The Anonymous Widower

Gibb Report – Cambridge Depot

The Gibb Report, looks in detail at GTR’s depot capacity and especially the stabling for Thameslink.

The report indicates particular problems at Cambridge.

The facility is currently unsuitable for 12 car fixed formation trains and the current trains have to be uncoupled to be accommodated.

Greater Anglia will have the following trains at Cambridge in their open-air depot.

All trains are fixed-formation and I suspect that Greater Anglia have a well-planned train parking philosophy, which could include.

  • Parking two five-car Aventras in a long ten/twelve-car siding.
  • Remote wake-up for the Class 720 and Class 745 trains as I discussed in Do Bombardier Aventras Have Remote Wake-Up?
  • Parking the odd Class 755 train, that will work services to Ipswich in one of the bay platforms.
  • Parking the Class 755 trains, that will work Norwich to Stansted, at the ends of the route.
  • Having a remote toilet servicing team for their trains.

But it would be difficult to fit in the following two trains per hour (tph) Thameslink services.

  • Cambridge to Brighton – Twelve-car Class 700 train
  • Cambridge to Maidstone East – Eight-car Class 700 train

Both services would be run all day, with journey times in excess of two hours, which probably means each service would need nine or ten trains.

GTR will have a need for their own depot as mixing eight and twelve car trains will just fill up Greater Anglia’s depot and I doubt they will be pleased.

The problem can’t be eased by running twelve-car trains to Maidstone East, as the Thameslink platform at that station is too short.

Although Maidstone East station may be redeveloped in the future and a twelve-car platform 3 could be incorporated.

This Google Map shows the layout of Maidstone East station.

Could a twelve-car pltform be squeezed in?

Six-car as opposed to eight-car trains may offer an alternative solution here.

Cambridge would be served by a twelve-car train, that was formed of two six-car units coupled together.

At Bromley South or Swanley station, the two trains would split, with one portion going to Maidstone East station and the other to another convenient station.

Returning North the trains would join up again and travel to Cambridge as a twelve-car train.

The advantages of this are as follows.

  • Two eight-car tph in the core are replaced by twelve-car trains.
  • Two eight-car Cambridge to London tph are replaced by twelve-car trains.
  • Another destination South of London gets awo six-car tph to Cambridge.

The only loser is Maidstone East station, which sees the train length of its two trains per hour to Cambridge reduced from eight-cars to six.

July 9, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Kent On The Cusp Of Change – Maidstone

The Kent On The Cusp Of Change article in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways talks about Kent and not surprisingly, the county town;Maidatone is mentioned several times.

The Medway Valley Line

The Medway Valley Line runs as its name suggests down the Medway Valley, from Strood station in the North to Maidstone WestPaddock Wood, and Tonbridge  stations in the South.

I took these pictures on the line.


  1. Strood station is undergoing a major upgrade, which the hoardings claim will be finished this year.
  2. The Medway Valley Line has its own termial platform in Strood station.
  3. The line is double-track all the way.
  4. The line is run as a community rail service.
  5. There were several level crossings on the route.
  6. There were several new housing estates visible from the train.

The line would appear to be well run and I suspect that in the next few yeas, services could be increased.

Currently, the service is a two trains per hout (tph) shuttle with an Peak Hour service between St. Pancras International and Maidstone West.

Plans exist for an all day Highspeed service between St. Pancras International and Maidstone West and this would mean three tph along the Medway Valley Line.

I do feel though that if a way could be found to run four tph on the route, that this would be very beneficial.


I walked between Maidstone West and Maidstone East stations buying lunch on the way in a cafe.

These pictures sum up my walk.

If I do the trip again, which is likely, I’d go to Maidstone East station first, as the walk would be dowbhill. It would also mean, I could pick up my gluten-free lunch in Marks and Spencer and eat it by the River Medway.

Not that the liver, bacon and vegetables was at all bad!

Maidstone East Station

I’ve discussed Maidstone East station before in this post called Maidstone East Station.

The two visits have left me with the impression, thatr the service from Maidstone East station is crap.

It will improve when Thameslink starts its two tph service to Cambridge, which will give the station four tph to and from London.

Two developments would really improve Maidstone East station.

Development of the station is promised, with Wikipedia saying this.

In November 2012, initial plans for the regeneration of Maidstone East Station were submitted to Maidstone Borough Council to determine whether an Environmental Impact Assessment was required. MBC concluded in December 2012 that due to the additional road traffic, an assessment would be appropriate. Plans include a new railway station, new large foodstore, other retail units, bar, cafe, commuter and retail parking (approx 1100 spaces) and associated landscaping. The proposed plan involves the demolition of the existing station ticket office, a disused hotel/bar, retail units opposite County Hall and the adjacent Royal Mail sorting and enquiry office which is due to transfer operations to a new site in Park Wood, Maidstone late 2012

Kent’s county town certainly needs a better station.

