The Anonymous Widower

HS2 Completes First Tunnel Cross Passages

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release from High Speed Two.

This is the first paragraph.

As the tunnelling machines under the Chilterns approach the four-mile mark, HS2 completes the first of thirty-eight underground connections between the northbound and southbound tunnels.

This video from High Speed Two, shows the construction of the cross tunnels.

There appears to have been a resurgence of traditional tunneling methods, albeit it with the assistance of modern mechanised tools.

In London recently, these tunnels have been dug without the use of expensive tunnel boring machines.

  • The running and station tunnels for the Bank Station Upgrade.
  • The tunnel for the Paddington Bakerloo Line Link.

I suspect there will a lot more dug traditionally in the future.

Bank And Moorgate

The map from cartometro.com shows the plethora of lines at Moorgate and Bank stations.

Note.

  1. Moorgate station is served by the Circle, Elizabeth, Hammersmith & City, Metropolitan, Northern and Northern City Lines.
  2. Bank station is served by the Central, Circle, District, Northern and Waterloo & City Lines.
  3. Bank station is also one terminus of the DLR.

I believe it would be possible to dig a long pedestrian tunnel with a travelator, between Moorgate and Bank stations under Moorgate, which connects the two stations.

City Thameslink Station And St. Paul’s

I discussed this in A Pedestrian Connection Between City Thameslink Station And St. Paul’s Tube Station.

August 30, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Moorgate Station’s Facade At The New Entrance – 17th June 2022

These pictures show, the  new facade of the Moorgate station’s new entrance.

 

This entrance is in addition to the original entrance on Moorgate and it has stairs and lifts to the Circle, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan Lines and a giant escalator and a lift to the Elizabeth Line.

It does look as though, the construction of the offices on top of the entrance is coming to a completion. Two escalators will be fitted in the space guarded by the green hoarding to give access to the offices and the walkways, that will lead to the Barbican.

 

 

June 17, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 4 Comments

London Underground: Safety Checks Cause Metropolitan Line Disruption

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the BBC.

These are the first three paragraphs.

Urgent safety checks are being carried out on trains running on the Metropolitan line section of the Tube, Transport for London (TfL) has said.

TfL is warning of severe disruption as engineers check over the entire fleet of trains – which also run on the Circle and Hammersmith & City lines.

The trains were only introduced in 2010, but TfL said a fault had been identified on some of their wheels.

Obviously, safety is a priority and it will take some time to check all of the trains.

I have used these trains several times in the last few days and there are extended intervals between services.

Could Crossrail Come To The Rescue?

Consider.

  • Crossrail has interchanges with the Circle, District, Hammersmith & City and the Metropolitan Lines at Whitechapel, Liverpool Street, Moorgate, Farringdon, Paddington and Ealing Broadway.
  • Crossrail trains have been running between Paddington and Abbey Wood for a few months.
  • Crossrail has good connections to the Central and Jubilee Lines.

Perhaps, opening Crossrail at a lower frequency may take the pressure off the system?

 

April 28, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

London Underground Trains Are Getting Faster

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Ian Visits.

A long-running signalling upgrade on the London Underground is starting to show results as the latest timetables show faster journeys on some trips. The four lines modernisation project is replacing antiquated signals across the entire sub-surface part of the Underground – that’s the District, Circle, Metropolitan, and the Hammersmith & City lines.

Iam then goes on to detail some of the timing improvements.

In Between Liverpool Street And Wimbledon Park Stations, I note that I think station dwell times are getting shorter.

September 16, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Moorgate Station’s Old Entrance Has Now Reopened

I went to Moorgate station today, as the old entrance has now reopened with lifts and stairs to the sub-surface lines.

Note.

  1. The stairs down to the tunnel connecting the Northern Line and Crossrail look a bit steep.
  2. The ceiling design in the entrance lobby.
  3. The escalators down to Crossrail at the Southern side of the entrance lobby.
  4. The gate line is very wide.

The oversite development, which is still being built, will surely tidy up the entrance.

In The New Lift To The Northern Line At Moorgate Station, I showed and described this visualisation.

Note.

  1. The Northern City Line is shown in purple.
  2. The double escalator going down to between the two terminal platforms of the Northern City Line.
  3. The Northern Line is shown in black and the two platforms are underneath the Northern City Line.
  4. The Northern Line tunnels cross over the top of the Crossrail running tunnels.

The dark green tunnel with the right angle bend at the top of the map, is the pedestrian tunnel that connects the Northern Line and Crossrail.

The tunnel will be accessed from the Northern line platforms by the lift or the stairs, shown in the first two pictures.

Alternatively, you will be able to take he rat-up-the-drainpipe route to the surface from the Northern Line, that I described in Up From The Depths At Moorgate Station. That route is escalators all the way and then the lift in the pictures to the main entrance lobby.

On August 1st 2021, I finally took the lift from the Westbound Hammersmith & City, Circle and Metropolitan platform to the new ticket hall and took these pictures.

This is a general view of the lift.

This is the information plate on the outside of the lift at the sub-surface platform level.

It shows two lifts from the Sub-service platforms to the new ticket hall.

This picture shows the lift buttons on the outside of the lift at the sub-surface platform level.

It appears you can go up and down.

The down must mean that there is a level below the sub-surface platform level.

These are the buttons inside the lift.

It appears that there is a level below the platforms, which passengers can use.

Although it is not named on the plate, the lift must connect to the right-angled tunnel to the Northern and Northern City Lines.

  • It does appear that of the two lifts between the new ticket hall and the sub-surface platform level, only one accesses the connecting tunnel.
  • It might also mean that passengers in wheelchairs will need to use two lifts between the Northern Line and the Eastbound sub-surface platform.

I did see another tunnel from the lift on the Westbound sub-surface platform, stretching to the East.

Let’s hope I’m wrong or it will be sorted before opening.

Moorgate station appears to be getting extremely complicated.

 

July 6, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ickenham Station Has Gone Step-Free

I wrote West London Stations To Be Made Step-Free in January 2018.

One of the stations on the list; Ickenham station, is now step-free.

These pictures showed the station, when I visited the station in early 2018.

And these show it, after the addition of step-free access.

It is a practical rather than architectural lift installation incorporating new walkways connecting the two lifts and the main entrance to the station.

  • Unlike many Underground stations, Ickenham station, does not appear to be Listed.
  • The cladding for the installation, appears to be in a slate-grey steel.
  • The stairs are still there for the agile.

As the pictures show the walkways are open to the elements, but there is enough headroom to use an umbrella.

June 26, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Would A Mutant Many-Parent Child Help To Solve London’s Transport Problems?

London needs to increase the capacity of its public transport system, as the City continues to get larger and larger.

Current Major Projects

There are only three major rail projects ongoing in London at the present time.

The Bank Station Upgrade

The Bank Station Upgrade appears to be progressing well, albeit perhaps it’s a bit late due to the pandemic.

It is a complex project and from what I have heard and observed, it has been well designed and planned.

The Barking Riverside Extension

As with the Bank Station Upgrade the Overground extension to the new Barking Riverside station, appears to be going reasonably well.

But compared to that project, it is a relatively simple project, built mainly in the open air, with no tunneling.

Crossrail

Crossrail is in trouble, after what many believe was a very good tunnelling phase of the project.

But then tunnels under London usually seem to go well. I can remember the Victoria Line tunnelling and many other under London since the 1960s and all of these tunnels seem to have been dug without trouble. As I write, there don’t seem to be any tunneling problems with the Thames Tideway Tunnel.

Crossrail now has been reduced to a series of station builds and rebuilds, some of which are as large as the Bank Station Upgrade, with other ongoing projects like the testing of trains and systems.

So why are some of these stations running late in their delivery?

If you walk along the route of Crossrail in the City of London and through Clerkenwell and the West End, it is one massive building side as developers raise massive clusters of new developments around and above the Crossrail stations.

The picture shows Farrington station’s Eastern entrance, with a new development on top.

This one wasn’t a big one, but it went up in record time.

These buildings are often funded by Sovereign Wealth Funds, who want their buildings finished ASAP and as they have bottomless pockets, they are prepared to pay more to get the builders and tradesmen they need.

And where did they get the workers from? Other projects, including Crossrail.

This problem happened in Aberdeen at the height of the oil boom in the last century.

I also think that Brexit worsened the problem, as workers from mainland EU moved to large projects closer to home, like Stuttgart 21 and the new Berlin Brandenburg airport, that were both very much in trouble and could have been offering premium salaries as well!

The solution would have been to phase developments so that the limited pool of workers was not exhausted.

But that probably wouldn’t have suited the developers and politicians for all sorts of reasons.

  • An uncompleted building doesn’t bring in money and jobs.
  • Early completion must improve chances of letting the building.
  • Delaying the building would probably have meant fewer holidays for politicians in exotic locations.

Hopefully, a comprehensive enquiry into the lateness of Crossrail will provide answers.

High Speed Two

High Speed Two is to my mind a London local project. But only in a secondary way!

  • Rebuilding Euston station will improve Underground connections and interchange at Euston and Euston Square stations.
  • It is claimed by High Speed Two, that the rebuilt Euston station will create 16000 jobs and 2200 homes.
  • High Speed Two will enable massive development at Old Oak Common, with tens of thousands of homes and jobs.
  • Old Oak Common station will be a very important rail hub in North-West London.

With seventeen trains per hour (tph) between Euston and Old Oak Common will High Speed Two attract local traffic?

  • I suspect High Speed Two between Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly and between Birmingham Interchange and Birmingham Curzon Street will also attract local traffic.
  • I’ve used TGVs between Nice and Antibes.
  • Tourists might visit, just like they did and still do at the Olympic Park.
  • Many Londoners will join High Speed Two at Old Oak Common.

Some wag will suggest putting it on the Tube Map. But is it such a stupid idea?

Where Does London Need More Rail Services?

Having lived in London on and off for over seventy years, I feel the worst areas for rail links are probably.

  • North West London
  • South East London
  • South Central London between Wimbledon and Croydon.
  • South West London

Note.

  1. Over the years, there is no doubt that East and North London have improved considerably, with the development of the East London, North London and Gospel Oak to Barking Lines.
  2. Thameslink has been improved in North London and now it is being supported with improvements to the Northern City Line. Both routes now have new Siemens trains, which give a whole new dimension to using ironing-boards as seats.
  3. Crossrail will produce major improvements in West, East and South East London.
  4. Building of a new Penge Interchange station, which I wrote about in Penge Interchange could improve routes to and from South East London.
  5. Hopefully the work in recent years at Waterloo will improve suburban services out of Waterloo. In An Analysis Of Waterloo Suburban Services Proposed To Move To Crossrail 2, I showed that four tph could be run to Chessington South, Epsom, Hampton Court and Shepperton stations.

It looks like North West and South Central London are missing out.

How Can Services Be Improved In North West London?

There are radial routes from the centre of London to the suburbs.

Starting from the North and going to the West, there are the following lines.

When I used to live at Cockfosters as a child,  to visit my many cousins in North West London, there was no alternative but to use a bus and take well over an hour each way.

There are now some circular rail routes in London but nothing in the North West of the capital.

The Dudding Hill Line And The West London Orbital Railway

But there is the little-used freight route called Dudding Hill Line.

  • It runs between Cricklewood on the Midland Main Line and Acton Central on the North London Line.
  • It is four miles of double-track railway.

This YouTube video shows a cab ride from Acton to Cricklewood.

Plans exist to turn it into the West London Orbital Railway, which will run two services.

  • West Hampstead and Hounslow via Cricklewood, Neasden, Harlesden, Old Oak Common Lane, Acton Central, South Acton, Lionel Road, Brentford, Syon Lane and Isleworth
  • Hendon and Kew Bridge via Brent Cross West, Neasden, Harlesden, Old Oak Common Lane, Acton Central, South Acton

Note.

  1. The proposed frequency of both services is four tph.
  2. There would be some stations to be built, but the track exists.
  3. There would be no new tunnels.
  4. The route is technically feasible.
  5. The route would connect West London to High Speed Two.
  6. There would be little disruption whilst it was built.
  7. The services could be run by dual-voltage battery-electric trains charged on the electrification at both ends of the route.
  8. The scheme represents a high value for money, with a benefit-cost ratio (BCR) of 2.2.

On the other hand, the scheme has two serious problems, as far as the current London Mayor is concerned.

  • Transport for London has no money, partly because of London’s Fare Freeze.
  • The project is not in South London.

This important and value-for-money project will not be built, whilst Sadiq Khan is still Mayor of London.

Harlesden Interchange

I believe that if we get the interchanges right on the West London Orbital Railway correct we can do things like.

  • Increase the benefit cost ratio.
  • Link the route to South London to make the Mayor a bit happier about the North London Scheme.

This Google Map shows Harlesden station.

Note.

  1. The Bakerloo Line/Watford DC Line running North-West/South-East through Harlesden station.
  2. The West Coast Main Line in the Southern section of the map.
  3. The Dudding Hill Line running North-South across the map.

Platforms will be built on the Dudding Hill Line to connect that would probably be new or extended platforms in the current Harlesden station to enable interchange between the West London Orbital and the Watford DC Lines.

I also think there is a possibility that platforms could be added to the slow tracks of the West Coast Main Line, so that suburban services into London Euston can also connect to the West London Orbital Line.

It would also enable a connection between Southern’s Clapham Junction and Milton Keynes service and the West London Orbital Railway.

Looking at this from various angles, I think that an architect good at designing three-dimensional structures could develop a quality Harlesden Interchange station.

Neasden Interchange

Like Harlesden, Neasden is another possibility for a comprehensive interchange.

This Google Map shows Neasden station.

Note.

  1. There are a lot of lines going through Neasden station.
  2. The Dudding Hill Line goes across the South-East corner of the map.
  3. There is plenty of space in the area.

This map from cartometro.com shows the lines in the area.

Note.

  1. The Dudding Hill Line is indicated by the former Dudding Hill station.
  2. The red tracks are Metropolitan Line tracks.
  3. The silver tracks are Jubilee Line tracks.
  4. The Southerly pair of lines through Neasden and Dollis Hill stations are Chiltern’s lines into Marylebone.
  5. The Chiltern tracks divide to the West of Neasden station, with the Aylesbury line following the other tracks and the Chiltern Main Line diverging to the West.
  6. London’s largest Underground Depot at Neasden, lies to the North-West in an area of London noted for few merits with the North Circular Road passing through.

I wonder, if the station and the depot offers a unique opportunity to offer large scale additions to London’s housing stock over the top of a rebuilt station and depot.

This Google Map shows the wider area.

Note.

  1. Much of the depot appears to be open-air stabling for trains.
  2. The North Circular Road passes North-South between the depot and Neasden station.
  3. The Dudding Hill Line cuts across the South-East corner of the map.
  4. This corner of the map is labelled as Dudden Hill.
  5. According to Wikipedia, Dudding Hill is considered a more genteel spelling of Dudden Hill and could be as old as 1544.

It looks as if it would be relatively easy to develop over the top of the depot to create housing, industrial or commercial properties.

But why stop there and cover both the North Circular Road and the six tracks through Neasden station?

Neasden station could be rebuilt into a station with platforms on the following lines.

  • Metropolitan Line
  • Jubilee Line
  • Chiltern Lines
  • Dudding Hill Lines

Note.

  1. I estimate that Chiltern has a train about every six minutes, so some could stop.
  2. There might be space for a bay platform for Chiltern.

Neasden could be a major housing and transport hub.

  • There could be large amounts of parking.
  • Road access would be good.
  • It would have good rail connections.
  • It could have a bus interchange.
  • London needs housing.

It might even be an alternative to Chiltern’s plan for a West Hampstead Interchange.

The Mayor of London, Transport for London and the Borough of Brent need to be bold!

Improvements To Chiltern’s Routes

Chiltern Railways have some plans that could improve services in North West London.

Using The Acton-Northolt Line

Wikipedia says this about using the Acton-Northolt Line to access new platforms at Old Oak Common station.

Upgrading the Acton–Northolt line (formerly the “New North Main Line”) to new platforms at Old Oak Common. This upgrade will also extend to London Paddington to increase capacity on the Chiltern Main Line as there is no room to expand the station at Marylebone.

This scheme has merit.

  • The platforms would be connected to the Chiltern Main Line along the route of a partly-disused railway.
  • The route could be double-tracked.
  • There must be space for at least two new platforms.
  • The new platforms could easily handle four tph.
  • There may be a case for some new stations.

The scheme could add valuable extra capacity for Chiltern.

A Chiltern Metro

Wikipedia says this about a  proposed metro service between Marylebone and West Ruislip stations.

  • The Metro would have a frequency of four tph.
  • It would call at Wembley Stadium, Sudbury & Harrow Road, Sudbury Hill Harrow, Northolt Park and South Ruislip.
  • The service would require a reversing facility at West Ruislip.
  • There would need to be passing loops at Sudbury Hill Harrow, and  Wembley Stadium.

Given that the Chiltern Metro was first proposed over a decade ago, perhaps the concept could be increased in scope.

  • Housing and other developments along the route may suggest that a station further out like High Wycombe might be a better terminal.
  • ERTMS in-cab digital signalling is likely to be installed at some time, which would decrease headways between trains and allow more services.
  • Electrification is likely in some form before 2040 and this will improve train performance.
  • If Neasden station were to be rebuilt, as a comprehensive transport and residential development, I believe that this Metro service should also call at Neasden, as it would complement the West London Orbital Railway.

I believe that a review of the Chiltern Metro may mean, that an improved version is worth building.

Improvements To The Milton Keynes And Clapham Junction Service

I feel that this service could be key in improving services between North London and South London via the West London Line and High Speed Two’s station at Old Oak Common.

Currently, this service is as follows.

  • It runs between Milton Keynes and Clapham Junction stations.
  • It has a frequency of one tph.
  • It calls at Bletchley, Leighton Buzzard, Tring, Berkhamsted, Hemel Hempstead, Watford Junction, Harrow & Wealdstone, Wembley Central, Shepherd’s Bush, Kensington (Olympia), West Brompton and Imperial Wharf stations.
  • The service used to extend to South Croydon via Wandsworth Common, Balham, Streatham Common, Norbury, Thornton Heath, Selhurst and East Croydon.
  • It uses Class 377 trains.
  • It shares parts of the route with the London Overground.

I also think it has various issues and questions with respect to the future.

  • The Class 377 trains are only 100 mph units, whereas the outer suburban trains on the West Coast Main Line are 110 mph Class 350 trains, which will soon be replaced by 110 mph Class 730 trains. Do the slower trains cause timetabling problems?
  • Is one tph enough?
  • The route doesn’t serve High Speed Two at Old Oak Common station.
  • Is the service run by the right operator?
  • What is the ideal Southern terminal?

These are my thoughts on the various issues.

The Service As A North-South Link

A friend, who lives in South London has told me, that if you go to an event at Wembley stadium the route is busy.

On the other hand, I’ve used it at midday on a Tuesday and found the trains empty.

But developed properly it could connect the following.

  • Milton Keynes Central
  • Bletchley for the East West Rail Link
  • Watford for the West Coast Main Line to the North
  • Wembley Central for Wembley Stadium and other entertainments
  • Willesden Junction for the North London Line
  • Hythe Road for High Speed Two, Crossrail and the Great Western Railway
  • Shepherd’s Bush for the shopping.
  • Clapham Junction for most of South London and the South of England

It would be a very useful cross-London route to complement Thameslink and the East London Line.

The Frequency

The current Milton Keynes and Clapham Junction has a frequency of one tph.

This may be enough for some parts of the route, as other services also provide services.

But many would argue, that perhaps South of Watford Junction, the service needs to be increased to connect the area to Old Oak Common and Clapham Junction.

I feel that High Speed Two, Crossrail and the Great Western Railway give so much connectivity, that between Clapham Junction and Willesden Junction needs a frequency of at least eight tph.

As the North London Line and the Watford DC Line are working at a frequency of four tph, this could indicate that a four tph direct service Watford Junction and Clapham Junction be ideal. Perhaps, it could continue North to Milton Keynes with a frequency of two tph.

The Trains

I am absolutely certain, that the full service needs to be operated by dual voltage trains, that are capable of running at 110 mph.

The Class 350/1 trains of West Midlands Trains would probably be ideal for the full service.

  • They are dual voltage trains.
  • They are 110 mph trains.
  • They have a long distance interior.

They are being replaced with new Class 730 trains, so would be available.

If some services were running only as far North as Watford Junction, these could be either Class 378 or Class 710 trains of the London Overground.

The Connection To The West London Line And High Speed Two

This map from Wikipedia by Cnbrb shows the latest iteration of the lines at Old Oak Common station.

Note.

  1. The green route is taken by the Milton Keynes and Clapham Junction trains.
  2. The bright blue is High Speed Two.
  3. The purple is Crossrail.
  4. The orange is the Overground
  5. Hythe Road station is proposed for the West London Line to connect to Old Oak Common station for High Speed Two.
  6. Hythe Road station will have a bay platform to turn trains from the South.
  7. Old Oak Common Lane station is proposed for the North London Line to connect to Old Oak Common station for High Speed Two.

But where is the connection between the Milton Keynes and Clapham Junction service and Old Oak Common station for High Speed Two?

  • Access from the South is not a problem as the Overground can be used to Hythe Road station.
  • Extra services from the South can be run to and from the bay platform at Hythe Road station.
  • Access from the East is not a problem as the Overground can be used to Hythe Road station.
  • How do passengers go between say Wembley Central and Heathrow?

In addition for access from the West is the Overground can be used to Old Oak Common Lane station.

But as things stand at the moment the Milton Keynes and Clapham Junction service bypasses Hythe Road station and the only ways to go from Milton Keynes to Old Oak Common station for either High Speed Two, Crossrail or the Great Western is to do one of the following.

  • Change to the Watford DC Line at Watford Junction, Harrow & Wealdstone or Wembley Central and then change to the Overground at Willesden Junction for either Old Oak Common Lane or Hythe Road station.
  • Continue South to Shepherd’s Bush station, cross over to the other platform and then come back to Hythe Road station.
  • Go via Euston station. OK for High Speed Two, but not for Crossrail or the Great Western.

They cannot be serious!

I hope that there is a cunning plan to enable the Milton Keynes and Clapham Junction service to connect.

Whilst on the subject of connections at Old Oak Common, where is the promised connection of Crossrail to the West Coast Main Line?

Were all these connections just kicked into the long grass and quietly forgotten, as they were deemed too difficult and/or expensive?

I think serious questions need to be asked about the design of Crossrail and High Speed Two at Old Oak Common.

Why weren’t Crossrail and High Speed Two designed to connect directly to the London Overground at Willesden Junction station perhaps by the use of a North South people mover serving the following lines?

  • Bakerloo, Watford DC, West Coast Main and West London Orbital Lines at a rebuilt Harlesden station.
  • London Overground at the high-level Willesden Junction station.
  • High Speed Two
  • Crossrail and the Great Western Railway
  • The new Chiltern platforms.
  • Central Line at East Acton station.

Note.

  1. Hythe Road and Old Oak Common stations would not be needed.
  2. The Milton Keynes and Clapham Junction service would call additionally at the rebuilt Harlesden station.

The current design of Old Oak Common stinks like a horse designed by a committee!

The Northern Terminal

I suggested earlier that some trains use Watford Junction and others use Milton Keynes Central.

Both stations have the capacity and the connectivity.

The Southern Terminal

In the last ten years, South Croydon, East Croydon and Clapham Junction have been used as the Southern terminal.

Thameslink seems to have chosen its various terminals to satisfaction of the travelling public, so perhaps the same method or personnel should be used.

The Operator

The Gibb Report said that this service should be transferred to the London Overground and I wrote about this proposal in Gibb Report – East Croydon – Milton Keynes Route Should Be Transferred To London Overground.

This is one suggestion, but I do wonder, if it should be transferred to West Midlands Trains and run in conjunction with their West Coast Main Line services.

  • The service needs 110 mph trains.
  • Timetabling and operation should be easier.
  • London Overground trains don’t have a long-distance interior.

On the other hand, trains running between Watford Junction and Clapham Junction would probably be better if they were London Overground trains.

Conclusion

I believe that by using the current network and some modern trains and signalling, the passenger services to the West of the capital can be substantially improved.

 

 

 

 

May 1, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Whitechapel Station – 29th December 2020

I took these pictures as I passed through Whitechapel station.

Note.

  1. The platforms for the Metropolitan and District Lines seem to be almost complete.
  2. New lighting and seating has been installed.

The stairs down to the platforms from the street, can be seen behind one of the hoardings.

January 19, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 1 Comment

Could Metropolitan Line Trains Run Between Uxbridge In The West And Barking/Upminster In The East?

I read somewhere in Wikipedia, that Transport for London (TfL) were thinking of extending Uxbridge Branch trains on the Metropolitan Line from Aldgate to Barking and/or Upminster stations.

Current Frequencies Between Wembley Park And Upminster Stations

These are the Off Peak frequencies on the various sections of the route in trains per hour (tph)

Wembley Park To Baker Street

  • 2 tph – Amersham to Aldgate
  • 2 tph – Chesham to Aldgate
  • 8 tph – Uxbridge to Aldgate
  • 4 tph – Watford to Baker Street

This gives a total of 16 tph

Baker Street To Liverpool Street

  • 2 tph – Amersham to Aldgate
  • 2 tph – Chesham to Aldgate
  • 8 tph – Uxbridge to Aldgate
  • 6 tph – Hammersmith to Barking
  • 6 tph – Circle Line

This gives a total of 24 tph

Aldgate East to Barking

  • 6 tph – Hammersmith to Barking
  • 6 tph – Richmond to Upminster
  • 6 tph-  Ealing Broadway to Upminster
  • 3 tph – Wimbledon to Barking

This gives a total of 21 tph

Barking to Upminster

  • 6 tph – Richmond to Upminster
  • 6 tph – Ealing Broadway to Upminster

This gives a total of 12 tph

Current Frequencies Between Hammersmith And Baker Street

I’ll add this, in case I need it later.

  • 6 tph – Hammersmith to Barking
  • 6 tph – Circle Line

This gives a total of 12 tph

Current District Line Frequencies Between Hammersmith And Upminster

These are the Off Peak frequencies on the various sections of the route.

Hammersmith to South Kensington

  • 6 tph – Richmond to Upminster
  • 6 tph – Ealing Broadway to Upminster

This gives a total of 12 tph

South Kensington to Tower Hill

  • 6 tph – Richmond to Upminster
  • 6 tph – Ealing Broadway to Upminster
  • 3 tph – Wimbledon to Barking
  • 6 tph – Circle Line

This gives a total of 21 tph

Aldgate East to Barking

  • 6 tph – Hammersmith to Barking
  • 6 tph – Richmond to Upminster
  • 6 tph-  Ealing Broadway to Upminster
  • 3 tph – Wimbledon to Barking

This gives a total of 21 tph

Barking to Upminster

  • 6 tph – Richmond to Upminster
  • 6 tph – Ealing Broadway to Upminster

This gives a total of 12 tph

Four Lines Modification

The Four Line Modification is a project to upgrade the following lines.

  • Circle Line
  • District Line
  • Hammersmith & City Line
  • Metropolitan Line

New S7 and S8 Stock trains have been delivered and new track and drainage has been installed, but the biggest change will be in the new signalling. TfLsays this abut the new signalling.

Work to install a new signalling and control system began in summer 2016. This will eventually allow the trains to be driven automatically, with a train operator in the cab to open and close the doors. The train operator will be responsible for managing customer information and safety.

Similar technology introduced in recent years on the Jubilee and Northern lines improved performance. The new signalling system allows trains to be run closer together, meaning a more frequent service and shorter waiting times, allowing more people to be carried. This new technology will enable us to reduce delays and improve reliability.

If 32 tph can be run on sections of the four lines, it is an impressive upgrade of capacity.

Currently the frequencies are.

  • Wembley Park to Baker Street – 16 tph
  • Baker Street to Liverpool Street – 24 tph
  • Aldgate East to Barking – 21 tph
  • Barking to Upminster – 12 tph

For completeness these frequencies will be added.

Hammersmith to Baker Street – 12 tph

Note

  1. The frequencies are all at least eight tph below the maximum future operating frequency.
  2. The busiest section is between Baker Street and Liverpool Street stations.
  3. The frequency on the two end sections of the Northern East-West section between Hammersmith and Upminster stations is only 12 tph.

It looks like TfL have scope to increase the capacity on the four lines.

Are The Circle/District Line Platforms At Edgware Road Station At Maximum Capacity?

Currently, the following services terminate at Edgware Road station.

As there are only two platforms to turn the twelve tph, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone told me, that Edgware Road station was at maximum capacity.

If this is the case, then no more trains can be run on the Circle Line, without reducing the frequency to Wimbledon, unless the station were to be rebuilt.

This Google Map shows the station.

And this map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines through Edgware Road and Baker Street stations.

Edgware Road station lies in a cutting, in the midst of some very expensive real estate.

  • It is not step-free.
  • According to the carto.metro.free.fr map, there used to be or still is a siding or platform to the South of the current four platforms.
  • The junctions to the West of the stations are complicated.
  • As trains often wait for a few minutes in the station, I suspect it is not operationally efficient.

Could at some time in the future, the station be rebuilt?

  • The East-West services might go straight through in two Northern platforms.
  • The junction to the West of the station would be simplified, with no crossing of tracks.
  • Three terminal platforms could be built for trains coming from the South, which would allow an increase in services.
  • Hopefully, the East-West and terminating services could be separated and wouldn’t cross each other.
  • Development of tower blocks over the top would provide some funds for the new station.

Would it be possible to increase Circle Line services to ten tph?

Frequencies along the route would be as follows.

  • Baker Street to Liverpool Street – 28 tph
  • Tower Hill to South Kensington – 25 tph
  • High Street Kensington to Edgware Road – 16 tph

My scheduling nous says yes! I also feel, that using good project planning, the station could be built without disrupting services.

Baker Street Issues

Is Aldgate Station At Maximum Capacity?

Currently, the following services terminate at Aldgate station.

  • 2 tph from Amersham
  • 2 tph from Chesham
  • 8 tph from Uxbridge

As there are only two platforms to turn the twelve tph, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone told me, that Aldgate station was at maximum capacity.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines at Aldgate station.

Note

  1. The two platforms at Aldgate station are sandwiched between the two Circle Line tracks.
  2. The platforms are curved, which makes step-free access difficult.

I suspect fitting in three straight platforms and full step-free access in the existing station will be very difficult.

This Google Map shows the general area around Aldgate station.

Certainly South of Aldgate High Street, there seems to be a site that could be ripe for development.

Are the District and Circle Lines underneath?

In a comment to this post, Melvyn says that the station could be redeveloped. He said this.

I did read a proposal to make Aldgate accessible linked to property development so this would mean a redesign of the station which could lead to removal of one of the terminal tracks.

I think I will conclude, that whatever happens at Aldgate station, there is no way, the station can handle more than twelve tph.

Could Extra Trains Be Turned At Barking?

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows Barking station and the sidings to the East.

If the eight tph from Uxbridge turned back at Barking, that would mean that seventeen tph would need to be handled at the station.

I’m fairly certain, that this number of trains could be turned at Barking.

It is also worth noting in the map, the cross-platform interchange with c2c.

Could Extra Trains Be Turned At Upminster?

Upminster station has a depot with an impressive maze of sidings to the East.

As the station also has three platforms for District Line trains, I believe the station can handle more than the twelve tph, that it does now!

Increasing The Core Frequency

Suppose extra trains were to be run between Baker Street and Liverpool Street stations.

Ideally, eight extra tph would need to be run to use the maximum capacity of the route.

Where Would The Extra Trains Go In The West?

Extra trains could possibly be run to Hammersmith station, as the three-platform station can probably handle more trains than the twelve tph it does now.

If Edgware Road station is at maximum capacity, then no more Circle Line trains could be run.

But with a rebuild of Edgware Road station in the future, would allow perhaps up to an extra four tph on the Circle Line.

But there could be a few more Hammersmith & City Line services.

There would also be the possibility of more Metropolitan Line services to Amersham, Chesham Uxbridge and Watford stations.

Where Would The Extra Trains Go In The East?

Consider.

  • There are four bay platforms at Moorgate station,but are they currently the wrong side of the important Liverpool Street station.
  • Moorgate station is being rebuilt for Crossrail and this may open up possibilities for using the bay platforms.
  • Aldgate station is at full capacity.
  • Extra trains can’t take the Circle Line as Edgware Road station is at frill capacity.
  • With a rebuild of Edgware Road station, it might be possible to add four tph to the Circle Line.

So I come to the conclusion, that some extra services must go on to Barking and/or Upminster.

A Possible Timetable

If I assume the extra eight tph go all the way between Wembley Park and Upminster, this gives the following frequencies along the line.

  • Wembley Park to Baker Street – 24 tph
  • Baker Street to Liverpool Street – 32 tph
  • Aldgate East to Barking – 29 tph
  • Barking to Upminster – 20 tph

The terminals of the various services could be shared between Aldgate and Upminster.

I also suspect, that the new signalling will allow twelve tph instead of the current eight tph to be terminated at Baker Street station.

Uxbridge To Barking/Upminster Timings

These are the timings for various section of the route.

  • Uxbridge to Baker Street – 38 minutes
  • Baker Street to Liverpool Street – 13 minutes
  • Liverpool Street to Barking – 25 minutes
  • Barking to Upminster – 18 minutes

This means that Uxbridge to Upminster could take 94 minutes, with Uxbridge to Barking taking 76 minutes.

These may translate into the following round-trips.

  • Uxbridge and Upminster – Four hours, which would need 32 trains.
  • Uxbridge and Barking – Three hours, which would need 24 trains.

The current service between Uxbridge and Aldgate has a round trip of two hours, which needs 16 trains.

It would appear that if Uxbridge services go to an alternative terminal, then Barking would be a better choice.

Conclusion

It looks like, that it is very likely, that Metropolitan Line trains will run as far as Barking and/or Upminster stations.

December 17, 2018 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 7 Comments

Thoughts On The Lateness Of Crossrail

This article on the BBC is entitled Crossrail Delay: New London Line Will Open In Autumn 2019.

This is the first paragraph.

London’s £15bn Crossrail project is to open nine months after its scheduled launch to allow more time for testing.

I spent most of my working life, writing software for the planning and costing of large projects and despite never having done any serious project management in anger, I have talked to many who have, both in the UK and around the world.

So what are my thoughts?

Crossrail Is A Highly-Complex Project

The project involves the following.

  • A 21 km double-track tunnel under London.
  • New Class 345 trains
  • Four different signalling systems.
  • Rebuilt stations at West Drayton, Hayes & Harlington, Southall, West Ealing, Ealing Broadway. Acton Main Line, Forest Gate, Manor Park, Ilford
  • Refurbished stations at Hanwell, Maryland, Seven Kings, Goodmayes, Chadwell Heath, Romford, Gidea Park, Harold Wood, Brentford and Shenfield.
  • Major interchanges with existing stations at Paddington, Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road, Farrington, Liverpool Street, Whitechapel and Stratford.
  • New stations at Custom House, Canary Wharf, Woolwich and Abbey Wood.

Some parts are easy, but a lot are very difficult.

A Shortage Of Specialist Workers

I believe that certain factors could be reducing the pool of workers available to Crossrail.

Less workers than needed would obviously slow the project.

Having to pay more than budgeted to attract or keep workers will also raise costs.

My thoughts on what is causing a possible shortage of specialist workers follow.

Crossrail-Related Development

If you own a site or a building, near to one of Crossrail’s stations, then your property will substantially increase in value, when the line opens.

Walk past any of the Crossrail stations in Central London and some further out and you will see towers sprouting around the station entrance like crows around a road-kill.

Developers know how to cash-in on the best thing that has happened to them since the Nazis flattened acres of Central London.

New sites are also being created over several Crossrail stations including Moorgate, Farringdon (2 sites), Tottenham Court Road (2 sites), Bond Street (2 sites) and Paddington.

But do all these extensive developments, mean that there are not enough sub-contractors, specialist suppliers, electricians, chippies, air-conditioning engineers, plumbers and other trades to do all the work available in London?

I also suspect a developer, building an office block to the world’s highest standard could pay better and faster, than a Crossrail supplier under pressure.

Underground Working

Working underground or in mining is dangerous.

In the 1960s, women were totally banned from working below the surface.

It must have been around 1970, when I met one of ICI’s archivists; Janet Gornall, who a few years previously had organised storage of their masses of historical documents, in the company’s salt mine at Winsford. The mine is still used for document storage, by a company called Deepstore.

Health & Safety found out that Janet would be supervising and indexing the storage underground, so that if any document was required, they could be easily retrieved. This caused them to give the scheme a big thumbs down.

Questions were even asked in the House of Commons, but nothing would change Health & Safety’s view

In the end a simple solution was found..

  • As the boxes came up from London they were piled up in a large building on the surface, in the position Janet wanted them underground.
  • The pile of boxes was then moved underground and stacked in exactly the same way.
  • Nowadays, anybody can work underground, but they must have training and be certified for such work.

Crossrail thought the number of certified underground workers might not be enough, so they set up the Tunnelling and Underground Construction Academy (TUCA) at Ilford. This article on the Crossrail web site is entitled  A Legacy To The Construction Industry.

Some points about TUCA.

  • It is now part of Transport for London.
  • It was funded by Crossrail and the Skills Funding Agency.
  • TUCA is Europe’s only specialist soft-ground tunnelling training facility.

I wrote about TUCA in Open House – TUCA, after a visit in 2012.

I was told on my visit, that the Swiss have a similar facility for rock tunnelling and that there were plans for both academies to work together.

Trainees from all over the world would get training in an exotic Swiss mountain and then go on to enjoy the wonders of Ilford.

But at least they’ll be safe workers for all types of tunnelling.

I do wonder if some of the Crossrail delays has been caused by a lack of properly trained underground workers, as now the tunnelling is completed, many have moved on to the next project.

Thames Tideway Scheme

The Thames Tideway Scheme is a £4billion scheme to build a massive sewer under the Thames to clean up the river.

Many Crossrail engineers, tunnellers and workers are now working on the new scheme.

Brexit

Stuttgart 21 is one of numerous mega-projects in Europe.

Many of the workers on Crossrail were originally from Europe and now with the uncertainties of Brexit, some must be moving nearer home, to work on these large European projects.

Well-Paid Jobs In Sunnier Climes

Don’t underestimate, the effect of the Beast From The East last winter.

Skilled personnel have always gone to places like the Middle East to earn a good crust.

With Crossrail under pressure, how many of these key workers have gone to these places for the money?

Conclusion

I wouldn’t be surprised to find that a shortage of specialist workers is blamed for the delays.

In the BBC article, there is this quote

We are working around the clock with our supply chain and Transport for London to complete and commission the Elizabeth line.

Fairly bland, but does the supply chain include specialist suppliers and workers, which are under severe pressure from other projects to perform various works?

It’s probably true that there is only a finite pool of these companies, tradesmen and workers and at least some of the best will have been lured away.

Station Problems

In this article in the Architects Journal, which is entitled Crossrail Delayed Until Autumn 2019, this is said.

Crossrail then revealed in February that it had overspent its budget for the year to 30 March 2018 by £190 million.

At the time TfL said works at Whitechapel station, designed by BDP, and Farringdon station, designed by AHR, were completed later than expected, and there were delays to work at Weston Williamson’s Woolwich station and John McAslan + Partners’ Bond Street station.

I’ll look at Whitechapel station as an example.

You don’t need to be an expert to figure out that Whitechapel station is running late.

Look at all the blue hoardings.

  • I know this only shows what is visible to the public.
  • The Crossrail platforms deep underground could be ready.
  • The main entrance to the station is still shrouded in plastic.
  • The escalators to get down to Crossrail, will be between the two District/Metropolitan Line platforms.

This Google Map shows the area of Whitechapel station.

Note how the site is hemmed in, by important buildings including a Sainsburys supermarket and Swanlea School.

See An Innovative Use Of The School Holidays, for an insight about how the builders of the station coped with the lack of space.

I also feel that Whitechapel is an incredibly complex station to build.

  • It is crossed by two important railways; the District/Metropolitan Line and the East London Line.
  • Innovative techniques from the coal mining industry had to be used to dig the escalator tunnel.
  • Whitechapel will be the station, where passengers change between the two Eastern branches.

I do wonder, whether a different design would have been easier to build.

For instance, could Sainsburys have been paid to shut their superstore and that site used to build the station?

But Crossrail has chosen a design and now they must build it.

The New Class 345 Trains

The new Class 345 trains for Crossrail are an almost totally new design called Aventra by Bombardier, that I believe has been specifically created to make the operation of Crossrail as efficient as possible.

The trains must have something about them, as since launch they have attracted five more substantial orders, from five different operators.

The introduction into service of the Class 345 trains, has been reasonably straightforward, but not without some issues.

But I do question, the launching of Aventra trains solely on a line as complex as Crossrail.

Would it have been easier to have built the Class 710 trains first and thoroughly debugged them on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line.

But then that electrification was late.

Four Types Of Signalling

Crossrail needs trains to have four different types of signalling.

I know that as Crossrail runs on other lines with these signalling and going to a single system like ETCS would need to the changing of signalling systems on much of the railways in the South-East and the trains that use them.

It appears that there are problems for the trains running into Heathrow and one of the reasons for the Crossrail delayed opening, is to allow more time to test the trains and the signalling.

From my experience of writing complex software systems, where my software needed to interface with two operating systems, I know that you can never put too much time into testing complex systems.

So where is the dedicated test track, where trains can simulate the signalling of Crossrail routes, day in and day out?

I believe that not enough time and money was allocated to test this complex system.

Crossrail has found out the hard way.

Europe Has A Lack Of Train Test Tracks

A lot of European nations are ordering new trains and the UK is probably ordering more than most.

Reading the railway stories on the Internet, there are lots of stories about trains being brought into service late. And not just in the UK, but in Germany and Italy for example.

Crossrail identified that there was a need for a training academy for underground workers.

Did anybody do the calculations to make sure, there was enough test tracks for all the trains being built in Europe?

However, it does look as though Wales is coming to rescue Europe’s train makers, as I describe in £100m Rail Test Complex Plans For Neath Valley.

I suspect Crossrail wish this test complex had been completed a couple of years ago.

A Shortage Of Resources

For successful completion of projects on time and on budget, there must be enough resources.

I believe that, when the lateness and overspend on Crossrail is analysed, shortage of resources will be blamed.

  • Shortage of people and suppliers, that has not been helped by other projects taking advantage of new opportunities offered by Crossrail.
  • Shortage of space for work-sites at stations.
  • Shortage of places to fully test trains and signalling.

I suspect that the last will be the most serious.

Hugo Rifkind On A Late Crossrail

In an excellent article in today’s copy of The Times entitled Leavers Have A Cheek Trying To Block HS2, Hugo Rifkind says this about Crossrail.

You think we’ll remember, 50 years from now. that Crossrail took six months longer than expected?

Rubbish. London will rest on it like a spine and boggle that we ever managed without.

I think Rifkind is right.

Will Hutton

Will Hutton has written this article in the Guardian, which is entitled Don’t Moan About Crossrail. Once Complete, It Will Be A Rare Triumph In Our Public Realm.

He says this.

Let’s sing a different tune. The railway line, more than 60 miles long, linking Reading and Heathrow in the west to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east – adding 10% to London’s commuter rail capacity – and set to carry around 200 million passengers a year, will be a fantastic achievement. Its 13-mile-long tunnels run more than 100ft under the capital’s streets, navigating everything from underground sewers to the deep foundations of skyscrapers with superb engineering aplomb. The longstanding reproach is that Britain can’t do grand projects. Crossrail, now christened the Elizabeth line, is proof that we can.

He then goes on to criticise the structure of the construction project, the salaries paid and the current Government.

But I suspect that in a few yeas time, Hutton, Rifkind and myself could have a quiet pint and say Crossrail got it right.

Current Developments That Will Help Bridge The Delay

It’s not as if, no new transport developments won’t happen in the time before Crossrail eventually opens in Autumn 2019.

Trains Providing More Capacity

These trains will be providing extra capacity.

  • New Class 717 trains will be running on the services to and from Moorgate station.
  • New Class 710 trains will be running on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line.
  • New Class 710 trains will be running on the Lea Valley Lines to Cheshunt, Chingford and Enfield Town stations.
  • New Class 710 trains will be running on the Watford DC Line.
  • Cascaded Class 378 trains and new Class 710 trains will be running extra services on the original circular service of the London Overground.
  • More Class 345 trains will be providing all of Crossrail’s services to Heathrow and Shenfield.
  • New Class 720 trains or something similar or older, will be providing four trains per hour (tph) between Stratford and Meridian Water stations.

Note that before the end of 2019, nearly a hundred new trains will be delivered.

New And Rebuilt Stations

There will be some new or rebuilt stations.

  • Acton Main Line
  • Forest Gate
  • Gidea Park
  • Hayes & Harlington
  • Manor Park
  • Maryland
  • Meridian Water
  • Northumberland Park
  • Tottenham Hale
  • West Drayton
  • West Ealing
  • West Hampstead

This list may contain other stations.

Underground Improvements

There will also be Underground improvements.

  • The Central Line Improvements Programme will increase capacity and reliability on the Central Line.
  • The Metropolitan Line is being upgraded with new signalling.
  • Up to ten Underground stations may be made step-free before the end of 2019.

The improvements to the Central and Metropolitan Lines, through Central London will compensate for the delaying of Crossrail’s core tunnel.

A Few Questions

I have to ask questions.

Will The High Meads Loop Be Used?

This would provide an excellent interchange between the following services.

  • Local services to Hertford East and Bishops Stortford stations,  including the new STAR service, along the West Anglia Main Line.
  • Stansted Express and Cambridge services to and from Stratford.
  • Fast Greater Anglia services to Chelmsford, Colchester, Southend and further, along the Great Eastern Main Line.
  • Crossrail services between Liverpool Street and Shenfield.
  • Central Line services.

There is also only a short, but tortuous walk to the Jubilee Line for London Bridge and Waterloo stations and Central London.

Based on the experience of the Wirral Loop under Liverpool, which handles sixteen tph, I believe that the High Meads Loop could handle a substantial number of trains, that instead of using the crowded lines to Liverpool Street station, would use the new uncrowded route from Tottenham Hale to Stratford via Lea Bridge station.

Moving services to Stratford from Liverpool Street would also free up platforms at the major terminus, which could be used to provide extra services on the Great Eastern Main Line.

The extra capacity might also enable the lengthening of the Crossrail platforms at Liverpool Street to be extended, so they could take full-length Class 345 trains.

No new extra infrastructure would be required at Stratford, although in future, a platform to connect the loop to Stratford International station would be nice.

I will be very surprised if the High Meads Loop is not used creatively in the future.

Will Some New Pedestrian Tunnels At Stations Like Liverpool Street And Paddington Be Opened?

I use Moorgate and Liverpool Street stations regularly.

There are blue walls everywhere, behind which the Crossrail infrastructure is hiding.

I do hope Crossrail and Transport for London are looking at the possibilities of using completed infrastructure to create new walking routes in stations to ease congestion.

Conclusion

Crossrail was designed to be opened in four phases over two years.

I am drawn to the position, that because of various resource shortages and the testing of trains, perhaps the project could have been arranged as perhaps a series of smaller projects delivered over a longer period of time.

 

 

 

 

 

September 4, 2018 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments