Trains At Sutton

This map from shows the track and platform layout at Sutton station.


  1. The Sutton Loop Line is the Northernmost pair of tracks.
  2. Carshalton station is to the East and West Sutton station is to the West.
  3. It could be possible for tram-trains to by-pass Sutton station and run on the streets of Sutton.

This picture shows Sutton High Street.

Is it going to be easy to bring the planned tram extension from Wimbledon to Sutton?

Dual Platform Issues

Platforms at the stations on the Sutton Loop Line are long and are certainly capable of taking eight-car trains.

But are they long enough to have a lower section of platform, so that tram-trains can have step-free access?

This is one of the problems, that should be solved in the tram-train trial in Sheffield.

The Split At Streatham Common

This Google Map shows, where the two routes of the Sutton Loop Line meet near Streatham Common station.

This picture shows a train going towards Mitcham, from one having passed through Tooting station.

I don’t think it would be the most difficult engineering project to create a chord, that would allow tram-trains to go directly between Tooting and Mitcham Eastfields stations.

A Possible Service

As I said earlier, Platform 9 at Wimbledon station. is probably the limiting factor on services round the Sutton Loop Line.

Thameslink is planning two tph in both directions.

I suspect that this could be supplemented by two tph services run by tram-trains, if a signalling solution can be implemented to allow four tph in each direction, through the platform.


There are several ways to improve the Sutton Loop Line.




March 14, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Could Third-Rail Tram-Trains Work The Epsom Downs Branch?

The Epsom Downs Branch is a single-track branch line from Sutton to Epsom Downs station.

Currently, it has a service to Victoria of around two trains per hour (tph), but it doesn’t seem to generate much business.

In 2015-16, Epsom Downs station had 112,000 passengers, whereas Sutton station had 7,111,000.

As the three stations on the branch are all single-platform stations with few facilities, can it be viable to run Class 377 and Class 455 trains on the branch?

When the London Tramlink arrives in Sutton, I wonder if the branch would be more suited to be running by trams.

But as the line is electrified with the standard 750 VDC third-rail system, is it one of those places, that could it be served by a third-rail tram-train, as I proposed in The Third-Rail Tram-Train?

I think the answer is in the affirmative.


  • The tram service could terminate at the proposed Streatham Common Interchange station.
  • It takes less than ten minutes to go between Sutton and Epsom Downs
  • In the Peak or when more capacity is needed, Class 377 trains could still run the service.
  • The tram-trains could provide a step-free service.

Running the service with tram-trains, would give one big advantage; the ability to run a service to the Royal Marsden Hospital, which according to this document from the hospital is not the best, when it comes to public transport.

A  single-track branch from the Epsom Downs Branch could start South of Belmont station and tram-trains running on batteries could serve both the Royal Marsden Hospital and the Institute of Cancer Research.

This Google Map shows Belmont station and the hospital.


  • The rail line from Belmont station to Epsom Downs station running down the West side of the map.
  • There are two prisons in the South East corner of the map.
  • The road from Belmont to the Hospital may only be half a mile, but it is up a steep hill.
  • Why is every train arriving at Belmont station, not met by a shuttle bus to the Royal Marsden Hospital?
  • There is one train per hour through Belmont station in both directions.

A silent battery tram-train  without any overhead wires, climbing up on the railway line and then turning East across Banstead Common calling at the prisons en route to the Hospital, might be acceptable to the Planning Authorities. It would surely be less intrusive than some of cars and vans, I saw rushing through the Downs.

I would think that the hospital needs a frequency of four trains per hour to Sutton, in addition to the current sewrvices between Sutton and Epsom Downs.

A charging station, like a Railbaar, at the end of the short branch might be needed, to make sure that the gradients were conquered.

These pictures show Belmont station and the walk to the Royal Marsden Hospital.

Knowing, what I now know of the Royal Masrsden Hospital, it wouldn’t be my choice of hospital.

