The Anonymous Widower

Should The Three Class 378 Trains Saving The Gospel Oak To Barking Line Be Named?

Lots of passengers will be eternally grateful, if over the next few or more weeks, the three Class 378 trains, currently working the line provide an acceptable service across North London, until the Class 710 trains take over the route.

So after they return to normal service should they be given names?

I would suggest Faith, Hope and Charity, as these names wouldn’t cause offence to anyone.

But they would constantly remind the Mayor, Transport for London and Bombardier, that their failure to plan properly for non-arrival of the Class 710 trains, could have had a much more embarrassing outcome.

March 19, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Hochtief Brought In For Crossrail Station Construction Work

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

Hochtief has been handed a £40m contract to carry out improvement works at three stations in west London that will be part of the Crossrail route when it opens.

In a deal published to the Official Journal, the German contractor has been chosen to carry out improvement work at Hayes and Harlington, Southall and West Drayton stations.

The article then goes on to give a detailed report oif the state of the Crossrail stations in the central section.

In the article, the new Crossrail boss; Mark Wild was also very forthcoming about the line’s problem.

My Project Management experience, says to me, that the standard of planning and reporting on the project wasn’t of the best.

January 21, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

The Structure Of Artemis

Some claim, that Artemis was the first relational database. I don’t! Although, I must admit, it would be nice to have invented something.

When the system was being designed, we realised that we needed to use a small computer that could fit into a desk. This would differentiate us from the competition, which was inevitably based on large mainframe computers like the IBM 360.

We all had experience of dial-up time-sharing computing using a teletype, but we knew of the limitations of dial-up lines and wanted a project management system, that could fit into a small office, possibly on-site or at a remote location.

In my mind, I had an image of a computer system like the IBM 1130, I’d used a few years earlier at Liverpool University.

This had a processor, a keyboard, some rudimentary data storage and a printer in a desk-sized unit.

I can remember drawing up a list of three possible computers, that could be used.

I think, we thought that the DEC would be favourite.

  • It was the market leader in small computers.
  • Our chairman, had spent a lot of money buying PDP-10 computers for his company; Time-Sharing Ltd.
  • I had a lot of experience, with their Fortran compiler on the PDP-10 and it was very good.

But, they just didn’t want to know and felt our plan was an impossible dream!

DG tried hard, but to get the computing power, I estimated we would need, their offering would be expensive.

Luckily HP were more interested.

I remember the day, that their two salesmen, gave the Chairman and myself a presentation, by his swimming pool on a very hot summer’s day in possibly 1977 or 1978.

HP  gave me a lot of help and I was able to use a machine at their premises in Wokingham to thoroughly test out the 21MX computer and its Fortran compiler.

We ended up using a computer with a specification like this.

  • A 21MX processor.
  • 64 Kb of memory
  • A five megabyte hard disc, with a 5 megabyte removable disc.
  • A VDU and a printer.

It all fitted into a custom-built desk, about the same size as a typical office desk.

I’d now got a computer and ~I could start to design Artemis.

All complicated software systems need access to some form of tables or arrays.

If you have ever used a spreadsheet program like Microsoft Excel seriously, you’ll know that you can create a series of worksheets in a workbook.

But this was the 1970s and the first spreadsheet program; VisiCalc didn’t launch until 1979.

For Artemis, I needed arrays to hold the following during processing.

  • The activities
  • The events
  • The calendar details
  • The resource details

And I didn’t think small, so the maximum-sized project was going to be 16000 activities.

For a time, it looked as if, I would have to write a sophisticated database structure to access the data on the limited five megabyte hard discs.

But HP had just released a program possibly called DSMP, that could handle up to 16 tables of up to 16,000 records.

So I used this program to handle the data that I needed.

Activities

In a PERT network, activities are entered for each task in a project.

I used two tables for this. The main one held the activities themselves and a secondary one held details of the resources needed for the activity.

Both tables had a 16,000 limit.

Calendars

Artemis had a comprehensive calendar structure and these were stored in another table.

Each activity was linked to the appropriate calendar record.

Resources Available

Another table was used to list the resources available to a project.

Working Tables

One working table contained all the event names used by the activities.

Linking Them All Together

I used a variety of techniques to link these tables together.

In some cases, I used simple pointers, which used the record number, but in other cases, I wrote very sophisticated and fast software to generate the links on the fly. Incidentally, the algorithm was based on research I found in IBM’s library on the South Bank, that dated from the 1950s.

I had taken HP’s DSMP program and effectively created a relational structure, that created links as it needed them.

Building On The Original Structure

In my view, I made the right decisions technically, as it enabled the scope of Artemis to be expanded.

The Multi-User Version

This was designed in an alcohol-fuelled session with Nobby (Richard Nobbs), in either Suffolk or Amsterdam and basically involved Nobby creating a version of DSMP for HP’s multi-user operating system.

Linked Datasets

I was able to use the structure to create other tables in the projects.

Again the linking was on the fly and it greatly increased the applications of Artemis.

So Was Artemis A Relational Database?

It is true to say, that from the earliest days in the late 1970s, I used relational techniques deep in the program to link all of the data together.

Working on such a small computer, I had no choice!

 

 

January 18, 2019 Posted by | Computing | , , | 3 Comments

Deep Insights Into Crossrail

London Reconnections is a web site, that often gives deep insights into rail projects in the London area.

Recently, they have published two articles about Crossrail.

I have read every word of both articles and feel that, the Project Management on Crossrail has been severely lacking.

If I go back to the days of Artemis, Project Managers were always using our innovative graphics to communicate all of the details of project costs and status to managers and stakeholders.

I can remember in one case, we were the bringers of terrible news about costs to a major company. One of our project managers had distilled a very large project to a series of graphics on a single sheet of A3 paper, so senior management couldn’t avoid our message.

Today, the company would probably shoot the messenger, but we went on to sell the company over a dozen systems.

I know nothing of modern Project Management systems, but surely they are more capable than Artemis, which was largely written by myself and others in the 1980s.

 

 

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

Network Rail And Project Management

This article on the Railway Gazette is entitled UK Railway News Round-Up.

This is a paragraph.

Network Rail has awarded The Knowledge Academy Ltd a framework contract to provide project management courses for its employees.

Have Network Rail finally accepted, that they have a project management problem?

 

January 17, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

Crossrail’s Latest Issues Begs The Question, How Do We Judge Success In Transport Megaprojects?

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

The article makes some interesting points about transport megaprojects. It is definitely a must-read.

As an example of a megaproject that went wrong, it cites the Channel Tunnel, which exceeded its budget by 80%, required refinancing and then Eurostar only carried a third of forecast traffic.

This article on the BBC, which is entitled How Eurotunnel Went So Wrong, gives the full story of the Channel Tunnel finances.

So should it now be closed? Obviously not, as the alternatives of driving and flying would create a lot more unwanted carbon dioxide and would need more motorways and airports.

The benefits of building Crossrail, such as increasing the capacity of London’s transport system, reducing congestion in Central London and giving better access to Canary Wharf, East London, Heathrow, The City and West London will just come in a year or so later.

The article also says that according to Oxford professor; Bent Flyvbjerg, Crossrail is suffering a 7% cost overrun, where the average for rail projects is 45%.

In my view Crossrail has suffered from a number of problems that together have caused the cost and time overruns.

  • Not enough time was built into the schedule to test the sophisticated trains with their three signalling systems.
  • No dedicated Crossrail test track was created, so the trains could be fully tested.
  • An unfortunate transformer explosion, was a big cause of delay in testing systems.
  • There were not enough workers to finish the project.
  • Central London is awash with large projects, some of which became viable because of Crossrail, that are sucking up masses of workers.
  • Brexit uncertainty has meant that a lot of EU workers have gone back to Europe to build projects nearer their homes.

Where was the European project supremo, who added up all the needs of these European megaprojects, to make sure, we had enough resources to build all of them on time?

 

December 25, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

Completing The Bank Station Upgrade

I’m writing this post for two reasons.

The first is to inform people that in the Summer of 2021, there is going to be a closure of the Bank Branch of the Northern Line for several months.

The second, is to illustrate, how in a large transport system like London, good project management can carry out major works, without too much inconvenience to passengers.

This article on IanVisits is entitled Behind The Scenes At London Underground’s Bank Tube Station upgrade.

I suggest you read the article, to get the scale of the project.

In the Summer of 2021, a section of the Bank branch of the Northern line will close for roughly 3 months.

The main reason is so that the New Southbound tunnel can be joined to the existing Southbound tunnel, North and South of Bank station. Think of it as installing a by-pass round a village. Except it’s a railway and it’s around forty metres below ground.

Ian says this about what else will happen, whilst the Northern Line is closed.

While that’s going on, at Bank station, the old southbound tunnel will have it’s tracks filled in and turned into a new large concourse, while the currently hidden new side passages are cut through into the old northbound platform and finished off.

Come roughly September 2021, after a few months of closure, people will arrive at Bank station and see these huge new tunnels, the new escalators down to the DLR, the travolator to the Central line.

This approach is very common on the railways.

If a line has to be closed completely for a few months, say because a tunnel is being repaired, then during the closure, you do all the other tasks you can.

At Bank, where a new track is being connected, there will be no trains through the station for a few months. So all the other jobs will be done in this window.

There may also be other advantages. At Bank station, the Northbound track itself is not being radically changed, so it might be possible to use battery locomotives to bring in supplies and take out rubbish.

Summer 2021 Is Two And A Half Years Away

Project Planners have calculated and it will probably take until the end of 2020, for everything to be ready before the closure can take place, so that the joining of the tracks can begin.

But there could  other reasons, for the 2021 date.

Bank station is an important station on the Northern Line and closing it will cause a lot of inconvenience for passengers, many of whom will still be commuting to the City of London.

Some Big Projects Will Be Complete Before The Closure

Before Summer 2021, these big projects should have been completed.

  • One completed on Friday, when the new Bank Station entrance on Walbrook opened.
  • Crossrail will have opened.. On current forecasts nearly two years earlier.
  • The Northern City Line will be running new Class 717 trains into Moorgate station.
  • Travellers will have learned to use Thameslink as part of the Underground.

All of these projects will help passengers to cope with the Northern Line Closure at Bank station.

Bank Station Will Still Be Partially Open For Business

Bank station will not be fully-closed.

  • The Central Line will be working at Bank station, to something like full capacity.
  • The Waterloo & City Line will be working normally using the new Wallbrook entrance.
  • The Docklands Light Railway will be working, as is possible around all the work.
  • Some new and refurbished routes will connect the Central Line and Docklands Light Railway to the myriad station entrances around Bank Junction.
  • The Circle and District Lines will be working normally, through Monument station.

In addition, the City of London will have improved walking and cycling in the Square Mile.

Where Will Northern Line Trains Run During The Closure?

For a start, all Northern Line trains through Charing Cross station will be running normally.

The Northern Line Extension to Battersea might even have opened, which would give an extra Southern terminal to the Northern Line, which would help operation of the Charing Cross Branch.

Looking at the detailed tracks on carto.metro.free.fr, it appears that trains from the North can turn back at Euston and Moorgate.

Consider.

  • Euston will be in the throws of rebuilding for High Speed Two.
  • The Northern Line is the preferred route between Euston and the City.
  • Moorgate will be a fully step-free rebuilt station with connections to Crossrail and the Central Line.
  • Many people can walk to most parts of the Square Mile from Moorgate.

It looks to me, that it is most likely that Northern Line services will terminate at Moorgate during the closure of the Northern Line through Bank.

Northern Line trains approaching the City from the South have no such convenient turn back between Kennington and Bank stations.

I think the best direct service passengers from the Morden Branch to the City can expect will be a not-very-frequent shuttle service to London Bridge.

Most who need to go to Bank station from the South will find alternative routes and there are several.

  • Travel to London Bridge and walk across the river.
  • Change to the Waterloo and City Line at Waterloo.
  • Change to the Circle and District Lines at Embankment.
  • Change to the Central Line at Tottenham Court Road
  • Change to Crossrail at Tottenham Court Road and walk from Moorgate.

It should also be remembered, that as the closure is taking place in the Summer holidays, travellers should cope.

Conclusion

As Project Managers always seem to say.

You must get your ducks in a row!

So in this example, I would have felt that to have rebuilt Bank station without completion of the following projects.

  • Crossrail
  • Bank Station Walbrook Entrance

Would have been a lot harder.

This example also means that you must get your large projects in the right order, so they help each other to be delivered on time.

London has several large station interchange projects in the pipeline.

  • Camden Town station
  • East Croydon station
  • Holborn station.
  • Oxford Circus station
  • Victoria station

Which I believe should be done in the optimal order, so that travellers suffer the least disruption.

Smaller projects like a second entrance At Walthamstow Central station should probably be done at a time, when money and resources are available.

 

December 2, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Crossrail – Northern – Northern City Interchange At Moorgate Station

In New Bank Tube Station Entrance In Final Stages Ahead Of Opening, Mrlvyn said this in a comment.

I visited Moorgate Station recently and noticed the new lift of the Northern Line behind the hoarding. I then used escalator to go up to the Northern City Line which is directly above the Northern Line but there is no sign of work for the lift to stop at this level !

I have discovered from another site that Line will not be going step free due to arguments between DFT and TFL when Boris Johnson was Mayor and who should fund a hole in the wall for lift to stop!

Plus ca change! My company provided the planning computer and software for the Jubilee Line Extension. We heard stories of bad planning all the time and it certainly wasn’t a happy project.

But look at this image, I’ve clipped from this large visualisation of the massive Liverpool Street-Moorgate Crossrail Station.

The image shows the Northern City Line coming into Moorgate station.

Colours are as follows.

  • Blue – Northern City Line
  • Yellow – Circle and Hammersmith & City Lines
  • Black – Northern
  • Turquoise – Crossrail

Details to note.

Existing Northern City Escalators

The escalator shaft to the existing ticket hall is shown in white by the letter M of Moorgate.

Existing Northern Line Escalators

The double tunnels from the stairs leading to the platforms to the escalators are shown in white underneath the Northern City Line.

The escalators to the existing ticket hall are clearly shown.

Circle And Hammersmith & City Lines

When Crossrail opens, passengers would seem to still do, as they do now to interchange between Norther/Northern City and the Sub-Surface Lines.

The only problem now, is if you need a lift, there is none to the deep lines or in the subway under the Sub-Surface Lines.

I am sure that the Crossrail reconstruction will address these problems.

The New Crossrail Station

The big turquoise block is the new Crossrail station and Ticket Hall.

This image shows a cross-section through it.

It will be two escalators down from street level to Crossrail. But then rhen Crossrail is deep.

A New Tunnel

In the visualisation, there is a new tunnel from around the centre of the Northern and Northern City Lines to the new Crossrail station.

I am not sure of where it joins the new construction over Crossrail, but assuming that the visualisation is to scale, the tunnel is larger than a typical Underground tunnel.

This size will mean that it will attract a lot of passengers.

At the Crossrail end, if would probably connect by a level route to an interchange floor, where the following would be possible.

  • Take an escalator or lift to and from Crossrail.
  • Take a level connection to the Westbound platforms of the Sub-Surface Lines.
  • Take an escalator or lift to street level.

I suspect that would handle all connections except for step-free access to the Eastbound Sub-Surface Lines.

At the other end of this tunnel, it would need to have large capacity and step-free access to the Northern and Northern City Lines.

Conclusion

It looks like the Northern and Northern City Lines are being given a second route to both the surface and other lines through Moorgate.

I shall go and have a look this morning.

I took these pictures.

A few observations.

  • The two escalators connecting the Northern and the Northern City Lines  are in good condition with refurbished walls and tiling.
  • There are no tell-tale blue walls on the platforms for the Northern City Line, which still retains its Network South East livery.
  • There are two blue walls on the opposite side of the cross passages to both escalators on the Northern Line platforms
  • The blue wall, facing the up connecting escalator is wider than that facing the down escalator.
  • There doesn’t seem to be any works for a lift to take passengers to and from the existing tickey hall.

It looks like it will be a tight squeeze fitting in all the access stairs, escalators and lifts between the Northern Line platforms and the new tunnel, that is shown connecting the Northern Line platforms to Crossrail.

I come to one or more of these conclusions.

  • There will be other passages dug in the future.
  • Passengers will continue to use the existing escalators.
  • I’m missing something obvious.

As Moorgate station is one of the busiest and will get even more so, there must be a sensible plan.

The only thing I can find on the internet is this page on the Acanthus Architects web site.

 

 

 

November 28, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Thoughts On The Lateness Of Crossrail

This article on the BBC is entitled Crossrail Delay: New London Line Will Open In Autumn 2019.

This is the first paragraph.

London’s £15bn Crossrail project is to open nine months after its scheduled launch to allow more time for testing.

I spent most of my working life, writing software for the planning and costing of large projects and despite never having done any serious project management in anger, I have talked to many who have, both in the UK and around the world.

So what are my thoughts?

Crossrail Is A Highly-Complex Project

The project involves the following.

  • A 21 km double-track tunnel under London.
  • New Class 345 trains
  • Four different signalling systems.
  • Rebuilt stations at West Drayton, Hayes & Harlington, Southall, West Ealing, Ealing Broadway. Acton Main Line, Forest Gate, Manor Park, Ilford
  • Refurbished stations at Hanwell, Maryland, Seven Kings, Goodmayes, Chadwell Heath, Romford, Gidea Park, Harold Wood, Brentford and Shenfield.
  • Major interchanges with existing stations at Paddington, Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road, Farrington, Liverpool Street, Whitechapel and Stratford.
  • New stations at Custom House, Canary Whar, Woolwich and Abbey Wood.

Some parts are easy, but a lot are very difficult.

A Shortage Of Specialist Workers

I believe that certain factors could be reducing the pool of workers available to Crossrail.

Less workers than needed would obviously slow the project.

Having to pay more than budgeted to attract or keep workers will also raise costs.

My thoughts on what is causing a possible shortage of specialist workers follow.

Crossrail-Related Development

If you own a site or a building, near to one of Crossrail’s stations, then your property will substantially increase in value, when the line opens.

Walk past any of the Crossrail stations in Central London and some further out and you will see towers sprouting around the station entrance like crows around a road-kill.

Developers know how to cash-in on the best thing that has happened to them since the Nazis flattened acres of Central London.

New sites are also being created over several Crossrail stations including Moorgate, Farringdon (2 sites), Tottenham Court Road (2 sites), Bond Street (2 sites) and Paddington.

But do all these extensive developments, mean that there are not enough sub-contractors, specialist suppliers, electricians, chippies, air-conditioning engineers, plumbers and other trades to do all the work available in London?

I also suspect a developer, building an office block to the world’s highest standard could pay better and faster, than a Crossrail supplier under pressure.

Underground Working

Working underground or in mining is dangerous.

In the 1960s, women were totally banned from working below the surface.

It must have been around 1970, when I met one of ICI’s archivists; Janet Gornall, who a few years previously had organised storage of their masses of historical documents, in the company salt mine at Winsford. The mine is still used for document storage, by a company called Deepstore.

Health & Safety found out that Janet would be supervising and indexing the storage underground, so that if any document was required, they could be easily retrieved. This caused them to give the scheme a big thumbs down.

Questions were even asked in the House of Commons, but nothing would change Health & Safety’s view

In the end a simple solution was found..

As the boxes came up from London they were piled up in a large building on the surface, in the position Janet wanted them underground.

The pile of boxes was then moved underground and stacked in exactly the same way.

Nowadays, anybody can work underground, but they must have training and be certified for such work.

Crossrail thought the number of certified underground workers might not be enough, so they set up the Tunnelling and Underground Construction Academy (TUCA) at Ilford. This article on the Crossrail web site is entitled  A Legacy To The Construction Industry.

Some points about TUCA.

  • It is now part of Transport for London.
  • It was funded by Crossrail and the Skills Funding Agency.
  • TUCA is Europe’s only specialist soft-ground tunnelling training facility.

I wrote about TUCA in Open House – TUCA, after a visit in 2012.

I was told on my visit, that the Swiss have a similar facility for rock tunnelling and that there were plans for both academies to work together.

Trainees from all over the world would get training in an exotic Swiss mountain and then go on to enjoy the wonders of Ilford.

But at least they’ll be safe workers for all types of tunnelling.

I do wonder if some of the Crossrail delays has been caused by a lack of properly trained underground workers, as now the tunnelling is completed, many have moved on to the next project.

Thames Tideway Scheme

The Thames Tideway Scheme is a £4billion scheme to build a massive sewer under the Thames to clean up the river.

Many Crossrail engineers, tunnellers and workers are now working on the new scheme.

Brexit

Stuttgart 21 is one of numerous mega-projects in Europe.

Many of the workers on Crossrail were originally from Europe and now with the uncertainties of Brexit, some must be moving nearer home,to work on these large European projects.

Well-Paid Jobs In Sunnier Climes

Don’t underestimate, the effect of the Beast From The East last winter.

Skilled personnel have always gone to places like the Middle East to earn a good crust.

With Crossrail under pressure, how many of these key workers have gone to these places for the money?

Conclusion

I wouldn’t be surprised to find that a shortage of specialist workers is blamed for the delays.

In the BBC article, there is this quote

We are working around the clock with our supply chain and Transport for London to complete and commission the Elizabeth line.

Fairly bland, but does the supply chain include specialist suppliers and workers, which are under severe pressure from other projects to perform various works?

It’s probably true that there is only a finite pool of these companies, tradesmen and workers and at least some of the best will have been lured away.

Station Problems

In this article in the Architects Journal, which is entitled Crossrail Delayed Until Autumn 2019, this is said.

Crossrail then revealed in February that it had overspent its budget for the year to 30 March 2018 by £190 million.

At the time TfL said works at Whitechapel station, designed by BDP, and Farringdon station, designed by AHR, were completed later than expected, and there were delays to work at Weston Williamson’s Woolwich station and John McAslan + Partners’ Bond Street station.

I’ll look at Whitechapel station as an example.

You don’t need to be an expert to figure out that Whitechapel station is running late.

Look at all the blue hoardings.

  • I know this only shows what is visible to the public.
  • The Crossrail platforms deep underground could be ready.
  • The main entrance to the station is still shrouded in plastic.
  • The escalators to get down to Crossrail, will be between the two District/Metropolitan Line platforms.

This Google Map shows the area of Whitechapel station.

Note how the site is hemmed in, by important buildings including a Sainsburys supermarket and Swanlea School.

See An Innovative Use Of The School Holidays, for an insight about how the builders of the station coped with the lack of space.

I also feel that Whitechapel is an incredibly complex station to build.

  • It is crossed by two important railways; the District/Metropolitan Line and the East London Line.
  • Innovative techniques from the coal mining industry had to be used to dig the escalator tunnel.
  • Whitechapel will be the station, where passengers change between the two Eastern branches.

I do wonder, whether a different design would have been easier to build.

For instance, could Sainsburys have been paid to shut their superstore and that site used to build the station?

But Crossrail has chosen a design and now they must build it.

The New Class 345 Trains

The new Class 345 trains for Crossrail are an almost totally new design called Aventra by Bombardier, that I believe has been specifically created to make the operation of Crossrail as efficient as possible.

The trains must have something about them, as since launch they have attracted five more substantial orders, from five different operators.

The introduction into service of the Class 345 trains,has been reasonably straightforward, but not without some issues.

But I do question, the launching of Aventra trains solely on a line as complex as Crossrail.

Would it have been easier to have built the Class 710 trains first and thoroughly debugged them on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line.

But then that electrification was late.

Four Types Of Signalling

Crossrail needs trains to have four different types of signalling.

I know that as Crossrail runs on other lines with these signalling and going to a single system like ETCS would need to the changing of signalling systems on much of the railways in the South-East and the trains that use them.

It appears that there are problems for the trains running into Heathrow and one of the reasons for the Crossrail delayed opening, is to allow more time to test the trains and the signalling.

From my experience of writing complex software systems, where my software needed to interface with two operating systems, I know that you can never put too much time into testing complex systems.

So where is the dedicated test track, where trains can simulate the signalling of Crossrail routes, day in and day out?

I believe that not enough time and money was allocated to test this complex system.

Crossrail has found out the hard way.

Europe Has A Lack Of Train Test Tracks

A lot of European nations are ordering new trains and the UK is probably ordering more than most.

Reading the railway stories on the Internet, there are lots of stories about trains being brought into service late. And not just in the UK, but in Germany and Italy for example.

Crossrail identified that there was a need for a training academy for underground workers.

Did anybody do the calculations to make sure, there was enough test tracks for all the trains being built in Europe?

However, it does look as though Wales is coming to rescue Europe’s train makers, as I describe in £100m Rail Test Complex Plans For Neath Valley.

I suspect Crossrail wish this test complex had been completed a couple of years ago.

A Shortage Of Resources

For successful completion of projects on time and on budget, there must be enough resources.

I believe that, when the lateness and overspend on Crossrail is analysed, shortage of resources will be blamed.

  • Shortage of people and suppliers, that has not been helped by other projects taking advantage of new opportunities offered by Crossrail.
  • Shortage of space for work-sites at stations.
  • Shortage of places to fully test trains and signalling.

I suspect that the last will be the most serious.

Hugo Rifkind On A Late Crossrail

In an excellent article in today’s copy of The Times entitled Leavers Have A Cheek Trying To Block HS2, Hugo Rifkind says this about Crossrail.

You think we’ll remember, 50 years from now. that Crossrail took six months longer than expected?

Rubbish. London will rest on it like a spine and boggle that we ever managed without.

I think Rifkind is right.

Will Hutton

Will Hutton has written this article in the Guardian, which is entitled Don’t Moan About Crossrail. Once Complete, It Will Be A Rare Triumph In Our Public Realm.

He says this.

Let’s sing a different tune. The railway line, more than 60 miles long, linking Reading and Heathrow in the west to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east – adding 10% to London’s commuter rail capacity – and set to carry around 200 million passengers a year, will be a fantastic achievement. Its 13-mile-long tunnels run more than 100ft under the capital’s streets, navigating everything from underground sewers to the deep foundations of skyscrapers with superb engineering aplomb. The longstanding reproach is that Britain can’t do grand projects. Crossrail, now christened the Elizabeth line, is proof that we can.

He then goes on to criticise the structure of the construction project, the salaries paid and the current Government.

But I suspect that in a few yeas time, Hutton, Rifkind and myself could have a quiet pint and say Crossrail got it right.

Current Developments That Will Help Bridge The Delay

It’s not as if, no new transport developments won’t happen in the time before Crossrail eventually opens in Autumn 2019.

Trains Providing More Capacity

These trains will be providing extra capacity.

  • New Class 717 trains will be running on the services to and from Moorgate station.
  • New Class 710 trains will be running on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line.
  • New Class 710 trains will be running on the Lea Valley Lines to Cheshunt, Chingford and Enfield Town stations.
  • New Class 710 trains will be running on the Watford DC Line.
  • Cascaded Class 378 trains and new Class 710 trains will be running extra services on the original circular service of the London Overground.
  • More Class 345 trains will be providing all of Crossrail’s services to Heathrow and Shenfield.
  • New Class 720 trains or something similar or older, will be providing four trains per hour (tph) between Stratford and Meridian Water stations.

Note that before the end of 2019, nearly a hundred new trains will be delivered.

New And Rebuilt Stations

There will be some new or rebuilt stations.

  • Acton Main Line
  • Forest Gate
  • Gidea Park
  • Hayes & Harlington
  • Manor Park
  • Maryland
  • Meridian Water
  • Northumberland Park
  • Tottenham Hale
  • West Drayton
  • West Ealing
  • West Hampstead

This list may contain other stations.

Underground Improvements

There will also be Underground improvements.

  • The Central Line Improvements Programme will increase capacity and reliability on the Central Line.
  • The Metropolitan Line is being upgraded with new signalling.
  • Up to ten Underground stations may be made step-free before the end of 2019.

The improvements to the Central and Metropolitan Lines, through Central London will compensate for the delaying of Crossrail’s core tunnel.

A Few Questions

I have to ask questions.

Will The High Meads Loop Be Used?

This would provide an excellent interchange between the following services.

  • Local services to Hertford East and Bishops Stortford stations,  including the new STAR service, along the West Anglia Main Line.
  • Stansted Express and Cambridge services to and from Stratford.
  • Fast Greater Anglia services to Chelmsford, Colchester, Southend and further, along the Great Eastern Main Line.
  • Crossrail services between Liverpool Street and Shenfield.
  • Central Line services.

There is also only a short, but tortuous walk to the Jubilee Line for London Bridge and Waterloo stations and Central London.

Based on the experience of the Wirral Loop under Liverpool, which handles sixteen tph, I believe that the High Meads Loop could handle a substantial number of trains, that instead of using the crowded lines to Liverpool Street station, would use the new uncrowded route from Tottenham Hale to Stratford via Lea Bridge station.

Moving services to Stratford from Liverpool Street would also free up platforms at the major terminus, which could be used to provide extra services on the Great Eastern Main Line.

The extra capacity might also enable the lengthening of the Crossrail platforms at Liverpool Street to be extended, so they could take full-length Class 345 trains.

No new extra infrastructure would be required at Stratford, although in future, a platform to connect the loop to Stratford International station would be nice.

I will be very surprised if the High Meads Loop is not used creatively in the future.

Will Some New Pedestrian Tunnels At Stations Like Liverpool Street And Paddington Be Opened?

I use Moorgate and Liverpool Street stations regularly.

There are blue walls everywhere, behind which the Crossrail infrastructure is hiding.

I do hope Crossrail and Transport for London are looking at the possibilities of using completed infrastructure to create new walking routes in stations to ease congestion.

Conclusion

Crossrail was designed to be opened in four phases over two years.

I am drawn to the position, that because of various resource shortages and the testing of trains, perhaps the project could have been arranged as perhaps a series of smaller projects delivered over a longer period of time.

 

 

 

 

 

September 4, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Hackney Wick Station – 12th May 2018

The builders now seem to be on the home straight at Hackney Wick station.

The fitting out is well underway on the platforms and it appears that the ground level works are progressing.

Because of today’s weather, I didn’t really want to have a look at ground level.

Building A Station Without Closing The Railway Line

After the initial closure at Easter 2017, to install the subway, which I wrote about in A Tough Way To Spend Easter, I’m pretty certain, there has not been a major closure of the line and work to build the station has continued, whilst trains have continued to run on the railway and stop at the platforms for passengers.

I suspect that project managers have learned a lot from this project.

May 12, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment