The Anonymous Widower

Does London Need A ‘Grand Paris Express’?

The Grand Paris Express is a plan to create an automated Metro, that goes all the way round Paris. Wikipedia says this.

Grand Paris Express is a project of new rapid transit lines to be created in the île-de-France region, in France. The work could begin in 2014, with the first line opening between Pont de Sèvres métro station and Gare de Noisy – Champs (fr) RER A station around 2020. This line was first proposed in the project Orbival, then integrated into the Arc Express project.

The French also seem to be moving on the project as is reported here in Global Rail News.

So does London need something similar?

If we look at Berlin, that has a circular railway around the city centre called the Ringbahn. It’s about the same size as the Circle Line, but differs in one big way; it has a parallel freight ring.

London also has the Overground,which is a great way to get round the city without going through the centre. Like the Berlin Ringbahn it also carries freight.

The Overground is not a Metro, as in Berlin or as Paris is proposing, but a full-size railway, with not as high a frequency, as you’d get on a tube or metro line. However, the Overground does share a lot of objectives with the Grand Paris Express.

But those creative minds at Transport for London have proposed something similar to the Grand Paris Express in their Transport Infrastructure Plan for 2050. It’s a plan to extend the Gospel Oak to Barking Line under the Thames from Barking to Abbey Wood and then by means of existing lines take the trains around London via Sutton, Wimbledon, Hounslow, Old Oak Common to Gospel Oak. I documemted the route in full in these posts.

London’s plan differs from that of Paris in one big way, as it only requires one expensive piece of new infrastructure, which is the tunnel from Barking to Thamesmead. The main factor that will make London’s plan possible is that in a few years, all trains will have in-cab signalling, so slotting in the new Overground services on existing lines, will be a lot easier.

The title of the French proposal sums it up. It contains the word Grand and that is what it is.

London may take a much more mundane and affordable step-by-step approach, but it means that you don’t have to wait years to get the benefits you need now.

September 20, 2014 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Is Whitechapel Station Going To Be A Jewel In The East?

When I wrote about Crossrail as a tourist attraction, I said nothing about the station at Whitechapel.

I probably didn’t as although I use the station regularly, you don’t see much as you pass through except for hoardings with lots of graphics, pictures and information. When I went through last time, I took these pictures.

It shows the construction going on over the two north-south Overground platforms. Crossrail will run east-west about forty metres down. Note how the Underground is on top of the Overground.

I was told by a man in an orange suit, that there will be a bridge over the Overground platforms connecting it all together. Escalators to Crossrail will be going down from between the two Underground platforms, where the blue crane is now situated. The space between the Underground platforms will then be filled in to create a wide island platform with the two lines on either side. It will be an easy step-free interchange from Crossrail to the Underground.

There are some detailed architect’s impressions of the new station here. The page also says this.

The new Whitechapel Crossrail station will use the existing Whitechapel Road entrance to the Whitechapel London Underground and London Overground station.

The Crossrail platforms will be in deep tunnels to the north of the existing station but they will all share a concourse, ticket hall, gateline and station operations room, leading to a fully integrated station that provides an easy step-free interchange between the Crossrail, Hammersmith and City, District and Overground lines.

Transport for London’s, Transport Infrastructure Plan for 2050, states that at some point twenty-four trains per hour will run through this section of the Overground in both directions.

This matches the Crossrail and Thameslink frequencies, so once all these lines are complete, London will have gained a high-frequency H-shaped railway, where journeys like Luton, Brighton or Peterborough to Crystal Palace or Walthamstow might be accomplished using two easy step-free changes. In fact, the biggest problem after 2019 about travel in London, will be choosing which of two or three equally fast and convenient routes is best for you.

Travel is going to be fun!

I suspect Whitechapel might be my entry into Crossrail and Thameslink. I’ll just walk to Dalston Junction, take a four stop journey to Whitechapel and then fan out to the myriad destinations, that can be reached directly from there.


August 25, 2014 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 10 Comments

An Overground Station For Camberwell?

In Transport for London’s Transport Plan for 2050, there is this paragraph.

Some examples of the type of scheme to help address these issues are an upgrade to the London Overground network to provide 6 car trains and new stations on existing lines, e.g. at Camberwell, that can plug connectivity gaps and act as development nodes.

By Camberwell, I suspect they mean at Loughborough Junction, where the London Overground passes over Thameslink. A couple of years ago, I visited the site and created a post with some pictures.

I said this about creating a Camberwell Beauty out of Loughborough Junction.

It is one of these problems that needs imagination. A good architect might be able to produce an elegant connection between the two lines and then link it to the ground on the other side of Coldharbour Lane to the current station entrance. Looking at the local bus map, shows that the area is well served by bus routes, so perhaps we could make Loughborough Junction a true interchange in the east of Brixton.

I shall go again to see if a development node can be used to bridge a significant connectivity gap in London’s train system.

On a personal note, it would really improve the ease of my getting onto Thameslink routes to the South.

August 9, 2014 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 3 Comments

Improving The Overground

Transport for London’s Transport Plan for 2050 says this about improving the Overground, with particular reference to creating a circular railway by extending the Goblin.

An option for doing this, could be an extension of the Overground in stages, creating new links initially where most feasible.

It does also say that new stations might be added to existing lines, giving a particular mention for Camberwell.

As I found on my trips Tracing the Goblin Extension, most of the infrastructure is already there and in many places, all it needs is innovative timetabling of the extra trains.

Buried in the report are possible plans on improving my local Overground service on the East London Line.

  • Better late night and overnight services on the Overground.
  • Automatic Train Operation on the core of the line from Dalston Junction to Surrey Quays to increase service frequency from 16 tph to possibly as high as 24 tph.
  • Six car trains on the Overground.

At the moment the East London Line has 16 four-car trains an hour in the core route, so 24 six-car trains will mean an increase of capacity of 2.25.

It will be needed, as who knows how many passengers will use the line to get to Crossrail at Whitechapel?

Once Crossrail opens, so many regular journeys I do, like to Ipswich, Oxford Street, Paddington and Heathrow could involve going to Whitechapel and then using the new line.

It should also be said as regards the East London Line, that the report says nothing about extending the line to Willesden in the west or Stratford in the east, by reopening the Eastern Curve at Dalston. This was talked about when the East London Line was created, but I think that passenger numbers might have increased more than they thought they would, so five and possibly six car trains have had a priority.

I shall be adding a bit of speculation about what might happen to the Overground in the next few days. I’ll put links here for ease of reading a post with more jumps than a whole bunch of frogs.

An Overground Station For Camberwell?

Are There Any Sensible Places For New Stations On The Overground?

But whatever happens, it looks like it’s all go on the Overground. In some ways, this disparate collection of lines in and around London, shows how the new breed of railway managers and engineers in the UK are very sensible and cost conscious , and have the needs of the passengers very much to the fore.


August 8, 2014 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

A Vision Of Old Oak Common In The Future

Transport for London’s Transport Plan for 2050 is particularly forceful about what will happen at Old Oak Common.

A key aim beyond this is to integrate Old Oak Common as a Canary Wharf of the future, with around 90,000 jobs and 19,000 homes

They also have a detailed map, showing lines reaching out in all directions, from the junction of Crossrail, HS2 and the Overground. In addition to the links through the Goblin Extension, I’ve traced earlier, there are a possible extension of the West London Line to Balham and a service northwards on the Midland Main Line to somewhere like St. Albans.

So London is getting another hub to complement Stratford and Canary Wharf in the East and Clapham Junction in the South.

August 8, 2014 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

London’s Plans For Trams

In TfL’s Transport Plan for 2050, trams don’t get much of a mention.

The document talks in vague terms about increasing frequency and capacity on the existing Tramlink and about extending it to Sutton.

So does this mean that effectively any new tram routes are off the agenda as TfLbelieves like I do after seeing the operation of bus route 38 in recent months, that new Routemaster buses are a more flexible and affordable option.

August 6, 2014 Posted by | Transport | , , | 2 Comments

What Should We Call The Extended Gospel Oak And Barking Line?

I ask this question, because I need a  tag to label my posts, as I follow the line and write about it.

I think to keep it simple I’ll label it with Goblin Extension.

Do goblins live underground or overground?

August 5, 2014 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Would You Want To Live With A Transport for London Route Planning Specialist?

Or probably anybody who does a similar job in say Paris, Berlin, Moscow, Mumbai or any other city with a complicated suburban rail network?

You just have to read this to find out the amazingly tortuous sense of direction they have. They would certainly have unusual ways of getting from A to B.

The reason for this post is I’ve just traced the possible route for London Overground’s possible outer circle railway based on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line. Or is that now the Gospel Oak to Barking and Back Line.

I’ll repeat the quote from the Modern Railways report on the Mayor’s Transport Infrastructure Plan for 2050.

