The Anonymous Widower

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

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

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

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

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

An Apology

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

What The Gibb Report Says

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

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

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

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

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

A few of my thoughts.

The Trains

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

The Northern Terminus

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

I think that could be difficult.

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

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

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

Note.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Current train services at the station include.

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

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

There are certainly worse places to change trains.

The Southern Terminus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trains required for various frequencies would be as follows.

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

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

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

What Would Be The Frequency?

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

One tph

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

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

Two tph

Two tph could be a compromise frequency.

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

Four tph

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

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

But there could be downsides.

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

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

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

A Trip Between Imperial Wharf And East Croydon Stations

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

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

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

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

The Upgraded Norwood Junction Station

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

The benefits would be as follows.

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

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

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

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

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

The Hackney Campaign To Bring The North London Line Back From The Brink In The 80s

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on the Hackney Gazette.

It is an interesting insight into life before the London Overground and how the section between Highbury & Islington and Stratford stations was created from a freight line, that hadn’t had passenger services for several decades.

It also talks about Broad Street station.

I used to use this station to travel from Ipswich to Metier’s offices at Stonebridge Park.

It was just a short walk from Liverpool Street station next door and then a train to Willesden along a very much forgotten North London Line, before taking the Bakerloo Line. It avoided the very crowded route via Baker Street station.

May 9, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Where Do They All Come From?

Not the lonely people in the Beatles, Eleanor Rigby, but although some may be lonely, I am referring to the passengers on the North London Line.

Today on the Saturday morning before the Bank Holiday, the Class 378 train was fairly full, with all seats taken and quite a few standing.

When the refurbished line opened in 2009 with new trains, there were six trains per hour (tph) of three-cars between Stratford and Willesden Junction stations. Now there are eight tph of five-cars. This is an increase in capacity of 2.22.

Travel this route in the Peak and it is difficult to find space to put your feet on the floor.

Passenger loading on this line seems to have got higher, since the train frequency increased from six tph to eight in December 2018.

So where do these passengers all come from?

  • Are passengers avoiding the Gospel Oak To Barking Line, because of the reduced capacity?
  • Has the increased frequency on the Victoria Line and new Class 717 trains on the Northern City Line, encouraged more passengers between Highbury & Islington and Stratford stations.
  • Are passengers fed up with being fried on the Central Line?
  • Is it people living in new developments along the line?
  • Is it just people are fed up with driving in North London’s traffic and using trains as an alternative?
  • Is it passengers using the line as an alternative after the non-appearance of Crossrail?

But whatever it is, action needs to be taken to create more capacity.

So what can be done?

Crossrail Needs To Be Opened

Crossrail’s non-appearance must make a difference, so when it finally opens, I will be very surprised if a proportion of passengers travelling to Highbury & Islington, don’t use Crossrail with its massive capacity as an alternative.

Class 710 Trains Will Finally Arrive On The Gospel Oak To Barking Line

When the Class 710 trains are working well on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line, this will mean that the three Class 378 trains, currently working the line, can go back home to the North, West and East London Lines fleet.

The Gospel Oak to Barking Line may also take passengers from the North London Line, once it is working with four tph and four-car trains.

Class 710 Trains On The Watford DC Line

The six Class 378 trains on the Watford DC Line will be replaced with Class 710 trains, thus adding six trains to the North, West and East London Lines fleet.

Extra Class 710 Trains For The North and West London Lines

Six new five-car Class 710 trains will also be delivered for the North and West London Lines.

As Clsas 710 trains can’t work the East London Line, does this mean that the six Class 378 trains cascaded from the Watford DC Line will go to the East London Line.

I have to ask what frequency of services could be run with an extra six trains.

In Gospel Oak-Barking Fleet Plan Remains Unclear, I calculated how many Class 378 trains were needed to run a full service on the North, East and West London Lines.

I said this about the trains needed for North and West London Lines.

Between Stratford and Richmond, trains take 59-64 minutes to go West and 62 minutes to come East.

Between Stratford and Clapham Junction, trains take 62 minutes to go West and 64 minutes to come East.

The round trip times are very similar and are around two and a half hours.

This means that the current eight tph service would need twenty trains

Extending this calculation gives the following numbers of trains for a combined North and West London Lines service.

  • Eight tph needs twenty trains.
  • Ten tph needs twenty-five trains.
  • Twelve tph needs thirty trains.

Could this mean that the North and West London Line will get these services?

Stratford and Willesden Junction – 10 tph

Willesden Junction and Clapham Junction – 5 tph

Willesden Junction and Richmond – 5 tph

There would be one train spare, to cover for maintenance, software updates and breakdowns.

Six-Car Trains

In Will The East London Line Ever Get Six-Car Trains?, I looked at the possibility of six-car trains on the East London Line.

I came to this conclusion.

I will be very surprised if Network Rail’s original plan on six-car trains on the East London Line happens in the next few years.

There are various reasons.

  • Bombardier don’t make Electrostars any more.
  • Trains need an end-door for tunnel evacuation.
  • Class 710 trains don’t have end doors.
  • Some platforms would probably need difficult and expensive lengthening.

But six-car trains on the North and West London Lines could be a possibility.

In By Overground To High Speed Two, I said this about running six-car trains on the North and West London Lines.

Only a few stations can handle six-car trains without selective door opening and even the rebuilt West Hampstead station still has platforms for five-cars.

Selective door opening would allow six-car trains to use the five-car platforms and passengers have in London have shown they can cope with moving forward to get out at certain stations. Especially, as the walk-through design of the train, makes this a lot easier.

These numbers of trains would be needed to run the following frequencies to Richmond and Clapham Junction stations.

  • Four tph – 20 trains
  • Five tph – 25 trains
  • Six tph – 30 trains

Obtaining these numbers of Class 710 trains would probably not be a big problem, if they were needed and the budget was available.

Conclusion

The new Class 710 trains and the moving around of trains should keep services going for a couple of years.

May 4, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 5 Comments

The Problem Of Step-Free Access At South Acton Station

South Acton station would be one of two stations on the shared section of the North London Line and the proposed West London Orbital Railway.

It could be handling fourteen passenger trains per hour in both directions.

This Google Map shows the station.

Note how all the land close to the line has been sold to developers and new housing, now means space is very restricted.

This image shows a close-up of the bridge.

With a train stopping at the station every four minutes, a step-free means of crossing the line is essential.

The often-used solution of building a new step-free bridge and keeping the old one is not a solution at South Acton station, due to the space restrictions.

I suspect the current bridge could be replaced with a step-free one, but how do you provide a bridge whilst the new one is installed?

I went back to the station on May the 2nd and took these pictures.

It might just be possible to squeeze a bridge in at the North end of the station.

There is certainly enough space for a bridge tower on the Western side behind the fence and if space can be found on the other, a bridge might be possible.

 

 

May 2, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

What Is Happening At Acton Central Station?

On my way home today, I stopped off at Acton Central station to have a look.

This Google Map shows the station.

Note the level crossing and the partially demolished station building behind the hoarding.

The station could have a few problems in the future and may need partial rebuilding.

  • The level crossing handles four trains per hour (tph) in both directions and there are plans to increase this frequency by two tph.
  • The station is the changeover point between third-rail and overhead electrification.
  • There is no step-free access between the two platforms.

But the biggest cause of future problems could be the West London Orbital Railway.

  • This route will call at Acton Central station and it will have two services, each with four tph in both directions, giving a total of fourteen tph in each direction through the station.
  • It is also likely that some passengers will want to change direction, so they will have to use the subway.
  • The number of trains and passengers, may mean that a second entrance is needed on the Richmond-bound platform.

Could the work at Acton Central station be part of a solution?

Conclusion

It looks like it could be a second entrance is being created.

This might also make it easier for some passengers to change platforms and shut the level crossing.

May 1, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

By Overground To High Speed Two

The North London Line will be my route to High Speed Two when it opens in 2026.

This map from Wikipedia, shows how the lines connect.

I will actually have two Overground stations, that I will be able to use.

Note.

  1. Wikipedia says that both stations should open in 2026, which is the same date as High Speed Two.
  2. Hythe Road station is 700 metres from the High Speed Two station.
  3. Old Oak Common Lane station is 350 metres from the High Speed Two station.

Currently, both lines have a four trains per hour (tph) service.

  • The Class 378 trains are five cars, which can get very busy in the Peak.
  • It would need an additional five trains to increase the frequency to five tph on both routes.
  • Six new five-car Class 710 trains are on order for North and West London Line services.
  • I feel the higher frequency could be in operation by the opening of High Speed Two.
  • Most stations between Stratford and Willesden Junction would appear to be able to accept six-car trains, if selective door opening were to be used.

I think by 2026, there will be a more than adequate service between Stratford and High Speed Two.

  • There will be at least ten tph to Stratford, with services split equally between Hythe Road and Old Oak Common Lane stations.
  • Richmond and Clapham Junction stations will get at least five tph.
  • Step-free access is not currently available at Brondesbury Park, Brondesbury, Finchley Road & Frognal, Kentish Town West and Dalston Kingsland stations.

But what other developments will or might happen?

Highbury & Islington Station

Highbury & Islington station is the thirteenth busiest station in the UK and it is in need of a major upgrade to bring the deep level platforms and their access up to the standard of the four London Overground platforms, which all have lifts.

I also think that the track layout at the station could be modified to allow trains on the East London Line to continue further to the West. This was mentioned, when the Oveground was created, but is seldom talked about these days.

Step-Free Access On The North And West London Lines

These two lines which form a Y-shaped railway that splits at Willesden Junction, will provide these services from High Speed Two to major interchange stations.

The only thing that is needed is to complete step free access at all stations on the North and West London Lines.

The Maximum Frequency Across North London

Five tph on both the North and West London Line would give the following turnback frequencies at the four terminals.

  • Clapham Junction – 5 tph
  • Richmond – 5 tph
  • Stratford – 10 tph

This chart from TfL shows planned improvements on the London Overground

Note that it clearly shows that it is possible to run a six tph service between two single platform stations.

I think it likely that it would be possible to run six tph on both routes, provided that the route and the signalling could handle the increased frequency.

Twelve tph between Stratford and Willesden Junction stations would probably be the maximum frequency.

But would the number of freight trains allow this frequency?

A Reduction In Freight Services

Currently, the North London Line carries a lot of freight trains, going between Barking, Felixstowe and London Gateway in the East to virtually everywhere West of London.

  • Noises from the East West Rail Consortium are hinting that services to and to and from Bristol, Liverpool, Manchester, South Wales, Southampton and the West Midlands might use their new route between Oxford and Cambridge.
  • Could more freight use ports like Liverpool and Teesport in the North of England, which would reduce the traffic through the ports in the South?

Whatever happens, the current succession of diesel-hauled freight trains across London is not environmentally-friendly and it will raise increasing numbers of protests.

I think it is inevitable that the number of freight services will reduce, thus allowing more paths for passenger trains.

Digital Signalling

To handle the increasing traffic on the North and West London Lines, I can see digital signalling being installed. There could even be a degree of Automic Train Control.

Six-Car Trains

Only a few stations can handle six-car trains without selective door opening and even the rebuilt West Hampstead station still has platforms for five-cars.

Selective door opening would allow six-car trains to use the five-car platforms and passengers have in London have shown they can cope with moving forward to get out at certain stations. Especially, as the walk-through design of the train, makes this a lot easier.

A Round-The-Corner Service

I can remember reading in Modern Railways, that one of the reasons for the East and North London Lines running parallel through Canonbury to Highbury & Islington was to possibly enable extension of the East London Line to perhaps Willesden Junction, where there is a handy bay platform.

This has not happened and I doubt we’ll ever see something like a New Cross to Willesden Junction service, as Crossrail will effectively provide a faster frequent service between Whitechapel and Old Oak Common stations.

West London Orbital Railway

The proposed West London Orbital Railway will have two routes.

  • West Hampstead Thameslink and Hounslow
  • Brent Cross Thameslink and Kew Bridge

Both routes will have four tph and have a connection to Crossrail, High Speed Two and the North London Line at Old Oak Common station.

The only possible problem would be the eight extra tph through Acton Central station and level crossing and South Acton station.

But it would become an important feeder route to Crossrail, Heathrow Airport and High Speed Two.

Conclusion

The North and West London Line route between Stratford and Willesden has the ability to handle a lot more traffic than it currently does.

Dgital signalling and six-car trains could add over another fifty per cent capacity to the route.

I very much feel that digital signalling will be absolutely necessary.

 

March 26, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Dalston Kingsland Station Problem

One of my local stations on the North London Line is Dalston Kingsland station.

Unlike Hampstead Heath station and the three neighbouring stations of Canonbury, Dalston Junction and Hackney Central, there are no lifts at Dalston Kingsland station and the stairs are narrower without a central rail.

Looking at the passenger traffic at the stations  I have mentioned, gives the following numbers for 2017-18 in millions.

  • Canonbury – 3.0
  • Dalston Junction – 5.7
  • Dalston Kingsland – 5.5
  • Hackney Central – 4.3
  • Hampstead Heath – 3.3

Dalston Kingsland serves almost as many passengers as does the nearby Dalston Junction, but it is a very inferior station.

  • Recently,  a high capacity wide gate-line has been installed.
  • When trains call at the station, it is difficult to get to the platforms, unless you wait until arriving passengers have come up the stairs.
  • There are no lifts.
  • More housing is being built around Dalston Kingsland station.
  • In December 2018, the train frequency through Dalston Kingsland was raised to eight from six trains per hour (tph).

Is Dalston Kingsland station an accident waiting to happen?

Various plans and other improvements will effect the passenger traffic through Dalston Kingsland station.

More Trains Through Dalston Kingsland Station

In Gospel Oak-Barking Fleet Plan Remains Unclear, I calculated that running the current combined eight tph service between Stratford and Clapham Junction/Richmond needs twenty trains.

  • Increasing this service from four tph to five trains per hour to both Western termini, would increase the frequency between Stratford and Willesden Junction to ten tph.
  • It would also require twenty-five trains to run the service.
  • London Overground has six five-car Class 710 trains on order, that will be used to improve the service on the North and West London Lines.

This would leave a spare train to cover failures and maintenance.

So it would appear that Dalston Kingsland station could get a train every six minutes in both directions.

Passengers would appreciate this, but what about the freight operators, that use the line?

Will a twenty-five percent increase in train capacity result in a similar increase in passengers using the stairs at the station?

The Effect Of London Overground Syndrome

In London Overground Syndrome, I described the syndrome like this.

This benign disease, which is probably a modern version of the Victorian railway mania, was first identified in East London in 2011, when it was found that the newly-refurbished East London Line and North London Line were inadequate due to high passenger satisfaction and much increased usage. It has now spread across other parts of the capital, despite various eradication programs.

The North London Line through Dalston Kingsland station seems to have a particularly strong form.of the syndrome.

In December 2018, the frequency through the station was increased by thirty-three percent, but overcrowding in the Peak seems not to have reduced.

Could it be that because the line offers a more pleasant and easier connection between Stratford, Highbury & Islington, Camden, Hampstead, Willesden, Clapham Junction, Acton and Richmond, that any increase in capacity is welcomed and passengers transfer from a more crowded Underground?

There will be more Ducking and Diving!

Crossrail Effects

I suspect only educated guesses can be made, as to what effects Crossrail will have on Dalston Kingsland station.

Judging by the number of passengers, who get on and off Overground trains at Highbury & Islington station, a lot of passengers use the North London and Victoria Lines for commuting and other journeys.

Crossrail, with its connection to the North London Line at Stratford and eventually at Old Oak Common will take passengers from the North London Line and the various connections between the two lines, will further even out passenger traffic.

If it does, it will be Londoners Ducking-and Diving again!

Avoiding Dalston Kingsland Station

I think that some groups of passengers will avoid Dalston Kingsland station.

  • Like me, some travellers have a choice of station.
  • Passengers walking between the two Dalston stations, may choose to use the shorter step-free interchange at Canonbury.
  • As the frequencies on the Overground increases, passengers may find that a less obvious route is better for them.
  • I suspect some savvy passengers take a train from West Croydon at Dalston Junction station and then cross the platform at Highbury & Islington station.

It’s classic animal behaviour to avoid problems and go by a better way.

Northern City Line Effects

The Northerrn City Line between Highbury & Islington and Moorgate stations could have an effect on passenger numbers at Dalston Kingsland station.

In a couple of years, the line will be much improved.

  • Services will be running seven days a week.
  • Elderly Class 313 traiins will have been replaced by new Class 717 trains.
  • There will be a step-free connection to Crossrail at Moorgate station.
  • Frequencies will be significantly increased.

Overall, there will be a new high-capacity line running North-South within walking distance or a couple of bus stops of the two Dalston stations.

I have already started to use the line more, by catching a bus to Essex Road station for a train to Moorgate station. It’s quicker in the morning Peak.

HS2 Effects

I remember using the North London Line in the 1970s, between Broad Street and Willesden stations. It was terrible. But now, when High Speed Two opens in 2026, London’s Mucky Duck which has grown into a swan, will speed you to Old Oak Common station for your journey to the North.

Because many of these travellers will have heavy bags with them, all stations on the North London Line must be made step-free.

Highbury & Islington Station Improvements

Highbury & Islington station was rebuilt for the Victoria Line in the 1960s, when costs were much more important than passenger convenience.

The area outside the station is being sorted, but the plans are starting to be developed to create better and step-free access to the deep level platforms.

A much improved Highbury & Islington station would create a lot of easier routes from both Dalston stations.

Essex Road Station Improvements

Essex Road station has lifts, but is not step-free as the lifts go to well below the platforms, to which the final connection is a long set of steps.

The station sits on what must be a valuable site in Islington, which would be ripe for redevelopment.

Redevelopment of this station will happen and it will make things a lot better for me, as it is within my walking range or a short bus ride.

Bus Improvements

When I moved to Dalston in 2010, there was a good bus service to Highbury & Islington station along the Balls Pond Road.

But now, a South London Mayor has cut this, because I suspect we can use the Overground.

But this assumes that Dalston Kingsland station is has quality access. Which of course it doesn’t!

The buses must be improved along the Balls Pond Road.

Six-Car Trains Through Dalston Kingsland Station

I’ve deliberately left this to last, as it is the biggest and most difficult.

There are two routes through Dalston Kingland station.

  • Four tph on that use the West London Line to go to Clapham Junction station.
  • Four tph on that use the North London Line to go to Richmond station.

One or both of these routes might be possible to be run by six-car trains using selective door opening on the short platforms.

Lengthening the new Class 710 trains will not be a problem, as a few extra coaches would be ordered.

On the other hand lengthening the existing Class 378 trains may be more problematical, as they are out of production. I suppose that two five-car trains could be converted into a six-car and a four-car.

Six-car operation would surely add twenty percent to the passengers going through the station.

The Future Of Dalston Kingsland Station

The extra trains and capacity through Dalston Kingsland station will increase the pressure on the inadequate access at the station.

But some of the other improvements will divert passengers from the station and take the pressure off.

I suspect that Transport for London are hoping this will be sufficient action to keep the station functioning at a comfortable level, until it is rebuilt for Crossrail 2.

But that is a tough ask and could contain a lot of wishful thinking.

Conclusion

Dalston Kingsland station needs lift and wider and safer stairs in the near future.

March 24, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Improving Safety On Stations

Some of London’s stations have stairs down to the platforms as this picture taken at Hampstead Heath station on the North London Line shows.

Hampstead Heath is a fully-rebuilt station.

  • Each platform has a set of stairs and a lift.
  • The stairs are also divided into two by a central double handrail.

Transport for London have posters everywhere, that say that passengers shouldn’t rush and to hold the handrail.

But accidents do happen, as I witnessed a few days ago at Manor House station.

So would it be safer, if at the top of the stairs, there was a display showing how long it was to the next couple of trains?

It might just encourage people to slow down, if they knew they had eight minutes before the next train, or it wasn’t for their destination.

 

 

 

 

March 23, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | 2 Comments

Will The Gospel Oak To Barking Line Have Long Term Capacity Problems?

There are certainly, short term capacity problems on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line, (GOBlin) due to the non-delivery of the new Class 710 trains.

Comparison With The North London Line

There are a lot of similarities between the Gospel Oak to Barking Line and the North London Line (NLL).

  • Both run roughly East-West across North London.
  • Both have interchanges with the Underground, Crossrail and National Rail.
  • Both run electric trains.
  • Both have several freight trains per day.

In addition, the Eastern end of the NLL and the GOBlin, run through areas of East London, where a lot of regeneration and housing development is ongoing.

This picture was taken at Blackhorse Road station. The station is being surrounded, by a large amount of housing.

Capacity On The North London Line

When I moved to Dalston in 2010, the frequency of trains between Stratford and Willesden Junction stations was around six trains per hour (tph). The trains were three-car Class 378 trains, giving a capacity of 18 carriages per hour (cph).

Now in early 2019, the frequency on the same section of the NLL is eight tph and the trains are five-cars, giving a capacity of 40 cph.

This large increase of 120 percent, has not been enough to prevent trains on the NLL from being very full at times. But then there have been large housing and commercial developments at Stratford, Hackney Wick, Hackney Central, Dalston Junction and West Hampstead stations.

Future Capacity On The Gospel Oak to Barking Line

Until a few months ago, the GOBlin had a frequency of four tph. The trains were two-car Class 172 trains, giving a capacity of 8 cph.

The service from today is two four-car Class 378 and two two-car Class 172 trains per hour, giving a capacity of 12 cph.

Hopefully, when the Class 710 trains are working, we’ll be seeing four four-car Class 710 trains per hour, giving a capacity of 16 cph.

It is not the 120 percent increase that the NLL has already seen, but surely a 100 percent increase is better than nothing.

My Observations On The Gospel Oak To Goblin Line

For the last three of four years, Highbury & Islington station has been a station to avoid.

  • There have been continuous roadworks in the area of the station.
  • There have also been several water-main bursts.
  • The bus service between the station and my house has been halved in frequency.

Consequently, if I’m coming East to my home, I find it a lot easier, but slightly slower to change to the GOBlin at Gospel Oak station and then get a bus home from Harringay Green Lanes station.

So if a GOBlin train is waiting at Gospel Oak station, I take that route.

Helpfully, Transport for London have improved the cross-platform interchange.

They’ve also added more stairs to the right of these.

I actually, think, that passengers wanting to go to areas between the two lines are starting to use the GOBlin, as often by Harringay Green Lanes station, a lot of passengers have left the train.

Londoners are just practising their ducking and diving!

I’ve also left Barking a couple of times in a very full train in the Off Peak.

  • Passengers for whatever reason, seem to be using the GOBlin more!
  • Do clean electric trains attract passengers more than less friendly diesels?
  • Does the occasional four-car journey impress passengers with more space?
  • Is it since the Class 378 trains took over some duties, that the service is more reliable?

Or perversely could it be, that all the bad publicity about the GOBlin has reminded people that it is still there and might be worth a second chance?

Will The Proposed Gospel Oak To Barking Line Be Enough In The Long Term?

I am rapidly coming to the conclusion, that although capacity on the GOBlin is going to be doubled, when the new Class 710 trains arrive, this may not be a large enough increase for the long-term.

What Measures Can Be Taken To Increase Capacity?

There are some simple measures that can be taken.

Higher Frequencies

Transport for London are planning to run five tph in the Peak this year.

If it happens, this will increase capacity by a small amount, where it is needed.

But it probably can’t be a general increase, as that would probably restrict the number of freight trains.

Trains With A Higher Performance

The electric Class 710 trains probably have a higher performance than the diesel Class 172 trains.

This will help with running higher frequencies and faster services, but on its own, it won’t increase capacity.

Longer Trains

The Class 710 trains are Aventras, and these trains have been ordered up to ten cars by other operators.

So five- or six-car trains would certainly be possible.

But the problem is that some platforms would need to be lengthened.

  • Barking already handles longer trains.
  • Upper Holloway, Crouch Hill, Harrigay Green Lanes, Walthamstow Queens Road, Leyton Midland Road, Leytonstone High Road, Wanstead Park and Woodgrange Park used to have longer platforms, which might be possible to reinstate.
  • Blackhorse Road, South Tottenham and Gospel Oak would be major undertakings.

Five-car trains might be possible, if selective door opening was used at the last three stations.

Five-car trains would increase the capacity to 50 cph or an increase of twenty-five percent on the capacity after the Class 710 trains are successfully introduced.

Conclusion

I am very sure, that the only way to increase the capacity of the Gospel Oak to Barking Line, would be to run longer trains.

But they would need to use selective door opening at Blackhorse Road, South Tottenham and Gospel Oak stations.

After the problems of platform lengthening on the East and North London Lines, why weren’t platforms at least prepared for five- or even six-car trains, when the GOBlin was rebuilt and electrified?

February 18, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

A406 North Circular Road ‘Most Congested’ In The UK

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

This is the first paragraph.

Motorists on the UK’s most congested road spend an average of two and a half days a year sitting in traffic.

The section of the A406 between the Hangar Lane Gyratory and Chiswick Roundabout has always been a dreadful road to drive on, as long as I can remember.

These pictures show typical traffic around eleven o’clock in the morning.

There does seem to be rather a lot of private cars and small commercial vehicles, with only a few HGVs and buses.

I would love to see an analysis of where these journeys start and finish.

Converting the road to a multi-lane dual carriageway wouldn’t be possible, as much of it is lined with private houses and even if it could be built it would just attract more traffic and would need to be widened even more.

There are circular routes further out of London like the M25 and the A412, but this road is an intractable problem.

Perhaps, it needs to be in a Congestion Charge Zone?

But is a solution at hand?

Crossrail

Crossrail, if and when it opens, will not be a direct solution, as it goes East-West and not North-South like the A406 through the area.

But it will give better access to Heathrow, which is a large traffic generator in West London.

Crossrail will link the following to the Airport.

  • Canary Wharf
  • The City of London
  • East London and Essex
  • South-East London and Kent
  • West End and Paddington

It will do little to help those in North and South London to travel to and from the Airport.

Old Oak Common Station And High Speed Two

The connection of High Speed two and Crossrail could make a difference.

  • Passengers using High Speed Two travelling to and from Heathrow, would have an easy route.
  • North and North-East Londoners will be able to use the North London Line with a change at Old Oak Common.
  • South Londoners will be able to use the West London Line with changes at Old Oak Common and Clapham Junction stations.

But Old Oak Common station won’t open under 2026 at the earliest.

It is needed now.

It also does nothing for those travellers in wide swathes of North-West London.

The West London Orbital Railway

If there is a trusty knight on an immaculate white charger, coming to the rescue, it could be the West London Orbital Railway, although as it would be stitched together from parts of existing and underused infrastructure, it has more of the Dirty Dozen about it.

There would be two routes.

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

The project has various advantages.

  • No substantial amount of new track will be needed.
  • It could be run using battery-powered trains.
  • Costs would be well under half a billion pounds.
  • It would connect to Thameslink and Bakerloo, Jubilee and North London Lines.

When Old Oak Common and High Speed Two open, it would have a direct connection.

I wrote about this railway in detail in New Railway Line For West London Proposed.

North Acton Station

As stated under Development in the Wikipedia entry for North Acton station, there may be reasons to rebuild the station to create a connection between the North London and Central Lines.

This Google Map shows the area around North Acton station.

Note.

  1. North Acton station in the North-West corner of the map.
  2. The North London Line running North-South to the right of the map.
  3. The Dudding Hill Line branches off the North London Line at the top of the map.
  4. The Central Line running East-West through North Acton station and under the North London Line.
  5. Threading its way through North of the Central Line is the Acton-Northolt Line.
  6. The Acton-Northolt Line could be developed by Chiltern Railways to give access to a second London terminal at Old Oak Common.

To develop a successful station at North Acton, that tied everything together would be a hard ask.

  • The bridge carrying the North London Line is very high.
  • The height would make step-free access expensive.
  • The frequency of trains on both the North London and Central Lines could be twelve trains per hour (tph).
  • At least, there does appear to be plenty of space from the map.

On the other hand, an architect with vision might be able to create a station that was affordable and provided high benefits for passengers.

Conclusion

There’s certainly potential in West London to improve the rail routes, although I’m not sure whether rebuilding North Acton station would be viable.

But, we should start building the West London Orbital Railway immediately.

 

 

 

February 13, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment