The Anonymous Widower

Will Clapham Junction Station Get A Platform 0?

London has a rail capacity problem, for both freight and passenger trains.

This report from Network Rail is entitled The London Rail Freight Strategy (LRFS).

One of the recommendations of the report is to build a Platform 0 at Clapham Junction station. It says this about that that platform.

Creation of additional bay platform capacity at the northern end of Clapham Junction station, for the use
of London Overground WLL services.

This map from cartometro.com shows the track layout as the orange tentacles of the London Overground approach Clapham Junction station.

Note.

  1. The West London Line approaches Clapham Junction station through Imperial Wharf station.
  2. The South London Line approaches Clapham Junction station through Clapham High Street and Wandsworth Road stations.

This second map from cartometro.com shows the track layout of the current two Overground platforms at Clapham Junction station and how the third one will fit in.

Note.

  1. It appears that there are crossovers to allow trains from either South or West London Lines to enter any of Platforms 0, 1 or 2.
  2. A typical bay platform can turn four trains per hour (tph) or possibly six tph, if the signalling is tip-top.

These pictures show the current state of Platform 0 at Clapham Junction station.

And these show Platforms 1 and 2 at Clapham Junction station.

The current two-platform system seems to work well.

Clapham Junction Station Is A Super-Interchange

Clapham Junction is already a super-interchange on the London Overground with lots of services to Central and Outer London and the wider South of England.

The London Overground probably needs more super-interchanges on its circular route around London.

  • Whitechapel and Stratford, which are one stop apart on Crossrail, could develop into one in East London.
  • As it grows, Old Oak Common, will develop into one in West London.

Other super-interchanges could develop at Croydon, Hackney (Central/Downs) and West Hampstead.

Network Rail’s Reasons For The New Platform

I’ll start with some information.

Current Overground Services

Current Overground services are as follows.

  • 4 tph – Stratford via Willesden Junction
  • 4 tph – Dalston Junction via Surrey Quays

The total of 8 tph, is generally easily handled by two platforms, unless something goes wrong.

Future Overground Services

It is expected that in the future services could be as follows.

  • 6 tph – Stratford via Willesden Junction
  • 6 tph – Dalston Junction via Surrey Quays

As I regularly use the service between Dalston Junction and Clapham Junction to get a connection to places like Portsmouth and Southampton, I know at least one regular traveller, who is looking forward to the increase in frequency.

But there could be another London Overground in the future.

In Gibb Report – East Croydon – Milton Keynes Route Should Be Transferred To London Overground, I wrote how in his report, Chris Gibb recommended that this hourly service should be transferred to the London Overground.

This is said in the Network Rail document about Platform 0 at Clapham Junction station.

The longstanding proposal for the creation of additional bay platform capacity at the northern end of Clapham Junction station, for the use of London Overground West London Line services, is supported by this strategy.

The scheme would reinstate the disused former platform 1 to create a newly designated ‘Platform 0’, adjacent to the present platforms 1 and 2.

This intervention has been recognised as key to long-term growth on the West London Line by several previous pieces of work for both Network Rail and Transport for London, which have consistently concluded that additional platform capacity at Clapham Junction is needed, if TfL’s aspiration to increase the WLL Overground service to 6 trains per hour is to be met.

Capacity analysis for the LRFS has reaffirmed that the desire to operate this level of service throughout the day cannot be achieved with a single bay platform.

Although this scheme would clearly be of direct benefit to the London Overground passenger service, the positive impact it would have on the capacity and performance of the WLL overall means that it is also very much in the interest of freight that Platform 0 be delivered. Without a new bay platform, the main alternative means to increase Overground train frequencies involves the use of platform 17 at the far end of the station, where freight and GTR trains pass through towards the BML. This is a sub-optimal solution for both freight and passenger operations.

Note.

  1. Platform 0 will share an island platform with Platforms 1 and 2, so there will be short level walks between trains.
  2. Platform 1 and 2 are already fully accessible, so Platform 0 will be as well.

The report feels that increasing passenger and freight services are often two sides of the same coin.

Questions

I have some questions.

Would Three Platforms Be Enough To Handle Twelve tph?

As two platforms seem to handle eight tph, at most times in the present, I suspect the answer is in the affirmative.

Would Three Platforms Be Enough To Handle Thirteen tph?

This would be needed, if the Milton Keynes service were to be transferred to the Overground and it used Clapham Junction station as a Southern terminus.

If it still went through Clapham Junction station to Croydon, then it would probably use Platform 17, as it tends to do now!

I do suspect that three platforms will be enough, as otherwise the LRFS would be proposing something else.

What Will Be The Length Of The New Platform 0?

Under Future Proposals in the Wikipedia entry for Clapham Junction station, this is said.

In a Network Rail study in 2015, it was proposed that platform 0 could reopen for 8-car operations of the West London Line.

An eight-car platform would allow the current eight-car Class 377 trains, that work the Milton Keynes service to use the platform.

Note that as an eight-car Class 377 train is 163.2 metres long, a platform that will accomodate this train, will be long enough to accomodate a five-car Class 378 train, which is only 102.5 metres long.

But should the platform be built long enough to handle two Class 378 trains working as a pair?

This Google Map shows Platform 1 and the current state of the future Platform 0 at Clapham Junction station.

Note.

  1. a five-car Class 378 train is standing in Platform 1.
  2. There are some minor obstructions along Platform 0.

I don’t think it would be impossible to create an eight-car Platform 0. Although, Platforms 0 and 1 might need to be extended by perhaps ten or twenty minutes towards London.

Does The Milton Keynes and Clapham Junction Service Need 110 mph Trains?

I have talked to several drivers, who drive trains on the four 125 mph lines out of London and some have complained about slower 100 mph trains, that get in their way and slow them down.

If the drivers get miffed, I suspect the train operating companies are more annoyed.

But over the last few years, the following has happened.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see 110 mph trains running between Milton Keynes and Clapham Junction, as they would just be following a sensible practice to increase capacity.

Conclusion

I have no problems with creating a new Platform 0 at Clapham Junction, but suspect that faster trains would be needed for the Milton Keynes and Clapham Junction, that would use it.

Work Appears To Have Already Started On Platform 0

With the installation of the all-important site hut and the fact that there were several engineers around with laser-measurement tools, I suspect that work is already underway to prepare everything for the construction of Platform 0 at Clapham Junction station.

Related Posts

These are related posts about the London Rail Freight Strategy (LRFS).

Decarbonisation Of London’s Freight Routes

Doubling Harlesden Junction

East Coast Main Line South Bi-Directional Capability

Gauge Improvements Across London

Gospel Oak Speed Increases

Headway Reductions On The Gospel Oak To Barking, North London and West London Lines

Heavy Axle Weight Restrictions

Kensal Green Junction Improvement

Longhedge Junction Speed Increases

Moving The West London Line AC/DC Switchover To Kensington Olympia

Moving The West London Line AC/DC Switchover To Shepherd’s Bush

Nunhead Junction Improvement

Stratford Regulating Point Extension

Will Camden Road Station Get A Third Platform?

 

June 20, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

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 | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Reopening Milton Keynes And Market Harborough Via Northampton

This post was originally part of Shapps Supports Beeching Axe Reversals.

That post takes its name from an article with a similar name in Rail Magazine.

But I now feel it would be better if it became a standalone post.

This route has not been proposed as a Beeching Reversal, but seems to have surfaced from the MP and the local rail group.

I was digging around the Internet looking for the words “Beeching Reversal, I found when this article on the Harborough Mail, which is entitled Harborough Rail Group Says Plan To Reopen Historic Line Is A ‘Excellent Idea’.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Moves to reopen the historic Market Harborough-Northampton railway line are being backed by a local rail passengers’ chief.

The Market Harborough-Northampton Line was only finally closed in 1981.

  • It used to connect the two stations with a double-track railway.
  • It is about fourteen miles long.
  • It is now partly a heritage railway and a walking and cycling route called the Brampton Valley Way.

I have flown my virtual helicopter along the route and can make these observations.

  • There is space for a bay platform at Market Harborough station.
  • Once clear of Market Harborough, the route appears to be across open countryside.
  • The connection to the Northampton Loop Line wouldn’t be too difficult.

The only problem, I can see is that the route into Market Harborough station appears to be tricky.

These are a few of my thoughts.

What Passenger Service Would Be Provided?

Consider.

  • The route could certainly handle an hourly shuttle, as does the nearby Marston Vale Line.
  • Northampton station currently has three trains per hour (tph) to and from London.
  • Timings between Northampton and Market Harborough stations would probably be around twenty minutes.
  • Fast services between Northampton and Euston take about an hour.
  • Four tph between Northampton and London would probably be desirable.

So could a fourth service to and from London, be extended to Market Harborough station? Or perhaps even Leicester, which already has a platform, where the trains could be turned back?

  • I estimate that with a ten minute turnround at Market Harborough, a three hour round trip would be possible and very convenient.
  • A single track between Northampton and Market Harborough station would be enough.
  • The fourteen miles between the two stations could be handled by a battery-electric train, as there will be electrification at both ends of the route.
  • Porterbrook are developing a battery-electric Class 350 train.

At a first glance, this looks to be a very sensible proposition.

This map clipped from Wikipedia, shows the rail line between Milton Keynes Central and Northampton stations.

It is planned to introduce, a service between Marylebone and Milton Keynes Central using the tracks of the East West Rail Link.

  • It could be run by East West Rail or Chiltern.
  • It might be an easier service to operate as trains wouldn’t need to be turned back at Milton Keynes Central station.
  • It might be a better financial option, if services were to be extended to Northampton and Market Harborough.

As the East West Rail Link is being built by a private company, do they have plans to create services between say Leicester and Oxford?

An Alternative Route To Leicester

A London Euston and Leicester service via Watford Junction, Milton Keynes, Northampton and Market Harborough could be run either as a regular service or when there are engineering works on the Midland Main Line.

Bringing Workers To Milton Keynes, Northampton and Leicester

When I moved back to Suffolk forty years ago, trains between Cambridge and Ipswich and Cambridge and Norwich were irregular hourly services using single or two-car trains. The good job prospects available in Cambridge, now mean that Greater Anglia now run four-car Class 755 trains on these routes to an hourly timetable.

Milton Keynes, Northampton and Leicester all need similar connections to stimulate employment.

Could Freight Trains Use The  Northampton And Market Harborough Line?

Consider.

  • A large rail freight interchange is being developed close to East Midlands Airport.
  • The East West Rail Link will be a better route between Southampton Docks and the West Coast Main Line, than the current roundabout routes.
  • Multimodal trains need to travel between the East Midlands and Sheffield and Southampton Docks.
  • Stone trains need to travel between the North Midlands and West London.

If the  Northampton and Market Harborough Line were to be reopened, it would provide a convenient freight route between the Midland Main Line and the West Coast Main Line.

Would the The Northampton And Market Harborough Line Be Electrified?

Consider.

  • It joins the electrified Midland Main Line at Market Harborough station.
  • It joins the electrified Northampton Loop Line at Northampton station.
  • It is only fourteen miles long.
  • Most trains should be able to bridge use the line on battery power.
  • It will be a new well-surveyed railway, which is easier to electrify.

I suspect, whether the line is electrified will be more down to planning issues.

Would the The Northampton And Market Harborough Line Be Double Track?

The line was double-track when it closed and I think that only planning issues will stop it being reopened as a double track.

Is the Opening Of The Northampton And Market Harborough Line Being Driven By The East West Rail Link?

This is a paragraph from the Rail Magazine article.

Asked by Andrew Lewer (Con) at Transport Questions on October 24 whether he would elaborate on plans to open the proposed Market Harborough line as part of the Oxford to Cambridge expressway he said: “I understand that the reopening is at a formative stage, but I am very supportive of it. Indeed, I support the reopening of many of the smaller lines that were closed as a result of the Beeching cuts under a Labour Government, and I should like to see as many reopened as possible.”

Does that mean that The East West Rail Link is driving this project?

Conclusion

The reopening of Northampton and Market Harborough Line would appear to enable the following.

  • Passenger trains between Marylebone and/or London Euston and Market Harborough and/or Leicester.
  • Passenger trains between Oxford and Leicester via Milton Keynes, Northampton and Market Harborough.
  • An increase to four tph between Northampton and Milton Keynes Central.
  • A valuable freight route between Southampton Docks and the East Midlands and South Yorkshire.

It would also provide a connection between the West Coast Main Line and the Midland Main Line.

Reopening of the Northampton and Market Harborough Line  could be a nice little earner for the East West Rail Link, if it hosted the following services.

  • Freight trains between Southampton Docks and the East Midlands and South Yorkshire.
  • Stone trains between the North Midlands and London.
  • Passenger trains between Marylebone and/or London Euston and Market Harborough and/or Leicester.
  • Passenger trains between Oxford and/or Reading and Market Harborough and/or Leicester.

These sections could also be electrified.

  • Basingstoke and Reading
  • Didcot Parkway and Oxford
  • Oxford and Milton Keynes
  • Northampton and Market Harborough

Much of the abandoned Electric Spine would have been created.

The only possible problem I see with this project is connecting the route to Market Harborough station.

April 26, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

East West Railway Company To Start Second Phase Of Rolling Stock Procurement

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release from East West Rail.

These are the three introductory paragraphs.

East West Railway Company (EWR Co) is to restart market engagement with potential train suppliers, as its rolling stock procurement process enters a new phase.

The move follows an initial phase of procurement activity, which EWR Co concluded earlier in the year. A new PIN Notice has been published today to restart engagement with potential suppliers, which includes a set of technical specifications taking account of feedback from the market gained during the initial procurement phase.

This procurement aims to secure a short-term, interim solution to leasing a small fleet of self-powered trains for the Western Section of East West Rail.

The press release has a link to the Prior Information Notice or PIN Notice on the EU database.

along with all the usual contact and other details, this is said about the specification.

The East West Railway Company (EWR Co.) is looking to leasing a fleet of 12 or 14 x 3 car self-powered units with modifications including European Train Control System (‘ETCS’) Level 2 and Driver Controlled Operation (‘DCO’) capability, supported by a full maintenance package (under a ‘wet’ lease). These units will ensure timely operation of EWR’s Western Section Phase 2 between Oxford, Milton Keynes, Bedford and Aylesbury. The lease duration would be 4 years, with an option to extend for 2 years.

The date of the notice is the 10th of November 2020, so it has been recently updated.

I commented on these trains in March 2020, when I wrote EWR Targets Short-Term Fleet Ahead Of Possible Electrification.

In the intervening eight months, a lot have things have happened.

Awareness Of Green Issues

The Covid-19 pandemic has arrived, with all its ferocity and seems to be moving people in the direction of thinking about green issues and zero-carbon transport.

Type “build back greener UK” into Google and you get lots of articles. Some feature Boris Johnson, like this article on Business Green, which is entitled Boris Johnson To Pledge To ‘Build Back Greener’.

I don’t think the public, myriad engineers and scientists and a good selection of politicians will find it appropriate for the East West Railway to use any rolling stock, that is not zero-carbon and powered by renewable energy.

Hitachi Have Launched The Regional Battery Train In Conjunction With Hyperdrive Innovation

In July 2020, I wrote Hyperdrive Innovation And Hitachi Rail To Develop Battery Tech For Trains.

Hitachi had been talking for some time, that they were developing battery electric trains for the UK, but this was the first news of a route to their design, manufacture and into service.

Hitachi also published this YouTube video and this infographic of the train’s specification.

They have also called the train, the Hitachi Regional Battery Train.

My estimate is that Oxford and Bedford are under fifty miles apart, so if Hitachi’s train could be charged at both ends of the route, one of their trains could provide a self-powered service between Oxford and Bedford.

It seems that Hitachi have an off-the-shelf train, that fits the specification for the trains required by East West Railway.

Vivarail Have Launched A Fast Charge System

Battery electric trains, like electric vehicles are not much use, if you can’t charge them when it is needed.

The initial Service Pattern of the East West Railway is given in the Wikipedia entry of the East West Railway.

  • Two trains per hour (tph) – Oxford and Milton Keynes Central via Oxford Parkway, Bicester Village, Winslow and Bletchley.
  • One tph – Oxford and Milton Keynes via Oxford Parkway, Bicester Village, Winslow, Bletchley, Woburn Sands and Ridgemont.
  • One tph – Aylesbury and Milton Keynes Central via Aylesbury Vale Parkway, Winslow and Bletchley.

There are four terminal stations.

  • Aylesbury – No electrification
  • Bedford – Full Electrification
  • Milton Keynes Central – Full Electrification
  • Oxford – No electrification

The existing electrification could be used at Bedford and Milton Keynes Central, whereas some type of charging system, would be needed at Aylesbury and Oxford.

It appears that Adrian Shooter of Vivarail has just announced a One-Size-Fits-All Fast Charge system, that has been given interim approval by Network Rail.

I discuss this charger in Vivarail’s Plans For Zero-Emission Trains, which is based on a video on the Modern Railways web site.

There is more about Vivarail’s plans in the November 2020 Print Edition of the magazine, where this is said on page 69.

‘Network Rail has granted interim approval for the fast charge system and wants it to be the UK’s standard battery charging system’ says Mr. Shooter. ‘We believe it could have worldwide implications.’

Vivarail’s Fast Charge system would surely be a front-runner for installation at Aylesbury and Oxford, if battery electric trains were to be run on the East West Railway.

Choosing A Train

East West Rail have said the following about the train specification.

  • Three cars
  • Self-powered
  • European Train Control System (‘ETCS’) Level 2 and Driver Controlled Operation (‘DCO’) capability
  • Available on a wet lease, that includes a full maintenance package

The press release from East West Rail and other documents mentions between twelve and fourteen trains will be leased.

In Trains Needed For The East West Railway, I calculated that the proposed services could need around eight or nine trains.

This must mean one of three things.

  • There are plans for extra services.
  • There are plans for the proposed services to be extended.
  • Trains will run some services in pairs.

Because, of the last reason, the trains must have the ability to run in pairs.

As sections of the East West Railway are being built for 100 mph operation, the trains must also have a 100 mph capability.

When I talked briefly about green issues earlier, I said that I felt the trains should be zero-carbon, which would rule out diesel.

That leaves two options for self-powered operation; battery electric or hydrogen.

So what trains fit the specification?

British Rail Era Trains

A large number of British Rail era trains could be suitable for updating for interim use on the East West Railway.

I even suspect, some fantasist will suggest using shortened versions of InterCity 125 trains, as are used in South-West England and Scotland.

But let’s be serious and not insult the intelligence of the three world-leading universities on the final route of the East West Railway.

A lot of money is also being spent on this railway and tarted-up forty-year-old trains would not encourage people to use the new railway.

Class 170 Trains

There are eighty-seven three-car Class 170 trains with various operators, some of which will be surplus to requirements, as they are being replaced with new trains.

But they are diesel, so surely they don’t fit my perceived need for zero-carbon trains.

That would have been true until a couple of weeks ago, when as I wrote in Vivarail’s Plans For Zero-Emission Trains, Adrian Shooter of Vivarail disclosed an audacious plan to convert, diesel trains into zero-carbon battery electric trains.

Class 170 trains like this were on the list of possible conversions.

  • They 100 mph trains.
  • Some are three-cars.
  • They meet all the disability regulations.
  • They have been used for services much longer than Oxford and Bedford.

They could also start the service as diesel trains and gradually converted to battery electric, if this would be better for operation.

Class 175 Trains

The three-car 100 mph Class 175 trains could be a possibility as there are fifteen trains, but they have two problems.

  • They are powered by diesel.
  • They probably won’t be available until 2023.

So I think they can be ruled out.

Class 185 Trains

All the fifty-one Class 185 trains are currently in service with TransPennine Express. They are due to release fifteen trains in 2021 and it was thought that these trains were in prime position for becoming the interim trains for East West Railway.

  • They 100 mph trains.
  • Some are three-cars.
  • They meet all the disability regulations.
  • They have been used for services much longer than Oxford and Bedford.
  • The fleet is the right size.

But then the Department of Transport decided to change their plans for the Liverpool and Norwich service.

I wrote about one journey on the overcrowded section of this service in Mule Trains Between Liverpool And Norwich.

The picture shows the inadequate train formed of an assorted collection of Class 153 trains, I took from Liverpool to Sheffield.

The service is now being split at Nottingham and East Midlands Railway will receive the released Class 185 trains for the Liverpool and Nottingham portion of the service.

A fleet of these Class 185 trains will surely offer more comfort on a very busy service.

So it is looking unlikely that Class 185 trains will be used on the East West Railway.

Class 220, 221 and 222 Trains

These three fleets of Voyager trains could be a possibility, as they can be shortened to three-car trains.

But they have disadvantages.

I think it is unlikely, that these trains will be used on the East West Railway.

Class 350 Trains

There are thirty-seven Class 350 trains, that were built only twelve years ago, that have been retired. The owner; Porterbrook are planning to convert them into battery electric versions, which they have called BatteryFLEX trains.

Unfortunately, they are four-cars and unlike other trains, it doesn’t appear that they can be shortened to three cars.

Class 375, 377, 379 and 387 Trains

These four fleets of Electrostar trains could be a possibility for running as battery electric trains.

  • Some are three-car trains and four-car trains can be converted to three-car trains, by simply removing a car.
  • They are 100 mph trains.
  • Bombardier converted a Class 379 train for battery operation and I have heard or seen no adverse reports from either passengers, rail staff or journalists.
  • They can work in multiple formations.
  • They are all wired for dual-voltage operation.
  • Pantographs wells have already been fitted to trains that normally work using 750 VDC third-rail electrification.

The picture shows the Class 379 train, that was converted to battery electric operation.

The Class 379 trains, also have the advantage, that there is a fleet of thirty trains, that are being replaced by Greater Anglia, who are homeless.

If I were the owner of the Class 379 trains, I’d do the following.

  • Convert them all into battery electric trains.
  • Shuffle cars around to get a mix of three-, four- and five-car trains to match market opportunities.
  • Make them compatible with Vivarail’s Fast Charge system.
  • Do a licensing deal with Vivarail, so I could supply the chargers.

This plan has some big advantages.

  • Battery electric operation of the Class 379 trains has been successfully proven.
  • Some Class 379 trains are already available for conversion, as they have been replaced by Greater Anglia.
  • The trains could easily be delivered in time for the opening of the East West Railway.
  • The trains would not need to be replaced, if the East West Railway was to be fully electrified in the future.
  • If I leased out all the Class 379 trains, I’m fairly sure that I could acquire some other Electrostars to convert.

The trains would surely be ideal for the Uckfield Branch and Ashford and Hastings, which are to be run by battery electric trains.

  • The order for these services is still to be announced.
  • This use would be a trial application of the highest quality.
  • I suspect that five-car trains would be ideal for these Southern routes.
  • In Battery Electrostars And The Uckfield Branch, I estimated that Southern would need twelve five-car trains for the Uckfield Branch and four trains for the Ashford and Hastings service.

It looks to me, the thirty four-car Class 379 trains could be converted into the following battery electric trains.

  • Twelve five-car trains for the Uckfield Branch.
  • Four four-car trains for Ashford and Hastings.
  • Fourteen three-car trains for the East West Railway.

Using battery electric Class 379 trains for the East West Railway, the Uckfield Branch and Ashford and Hastings. looks from the engineering, numbers and financial points of view to be a very efficient proposition.

Class 385 Trains

As I indicated earlier, Hitachi have the technology to create a Class 385 train with a battery capability.

  • They appear to be talking to ScotRail.
  • Are they talking to Vivarail about using their Fast Charge system?
  • As the trains would be new, East West Railway would get trains to their specification.

Battery electric Class 385 trains must be a serious proposition.

Class 600 Trains

The Class 600 train could be an interesting possibility.

The trains can be powered by both hydrogen and overhead or third-rail electrification.

  • The trains are three-cars long.
  • They are 100 mph trains.
  • First in-service dates are scheduled for 2024, which could be convenient.
  • The trains will have a state-of-the-art Renatus interior.
  • They will not need charging and could probably be refuelled as infrequently as only once per day.

I am not worried, by the train being powered by hydrogen, but because of the large tanks in the train, the passenger capacity will be lower, than a diesel, electric or battery electric train of a similar length.

I suspect though, that Alstom will be pitching for the order.

Aventras

In this article in Global Rail News from 2011, which is entitled Bombardier’s AVENTRA – A new era in train performance, gives some details of the Aventra’s electrical systems. This is said.

AVENTRA can run on both 25kV AC and 750V DC power – the high-efficiency transformers being another area where a heavier component was chosen because, in the long term, it’s cheaper to run. Pairs of cars will run off a common power bus with a converter on one car powering both. The other car can be fitted with power storage devices such as super-capacitors or Lithium-ion batteries if required. The intention is that every car will be powered although trailer cars will be available.

Unlike today’s commuter trains, AVENTRA will also shut down fully at night. It will be ‘woken up’ by remote control before the driver arrives for the first shift

This was published over nine years ago, so I suspect Bombardier have refined the concept.

Bombardier have not announced that any of their trains have energy storage, but I have my suspicions, that both the Class 345 and Class 710 trains use super-capacitors or Lithium-ion batteries, as part of their traction system design.

I believe that Bombardier, have the ability to build an Aventra to this specification.

  • Three-cars
  • 100 mph running
  • Sixty mile range on battery power.
  • Dual voltage.
  • Ability to work in pairs.

Like the Hitachi trains, they would be new build.

CAF

CAF have proposed a battery electric train based on the Class 331 train, which I wrote about in Northern’s Battery Plans.

It is a four-car development of the three-car Class 331 trains.

Can it be built as a three-car train to fit the specification?

Conclusion

There are some good candidates sir supplying an interim fleet of trains for the East West Railway.

My money’s on one of the following.

  • New Hitachi Class 385 trains
  • Converted Class 379 trains.
  • New Aventras

All would be battery electric trains.

But there is a change that Alstom’s Class 600 hydrogen trains could be used.

 

 

 

 

 

 

November 14, 2020 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Running Battery Electric Trains Between London Marylebone And Aylesbury

This post was suggested by Fenline Scouser in a comment to Vivarail Targets Overseas Markets, where they said.

I have long thought that one UK application that would make sense is the Marylebone – Aylesbury via Harrow on the Hill service, the intermediate electrified section lending itself to full recharge on each trip. ? stabling facility at Aylesbury with overnight charging.

It does look to be an idea worth pursuing.

Current And Future Services

Currently, the services between London Marylebone and Aylesbury are as follows.

  • London Marylebone and Aylesbury via High Wycombe
  • London Marylebone and Aylesbury via Amersham
  • London Marylebone and Aylesbury Vale Parkway via Amersham

All services are one train per hour (tph)

In the future, it is planned to extend the Aylesbury Vale Parkway service to Milton Keynes, according to information I found on the East West Rail web site.

  • It looks like the service will go via High Wycombe, Saunderton, Princes Risborough, Monks Risborough, Little Kimble, Aylesbury, Aylesbury Vale Parkway, Winslow and Bletchley.
  • The service will have a frequency of 1 tph.
  • Time between Milton Keynes and Aylesbury is quoted as 33 minutes.
  • Time between High Wycombe and Milton Keynes is quoted as 63 minutes.

Will this leave the Marylebone and Aylesbury are as follows?

  • 1 tph – London Marylebone and Aylesbury via High Wycombe.
  • 2 tph – London Marylebone and Aylesbury via Amersham

Passengers between London Marylebone and Aylesbury would have the same service.

Distances

These are a few distances, of which some have been estimated.

  • London Marylebone and Harrow-on-the-Hill – 9.18 miles.chains
  • Amersham and Harrow-on-the-Hill – 14.27 miles.chains – Electrified
  • Aylesbury and Amersham – 15.23 miles.chains
  • London Marylebone and High Wycombe – 28.11 miles.chains
  • Aylesbury and High Wycombe – 15.28 miles.chains
  • Aylesbury and Aylesbury Vale Parkway – 2.25 miles.chains
  • Aylesbury Vale Parkway and Calvert – 8.19 miles.chains
  • Aylesbury and Milton Keynes – 16.40 miles.chains – Estimated

Note that there are eighty chains to the mile.

Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train

Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train, is the only battery electric train intended for the UK network for which a detailed specification has been released.

This infographic from Hitachi gives the specification.

Note that ninety kilometres is fifty-six miles.

I would suspect that battery trains from other manufacturers, like Bombardier, CAF and Stadler, will have a similar specification.

Battery Electric Trains Between London Marylebone And Aylesbury

I’ll take each possible route in turn.

London Marylebone And Aylesbury Via Amersham

The three sections of the route are as follows.

  • London Marylebone and Harrow-on-the-Hill – 9.23 miles – Not Electrified
  • Harrow-on-the-Hill and Amersham – 14.34 – Electrified
  • Amersham and Aylesbury – 15.29 miles – Not Electrified

Note.

  1. The total distance is 38.85 miles
  2. A typical service takes just under twenty minutes to travel between Harrow-on-the-Hill and Amersham. This should be enough to fully charge the batteries.
  3. A train going South from Harrow-on-the-Hill could reach London Marylebone and return.
  4. A train going North from Amersham could reach Aylesbury and return.

I am fairly confident, that a battery electric train, with the range of a Hitachi Regional Battery Train could work this route.

London Marylebone And Aylesbury Vale Parkway Via Amersham

The four sections of the route are as follows.

  • London Marylebone and Harrow-on-the-Hill – 9.23 miles – Not Electrified
  • Harrow-on-the-Hill and Amersham – 14.34 – Electrified
  • Amersham and Aylesbury – 15.29 miles – Not Electrified
  • Aylesbury and Aylesbury Vale Parkway – 2.31 miles – Not Electrified

Note.

  1. The total distance is 41.16 miles
  2. A typical service takes just under twenty minutes to travel between Harrow-on-the-Hill and Amersham. This should be enough to fully charge the batteries.
  3. A train going South from Harrow-on-the-Hill could reach London Marylebone and return.
  4. A train going North from Amersham could reach Aylesbury Vale Parkway and return.

I am fairly confident, that a battery electric train, with the range of a Hitachi Regional Battery Train could work this route.

London Marylebone And Aylesbury Via High Wycombe

The two sections of the route are as follows.

  • London Marylebone and High Wycombe- 28.14 miles – Not Electrified
  • High Wycombe and Aylesbury – 15.35 miles – Not Electrified

Note.

  1. The total distance is 43.50 miles
  2. There is no electrification to charge the trains.

A battery electric train, with the range of a Hitachi Regional Battery Train will need charging to work this route.

However, with charging at both ends, this would be a route for a battery electric train.

At the London Marylebone end, there are two possible solutions.

  • Electrify the station traditionally, together with perhaps the tracks as far as Neasden, where the routes split. Either 750 VDC third-rail or 25 KVAC overhead electrification could be used.
  • Fit fast charging systems into all the platforms at the station.

Note.

  1. Turnround times in Marylebone station are typically nine minutes or more, so using a charging system should be possible.
  2. Power for the electrification should not be a problem, as the station is close to one of London’s central electricity hubs at Lisson Grove by the Regent’s Canal.

The final decision at Marylebone, would be one for the engineers and accountants.

At the Aylesbury end, it should be noted that much of the under twenty miles of track between Princes Risborough and Aylesbury and on to Aylesbury Vale Parkway and Calvert us single-track.

So why not electrify from Princes Risborough and Calvert, where the route joins the East West Railway?

The electrification in Aylesbury station could also be used to top-up trains going to London via Amersham.

I would use 25 KVAC overhead electrification, using lightweight gantries like these, which use laminated wood for the overhead structure.

There is also a video.

Electrification doesn’t have to be ugly and out-of-character with the surroundings.

London Marylebone And Milton Keynes Via High Wycombe, Aylesbury and Aylesbury Vale Parkway

The three sections of the route are as follows.

  • London Marylebone and High Wycombe- 28.14 miles – Not Electrified
  • High Wycombe and Aylesbury – 15.35 miles – Not Electrified
  • Aylesbury and Milton Keynes – 16.50 miles – Partially Electrified

Note.

  1. The total distance is sixty miles
  2. There is some electrification to charge the trains between Bletchley and Milton Keynes.

A battery electric train, with the range of a Hitachi Regional Battery Train should be able to work this route, if they can work London Marylebone and Aylesbury, with charging at Aylesbury.

Milton Keynes Central is a fully-electrified station.

The picture shows Platform 2A, which is South-facing electrified, five-car platform, which could be used by the Chiltern service.

Train Specification

Consider.

  • Chiltern Railway’s workhorse is a Class 168 train, which is a diesel multiple unit of up to four cars, with a 100 mph operating speed.
  • The longest leg without electrification could be London Marylebone and Aylesbury via High Wycombe, which is 43.5 miles.
  • Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train has a range of fifty-six miles.
  • As there is a need to work with London Underground electrification, a dual-voltage train will be needed.

So a battery electric train with this specification would probably be ideal.

  • Four cars
  • Ability to work with both 750 VDC third-rail and 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • 100 mph operating speed.
  • Battery range of perhaps 55 miles.

Could the specification fit a battery-equipped Class 385 train, which will probably be built for Scotland?

Conclusion

I am convinced that battery electric trains can run between London Marylebone and Aylesbury, Aylesbury Vale Parkway and Milton Keynes stations.

The following would be needed.

  • A battery electric range of perhaps fifty-five miles.
  • Some form of charging at Marylebone and Aylesbury stations.

I would electrify, the single-track route between Princes Risborough and Aylesbury Vale Parkway.

September 4, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A London Overground Replacement For Southern’s East Croydon And Milton Keynes Service

In July 2017, I discussed this suggestion by Chris Gibb in Gibb Report – East Croydon – Milton Keynes Route Should Be Transferred To London Overground.

In an article, in the July 2019 Edition of Modern Railways, , which was entitled ‘710s’ Debut On Goblin, this was this last paragraph.

On the West London Line, TfL is curremtly working with the Department for Transport on options for the devolution of services originally suggested in Chris Gibb’s report on the Govia Thameslink Railway franchise, which could lead to ‘710s’ being deployed here.

It made me think, that further investigation was called for.

An Apology

I apologise, if you think I’m repeating myself.

What The Gibb Report Says

The Gibb Report, says this about the current service between East Croydon and Milton Keynes Central stations.

I believe there is an option to transfer the East Croydon – Milton Keynes operation to TfL and it’s London Overground concession in 2018.

TfL may decide to change the service, for example by not running it north of Watford Junction, or running it to an alternative southern destination other than East Croydon. They could also develop the combined West London line service to better match available capacity to demand.

They would have a number of crewing and rolling stock options, but should be able to operate the service more efficiently than GTR in the longer term, without the involvement of Selhurst.

Selhurst TMD is the depot in South London, where the current Class 377 trains are based.

A few of my thoughts.

The Trains

Using Class 710 trains  as suggested in the Modern Railways article, would surely offer a suitable  crewing and rolling stock option for the route, if they were based at the convenient Willesden TMD, where the fleet of up to twenty-five dual-voltage Class 710/2 trains are stabled.

The Northern Terminus

Chris Gibb suggested the service might not go past Watford Junction.

I think that could be difficult.

  • The longitudinal seating of the Class 710 train, is probably not suitable for outer suburban services North of Watford.
  • East Croydon to Watford Junction takes 69 minutes, which is not a good journey time to create an efficient service.

It would also appear to be tricky for a train to transfer between the West London Line and the Watford DC Line.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the complicated track layout in the Willesden Junction area.

Note.

  1. The two Willesden Junction stations, labelled High Level and Low Level.
  2. The Watford DC Line, which is shown in black and orange, passing to the North of Willesden TMD. and through the Low Level station.
  3. The four tracks shown in black are the West Coast Main Line, with Watford to the West and Euston to the East.
  4. The North London Line to Richmond and the West London Line to Clapham Junction splitting at Wilesden High Level Junction.

The current service between East Croydon and Milton Keynes, is only one train per hour (tph) and uses a succession of flat junctions to take the slow lines to and from Watford.

This is not a good operational procedure and I suspect Network Rail and various train operators, would like to see it discontinued.

So if trains in a new London Overground version of the service, don’t go up the Watford DC Line or the West Coast Main Line, where do they turn back?

Note the siding to the East of the High Level platforms, which is labelled Willesden Junction Turnout.

This is regularly used to turnback London Overground services on the West London Line.

I feel that London Overground will be turning their replacement service in Willesden Junction High Level station.

Current train services at the station include.

  • For passengers, who want to go further North, there is a good connection to the Watford DC Line for Wembley Central, Harrow & Wealdstone and Watford Junction stations.
  • The Watford DC Line can also take you to Euston.
  • The Bakerloo Line between Stonebridge Park and Elephant & Castle via Central London.
  • Frequent North London Line services between Stratford and Richmond.

The station has kiosks, coffee stalls, toilets and waiting rooms.

There are certainly worse places to change trains.

The Southern Terminus

Obviously, existing travellers on the route would like to see as few changes as possible.

East Croydon station must be a possibility for the Southern terminus, as it is the currently used.

But East Croydon is a busy station and perhaps it is not a convenient station for trains to wait in the platform.

On the other hand, West Croydon station offers some advantages.

  • The station has a long bay platform, which might be long enough for nine or ten cars.
  • There is a separate turnback siding.
  • It has space to add another bay platform, but this may have been sold to a developer.
  • It already has a four tph London Overground service to Highbury & Islington station.
  • Using West Croydon avoids the crowded lines to the North of East Croydon station.

It is also managed by London Overground, so the landlord would be co-operative.

How Many Trains Would Be Needed For A West Croydon And Willesden Junction Service?

West Croydon station has two possible routes, that trains could take to Willesden Junction.

  • Via Norwood Junction and Clapham Junction in 55 minutes.
  • Via Selhust and Clapham Junction in 45 minutes.

These times mean that a two-hour round trip between West Croydon and Willesden Junction should be possible.

Trains required for various frequencies would be as follows.

  • One tph – Two trains.
  • Two tph = Four trains.
  • Four tph – Eight trains.

They would need to be dual voltage Class 710/2 trains, as are now running on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line.

Compare the figures with those for the current East Croydon and Milton Keynes service, which needs four pairs of four-car trains for an hourly service.

What Would Be The Frequency?

I think one, two and four tph are all possibilities!

One tph

One tph would be a direct replacement for the current service. But is it enough?

Services at West Croydon could probably share the bay platform with the existing Highbury & Islington station service.

Two tph

Two tph could be a compromise frequency.

Two tph could probably still share the current bay platform with the Highbury & Islington service.

Four tph

Four tph would be a full Turn-Up-And-Go service,

  • It would probably be London Overground’s preference.
  • It would give a very passenger-friendly eight tph between Willesden Junction and Clapham Junction stations.
  • The two services would call at opposite sides of Clapham Junction station.
  • It would give a four tph link between Croydon and High Speed Two.
  • Westfield wouldn’t mind all the extra shoppers at Shepherds Bush!

But there could be downsides.

  • The service could need an extra bay platform at West Croydon.
  • Would it be possible to turn four tph at Willesden Junction?
  • Will the train paths be available through South London.

But four tph would probably would be London Overground’s preference.

It will be interesting to see the reasons, why Transport for London choose a particular frequency.

A Trip Between Imperial Wharf And East Croydon Stations

Today, I took a trip between Imperial Wharf and East Croydon stations at around 11:30.

  • The train was  two four-car Class 377 trains working as an eight-car train.
  • After Clapham Junction it wasn’t very busy.
  • I was in the last car, which was empty, except for myself.

I came to the conclusion, that an eight-car train was too much capacity for the Southern section of the journey.

I suspect that Transport for London have detailed passenger estimates for this route, so they should be able to determine the frequency and length of replacement trains required.

The Upgraded Norwood Junction Station

In Major Upgrade Planned For Norwood Junction Railway Station, I talked about a plan to upgrade Norwood Junction station.

The idea behind the upgrade is to improve connectivity and capacity in the crowded Croydon area.

If the West Croydon and Willesden Junction service, was routed via Norwood Junction station, the upgraded station would give easy access to both East and West Croydon stations.

Conclusion

I’ve always liked Chris Gibb’s suggestion of the transfer of the service between East Croydon and Milton Keynes stations to the London Overground and I can now start to see flesh on the bones!

At the present time and until better data is available, I think the replacement service should be as follows.

  • The Northern terminus should be Willesden Junction.
  • The Southern terminus should be West Croydon station, where there are good tram and train connections.
  • The route would be via Shepherds Bush, Kensington Olympia, West Brompton, Imperial Wharf, Clapham Junction, Wandsworth Common, Balham, Streatham Hill, West Norwood, Gipsy Hill, Crystal Palace and Norwood Junction.
  • Going via Gipsy Hill, rather than the current route via Selhurst, would give access to the connectivity at Norwood Junction.
  • The frequency should be four tph.
  • Trains will be four- or five-car Class 710 trains.

The benefits would be as follows.

  • The rail hubs of Clapham Junction, Norwood Junction, West Croydon and Willesden Junction would be connected together by a Turn-Up-And-Go service.
  • The proposed four tph service would need eight Class 710 trains, whereas the current one tph service needs eight Class 377 trains. Would this be better value?

In the future with a connection to High Speed Two in the Old Oak Common area, the benefits would increase.

  • There would be a simple interchange with High Speed Two.
  • South London from Clapham to Croydon, would get a direct service to High Speed Two.
  • There would also be a better connection to Heathrow Airport and other rail services through Old Oak Common.

I think that the connection to High Speed Two trumps everything else.

July 1, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Gibb Report – East Croydon – Milton Keynes Route Should Be Transferred To London Overground

The Gibb Report, says that the East Croydon – Milton Keynes route should be transferred to the London Overground.

By 2020 London will have two high-capacity and two medium-capacity cross-London heavy rail routes, backed up by several cross-London Underground Lines.

One line is missing from this list; the West London Line, which has a rather pathetic four tph between Clapham Junction and Willesden Junction stations.

Until Southern got embroiled in their Driver Only Operation dispute, there used to be a very useful one tph service between East Croydon and Milton Keynes Central stations.

The Gibb Report says this about the service.

I believe there is an option to transfer the East Croydon – Milton Keynes operation to TfL and it’s London Overground concession in 2018.

TfL may decide to change the service, for example by not running it north of Watford Junction, or running it to an alternative southern destination other than East Croydon. They could also develop the combined West London line service to better match available capacity to demand.

They would have a number of crewing and rolling stock options, but should be able to operate the service more efficiently than GTR in the longer term, without the involvement of Selhurst.

Selhurst TMD is the depot in South London, where the current Class 377 trains are based.

I think that this is a good proposal for the following reasons.

  • As was seen on the Chingford Branch Line, London Overground have a reputation for making a good fist of taking over services that need improvement.
  • As the Gibbs Report says, the combined West London Line service could be developed.
  • I have net quite a few people, who use this West London Line route to get to and from events at Wembley stadium.
  • The service could call at Old Oak Common station to connect to Crossrail and HS2.
  • A variant of London Overground’s new Class 710 trains,  could probably work the shortened route, as either four or eight-car trains.
  • The Class 710 trains could be based at the convenient  Willesden TMD, along with the rest of the fleet.

Being practical, a service of just two tph would give a train every ten minutes on the West London Line.

The Current Service

The current service is supposed to stop at the following stations.

Note.

  1. Stations between Watford Junction and Clapham Junction, already have a substantial Overground presence.
  2. London Overground already run three tph on the Watford DC Line between Euston and Watford Junction stations.

But would this be the ideal route?

The Northern Terminal

The West Coast Main Line is very busy and stations between Watford Junction and Milton Keynes are well-served by London Midland and Virgin Trains.

So would it be sensible to continue a slower local service North of Watford Junction?

It should also be remembered, that Southern introduced the original service to give better access to Gatwick Airport. Surely, this need is now satisfied by services from Clapham Junction and East Croydon.

As Watford Junction station probably has platform capacity, surely Watford Junction should be the Northern terminal

Could The Service Use The Watford DC Line?

If this were possible, this must surely give advantages, especially if Watford Junctio is the Northern terminal.

  • Dual-voltage Class 710 trains could work the route.
  • The service level on the Watford DC Line would be increased.
  • There would be no problem accessing the bay platforms at Watford Junction station.
  • There would be no requirement for any paths on the West Coast Main Line.

I think the answer to whether the Watford DC Line could be used at the present time is that trains going from the West London Line to Watford Junction must use the West Coast Main Line.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines around Willesden Junction..

 

As it is all railway land, I suspect that the connection can be created.

The one problem, is that some of the Watford DC Line is shared with the Bakerloo Line.

But as the Bakerloo Line is being extended to the South and the Northern end will probably be improved, then surely creating an optimal solution to the Watford DC line, the Bakerloo Line and Overground services to Watford, makes a lot of sense.

The Southern Terminal

Various stations have merits and problems to be used as the Southern terminal for the service.

Clapham Junction

Clapham Junction would appear to have a strong case, but London Overground had enough problems squeezing in their current services.

As the station is now substantially step-free and has typically three tph to Gatwick Airport, Clapham Junction offers a good route to the airport.

Balham

Balham has been used as a terminal in the past and connects to the Northern Line. If redeveloped for Crossrail 2, it could be a possibility.

Steatham Common

Streatham Common could be developed as a major interchange and if this happens, then surely is is a possibility.

East Croydon

East Croydon would have a strong case, as it is a busy and well connected station, but there probably isn’t a suitable platform.

I think that any station South of East Croydon is probably too far.

My money would be on the new interchange station at Streatham Common, with Balham as an alternative.

Schedules And Trains

I estimate that a train doing a return journey between Watford Junction and Streatham Common would take under three hours, using the Watford DC Line. This would mean that three trains would be needed for an hourly service and six trains for a half-hourly service.

Conclusion

Transferring the East Croydon – Milton Keynes route to the  London Overground looks feasible.

 

 

July 7, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Platform Space At Milton Keynes Central

In Future Rail Developments At Milton Keynes, I said that there with all the new services, there would have to be some extra platform space.

So I went to Milton Keynes Central station and took these pictures.

At a quick look there does appear to be more space, than is normal in stations of this size. But then it was only built in 1982.

Platform 2A

The Platforms and Layout section of the Wikipedia entry for the station, says this about the length of Platform 2A.

Platform 2A is a five-car south-facing bay platform.

I would assume, that the car length is the standard British Rail length of twenty metres.

The pictures clearly show that the platform is electrified.

 

 

 

 

December 14, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , | 3 Comments

Future Rail Developments At Milton Keynes

The Milton Keynes area and its stations at Bletchley, Bow BrickhillFenny Stratford, Milton Keynes Central and Wolverton, are in for a lot of development in the next few years.

The East West Rail Link

This map shows the East West Rail Link.

East West Rail Link

East West Rail Link

Note how it crosses the West Coast Main Line at Bletchley and has a connection to Milton Keynes Central.

The Wikipedia entry for Bletchley station has a section called Future. This is said.

The Marston Vale Line is the passenger carrying remnant of the Varsity Line. As of 2014, the line beyond Bletchley through Winslow to Bicester Town is closed to passenger traffic, with goods traffic going only as far as Newton Longville sidings for the waste disposal site there. The high level crossing (officially named the “The Bletchley Flyover” – built in 1959 as part of the Modernisation Plan, with 7 x 56 ft (17 m) spans and then expected to be used by 80 trains a day) over the WCML at Bletchley remains in place and in occasional use. There is a funded plan to re-open the line to passenger traffic via Bicester to Oxford by 2019 and an unfunded desire to rebuild it from Oxford right through to Cambridge. A key element of the plan is to build a Bletchley high level station so that passengers may transfer between the lines. (Note that there is no corresponding east to north route).

It is obviously, a bit out of date, as the East West Rail Link is now planned and funded to Bedford.

This Google Map shows the track layout at Bletchley with the Marston Vale Line joining from the East and Fenny Stratford station.

Bletchley Station And The East West Rail Link

Bletchley Station And The East West Rail Link

Note.

  1. Stadium MK at the top of the map.
  2. The East West Rail Link can be seen curving to the west to the south of Bletchley station.
  3. The flyover over Bletchley station.
  4. Fenny Stratford station is to the south west of the large building at the east.
  5. The next station to the East is Bow Brickhill.

Bletchley will become a more important station.

East West Rail Link Services From Milton Keynes Central

The Wikipedia entry for Milton Keynes Central has a section called East West Rail. This is said.

From 2019, services are planned to operate (over a rebuilt East West Rail Link) to Oxford via Bletchley, Winslow and Bicester Town; and also to London Marylebone via Aylesbury and High Wycombe. Extension of the Oxford service to Reading has been mooted.

This will definitely need some more platforms at Milton Keynes Central, other than the single one 2A built for the still-born extended Marston Wale service to Milton Keynes.

I published some pictures in Platform Space At Milton Keynes Central, which show that there is some space.

Implications For Bletchley

I have now written The The Bletchley Flyover to cover the implications for Bletchley.

Great North Western To Blackpool

The Wikipedia entry for Milton Keynes Central has a section called Great North Western. This is said.

Great North Western Railway has been given permission to run 6 trains a day from London to Blackpool North from 2018, with conditional permission for a stop at Milton Keynes Central dependent upon future capacity after infrastructural work.

This will probably be very much a development, that will only affect Milton Keynes Central station.

Crossrail To Milton Keynes Central

The Wikipedia entry for Milton Keynes Central has a section called Crossrail. This is said.

Network Rail’s July 2011 London & South East Route Utilisation Strategy (RUS) recommended diverting West Coast Main Line (WCML) services from stations between London and Milton Keynes Central away from Euston, to Crossrail via Old Oak Common, to free up capacity at Euston for High Speed 2. Doing so would provide a direct service from the WCML to the Shenfield, Canary Wharf and Abbey Wood, release London Underground capacity at Euston, make better use of Crossrail’s capacity west of Paddington, and improve access to Heathrow Airport from the north. Under this scheme, all Crossrail trains would continue west of Paddington, instead of some of them terminating there. They would serve Heathrow Airport (10 tph), stations to Maidenhead and Reading (6 tph), and stations to Milton Keynes Central (8 tph).

In August 2014, a statement by the transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin indicated that the government was actively evaluating the extension of Crossrail as far as Tring and Milton Keynes Central, with potential Crossrail stops at Wembley Central, Harrow & Wealdstone, Bushey, Watford Junction, Kings Langley, Apsley, Hemel Hempstead, Berkhamsted, Tring, Cheddington, Leighton Buzzard and Bletchley. The extension would relieve some pressure from London Underground and London Euston station while also increasing connectivity. Conditions to the extension are that any extra services would not affect the planned service pattern for confirmed routes, as well as affordability.

Extending Crossrail to Milton Keynes would seem to be a sensible idea.

It would increase the capacity and frequency of services between Milton Keynes and London and open up several more direct destinations.

The quote from Wikipedia talks of increasing connectivity to Crossrail.

This connectivity is in addition to that created by an Old Oak Common station.

As with the East West Rail Link, it will probably need extra platforms at Milton Keynes Central. But there is at least some space to create them.

Conclusion

Milton Keynes Central will be a lot bigger and busier than it is now.

But it will join that elite group of stations that are Crossrail’s and Thameslink’s super-hubs.

 

December 13, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 1 Comment