There may be a case for further orbital rail capacity, says the document – it shows an indicative, uncosted network to link Hounslow, Old Oak Common, Neasden, West Hampstead, Harringay, Walthamstow, Barking, Abbey Wood, Bexleyheath, Norwood Junction, Sutton and New Malden and back to Hounslow, with another route between Abbey Wood and New Malden via Lewisham, Peckham Rye and Wimbledon.

So just how does the line get across South London after it is assumed that it crosses from Barking to Abbey Wood probably in a tunnel? Or could it be a dramatic bridge, with a road as well as a railway track?

The Route

As I did with the Northern Route from Harringay Green Lanes to Hounslow, I’ll start by listing the route in order from Hounslow to Abbey Wood.

Hounslow – Starting from here, the route would continue along the Hounslow Loop Line.

Whitton – There may be a need for a new curve after here, as trains will need to get to and from the Kingston Loop Line.

Twickenham – The next station towards London is Twickenham, so it could be that there may be something innovative here. Wikipedia says this about the future of this station.

The RFU has petitioned the government to improve the station to be ready to handle the increased use during the 2015 Rugby World Cup. Network Rail has consented to a plan to improve the station and the rolling stock, but progress has stalled because of disagreement between the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames council and some local residents.

I have now visited the area and it looks like trains will have to reverse at Twickenham.

Strawberry Hill


Hampton Wick



New Malden – How they get from here to Sutton, which is their next named station is open to speculation. The most likely route seems to be to go to Raynes Park and then turn south, but this gets all mixed up with Thameslink. Or is that deliberate, as there may be spare paths on the Sutton Loop and it gives a lot of interchange opportunities.

Raynes Park

Wimbledon – Having now visited the area, I feel that trains will stop at Wimbledon and then reverse direction to get on the Sutton Loop.

Wimbledon Chase – In common with many stations in this part of the line, the northbound and southbound tracks are separated by an island platform, so transferring between the Goblin Extension and Thameslink here will be very easy. And you can also change direction from north to south and vice-versa. It’s just like Canonbury on the North London Line, where passengers have a step-free reverse of direction, as I detailed here.

South Merton

Morden South

St. Helier

Sutton Common

West Sutton

Sutton – The route would then appear to go pretty straight to Norwood Junction.

Carshalton Beeches



West Croydon – This will interchange with the East London Line and Tramlink.

Norwood Junction – When Thameslink has arrived and settled in, this will be a major interchange station. After my visit to Brockley, I’m now pretty sure that the line goes via Crystal Palace to Peckham Rye for the Nunhead-Lewisham Link.

Crystal Palace – There is same platform interchange to and from Victoria and London Bridge, a step free interchange to the East London Line and a good cafe.

Gypsy Hill

West Norwood

Tulse Hill – There are connections here to Thameslink and London Bridge.

North Dulwich

East Dulwich

Peckham Rye – Here the route would take the Nunhead-Lewisham Link, then it should be plain sailing all the way to Bexleyheath.









Barnehurst – After here, the route turns West onto the North Kent Line towards London

Slade Green



Abbey Wood

So that completes the circle.

The Alternative Route

A second route across South London is also indicated between New Malden and Lewisham via Wimbledon and Peckham Rye. The stations could be as follows.

New Malden – Before here, use the previous route from Hounslow

Wimbledon – This is a major interchange to main line train services, the District Line and Tramlink

Haydons Road



Tulse Hill

North Dulwich

East Dulwich

Peckham Rye


Lewisham – After here, use the previous route to Abbey Wood

Points Raised

As with the Northern section of the route, listing the stations raises some important points.

1. Interchanges With Other Lines

This part of the line has interchanges to many other lines. You could put these on the list.

Brighton Main Line


District Line

Docklands Light Railway

East London Line

Hounslow Loop Line

Kingston Loop Line

North Kent Line

South Eastern Main Line

South Western Main Line



Waterloo to Reading Line

2. Twickenham

With a properly designed station, this could make getting to Twickenham much easier.

3. Freight

Although not as important as on the Northern section, Abbey Wood is on the North Kent Line, which is connected to HS1 and the Channel Tunnel. So could the enlarged Goblin be the key to getting freight between the North and the Continent?

Freight from the Continent would come through the Channel Tunnel, travel to Abbey Wood using HS1 and the North Kent Line and then cross the Thames to Barking, where they would take the Gospel Oak to Barking Line to the Midland Main Line, the West Coast Main Line or the Great Western Main Line.