The other development would be to get rid of the Class 465 trains.

The one I got home was unreliable and according to fellow passengers, this is not uncommon.

But the speed it was keeping on the line to London was a measily 30 mph at times.

It was definitely, one that could be named a Notworker.

Hopefully the new franchise holder will obtain a new fleet of trains to kick the problem off the White Cliffs.


I learned a lot of the good and bad points about Southeastern today.

See Also

These are related posts.

To know more read Kent On The Cusp Of Change in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways.


July 6, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Kent On The Cusp Of Change – Thameslink

The Kent On The Cusp Of Change article in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways talks about Kent and Thameslink.

This is said.

Under the Thameslink plans, due to come in next May, are two trains per hour (tph) Maidstone East to Cambridge and 2 tph Rainham to Luton, while the longstanding Sevenoaks via Bat & Ball to Blackfriars service will be extended to Welwyn Garden City in the peaks.

The Rainham to Luton service effectively creates a four tph service through the Medway towns to Abbey Wood, Greenwich, London Bridge and beyond.

The Maidstone East to Cambridge service, also creates four tph between London and Otford.

Onward From Maidstone East

I do wonder if the powers that be, looked at extending the service to Maidstone East station to the well-connected Ashford International station.


  • With the opening of the Ashford Spurs in Spring 2018, South East London and a lot more of Kent would have good access to Continental services.
  • Thameslink would have a Southern access to Thanet to complement the Northern access at Rainham.
  • Stations on the Maidstone Line could get four tph.

As Maidstone East to Ashford International takes thirty minutes, I suspect the extra time needed, makes scheduling trains difficult.

On the other hand, the Class 700 trains, probably execute stops faster than the current trains.

Could Thameslink Serve Ebbsfleet International Station?

If the Fawkham Junction Link is reinstated, this is a possibility.

Could A Catford Interchange Improve Thameslink?

The Maidstone East and Sevenoaks services both go through Catford station, which is close to Catford Bridge station.

Transport for London have said several times, that they would like to create a consolidated Catford Interchange station.

If one were to be created, could there be a bit of tidying up of services through the area, in much the same way as Gatwick Airport station acts as an important interchange on the Brighton Main Line?

Could Thameslink Capacity Be Increased?

I feel that Thameslink’s decision to serve Maidstone East and Rainham stations is a good one, but I suspect there are strips of paper on the Timetabling Room floor with other Kent and Sussex stations on them, like Ashford International, Canterbury, Dover, Hastings and Uckfield.

I also think too, that there may be stations, where additional trains could be desirable.

So could the current twenty-four trains through the central core of Thameslink be increased?

I think the answer is probably in the affirmative, as signalling, driver aids and the drivers themselves will get better, as the system develops.

In this article in Rail Engineer entitled Crossrail – approaching the final stages, this is said.

When the new Elizabeth line opens, 24 trains per hour will operate in each direction through the centre of London. The new signalling system will incorporate Automatic Train Operation to support this service, with the capacity for higher frequency of 30 trains per hour in the future. As a consequence, Siemens is installing the Communications-Based Train Control system (CBTC). It is similar to one already successfully installed in Copenhagen, so expectations are high.

So could similar techniques be used in Thameslink to create another six paths an hour.

That would still only be one train every two minutes.

I suspect too, capacity could be increased by lengthening some trains from eight to twelve cars.


Thameslink is very tied up with the Southeastern franchise.

See Also

These are related posts.

To know more read Kent On The Cusp Of Change in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways.

June 29, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Maidstone East Station

Maidstone East station is one of the two Eastern terminal stations on a proposed South London Outer Orbital 

These are pictures I took of the station as I passed through.

This Google Map shows the station layout.

Maidstone East Station

Maidstone East Station

It’s certainly a station, with a lot of land wasted for car parking.

Unlike the new Rochester station, which I wrote about in Rochester’s New Station, it is still very much as it has been for years. However development is promised.

At least the station is well connected according to Services in Wikipedia.

Under the South London Orbital plans, it would get two trains per hour (tph) to Swanley, Bromley South and across to Woking to go with the current 2 tph services to Victoria and Thameslink in the Peak.

So the South London Orbital would give at least 4 tph or a turn-up-and-go service to Swanley and Bromley South.

I think that whatever happens at Maidstone East station, in ten years time, the station will have been transformed in terms of buildings, facilities and train services.

I have just run Google Maps over the route between Maidstone East and the next major station towards London; Swanley. Although only two tracks with eight stations in between, it looks the sort of line, where some speed improvement would be possible.

June 8, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , | 1 Comment