The Anonymous Widower

Walthamstow Central Tube Station To Receive £15m Improvement

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article in the Waltham Forest Guardian.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Walthamstow Central tube station has been allocated £15 million for improvements, but only if the controversial Walthamstow Mall redevelopment goes ahead.

New plans for the station include installing step-free access and a creating a new entrance.

That would surely get rid of the servere overcrowding that is experienced in Walthamstow Central station.

Overcrowding At Walthamstow Central Station

I often go to Walthamstow, at the tail end of the Evening Peak.

I have two routes.

  1. Take a bus to Highbury and Islington station and then use the Victoria Line.
  2. Take a bus to Hackney Downs station and then use the Chingford Line of the London Overground.

I always use the second route, as the two escalators at Walthamstow Central station can’t cope with the Victoria Line’s increased frequency of thirty-six trains per hour.

What makes matters worse is that all trains, except those going to and from the depot at Northumberland Park, run the whole length of the line between Brixton and Walthamstow Central stations.

Running this service on Dear Old Vicky, is one of the great engineering achievements on Metros around the world, but it means that passengers are finding some of the Victoria Line stations are inadequate. Walthamstow Central is one of them!

Another factor, that doesn’t help, is the excellent Walthamstow bus station. It is the third busiest in London and I’m sure it attracts more travellers to the rail and tube stations.

It is my belief, that the increase in train frequency and the building of the new bus station are the major cause of increasing overcrowding in the station.

It is worth noting that in 2016, the tube station handled nearly twenty-three million passengers with just two platforms and an up and a down escalator. By comparison, Cannon Street station, handled the same number of passengers with seven platforms and level access.

To be fair to Transport for London, they have sorted the gate lines at the station, but that still leaves the escalators severely overcrowded at times.

I actually can’t understand, why they haven’t replaced the middle staircase with a third escalator, as they have at Brixton, where there are also lifts.

Overcrowding Could Be Getting Worse!

Some transport improvements, that will happen in the next year or two,, will affect passenger numbers at Walthamstow Central station.

New Trains On The Chingford Line

The current Class 315 and Class 317 trains will be replaced by new Class 710 trains.

  • These will have the same number of carriages, but they will have a higher capacity, due to better design and being walk-through trains.
  • They will also have wi-fi and 4G available, if they follow the lead of the closely-related Class 345 trains.
  • Their operating speed has not been disclosed, but that of the Class 345 train is 90 mph, which is fifteen mph faster than a Class 315 train.
  • Their modern design will also allow them to save a minute or two at each of the seven stops.

The performance improvement may allow a more intense service.

The trains will certainly attract more passengers, as quality new trains always do!

  • Will the new trains generate more new passengers, than any forecaster dreamt was possible?
  • Will more passengers be attracted to stations North of Walthamstow Central and change to the Victoria Line?
  • Will some passengers change from using the Victoria Line to the Chingford Line?

Bear in mind, that new trains on the North London Line, started in 2010 with three-car trains running at six trains per hour (tph). They are now up to five-car trains running at eight tph. This is an capacity increase of over 120%.

On balance, I suspect that some of these factors will cancel each other out. But who knows?

New Trains On The Northern City Line

The geriatric Class 313 trains working the Northern City Line are being replaced by new Class 717 trains.

  • These new trains will offer higher frequencies and more capacity.
  • They will use 2+2 seating.
  • They will have wi-fi and power sockets.

Services on the Northern City Line have a cross-platform step-free interchange with the Victoria Line at Highbury & Islington station, so I believe the route will be increasingly used by passengers between the Walthamstow/Chingford area and the City of London.

Undoubtedly, it will increase passengers using the escalators at Walthamstow Central station.

New Trains On The Gospel Oak To Barking Line

The current two-car Class 172 trains on the Gospel Oak To Barking Line, are being replaced by four-car electric Class 710 trains.

  • The new trains will double capacity.
  • They will have better passenger facilities.
  • They will be more environmentally-friendly.

These trains could encourage travellers to use the quieter Walthamstow Queen’s Road station, instead of the very busy Walthamstow Central station.

Stratford To Meridian Water

This project will add a third track to the West Anglia Main Line and allow a four tph service between Stratford station and the new station at Meridian Water with stops at Lea Bridge, Tottenham Hale and Northumberland Park stations.

I have no view on how successful, this new line will be and how it will affect traffic on the Victoria line.

Crossrail

When you discuss transport provision in London, there is always a herd of elephants in the room!

Crossrail will change everybody’s journeys!

Crossrail will create a high-capacity fast route between Heathrow and Canary Wharf via Paddington, the West End and the City of London.

So how will those in Walthamstow and Chingford tie into this new high-capacity line?

In my view a direct link to Stratford is needed, which could be created by reinstating the Hall Farm Curve.

The World Ducking And Diving Championships

East Londoners would undoubtedly win the World Ducking-And-Diving Championships, if one were to be held.

Network Rail and Transport for London, are creating the ultimate training ground in North-East London.

Most people do a number of common journeys over time.

They get to know the best routes for these journeys dependent on various factors, like the time of day, weather and whether they are carrying heavy shopping.

For most people though, choosing the route for a particular day’s journey will not be process that can be written down, that might be more determined by random factors.

I for instance, will often choose my route, based on the first bus that comes along, even if it is not usually the quickest route.

To make journeys easier, through a network like North-East London, you need the following.

  • As many links as possible.
  • As few bottlenecks as possible.

These rules will allow the passengers to flow freely.

Passengers like water automatically find the quickest way from A to B.

Improvements In North-East London

There are various improvements in alphabetical order, that are proposed, planned or under construction for North-East London

Bicycle Routes Across The Lea Valley

The Lea Valley has a lot of green space and I have seen plans mentioned to create quiet cycling routes across the area.

It should also include lots of bikes for hire.

Hall Farm Curve

I mentioned this earlier and by building it to link Walthamstow and Stratford, it would enable direct access from Walthamstow and Chingford to the the following.

  • Olympic Park and Stadium.
  • The shops at Eastfield.
  • Crossrail
  • Docklands Light Railway
  • Jubilee and Central Lines
  • Highspeed serevices to Kent.
  • Continental services, if in the future, they stopped at Stratford.

It is a massive super-connector.

More Bus Routes

It may be that more bus routes or even stops are needed.

As an illustration of the latter, when the Walthamstow Wetlands opened, bus stops were provided.

New Stations

The new station at Meridian Water will add a new link to the transport network.

Two new stations on the Chingford Branch Line have also been proposed, which I wrote about them in New Stations On The Chingford Branch Line.

New stations are a good way to add more links in a transport network.

I shall be interested to see how many passengers the rebuilt Hackney Wick station attracts, when West Ham United are at home.

Northumberland Park Station

Northumberland Park station is being rebuilt with full step-free access, to provide better rail access to the new White Hart Lane Stadium.

Step-Free Access At Stations

Progress is being made, but there are still some truly dreadful access problems at some stations in East London.

Clapton, St. James Street, Seven Sisters, Stamford Hill and Wood Street certainly need improvement.

Tottenham Hale Station

Tottenham Hale Station is being rebuilt to give it full step-free access and a new entrance.

As this station handles well over ten million passengers a year, it is a good place to start.

Walthamstow Central Station

Walthamstow Central station is almost last in this alphabetical list.

It is probably, the second most important transport hub in North-East London and it does handle nearly thirty million passengers a year if the National Rail and Underground figures are combined.

But, is it treated last by the planners?

Walthamstow Wetlands

This massive urban nature reserve opened last year and its importance will only grow in the years to come.

Will transport links need to be added to the Wetlands?

West Anglia Main Line Four-Tracking

Stansted Airport will grow and to get proper rail access to the airport, the long promised four-tracking of the West Anglia Main Line will happen.

  • There will be two fast tracks for Cambridge, Stansted and possibly Norwich services.
  • There will be two slow tracks for local services up the Lea Valley to Broxbourne, Hertford East and Bishops Stortford.

Broxbourne station and the rebuilt Tottenham Hale station, will be the interchanges between fast and slow services.

Four-tracking will open up the possibility of lots more services up the Lea Valley.

There has been rumours, that Greater Anglia would like to open up a service between Stratford and Stansted. But that would be just for starters.

Liverpool Street station is full, but there is space at Stratford if the High Meads Loop under the shops and housing at Stratford is used, just like it was a few years ago.

The West Anglia Main Line could be turned into a high-capacity main line into London with two London terminal station; Liverpool Street and Stratford.

  • Both termini would be connected to Crossrail.
  • Liverpool Street connects to Central, Circle, Hammersmith and City and Metropolitan Lines.
  • The massive Liverpool Street-Moorgate Crossrail station will connect to the Northern and Northern City Lines.
  • Stratford connects to fast Kent services and Central and Jubilee Lines.

Will passengers for places like the West End get a fast train to Crossrail, rather than change for the Victoria Line at Tottenham Hale.

Conclusion

North-East London’s transport network is going to get better and better!

Note that I haven’t mentioned Crossrail 2! I doubt, this will be built before 2040!

 

 

 

 

 

May 29, 2018 Posted by | Travel, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Great Northern’s Class 717s Under Test

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Global Rail News.

The title also says it all and it would seem that the aim of having Class 717 trains in service this year on the Northern City Line is feasible.

The article also says that twelve trains have been completed and another twelve are being built.

I suppose Siemens had an advantage, in that except for the end doors, they are probably very similar to the Class 707 trains.

May 2, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , | Leave a comment

A Good Timetable Change In May For De Beauvoir Town

I live in the North of an area in London called De Beauvoir Town.

On the map, I live close to the junction of Mildmay Park/Southgate Road and the Balls Pond Road of Round the Horne fame!

The junction is a major bus interchange, with buses going regularly in all directions.

  • North to Manor House, Turnpike Lane and Wood Green.
  • South to Old Street, the City and London Bridge
  • West to Highbury and Islington station, the Angel and the West End.
  • East to Hackney, Waltham Forest and the River Lea.

All these buses was one of the reasons I moved here.

But note the railway stations ringing the area.

But that is not all!

  • Haggerston station is within walking distance on a good day, off the map to the South-East.
  • Highbury and Islington station is a short bus ride off the map to the West.
  • Angel station is a short bus ride off the map to the South-West.
  • Manor House station is a short bus ride off the map to the North.
  • Hackney Downs station is a short bus ride off the map to the East.

I can also get direct buses from local stops to Euston, Kings Cross, London Bridge, St. Pancras, Victoria and Waterloo.

From December 2018, I’ll be able to get a bus from the junction to the new Crossrail station at Moorgate/Liverpool Street.

Is there a better place to live for public transport?

On the twentieth of May, the date of the rail timetable change, things will get better.

An article on the timetable change in the May 2018 Edition of Modern Railways says this.

London Overground’s East London Line services are being recast in conjunction with the new Thameslink timetable. On the North and West London Lines, the off-peak timetable is being enhanced to match broadly the peak service, providing 8 tph between Stratford and Willesden Junction for most of the day seven days a week, with four continuing to Clapham Junction and the other four to Richmond.

London’s ugly duckling of the last century, is turning into a whole bevy of swans.

The service on the North London Line has improved several-fold since I moved here and will now be eight tph or a train every seven and a half minutes.

The East London Line will be recast, with another two tph this year to Crystal Palace station and two more next year to Clapham Junction station.

And then there’s the Northern City Line to Moorgate, that calls at Essex Road and Highbury and Islington stations!

In First ‘717’ In UK In June, I wrote about what will be happening in the May 2018 timetable change.

I said this.

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

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

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

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

This represents a fifty percent increase in service frequency.

 

May 2, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 3 Comments

First ‘717’ In UK In June

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

This is the first paragraph.

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

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

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

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

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

Ducking and diving will move to a whole new level.

What Will The New Trains Do For Me?

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

I suspect my house will go up in value!

How Will The New Trains Affect The Service?

The New Trains Are Faster

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

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

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

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

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

The New Trains Could Change Voltage Faster

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

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

The New Trains Will Probably Be Ready For ERTMS

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

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

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

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

The New Trains Will Stop In A Shorter Time At Stations

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

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

These will all result in time savings at each stops.

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

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

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

Less Trains Could Be Needed For The Current Service

As an example, take the Moorgate to Letchworth service.

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

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

Improve The Hertford Loop Line

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

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

The New Trains Could Have Less Seats And More Capacity

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

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

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

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

339 seats + 657 standing = 996 total

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

This picture shows handholds on the seats and between carriages.

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

Improved Services To And From Moorgate

Current services to and from Moorgate station are as follows.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It says these services will be added in 2019.

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

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

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

Adding this all together gives the following.

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

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

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

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

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

Consider.

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

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

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

They could do the following.

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

Shutting Welwyn North station would be controversial and heavily resisted.

How Many Trains Will Be Needed?

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

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

I’ll now look at each separately.

Moorgate To Welwyn Garden City

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

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

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

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

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

Note.

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

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

Moorgate To Hertford North

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

This service would be another two hour round trip.

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

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

  • The proposed four tph would need six trains.

Note.

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

Any track improvement would help.

Moorgate To Stevenage

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

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

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

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

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

Summarising The Trains Needed

Summarising gives.

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

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

But an optimistic solution might need.

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

This would leave several trains for increasing frequency.

Increasing The Service After May 2019

Improving The Hertford Loop Line

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

ERTMS On The Moorgate Lines

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

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

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

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

Increased Frequency Into Moorgate

Consider.

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

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

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

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

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

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

An Extra Train To Stevenage

Current plans envisage three tph between Moorgate and Stevenage.

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

The following frequencies would be achieved.

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

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

Gordon Hill Station As An Extra Terminus

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

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

Conclusion

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

 

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

Thameslink Should Be On The Tube Map

Consider.

  • Cambridge and Gatwick Airport are two of the most important destinations within an hour of Central London.
  • The outer branches of Thameslink to East Croydon, St. Albans, Welwyn Garden City and Wimbledon act in a similar manner to Underground Lines.
  • The central core of Thameslink will be used by many as just another Underground Line.
  • The London Overground is on the Tube Map.
  • Crossrail will be on the Tube Map.

For these and other reasons, the London sections of Thameslink should be on the Tube Map.

If Thameslink should be added, what about the Northern City Line?

March 12, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 3 Comments

London Has A New Underground Line

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Underground Alternative

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

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

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

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

My Access To Thameslink

Timings to Thameslink stations from my house are as follows.

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

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

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

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

A Preview Service

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

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

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

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

The Full Service

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

The Route Will Serve The City of London Well

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

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

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

The Route Will Have Tourist Attractions

The route could have been designed for tourists.

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

It is a line to explore London.

Six Trains Per Hour

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

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

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

Two Additional Trains Per Hour In The Peak

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

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

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

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

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

Full Step-Free Access At London Bridge Station

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

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

Note.

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

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

Full Step-Free Access at Finsbury Park Station

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

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

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

The Improved Northern City Line At Finsbury Park Station

The Northern City Line will be substantially improved.

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

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

The Link To Crossrail

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

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

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

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

The Fastest Way To Gatwick Airport And Brighton From North London

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

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

Note.

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

Everybody will have their own preference.

The biggest winners will be.

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

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

What Still Needs To Be Done?

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

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

I ask this question, with my scheduling hat on!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Could Thameslink Connect To The Waterloo And City Line?

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

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

 

Should Thameslink Be On The Tube Map

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

All Of Thameslink Should Be In The Oystercard Area

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

Conclusion

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

 

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

Lothbury

In Taxis And Bank Junction, I mentioned that the Northern City Line was originally authorised to Lothbury station .

These pictures were taken at the junction of Lothbury, Moorgate and Prine’s Street.

It strikes me, that a station here would have been a good Edwardian addition.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines North of Bank station.

lothbury2

The interesting thing is the dates on the lines.

  • Northern Line – 25/02/1900
  • Central Line – 28/07/1912

As the Northern City Line opened in 1904, there would have been a lot of construction going on in the area.

Around 1913, plans were made to connect the Northern City Line with the nearby Waterloo and City Line.

The Bank of England Building is relatively modern dating from the 1920s.

So probably all of this building meant that the extension to Lothbury just got in the way.

But interestingly note, how the two lines of the Northern Line cross over in probably the area where the new station would have gone. This would surely have made more tunnelling difficult.

So was it just too complicated as well?

I don’t know!

But it is probably true to say that if we wanted to extend the line today, we could probably do it.

Especially, as the Northern Line tunnels are being realigned when Bank station is rebuilt in the next few years.

But I doubt we will do it, as the new massive Moorgate-Liverpool Street for Crossrail will finally give the Northern City Line, the connectivity it needs.

 

 

January 19, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

The Great Northern Metro

Govia Thameslink Railway have just announced their proposals to create a Great Northern Metro.

This was something I speculated about in A North London Metro.

GTR’s Proposals

This document on their web site gives these outline proposals.

  • 2018 timetable will provide new connections and increase capacity.
  • More frequent trains to provide a ‘true’ metro service.
  • New air-conditioned trains from 2018.

It looks like I got those right

These are other proposals.

14 Trains Per Hour To/From Moorgate in The High Peak

Currently, a maximum of 12 trains per hour (tph) can get in and out from Moorgate station in the High Peak.

Raising it by two to 14 tph surprised me, but it says that they have found a way with the new trains to save time possibly by using better technology to change the voltage quicker at Drayton Park.

Effectively, the headway between trains is being reduced from five minutes to four and a half minutes.

One big advantage for people like me, who live close to a Southern station on the line, as I do with Essex Road station, is that going North in the morning rush and South in the evening rush, will be easy.

Services To/From Moorgate in The Off Peak

This is a summary of the changes in the Off Peak.

On the other hand, it appears there will now be no direct trains between Moorgate and Letchworth Garden City.

My local station is Essex Road and I regularly use the line to go North and South between Moorgate and Alexandra Palace.

Instead of a measly six tph, I’ll now be getting 10 tph all day, with 8 tph on Sundays.

I thought it would be four tph to Hertford North and Welwyn Garden City, so they’re actually going to do better than I thought they would.

An Eastward Shift In Services

The two branches used to be treated fairly equally with 3 tph on each.

But now it appears that Hertford North gets preference.

But then the East Coast Main Line will be getting Thameslink services.

  • 6 tph stopping at Finsbury Park
  • 0 tph stopping at Alexandra Palace
  • 2 tph stopping at Potters Bar
  • 2 tph stopping at Welwyn Garden City
  • 6 tph stopping at Stevenage

Note that these are very much a summary.

Problem! – Will Thameslink Stop At Alexandra Palace?

,I do hope that Thameslink services not stopping at Alexandra Palace, when they stop at places like Oakleigh Park is a typo.

Consider.

  • Alexandra Palace is the last station before the Hertford Loop Line splits from the East Coast Main Line.
  • Alexandra Palace has an attraction that passengers might want to visit.
  • Alexandra Palace station may well be served by Crossrail 2.

But most importantly, Alexandra Palace could have a cross-platform and/or same-platform interchange between Great Northern Metro services on both routes and Thameslink.

So it would be a good interchange for eighty-year-old Aunt Mabel going from Enfield Chase to Gatwick Airport with her suitacse full of presents for her grandchildren.

My Link To Thameslink Going North

I laid this out in My Links to Thameslink and I suspect from 2018, I’ll take bus to Essex Road station and then take the Great Northern Metro to Finsbury Park.

 

I don’t think I’ll be alone, in using the Great Northern Metro to get access to Thameslink to go North.

My Link To Thameslink Going South

I laid this out in My Links to Thameslink and I suspect from 2018, I accept what GTR offer or take the Essex Road and Finsbury Park route.

  • Highbury And Islington Station

But what would help everybody within a couple of miles or so of Highbury and Islington station, is to upgrade the station to the Twentieth Century.

  • Provide a second entrance on the North side of Highbury Corner roundabout, where there is a disused station entrance.
  • Provide a better connection between the Northbound and Southbound deep-level platforms.
  • Provide full step-free access to the deep-level platforms.
  • Improve the lighting and ambience in the deep-level platforms.

Talking to someone who works in the station and is obviously familiar with the tunnels, he felt, as I do, that there are fairly simple solutions to sorting out the deep-level platforms.

I would do the following.

  • Open up the second entrance.
  • Create a subway under Holloway Road.
  • Improve the walking routes and access to buses outside the station.
  • Put lift access from the new entrance to a passage that would  cross all four deep-level lines.
  • Provide step-free access from the cross-passage to the four deep-level lines.
  • Replace the stairs connecting the two Southbound platforms

Unfortunately, I suspect that the new road bridge over the railway in front of the station has probably been built without leaving space for the subway.

The Link To Crossrail

In Liverpool Street Crossrail Station Disentangled, I showed that changing between Crossrail and the Northern City Line at Moorgate could be easy.

Now that the service into Moorgate will be 10 tph all day, with 8 tph on Sundays, the line will become an important link to Crossrail for a large area of North London.

Consider.

  • The Piccadlly Line has no connection with Crossrail, so changing at Finsbury Park for Moorgate might be the quickest way to get to the new line.
  • The Victoria Line has no connection with Crossrail, but there is cross-platform interchange at Highbury and Islington with the Great Northern Metro.
  • The North London Line connects to the Greater London Metro at Highbury and Islington.

Taken together, the Piccadilly Line, Victoria Line and the Great London Metro, with help from more local transport methods like bikes and buses, will certainly improve the link to Crossrail for a large area of Enfield, Hackney, Haringey, Islington and Waltham Forest.

My only worry, is that as the Great Northern Metro gives such good access to Crossrail for such a wide area of London and South Hertfordshire, that the planned 10 tph into Moorgate all day, with 8 tph on Sundays, will be too low.

At least the improvements to the service are coming in around 2018, which would be before Crossrail opens in 2019.

Once Crossrail opens, I suspect, it will give me a better link to Thameslink, especially when I need to go South.

Conclusions

The service is a great improvement on the current one. But I predicted that!

The service is going to meet what I suspect,  GTR hope it will.

As an average punter on the Northern City route from Essex Road, I will get a lot more trains.

I shall certainly use Essex Road and Finsbury Park to get to Cambridge.

It’s a pity it doesn’t help to use Thameslink in the difficult direction to the South.

Related Posts

GTR’s 2018 Timetable Consultation

Liverpool Street Crossrail Station Disentangled

My Links To Thameslink

Thameslink To Rainham

 

September 19, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Could A Reversing Siding Be Built At Alexandra Palace?

I have recently suggested two new or uprated services.

Both of these services could benefit with the ability to turn trains before the Hertford Loop Line splits from the East Coast Main Line.

A Reversing Siding At Alexandra Palace

One possibility is to create a reversing siding at Alexandra Palace station, which would allow the station to be used as a terminus from services from the South.

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

Alexandra Palace Station

Alexandra Palace Station

Note.

  • The fast lines of the East Coast Main Line run through the middle of the station, with the main slow lines on either side.
  • The two widely separated tracks going North are the Hertford Loop Line.
  • Ignore the blue line, which is the Piccadilly Line.
  • The platforms are numbered from East to West and there are four usable faces.
  • The most Westerly  face is numbered 4 and serves trains going to the Hertford Loop Line.
  • Sharing the island with platform 4, is platform 3, which handles direct stopping trains to Welwyn Garden City and the North.
  • The layout of platforms 3 an 4 means that there is a step-across interchangebetween trains going on the different routes.
  • Platforms 1 and 2 are on the Eastern side of the station and most of the trains from both go to Moorgate.
  • Thameslink services will probably use platform 3 going North and one of platform 1 or 2 going South.
  • There are a large number of crossovers South of the station to sort the trains between various combinations of routes and platforms.

It is an simple and efficient layout, which keeps local services away from the fast lines in the middle.

But look at this Google Map, which shows Wood Green North Junction, where the East Coast Main Line and the Hertford Loop Line split.

Word Green North Junction

Word Green North Junction

After the down line of the Hertford Loop Line crosses over the East Coast Main Line on a viaduct, it runs through an area of green, with the up line on the other side. Surely, it would be possible to shoe-horn one or even two reversing sidings into this plot, that could at least take six-car trains.

These are some pictures of the area

Probably only the resident wildlife find it attractive.

So a train reversing at Alexandra Palace station would go through the following procedure.

  • The train would arrive in the down Hertford Loop Line platform 4 at Alexandra Palace.
  • Any passengers still left, would leave the station or catch another train.
  • The train would then proceed to the reversing siding between the two lines of the Hertford Loop Line.
  • The train would then start its return journey in the up Hertford Loop Line platform 1 or 2 at Alexandra Palace.

Note.

  • The train would have been able to reverse without affecting traffic on the fast lines.
  • As a maximum of perhaps six trains per hour will be using the Hertford Loop line, there is plenty of spare capacity for extra trains.
  • Reversing sidings are always useful when there are problems like failed trains or blockades.
  • If it could take an eight-car Class 700 train, it might have uses for Thameslink.

It is one of those small lengths of railway, that if it were properly designed could have a lot more uses than is obvious.

I am also very surprised that as the space is there between the tracks of the Hertford Loop Line, that it hasn’t been used for something productive before.

The Existing Reversing Siding At Bowes Park Station

Bowes Park station is the first station on the Hertford Loop Line. This is said in the Wikipedia entry for the station.

To the north of the station is a single siding in between the two running tracks which is occasionally used to turn around East Coast InterCity 225 and 125 trains heading for Bounds Green Depot just north of Alexandra Palace..

There is a good image on the Railway Herald web site, of an InterCity 125 using the Bowes Park Reversing Siding from August 2016.

Looking at the picture, I wonder if there is space for more than one reversing siding.

The Future Of Bowes Park Station

Bowes Park station is a long wide island platform with rather rudimentary buildings in the middle and stairs up to a bridge over the line.

It must be due a rebuilding to at least add step-free access to the station.

But as it is a valid out-of-station interchange to the Piccadilly Line at Bounds Green station and it has a reversing platform to the North, could this station be in for something more substantial?

Conclusion

I would suspect that Network Rail and the various train operators, are looking at a comprehensive  solution in this area that is to everyone’s satisfaction.

At least they  start from a good base.

  • Alexandra Palace station has a good layout of platforms.
  • Interchange between all down services at Alexandra Palace station, uses a single island platform with two faces.
  • Up services have two platforms. connected by a bridge.
  • There is already a long reversing siding at Bowes Park.
  • Trains for the Hertford Loop from the South cross the East Coast Main Line on a flyover.

But above all there is no shortage of space

Related Posts

A North London Metro

A Numerical Analysis Of Great Northern’s Class 717 Trains

Could A Reversing Siding Be Built At Alexandra Palace?

Could A Reversing Siding Be Built At Alexandra Palace?

Liverpool Street Crossrail Station Disentangled

 

 

September 16, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 7 Comments

A North London Metro

My Memories Of The Lines Out Of Moorgate And Kings Cross

I grew up in North London and I can remember when the suburban services into Kings Cross were hauled by N2 tank engines and later when these were replaced by the Class 105 diesel multiple units.

Around 1970, I used to commute to Welwyn Garden City from Kings Cross and I regularly got Cambridge trains, that were coaches with compartments pulled by the then ubiquitous Class 31 diesel locomotives.

All changed in 1976, when the Northern City Line out of Moorgate and the East Coast Main Line out of Kings Cross were electrified and Class 313 trains started to work the lines.

They still do!

The Current Route

The East Coast Main Line, running North through Finsbury Park is four-tracked with separate fast and slow lines.

There is also the Hertford Loop Line, which effectively gives the route a second set of slow lines between Alexandra Palace and Stevenage.

The two lines have a network of fourteen suburban stations,, where each links with a rather measly three tph into Moorgate.

The line has a few good features.

  • The Hertford Loop has grade-separated junctions at both ends and is electrified throughout.
  • There are decent termini for the services at Gordon Hill, Hertford North, Letchworth Garden City and Welwyn Garden City.
  • There is a flyover at Welwyn Garden City to enable prompt turnaround of the trains.
  • The lines allow the trains to use their maximum speed.
  • Interchange between the two services at Finsbury Park and Alexandra Palace is generally good.

But the route has the problem of a voltage change between the tunnel to Moorgate and the rest of the line at Drayton Park station, which adds a couple of minutes to every journey.

The Current Service

The current service is three trains per hour (tph) that trundle as fast as their 75 mph top speed and age will allow to the two main destinations of Welwyn Garden City and Hertford North stations. One of the trains from Hertford North in every hour continues to Letchworth Garden City.

This is not the frequent service that attracts new passengers and at least an extra train per hour is needed.

As an example, I can get a direct bus every two or three minutes or so  to Essex Road station, from where I can get trains to the North.

But three tph to the two destinations and six tph to Alexandra Palace is not the sort of service on a commuter route out of London. Four trains would reduce my maximum wait for say a Hatfield train from twenty to fifteen minutes.

But there are reasons for this level of service.

  • There probably aren’t enough trains.
  • Their performance is inadequate.
  • The complications of the route, which involves changing voltage at Drayton Park station, slows the service.

Even so they do manage to squeeze 12 tph into Moorgate in the rush hours.

Service Improvements In 2018

In the Wikepedia entry for Bowes Park station, the following is said.

From 2018, the pattern is due to change when Moorgate services via the Hertford loop are curtailed at Stevenage using a new terminating platform there:

  • 2 tph Great Northern service Moorgate – Stevenage
  • 2 tph Great Northern service Moorgate – Hertford North

This information is not given elsewhere, so I suspect it’s either from someone, who’s got good knowledge or wrong. There is no reference to the source of the information.

But, 2018 is when the new trains will start serving the line. So the Hertford Loop Line could be getting an extra train per hour.

Infrastructure Improvements

There are various infrastructure improvements that need to be done to squeeze the maximum capacity out of the system.

  • The archaic voltage change at Drayton Park should be replaced with one using the best modern technology and practice.
  • The maximum line-speed on the Hertford Loop Line should be increased to 100 mph wherever possible.
  • Platforms should be improved to ease getting on and off trains and facilitate easy interchanges between trains.
  • It looks like a bay platform is being built at Stevenage to serve the Hertford Loop Line.
  • Would there be any advantage in creating a passing loop or adding a fourth platform at Gordon Hill station?

In addition, I do think that there are opportunities for new stations on the Hertford Loop Line.

The New Class 717 Trains

New Class 717 trains have been ordered to send the Class 313 trains to the scrapyard.

These are similar to the Class 700 and Class 707 trains, so I think we can assume.

  • They will have a top speed of 100 mph, where the track allows it.
  • They will brake and accelerate faster than the current trains and with better door machinery should save time at every stop.

But I would also suspect that they will handle the voltage change at Drayton Park more efficiently.

It would appear from my calculation in A Numerical Analysis Of Great Northern’s Class 717 Trains, that there are enough Class 717 trains on order for a four tph service to all stations, with 2 tph onwards to Letchworth Garden City or more likely Stevenage.

As the Wikipedia entry for Bowes Park station says 4 tph  from 2018, I think it is reasonable to expect that Welwyn Garden City gets the same treatment.

This would produce an eight tph service between Alexandra Palace and Moorgate.

Current timings from Moorgate are.

  • Hertford North – 50 minutes
  • Welwyn Garden City  – 51 minutes
  • Stevenage – 63 minutes

So this means one shorter round trip could be done in two hours and a combination of a short and Long one in four.

This would mean.

  • 4 tph to Welwyn Garden City would require 8 trains
  • 6 tph to Welwyn Garden City would require 12 trains
  • 4 tph to Hertford North/Stevenage would require 8 trains
  • 6 tph to Hertford North/Stevenage would require 12 trains

But because the Class 717 trains are faster, have a better stopping performance and would probably save time in changing voltages, I wonder if the shorter round trip could be reduced to ninety minutes, with the combined trip at three hours.

This would mean.

  • 4 tph to Welwyn Garden City would require 6 trains
  • 6 tph to Welwyn Garden City would require 9 trains
  • 4 tph to Hertford North/Stevenage would require 6 trains
  • 6 tph to Hertford North/Stevenage would require 9 trains

So if the trains and the drivers can perform, it might be possible to have enough trains for a six tph service on both branches with a 12 tph service between Moorgate and Alexandra Palace.

One consequence of running 12 tph into Moorgate all day, might be that there would be no room for extra trains in the Peak. But the service in the Peak of twelve six-car tph would still have the same capacity as the current one

I think that Great Northern’s objective is to run twelve trains into Moorgate all day, with half serving each branch.

The full service to and from Moorgate would probably need 18 trains.

In A Numerical Analysis Of Great Northern’s Class 717 Trains, I said that a 2 tph service between Kings Cross and Foxton would require six trains, that would see the fleet fully utilised.

The Link To Crossrail

In Liverpool Street Crossrail Station Disentangled, I showed that changing between Crossrail and the Northern City Line at Moorgate could be easy.

I have a feeling that with eight or even twelve tph running into Moorgate, many passengers will change at Moorgate to and from Crossrail, even if they want to go to and from places like Hatfield or Potters Bar, for which they can also use Thameslink and a change at Farringdon.

Consider.

  • Running twelve tph into a two-platform terminal like Moorgate is way below the frequency of the Victoria Line at Walthamstow Central.
  • Half of all trains at Moorgate will go up the East Coast Main Line, with the other half taking the Hertford Loop Line.
  • Only one-in-four trains at Farringdon will go up the East Coast Main Line.
  • The Moorgate service will stop at all stations to Welwyn Garden City.
  • There is a split with suburban trains out of Moorgate and Thameslink out of Farringdon.
  • Farringdon to a station on the Hertford Loop Line, would need a second change.
  • Canary Wharf to North London and Hertfordshire would be a single change at Moorgate.

Never underestimate the capacity of Londoners to duck and dive to find their best route.

All of this could lead to a lot of passengers on the trains between Moorgate and Alexandra Palace.

The North London Metro And Thameslink

If you take the Welwyn Garden City branch of the routes out of Moorgate, it could be running four or possibly six tph between Finsbury Park and Welwyn Garden City. On the same route, according to their latest plans Thameslink will also be running six tph.

Even if they don’t run alternatively, there will certainly be plenty of opportunities to choose to go to Moorgate or take the main Thameslink route.

You might even argue that the Hertford Loop Line and the Northern City Line are just branch lines from Thameslink, with cross- or same-platform interchanges.

But however you put it, the two lines are strongly bound together.

Conclusions

Four tph  on both branches with eight tph into Moorgate is certainly possible with the fleet of new trains.

But if the trains can save time at each stop and there are some signalling, voltage-changing and  track improvements, I feel it could be possible to run six tph on each branch with twelve tph into Moorgate.

Those sort of frequencies would transform the  services out of Moorgate.

They would create a frequent link, which would serve at the Southern end

  • Crossrail
  • Northern Line
  • The City of London
  • Canary Wharf

And at the Northern end.

  • Thameslink
  • Victoria Line
  • Piccadilly Line
  • North London
  • Hertfordshire

It would truly be a North London Metro.

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September 15, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 5 Comments