I don’t think, I’vw seen a hospital with such terrible access by public transport!



April 16, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Could Third-Rail Tram-Trains Be Used To Increase Services In South London?

I ask this question, as some of the frequencies on suburban lines in South London aren’t up to their equivalent in the North.

Sutton Loop Line

As an example, Sutton Common station on the Sutton Loop Line of Thameslink, has this Off Peak service according to Wikipedia.

The typical off-peak service from the station is 2 trains per hour to Wimbledon (clockwise around the loop) and 2 trains per hour to Sutton (anticlockwise).

Other stations on the loop with this level of service include Haydons RoadMorden SouthSt. Helier, South Merton, TootingWest Sutton and Wimbledon Chase.

On the other side of the loop via Mitcham Junction station, the service is augmented by London Victoria to Epsom services, running at two trains per hour (tph).

People might say, that the solution to the poor service at stations on the Sutton Loop Line is just to run four tph in both directions round the loop.

But that would probably mean the Snow Hill Tunnel with its capacity of 24 tph, will become overloaded.

Thameslink’s Route To Sevenoaks

Crofton Park station on Thameslink’s route to Sevenoaks station has this Off Peak service according to Wikipedia.

Two trains per hour to West Hampstead Thameslink and Sevenoaks.

The passengers moan about it as I wrote in The Natives Are Getting Restless In Crofton Park.

They want four tph now!

But again they can’t have them, as it’s the capacity of the Snow Hill Tunnel.

Transport For London’s Philosophy

Transport for London, have released a report on the Bakerloo Line Extension that they call the Option Selection Summary Report.

It is one of those worthy documents, you get from analysing the data from consultations.

But it is full of several nuggets, which although not directly associated with the Bakerloo Line could be very important for passengers coming from or venturing to South London.

They have also provided this helpful map, which lays out possible actions and improvements.

Rail Improvements South Of The Thames

It seems to me that TfL are following a plan to add more transport hubs to their network South of the Thames.

Currently, the following are important interchanges between Underground, Overground, trains, Tramlink and buses.

  • Bromley South
  • Clapham Junction
  • East Croydon
  • Greenwich
  • Lewisham
  • Wimbledon
  • Woolwich


  1. East Croydon will benefit in a large way from Thameslink, but so will Greenwich and Woolwich in a smaller way.
  2. Clamham Junction and Wimbledon will be stations on from Crossrail 2, if it’s ever built.
  3. Lewisham will become the terminus of the Bakerloo Line.

The map and other sources also show other stations becoming important transport hubs or connections.

  • Brixton, where all the lines in the area are in a single station.
  • Brockley
  • Catford, where the current Catford and Catford Bridge stations become one station.
  • Crystal Palace, which will soon get extra services from Whitechapel and Highbury and Islington stations.
  • Orpington
  • Penge
  • Streatham Common
  • Sutton

London Bridge station shouldn’t be ignored, as after Thameslink is completed, it will be an efficient interchange between the North-South Thameslink services and the Southeastern services between Charing Cross/Cannon Street and the wider South-East.

Put all of these proposals together and could third-rail tram-trains be a useful addition to transport in South London?

I will detail a few possible routes.

Onward From Beckenham Junction To Bromley South or Orpington

In Could Beckenham Junction To Birkbeck Be Run Using Third-Rail Tram-Trains?, I detailed how third-rail tram-trains could be used between Harrington Lane tram stop and Beckenham Junction station to create more capacity.

If run by tram-trains, this service could be extended to Bromley South or Orpington.

Orpington station has four bay platforms facing towards London and Beckenham Junction.

This map from shows the track layout at the station.

The tracks reduce from four to two at Orpington station, which probably means that tram-trains should probably not go further than Orpington station.

Bromley South station is another possibility for a terminus for tram-trains and this map from, shows the station layout.

The tram-trains would probably use the two Northern tracks.


At present there are the following services between Birkbeck and Beckenham Junction stations.

  • 2 trains per hour between London Bridge and Beckenham Junction
  • 6 trams per hour between East Croydon and Beckenham Junction

Looking at the frequencies, I suspect that if two of the trams per hour, were tram-trains and ran to Bromley South and Orpington, this could be accommodated in the timetable.

I think that this route would have the following advantages.

  • Bromley South and Orpington stations would be valuable interchanges to Southeastern’s and Thameslink’s Kentish destinations.
  • Running tram-trains between Birkbeck and Beckenham Junction stations as tram-trains on a double-track line, must improve capacity and reliability.
  • Bromley town centre has been touted as an extension to Tramlink.

Bromley South station, might not be Bromley town centre, but it is only a short walk.

However, if it were needed, I suspect that a single-track spur to serve the town centre could be created to the West of Bromley South station.

This Google Map shows the Southern end of Bromley High Street and Bromley South station.

It could probably use battery power to pull up the short hill to Bromley town centre.

  • The terminal tram stop could be at the South end of the pedestrianised area.
  • The on-street route would be single-track, bi-directional and electrically dead.
  • A second tram stop could be provided by Bromley South station.
  • The maximum frequency to a single platform would probably be two trams per hour.

In some ways, the town centre tram stop is a bay platform for Bromley South station, that can only be used by tram-trains with a battery capability.

Onward From Harrington Road To Crystal Palace

It was always hoped that Tramlink could be extended to Crystal Palace station and this has been developed as Route 5.

The Wikipedia entry for Harrington Road tram-stop says this.

Transport for London once had plans to extend the Tramlink system to Crystal Palace. These plans were known as Extension D or Tramlink route 4, and would have involved a junction to the north of Harrington Road, with the extension joining the existing railway in the opposite direction to the current line 2.

The planned extension to Crystal Palace was formally dropped by Transport for London in 2008.

But using tram-trains could make this a more flexible low-cost option.

  • Battery power could be used to go to the terminus at Crystal Palace Parade.
  • Battery trams would be very easy to install in a park, if required.
  • A charging station, like a Railbaar, could be provided at the terminus, if the battery running looked like needing assistance.
  • Tram-trains could go past Crystal Palace to a station with a suitable bay platform.

This Google Map shows the route.

Note Crystal Palace in the North West corner, by the running track and Birkbeck station in the South East.

New tram stops have been proposed at Penge Road and Anerley Road and as the lroute will be run by tram-trains, I suspect that an innovative island station design could serve both tram-trains and trains.

Crystal Palace station, which in a couple of years will have six tph from the well-connected Whitechapel, would benefit from a Tramlink connection.

Onward From Elmers End To Catford

Elmers End station has six trams per house from East Croydon.

This Google Map shows the station.

Note how it connects to the Hayes Line and I doubt if it would be difficult to allow through running of tram-trains between East Croydon and stations to the North on the Hayes Line.

The logical Northern terminus would probably be in a new Catford Interchange, which Transport for London have talked about to combine Catford and Catford Bridge stations.

This Google Map shows the two stations and Catford town centre.

A tram-train could probably run on batteries to the town centre, perhaps with a terminus at Catford Broadway by Lewisham Town Hall and the Broadway Theatre.

But with the right design of the new interchange, the tram-train could go further North to a station with a handy bay platform, if that was deemed necessary.

Increasing The Frequency On The Sutton Loop Line

As I said earlier stations on the Western side of the loop, generally get about two tph in both directions, but those on the Eastern side get an extra two tph going between Victoria and Epsom.

The trains on the line are typically eight-car trains of a variety of types. Capacity may be a problem, but a line like this needs at least four tph all day.

There could also be a case for an extra station to serve St. George’s Hospital and perhaps another as part of the development at Hackbridge.

There is a Hackbridge Masterplan on Wikipedia. This is the first paragraph.

The London Borough of Sutton is working to make Hackbridge the ‘UK’s first truly sustainable suburb’. There has been a regeneration scheme in Hackbridge which has a number of developments on many sites. These are mentioned as part of the Hackbridge Regeneration. Detailed plans include proposals for new eco-friendly homes, more shops, leisure and community facilities, jobs, sustainable transport and pedestrian/ cycle initiatives, improved networks and open spaces.

It all sounds good to me. This is a Google Map of the area.



Note the rail line going up the map with Hackbridge station about a quarter of the way up.At the top of the map, is an icon indicating the BedZed Pavilion.

If they are truly into green transport, it strikes me, that there needs to be another station between Hackbridge station and Mitcham Junction station, which is the next one to the North. As the Tramlink through Mitcham Junction runs down the eastern side of the site and has a stop at Beddington Lane on the north east corner, I would also feel that there scope for extensions to the through Hackbridge.

So for frequency and environmental reasons, I think there is a strong case to improve the Sutton Loop Line.

The obvious way to increase the service would be to have two tph start and finish in a bay platform, at the proposed Streatham Common transport interchange. Not only would it provide four tph on the whole loop, but if the trains were scheduled correctly, all stations on the loop would have the following services to Blackfriars.

  • 2 tph direct.
  • 2 tph with a change at Streatham Common.
  • 2 tph direct via Sutton
  • 2 tph via Sutton with a change at Streatham Common.

With good design the change at Streatham Common could be a walk across the platform.

I don’t think that the extra services would need to be eight-car trains, but why use tram-trains?

The tram-trains major advantage is that they could go walkabout to perhaps serve some of the new developments or hospitals like St. Helier or the Royal Marsden.

Using The Sutton Loop Line As A Reversing Loop For Trams From Croydon

This Google Map shows Mitcham Junction station.

I don’t think it would be too difficult to add chords to the junction, so that a tram-train coming from Croydon could transfer from Tramlink to the Sutton Loop Line. The tram-train would then go round the loop including passing through Wimbledon station on the opposite face of the Tramlink platform.

After returning to Mitcham Junction, the tram-train would return to Croydon.

It may seem a long way round, but there’s probably only a couple of minutes in it.

But it would need a chord at Streatham Common for the tram-trains to by-pass the station.

This Google Map shows the location of the proposed Streatham Common interchange.

The current Streatham Common station is in the East, The interchange would be built, where the lines cross.

The chord would be built to the South of where the two lines of the Sutton Loop meet, at the bottom of the map.

The track could be adjusted, so that tram-trains could go round the loop both ways.

Will The Victoria-Epsom Service Call At Streatham Common Interchange?

Stops with  modern trains are much quicker than they used to be only a few years ago.

So If the design of Streatham Common station and the timetable could allow a fast interchange, it might improve journey times for those living on the Wimbledon side of the Sutton Loop Line, which don’t get direct services from Victoria.

The Proposed Tramlink Extension To Sutton

The proposed Tramlink route Between  South Wimbledon And Sutton is possibly a worthwhile extra public transport link to throw into the mix. It is described under Extension A in the Wikipedia entry for Tramlink. This is said.

In July 2013, Mayor Boris Johnson affirmed that there is a reasonable business case for Tramlink to cover the Wimbledon – Sutton corridor. A map has been released showing the planned route. It would leave the existing route just to the east of Morden Road and head along the A24 and A297 to Rosehill Roundabout, then the B2230 through Sutton town centre, ending at the station. A loop via St Helier Hospital and a possible extension to Royal Marsden Hospital also are shown.

This is a map of the route.


So how would third-rail tram-trains using the Sutton Loop Line affect the proposed Tranlink Extension to Sutton?

  • There are at least four tph in both directions on the Sutton Loop Line.
  • The trams will reach Sutton, but only running as trains.
  • St. Helier Hospital is not served.
  • Tram-trains could possibly serve the Epsom Downs Branch, in addition to the direct services to Victoria.

I describe how third-rail tram-trains could serve the Epsom Downs Branch and the Royal Marsden Hospital in Could Third-Rail Tram-Trains Work The Epsom Downs Branch?







April 16, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Could Beckenham Junction To Birkbeck Be Run Using Third-Rail Tram-Trains?

Look at this map from, which shows the lines to the west of Beckenham Junction station.

Lines To The West Of Beckhenham Junction Station

Lines To The West Of Beckhenham Junction Station

At Beckenham Junction station, there are the following platforms.

  • Two through platforms.
  • Two Westward-facing bay platforms for trains.
  • Two Westward-facing bay platforms for the Tramlink.

But the real problem of operation of the section of line through Beckenham Junction station is that, both the main line and tram line to Birkbeck station are bi-directional, which must limit capacity.

Running Using Third-Rail Tram-Trains

Suppose that the trams going to Beckenham Junction were tram-trains capable of running on both 750 VDC  overhead and third-rail electrification, with a limited range of perhaps 2 km. on batteries.

The following would be done.

  • The current Tramlink line would be for all Westbound tram-trains and trains.
  • The current heavy rail line would be for all Eastbound tram-trains and trains.
  • Both tracks betweeen Birkbeck and Beckenham Junction would have third rail electrification.
  • There would be no electrification of any sort between Harrington Road tram stop and Birkbeck station.
  • All trams using the line would have a tram-train capability, dual 750 VDC pick-up and batteries.
  • All trains using the line would be as now.
  • Birkbeck, Avenue Road and Beckenham Road stations would revert to traditional stations.
  • All platforms would need to be adjusted to give step-free access to the two types of vehicles.

I suspect that Beckenham Junction station could also be remodelled to have bay platforms, that could accept both trains and tram-trains.

The Current Services

The typical off-peak service frequency is:

  • 4tph (trains per hour) to London Victoria (Southeastern)
  • 2tph to London Bridge via Crystal Palace (Southern)
  • 4tph to Orpington (Southeastern)

These train services would be unaffected, except that they could stop in Birkbeck, Avenue Road and Beckenham Road stations, if required.

The tram services would be generally unaffected, although they would need to cross over from the Eastbound line into Beckenham Junction, as trains do now.

Tram-Train Operation

Consider how a third-rail tram-train would operate between Croydon and Beckenham Junction.

  • It would run as a normal tram using the overhead electrification to Harrington Road tram stop.
  • At Harrington Road tram stop, the pantograph would be lowered and the tram-train would run to Birkbeck station on battery power.
  • The tram-train would then lower the third-rail shoe and run to Beckenham Junction on the third rail electrification.

This Google Map shows Harrington Road tram stop and Birkbeck station.

The distance between the two is probably under a kilometre.


I can’t believe that creating a double-track railway, that can be used by both tram-trains and say Class 377 trains, doesn’t have advantages.

  • The passing loops on the tram line would not be needed, as Eastbound and Westbound trams would be on different lines.
  • The double-tracking should reduce train delays.
  • It would allow the tram frequency to Beckenham Junction to be increased., which might enable a whole lot of possibilities.
  • Tram-train services could be extended to Bromley South station.

I do feel though that the biggest advantages might be enabled, if Birkbeck, Avenue Road and Beckenham Road became single island platforms between the tracks. This would enable.

  • Same platform interchange.
  • Train passengers going East could change to a tram-train going West and vice-versa.
  • A single lift could be installed at Birkbeck, Avenue Road and Beckenham Road stations for step-free access.

There are certainly possibilities to improve the line.

The Bakerloo Line Extension To Hayes and Beckenham Junction Stations

If this happens, which is looking inreasingly likely, there may be advantages in using tram-trains to Beckhenham Junction and Bromley.


By replacing the trams to Beckenham Junction station with tram-trains, capable of running on both 750 VDC types of electrification and with a limited battery capabilty, would simplify operation at Beckhenham Junction and enable Tramlink services to be extended to Bromley South station.






April 15, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 3 Comments