The Anonymous Widower

Moorgate Is Being Refurbished In Readiness For Crossrail

I took these pictures as I walked from between Moorgate and Bank stations.

With Moorgate station about to become the Western end of the enormous Crossrail station at Liverpool Street, the office developments in the area are being refurbished or rebuilt, so that commuters have appropriate places to work.

June 21, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

First ‘717’ In UK In June

The title of this post is the same as that of a short article in the May 2018 Edition of Modern Railways.

This is the first paragraph.

The first Class 717 EMU, built by Siemens for Govia Thameslink Railway’s Great Northern suburban services into Moorgate, is due to arrive in the UK in June.

The article also makes these statements, about the new Class 717 trains.

  • The first unit is planned to enter service in September.
  • The full fleet of 25 x 6-car units will be deployed in Winter 2018.
  • The current Class 313 trains will be replaced.
  • The new trains will have no toilets or First Class.
  • The new trains will have power points and wi-fi.

By virtue of the cross-platform connection between the Northern City Line and Victoria Line, these trains will improve a valuable link between North East London and the City of London.

When Crossrail opens in December 2018 at Moorgate station, the Northern City Line will have a step-free below-ground connection to Liverpool Street station and all the Underground lines serving the two stations.

Ducking and diving will move to a whole new level.

What Will The New Trains Do For Me?

For my own part, if the frequency on the Northern City Line is increased, I shall use the line from Essex Road station to get to Moorgate for Crossrail and the Central Line.

I suspect my house will go up in value!

How Will The New Trains Affect The Service?

The New Trains Are Faster

The current Class 313 trains are 75 mph trains, whereas the new Class 717 trains are 100 mph trains.

This increased operating speed will have two effects, when running on the East Coast Main Line and to Letchworth Garden City.

  • Time might be saved.
  • As their operating speed is the same as Thameslink’s closely-related Class 700 trains, they might make keeping to time easier.

Time savings on the Hertford Loop Line, will be more difficult, as the line only has a 75 mph operating speed.

However, speed improvements on the Hertford Loop Line would surely result in faster trains to Hertford, Letchworth Garden City and Stevenage.

The New Trains Could Change Voltage Faster

Trains on the Northern City Line need to change voltage at Drayton Park station. I have observed Class 700 trains, do this on Thameslink and they do it without fuss and very reliably.

The Class 717 trains will probably use the same pantograph, so we could be seeing a smoother and faster changeover.

The New Trains Will Probably Be Ready For ERTMS

The Class 700 trains are fitted for ERTMS, so they can work the Thameslink tunnel under Automatic Train Operation.

As this method of signalling and control will be fitted to the East Coast Main Line to improve caacity, the new Class 717 trains will probably be ERTMS-ready.

It should be noted that the Hertford Loop Line has been used as an ERTMS test track and I suspect engineers know the performance improvement ERTMS would bring to the line.

I suspect in a few years, the Northern City Line and services out of Moorgate will be run automatically, with the driver monitoring the system.

The New Trains Will Stop In A Shorter Time At Stations

The new Class 717 trains will have the these advantages of modern trains over the current ones.

  • They will be able to accelerate to line speed in a shorter time.
  • They will be able to brake faster.
  • Wider doors and larger lobbies will enable shorter loading and unloading times.
  • The trains will have better systems to help the driver.

These will all result in time savings at each stops.

Currently, the four destinations have the number of stops to Moorgate.

  • Hertford North –  49-53 minutes – 12 stops
  • Letchworth Garden City – 75 minutes – 19 stops
  • Stevenage – 68-72 minutes – 14 stops
  • Welwyn Garden City – 47-48 minutes – 16 stops

Because of the high number of stops, saving a minute at each stop would speed up the train service.

Less Trains Could Be Needed For The Current Service

As an example, take the Moorgate to Letchworth service.

The current service is one train per hour (tph), which takes 75 minutes. In its simplest form, allowing for turnround at both ends, trains take up to three hours for the round trip, so three trains are needed for the service.

But if the faster Class 717 trains can save a minute at each stop and run faster on the East Coast Main Line, it might be possible to reduce the round trip to several minutes under two hours. If that is possible, then only two trains would be needed for the route.

Improve The Hertford Loop Line

With its low operating speed of 75 mph, the new Class 717 trains can’t take full sadvantage of their increased speed.

There are already plans for new bay platforms at Gordon Hill and Stevenage stations, so what other plans are being progressed to improve the Hertford Loop Line?

The New Trains Could Have Less Seats And More Capacity

I can only give a rough estimate for this as I can’t find the capacity of a Class 717 train.

These are cars, car length and capacity for various trains.

  • Class 707 trains -five x 20 m. – 275 seats + 533 standing
  • Class 717 trains – six x 20.2 m. – No figures.
  • Class 313 trains – three x 20.2 m. – 232 seats
  • 2 x Class 313 trains – six x 20.2 m. 464 seats

A rough calculation for the Class 717 train using the figures for a similar Class 707 train and adjusting for another ytailer carriage gives the following.

339 seats + 657 standing = 996 total

Incidemtally, I’ve stood on a crowded Class 707 train, and it was not an unpleasant experience, as there were plenty of handholds.

This picture shows handholds on the seats and between carriages.

I hope the Class 717 trains have 2 + 2 seating, like the Class 707 trains.

Improved Services To And From Moorgate

Current services to and from Moorgate station are as follows.

  • Three tph to Welwyn Garden City
  • Three tph to Hertford North, with one tph extended to Letchworth Gsrden City.

This means that there are six tph between Alexandra Palace and Moorgate stations.

From the May 2018 timetable change, the service levels will become.

  • Four tph to Welwyn Garden City
  • Five tph to Hertford North, with two tph extended to Stevenage or Watton-at-Stone.
  • No direct services will run to Letchworth Garden City. Change seems to be a cross-platform interchange at Finsbury Park.

The service termination at Watton-at-Stone station is only temporary until Network Rail build a new bay platform at Stevenage station.

These changes mean  that there will be nine tph between Alexandra Palace and Moorgate stations.

This frequency is already achieved in the Peak, from Monday to Friday. But it now appears, it will be running all day from the May 2018 timetable change.

I found this document on the Rail Delivery Group web site, which is entitled 6,400 Extra Trains A Week To Run To More Places, More Often.

It says these services will be added in 2019.

  • An increase of 2 Hertford Loop trains per hour, Moorgate-Hertford
  • An increase of 1 Hertford Loop train per hour, Moorgate-Stevenage
  • An increase of 1 train per hour, Moorgate-Welwyn Garden City

In the May 2018 edition of Modern Railways, this is said.

New Class 717 EMUs will eplace the current Class 313s on these services from the autumn, with a further frequency boost planned in May 2019.

Adding this all together gives the following.

  • Five tph to Welwyn Garden City
  • Seven tph to Hertford North, with three tph extended to Stevenage.

This means that there will be twelve tph between Alexandra Palace and Moorgate stations. Or a train every five minutes.

It would appear that the overall effect of what Govia Thameslink Railway is doing is as follows.

  • Restricting the running of Moorgate services on the East Coast Main Line.
  • Provide a five tph Turn-Up-And-Go service from Welwyn Garden City.
  • Provide a seven tph Turn-Up-And-Go service from  Hertford North.
  • Provide a six tph Turn-Up-And-Go Thameslink service from Stevenage.
  • Provide a three tph service to Moorgate from Stevenage and Watton-at-Stone. Could it be expanded to a Turn-Up-And-Go four tph.
  • Stations North of Stevenage will be served by Thameslink services to Cambridge and Peterborough.
  • Thameslink services will stop at Stevenage and Finsbury Park for interchange with Moorgate services.

Will all of of this, downgrade Welwyn North station, by offering better services at Knebworth, Stevenage, Watton-at-Stone and Welwyn Garden City stations?

Consider.

  • Welwyn North station handles about 600.000 passengers a year.
  • Welwyn North station only has a service of two tph.
  • Welwyn North station lies on the double-track section of the East Coast Main Line over the Digswell Viaduct.
  • Knebworth station handles 600,000 passengers a year, but is on a four-track section of the line.
  • Watton-at-Stone station, which is perhaps four kilometres to the East handles 100,000 passengers a year, but appears to be short of car parking.

I’m pretty certain, that if Welwyn North station could be closed, then the notorious bottleneck of the Digswell Viaduct could be eased.

So are Network Rail and Govia Thameslink Railway working towards a situation, where this will be able to happen.

They could do the following.

  • Provide more car parking at Knebworth, Stevenage, Watton-at-Stone and Welwyn Garden City stations.
  • Build a new Park-And-Ride station in South Stevenage on the Hertford Loop Line.
  • Improve timings between Stevenage and Moorgate.
  • Extend more Hertford North services to Stevenage. Six tph would probably be the limit for a single bay platform at Stevenage.

Shutting Welwyn North station would be controversial and heavily resisted.

How Many Trains Will Be Needed?

In May 2019, I think the service will be as follows.

  • Five tph to Moorgate to Welwyn Garden City
  • Four tph to Moorgate to Hertford North,
  • Three tph Moorgate to Stevenage.

I’ll now look at each separately.

Moorgate To Welwyn Garden City

Trains take just under around 47-48 minutes and there are sixteen intermediate stops.

Currently, I suspect a train takes two hours to do a round trip, which would allow up to 12-13 minutes to turn round at each end.

  • Three tph would need six trains.
  • Four tph would need eight trains.
  • Five tph would need ten trains.

But supposing the Class 717 trains, with faster running on the East Coast Main Line and faster stops could reduce this to under thirty minutes with a round trip of an hour.

  • Four tph would need four trains.
  • Five tph would need five trains.

Note.

  1. Currently, all trains are turned in Platform 4.
  2. Will Platform 4 be able to handle four tph after the May 2018 timetable change?
  3. Will Platform 4 be able to handle five tph after the May 2019 timetable change?
  4. There are sidings easily accessible to the North of Platform 4.
  5. Trains leaving Welwyn Garden City for Moorgate use a flyover to cross to the Up Slow line.

If five tph with just five trains is possible, it’s well worth achieving. But it could be a hard ask!

Moorgate To Hertford North

Trains take around 49-53 minutes and there are twelve intermediate stops.

This service would be another two hour round trip.

  • Three tph would need six trains.
  • Four tph would need eight trains.
  • Five tph would need ten trains.

The new Class 717 trains couldn’t probably do the trip in thirty minutes, but a ninety minute round-trip would surely be possible.

  • The proposed four tph would need six trains.

Note.

  1. Four tph is the frequency that will be running from May 2019.
  2. Four tph could also be easily handled in the bay platform at Hertford North station.

Any track improvement would help.

Moorgate To Stevenage

Trains take around 68-72 minutes and there are fourteen intermediate stops.

The new Class 717 trains with their faster running  and faster stops, should be able to do this trip under the hour, with a possible two-hour round trip.

If this could be achieved the service would need the following trains.

  • The proposed three tph would need six trains.
  • Four tph would need eight trains.

Improving the Hertford Loop Line, so that the Class 717 trains could fully use their 100 mph operating speed could be key.

Summarising The Trains Needed

Summarising gives.

  • Three tph between Moorgate and Stevenage would need six trains.
  • Four tph between Moorgate and Hertford North would need eight trains with a two hour round trip.
  • Cut that to a ninety-minute round trip and six trains could be needed.
  • Five tph between Moorgate and Welwyn Garden City could possibly be run with five trains or need as many as ten.

A pessimistic answer for the number of trains could be as high as 24, which fits well with a fleet of twenty five trains.

But an optimistic solution might need.

  • Six trains for Stevenage
  • Six trains for Hertford North
  • Five trains for Welwyn Garden City

This would leave several trains for increasing frequency.

Increasing The Service After May 2019

Improving The Hertford Loop Line

If the Class 717 trains could use their speed, this would enable faster journeys and could allow extra paths for more trains.

ERTMS On The Moorgate Lines

It is already used by Thameslink and is scheduled to be used on the East Coast Main Line.

Will it be added to the Hertford Loop Line and on the Northern City Line?

ERTMS and a degree of Automatic Train Control, could be a game changer.

Fitting the necessary equipment to the Class 717 trains, shouldn’t be the most difficult of jobs, as the system is already fitted to Thameslink’s Class 700 trains.

Increased Frequency Into Moorgate

Consider.

  • Currently, in the Peak, the Class 313 trains running under control of conventional signalling manage 11 tph at times.
  • From May 2019, Gover Thameslink Railway will be running 12 tph into Moorgate all day.
  • Thameslink and Crossrail should be handling 24 tph, by the end of 2019.
  • Brixton station on the Victoria Line handles upwards of thirty tph with two platforms.
  • Transport for London and Londoners have a lot of experience about loading and unloading trains.

Look at this schematic of the vast Crossrail complex linking Liverpool Street and Moorgate stations.

Note the Northern City Line in dark blue at the left, with a new pedestrian tunnel linking to Crossrail. This will help handle the passenger flows between Crossrail and the Northern City Line.

With ERTMS and Automatic Train Control, I wonder what, is the maximum number of trains that can be handled at Moorgate?

Twelve is obviously possible with the current infrastructure, as it is only one more than what is currently achieved in the Peak.

My experience says that with good electronic and organisational systems, that fifteen tph should be possible in both directions between Moorgate and Finsbury Park stations.

An Extra Train To Stevenage

Current plans envisage three tph between Moorgate and Stevenage.

The new bay platform at Stevenage would easily handle four tph and if the sufficient trains are available, I could see this extra service implemented.

The following frequencies would be achieved.

  • Four tph – Stevenage and Watton-at-Stone.
  • Eight tph – Hertford North.

The Northern City Line would obviously need to be able to handle the extra train.

Gordon Hill Station As An Extra Terminus

Gordon Hill station is sometimes used as an extra terminus to turn trains from Moorgate in the Peak.

I can see this continuing, as surely it increases the capacity at the Moorgate end of the line.

Conclusion

It will be interesting to swee how this line develops in the future.

 

April 27, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

London Has A New Underground Line

On Friday, I went between Brighton and Cambridge stations on one of the first Thameslink services on the route.

I wrote about it in Observations On Thameslink Between Brighton And Cambridge.

That journey took me on London’s new Underground Line between London Bridge and Finsbury Park stations.

The following trains are going North from London Bridge to Finsbury Park.

  • 11:29 – Horsham to Peterborough – Arrives at Finsbury Park at 11:52
  • 12:49 – Brighton to Cambridge – Arrives at Finsbury Park at 13:13
  • 15:04 – Horsham to Peterborough – Arrives at Finsbury Park at 15:27
  • 15:34 – Brighton to Cambridge – Arrives at Finsbury Park at 15:57

And the following trains are going South from Finsbury Park to London Bridge.

  • 10:59 – Peterborough to Horsham – Arrives at London Bridge at 11:24
  • 12:09 -Cambridge to Brighton – Arrives at London Bridge at 12:37
  • 14:29 – Peterborough to Horsham – Arrives at London Bridge at 14:55
  • 15:11 – Cambridge to Brighton – Arrives at London Bridge at 15:37

All journeys take around 23-25 minutes, with stops at Blackfriars, City Thameslink, Farringdon and St. Pancras International stations.

It may officially be part of Thameslink, but it will function like a convewntional Underground Line, but with bigger trains.

The Underground Alternative

If you look at Transport for London’s Journey Planner, this give a time of twenty minutes for a journey between London Bridge and Finsbury Park, using the Northern and Victoria lines with a change at Euston.

That is also not a step-free or wheel-chair friendly route.

Obviously, at the moment, most passengers have no choice, as there is only four trains per day in each direction on the new Thameslink route.

But when a Full Service is running, with a train every ten minutes, things will be very different.

My Access To Thameslink

Timings to Thameslink stations from my house are as follows.

  • Finsbury Park – 15 mins by 141 Bus and Piccadilly Line
  • London Bridge – 25 mins by 21 or 141 Bus
  • London Bridge – 31 mins  using Transport for London’s Journey Planner’s recommended route via Dalston Junction and Canada Water.

The latter probably explains why Londoners are generally Grade 1 Duckers-And-Divers!

I suspect, when I go to Gatwick Airport, I’ll go via Finsbury Park, using the mini-cab from around the corner or a black cab, as both will be quicker.

I suspected right. Returning from Finsbury Park station to home this evening, took ten minutes and cost a tenner.

A Preview Service

Thameslink are only running a preview service between London Bridge and Finsbury Park at the current time.

On my Friday trip, it was particularly noticeable, that passengers were thin on the ground between the two stations.

  • But then passengers probably didn’t know about the service and may have been confused seeing a train going to Cambridge.
  • It’s also not shown on the Tube Map.
  • I didn’t notice any advertising for the new route.

So how do you use something that you don’t know about?

The Full Service

This route will have the following characteristics, when Thameslink open it fully.

The Route Will Serve The City of London Well

These factors will help this section of Thameslink serve the City of London.

  • Step-free stations at Farringdon, City Thameslink and London Bridge ring the South and West of the City of London.
  • Crossrail with an interchange with Thameslink at Farringdon also gives a quick route to the East of the City of London and Canary Wharf.
  • The City of London is also planning a lot of pedestrianisation.

Other developments like Crossrail and the expansion of Bank station and the Docklands Light Railway, will make London’s financial district, one of the best connected by public transport in the World.

The Route Will Have Tourist Attractions

The route could have been designed for tourists.

  • London Bridge station has London and Tower Bridges, Southwark Cathedral, Borough Market, HMS Belfast and the Shard.
  • But the most spectacular modern architecture at London Bridge, is the station itself, with its lifts, escalators, fifteen platforms and a shopping centre.
  • Blackfriars is a unique station, as it spans the Thames with entrances on both banks, and it is the world’s largest solar-powered bridge.
  • Blackfriars station is a short walk along the river from the Tate Modern and the Millennium Bridge.
  • Many good walks along the river start from Blackfriars.
  • City Thameslink station dates from 1990 and it shows, but it is close to St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Old Bailey, so it attracts visitors at both ends of the moral spectrum.
  • Farringdon station will be a major interchange, where Crossrail and Thameslink connect, so don’t let unsuitable organisations build all the hotels this area will attract.
  • Farringdon is close to two of London’s iconic markets; Smithfield meat market and the attached wife market.
  • Saint Pancras International station is a fur coat and no knickers station, as although it looks good, it’s practicality is suspect.
  • If they’d given the job to the architect, who updated Kings Cross station next door, they would have got a a more practical station.
  • Finsbury Park station is a place, where you go and explore the local area, which is vibrant and full of history.
  • You may even get as far as Alexandra Palace or Manor House, where I saw John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers with a very drunk Eric Clapton in the 1960s.

It is a line to explore London.

Six Trains Per Hour

There will be six trains per hour (tph), which will run All Day.

  • Two tph – Peterborough to Horsham – twelve-car
  • Two tph – Cambridge to Brighton – twelve-car
  • Two tph – Cambridge to Maidstone East – eight-car

This gives a six tph service between Finsbury Park and London Bridge and also a four tph service to East Croydon and Gatwick Airport.

Two Additional Trains Per Hour In The Peak

In the Peak, there will be two tph, that run from Welwyn Garden City to Sevenoaks.

But they will go via Elephant and Castle rather than London Bridge.

Thameslink must have their reasoning behind this service, but I have some questions.

  • Would commuters in the Peak prefer to go to London Bridge?
  • Would passengers from Sevenoaks and Welwyn Garden City like an All Day service?

These questions and others will be answered in the next few years, as hameslink develops.

Full Step-Free Access At London Bridge Station

London Bridge station has full step-free access for all the following services.

  • Thameslink
  • Services to and from Cannon Street station
  • Services to and from Waterloo East and Charing Cross stations.
  • Jubilee and Northern Lines of the Underground
  • Terminating services at London Bridge
  • Several bus routes, including my bus home!

Note.

  1. Passengers will use the escalators to get to the right destination.
  2. Thameslink passengers will use the island platform to reverse direction.
  3. It took me just two minutes to change from Platforms 2/3 to Platforms 8/9.
  4. Going from Platform 6/7 to the bus station was under three minutes and a 141 Bus was just getting ready to leave.
  5. Passengers can walk across London Bridge to the City of London.

There are few stations better than London Bridge anywhere in the world!

Full Step-Free Access at Finsbury Park Station

Finsbury Park station is being updated to have full step-free access for the following services.

  • Thameslink
  • Great Northern Services to Cambridge, Kings Lynn and Peterborough
  • Northern City Line services to and from Moorgate station
  • Piccadilly and Victoria Lines. of the Underground.

There will also be same-platform interchange between Thameslink and Northern City Line services.

The Improved Northern City Line At Finsbury Park Station

The Northern City Line will be substantially improved.

  • New Class 717 trains have been ordered.
  • This could mean an increased All Day service of perhaps 10-12 tph.
  • Moorgate station will be on Crossrail.
  • There will be a same-platform interchange with Thameslink at Finsbury Park station.
  • Hopefully, the terrible stations on the route will be improved.

This line will change from being a crowded, outdated backwater of the UK rail system to an important modern link to the City of London and Crossrail from large parts of North and North-East London.

The Link To Crossrail

The link between Thameslink and Crossrail at Farringdon station will probably be heavily used, if it is well-designed and fully-step free. Which I suspect it will be, until proven otherwise!

Don’t forget too, the link to the Metropolitan and Circle Lines at this key station, which is much better than the link at St. Pancras

Step-Free Access At All The Intermediate Stations Between London Bridge and Finsbury Park

Access at Blackfriars, City Thameslink, Farringdon and St. Pancras stations are all fully step-free.

The Fastest Way To Gatwick Airport And Brighton From North London

My friend lives in Walthamstow and always goes to Gatwick Airport by using the Victoria Line and Gatwick Express.

  • This takes twenty-three minutes for the Victoria Line and thirty minutes for the train.
  • The Thameslink route via Finsbury Park, takes nine minutes for the Victoria Line and an hour for the train.

Note.

  1. Both trains will run every fifteen minutes, when the full Thameslink service is running.
  2. The Thameslink timing is only the time of the Preview Service. Will the Full Service be faster?
  3. Finsbury Park and Victoria will both be fully step-free within a year or so.
  4. The trains on Gatwick Express will be more comfortable.
  5. The walk at Finsbury Park is shorter than at Victoria.
  6. The Thameslink route will be more affordable.

Everybody will have their own preference.

The biggest winners will be.

  • Those living on the Northern reaches of the Piccadilly Line, who will have a full step-free interchange to Thameslink at Finsbury Park
  • Those living on the Northern City Line, who will have a same-platform interchange to Thameslink at Finsbury Park.
  • Those who walk, cycle or take a bus or cab to Finsbury Park.

Gatwick Airport could be a big winner, as a whole area of North London and Hertfordshire now has a new excellent direct connection to the Airport.

What Still Needs To Be Done?

It is a well-thought out route, but some things still need to be done.

Is Six Tph Enough Trains Between London Bridge And Finsbury Park?

I ask this question, with my scheduling hat on!

At the moment of the 24 tph through the Snow Hill Tunnel, two-thirds of the trains go up the Midland Main Line, with just a third on the East Coast Main Line.

I think that, when Thameslink increase the frequency through the central core, that they will increase the frequency through Finsbury Park.

Could Two Tph From The Sutton Loop Go To Welwyn Garden City?

Curremtly, four tph start at St. Albans City station, go through London, then round the Sutton Loop, before returning to St. Albans City.

Would it be desirable to start two of these services from Welwyn Garden City station?

It will all depend on operational issues and the routes passengers take.

City Thameslink And St. Paul’s Stations Need A Connection

I believe this is possible and I wrote about it in A Pedestrian Connection Between City Thameslink Station And St. Paul’s Tube Station.

 

Should The Docklands Light Railway Be Extended To City Thameslink, Euston And St. Pancras?

I wrote about this extension in detail in A Connection Between City Thameslink Station And The Docklands Light Railway.

Could Thameslink Connect To The Waterloo And City Line?

I wrote about this connection in Could The Waterloo And City Line Have An Intermediate Station At Blackfriars?

Development of new trains for the Underground, will make this link possible.

 

Should Thameslink Be On The Tube Map

I wrote about this in Thameslink Should Be On The Tube Map.

All Of Thameslink Should Be In The Oystercard Area

Gatwick Airport is already in the Oystercard area, but it is silly that Oyster cards and contsctless cards can’t be used on all Thameslink services.

Conclusion

The possibilities for Thameslink and the effects it will have will be enormous.

 

March 11, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

New Tiling On The Northern Line Platforms At Moorgate Station

These pictures show the tiles and other fitments as the Northern Line platforms at Moorgate station are fitted out for Crossrail.

Lifts are being installed to complete the station.

When everything is finished on the Northern Line platforms and the parallel Northern City Line platforms that are above these platforms, there will be step-free access between these platforms and the Crossrail platforms at the massive double-ended Liverpool Street Crossrail station, that connects to Liverpool Street at one end and Moorgate station at the other.

December 31, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

An Unusual Set Of Steps

These steps currently exist at Moorgate station.

The steps have been closed and it looks like they will be replaced by a lift to the subway.

At least they’re roped off securely!

December 18, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , | Leave a comment

London’s First Underground Roller Coaster

This picture shows a cross-section of the massive Liverpool Street Crossrail station, which will connect Moorgate and Liverpool Street stations when it opens in December 2018.

Note.

  1. Moorgate station is on the left.
  2. Liverpool Street station is on the right.
  3. In the middle looking like a giant juicer is the ventilation shaft in Finsbury Circus.
  4. The Crossrail tunnels, which consist of two running tunnels and a pedestrian walkway between them are at the deepest level.
  5. There are escalators and lifts all over the place.

Suppose you are walking from street level at Liverpool Street station to street level at Moorgate station in heavy rain and you don’t want to get wet.

You would take the following route.

  • Enter Liverpool Street Underground station.
  • Take the escalators down from street level to the intermediate level.
  • Walk along the passage and take the escalators down to the Crossrail level.
  • Walk along the central pedestrian walkway between the two Crossrail running tyunnels.
  • Take the escalators up to the Intermediate level.
  • Take the escalators up to street level in Moorgate Underground station.

You would actually walk a shorter distance, than you do now, as the four escalators would carry you forward.

In Liverpool Street Crossrail Station Disentangled, I showed this schematic of the station complex.

Note how the Northern Line passes through Moorgate station and the Central Line passes through Liverpool Street station, both at right-angles to Crossrail.

This image enlarged from the first shows a cross-section of Moorgate station.

Note the two circles under the escalator, which I suspect are the tunnels for the Northern Line.

There is probably some intricate spaghetti at this end of the station connecting the Bank branch of the Northern Line to Crossrail, in addition to the escalators.

But it means that if you want to go from Liverpool Street station to the Northern Line, you’ll descend to Crossrail and then ascend to the Northern Line.

This will be probably easier than the current long walk and the escalator descent at Moorgate station.

This image enlarged from the first shows a cross-section of Liverpool Street station end of the Crossrail station.

Note.

  1. The glazed entrance to the station.
  2. The Central Line tunnels.

Again, I suspect the spaghetti is intricate.

But from the schematic it would appear there’s a good link from the central tunnel to the Central Line.

Conclusion

I hope the signage and information will be good.

 

 

 

 

September 19, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | 1 Comment

Gibb Report – Moorgate Services Could Be Transferred To The London Overground

The Gibb Report, looks in detail at services out of Moorgate station on the Northern City Line in detail.

Note that current plans for this line include.

It could also be rebranded as the Great Northern Metro.

Chris Gibbs flags up various issues with this service. He says this about the infrastructure.

25 new Class 717 six-car trains are being built by Siemens as a dedicated fleet for this route, and will be maintained by GTR at their Hornsey Depot. The line between Drayton Park and Moorgate is a former underground line transferred to BR in 1976 and partly converted for main line trains.

It retains various Underground characteristics, such as third rail electrification with a fourth return rail, and tripcocks at all signals, and I believe Old Street and Moorgate stations are owned by London Underground as part of shared stations, and are in need of modernisation. The track and signalling is owned and operated by Network Rail.

I would add a personal observation. Highbury and Islington station is a station where the below-ground platforms are in desperate need of improvement and step-free access. Over the last year or so, with GTR’s labour troubles, the operation of the station at times, has not been smooth, much to the exasperation of London Underground/Overground staff.

Chris Gibbs also notes several issues with the employment of staff after 2018.

Other current Great Northern services run between Kings Lynn, Cambridge, Peterborough and Kings Cross, and these will be part of the Thameslink operation from 2018, with most services continuing to destinations south of London and a few running to Kings Cross. I understand Great Northern drivers will be “temporarily” split between Metro and Thameslink in 2017 to avoid them all having to learn the cross London routes and Class 700 trains, so there may then be a some division for TUPE purposes.

At present it is proposed not to initially train about 100 drivers on Class 700 trains, spread across several locations, and it is proposed to open new drivers depots, for example at Welwyn Garden City and Finsbury Park. These proposals have not yet been approved by DfT, and recruitment has not yet begun. However there is still risk that splitting the driver workforce, who currently enjoy variety of work, may be unpopular, and more work is required to evaluate this. All Great Northern Metro services are currently DOO.

It looks like a disaster waiting to happen to me.

He finishes his discussion on the Great Northern Metro like this.

I believe there is an option to transfer the Great Northern Metro operation to TfL and it’s London Overground concession in 2018. If TfL / the London Overground concessionaire were to take the lead in this transfer, and the implementation of the new trains and service, this could reduce risks associated with the Thameslink programme, led by GTR. 

However to do this, a decision should be made immediately, and discussions commenced with
TfL, GTR and the London Overground concessionaire.

Personally, I think that this would be a very good idea.

In this area of London, we have three stations that need to be dramatically improved; Old Street, Essex Road and Highbury and Islingtont.

All are on the Northern City Line and they could start with a deep clean at Essex Road, which was probably cleaner when it opened in the same year my father was born.

But being serious, these three stations could be serious development opportunities.

  • Highbury and Islington is a major interchange that hasn’t been rebuilt properly since it was bombed in World War 2 and was changed on the cheap to squeeze the Victoria Line through underground.
  • Essex Road could also be redeveloped with a modern step-free station underneath.
  • Old Street is now surrounded by towers and the road layout is being simpified, so why not put a massive tower on the site and build a modern station underneath?

Having only one operator at the stations must surely ease redevelopment.

I think if the split between GTR and the Great Northern Metro was thought through properly, there could be advantages all round.

  • All services North of Welwyn Garden City on the East Coast Main Line and the Cambridge Line would be provided by GTR.
  • All Hertford Loop Line services would be provided by London Overground.
  • All Hertford Loop Line stations would be managed by London Overground.
  • All stations South of Welwyn Garden City on the East Coast Main Line would be managed by London Overground.
  • A turnback platform would be built at Stevenage.
  • Welwyn Garden City and Stevenage stations would be updated to allow easy interchange between GTR and Great Northern Metro services.
  • Alexandra Palace station is developed, so that cross platform interchange is possible between GTR and Great Northern Metro services.

It certainly looks like a properly integrated 100 mph suburban rail route can be built to Stevenage, with similar fleets of 100 mph Class 700 trains and Class 717 trains on Thameslink and the Great Northern Metro respectively.

The East Coast Main Line would work as now.

  • Great Northern Metro services between Moorgate and Welwyn Garden City
  • Outer suburban services between Kings Cross and Stevenage, Peterborough and Cambridge.
  • In 2018, Thamelink will link St. Pancras to Stevenage, Peteborough and Cambridge.

On the Hertford Loop Line, there would just be a Great Northern Metro service between Moorgate and Stevenage, via Hertford North.

There could be possible problems and questions.

  • Would residents of Hertfordshire, object to services being controlled by the London Mayor?
  • Who would pay for the required turn-back platform at Stevenage?
  • Could London Overground absorb the route without too many problems?
  • Would there be enough paths on the East Coast Main Line?
  • Where would the depot for the Class 717 trains be located?
  • How will Siemens respond to the change of operator for their Class 717 trains?

But there are some other factors in favour.

  • The Great Northern Metro service on the Hertford Loop Line would effectively be an independent double-track railway capable of handling as many six-car Class 717 trains as were desired. The current three trains per hour (tph) is probably way below the theoretical capacity, which is probably determined by the single platform at Stevenage.
  • London Overground successfully integrated the Lea Valley Lines into their operation.
  • London Overground and the Great Northern Metro both work under DOO.
  • Hopefully, Transport for London have the knowledge to integrate the Class 717 trains into the tunnels to Moorgate. But they have an excellent museum!
  • London Overground’s working practices would appear to be similar to those on the Great Northern Metro.
  • London Overground’s station manning policies are better for passengers and may even be better for staff, who always seem to be courteous and enjoying their work.

But surely the biggest thing in the transfer’s favour, is that it gives responsibility to new train introduction and updating of the Great Northern Metro to another operator, who has a proven record in this field, so that GTR can concentrate on launching Thameslink services.

Collateral Benefits Of Updating Great Northern Metro Services

After train replacement the Great Northern Metro will be run by modern 100 mph trains, as opposed to 75 mph scrapyard specials.

Currently, the Class 313 trains take the following times.

  • Moorgate and Hertford North – 45 minutes – 13 stops
  • Moorgate and Letchworth Garden City – 79 minutes – 16 stops.
  • Moorgate and Stevenage – 63 minutes – 15 stops.
  • Moorgate and Welwyn Garden City – 49 minutes – 16 stops

As modern trains can save a minute or two on each stop, there must be the possibilities of faster services, with the serious possibility of Letchworth Garden City within an hour from Moorgate, with the new 100 mph Class 717 trains.

Stevenage would certainly be well within the hour and I suspect that because of the extra speed an additional fourth train could be run to both Hertford North and Welwyn Garden City, with all Hertford North trains running on and terminating at Stevenage, once the turnback platform is built.

To run four tph each route would require just eight trains or sixteen trains in total.

If you split the order for twenty-five trains into two, that would mean twelve trains would be available for each route, which are enough trains to have the following service.

  • 6 tph – Moorgate to Welwyn Garden City
  • 6 tph – Moorgate to Stevenage via Hertford North

These are the sort of frequencies that train operating companies like to run in South London.

Alexandra Palace to Moorgate would have a massive twelve tph.

The current timetable handles this frequency in the Peak, so it could be possible all day, with very little work needed on the infrastructure. London Underground would probably laugh at 12 tph, when you consider the Northern and Victoria Lines handle three times as many trains to a two platform below ground terminal.

But is it really needed?

If you look at the timing of the fast Class 387 trains between Stevenage and Finsbury Park, they take around twenty minutes going fast down the East Coast Main Line, as against the Class 313 trains which take forty-four minutes using the Hertford Loop Line. On a rough estimate the new Class 717 trains might be able to do this trip in perhaps twenty-five minutes on an updated Hertford Loop Line.

A fast high-capacity service on this route that has been neglected, must be capable of development with perhaps a Park-and-Ride and a couple of new stations.

It may not be a bad idea to update the Hrtyford Loop Line with modern signalling and to allow faster running, as surely if the normal trains on the loop were modern 100 mph units, then extra paths could be found to act as diversion routes for the bottleneck of the double-track Digswell Viaduct.

It’s amazing how faster trains can unlock the potential of a rail route.

Conclusion

Chris Gibb has made an interesting proposal.

There are good reasons to transfer the Great Northern Metro to London Overground.

  • London Overground have the expertise to introduce the new trains.
  • Transport for London have the expertise to redevelop the stations on the route at the Southern end.
  • GTR will be able to concentrate on Thameslink
  • Moorgate, Old Street, Essex Road and Highbury and Islington stations become Transport for London-only stations.
  • London would gain a new Metro line between Moorgate and Alexandra Palace via Highbury and Islington and Finsbury Park, that extends into Hertfordshire and has a frequency of at least twelve tph.
  • Crossrail gets another North-South feeder line.
  • Highbury and Islington and Finsbury Park will become high quality interchanges.
  • The Hertford Loop Line can be developed independently of Thameslink and the East Coast Main Line to be a high-capacity North-South Metro from North London to Stevenage.
  • The Victoria Line gets a cross-platform connection to the Great Northern Metro for Crossrail at Highbury and Islington.

The only problem, is that it might remove some of the reasons for extending Crossrail 2 to New Southgate.

Overall it strikes me that GTR have been working totally without any vision or any idea about how their new trains will transform the Great Northern Metro.

 

July 8, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

An Architecture Firm Wants To Turn The London Underground’s Entire Circle Line Into A Three-Lane Travelator

The title of this post is the headline on an article in the Independent.

It is rather an old chestnut and I think it’s been suggested before and even tried out in at Montparnasse station in Paris in 2002.

One of the railway web sites pointed out that the Circle Line in London is also used by District, Hammersmith and City and Metropolitan Line trains, so it would be rather difficult to design.

But I do think we could do with a few more travelators, escalators and lifts in London.

And in some stations Crossrail and other projects will bring these sorts of improvements sooner rather than later.

The Massive Liverpool Street/Moorgate station for Crossrail

Crossrail will combine the two Underground stations of Liverpool Street and Moorgate.

The map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines at the two stations.

Note how Crossrail, which is shown in a purpley blue, lies between the two stations, with the Northern Line at the West and the Central Line at the East.

This image shows a visualisation of the station.

Note how escalators lead down at both ends and you can effectively walk between the two stations with assistance from escalators at both ends..

Passengers arriving on Crossrail will be able to get out of the Eastern end of the platforms and access the following lines.

  • Central Line
  • Circle Line
  • Hammersmith and City Line
  • Liverpool Street National Rail services.
  • Metropolitan Line

At the Western end of the platforms, there is access to the following lines.

  • Circle Line
  • Hammersmith and City Line
  • Metropolitan Line
  • Moorgate National Rail services.
  • Northern Line

Both entrances will be very much within walking distance to a lot of the Northern parts of the City of London.

And all routes inside the complex will be step-free with lots of escalators and lifts.

Regularly, I travel on trains into and out of Liverpool Street station and I often get to and from the station  by walking between the two stations, as I get a bus to and from Moorgate,

When it is raining heavily as it used to in the past, I will be able to use the Crossrail platforms and two long escalators.

When Crossrail is open through this massive station, thousands or even millions  of passengers will change their journeys because of the numerous new routes that will be available.

Paddington

Paddington station will be very much improved interchange.

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

This image shows a visualisation of the station.

In the building of the Crossrail station, a tunnel with full step-free access is being dug under the concourse of the main line station to connect the Bakerloo Line to the Crossrail station. This article in Rail Technology Magazine which is entitled Contract awarded for £40m Bakerloo Line link, gives a lot more details on the tunnel and its building.

I do think that, the techniques used in the building of this tunnel will find applications in other places.

Tottenham Court Road

Tottenham Court Road station will become a double-ended station.

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

This image shows a visualisation of the station.

Note Centre Point at the Eastern end of the complex.

The Eastern end of the platforms will have access to the Central and Northern Lines and numerous entrances in front of Centre Point. Much of this work is now substantially complete.

The Western end of the platforms will have access to  a new entrance on Oxford Street, just North of Soho Square.

As Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road will have a lot more pedestrian access, travelling to the area will be transformed.

Bond Street

Bond Street station will become an enormous double-ended station.

The map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines at the station and the nearby Oxford Circus station.

This image shows a visualisation of the station.

Note the football pitches, which give an idea of size.

Bond Street station will have an interchange at the Western end with the Central and Jubilee Lines, but it will mainly be a station with entrances all over the place.

I have a feeling that Bond Street will the station of choice for most shoppers going to and from the area in the future.

If you’re using Crossrail, just make sure that you get in the right end of the two hundred metre long trains.

Oxford Circus

No work is planned here at present, although I think the station will suffer collateral benefits from the following projects.

  • The new Eastern entrance to Bond Street station, which will be ideal for John Lewis.
  • The pedestrianisation in the area.
  • Works to improve the Bakerloo Line, prior to its extension to Lewisham.

Oxford Street station needs more passenger capacity and is scheduled to be rebuilt in the next ten years or so.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see that if a block anywhere close to Oxford Circus gets redeveloped, Transport for London will be investigating how to get much-needed lifts to the Bakerloo and Victoria Lines.

I have a feeling that we could see something special at Oxford Circus station.

I wouldn’t discount a travelator connection between Oxford Circus station and the Eastern entrance to Bond Street station.

Bank

After Crossrail, the biggest station project in London is Bank station.

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

This visualisation, shows what the new Bank station will look like.

Bank Tube Station Layout

The development is comprehensive.

  • Two new entrances at Walbrook and Cannon Street.
  • Full step-free access with lots of new lifts and escalators.
  • Two travelators running North-South through the station.
  • A new tunnel for the the Northern Line, with wider platforms.
  • Escalator connection between Central and Northern Lines.
  • Better connection to the Waterloo and City Line and the Docklands Light Railway.

Completion dates look like 2017 for the Walbrook entrance and 2021 for the completed Bank station.

In some ways Bank station can be considered a Crossrail station, that isn’t on Crossrail.

But it is on the route of one of Crossrail’s little helpers; the Central Line.

Travellers will do one of the following.

  • From the Eastern branch of Crossrail,, they will walk across the platform at Stratford station and get the Central Line for a few stops to Bank.
  • From the Western branch of Crossrail, they will change at Tottenham Court Road station and get the Central Line for a few stops to Bank.
  • From any of the three Crossrail branches, they could use the Central or Northern Lines from Liverpool Street/Moorgate for one stop.

I would walk!

I think that this development will have one of the largest effects of any non-Crossrail  transport-related project in London.

I also think that the expansion of Bank station sets a very good precedent.

Both the new Walbrook and Cannon Street entrances are being incorporated into new commercial developments in the area. I know land in the City of London is probably some of the most expensive in the World, but how many improved stations could incorporate housing, retail or commercial development, or perhaps even a hospital.

Victoria

Victoria station is undergoing a major upgrade.

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

Progress has been made with a new entrance on Victoria Street and better connections between the three Underground Lines.

In some ways the biggest triumph at Victoria has been the ability to keep the station working fully, whilst the work is continuing.

A Philosophy For Better Underground Stations

 Common threads goes through all of the Underground stations I’ve detailed.
  • A large number of passengers.
  • More than one line.
  • Development above the station.
  • Innovative tunnelling.
  • Keeping the stations open if possible.

It would also appear that generally the construction companies do a good job and must be accumulating a large amount of knowledge and experience.

So where will they be using their skills next?

A Few Suggestions follow.

One Line Step-Free Stations

This group aren’t Underground stations, in the true sense of the word, but are a collection of Overground, Crossrail and National Rail stations in London that are being updated to full step-free access.

Included are.

Note that Crossrail will mean that twenty-four suburban stations will receive full step-free access.

Network Rail publishes this page on their web site, which is entitled Access For All – A-Z of station improvements.

It gives at least a clue to Network ail’s plans for particular stations.

 

June 14, 2017 Posted by | Travel, Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Crossrail’s High-Tech Leak System At Moorgate Station

Moorgate station is being rebuilt for Crossrail, with a lot of development above the station.

These pictures, show their new high-tech system for protection passengers from the dangers of water leaks.

Some things just can’t be improved upon!

June 5, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Crossrail Will Be Making Noise On Moorgate

I received an e-mail from Crossrail today entitled Access Passage Under Moorgate.

This is said.

We are making progress with the tunnel connections between the Crossrail Moorgate ticket hall and the station platforms.

From the evening of Wednesday 9 November until Saturday 12 November 2016, we will break out the connection between the top of the escalator shaft and the access passage to Moorgate.

As we are breaking out concrete, there is likely to be some audible ground borne noise and vibration for occupants of nearby buildings and we apologise in advance for any inconvenience caused.

Hopefully, I won’t hear it a couple of miles to the North.

Seriously, though, I don’t think you can get fairer than that, especially, as the works at Moorgate so far, don’t seem to have been particularly disruptive.

The e-mail also pointed me to this cross-section of the station and the works.

East-West Cross-Section Of Moorgate Crossrail Station

East-West Cross-Section Of Moorgate Crossrail Station

Note.

  1. Two banks of escalators are used to descend to Crossrail at Moorgate station.
  2. It is a similar arrangement at Liverpool Street station.
  3. If you’re walking between the two stations, a good proportion ofthe journet wil be on escalators.
  4. I think that the two smaller tunnels running under Moorgate and below the lower bank of escalators are the Northern Line tunnels.

It looks like the design has followed the rule of trying to keep to using only North-South and East-West routes for the tunnels.

November 1, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment