The Anonymous Widower

An Analysis Of The Train Service On The East Kent Line With Respect To The Three Options For Crossrail To Ebbsfleet (C2E)

Much of the analysis is an update of a post called Up To £3 Billion For Crossrail To Ebbsfleet, that I wrote in June 2019.

Current Services Along The North Kent Line

I shall start by looking at current services on the North Kent Line.

Thameslink – Luton And Rainham (Kent)

A Thameslink service

  • Two trains per hour (tph)
  • South of the Thames, the service calls at London Bridge, Deptford, Greenwich, Maze Hill, Whatcombe Park, Charlton, Woolwich Arsenal, Plumstead, Abbey Wood, Slade Green, Dartford, Stone Crossing, Greenhithe for Bluewater, Swanscombe, Northfleet, Gravesend, Higham, Strood, Rochester, Chatham and Gillingham.
  • Eight-car Class 700 trains work the route, which have a 100 mph operating speed.
  • The service calls at Northfleet for a possible interchange with services running from Ebbsfleet International station
  • The service calls at Abbey Wood for interchange with Crossrail.

If there needed to be more capacity on this service, I suspect Thameslink could run twelve-car trains.

Southeastern – London Charing Cross And Gravesend

Southeastern Metro service.

  • Two tph
  • Calls at Waterloo East, London Bridge, Hither Green, Lee, Mottingham, New Eltham, Sidcup, Albany Park, Bexley, Crayford, Dartford, Stone Crossing, Greenhithe for Bluewater, Swanscombe and Northfleet
  • The service calls at Northfleet for a possible interchange with services running from Ebbsfleet International station.
  • The service calls at Gravesend for interchange with Southeastern HighSpeed services between St. Pancras International station and North-East Kent, East Kent and soon-to-be East Sussex.
  • Class 465 trains work the route, which have a 75 mph operating speed.

This picture shows a train for Gravesend in London Bridge station.

My feeling, is that the service would be improved by modern 100 mph trains, as these antique slow-coaches must restrict the speed of faster trains.

Southeastern – London Cannon Street And Dartford Loop Line

A Southeastern Metro service.

  • Four tph in both directions.
  • Calls at London Bridge, Deptford, Greenwich, Maze Hill, Westcombe Park, Charlton, Woolwich Dockyard, Woolwich Arsenal, Plumstead, Abbey Wood, Belvedere, Erith and Slade Green.
  • Two tph return to Cannon Street via Crayford and Sidcup and two tph return to Cannon Street via Barnehurst and Bexleyheath.
  • The service calls at Abbey Wood for a planned interchange with Crossrail.
  • Class 465 trains work the route.

As I said with the previous service, these 75 mph trains need replacing with 100 mph trains.

Southeastern – London Charing Cross And Dartford

A Southeastern Metro service.

  • Two tph
  • Calls at Waterloo East, London Bridge, Lewisham, Blackheath, Charlton, Woolwich Dockyard, Woolwich Arsenal, Plumstead, Abbey Wood, Belvedere, Erith and Slade Green.
  • The service calls at Abbey Wood for a planned interchange with Crossrail.
  • Class 465 trains work the route.

As I said with the two previous services, these 75 mph trains need replacing with 100 mph trains.

Southeastern – London Victoria And Dover

A Southeastern Mainline service.

  • Two tph
  • Calls on the North Kent Line at Rochester, Chatham, Gillingham and Rainham.
  • Class 465 trains work the route.

As I said with previous services, these 75 mph trains need replacing with 100 mph trains.

Southeastern – London Victoria And Ramsgate

A Southeastern Mainline service.

  • One tph
  • Calls on the North Kent Line at Rochester, Chatham, Gillingham and Rainham.
  • Class 465 trains work the route.

As I said with previous services, these 75 mph trains need replacing with 100 mph trains.

Southeastern – London St. Pancras And Faversham

A Southeastern HighSpeed service.

  • One tph
  • Calls at Stratford International, Ebbsfleet International, Gravesend, Strood, Rochester, Chatham, Gillingham, Rainham and Sittingbourne.
  • The service calls at Ebbsfleet International for an interchange with Continental services.
  • Class 395 trains work the route, which have a 100 mph operating speed on lines electrified using a third-rail.

This picture shows a Class 395 train at Gravesend station.

East of Ebbsfleet International, this service can be considered a 100 mph local train, that gets slowed by the 75 mph services.

Southeastern – London St Pancras International Loop Service

A Southeastern HighSpeed service.

  • One tph
  • Calls at Stratford International, Ebbsfleet International, Gravesend, Strood, Rochester, Chatham, Gillingham, Rainham, Sittingbourne, Faversham, Whitstable, Herne Bay, Birchington-on-Sea, Margate, Broadstairs, Ramsgate, Sandwich, Deal, Walmer, Martin Mill, Dover Priory, Folkestone Central, Folkestone West, Ashford International, Ebbsfleet International and Stratford International.
  • The service calls at Ebbsfleet International and Ashford International for an interchange with Continental services.
  • Class 395 trains work the route.

East of Ebbsfleet International, this service can be considered a 100 mph local train, that gets slowed by the 75 mph services.

Southeastern – London St Pancras International And Ramsgate

A Southeastern HighSpeed service.

  • One tph
  • Calls at Stratford International, Ebbsfleet International, Ashford International, Canterbury West, Ramsgate and Broadstairs
  • The service calls at Ebbsfleet International and Ashford International for an interchange with Continental services.
  • Class 395 trains work the route.

East of Ashford International, this service can be considered a 100 mph local train, that gets slowed by the 75 mph services.

A Summary Of Services By Station

I will look at the current number of trains at stations between London Bridge and Faversham.

  • Deptford – 6 tph
  • Greenwich – 6 tph
  • Maze Hill – 6 tph
  • Westcombe Park – 6 tph
  • Charlton – 8 tph
  • Woolwich Dockyard – 6 tph
  • Woolwich Arsenal – 8 tph
  • Plumstead – 8 tph
  • Abbey Wood – 8 tph
  • Belvedere – 6 tph
  • Erith – 6 tph
  • Slade Green – 6 tph
  • Dartford – 12 tph to London and 6 tph to the East
  • Stone Crossing – 4 tph
  • Greenhithe for Bluewater – 6 tph
  • Swanscombe – 4 tph
  • Northfleet – 4 tph
  • Gravesend – 6 tph to London and 5 tph to the East
  • Higham – 2 tph
  • Strood – 4 tph
  • Rochester – 7 tph
  • Chatham – 7 tph
  • Gillingham – 7 tph
  • Rainham – 7 tph to London and 5 tph to the East
  • Sittingbourne – 5 tph
  • Faversham – 5 tph

Note.

  1. This is almost a train every ten minutes all the way from London to Faversham.
  2. Between Gravesend and Faversham one tph is a Southeastern HighSpeed service.
  3. In addition Ebbsfleet International has four tph to and from London St. Pancras International.

This can be considered the base service to which Crossrail services can be added.

Service Frequency Of Option 1

The first option provides for an extension of Crossrail from Abbey Wood to Northfleet/Ebbsfleet and Gravesend, sharing the existing tracks with National Rail services.

  • Of the 12 trains per hour (tph) that are planned to run to Abbey Wood. four tph will terminate at each of Abbey Wood, Northfleet/Ebbsfleet and Gravesend.
  • Crossrail trains would call at all stations on the North Kent Line between Abbey Wood and Gravesend stations.

This gives a summary as follows.

  • Deptford – 6 tph
  • Greenwich – 6 tph
  • Maze Hill – 6 tph
  • Westcombe Park – 6 tph
  • Charlton – 8 tph
  • Woolwich Dockyard – 6 tph
  • Woolwich Arsenal – 8 tph
  • Plumstead – 8 tph
  • Abbey Wood – 20 tph
  • Belvedere – 14 tph
  • Erith – 14 tph
  • Slade Green – 14 tph
  • Dartford – 20 tph to London and 14 tph to the East
  • Stone Crossing – 12 tph
  • Greenhithe for Bluewater – 14 tph
  • Swanscombe – 12 tph
  • Northfleet – 12 tph
  • Gravesend – 10 tph to London and 5 tph to the East
  • Higham – 2 tph
  • Strood – 4 tph
  • Rochester – 7 tph
  • Chatham – 7 tph
  • Gillingham – 7 tph
  • Rainham – 7 tph to London and 5 tph to the East
  • Sittingbourne – 5 tph
  • Faversham – 5 tph

Note.

  1. Train frequencies between Abbey Wood and Northfleet have increased by 8 tph
  2. Train frequencies at Gravesend have increased by 4 tph.
  3. Train frequencies to the East of Gravesend are unchanged.
  4. Between Gravesend and Faversham one tph is a Southeastern HighSpeed service.
  5. Crossrail has a direct interchange at Gravesend with the Southeastern HighSpeed services.

I am fairly certain that signalling must be improved and train speeds must be increased for Option 1.

Service Frequency Of Option 2

The second option is to draw out Crossrail from south east London to Dartford using new dedicated tracks built next to the existing North Kent line, with increased rail service frequency between Dartford and Northfleet.

  • All the 12 tph, that currently are planned to run ro Abbey Wood, all will terminate at Dartford station.
  • Crossrail trains would call at all stations on the North Kent Line between Abbey Wood and Dartford stations.
  • I will assume that Southeastern run an extra 4 tph between Dartford and Northfleet.

This gives a summary as follows.

  • Deptford – 6 tph
  • Greenwich – 6 tph
  • Maze Hill – 6 tph
  • Westcombe Park – 6 tph
  • Charlton – 8 tph
  • Woolwich Dockyard – 6 tph
  • Woolwich Arsenal – 8 tph
  • Plumstead – 8 tph
  • Abbey Wood – 20 tph
  • Belvedere – 18 tph
  • Erith – 18 tph
  • Slade Green – 18 tph
  • Dartford – 24 tph to London and 10 tph to the East
  • Stone Crossing – 8 tph
  • Greenhithe for Bluewater – 10 tph
  • Swanscombe – 8 tph
  • Northfleet – 8 tph
  • Gravesend – 6 tph to London and 5 tph to the East
  • Higham – 2 tph
  • Strood – 4 tph
  • Rochester – 7 tph
  • Chatham – 7 tph
  • Gillingham – 7 tph
  • Rainham – 7 tph to London and 5 tph to the East
  • Sittingbourne – 5 tph
  • Faversham – 5 tph

Note.

  1. There is a big increase in services to between Abbey Wood and Dartford.
  2. There is an increase of 4 tph in services between Dartford and Northfleet.
  3. There is no increase in services at Gravesend.
  4. Between Gravesend and Faversham one tph is a Southeastern HighSpeed service.
  5. Crossrail has no direct interchange with the Southeastern HighSpeed services.

I am fairly certain that signalling must be improved and train speeds must be increased for Option 2.

Service Frequency Of Option 3

A third option consists of improving the National Rail service between Abbey Wood and Northfleet, combined with a new Bus Rapid Transit service.

  • It appears Crossrail services would stay the same at Abbey Wood, with all twelve tph terminating at the station, as are currently planned.
  • Southeastern services to Dartford via Abbey Wood would be extended to Northfleet. This would increase the number of Southeastern trains to/from London serving stations between Northfleet and Dartford for connection to Crossrail at Abbey Wood from four to eight tph.

This gives a summary as follows.

  • Deptford – 6 tph
  • Greenwich – 6 tph
  • Maze Hill – 6 tph
  • Westcombe Park – 6 tph
  • Charlton – 8 tph
  • Woolwich Dockyard – 6 tph
  • Woolwich Arsenal – 8 tph
  • Plumstead – 8 tph
  • Abbey Wood – 20 tph
  • Belvedere – 6 tph
  • Erith – 6 tph
  • Slade Green – 6 tph
  • Dartford – 8 tph to London and 10 tph to the East
  • Stone Crossing – 8 tph
  • Greenhithe for Bluewater – 10 tph
  • Swanscombe – 8 tph
  • Northfleet – 8 tph
  • Gravesend – 6 tph to London and 5 tph to the East
  • Higham – 2 tph
  • Strood – 4 tph
  • Rochester – 7 tph
  • Chatham – 7 tph
  • Gillingham – 7 tph
  • Rainham – 7 tph to London and 5 tph to the East
  • Sittingbourne – 5 tph
  • Faversham – 5 tph

Note.

    1. There is a 4 tph increase in services between Abbey Wood and Northfleet.
    2. There is no increase in services at Gravesend.
    3. Between Gravesend and Faversham one tph is a Southeastern HighSpeed service.
    4. Crossrail has no direct interchange with the Southeastern HighSpeed services.

I am fairly certain that signalling must be improved and train speeds must be increased for Option 3.

Conclusion

I have come to several small conclusions about future services on the North Kent Line.

Improved Signalling

To handle the number of trains required, I am fairly certain that modern digital signalling as used on the central sections of Crossrail and Thameslink, should be installed on the route.

Faster Trains

The operating speed of the North Kent Line is 90 mph, which is not a good fit to the operating speed of the trains.

I’m sure that train capacity would be increased if trains could operate at 90 mph or even 100 mph on the route.

 

Only Option 1 Allows Interchange Between Crossrail And Southeastern HighSpeed Services

Option 1 allows this interchange at Gravesend and it could prove useful, when travelling between North-East Kent and Crossrail stations, including Paddington and Heathrow.

More Services East Of Gravesend

I suspect that there could be extra paths to the East of Gravesend.

These could be either classic or HighSpeed services.

In Kent On The Cusp Of Change – Highspeed Routes, I said this.

The Kent On The Cusp Of Change article in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways talks about the Southeastern Highspeed routes through Kent.

Some principles are laid down.

The article gives an estimate that at least another twenty Class 395 trains are needed of which perhaps three would have batteries for operation along the Marshlink Line between Ashford International and Ore stations.

The new timetable proposed in the article is similar to that now, with the following changes in each hour.

  • All Day – A St. Pancras – Ashford – Dover Priory service runs once per hour and splits at Ashford with one six-car train going to and from Hastings and the other six-car train going to and from Dover Priory.
  • Off Peak – A new St. Pancras – Ashford – Canterbury West service runs once per hour.
  • All Day –  A new St. Pancras – Ebbsfleet service runs twice per hour.
  • Off Peak – A new St. Pancras – Gravesend – Strood – Maidstone West service runs once per hour.

In addition all trains passing Thanet Parkway station will stop after it opens.

Note.

  1. Southeastern HighSpeed services will serve Hastings.
  2. Gravesend gets a second Southeastern HighSpeed service to St. Pancras.

I also wrote Kent On The Cusp Of Change – Fawkham Junction Link, which is about a Network Rail proposal to use Victoria as a second terminal for Southeastern HighSpeed services.

Little has been said about using Victoria as a second terminal, but if it was, it could free up space on the North Kent Lines, which would allow more paths for Crossrail.

 

August 1, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Proposals For Crossrail Elizabeth Line Extension To Ebbsfleet Cut Down To Three Options

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

So what are the three options?

Crossrail To Northfleet/Ebbsfleet And Gravesend

The first option provides for an extension of Crossrail from Abbey Wood to Northfleet/Ebbsfleet and Gravesend, sharing the existing tracks with National Rail services.

  • Of the 12 trains per hour (tph) that are planned to run to Abbey Wood. four tph will terminate at each of Abbey Wood, Northfleet/Ebbsfleet and Gravesend.
  • A single platform at Abbey Wood, Northfleet and Gravesend would be capable of handling the required four tph.
  • Crossrail trains would call at all stations on the North Kent Line between Abbey Wood and Gravesend stations.
  • It looks like some form of people-mover will be needed between Northfleet and Ebbsfleet stations.
  • Gravesend station could either turn the trains directly or have a turnback facility to the East of the station at Hoo, where provision has been made for train stabling.
  • Extension of Crossrail’s digital signalling along the North Kent Line, at least as far as Hoo would probably be needed to cope with the extra trains.

This option would be feasible and would require just a new platform at Northfleet station, the people-mover and perhaps some work at Gravesend station.

Crossrail To Dartford And Northfleet/Ebbsfleet

The second option is to draw out Crossrail from south east London to Dartford using new dedicated tracks built next to the existing North Kent line, with increased rail service frequency between Dartford and Northfleet.

  • All the 12 tph, that currently are planned to run ro Abbey Wood, all will terminate at Dartford station.
  • Crossrail trains would call at all stations on the North Kent Line between Abbey Wood and Dartford stations.
  • It looks like some form of people-mover will be needed between Northfleet and Ebbsfleet stations.
  • Extension of Crossrail’s digital signalling along the North Kent Line, at least as far as Hoo would probably be needed to cope with the extra trains.

This option would be feasible and would require a new platform at Northfleet station, the people-mover and a lot of work between Abbey Wood and Dartford stations and at Dartford station.

A Lower Cost Option With Buses

A third option consists of improving the National Rail service between Abbey Wood and Northfleet, combined with a new Bus Rapid Transit service.

  • It appears Crossrail services would stay the same at Abbey Wood, with all twelve tph terminating at the station, as are currently planned.
  • Southeastern services to Dartford via Abbey Wood would be extended to Northfleet. This would increase the number of Southeastern trains to/from London serving stations between Northfleet and Dartford for connection to Crossrail at Abbey Wood from four to eight tph.
  • There would need to be turnback facilities at Northfleet station for the Southeastern services.
  • Extension of Crossrail’s digital signalling along the North Kent Line, at least as far as Hoo would probably be needed to cope with the extra trains.
  • A Bus Rapid Transit service would be provided between Abbey Wood and Ebbsfleet stations via Slade Green, Dartford and Bluewater.
  • A Bus Rapid Transit service would be provided between Slade Green and Ebbsfleet via Greenhithe and Northfleet.
  • Both Bus Rapid Transit services would have a frequency of six buses per hour.

This option looks to be feasible and would only require a new platform at Northfleet station.

The Views Of New Civil Engineer

This article on New Civil Engineer gives its views on the three options.

It says this of the first option.

This option would require the construction of some sections of additional track and junction works within the existing rail corridor, significant works at Abbey Wood, Slade Green and Dartford stations and require additional land to accommodate additional train stabling facilities.

And this of the second option.

This option would require significant construction work to build a new two track rail alignment alongside the existing North Kent line, requiring potential compulsory purchase of land and property beyond the existing rail corridor in some areas and significant works at Abbey Wood, Slade Green and Dartford stations, as well as the provision of new train stabling facilities.

It doesn’t comment about the third option, which I take to mean, that all work for the trains can be done within the existing rail corridor.

Components Of The Options

Although the options are different there are some components that appear in more than one option.

Improved Digital Signalling

The number of trains running to the East of Abbey Wood station, will surely  increase under all three options and I feel it is essential, that  modern digital signalling be installed on the North Kent Lines.

More Train Stabling

Commenting on the first two options, New Civil Engineer says that more stabling will be needed.

In the Gibb Report, Chris Gibb looked at stabling problems with Thameslink and found there was a problem along the North Kent Line. I wrote about it in Gibb Report – Hoo Junction Depot.

I feel that a review of all train stabling in Kent should be performed, so that there is enough space to service and stable the trains of the various operators.

When Crossrail was originally planned, the route was safeguarded to Gravesend and Hoo Junction was put forward as somewhere to stable trains.

A Turnback Platform At Northfleet Station

All three options need a turnback platform at Northfleet station.

  • In Option 1 it will be handling Crossrail trains.
  • In Options 2 and 3, it will be handling Southeastern trains.
  • It probably needs to handle four tph.
  • Nine-car Class 345 trains used by Crossrail are 205 metres long.
  • Twelve-car Class 377 trains used by Southeastern are 240 metres long.

This Google Map shows Northfleet station.

Note.

  1. The North Kent Line goes diagonally across the map from North-West to South-East.
  2. Northfleet station is a two-platform station.
  3. To the South of the station, there are sidings, which are connected to the North Kent Line.

 

This picture shows the sidings from Northfleet station, with Ebbsfleet station about a mile away.

It appears that there would be space to add a well-appointed turnback platform at Northfleet station.

These pictures show some of the features of the current Northfleet station.

Rebuilding to add the turnback platform, could also include.

  • Full step-free access
  • Modern station buildings
  • A deep clean of the pedestrian tunnel.
  • An appropriately-sized bus station, with a zero-carbon shuttle bus to Ebbsfleet station.
  • Future provision for a high-tech people-mover to Ebbsfleet station.

It is not one of the better stations on the Southeastern network.

But it certainly could be!

I very much feel that Northfleet station needs to be rebuilt with an extra platform.

A People-Mover Between Ebbsfleet And Northfleet Stations

I wrote So Near And Yet So Far! about the poor connection between Ebbsfleet And Northfleet stations.

It is a design crime of the highest order.

There has been a lot of pressure in the past to build a pedestrian link between the two stations, as reported by the Wikipedia entry for Northfleet station.

The station is very close to Ebbsfleet International station (the NNE entrance is only 334 yards (305 m) from Northfleet’s station), but passengers (using public transport) will find it far easier to access Ebbsfleet International from Gravesend or Greenhithe, as these stations are more accessible and offer easy access to Fastrack bus services. The walking route between the two stations is 0.6 miles (1 km) or 0.8 miles (1.3 km) and a suitable pedestrian link has not been built because of funding issues and objections from Land Securities.

Why when Ebbsfleet International station was built in the early 2000s for opening in 2007, was a pedestrian link not built between the two stations?

It sounds like it was a Treasury design for Civil Servants, who work in Westminster and wouldn’t dream of living in Gravesend.

How much did omitting the link save?

Probably in the the long term, about two-fifths of five eighths of f***-all!

The specialists in this type of people-mover are the Doppelmayr/Garaventa Group, who in the UK have built the Emirates Air Line and the Air-Rail Link at Birmingham Airport. Currently, they are building the Luton DART people mover.

Wikipedia says that the Emirates Air-Line cost £60million.

Wouldn’t something similar be an ideal way to welcome people to the UK?

The London Resort

The London Resort, is described like this in its Wikipedia entry.

The London Resort is a proposed theme park and resort in Swanscombe, Kent. The project was announced on 8 October 2012 and, if given planning permission, it is estimated that construction will begin in 2022, with a first gate opening in summer 2024 and a second gate by 2029.

It certainly sounds the sort of place I avoid, but just like Disneyland Paris, I feel the developers will want a rail connection.

They could even want to have another people-mover from Ebbsfleet station.

A Connection To The Bluewater Shopping Centre

The Bluewater Shopping Centre is not easy to get to by public transport and requires a bus from Greenhithe for Bluewater station.

Only Option 3 offered an improvement with a bus between Abbey Wood and Ebbsfleet stations via Slade Green, Dartford and Bluewater, that would run every ten minutes.

Conclusion

It seems that whatever option is eventually chosen, certain works will need to be performed as they are needed for all options.

  • Extension of Crossrail’s digital signalling along the North Kent Line, at least as far as Hoo junction would probably be needed to cope with the extra trains.
  • A review of train stabling in Kent should be carried out, to make sure there are enough places to service and stable the trains needed, by all the operators/
  • Northfleet station needs to be rebuilt with an extra turnback platform for at least four tph.
  • Provision should be made for a possible people-mover between Ebbsfleet And Northfleet stations.

The North Kent Line to the East of Abbey Wood station would now be ready for whichever option is chosen.

Because of the London Resort, which has still not been given a definite go-ahead we could see some changes and other options or even some that combine more than one option.

August 1, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Crossrail’s New Opening Plan

This article on the excellent and well-informed IanVisits is entitled Crossrail Changes Its Staged Opening Plans.

Ian states that Crossrail will be split into two routes.

  • Shenfield and Paddington
  • Abbey Wood and Heathrow/Reading

Frequencies will be reduced, but Ian states there could be two positive benefits.

  • Abbey Wood and Paddington could open earlier in 2022.
  • The full integrated service could be brought forward six months.

Why is this possible?

These are my thoughts.

The Covid-19 Pandemic

The current TfL Rail service between Shenfield and Liverpool Street stations coped well before the pandemic  and now with reduced passenger numbers it is able to handle current passenger loads without a problem.

I have used Crossrail from Paddington to Heathrow and Reading during the pandemic and Crossrail’s nine-car trains are handling passenger numbers with ease.

It would appear to me, that by using two platforms at Liverpool Street and Paddington stations, the benefits of Crossrail have been delivered to the East and West of the massive Greater London conurbation.

Stratford Station

Stratford station is more or less complete with respect to Crossrail.

  • It can handle ten-car trains, if they run in the future.
  • The two dedicated platforms for Crossrail, can probably handle the maximum frequency of trains, the line will ever carry.

But Stratford’s biggest advantage is the connections to the Central and Jubilee Lines, and the North London Line of the London Overground, which between them give access to most of Central and North London.

Ealing Broadway Station

A few weeks ago, a fully step-free Ealing Broadway station opened, as I wrote about in Ealing Broadway Station – 31st May 2021.

As with Stratford station, Ealing Broadway station is ready for any future Crossrail service.

It also has connections to the Central and District Lines to give access to most of Central London.

Can The Underground Cope In Central London?

All Lines except the Northern and Piccadilly Lines have seen improvement to signalling and/or trains in recent years and in my meandering around London, they seem to be coping well with the current passenger levels.

Liverpool Street Station

I use Liverpool Street station regularly and changes are happening at the station.

  • Platforms have been lengthened so that ten-car Crossrail trains can be handled.
  • The main entrance to the Underground was updated a few years ago and has a very wide gateline.
  • A wider gateline is being installed for Crossrail and other suburban services on the East side of Liverpool Street station.
  • A new entrance to Crossrail has been completed in front of Broadgate and appears ready to open, as I observed in Crossrail’s First Inclined Lift Is Now Available To View!.

A second high capacity step-free entrance has opened on Moorgate. When Crossrail opens through Liverpool Street station opens it will enable the following.

Passengers will be able to walk underground between Liverpool Street and Moorgate, with a substantial section of the route up and down escalators. I described the route in detail in London’s First Underground Roller Coaster.

The Crossrail entrance inside the Underground station at Liverpool Street station is now visible.

Note.

  1. Crossrail is behind the two pairs of massive stainless-steel doors.
  2. Peeping through the window, construction appeared to be almost at completion.
  3. If you turn right here, you take the escalator down to the Central Line.

Eventually, Liverpool Street and Moorgate stations could even be considered a single station with a massive escalator connection between the two original stations.

Liverpool Street And Stratford Stations Together Give Crossrail A Comprehensive Under/Overground Connection

These Under/Overground lines connect to either or both stations.

  • Central Line – Connects to both stations, but at Stratford it’s a cross-platform interchange with Crossrail. Ideal for Oxford Street, the City of London and St. Paul’s.
  • Circle Line – Connects to Liverpool Street. Ideal for Euston, Kings Cross, Paddington, St. Pancras, Victoria and large parts of South Central and West London.
  • Hammersmith And City Line – Connects to Liverpool Street. Ideal for Euston, Kings Cross, Paddington, St. Pancras and large parts of West London.
  • Jubilee Line – Connects to Stratford. Ideal for Bond Street, Canary Wharf, London Bridge, Waterloo and Westminster.
  • Lea Valley Lines – These Overground Lines connect to Liverpool Street. Ideal for Enfield, Hackney, Haringey, Waltham Forest and North East London and South East Hertfordshire.
  • Metropolitan Line – Connects to Liverpool Street. Ideal for Euston, Kings Cross, Paddington and St. Pancras, Wembley Stadium and North-West London.
  • North London Line – This Overground Line connects to Stratford. Ideal for Acton, Brent, Dalston, Hackney, Hampstead and a large proportion of North and West London.

Liverpool Street and Stratford certainly have comprehensive connections to the Underground and Overground.

Liverpool Street And Shenfield Is Signalled With TPWS

TPWS is the only signalling system used on the section of Crossrail between Liverpool Street And Shenfield stations.

It offers these benefits, as opposed to the ETCS used in Crossrail’s core tunnel.

  • It eased the replacement of the original Class 315 trains with new Class 345 trains.
  • It allows Crossrail’s trains to share tracks with other trains not fitted with ETCS.
  • Drivers only have to handle one signalling system on the route.

The single signalling system must make commissioning and operating the service between Liverpool Street And Shenfield stations easier.

Liverpool Street Station Gives Crossrail Flexibility In The East

The distance between the two current Crossrail platforms at Liverpool Street station and the steel doors will probably be no more than a couple of minutes walk with just a couple of steps down into the Underground station, which can be by-passed by a lift.

Currently, the service between Liverpool Street and Shenfield station has a frequency of eight trains per hour (tph)

  • These trains are currently nine-cars long.
  • The two Crossrail platforms at Liverpool Street have been lengthened to handle ten-car trains.
  • The gateline for the Crossrail platforms is being improved to handle a higher volume of passengers.

If overcrowding should become a problem between Liverpool Street and Shenfield, then there is a quick fix of adding a tenth car to the trains, which would increase capacity by eleven percent.

The extra cars would be borrowed from Crossrail trains sitting in sidings, that are not needed because of the reduced train frequencies.

When Crossrail opens between Abbey Wood and Paddington stations, passengers needing to go between say Ilford and Paddington will be able to take the short walk between both pairs of Crossrail platforms at Liverpool Street station.

But the big advantage comes, when Crossrail starts running between Shenfield and Paddington.

Trains can be gradually swapped between Liverpool Street and Paddington as a terminus.

If there is a problem in Crossrail’s central tunnel, then services can be swapped back to Crossrail’s two current platforms in the National Rail station.

It looks to be a well-designed system.

Could The Pedestrian Route Between Liverpool Street And Moorgate Stations Be Opened Early?

This article on IanVisits is entitled Northern Line Bank Branch To Close For 4 Months Next Year.

The Northern Line will be closed between Moorgate and Kennington stations from the 15th January to mid-May.

Extra buses will obviously be run between Moorgate and Kennington to help during the closure.

  • Finsbury Square is already used to turn buses and could be used as a Northern terminal.
  • London Bridge has a bus station and could be used to turn buses.
  • In his article Ian talks of buses between Oval and the City.
  • The 21 and 141 bus routes run between Moorgate and London Bridge.

Would opening the pedestrian link help a lot of people by providing an easier route between Bank and Moorgate stations, by using the Central Line to Liverpool Street and then the tunnel?

  • It would be fully step-free.
  • Passengers from say St. Paul’s or Chancery Lane stations on the Central Line needing to get to say Angel station might find it an easier route.
  • The weather isn’t always good enough for a walk.

It would be an escalator connection par excellence.

I suspect that this pedestrian route could open before January 15th.

  • It will obviously need to be open when Crossrail opens between Abbey Wood and Paddington.
  • As a pedestrian route, it will improve connectivity at both Liverpool Street and Moorgate stations.
  • The Crossrail station at Liverpool Street, has been handed over to Transport for London.
  • It could allow the opening up of the step-free tunnel from the Northern and Northern City Lines to the new entrance at Moorgate station.

Could the last point be the most significant, as it would make the Northern Line platforms at Moorgate station fully step-free in time for the blockade between Moorgate and Kennington stations?

As Transport for London have accepted Liverpool Street station, opening of the pedestrian route is surely their sole decision.

Could The Pedestrian Route Between The Bakerloo Line And Crossrail Be Opened Early?

Access to the Bakerloo Line at Paddington is being transformed by two projects.

  • The addition of a step-free pedestrian tunnel, which will be around eighty metres long, that will link the Bakerloo Line and Crossrail.
  • A new step-free entrance and booking hall for the Bakerloo Line,that will replace the current Praed Street entrance.

This page on the Transport for London web site, which is entitled Paddington Bakerloo Ticket Hall, gives more details of the new entrance.

Transport for London indicate that the second project will be completed by mid-2022.

But I do wonder, if after Paddington station is handed over to Transport for London, if this tunnel could be opened to give interim step-free access to the Bakerloo Line, until either Crossrail or the new entrance opens.

When Crossrail and these two projects are completed, will this mean that the Bakerloo Line will see a lot more passengers?

Abbey Wood And Paddington

Crossrail between Abbey Wood And Paddington has the following characteristics.

  • It is a new twin-track railway, that it doesn’t share with other trains.
  • Most of the route is in tunnel, with just three sections on the surface.
  • The route is signalled with ETCS.
  • All new underground stations will have platform-edge doors.

It is very much a railway designed to the highest modern standards.

The Surface Section At Abbey Wood

The surface section at Abbey Wood has these purposes.

  • To provide an interchange station with the North Kent Line.
  • To turn back trains towards the West.
  • To provide stabling for trains and service trains to enable a smooth operation of the Abbey Wood and Paddington section of Crossrail.

This map from cartometro shows the track layout to the East of Plumstead station.

Note.

  1. Crossrail is shown in purple.
  2. Abbey Wood station has two platforms for Crossrail and two for the North Kent Line.
  3. The platforms appear to be numbered one to four from the South.
  4. There appears to be a turnback for Crossrail trains in Platform 3, which also appears to have crossovers to connect to the North Kent Line.
  5. Crossovers to the West of Abbey Wood station allow trains to use either Crossrail platform.
  6. These crossovers also allow access to the sidings at Plumstead.
  7. The Plumstead tunnel portal can be seen below Plumstead Depot.

If Abbey Wood station follows the two National Rail platforms at Liverpool Street in handling a total of 8 tph, then initially Abbey Wood could handle this frequency of trains.

Ian says this in the first article about the frequencies of Crossrail during testing.

Before the blockade, Crossrail was testing the line with an 8 trains per hour (8tph) service, but this week they are going to be ramping that up to 12tph, which will mirror the timetabled service that the line will offer when it opens early next year.

Note that 12 tph will require Abbey Wood station to handle 6 tph on each platform.

Transport for London also intend to simulate 24 tph through the central section, which will be the Peak frequency when the line fully opens.

The Surface Section At Custom House

This map from cartometro shows the track layout around Custom House station.

Note.

  1. Crossrail is shown in purple.
  2. The DLR is shown in light green.
  3. The tunnel portal for the central Crossrail tunnel is to the West of Custom House station.
  4. The tunnel portal for the Connaught tunnel is in the area of the former Connaught Road station.
  5. Between the other end of the Connaught tunnel and Woolwich station, some of the route is in a cutting.
  6. There are crossovers either side of Custom House station.

I suspect a lot of the complications are because an old route was reused.

The Surface Section At Paddington

This map from cartometro shows the track layout around Paddington station.

Note.

  1. The Crossrail station at Paddington is a straight-through two platform station.
  2. The Royal Oak portal, where Crossrail comes to the surface is just to the West of Royal Oak Underground station.
  3. Two lines are labelled CRL Eastbound and CRL Westbound are connected to the Crossrail lines.
  4. Between and around these lines is Paddington New Yard
  5. There are two full crossovers between Paddington New Yard and the Royal Oak portal.

To reverse at Paddington, trains proceed to Paddington New Yard, where the driver changes ends and then returns to Paddington, when needed.

Trains for Reading and Heathrow use the CRL Eastbound and CRL Westbound lines to connect to Crossrail’s Western surface tracks and the Central core tunnel.

It all looks well-designed to my untrained eye.

Platform Edge Doors

This page on the Crossrail web describes the platform edge doors.

This is the first paragraph.

Crossrail has installed floor-to-ceiling platforms screen doors at each of the eight new underground stations on the Elizabeth line – that’s roughly 4 kilometers of platform edge screens in total.

The new stations between Abbey Wood and Paddington are,

  • Paddington
  • Bond Street
  • Tottenham Court Road
  • Farringdon
  • Liverpool Street
  • Whitechapel
  • Canary Wharf
  • Custom House
  • Woolwich

This is eight underground stations and one surface station; Custom House.

So does it mean that Custom House station doesn’t have platform edge doors?

 

I took these pictures of Custom House station today.

Note.

  1. The Crossrail trains were running at a frequency of 8 tph.
  2. , The pictures don’t show any platform edge doors or structures capable of supporting platform edge doors.

Could the regulations allow a surface station like Custom House to be built without doors, or were they left out to save money?

Safety is assured by being able to shut off all entrances to the platforms.

But it does appear that between Custom House and Paddington stations, passengers and trains are separated by platform edge doors.

  • Platform edge doors are controlled by the signalling, so with the correct interlocking a lot of things are possible.
  • Suppose, a station is not ready for passengers, then by locking the doors closed, trains can still pass through.
  • Does this mean that at stations like Liverpool Street, where passengers might need to walk between the Moorgate and Liverpool Street ends of the station to change trains, that these pedestrian routes could be opened? I think it does?

It does appear to me, that platform edge doors are the key to opening a partially-completed railway.

When Could Abbey Wood And Paddington Open?

It strikes me that the following conditions must be met.

  • Paddington station must be handed over to Transport for London.
  • Platform edge doors at all stations must work reliably.
  • The trains must work reliably with the signalling.

It looks like Bond Street, Paddington and Whitechapel stations, are the only stations that have not been handed over to Transport for London.

  • I suspect, as Paddington is a terminal station, it must be handed over.
  • Crossrail have said they could live with Bond Street opening later.
  • Whitechapel appears to have been a difficult station to build, so perhaps it could open later.

Could Crossrail open partially, earlier than anyone thinks?

Perhaps this post called Your First Crossrail Service May Arrive In Time For Christmas, was based on fact and not rumour in the Sunday Times.

 

 

 

 

 

July 14, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Up To £3 Billion For Crossrail To Ebbsfleet

The title of this post, is the same as that of an article in the July 2019 Edition of Modern Railways.

This is an extract.

Current estimates gave a cost range of between £1.3 billion and £3 billion, which Mr. Williams said depended on whether services shared tracks with existing Southeastern services east of Abbey Wood or had their own segregated tracks.

Mr. Williams is Transport for London’s Direct of City  Planning; Alex Williams.

This Google Map shows Northfleet and Ebbsfleet stations.

Note.

  1. The large Ebbsfleet International station towards the bottom of the map.
  2. Northfleet station on the North Kent Line in the North East corner of the map.
  3. The two stations are about five hundred  metres apart as the  crow flies.

There has been a lot of pressure in the past to build a pedestrian link between the two stations, as reported by the Wikipedia entry for Northfleet station.

The station is very close to Ebbsfleet International station (the NNE entrance is only 334 yards (305 m) from Northfleet’s station), but passengers (using public transport) will find it far easier to access Ebbsfleet International from Gravesend or Greenhithe, as these stations are more accessible and offer easy access to Fastrack bus services. The walking route between the two stations is 0.6 miles (1 km) or 0.8 miles (1.3 km) and a suitable pedestrian link has not been built because of funding issues and objections from Land Securities.

Why when Ebbsfleet International station was built in the early 2000s for opening in 2007, was a pedestrian link not built between the two stations?

How much did omitting the link save?

Luton Airport are building the Luton DART, which is a people mover to  connect Luton Airport Parkway station with the airport.

  • It is 1.4 miles long.
  • It is fully automated.
  • It might have an extra station serving the mid-stay parking.
  • It appears to be taking three years to build.

All of this very comprehensive system appears to be costing around £200 million.

I doubt that a simple pedestrian link, like a bridge with travelators,  would have cost more than a few tens of million pounds.

To me, it is one of the great mysteries of the building of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, that this pedestrian link wasn’t built.

I think, in future, we could come to regret that it wasn’t built along with the rest of Ebbsfleet International station in the early 2000s.

The extension of Crossrail to Ebbsfleet is about the following.

  • Creating a high-frequency railway to serve all the new housing developments in the Thames Gateway and along the South Bank of the Thames.
  • Connecting  Ebbsfleet International station and other developments around the station to Crossrail.

In some ways, these two objectives are incompatible.

  • To serve the housing developments along the river, the Crossrail extension needs to run roughly along the route of the North Kent Line.
  • To serve Ebbsfleet International station, the route needs to be further inland.

Choosing either route is going to annoy people who live on the other.

For this reason, I feel we need a good old-fashioned British compromise or some very-radical thinking.

Current Services Along The North Kent Line

I shall start by looking at current services on the North Kent Line.

Thameslink – Luton And Rainham (Kent)

A Thameslink service

  • Two trains per hour (tph)
  • South of the Thames, the service calls at London Bridge, Deptford, Greenwich, Maze Hill, Whatcombe Park, Charlton, Woolwich Arsenal, Plumstead, Abbey Wood, Slade Green, Dartford, Stone Crossing, Greenhithe for Bluewater, Swanscombe, Northfleet, Gravesend, Higham, Strood, Rochester, Chatham and Gillingham.
  • Eight-car Class 700 trains work the route, which have a 100 mph operating speed.
  • The service calls at Northfleet for a possible interchange with services running from Ebbsfleet International station
  • The service calls at Abbey Wood for interchange with Crossrail.

If there needed to be more capacity on this service, I suspect Thameslink could run twelve-car trains.

Southeastern – London Charing Cross And Gravesend

A Southeastern Metro service.

  • Two tph
  • Calls at Waterloo East, London Bridge, New Eltham, Sidcup, Bexley, Crayford, Dartford, Stone Crossing, Greenhithe for Bluewater, Swanscombe and Northfleet
  • The service calls at Northfleet for a possible interchange with services running from Ebbsfleet International station.
  • The service calls at Gravesend for interchange with Southeastern HighSpeed services between St. Pancras International station and North-East Kent, East Kent and soon-to-be East Sussex.
  • Class 465 trains work the route, which have a 75 mph operating speed.

This picture shows a train for Gravesend in London Bridge station.

My feeling, is that the service would be improved by modern 100 mph trains, as these antique slow-coaches must restrict the speed of faster trains.

Southeastern – London Cannon Street And Dartford Loop Line

A Southeastern Metro service.

  • Four tph in both directions.
  • Calls at London Bridge, Deptford, Greenwich, Maze Hill, Westcombe Park, Charlton, Woolwich Dockyard, Woolwich Arsenal, Plumstead, Abbey Wood, Belvedere, Erith and Slade Green.
  • Two tph return to Cannon Street via Crayford and Sidcup and two tph return to Cannon Street via Barnehurst and Bexleyheath.
  • The service calls at Abbey Wood for a planned interchange with Crossrail.
  • Class 465 trains work the route.

As I said with the previous service, these 75 mph trains need replacing with 100 mph trains.

Southeastern – London Charing Cross And Dartford

A Southeastern Metro service.

  • Two tph
  • Calls at Waterloo East, London Bridge, Lewisham, Blackheath, Charlton, Woolwich Dockyard, Woolwich Arsenal, Plumstead, Abbey Wood, Belvedere, Erith and Slade Green.
  • The service calls at Abbey Wood for a planned interchange with Crossrail.
  • Class 465 trains work the route.

As I said with the two previous services, these 75 mph trains need replacing with 100 mph trains.

Southeastern – London Victoria And Dover

A Southeastern Mainline service.

  • Two tph
  • Calls on the North Kent Line at Rochester, Chatham, Gillingham and Rainham.
  • Class 465 trains work the route.

As I said with previous services, these 75 mph trains need replacing with 100 mph trains.

Southeastern – London Victoria And Ramsgate

A Southeastern Mainline service.

  • One tph
  • Calls on the North Kent Line at Rochester, Chatham, Gillingham and Rainham.
  • Class 465 trains work the route.

As I said with previous services, these 75 mph trains need replacing with 100 mph trains.

Southeastern – London St. Pancras And Faversham

A Southeastern HighSpeed service.

  • One tph
  • Calls at Stratford International, Ebbsfleet International, Gravesend, Strood, Rochester, Chatham, Gillingham, Rainham and Sittingbourne.
  • The service calls at Ebbsfleet International for an interchange with Continental services.
  • Class 395 trains work the route, which have a 100 mph operating speed on lines electrified using a third-rail.

This picture shows a Class 395 train at Gravesend station.

East of Ebbsfleet International, this service can be considered a 100 mph local train, that gets slowed by the 75 mph services.

Southeastern – London St Pancras International Loop Service

A Southeastern HighSpeed service.

  • One tph
  • Calls at Stratford International, Ebbsfleet International, Gravesend, Strood, Rochester, Chatham, Gillingham, Rainham, Sittingbourne, Faversham, Whitstable, Herne Bay, Birchington-on-Sea, Margate, Broadstairs, Ramsgate, Sandwich, Deal, Walmer, Martin Mill, Dover Priory, Folkestone Central, Folkestone West, Ashord International, Ebbsfleet International and Stratford International.
  • The service calls at Ebbsfleet International and Ashford International for an interchange with Continental services.
  • Class 395 trains work the route.

East of Ebbslfleet International, this service can be considered a 100 mph local train, that gets slowed by the 75 mph services.

Southeastern – London St Pancras International And Ramsgate

A Southeastern HighSpeed service.

  • One tph
  • Calls at Stratford International, Ebbsfleet International, Ashford International, Canterbury West, Ramsgate and Broadstairs
  • The service calls at Ebbsfleet International and Ashford International for an interchange with Continental services.
  • Class 395 trains work the route.

East of Ashford International, this service can be considered a 100 mph local train, that gets slowed by the 75 mph services.

A Summary Of Services By Station

I will look at the current number of trains at stations between London Bridge and Faversham.

  • Deptford – 6 tph
  • Greenwich – 6 tph
  • Maze Hill – 6 tph
  • Westcombe Park – 6 tph
  • Charlton – 8 tph
  • Woolwich Dockyard – 6 tph
  • Woolwich Arsenal – 8 tph
  • Plumstead – 8 tph
  • Abbey Wood – 8 tph
  • Belvedere – 6 tph
  • Erith – 6 tph
  • Slade Green – 6 tph
  • Dartford – 12 tph to London and 6 tph to the East
  • Stone Crossing – 4 tph
  • Greenhithe for Bluewater – 6 tph
  • Swanscombe – 4 tph
  • Northfleet – 4 tph
  • Gravesend – 6 tph to London and 5 tph to the East
  • Higham – 2 tph
  • Strood – 4 tph
  • Rochester – 7 tph
  • Chatham – 7 tph
  • Gillingham – 7 tph
  • Rainham – 7 tph to London and 5 tph to the East
  • Sittingbourne – 5 tph
  • Faversham – 5 tph

This is almost a train every ten minutes all the way from London to Faversham.

In addition Ebbsfleet International has four tph to and from London St. Pancras International.

Could Extra Services Be Run Along The North Kent Line?

Consider.

  • Six tph is not a high frequency for a relatively simple route like this.
  • The East London Line, which has about the same level of complication easily handles sixteen tph and it is planned to go to twenty tph in the next couple of years.
  • Digital signalling and Automatic Train Control will handle twenty-four tph on Crossrail and Thameslink.
  • Freight trains do not run at a high frequency on the route.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see another eight-ten tph added to the route.

How Many Trains Should Terminate At Ebbsfleet?

Currently, Crossrail has six fully-planned and built terminals.

  • Abbey Wood will handle twelve tph in the Peak and ten tph in the Off Peak
  • Heathrow Terminal 4 will handle four tph all day
  • Heathrow Terminal 5 will handle two tph all day
  • Maidenhead will handle two tph all day.
  • Reading will handle four tph in the Peak and two tph in the Off Peak
  • Shenfield will handle twelve tph in the Peak and ten tph in the Off Peak

It would appear that most terminals only handle between two and four tph.

I very much suspect, that research will show that four tph to and from Ebbsfleet will be sufficient.

It certainly meets the requirement for a Turn-Up-And-Go service, as used by London Overground and Merseyrail.

Possible Terminals For Crossrail In Kent

Wikipedia gives services to Abbey Wood station under Services as follows.

  • Peak – Twelve tph
  • Off Peak – Ten tph

There are several possible terminals for Crossail in Kent

Gravesend Station

When Crossrail was planned, the route was safeguarded to Gravesend station, with a depot at Hoo Junction to the East.

This section in Wikipedia, which is entitled To Gravesend And Hoo Junction, gives more details. This is the first sentence.

The route to Gravesend has been safeguarded by the Department for Transport, although it was made clear that as at February 2008 there was no plan to extend Crossrail beyond the then-current scheme.

These pictures show Gravesend station.

The station is well-appointed and has good services.

  • The station is close to the Town Centre.
  • It is step-free.
  • There is a West-facing bay platform, which is currently used for a two tph service to Charing Cross.
  • The platforms are very long.
  • HighSpeed commuter services and Thameslink call at the station.

Crossrail services could either terminate in the bay platform or run through the station to a turnback siding at Hoo Junction.

Either way, I’m sure four tph could be easily handled.

Ebbsfleet International Station

Ebbsfleet International station is named in the title of this post and many are expecting that Crossrail will be extended to the station.

This Google Map shows this station.

Note.

  1. The High Speed platforms 1 to 4, for St. Pancras, Ashford International and the Continent are to the left.
  2. The two separate platforms 5 and 6 for high-speed services to and from North Kent.
  3. The large amount of car parking around the station.

It’s not obvious, where a platform or two for Crossrail could fit in.

The Wikipedia entry for Ebbsfleet International station, says this about Crossrail.

It was formerly planned that Crossrail would terminate at a separate station between Northfleet and Ebbsfleet International but under the current plan, Abbey Wood further west will be the eastern terminus. However, a Crossrail extension from Abbey Wood to Gravesend (Hoo Junction) remains safeguarded

Perhaps, Crossrail platforms could be on the Northfleet side of the station, to the North of platforms 5 and 6.

If two platforms are good enough for Abbey Wood station, then surely, two platforms would be sufficient at Ebbsfleet International station.

This Google Map shows where the North Kent Line rrosses the Channel Tunnel Rail Link about five hundred metres North of Ebbsfleet station.

Could a flyover or dive-under be created to create a spur from the North Kent Line, that would allow Crossrail trains to sneak down the Eastern side of the high speed lines to platforms, alongside the current Platforms 5 and 6?

This picture was taken from a train on the bridge that carries the North Kent Line over the high speed lines.

I suspect there is a solution in there somewhere.

One interesting possibility could be for the Crossrail trains to share Platforms 5 and 6 at Ebbsfleet International station with the HighSpeed commuter services to North Kent.

This picture shows the flying junction, where the tracks through Platforms 5 and 6, join the North Kent Line between Northfleet and Gravesend stations.

As currently, only two tph use the link, surely, Crossrail services of four tph could share, if they were to go through Ebbsfleet International and terminate at Gravesend?

I’m not an expert on designing bridges, but to my untrained eye, a flyover to connect the Ebbsfleet loop to the North Kent Line to the West of the station, wouldn’t be much more complicated, than the flyover to the East.

I think, a loop to serve Ebbsfleet would have other advantages.

  • Crossrail would have access to a much-needed Park-and-Ride site.
  • The interchange between Crossrail and Continental services would be a short walk.
  • Probably only minimal improvements would be needed to Ebbsfleet International station.
  • There would be a same-platform interchange between Crossrail and HighSpeed commuter services to and from St. Pancras.
  • Construction would be more affordable and less disruptive.

Perhaps, it’s a better idea, than I originally thought?

Abbey Wood

Abbey Wood station has been designed to handle twelve tph.

The picture shows the four platforms at Abbey Wood station with a Class 345 train in one of the two Crossrail platforms.

  • Two platforms can handle twelve tph.
  • A turnback facility that has been built at the station to handle more trains or service recovery.
  • There are three bridges, two escalators and at least two lifts to facilitate transfer between Crossrail and other services.
  • Platforms are spacious.
  • There is a wide gate line controlling entry to the station.
  • The station is well-served by buses, but car parking is limited.

It is one of the better new stations and would certainly have no problems handling the eight tph, it would need to in the Peak, if four tph, carried on to terminate at Ebbsfleet.

Dartford Station

Dartford station probably has claims to be terminal for Crossrail.

It is a large town, clustered around the station.

There is a lot of new housing close to the station.

It has regularly services to several London terminals, by a variety of routes.

But it appears to be a very cramped station with narrow platforms, as some of these pictures shows.

Services at the station include.

  • Eight tph – Charing Cross
  • Two tph – Victoria
  • Four tph – Gravesend

Thameslink also run two tph between Luton and Rainham.

It is much-more a station where travellers change trains, than one where services terminate..

But even for that it needs improvement.

My Preferred Crossrail Option

I would extend Crossrail to Ebbsfleet in a simple manner, that was capable of being expanded, as traffic needs changed in the future.

Four tph Would Continue Through Abbey Wood Station

I feel that a Turn-Up-And-Go service between Abbey Wood and Ebbsfleet, of four tph would be sufficient, especially if other services on the route, were to be increased in frequency and capacity.

Services Would Terminate At Gravesend Station

The original safeguarded plan for Crossrail to be extended to Gravesend, with a depot at Hoo Junction, is in my mind a good plan.

  • Gravesend station is probably Crossrail-ready.
  • Gravesend station could handle the turnround of Crossrail running at a frequency of four tph.
  • There is plenty of space for a depot at Hoo Junction.

But perhaps most importantly,, it is the original plan suggested in the original design of Crossrail.

Have decisions been made by the various councils on the extended route, based on this plan?

Crossrail Services Would Use The North Kent Line

The extended Crossrail service would call at Belvedere, Erith, Slade Green, Dartford, Stone Crossing, Greenhithe for Bluewater, Swanscombe and Northfleet.

Frequencies of trains at the stations between Abbey Wood and Gravesend would be.

  • Belvedere – 10 tph
  • Erith – 10 tph
  • Slade Green – 10 tph
  • Dartford – 16 tph to London via a variety of routes and 10 tph to the East
  • Stone Crossing – 8 tph
  • Greenhithe for Bluewater – 10 tph
  • Swanscombe – 8 tph
  • Northfleet – 4 tph

In addition, Gravesend would have ten tph to and from London.

Handling these frequencies on a modern double-track railway shouldn’t be a problem.

Will Digital Signalling Be Needed?

Crossrail and Thameslink are both digitally signalled and will use a degree of Automatic Train Control, to handle up to twenty-four tph.

I could see advantages in applying similar systems to the Crossrail extension to Ebbsfleet.

Merging Of Services Between Abbey Wood And Belvedere Stations

Services through both these stations would include.

  • 4 tph – Crossrail between London and Ebbsfleet/Gravesend
  • 2 tph – Thameslink between Luton and Rainham, which don’t stop at Belvedere.
  • 4 tph – Southeastern which are the Dartford Loop service to and from Cannon Street.
  • 2 tph – Southeastern between Charing Cross and Dartford

The current track layout appears to allow Crossrail trains to access the North Kent Line, but Class 345 trains are not fitted with shoes for third-rail elecrification.

This Google Map shows the Western end of Belvedere station.

Note how there appears to be space on either side of the double track, which continues as far as Abbey Wood station.

I suspect that a track layout can be designed between the two stations, so that trains can merge and diverge efficiently between the four tracks at Abbey Wood and the two tracks at Belvedere.

Digital signalling would make it easier.

Station Improvement Between Abbey Wood and Grsvesend Stations

As I indicated earlier, Dartford station would need improvement.

On the other hand Abbey Wood, Greenhithe for Bluewater and Gravesend will need very little modification.

I also suspect, Dartford would not be the only station, that will need improvement.

All stations would be made step-free.

A Loop For Ebbsfleet International Station

I feel that the best way to give access to Ebbsfleet International station would be to create a loop from the North Kent Line and use the current island platform 5 and 6 at the station for Crossrail as well.

The Eastern end of the loop has already been built to a high standard and it would only need a Western connection to be designed and constructed.

I’ll repeat the advantanges of this scheme, I listed earlier.

  • Crossrail would have access to a much-needed Park-and-Ride site.
  • The interchange between Crossrail and Continental services would be a short walk.
  • Probably only minimal improvements would be needed to Ebbsfleet International station.
  • There would be a same-platform interchange between Crossrail and HighSpeed commuter services to St. Pancras.
  • Construction would be more affordable and less disruptive.

Each side of the he island platform 5 and 6 would handle.

  • Two tph – HighSpeed commuter services.
  • Four tph – Crossrail services.

They may even be able to handle more trains in the future.

Will Crossrail’s Class 345 Trains Fleet Need Upgrading?

Crossrail’s Class 345 trains have a 90 mph operating speed, as opposed to the 100 mph operating speed of Thameslink’s Class 700 trains.

Southeastern Class 465 trains are even slower at 75 mph.

If all trains working the North Kent Line were 100 mph trains, it would surely make a robust timetable easier to create and operate.

I would expect that in a few years time, all trains working between London and Kent will be capable of at least 100 mph.

Where Will Gravesend and Ebbsfleet International Services Terminate In The West?

The obvious terminal would surely be Heathrow, as this would give a useful service Heathrow and Continental rail services, without the need to change trains.

Wikipedia is quoting 52 minutes between Heathrow and Abbey Wood on Crossrail and current times give  twenty-three minutes between Abbey Wood and Gravesend stations, with perhaps four minutes less to Ebbsfleet in the future.

So timings could be as follows.

  • Heathrow and Ebbsfleet – 75 minutes
  • Heathrow and Gravesend – 79 minutes

Surely, this will be better than struggling around a crowded M25.

Southeastern HighSpeed Commuter Service Improvements

The Southeastern franchise may change later in the year and speculation has started on what this will mean for services and the trains used.

A Revamped HighSpeed Service

In an article in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, which is entitled Kent On The Cusp Of Change, some well-founded speculation is made about the future of the HighSpeed commuter service.

  • More Class 395 trains or similar need to be procured.
  • A new service between St. Pancras and Hastings is planned.
  • An all-day service between St. Pancras and Maidstone West via Gravesend.
  • An extra two tph between St. Pancras and Ebbsfleet International.
  • A second London terminal may be opened at possibly Waterloo or even Victoria.

Only the Maidstone West service would pass through platforms 5 and 6 at Ebbsfleet International station and would add a third hourly HighSpeed service.

In some ways, it might be better for HighSpeed services to run at four tph between Gravesend and St. Pancras via  Ebbsfleet International and Stratford International, as this would fit much better with a four tph Crossrail service.

Improvements To Stratford International Station

Pedestrian routes between the various services and the Olympic Park at Stratford International station are not good.

  • If HighSpeed services are going to be expanded, then it is only right that Stratford International station is improved, to a good modern connectivity standard.
  • If Stansted Airport and Cambridge services serve Stratford in the future, then there must be an easy pedestrian route between the two services.
  • Connectivity between HighSpeed and Great Eastern Main Line and Crossrail services is particularly poor.
  • The HighSpeed platforms at Stratford International station are bleak and draughty and need improvement.

It’s almost as if, the whole station complex was designed for the Eastfield Shopping Centre.

A Summary Of Services By Station

I will look at the current number of trains at stations between Abbey Wood and Faversham, after adding in two extra HighSpeed sevices.

  • St. Pancras and Maidstone West via Strood.
  • St Pancras and Faversham.

These would give.

  • Belvedere – 10 tph
  • Erith – 10 tph
  • Slade Green – 10 tph
  • Dartford – 16 tph to London via a variety of routes and 10 tph to the East
  • Stone Crossing – 8 tph
  • Greenhithe for Bluewater – 10 tph
  • Swanscombe – 8 tph
  • Northfleet – 4 tph
  • Gravesend – 8 tph to London and 7 tph to the East
  • Higham – 2 tph
  • Strood – 6 tph
  • Rochester – 8 tph
  • Chatham – 8 tph
  • Gillingham – 8 tph
  • Rainham – 8 tph to London and 6 tph to the East
  • Sittingbourne – 6 tph

Thameslink Improvements

My only thought about Thamesink, is that if Crossrail and Southeastern’s HighSpeed services run at a frequency of four tph, through Gravesend, then surely Thameslink should run at the same frequency Between St. Pancras and Rainham.

I say St. Pancras rather than Luton, as it would probably be sensible to send the extra two tph up the East Coast Main Line to either Welwyn Garden City, Peterborough or Cambridge.

A Summary Of Services By Station

I will look at the current number of trains at stations between Abbey Wood and Faversham, after adding in two extra Thameslink sevices.

These would give.

  • Belvedere – 12 tph
  • Erith – 12 tph
  • Slade Green – 12 tph
  • Dartford – 18 tph to London via a variety of routes and 12 tph to the East
  • Stone Crossing – 10 tph
  • Greenhithe for Bluewater – 12 tph
  • Swanscombe – 10 tph
  • Northfleet – 6 tph
  • Gravesend – 10 tph to London and 9 tph to the East
  • Higham – 4 tph
  • Strood – 8 tph
  • Rochester – 10 tph
  • Chatham – 10 tph
  • Gillingham – 10 tph
  • Rainham – 10 tph to London and 6 tph to the East
  • Sittingbourne – 6 tph

When you consider that these frequencies are obtained by trains running at 100 mph on a railway, that was most;ly built in the mid-nineteenth century and electrified with 750 VDC third rail before the Second World War.

Southeastern Improvements

Both Southeastern’s Metro services to and from Dartford and Chatham and their main line services to East Kent will probably be improved under the new franchise holder

  • New or refurbished 100 mph trains will replace the 75 mph Class 465 trains.
  • Dover and Ramsgate will get increased frequencies from Victoria.
  • Metro services to and from Dartford and Chatham will be at least a Turn-Up-And-Go four tph.
  • The enhanced performance of the new trains would enable faster services and more stops to be made without degrading the timetable.

I feel that it would not be impossible to see every station between London Bridge and Rainham having twelve tph.

The Pedestrian Link Between Northfleet And Ebbsfleet International Stations

I am not saying a pedestrian link between Northfleet and Ebbsfleet International station shouldn’t be built, but consider that the loop through Ebbsfleet International station gives two routes between Swancombe and Gravesend.; one via Northfleet and the other via Ebbsfleet International.

A lot depends on how many passengers will actually want to travel between the two stations.

  • Those from the West could change at a station like Dartford or Greenhithe for Bluewater to a train going to their required destination.
  • Those from the East could change at Gravesend to a train going to their required destination.

All changes would be same-platform changes and the best stations could be encouraged by coffee kiosks and comfortable waiting rooms.

For passengers starting from Northfleet the following rules would apply.

  • Passengers going East would take the first train and change if required at Bravesend, Rochester or their preferred station.
  • Passengers going West would take the first train and change if required.
  • Passengers going to Ebbsfleet International would probably catch the first train for a single stop and then cross-over to the other platform for a train to Ebbsfleet International.

If there were upwards of six tph on both routes and step-free access at all stations, these procedures would not be unduly tiresome.

Similar rules would apply for those starting their journeys at Ebbsfleet International.

Note that, as more trains ran on both routes between Swanscombe and Gravesend, the time to get between the two stations would decrease.

If as seems to be planned, a lot of housing is built on the undeveloped land between the two stations, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a progressively-minded developer build a pleasant tree-lined pedestrian and cycling route between the two stations.

This would be mainly to give easy access to the development to the two stations, but it would also link them together.

Conclusion

Everything, I have written in this post is based on sound facts and is possible with today’s technology.

  • 100 mph suburban electric trains have been around for several decades.
  • Digital signalling has been successfully running on Thameslink in the UK and other places in the world for a couple of years.
  • The construction methods to build a loop at Ebbsfleet station are nothing out-of-the-ordinary.

What I have outlined would be much more of a £1.3 billion project than a £3 billion one!

I also believe everything can be achieved without massive disruption or inconvenience to passengers and probably delivered in full by 2025.

It should be noted that North Kent will be reaping the benefit of three major new cross-London high-capacity railways.

  • The Chanel Tunnel Rail Link between Ebbsfleet International and St. Pancras via Stratford International.
  • Crossrail between Abbey Wood and West London via Canary Wharf, the City and West End of London, Paddington and Old Oak Common.
  • Thameslink between Kent and North of London via London Bridge, Blackfriars and St. Pancras.

As cross-London routes continue to develop in future decades, other commuter routes will benefit from similar strategies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June 28, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Abbey Wood Station – 21st May 2018

Abbey Wood station has been progressing and I took these pictures.

The layout of the connecting bridges between the Crossrail and North Kent Line platforms is now clear.

  • At the London End, there is a simple footbridge, with steps to each pair of platforms.
  • At the Main Entrance End, there are wide steps and a lift between the station ticket hall and each pair of platforms.
  • The third bridge in the middle is the unusual one with wide steps and a single escalator to each pair of platforms.

I would assume, that the direction of the escalators is as follows.

  • In the Morning Peak, the North Kent Line escalator is set to Up and the Crossrail escalator is set to Down, to speed passengers from the North Kent Line to Crossrail.
  • In the Evening Peak, the Crossrail escalator is set to Up and the North Kent Line escalator is set to Down, to speed passengers from Crossrail to the the North Kent Line.
  • At other times with less traffic, both escalators would be set to Up.

I have seen a lot of station layouts all over the UK and Europe and never one like this.

I doubt, I’ve even seen a pair of platforms connected by three separate bridges too!

Could it be a design of genius to allow thousands of passengers to change between the two pairs of platforms in a short space of time?

Other station layouts that enable this rate of passenger transfer, like the interchange between Crossrail and the Central Line at Stratford station, arrange for a cross-platform interchange, with lines going in the same direction sharing a common platform.

But that arrangement would have been difficult at Abbey Wood, unless perhaps the Crossrail tunnel emerged closer to the station or a flyover or dive-under were to be built.

Both options would have required more space and would have been a lot more expensive.

The design of Abbey Wood station with its three footbridges and wide platforms, would appear to be a more affordable alternative.

Train Length

In some of the pictures, a Class 345 train is shown in one of the Crossrail platforms.

This is a full-length train, which is 205 metres long.

The pictures show just how long these trains are.

LED Lights On The Stairs

Three of the pictures in the bottom row, show the stair handrails with their light underneath.

I Like them.

 

May 21, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

C2E – Crossrail 1 1/2?

The title of this post is the same as that in this article in Rail Engineer.

It describes a proposal to extend the Abbey Wood Branch of Crossrail to Ebbsfleet International station along the North Kent Line.

The article starts with these two paragraphs.

With the main Crossrail project now mostly complete, and with tracks running right through the new tunnels, there has been much talk of Crossrail 2 as the next project, crossing under London from South West to North East and linking Wimbledon with the Leigh Valley.

Rather overlooked is a shorter-term proposal to extend the current Crossrail (or Elizabeth line as it will be called) from Abbey Wood to Ebbsfleet in Kent.

The article talks about the advantages of an extension to Ebbsfleet International station.

This proposal would connect several major brownfield development sites with central London, London City and Heathrow airports, and the West, while also connecting Crossrail passengers with Eurostar and the continent

Specific figures and points include

  • Bexley has 1,100 acres of development space available.
  • 55,000 homes could be built.
  • Potential for high-value jobs.
  • Dartford, where there is a lot of demand, has six trains per hour  (tph) to London.

In addition the following additional services call or will call in the near future at Dartford.

  • Southeastern – Two tph running between Gillingham and London Charing Cross.
  • Southeastern – Two tph running between Gravesend and London Charing Cross.
  • Thameslink – Two tph running between Rainham and Luton.

This map from the article shows the route.

I think it is a good plan and I’ll give my reasons in the following sections.

Abbey Wood Is Not A Terminal Station

Was the reason Abbey Wood station was chosen as a terminus more to do with giving a rail connection to the public transport desert of Thamesmead and all its supposed Labour voters?

  • It’s not by any important tourist venue like the Thames.
  • There’s not even a Shopping Centre.
  • There’s little space for car parking.
  • Abbey Wood station is a very cramped site.

When compared to the three other termini, it is the least significant.

  • Shenfield is a small town with shops and a railway junction.
  • Reading is a thriving city and a major transport interchange.
  • Heathrow is Heathrow.

I also suspect that the track layout at Abbey Wood station has been designed to allow Crossrail trains to continue Eastwards on the North Kent Line.

Ebbsfleet International Would Be A Much Better Terminal Station

Ebbsfleet International station has a lot going for it, as a Crossrail terminal.

  • It is a station for Eurostar and the Continent.
  • Some continental services might terminate at Ebbsfleet in the future due to capacity limitations at St. Pancras.
  • It would connect Crossrail to the Highspeed commuter services to and from East Kent and East Sussex.
  • There’s plenty of space for platforms and depots.
  • There’s already masses of car parking.
  • The area may get a theme park.

There is also the interesting possibility, that it could be faster for many passengers from Central London to use Crossrail and Ebbsfleet, rather than a taxi and St. Pancras to get a train to Paris and Brussels.

I also believe that one of our World Class architects can come up with a proposal for a passenger-friendly station that combines the current Ebbfleet International station with Northfleet station on the North Kent Line.

The Route Would Require Little Major Engineering Works

The route to Ebbsfleet would be predominantly, if not completely, on the surface, along the double-track North Kent Line. Having just flown my helicopter along the route, there is a lot of apace on either side of the tracks for quite a proportion of the route.

A four-track route would probably be impossible, but I suspect that Network Rail could design an efficient route, that would handle the services on the route efficiently.

Trains Along The North Kent Line

Current frequencies of Off Peak through trains on the North Kent Line between Abbey Wood and Gravesend stations are as follows.

  • Abbey Wood – 8 tph
  • Belvedere – 8 tph
  • Erith – 6 tph
  • Slade Green – 6 tph
  • Dartford – 4 tph
  • Stone Crossing – 4 tph
  • Greenhithe – 4 tph
  • Gravesend – 2 tph

There will be additional services in the Peak and Thameslink will run an extra two tph from Rainham to Luton, within the next year or so.

The North Kent Line doesn’t seem to have the most extensive level of services.

The New Southeastern Franchise

The new South Eastern franchise will be awarded in August 2018 and is due to start by the end of the year.

The franchise will probably bring changes and add new trains to the fleet and lines like the North Kent Line.

I also suspect that all trains running on the North Kent Line will in a few years be modern trains capable of operating at 100 mph.

Modern Signalling Could Handle Twenty-Four Trains Per Hour On The North Kent Line

There is no doubt, that if Crossrail-style signalling were applied to the North Kent Line between Abbey Wood the Medway towns, capacity could be increased, if all trains on the line were modern 100 mph units.

I doubt that twenty-four tph would be needed, but I’m sure that enough capacity could be created on the route to handle all services; curent or proposed.

How Many Trains Would Crossrail Run Between Abbey Wood And Ebbsfleet International Stations?

Crossrail’s timetable plan shows  these frequencies at the various termini in the Peak.

  • Abbey Wood – 12 tph
  • Gidea Park – 4 tph
  • Heathrow Terminal 4 – 4 tph
  • Heathrow Terminal 5 – 2 tph
  • Liverpool Street – 4 tph
  • Maidenhead – 2 tph
  • Paddington – 12 tph
  • Reading – 4 tph
  • Shenfield – 12 tph

From these figures, it would appear that four tph to Ebbsfleet International would be reasonable starting point.

This would give the following frequencies along the line.

  • Abbey Wood – 14 tph
  • Belvedere – 14 tph
  • Erith – 12 tph
  • Slade Green – 12 tph
  • Dartford – 10 tph
  • Stone Crossing – 10 tph
  • Greenhithe – 10 tph
  • Gravesend – 4 tph

Note I have added in the 2 tph Thameslink trains from Rainham to Luton.

These frequencies are well within the limits of a double-track railway with a 100 mph operating speed and modern signalling.

The Original Plan Was To Extend To Gravesend

The route for Crossrail from Abbey Wood is safeguarded to Gravesend. Under Future Extensions in the Wikipedia entry for Crossrail, this is said.

The route to Gravesend has been safeguarded by the Department for Transport, although it was made clear that as at February 2008 there was no plan to extend Crossrail beyond the then-current scheme. The following stations are on the protected route extension to Gravesend: Belvedere, Erith, Slade Green, Dartford, Stone Crossing, Greenhithe for Bluewater, Swanscombe, Northfleet, and Gravesend.

A depot would be built at Hoo Junction to the East of Gravesend.

The extended service could always call at both stations.

  • Ebbsfleet International station connects to Eurostar and has space for masses of parking.
  • Gravesend connects to services to East Kent and is on the Thames.

Money and accountants would decide.

Conclusion

Extending four tph from Abbey Wood to a new terminus at Ebbsfleet International station, doesn’t appear to be the most difficult of undertakings.

 

 

December 19, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Should Crossrail Be Extended From Old Oak Common?

In How Will Chiltern Railways Serve Old Oak Common?, I looked at the possibilities of how Chiltern Main Line services will use the Old Oak Common station complex as an additional London terminus to ease the overcrowding at Marylebone station.

In Will Crossrail Go Up The West Coast Main Line?, I looked at why the extension of Crossrail to Milton Keynes was announced and then cancelled as it was thought to be bad value for money.

But is the general principle of extending Crossrail from Old Oak Common onto a new branch or branches a good idea?

Crossrail Revenue And Profit

If you’re running any railway, you get the highest revenue by running as many trains as you can and making sure that they are full with passengers all the time.

The Central Section of Crossrail between Stratford and Paddington stations will be very heavily used, as it will have to handle the following passenger flows.

  • Passengers from the Abbey Wood Branch going to and from Central London
  • Passengers from Heathrow going to and from Central London
  • Passengers from the Reading Branch going to and from Central London
  • Passengers from the Shenfield Branch going to and from Central London
  • Passengers from National Rail services at Liverpool Street going to and from Central London
  • Passengers from National Rail services at Paddington going to and from Central London

In addition it will also be used as an extra Underground line in Central London

The Central Section will be a cash cow for the Crossrail operator!

The various branches to and from Abbey Wood, Heathrow, Reading and Shenfield, may well be less heavily used, but will probably see a different type of passenger to the Central Section, who might need more space and hopefully a seat.

The Class 345 Trains

The Class 345 trains have been designed for efficiency and flexibility.

  • I believe that each car is a separate one-car electric train with its own function.
  • Most cars will be motored to distribute traction and braking forces along the train.
  • I wouldn’t be surprised to see a battery in each car to handle regenerative braking.
  • Cars are joined together to make a train of an appropriate length.
  • Initially, the trains are starting at seven cars, but will go to nine cars and possibly ten.
  • The interiors have been designed to satisfy both needs of a long distance commuter train and a London Underground train.

The operator will be able to configure the trains as new routes are added and passenger levels change.

Comparing Crossrail And The Victoria Line

It is worthwhile to compare the Central Section of Crossrail with the Victoria Line.

Crossrail’s Central Section has the following characteristics.

  • Twenty-four trains per hour  (tph) in both directions
  • Automatic train operation (ATO)
  • Full-size trains of up to ten carriages long
  • Platform-edge doors
  • Large stations with lots of wide platforms and passages.
  • Double-ended stations ay Liverpool Street-Moorgate, Barbican-Farringdon, Tottenham Court Road and Bond Street.
  • Step-free access
  • Easy access to connecting lines
  • Cross-platform reverse at most stations

Whereas the Victoria Line has the following characteristics.

  • Thirty-six tph in both directions
  • Automatic train operation
  • Tube-size trains of six carriages
  • Small stations with lots of narrow platforms and passages
  • Some step-free access
  • Some easy access to connecting lines
  • Cross-platform reverse at most stations

The two lines show a difference in design, very much in keeping with their construction dates.

One comparison is surprising.

Crossrail is planned to run twenty-four tph through the Central Section, but if Dear Old Vicky can manage 36 tph on a line built in the 1960s with generally cramped stations, surely Crossrail with the benefit of some of the best modern design can do a bit more.

I’ve read that Crossrail could handle thirty tph, but then we wondered in the 1960s at the Victoria Line’s fast trains and high frequency in the twenties between Seven Sisters and Brixton. And look at the old girl now!

Dear Old Vicky is second in frequency to parts of the Moscow Metro, which run a train every 95 seconds, as opposed to the 100 seconds of the Victoria.

I suspect that grates with the engineers of the London Underground, as no-one likes being second.

A few years ago, the engineers thought 33 tph between Brixton and Seven Sisters was the limit but now there is 36 tph all the way along the line.

So will we see further improvements to the Victoria Line like these?

  • A loop at Brixton via Herne Hill station to turn trains at the Southern end of the line.
  • Higher capacity stations at Oxford Circus, Euston, Kings Cross St. Pancras, Highbury and Islington, Finsbury Park and Walthamstow Central.
  • Air-conditioned, walk-through articulated trains
  • Full step-free access at all stations and platforms
  • Improved train control software
  • Improved methods of working

These and other improvements will push the frequency towards the magic forty tph.

Do I think that forty tph is achievable on a line built in the 1960s?

As a Control Engineer, trained in the 1960s, I can only give one answer. And that must be yes!

I feel that the stations are the key, as at times stations like Oxford Circus and Walthamstow Central are struggling to handle the number of passengers. Victoria was like that a few years ago, but the addition of a new entrance and more and wider passages has made the station seem a lot less crowded.

Surely, Dear Old Vicky has shown what is possible, when you take a well designed railway and try to ramp up the capacity!

Various commentators have said Crossrail will handle thirty tph, but why are they not being more ambitious?

Comparing Crossrail And Thameslink

Crossrail and Thameslink have a lot in common.

  • Frequencies of twenty-four tph through their central sections
  • High capacity step-free central stations
  • High-capacity purpose-built trains
  • Automatic Train Control in the central sections.

But there are differences.

  • Crossrail’s central section is straight through from Paddington to Stratford, whereas Thameslink has a junction at Blackfriars.
  • Crossrail’s central section has seven stations, whereas Thameslink has just five.
  • Blackfriars station is also a terminal station on Thameslink’s central section.
  • Crossrail’s stations are generally island platforms, which ease reversing direction, whereas Thameslink’s generally aren’t.
  • Crossrail is 25 KVAC overhead electrification throughout, whereas Thameslink has a voltage change at St. Pancras.

I think that although both lines will be opened at a frequency of 24 tph, raising the frequency on Crossrail will be easier than Thameslink.

The Importance Of Increasing Frequency On Crossrail and Thasmeslink

The train capacity on the two routes are as follows.

  • A nine-car Crossrail Class 345 train can carry 1,500 passengers
  • A twelve-car Thameslink Class 700 train can carry 1,754 passengers
  • A eight-car Thameslink Class 700 train can carry 1,146 passengers

Compare this with an eight-car Victoria Line 2009 Stock train, which holds just 876 passengers.

So if Crossrail went from 24 to 30 tph through the central section, that would add extra capacity for 9,000 passengers per hour, between Stratford and Paddington.

Building Crossrail and upgrading Thameslink will bring London two high-capacity cross-London Underground Lines.

The more the frequencies on those lines can be increased the higher will be the capacity of the Underground network in Central London.

Crossrail’s Shenfield Branch

The Branch to Shenfield station has the following characteristics.

  • It is an almost completely separated double-track railway between Stratford and Shenfield.
  • All stations will be step-free.
  • Most trains on the route will be Crossrail’s Class 345 trains.
  • A few of Greater Anglia’s similar Aventra trains may use the route.
  • The route will have modern signalling and ERTMS.
  • It is proposed that initially twelve tph will serve the branch

I believe the track, stations and signalling of the Shenfield Branch could handle up to twenty-four tph.

That figure might seem high, but consider the following.

  • Shenfield station has three platforms where Crossrail trains can be turned back.
  • Walthamstow Central and Brixton stations handle thirty-six trains tph with just two platforms.
  • The track layout at Shenfield can accommodate through trains.

Passenger access to the platforms is probably more of a limiting factor, than the track and platforms.

Timings

Currently, Class 315 trains are scheduled to go between Stratford and Shenfield in thirty-six minutes, with faster Longer distance services doing the trip non-stop in fifteen minutes.

  • Crossrail is claiming on their web site, that the Class 345 trains will do the trip in thirty-two minutes or four minutes less.
  • But there are eleven station between Stratford and Shenfield. So that is a saving of only around twenty-two seconds a station.

I feel Crossrail is playing their timings very safe.

Future Services

I think the following will happen in a few years.

  • The current proposal of twelve tph to Shenfield will be increased to something like fifteen or twenty tph.
  • Crossrail timings between Stratford and Shenfield will approach the current fastest time of fifteen minutes between the two stations.
  • Fast services to and from North of Chelmsford will stop at Shenfield to enable faster and easier journeys.
  • Crossrail could be extended to stations like Beaulieu and Southend Victoria.
  • Shenfield will become a major rail interchange.

The East of England will see major changes to its rail network.

Crossrail’s Abbey Wood Branch

The Branch to Abbey Wood station has the following characteristics.

  • It is a tunnelled double-track railway between Whitechapel and Abbey Wood stations.
  • All stations will be step-free.
  • All trains on the route will be Crossrail’s Class 345 trains.
  • The route will have modern signalling and ERTMS.
  • It is proposed that initially twelve tph will serve the branch

I believe the track, stations and signalling of the Abbey Wood Branch could handle up to twenty-four tph.

Future Services

I think the following will happen in a few years.

  • The  current proposal of twelve tph to Abbey Wood will be increased to something like fifteen or twenty tph.
  • Services on the Abbey Wood Branch will continue to match those on the Shenfield Branch, as this makes journeys between the two Eastern branches easier.
  • Crossrail could be extended to stations like Ebbsfleet and Gravesend.
  • Abbey Wood will become a major rail interchange.

South East London and Kent will see major changes to its rail network.

Summing Up The Two Eastern Branches

The two Eastern Branches can probably provide as many as twenty-four tph for Crossrail.

As the maximum frequency through the Central Section is probably in the thirties, they can allocate services according to where the traffic lies.

It would also appear that as the two services will use the same platforms at Whitechapel station and trains will be every few minutes, that Crossrail is designed to make journeys between say Ilford and Abbey Wood much quicker than by car.

Crossrail’s Reading Branch

The Branch  to Reading station has the following characteristics.

  • It is a semi-separated double-track railway between Paddington and Reading.
  • All stations will be step-free.
  • Most trains on the route will be Crossrail’s Class 345 trains.
  • Other services may share the tracks.
  • The route will have modern signalling and ERTMS.
  • It is proposed that initially six tph will serve the branch; four to Reading and two to Maidenhead.

I believe the track, stations and signalling of the Reading Branch could handle up to twenty-four tph,

Future Services

I think the following will happen in a few years.

  • The  current proposal of six tph to Reading and Maidenhead will be increased increased.
  • Crossrail could be extended to stations like Basingstoke and Oxford.
  • Reading will become an even more major rail interchange.

West London and Berkshire will see major changes to its rail network.

Crossrail’s Heathrow Branch

The Branch to Heathrow has the following characteristics.

  • It is a fully-separated double-track railway between Airport Junction and Heathrow.
  • All stations are step-free.
  • Most trains on the route will be Crossrail’s Class 345 trains.
  • Other services may share the tracks.
  • The route will have modern signalling and ERTMS.
  • It is proposed that initially six tph will serve the branch.

I believe the track, stations and signalling of the Heathrow Branch could handle in excess of twelve tph.

Future Services

I think the following will happen in a few years.

  • The  current proposal of six tph to Heathrow is increased.
  • Crossrail could be extended to stations beyond Terminal 5.
  • Heathrow Express will fade away.

Heathrow will see major changes to its rail network.

Turning Back Crossrail Trains At Paddington

These services will call at Paddington from the East.

  • 12 tph from Abbey Wood
  • 12 tph from Shenfield

And these from the West

6 tph from Heathrow

2 tph from Maidenhead

4 tph from Reading

This gives an imbalance, so twelve tph will have to be turned back to the East at Paddington.

Crossrail Services

The provisional service pattern is shown in the Wikipedia entry for Crossrail under Services.

It effectively shows the following services, with times are from Crossrail’s provisional journey time calculator.

  • 4 tph – Reading to Abbey Wood – 80/78 minutes
  • 2 tph – Maidenhead to Abbey Wood – 67/66 minutes
  • 4 tph – Heathrow Terminal 4 to Abbey Wood – 60/60 minutes
  • 2 tph – Heathrow Terminal 5 to Abbey Wood – 60/60 minutes (assumed same as previous)
  • 12 tph – Paddington to Shenfield – 51/51 minutes

It should also be noted that Paddington to Abbey Wood is 29/28 minutes.

Note.

  1. The first figure is for the West to East journey.
  2. The second figure is for the East to West journey.
  3. There isn’t much difference between West to East and East to West journeys.

This leads me to give these numbers for the trains on each route.

  • Reading to Abbey Wood – 12 trains
  • Maidenhead to Abbey Wood – 5 trains
  • Heathrow Terminal 4 to Abbey Wood – 10 trains
  • Heathrow Terminal 5 to Abbey Wood – 5 trains
  • Paddington to Shenfield – 24 trains

This totals up to 56 trains.

Note.

  1. My numbers of trains figures, are very rough and are minimum numbers.
  2. Provisionally, Crossrail will also be running 4 tph between Liverpool Street and Gidea Park in the Peak, which could need four trains.
  3. Crossrail have ordered 70 trains.
  4. Some trains will be in maintenance and others will be held in reserve.

Crossrail seem to have ordered a sensible number of trains for the initial services.

Ceossrail Extension To Gravesend

It would appear that a typical Abbey Wood to Gravesend service takes just under half an hour.

This is with slower twenty-five year old Class 465 trains, so extending services to Gravesend would just add an hour to the round trip.

This would make train timetabling easy.

If the Heathrow Terminal 4 service to Abbey Wood was extended to Gravesend, it would require another two trains.

In addition.

  • The Class 345 trains have been designed to run on 750 VDC third-rail electrification, with the addition of third-rail shoes.
  • I think that the new track layout at Abbey Wood station could cope with four tph running to Gravesend using the North Kent Line.
  • A single platform at Gravesend could turn back four tph.

It does look that to choose Gravesend as an extension for Crossrail could be a very good decision.

The New South Eastern Franchise

This will be a key factor in extending Crossrail to Gravesend and I suspect all bidders will give co-operation with Crossrail, a high priority.

I suspect a new franchise will replace a large proportion of the train fleet with new 100 mph traqins and that the Class 465 trains will be retired.

The new franchise is due to start in December 2018.

When Could A Crossrail Service To Gravesend Start?

I believe that the following infrastructure is ready for a four tph Crossrail service to Gravesend.

  • The link between Crossrail and the North Kent Line at Abbey Wood station.
  • Platform 0 at Gravesend is a twelve-car London-facing bay platform, that could handle the trains.
  • Dartford, Gravesend, Greenhithe stations are step-free.

However, certain things must happen before a Crossrail service to Gravesend could start.

  • The new Southeastern franchise must be up and running.
  • ERTMS must be installed along the North Kent Line.
  • All trains running along the North Kent Line must be 100 mph trains, able to take advantage of modern signalling.
  • All stations between Abbey Wood and Gravesend must be made step-free.

The new franchise will probably have its new service pattern and modern trains in place by the end of 2023, which would probably make the Crossrail extension easier.

Before a decision is made on the extension, Crossrail needs a couple of years to find out how passengers use the new line and the other services, which will include Thameslink, that call at Abbey Wood station.

Can Crossrail Be Extended From Old Oak Common?

Before answering the question, the related question of whether it is possible should be answered.

Extending Trains From Paddington

Current proposals envisage twelve trains turning back at Paddington.

It would not be difficult if a number of these trains continued to Old Oak Common station.

Can Paddington To Old Oak Common Handle The Extra Trains?

The current proposals envisage just twelve tph using the route between Paddington and Old Oak Common station, with perhaps a few wxtra trains going to and from Old Oak Common Depot.

As the tunnelled section of Crossrail can handle double that frequency, I suspect there will be no problems extending extra trains to Old Oak Common station.

It would appear that there would be no problems extending services to Old Oak Common station.

Where Would The Extra Services Go?

The choices lie between the Chiltern Main Line and the West Coast Main Line.

If we take Crossrail’s well-thought out choice of Gravessend, I think we need a destination, that is ideally just under thirty minutes from Old Oak Common station.

In the next few sub-sections, I’ll look at possibilities.

Extending To High Wycombe On The Chiltern Main Line

A service between High Wycombe and Wembley Stadium stations takes 27 minutes with stops at Beaconsfield, Gerrards Cross and South Ruislip stations. Taking the Acton-Northolt Line and even with stopping at Seer Green and Jordans, Denham Golf Club, Denham, West Ruislip and Greenford, I’m pretty sure, that a train could go from Old Oak Common to High Wycombe and back in comfortably under an hour.

Four tph between High Wycombe and Shenfield would require twelve trains, which is four more than would be needed for the same service between Paddington and Shenfield.

Consider.

  • Four tph could easily be turned back in a single platform at High Wycombe station.
  • High Wycombe station has plenty of space.
  • However, it would need the route between Old Oak Common and High Wycombe to be electrified.
  • But, it is a long-term aim of Chiltern Railways to electrify the Chiltern Main Line.

I believe that High Wycombe station could be a viable terminal for Crossrail.

Extending To Milton Keynes Central On The West Coast Main Line

A service between Milton Keynes Central and Wembley Central stations takes 51 minutes with seven stops.

This would mean that a train could go from Shenfield to Milton Keynes Central in comfortably under two hours.

Four tph between Milton Keyns Central and Shenfield would require sixteen trains, which is eight more than would be needed for the same service between Paddington and Shenfield.

Consider.

  • Four tph could easily be turned back in a single platform at Milton Keynes Central station.
  • Milton Keynes Central station  has space for a terminal platform.
  • Except for creating the connection at Old Oak Common and updating stations to full step-free access, the infrastructure is pretty good.
  • Crossrail would be linked to the East-West Rail Link.

I believe that Milton Keynes Central station could be a viable terminal for Crossrail.

Should Crossrail Be Extended From Old Oak Common?

It is certainly possible to extend to either High Wycombe or Milton Keynes Central.

If a decision were to be made to extend Crossrail, passenger statistics would probably decide, which would be the extra terminal or terminals.

 

 

October 27, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 2 Comments

Abbey Wood Station – 30th July 2017

I took these pictures at Abbey Wood staeion.

Note my other post about Abbey Wood station called Construction Of The Platform Structures And Tracks For Crossrail At Abbey Wood Was Cimpleted By Network Rail In May 2017, which was based on a picture caption in the August 2017 Edition of Modern Railways.

Does this also include the electrification?

It now appears that West of the station, the electrification runs all the way to the tunnel entrance. But the electrification is treated differently in the two Crossrail platforms.

  • In Platform 3, which traditionally would be the London-bound platform, the wires go under the station bridge and finish on a single vertical gantry. Conveniently, it’s shown in the last picture in the gallery.
  • In Platform 4, which is the Northernmost platform, the wires are fixed to the station building. This is shown in the penultimate picture in the gallery.

So it would appear, that Crossrail trains can only go East of the station under electric power  only using the track through Platform 3.

I couldn’t see if there was any connection between the track through Platform 4 and that through Platform 3, but there was also some supports for the old bridge in the way.

There would need to be a connection, if the track to the East of the station was to be used as a reversing siding.

What is now clear is that the station must be one of the few stations with three footbridges.

  • There is the main one at the East containing the main station building, which probably has lifts.
  • One in the middle of the platforms, which looks like it might have lifts.
  • There is a smaller footbridge at the Western end of the station.

According to this page on the Crossrail web site the station has a total of six lifts.

I suspect the number of lifts is because the site and the track layout, mean that it has not been possible to organise cross-platform interchange bettween Crossrail and the North Kent Line.

July 30, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

Kent On The Cusp Of Change – Abbey Wood Station

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

This is said.

In December 2018, the Elizabeth Line is due to reach its south-eastern terminus at Abbey Wood, where there will be interchange with the North Kent line.

A wide range of new journey opportunities will open up, which over time will influence many choices over work and home locations. A train every five minutes from Abbey Wood to Canary Wharf and central London is expected to have a dramatic effect in North Kent.

The article goes on to say that a working group called Crossrail Gravesend is pushing to extend the Elizabeth Line to Ebbsfleet International station for High Speed One.

In this post, I will talk about issues at Abbey Wood station.

The Modern Railways article says that Abbey Wood station is a cross-platform interchange, as do other articles.

Track Layout At Abbey Wood Station

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the layout of lines at Abbey Wood station.

Compare this with this track layout, that I posted in Abbey Wood Station –  29th August 2016.

Note the following.

  • The older layout shows cross-platform interchange.
  • The current one has two pairs of platforms, with Platforms 3 and 4 for Crossrail and Platforms 1 and 2 for other services.
  • The current layout probably connects better to the existing lines to Dartford.

These pictures were taken on the 28th June 2017 and show pictures generally taken from the West of the station.

They show a similar layout, of two Northern platforms (3 & 4) for Crossrail and two Southern platforms (1 & 2) for all other services.

Note.

  • The two cross-overs to the West of Abbey Wood station to get the Crossrail trains to and from the right platforms.
  • The station building and the two footbridges over the lines.
  • The solid wooden fence between the two pairs of lines.
  • The robust nature of the overhead wiring.

I suspect, that if they had wanted to have Eastbound and Westbound lines each share an island platform, it would have required a flyover, which would have been a large expense.

These pictures were taken on the 10th July 2017 to the East of the station.

Note that the first seven pictures were taken from a public footbridge that crosses the tracks about five hundred metres to the East of Abbey Wood station and the last few pictures were taken from a train leaving Abbey Wood station for Dartford station.

This recent Google Map shoews from Abbey Wood station, to where the reversing siding ends close to where Aliske Road turns North

The pictures and the map show the following.

  • The two third-rail electrified tracks of the North Kent Line run between Platforms 1 and 2 at Abbey Wood station to Belvedere station.
  • The North Kent tracks are fully in use, by services between London and Kent.
  • The two Crossrail Platforms 3 and 4 at Abbey Wood station are electrified with overhead wires.
  • The two tracks in Platforms 3 and 4 would appear to join together into a single line mainly without electrification, that connects to the North Kent Line about a kilometre to the East of Abbey Wood station.
  • There is only a short length of electrification to the East of the station.

It is not what I expected, as it means that there is no cross-platform interchange between services going to North Kent and Crossrail, as various sources including the The Kent On The Cusp Of Change article have said.

Passengers changing between the North Kent Lines and Crossrail will have to go over through the station or use the bridge.

So how will the station handle the various train movements?

Comparison Between Abbey Wood and Shenfield Stations

Abbey Wood will after rebuilding be a station with two North Kent and two Crossrail platforms

Shenfield station has now been converted into a station with six platforms, three of which can be used as Crossrail platforms.

In the Peak, services to the two stations are as follows.

  •  Shenfield – 10 trains per hour (tph)
  • Abbey Wood – 12 tph

In addition 4 tph on the Shenfield Branch turn-back at Gidea Park station.

In the Off Peak, services to the two stations are as follows.

  •  Shenfield – 8 tph
  • Abbey Wood – 8 tph

So it would appear that Abbey Wood is the harder station to operate with more services in the Peak and one less platform.

Train Stabling At Abbey Wood Station

Train stabling needs to be provided on a busy branch line, as it makes it easier to adjust the number of trains running to the demand throughout the day.

At Shenfield, the stabling sidings are beyond the station, which must be easier operationally, than the position of the sidings at Abbey Wood, where they are back down the line at the Plumstead tunnel portal.

If you look at the second set of pictures taken to the East of the station, spaqce would appear to be very limited. So is this why stabling is not ast of Abbey Wood station.

Turning Back Crossrail Trains At Abbey Wood

At Shenfield, train operators have been turning back Class 315 trains at a rate of six tph since 1980, so with the addition of a new platform and modern trains and signalling, the handling of ten tph should be achievable.

But at Abbey Wood in the Peak, there is a need to turn trains round at a rate of twelve tph or a train every five minutes.

The operation could involve each of Platform 3 and 4 handling six tph, using the cross-overs to the West of the station to get the train between each platform and the right Crossrail track, but handling six tph on two platforms feeding a 12 tph double track railway is a tough ask.

From what I have seen, I think that Crossrail will turnback their trains like this.

  • All Crossrail trains from London arrive in Platform 4.
  • All Crossrail trains to London depart from Platform 3.
  • All trains arriving in Platform 4 use the unelectrified single track line as a reversing siding to get to Platform 3
  • As the pictures show, the single track line is probably long enough to store a failed train, for later recovery.

But the Class 345 trains have a system called Auto-Reverse.

When the train is ready to leave Platform 4,the driver initiates an Auto-Reverse and the train moves automatically into the reversing siding, whilst the driver starts to walk back through the train to the other cab.

  • By the time, the train is in the reversing siding, the driver is ready to drive the train into Platform 3.
  • The process will have to be done within five minutes.
  • The process could also involve the basic cleaning and removal of rubbish, with cleaners getting on at Platform 4 and getting off at Plstform 3.

Crossrail is not your bog-standard railway.

Trains Leaving Service At Abbey Wood

Suppose a train was leaving service at Abbey Wood.

Normally, it would probably perform the Auto-Reverse and go to the stabling sidings at the Plumstead tunnel portal.

It might even go the wrong way directly out of Platform 4, if the signalling was bi-directiomal.

Remember too, that Class 345 trains could be two independent half-trains, so if one half fails, the other could be designed to get the train to safety and out of the way.

Class 345 trains are not a bog-standard trains.

Running Crossrail Trains To And From Gravesend

From what I have seen, I’m convinced that the track layout at Abbey Wood station, means that Crossrail can be easily extended to and from Dartford, Gravesend, Rochester, Gillingham or Rainham.

Let’s assume the terminal for four tph is Gravesend.

Crossrail trains from London to Gravesend will do the following.

  • Stop in Platform 4 at Abbey Wood station.
  • Lower the pantograph
  • Take the single uon-electrified line alongside the North Kent Line.
  • Cross over to the Down North Kent Line.
  • Use the third-rail electrification to travel to Gravesend.

Crossrail trains from Gravesend to London will do the following.

  • Use the third-rail electrification to travel from Gravesend.
  • Cross over to the single non-electrified line alongside the North Kent Line before Abbey Wood station.
  • Stop in Platform 3 at Abbey Wood station.
  • Raise the pantograph.

The Crossrail trains would be needed to be fitted with third-rail shoes.

Interchange BetweenThe Extended Crossrail And Other Services.

Suppose you are going from Ramsgate to Paddington, you would get a Highspeed service to Gravesend and then wait for a Crossrail train to call at the same platform.

To repeat myself, Crossrail is not a bog-standard railway.

Crossrail’s Trump Card

When the trains turnback at Abbey Wood or extend to and from Gravesend, the Class 345 trains will have to use the non-electrified single track line shown in the pictures.

It may be electrified in the next year! But why bother?

The distances that need to be handled without power are not much more than a kilometre at slow speed.

The Class 345 trains could be fitted with batteries to bridge the gaps in the electrification.

These batteries will also do the following.

  • Handle regenerative braking.
  • Provide emergency power, in the event of complete tunnel power failure.

Conclusion

To repeat myself again, Crossrail is not a bog-standard railway.

See Also

These are related posts.

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

 

July 10, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 19 Comments

Extending Crossrail To Gravesend

When I started to write Along The North Kent Line, I didn’t think that my conclusions would involve Crossrail.

I was wrong, so I’ve decided to write about extending Crossrail to Gravesend as a separate post.

Crossrail to Gravesend

Under Future in the Wikipedia entry for Gravesend station, this is said.

In December 2008, the local authority for Gravesend (Gravesham Council), was formally requested by Crossrail and the Department for Transport, to sanction the revised Crossrail Safeguarding. This safeguarding provides for a potential service extension, from the current south of Thames terminus at Abbey Wood, to continue via the North Kent Line to Gravesend station. The Crossrail route extension from Abbey Wood to Gravesend and Hoo Junction, remains on statute. With current services from Gravesend to London Bridge, Waterloo East and London Charing Cross being supplemented by highspeed trains from the end of 2009 to St Pancras, the potential in having Crossrail services from central London, London Heathrow, Maidenhead and/or Reading, terminating at Gravesend, would not only raise the station to hub status but greatly contribute towards the town’s regeneration.

So it would appear that the route is safeguarded to Gravesend and Hoo Junction and it remains on statute.

Current Services At Gravesend

At present, Gravesend station has the following typical Off Peak service.

  • 2 trains per hour (tph) Highspeed services in each direction between London St. Pancras, Ebbsfleet International and Faversham and the East.
  • 2 tph Southeastern services between London Charing Cross and Gillingham.
  • 4 tph Southeastern services between London Charing Cross and Gravesend.

From 2019, Thameslink are saying that they will be running two tph between Rainham and Luton via Dartford and Greenwich.

This will mean that eight tph in each direction will go between Gravesend and Dartford, with another two tph going between Gravesend and Ebbsfleet International.

Because of the  new Thameslink service, the train frequency between Gravesend and Gillingham will increase from the current four tph to six tph.

Gravesend As A Crossrail Terminal

I think that although Gravesend will be the nominated terninal for Crossrail, the trains will actually reverse direction at Hoo Junction, so there will be no need to use any platform space at Gravesend to prepare the train for its return journey.

Gravesend and Hoo Junction, will work very much like London Bridge and Cannon Street, where trains call at the first station and are reversed at the latter. Hoo Junction would just be a depot and a set of sidings.

I also think that the facilities at Hoo Junction could be built with minimal electrification, as the Crossrail Class 345 trains may have enough onboard energy storage to handle movement in depots and remote wake-up, which I discussed in Do Bombardier Aventras Have Remote Wake-Up?.

Class 345 trains have an auto-reverse ability which I talked about in Crossrail Trains Will Have Auto-Reverse. Will this be used to turn the trains at Hoo?

Crossrail’s Service To Abbey Wood

At present, Wikipedia is saying this will be the Morning Peak Crossrail service from Abbey Wood station.

  • 4 tph to Heathrow Terminal 4
  • 6 tph to Paddington
  • 2 tph to West Drayton

With this Off Peak service.

  • 4 tph to Heathrow Terminal 4
  • 4 tph to Paddington

This gives totals of 12 tph in the Peak and 8 tph in the Off Peak.

Crossrail Frequency To Gravesend

What the current North Kent Line can handle would probably determine how many Crossrail trains travel to Gravesend and Hoo Junction.

But Crossrail won’t be short of seats to really provide a superb service to and from the Gravesend.

I think that 4 tph could probsbly be fitted into the timetables between Abbey Wood and Gravesend. This would give.

  • 10 tph between Abbey Wood and Dartford
  • 12 tph between Dartford and Gravesend.

Six of the trains between Abbey Wood and Gravesend would be the two hundred metro long trains of Crossrail and Thameslink.

As the signalling is all new, I suspect that the line could cope.

The service level does generate some questions.

  • Would Thameslink need to run a twelve-car train on the Rainham to Luton service?
  • Dartford is a big winner, so will the other services from Dartford be re-routed?
  • How many services would stop at Greenhithe for Bluewater?
  • How would Crossrail’s Western destinations be allocated between Abbey Wood and Gravesend?

Connecting To Ebbsfleet International

I think it is essential that Crossrail connects to Continental train services and as the cross-London line goes nowhere near to St. Pancras, the connection must be made at either the draughty Stratford International or the truly dreadful Ebbsfleet International.

Talk about choosing the lesser of two evils, one of which; Stratford, should but doesn’t have Continental services!

So the connection between the Crossrail, Thameslink and the North Kent Line and Ebbsfleet International must be improved.

Possible connections could be.

  • A shuttle bus from Northfleet station.
  • A decent people mover or travelator from Northfleet station
  • A shuttle bus from Gravesend.
  • More train services from Gravesend.

There is of course the option of creating a proper rail link. But that would be expensive.

I think that as the number of trains stopping at Northfleet station will be somewhere around ten tph in each direction, a frequent shuttle bus might be a good option to start with.

The problem with the trains, is that there is only two tph between Gravesend and Ebbsfleet International.

Building The Crossrail Extension

I have a feeling that once Crossrail is running successfully, the traffic will define, if, when and how any extension to Gravesend is built.

But the creation of the extension to Gravesend and Hoo Junction will not be a massive undertaking.

  • The depot and other facilities at Hoo Junction will have to be built.
  • Could the depot at Hoo Junction be without electrification? If the Class 345 trains have sufficient onboard energy storage, which I believe could be the case and I wrote about in Bombardier’s Plug-and-Play Train, then this is a serious possibility, which would save money and time in building the depot.
  • All platforms are probably long enough for the Class 345 trains.
  • The Crossrail train specification says that trains must have the potential to be converted for third rail operation. The similar Class 710 trains will have this capability.
  • Judging by my observations in Between Abbey Wood And Belvedere Stations, I feel that Abbey Wood station is probably capable of handling the same number of trains as it is planned on opening, even if some go further down the line.
  • The signalling would have to be adjusted for the new service pattern. But thre signalling has been upgraded!

But there would be no tunnelling and no major electrification on the North Kent Line.

Perhaps, the only major expenses would be.

  • Building the depot/reversing sidings and facilities at Hoo Junction.
  • Any extra trains needed.
  • The cost of any rail link into Ebbsfleet International station.

So I doubt, we’ll be talking large numbers of billions.

Related Posts

A Design Crime – Ebbsfleet International Station

A Trip To Sheppey

A Twelve-Car Ready Railway

Along The North Kent Line

Between Abbey Wood And Belvedere Stations

Connecting North Kent And The Medway Towns To Ebbsfleet International Station

Rainham (Kent) Station

Thameslink To Rainham

Through The Medway Towns

What Do You Do With A Problem Like Sheppey?

September 22, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 8 Comments