High value cargo might even come all the way from the Far East by train across China, Russia and Europe, instead of by a slower ship.

Perishable freight like fruit from Spain and Southern Europe has also started to use the Channel Tunnel, so would we be seeing more of this, perhaps even taking this route to distribution centres like Daventry.

The possibilities for freight are endless and not just into the UK. For instance, according to this report, the UK exports 80% of the 1.5 million cars made. Travelling across Europe, you often see trainloads of new cars, but you don’t see to see them here.

And will containers arrive at the London Gateway from perhaps the Far East and America and then be transhipped into Europe via the new Thames Crossing and the Channel Tunnel?

The  Thames Crossing had better be a big one with the capacity for a large number of trains!

4. Unlocking South London

What these new routings do, is add lots of stations to the Underground map. So those unfamiliar with South London will find it easy to get to stations like for instance, Nunhead. Many a time, I’ve found visitors to South London completely lost in the area, as they understand the Tube map and can’t follow where they are in parts of the train network.

You also often don’t go to the right terminus station to get to your destination in the south, as the routes were designed with some form of sadistic twisted logic. What sane man, would think that to get to Dartford in the East, you’d go to Victoria to the West of the centre?

So will these lines unlock the secrets of the maze that is South London? In the same way as the East London Line of the Overground allows me to get easily to my friends in Anerley!

You can’t throw the current network out and start again, but you can add new routings, which make the system much more user-friendly.

You could claim that one of the main benefits of a completed Overground, Crossrail and Thameslink is that they make London’s railways easier to use for those who don’t know their Cricklewood from their Nunhead!

Summing Up

I probably haven’t got all this right, as I’m only using one paragraph of the report, an A-Z atlas of London and Wikipedia.

So don’t be surprised if I change this substantially as more information becomes available.










August 3, 2014 Posted by | Transport | , , | 1 Comment

A Divided City

London is a divided city and it has always been thus.

I am a North Londoner and can’t understand why anybody would want to live South of the Great Sewer. Compared to my childhood, it’s now grown up to be a river.

This is not just a white middle-class attitude, as I’ve been told by policemen, that criminals rarely commit crime on both sides of the river, and I’ve met several black South and North Londoners, who have my attitude to the other part of London.

In my childhood, the transport system made this divide a lot worse. We learned to duck and dive into the Underground and those in the South, learned how to get around using the Southern electrics, which to a North Londoner seem to have been laid out by the Devil to confuse outsiders.

It’s better now, with Thameslink, the Overground and the Victoria and Jubilee lines  adding extra connections between North and South London.

But one place, where the divide is still great is in the East. London has a housing shortage and two of the areas, where a large number of houses are to be built in the east, are Barking Riverside to the North of the Thames and Thamesmead to the South. The latter found its fame as the set for A Clockwork Orange and now surrounds the notorious Belmarsh Prison.

Both of these areas lack decent transport links.  Wikipedia has a section on transport for Thamesmead which says this.

Thamesmead’s location between the Thames and the South London escarpment limits rail transport and road access points. Thus Thamesmead has no underground or surface rail links. Most residents rely on bus services to reach the nearest rail stations.

Barking Riverside fares little better, according to this section in Wikipedia. Here’s the first bit.

Barking Riverside is connected to Barking, Ilford and Dagenham Dock by the East London Transit bus rapid transit service.

But at least the Gospel Oak to Barking Line is being extended to the houses at Riverside.

What was originally proposed was a new road bridge across the river called the Thames Gateway bridge, that would have originally opened in 2013.

But now in London’s Transport Plan for 2050, a rail tunnel is being proposed that links the Goblin at Barking Riverside to Abbey Wood station for Crossrail and the Kent lines, with an intermediate station at Thamesmead.

It will not be a low-cost option, as tunnelling isn’t a question of hiring a few navvies, so as the DLR extension to Woolwich Arsenal cost a couple of hundred million or so, we’re probably looking at a half billion pound project to connect the rail lines under the Thames.

But surely, if it improves the east of London and makes housing in Barking Riverside and Thamesmead more attractive, it surely must be high up the benefit cost scale.

August 3, 2014 Posted by | News, Transport | , , , , , | 3 Comments

A Summary Of London’s Transport Plans

I found this excellent summary on City AM.

London will be needing lots of railway, road and other engineers and specialists.

August 3, 2014 Posted by | Transport | | 2 Comments