The Anonymous Widower

New £3.6bn London Transport Funding Deal Agreed

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

These five paragraphs outline the deal.

A new £3.6bn government bailout to keep Tube trains, railways, buses and trams running in London has been agreed.

The package includes almost £1.2bn of upfront funding for Transport for London (TfL) to secure the long-term future of the capital’s transport network.

It is the sixth bailout for TfL after its revenues plummeted in the pandemic.

The funds will allow Piccadilly line trains to be built as well as upgrades to three Tube lines.

TfL Commissioner Andy Byford described the deal as “hard won” but Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, who is also chair of TfL, branded it “far from ideal”.

I have a few thoughts.

Will The North And Scotland Like It?

In my travels around the UK, when I ask someone on a bus,train or tram about their new transport funding, I often get a reply something like.

It’s good, but London gets more.

I don’t think other areas of the UK will like £3.6 billion, especially after Crossrail’s over budget and late construction.

Driverless Trains

The BBC article says this about driverless trains.

The 16-page settlement letter includes a commitment to “press forward a joint programme on the implementation of driverless trains on the London Underground”.

These seven paragraphs in the  settlement letter say this about driverless trains.

29. TfL’s record of modernisation and innovation should not leave it behind other European
networks, which are achieving significant operational efficiencies through driverless trains.
Accordingly, DfT and TfL will press forward with the joint programme on the implementation of
driverless trains on the London Underground, recognising TfL’s safety, regulatory and statutory
responsibilities.
30. Taking the findings of the network review to the next stage, TfL will continue to work with DfT
to develop the evidence required to make a strong case for investment in driverless trains on the
London Underground. This will include but not be limited to the work set out below.
31. TfL will work with DfT to assess the case for introducing GoA4 on the London Underground
network, taking into account opportunities and risks.
32. TfL will undertake further studies and wider research to support progressing driverless trains
on the lines where the case(s) are strongest.
33. In addition, TfL should continue working with DfT to make progress developing and testing
innovative technology, where it can save money in the delivery of driverless trains.
34. Based on the findings of the above, TfL will work with DfT to develop a business case for
driverless trains as necessary.
35. TfL will ensure senior representation on the joint programme and will actively support this work
through the provision of staff resources, expertise and access to both the London Underground
network and any information sources. TfL’s participation should seek to explore all options in a
collaborative and open manner and work with the programme on an implementation plan. HMG
will provide resource funding to TfL to enable it to support the programme’s work

Around 1970, I worked at ICI in sections who were at the forefront in creating computer-controlled chemical plants.

I also remember that Simulation magazine gave a detailed description about how London Underground’s Victoria Line worked using automation, which colleagues thought was an excellent system.

The trouble with driverless trains, is that they have got too political.

  • You have the Government wanting to introduce driverless trains for reasons of efficiency and to follow the best technological practice in Europe.
  • You have the Unions totally against it for their obvious reasons.
  • You have the Mayor of London grudgingly accepting it.

I take a practical attitude to automation based on the views of world-class automation engineers, I worked with in the 1960s and 1970s.

  • In an airliner, most of the flying, landing and control of the aircraft is automatic, with the pilot monitoring everything on instruments.
  • Much of the automation I was involved with all those years ago, was about ensuring optimal operation of plant and machinery and ensuring that the safety margins were not exceeded.

These two paragraphs from Wikipedia, explain the operation of the Victoria Line.

On opening, the line was equipped with a fixed-block Automatic Train Operation system (ATO). The train operator closed the train doors and pressed a pair of “start” buttons and, if the way ahead was clear, the ATO drives the train at a safe speed to the next station. At any point, the driver could switch to manual control if the ATO failed. The system, which operated until 2012, made the Victoria line the world’s first full-scale automatic railway.

The Victoria line runs faster trains than other Underground lines because it has fewer stops, ATO running and modern design. Train speeds can reach up to 50 miles per hour (80 km/h). A common method used by north London residents to visit the West End is to take the Northern line Bank branch, change platforms at Euston, and continue on faster Victoria line trains. The original signalling has been replaced with a more modern ATO system from Westinghouse Rail Systems incorporating ‘Distance to Go Radio’ and more than 400 track circuits. The track operator, London Underground Limited, claimed it is the world’s first ATO-on-ATO upgrade. The new system allowed a revised timetable to be introduced in February 2013, allowing up to 33 trains per hour instead of 27. In combination with new, faster trains, the line’s capacity increased by 21%, equivalent to an extra 10,000 passengers per hour.

Note.

  1. I very much approve of this type of automation, which fits well with the operation of metro services.
  2. The driver is very much in control, as he initiates and can stop all train movements.
  3. The original automation in the 1960s, used thermionic valves and relays.
  4. I believe that automation like this can be exceptionally safe.

As the extract says, Automatic Train Operation system (ATO) increases the frequency of trains, runs them faster and increases capacity.

The only problem is how do you sell it to the unions.

 

August 30, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

UK In Hydrogen Breakthrough As New £26m Deal With Japan To Help Tackle Energy Crisis

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Hydrogen Central.

These two paragraphs explain the deal.

The UK has received a major boost to its hydrogen ambitions as a Japanese energy company is set to sign a £26million deal to develop green hydrogen projects in Wales.

The local council of Bridgend in Wales has signed a memorandum of understanding with Marubeni, a Japanese green energy specialist company. The agreement sets out proposals to develop a new 5MW-class green hydrogen initiative after the company decided to pick Wales as the preferred UK location for a green hydrogen demonstrator project.

These two paragraphs describe how the hydrogen will be used.

Through this deal, the Welsh Government hopes that the project would generate clean fuel for fleet vehicles ranging from council gritters to recycling and refuse collection lorries.

The company is also trying to figure out how hydrogen fuel might be used to heat buildings such as schools, residential homes, and local swimming pools.

We need more projects like these to cut carbon emissions.

When is Sadiq Khan going to produce a hydrogen strategy for London, to help clean up the city’s polluted air?

August 15, 2022 Posted by | Hydrogen | , , , , | 2 Comments

The Mayor Of London Is Pruning The North London Bus Network Again

Sadiq Khan is proposing to cut these bus routes.

  • 4 – Archway and Blackfriars – North London
  • 11 – Fulham Town Hall and Appold Street – North London
  • 12 – Oxford Circus Stn / Margaret Street and Dulwich Library – Cross-River
  • 14 – Putney Heath and Russell Square – North London
  • 16 – Mora Road and Victoria Bus Station – North London
  • 24 – Grosvenor Road and Royal Free Hospital – North London
  • 31 – White City Bus Station and Baynham Street – North London
  • 45 – Newington Causeway and Atkins Road / New Park Road – South London
  • 72 – Brunel Road and Hammersmith Bridge Road – North London
  • 74 – Putney Exchange and Baker Street – North London
  • 78 -Shoreditch High Street Station and St Mary’s Road – Cross-River
  • 242 – Aldgate Station and Homerton Hospital – North London
  • 349 – Glyn Road and Rookwood Road – North London
  • 521 – Waterloo Station and London Bridge Station – North London
  • C3 – Clapham Junction Station / Falcon Road  Warwick Road Tesco – Cross-River
  • D7 – All Saints Church and Mile End Station – North London

Note.

  1. The 74 is one of the recommended ways to get to Zoo.
  2. The 242 is my preferred method to get between Dalston and the excellent Homerton Hospital.
  3. The 349 is probably important to the Jewish Community in Stamford Hill.
  4. 521 appears to be a very good link between the two terminal stations. Especially, if you have a heavy case or a baby in a buggy.
  5. I have judged whether a bus is North London, South London or Cross-River from TfL’s maps of each route.

I suspect others will have their own objections.

These are my totals.

  • North London – 12
  • South London – 1
  • Cross-River – 3

These are definitely the cuts that would be imposed by someone with their roots firmly in the South, who feels that there is no valid reason to cross the Thames.

But then with these cuts, he won’t get complaints from South Londoners.

 

June 1, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 8 Comments

Mayor Announces Proposals For London-Wide Pollution Charge

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

These paragraphs explain the changes.

The mayor of London has announced plans to extend the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) across the whole of London.

Under the current scheme, drivers of older, more polluting vehicles are being charged to enter London’s north and south-circular orbital roads.

New proposals will see the scheme extend to the edges of London’s boroughs in 2023.

I believe in this, as in many things, that the carrot is more powerful than the stick.

So we need to encourage people to change to electric or hydrogen-powered vehicles.

  • There are not enough electric charging points.
  • There are not enough hydrogen filling stations.
  • Installing and building more might encourage people to go zero-carbon.

But surely, the biggest drop in pollution would come from encouraging large London-based fleets of trucks to go zero-carbon. These would include.

  • Refuse trucks.
  • Cement trucks.
  • Skip trucks.
  • Large trucks used to transport aggregates and spoil from building sites.

It is unlikely, that many of these will ever be electric. The batteries would be just too heavy.

But many will go hydrogen or dual fuel, where they can use diesel and hydrogen.

I think there are various measures that would encourage the companies running these trucks to switch to hydrogen.

  • Following Birmingham, which has bought a few hydrogen buses and installed an electrolyser to provide their hydrogen fuel, which will be available to all users.
  • Once there is a good network of hydrogen stations, this might encourage owners of fleets of trucks to convert to hydrogen.
  • Once owners of taxis and Chelsea tractors, see lots of trucks and buses running on hydrogen, would they switch?

If I was the Mayor, I would offer a Mayor’s Prize to the company or borough, that has done most to cut pollution and/or carbon emissions.

Some mayors would enjoy giving out that prize.

 

March 4, 2022 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Should We Be Given More Discretion Over Mask Wearing?

I am a bad breather and have been so for most of my life.

I suspect, it’s because I grew up in London smogs and that ruined my breathing.

But my father and his father were also bad breathers and my grandfather died before he was forty of pneumonia.

So when I go on public transport, I find the following.

  • I have difficulty climbing stairs with my mask on.
  • I can’t wait to get out of the station or bus to take off my mask and put it in my pocket.
  • Often in London during the day, there is only a few people on the bus or train and we are all sitting there quietly at least three or four metres apart.
  • If I explain my breathing to staff, they will let me remove my mask. I have done this a coule of times, when I have to climb stairs to get out of a station.

Sometimes too, I’ll be on a crowded Underground train for part of my journey, but at other times, I’ll be one of perhaps three in an air-conditioned bus.

As of Thursday rules will say, that we don’t need masks in England, but the Mayor has said we must wear them on public transport in London.

I would like to see some personal discretion, so that some like me would feel more comfortable on public transport, when it is less busy.

January 24, 2022 Posted by | Health, Transport/Travel | , , , | 9 Comments

TfL May Need To Close An Entire Tube Line Due To Funding Crunch

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Ian’s Visits.

This is the first paragraph.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has issued a warning that an entire Tube line could close if the Government does not grant TfL the emergency and long-term funding it needs to maintain the capital’s transport services.

Ian, then speculates about which line would close.

I questioned his fare freeze before he was elected in Has Sadiq Khan Got His Sums Right? and very much feel that the politicians handling of Crossrail has caused its late opening.

Khan should realise you reap what you sow!

December 1, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 11 Comments

Mayor Warns TfL Services May Be Cut Due To A Funding Gap

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

The Mayor of London has warned tube and bus services may be axed due to a £1.9 billion funding gap.

Sadiq Khan claims bus services could be cut by a fifth and tube services by almost 10%.

If these cuts should happen, I would seriously have to think about moving out of London.

I knew that his bribe of a Fare Freeze would end in tears for someone, but not for everyone.

November 17, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 6 Comments

Bakerloo Line Extension | TfL Instructs Consultants To Work Up Tunnel Designs

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on New Civil Engineer.

This project is the Mayor’s pet, as it is good for those that vote for him in South London.

But I believe that the West London Orbital Railway should have a higher priority as it serves an area that is in massive need of improvement in public transport and can be delivered quickly and for a lot less money.

November 1, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 5 Comments

Has London Done Its Best To Organise Friday’s England and Scotland Match?

Scotland are coming to play England on Friday, with the match starting at 20:00.

These are my thoughts.

Travelling To Wembley On The Day

This article on The Times is entitled England v Scotland: Ticketless Fans Urged To Stay Away From Wembley.

These are the first two paragraphs.

Thousands of ticketless Scotland fans are set to descend on London for the England game on Friday amid growing concern about the lack of a Covid-secure fan zone.

Nearly 3,000 Scottish fans have tickets for the clash at Wembley but the Scottish Football Supporters Association expects that twice as many will travel south. Some estimate that the number could be as high as 20,000.

The article also says the following about trains on Friday, that would get you to London in time for the match.

  • Fifteen trains  from Glasgow are full.
  • Most of the seventeen trains from Edinburgh are full.

Using the capacity of the trains, I wouldn’t be surprised to see 20,000 Scottish fans coming by train.

But there are other ways to come.

  • Scotland now has a good rail services to places like Doncaster, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Peterborough and York. All of these places have lots of hotels and a good train service to London.
  • Some will fly.
  • How many will come by coach?
  • Personally, I’ve driven between London and Edinburgh and Glasgow several times and with two nominated drivers, who didn’t drink, it’s an easy drive and can be done in under six hours.
  • London also has a large expatriate Scottish population. How many will go or want to go to the match?
  • Plenty of hotel rooms in London are available for Thursday and Friday night at a reasonable price.

Wembley stadium  is also well-served by public transport and you could park at somewhere like Milton Keynes and get the train to the stadium.

Getting Home

I suspect many will need a hotel room, but it does look that there are plenty available.

Those who’ve driven down, would just pick up their car and drive home through the night.

But will many be intending to sleep rough somewhere?

It’s Been A Long Time!

It’s been a long time since Scotland reached a major finals and it was 1996, when they last played England in the finals of a major tournament.

Surely, this will increase the number of fans, who will turn-up in London without tickets!

Scots Always Travel If They Can!

I am old enough to have watched Celtic with the 1967 European Cup in Lisbon in on a black-and-white television.

They certainly travelled then and amused everybody with their drunken antics after the match.

The last time England played Scotland at Wembley was a friendly in 2013.

This report on the BBC, which is entitled Trafalgar Square Scots Party Leaves 10,000 Beer Cans, describes the antics in Trafalgar Square.

This is a paragraph from the BBC report.

Westminster City Council’s Leith Penny said: “Our crews worked hard round the clock to get London back to normal for our residents and businesses this morning.”

That was mild compared to what a spokesman for Westminster City Council said on the BBC.

I remember he compared the drunken Scots to the well-behaved Dortmund and Bayern Munich fans, who had taken over the square in May. I wrote about that in Trafalgar Square In Yellow.

Everybody is Demob-Happy!

After nearly two years of the pandemic, many are demob-happy and football supporters on both sides will be looking to get to or near the match.

How Many Scots Will Turn Up?

I quoted earlier that 20,000 could turn up!

As my mother would say! “And the rest!”

There Will Be No Fan Zone

This press release from the Mayor of London is entitled EURO 2020 Fan Zone To Host Key Workers For England’s Group Games.

  • All England games, semi-finals and final to be screened
  • Exclusive key worker access for first two, socially-distanced, Fan Zone matches as mark of gratitude from Mayor for their work during pandemic
  • Plan for up to 9,500 fans for Czech Republic group clash if Covid restrictions lifted on June 21
  • Renowned artist JR will transform the city with his epic black and white portraits to celebrate competition.
  • The Fan Zone will operate a zero tolerance, ‘one strike and you’re out’ policy towards racism and other forms of discrimination

I predict there will be tens of thousands of angry Scotsmen.

So What Has Sadiq Khan Got To Say?

The Times has these two paragraphs.

The mayor’s office urged Scottish fans without tickets to stay at home. A spokesman for Khan said: “It is not possible to hold a fan zone for Scottish fans in London due to the Covid restrictions . . . fans should only travel to the capital if they have a ticket or a safe place to watch the match.”

A source close to the mayor added: “We would have liked to put up a zone for Scottish fans and increased capacity at Trafalgar Square but the licence from Westminster [council] required social distancing so we could not do more. Central government would also have needed to make an exemption to allow it to happen but they have not.”

Typically, Khan seems to be blaming everybody except himself.

 

 

 

 

 

June 15, 2021 Posted by | Sport | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Would A Mutant Many-Parent Child Help To Solve London’s Transport Problems?

London needs to increase the capacity of its public transport system, as the City continues to get larger and larger.

Current Major Projects

There are only three major rail projects ongoing in London at the present time.

The Bank Station Upgrade

The Bank Station Upgrade appears to be progressing well, albeit perhaps it’s a bit late due to the pandemic.

It is a complex project and from what I have heard and observed, it has been well designed and planned.

The Barking Riverside Extension

As with the Bank Station Upgrade the Overground extension to the new Barking Riverside station, appears to be going reasonably well.

But compared to that project, it is a relatively simple project, built mainly in the open air, with no tunneling.

Crossrail

Crossrail is in trouble, after what many believe was a very good tunnelling phase of the project.

But then tunnels under London usually seem to go well. I can remember the Victoria Line tunnelling and many other under London since the 1960s and all of these tunnels seem to have been dug without trouble. As I write, there don’t seem to be any tunneling problems with the Thames Tideway Tunnel.

Crossrail now has been reduced to a series of station builds and rebuilds, some of which are as large as the Bank Station Upgrade, with other ongoing projects like the testing of trains and systems.

So why are some of these stations running late in their delivery?

If you walk along the route of Crossrail in the City of London and through Clerkenwell and the West End, it is one massive building side as developers raise massive clusters of new developments around and above the Crossrail stations.

The picture shows Farrington station’s Eastern entrance, with a new development on top.

This one wasn’t a big one, but it went up in record time.

These buildings are often funded by Sovereign Wealth Funds, who want their buildings finished ASAP and as they have bottomless pockets, they are prepared to pay more to get the builders and tradesmen they need.

And where did they get the workers from? Other projects, including Crossrail.

This problem happened in Aberdeen at the height of the oil boom in the last century.

I also think that Brexit worsened the problem, as workers from mainland EU moved to large projects closer to home, like Stuttgart 21 and the new Berlin Brandenburg airport, that were both very much in trouble and could have been offering premium salaries as well!

The solution would have been to phase developments so that the limited pool of workers was not exhausted.

But that probably wouldn’t have suited the developers and politicians for all sorts of reasons.

  • An uncompleted building doesn’t bring in money and jobs.
  • Early completion must improve chances of letting the building.
  • Delaying the building would probably have meant fewer holidays for politicians in exotic locations.

Hopefully, a comprehensive enquiry into the lateness of Crossrail will provide answers.

High Speed Two

High Speed Two is to my mind a London local project. But only in a secondary way!

  • Rebuilding Euston station will improve Underground connections and interchange at Euston and Euston Square stations.
  • It is claimed by High Speed Two, that the rebuilt Euston station will create 16000 jobs and 2200 homes.
  • High Speed Two will enable massive development at Old Oak Common, with tens of thousands of homes and jobs.
  • Old Oak Common station will be a very important rail hub in North-West London.

With seventeen trains per hour (tph) between Euston and Old Oak Common will High Speed Two attract local traffic?

  • I suspect High Speed Two between Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly and between Birmingham Interchange and Birmingham Curzon Street will also attract local traffic.
  • I’ve used TGVs between Nice and Antibes.
  • Tourists might visit, just like they did and still do at the Olympic Park.
  • Many Londoners will join High Speed Two at Old Oak Common.

Some wag will suggest putting it on the Tube Map. But is it such a stupid idea?

Where Does London Need More Rail Services?

Having lived in London on and off for over seventy years, I feel the worst areas for rail links are probably.

  • North West London
  • South East London
  • South Central London between Wimbledon and Croydon.
  • South West London

Note.

  1. Over the years, there is no doubt that East and North London have improved considerably, with the development of the East London, North London and Gospel Oak to Barking Lines.
  2. Thameslink has been improved in North London and now it is being supported with improvements to the Northern City Line. Both routes now have new Siemens trains, which give a whole new dimension to using ironing-boards as seats.
  3. Crossrail will produce major improvements in West, East and South East London.
  4. Building of a new Penge Interchange station, which I wrote about in Penge Interchange could improve routes to and from South East London.
  5. Hopefully the work in recent years at Waterloo will improve suburban services out of Waterloo. In An Analysis Of Waterloo Suburban Services Proposed To Move To Crossrail 2, I showed that four tph could be run to Chessington South, Epsom, Hampton Court and Shepperton stations.

It looks like North West and South Central London are missing out.

How Can Services Be Improved In North West London?

There are radial routes from the centre of London to the suburbs.

Starting from the North and going to the West, there are the following lines.

When I used to live at Cockfosters as a child,  to visit my many cousins in North West London, there was no alternative but to use a bus and take well over an hour each way.

There are now some circular rail routes in London but nothing in the North West of the capital.

The Dudding Hill Line And The West London Orbital Railway

But there is the little-used freight route called Dudding Hill Line.

  • It runs between Cricklewood on the Midland Main Line and Acton Central on the North London Line.
  • It is four miles of double-track railway.

This YouTube video shows a cab ride from Acton to Cricklewood.

Plans exist to turn it into the West London Orbital Railway, which will run two services.

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

Note.

  1. The proposed frequency of both services is four tph.
  2. There would be some stations to be built, but the track exists.
  3. There would be no new tunnels.
  4. The route is technically feasible.
  5. The route would connect West London to High Speed Two.
  6. There would be little disruption whilst it was built.
  7. The services could be run by dual-voltage battery-electric trains charged on the electrification at both ends of the route.
  8. The scheme represents a high value for money, with a benefit-cost ratio (BCR) of 2.2.

On the other hand, the scheme has two serious problems, as far as the current London Mayor is concerned.

  • Transport for London has no money, partly because of London’s Fare Freeze.
  • The project is not in South London.

This important and value-for-money project will not be built, whilst Sadiq Khan is still Mayor of London.

Harlesden Interchange

I believe that if we get the interchanges right on the West London Orbital Railway correct we can do things like.

  • Increase the benefit cost ratio.
  • Link the route to South London to make the Mayor a bit happier about the North London Scheme.

This Google Map shows Harlesden station.

Note.

  1. The Bakerloo Line/Watford DC Line running North-West/South-East through Harlesden station.
  2. The West Coast Main Line in the Southern section of the map.
  3. The Dudding Hill Line running North-South across the map.

Platforms will be built on the Dudding Hill Line to connect that would probably be new or extended platforms in the current Harlesden station to enable interchange between the West London Orbital and the Watford DC Lines.

I also think there is a possibility that platforms could be added to the slow tracks of the West Coast Main Line, so that suburban services into London Euston can also connect to the West London Orbital Line.

It would also enable a connection between Southern’s Clapham Junction and Milton Keynes service and the West London Orbital Railway.

Looking at this from various angles, I think that an architect good at designing three-dimensional structures could develop a quality Harlesden Interchange station.

Neasden Interchange

Like Harlesden, Neasden is another possibility for a comprehensive interchange.

This Google Map shows Neasden station.

Note.

  1. There are a lot of lines going through Neasden station.
  2. The Dudding Hill Line goes across the South-East corner of the map.
  3. There is plenty of space in the area.

This map from cartometro.com shows the lines in the area.

Note.

  1. The Dudding Hill Line is indicated by the former Dudding Hill station.
  2. The red tracks are Metropolitan Line tracks.
  3. The silver tracks are Jubilee Line tracks.
  4. The Southerly pair of lines through Neasden and Dollis Hill stations are Chiltern’s lines into Marylebone.
  5. The Chiltern tracks divide to the West of Neasden station, with the Aylesbury line following the other tracks and the Chiltern Main Line diverging to the West.
  6. London’s largest Underground Depot at Neasden, lies to the North-West in an area of London noted for few merits with the North Circular Road passing through.

I wonder, if the station and the depot offers a unique opportunity to offer large scale additions to London’s housing stock over the top of a rebuilt station and depot.

This Google Map shows the wider area.

Note.

  1. Much of the depot appears to be open-air stabling for trains.
  2. The North Circular Road passes North-South between the depot and Neasden station.
  3. The Dudding Hill Line cuts across the South-East corner of the map.
  4. This corner of the map is labelled as Dudden Hill.
  5. According to Wikipedia, Dudding Hill is considered a more genteel spelling of Dudden Hill and could be as old as 1544.

It looks as if it would be relatively easy to develop over the top of the depot to create housing, industrial or commercial properties.

But why stop there and cover both the North Circular Road and the six tracks through Neasden station?

Neasden station could be rebuilt into a station with platforms on the following lines.

  • Metropolitan Line
  • Jubilee Line
  • Chiltern Lines
  • Dudding Hill Lines

Note.

  1. I estimate that Chiltern has a train about every six minutes, so some could stop.
  2. There might be space for a bay platform for Chiltern.

Neasden could be a major housing and transport hub.

  • There could be large amounts of parking.
  • Road access would be good.
  • It would have good rail connections.
  • It could have a bus interchange.
  • London needs housing.

It might even be an alternative to Chiltern’s plan for a West Hampstead Interchange.

The Mayor of London, Transport for London and the Borough of Brent need to be bold!

Improvements To Chiltern’s Routes

Chiltern Railways have some plans that could improve services in North West London.

Using The Acton-Northolt Line

Wikipedia says this about using the Acton-Northolt Line to access new platforms at Old Oak Common station.

Upgrading the Acton–Northolt line (formerly the “New North Main Line”) to new platforms at Old Oak Common. This upgrade will also extend to London Paddington to increase capacity on the Chiltern Main Line as there is no room to expand the station at Marylebone.

This scheme has merit.

  • The platforms would be connected to the Chiltern Main Line along the route of a partly-disused railway.
  • The route could be double-tracked.
  • There must be space for at least two new platforms.
  • The new platforms could easily handle four tph.
  • There may be a case for some new stations.

The scheme could add valuable extra capacity for Chiltern.

A Chiltern Metro

Wikipedia says this about a  proposed metro service between Marylebone and West Ruislip stations.

  • The Metro would have a frequency of four tph.
  • It would call at Wembley Stadium, Sudbury & Harrow Road, Sudbury Hill Harrow, Northolt Park and South Ruislip.
  • The service would require a reversing facility at West Ruislip.
  • There would need to be passing loops at Sudbury Hill Harrow, and  Wembley Stadium.

Given that the Chiltern Metro was first proposed over a decade ago, perhaps the concept could be increased in scope.

  • Housing and other developments along the route may suggest that a station further out like High Wycombe might be a better terminal.
  • ERTMS in-cab digital signalling is likely to be installed at some time, which would decrease headways between trains and allow more services.
  • Electrification is likely in some form before 2040 and this will improve train performance.
  • If Neasden station were to be rebuilt, as a comprehensive transport and residential development, I believe that this Metro service should also call at Neasden, as it would complement the West London Orbital Railway.

I believe that a review of the Chiltern Metro may mean, that an improved version is worth building.

Improvements To The Milton Keynes And Clapham Junction Service

I feel that this service could be key in improving services between North London and South London via the West London Line and High Speed Two’s station at Old Oak Common.

Currently, this service is as follows.

  • It runs between Milton Keynes and Clapham Junction stations.
  • It has a frequency of one tph.
  • It calls at Bletchley, Leighton Buzzard, Tring, Berkhamsted, Hemel Hempstead, Watford Junction, Harrow & Wealdstone, Wembley Central, Shepherd’s Bush, Kensington (Olympia), West Brompton and Imperial Wharf stations.
  • The service used to extend to South Croydon via Wandsworth Common, Balham, Streatham Common, Norbury, Thornton Heath, Selhurst and East Croydon.
  • It uses Class 377 trains.
  • It shares parts of the route with the London Overground.

I also think it has various issues and questions with respect to the future.

  • The Class 377 trains are only 100 mph units, whereas the outer suburban trains on the West Coast Main Line are 110 mph Class 350 trains, which will soon be replaced by 110 mph Class 730 trains. Do the slower trains cause timetabling problems?
  • Is one tph enough?
  • The route doesn’t serve High Speed Two at Old Oak Common station.
  • Is the service run by the right operator?
  • What is the ideal Southern terminal?

These are my thoughts on the various issues.

The Service As A North-South Link

A friend, who lives in South London has told me, that if you go to an event at Wembley stadium the route is busy.

On the other hand, I’ve used it at midday on a Tuesday and found the trains empty.

But developed properly it could connect the following.

  • Milton Keynes Central
  • Bletchley for the East West Rail Link
  • Watford for the West Coast Main Line to the North
  • Wembley Central for Wembley Stadium and other entertainments
  • Willesden Junction for the North London Line
  • Hythe Road for High Speed Two, Crossrail and the Great Western Railway
  • Shepherd’s Bush for the shopping.
  • Clapham Junction for most of South London and the South of England

It would be a very useful cross-London route to complement Thameslink and the East London Line.

The Frequency

The current Milton Keynes and Clapham Junction has a frequency of one tph.

This may be enough for some parts of the route, as other services also provide services.

But many would argue, that perhaps South of Watford Junction, the service needs to be increased to connect the area to Old Oak Common and Clapham Junction.

I feel that High Speed Two, Crossrail and the Great Western Railway give so much connectivity, that between Clapham Junction and Willesden Junction needs a frequency of at least eight tph.

As the North London Line and the Watford DC Line are working at a frequency of four tph, this could indicate that a four tph direct service Watford Junction and Clapham Junction be ideal. Perhaps, it could continue North to Milton Keynes with a frequency of two tph.

The Trains

I am absolutely certain, that the full service needs to be operated by dual voltage trains, that are capable of running at 110 mph.

The Class 350/1 trains of West Midlands Trains would probably be ideal for the full service.

  • They are dual voltage trains.
  • They are 110 mph trains.
  • They have a long distance interior.

They are being replaced with new Class 730 trains, so would be available.

If some services were running only as far North as Watford Junction, these could be either Class 378 or Class 710 trains of the London Overground.

The Connection To The West London Line And High Speed Two

This map from Wikipedia by Cnbrb shows the latest iteration of the lines at Old Oak Common station.

Note.

  1. The green route is taken by the Milton Keynes and Clapham Junction trains.
  2. The bright blue is High Speed Two.
  3. The purple is Crossrail.
  4. The orange is the Overground
  5. Hythe Road station is proposed for the West London Line to connect to Old Oak Common station for High Speed Two.
  6. Hythe Road station will have a bay platform to turn trains from the South.
  7. Old Oak Common Lane station is proposed for the North London Line to connect to Old Oak Common station for High Speed Two.

But where is the connection between the Milton Keynes and Clapham Junction service and Old Oak Common station for High Speed Two?

  • Access from the South is not a problem as the Overground can be used to Hythe Road station.
  • Extra services from the South can be run to and from the bay platform at Hythe Road station.
  • Access from the East is not a problem as the Overground can be used to Hythe Road station.
  • How do passengers go between say Wembley Central and Heathrow?

In addition for access from the West is the Overground can be used to Old Oak Common Lane station.

But as things stand at the moment the Milton Keynes and Clapham Junction service bypasses Hythe Road station and the only ways to go from Milton Keynes to Old Oak Common station for either High Speed Two, Crossrail or the Great Western is to do one of the following.

  • Change to the Watford DC Line at Watford Junction, Harrow & Wealdstone or Wembley Central and then change to the Overground at Willesden Junction for either Old Oak Common Lane or Hythe Road station.
  • Continue South to Shepherd’s Bush station, cross over to the other platform and then come back to Hythe Road station.
  • Go via Euston station. OK for High Speed Two, but not for Crossrail or the Great Western.

They cannot be serious!

I hope that there is a cunning plan to enable the Milton Keynes and Clapham Junction service to connect.

Whilst on the subject of connections at Old Oak Common, where is the promised connection of Crossrail to the West Coast Main Line?

Were all these connections just kicked into the long grass and quietly forgotten, as they were deemed too difficult and/or expensive?

I think serious questions need to be asked about the design of Crossrail and High Speed Two at Old Oak Common.

Why weren’t Crossrail and High Speed Two designed to connect directly to the London Overground at Willesden Junction station perhaps by the use of a North South people mover serving the following lines?

  • Bakerloo, Watford DC, West Coast Main and West London Orbital Lines at a rebuilt Harlesden station.
  • London Overground at the high-level Willesden Junction station.
  • High Speed Two
  • Crossrail and the Great Western Railway
  • The new Chiltern platforms.
  • Central Line at East Acton station.

Note.

  1. Hythe Road and Old Oak Common stations would not be needed.
  2. The Milton Keynes and Clapham Junction service would call additionally at the rebuilt Harlesden station.

The current design of Old Oak Common stinks like a horse designed by a committee!

The Northern Terminal

I suggested earlier that some trains use Watford Junction and others use Milton Keynes Central.

Both stations have the capacity and the connectivity.

The Southern Terminal

In the last ten years, South Croydon, East Croydon and Clapham Junction have been used as the Southern terminal.

Thameslink seems to have chosen its various terminals to satisfaction of the travelling public, so perhaps the same method or personnel should be used.

The Operator

The Gibb Report said that this service should be transferred to the London Overground and I wrote about this proposal in Gibb Report – East Croydon – Milton Keynes Route Should Be Transferred To London Overground.

This is one suggestion, but I do wonder, if it should be transferred to West Midlands Trains and run in conjunction with their West Coast Main Line services.

  • The service needs 110 mph trains.
  • Timetabling and operation should be easier.
  • London Overground trains don’t have a long-distance interior.

On the other hand, trains running between Watford Junction and Clapham Junction would probably be better if they were London Overground trains.

Conclusion

I believe that by using the current network and some modern trains and signalling, the passenger services to the West of the capital can be substantially improved.

 

 

 

 

May 1, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments