The Anonymous Widower

Plans To Reopen The Brentford To Southall Railway

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

I have posted on the Brentford Branch Line several times previously and Ian says this about Hounslow Council’s thinking.

The council has been working on a scheme for some years to resurrect the line, with a new station built in Brentford and passenger services restored to Southall. A key factor for the plans is that Southall will then be on the Elizabeth line, which they hope will drive a lot more traffic on the spur down to Brentford.

In order to part-fund the 4-mile railway, Hounslow Council has now agreed to undertake a full business case to look at introducing a Workplace Parking Levy (WPL) within the Great West Corridor (GWC).

In my trips to document the updating of Syon Lane station with a new step-free footbridge, I have talked to several people, who would find a rail link to Southall useful.

Ian also says this about the latest situation.

As part of the proposal, the council has also commissioned Network Rail to begin a detailed study (known as ‘GRIP 4’) on building the new train link from Brentford to Southall, following encouraging early studies into the feasibility of such a link.

At least, this will give the Hounslow a list of all the problems and a cost estimate.

A few of my thoughts.

What Should Be The Frequency Of The Service?

The current truncated Brentford Branch Line is mainly single track, but from my helicopter, it appears that there would be space to add an additional track for as much of the route as required.

Preferably, there should be a service on the branch of at least two trains per hour (tph). Although, ideally four tph is much better, as it attracts passengers in large numbers.

It should be noted that from December 2019, there will be four tph on Crossrail calling at at Southall station all day. Connections should surely be well-arranged.

Four tph would be possible between two single platforms at Southall and Brentford, but would require selective doubling or passing loops to accommodate the service and the freight trains going to Brentford.

This Google Map shows the various sites clustered around the branch.

The branch runs from the North-West to the South-East across the map.

  • The Great West Road is a couple of hundred metres to the South.
  • To the East of the branch, there are a collection of waste and scrap metal transfer sites, aggregate and concrete sites and others that hide away in big cities.
  • To the West is the massive Sky Studios complex.

I do wonder, if Sky would like a station? If they did, this would surely mean that a four tph service would be required.

What Is The Future Of The Industrial Site?

Because of London’s thirst for land for housing and office developments, sites like this inevitably get developed.

With its position between the River Brent and parkland, and the Brentford Branch Line, I believe that if new sites can be found for the various tenants, that this site could be a high quality housing development.

An intermediate station would surely be required.

What Should Be The Terminus Of The Branch?

I believe that the branch should terminate as close to the River as is possible.

  • There is a lot of new housing being constructed in Brentford.
  • I believe that Thames Clippers will eventually extend their river-boat services to Brentford and Kew.

But the problem would be that this would need an expensive bridge over the Great West Road.

These pictures show the Great West Road, where the current Brentford Branch Line finishes.

The tracks finish about a hundred metres North of the road, as shown on this Google Map.

The rusty footbridge over the busy road can be clearly seen.

Initially, I believe that the passenger service should terminate at the Great West Road.

If I was designing the station, I would build it much like the Deptford Bridge DLR station.

  • It would be on a bridge above the Great West Road.
  • It would be suspended from step-free towers on either side of the road.
  • Would it only need to be a single platform station?
  • The pavements on either side of the Great West Road would be improved to create a better walking environment.
  • If possible a walking and cycling route to Brentford and the River would be provided.
  • The design would leave provision to extend the railway South.

I also think, that it could be designed to enhance the collection of Art Deco and modern buildings in the area.

Could The Service Go Further Than The Great West Road?

This Google Map shows the former route of Brentford Branch Line, from just North of the Great West Road to the centre of Brentford.

Note.

  1. The former route is very green on the map.
  2. The Hounslow Loop Line crossing parallel and a few hundred metres South of the Great West Road.
  3. The only building on the route is some retail sheds between the Great West Road and the Hounslow Loop Line.
  4. To the \east of the Brentford Branch Line is a large and semi-derilict bus garage.

I’m sure that the railway could be extended through this area, as it is developed with housing and offices or parkland.

Could The Service Go Further Than Southall?

There is a section in the Wikipedia entry for the Brentford Branch Line, which is entitled Proposed Reopening, where this is said.

In April 2017, it was proposed that the line could reopen to allow a new link between Southall to Hounslow and possibly down to the planned Old Oak Common station with a new station in Brentford called Brentford Golden Mile.  The proposals suggest the service could be operated by Great Western Railway and could be open by 2020 with a new service from Southall to Hounslow and possible later to Old Oak Common

It sounds a good idea, but it would mean trains would surely have to reverse direction and cross over to the North side.

It must be better to provide full step-free access at Southall station, which should be finished fairly soon.

Crossrail will also be providing at least four tph to and from Old Oak Common.

How Many Trains Would Be Needed?

I am pretty sure, that several train types could do a Southall and Brentford round trip in under thirty minutes.

This would mean the following.

  • For a two tph service, one train would be needed.
  • For a four tph service, two trains would be needed.

I suspect too, that a spare train would be added to the fleet.

Would The Branch Be Electrified?

I doubt it!

  • The branch is only four miles long.
  • A 100 kWh battery would probably provide enough power for a four-car train.
  • It is unlikely electric haulage will be needed for the freight trains o the branch.
  • There is 25 KVAC electrification at the Southall end of the branch to charge trains with batteries.
  • The branch is probably short enough to not need a charging point at Brentford.

In my mind, it is a classic route to run using battery power.

What Trains Could Be Used?

I feel the trains need to have the following specification.

  • Abiility to use 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • A out and back battery range of at least eight miles.
  • Three or four cars.
  • 60 mph operating speed.

There are several proposed trains that meet this specification.

Class 710 Train

The Class 710 train would be an obvious choice, if London Overground were to run the service.

But it would need the 25 KVAC electrification be added to Platform 5 at Southall station.

Class 230 Train

The Class 230 train could be a lower cost option and would only require one of Vivarail’s clever charging systems at Southall.

Class 387 Train

A modified Class 387 train would surely be a choice, If Great Western Railway were to run the service.

But as with the Class 710 train, it would need Platform 5 at Southall station to be electrified.

Class 399 Tram-Train

A Class 399 tram-train to the South Wales Metro specification is also a possibility.

But as with the Class 710 train, it would need Platform 5 at Southall station to be electrified.

However, the lighter weight vehicle with a tight turning circle might allow the route to be extended further South.

Conclusion

I am led to these conclusions.

  • Battery power is capable of working the Brentford Branch Line.
  • At least two tph is needed between Southall and Brentford.
  • The operator will choose the trains.

IBut as they are a lower-cost and simpler option, this route could be run by Class 230 trains.

 

 

September 22, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Will Sky Ever Broadcast A Freeview Sports Channel?

Yesterday, Sky held the rights to both the Cricket World Cup Final and The British Grand Prix.

But in the end Sky shared the coverage of both events with Channel 4!

Now that both events have successfully concluded, Sky will have the details of the following.

  • Number of viewers.
  • Advertising revenue on both Sky and Channel 4.
  • Reaction from politicians, some of whom are not very pleased with Sky.

This will enable the company to decide, whether it is in the company’s interest to do it again.

  • I can also see a scenario, where if a Sky Freeview channel exists, that sports would want to do promotional deals to get their sport in front of viewers, by perhaps having the top level on satellite and lower levels on Freeview.
  • Sky uses a lot of repeats on its Sports Channels at Off Peak times.
  • Freeview technology will also be allowing more channels.
  • Sky must be a bit worried about competition from other broadcasters woth bottomless pockets.

I don’t think we can rule anything out, as Sky are an innovative and ambitious broadcaster.

 

July 15, 2019 Posted by | Sport, World | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Illegal Football Watching Melted My Internet

I should say, that I swapped my Internet use from the Vista system that I liked with Office 2007 to the current Windows 7 and Office 2010, which I don’t like about eighteen months ago, when the older machine became unreliable.

I made one mistake in the transfer, in that I didn’t write down the passwords for my smtp and mail connections. They are stored on my old machine, which is totally dead.

It has worked successfully since then, but yesterday at four o’clock, when the vArsenal match started the Internet went into a curious meltdown.

So many people wanted to watch the Arsenal match on Sky, through broadband, that the connection seemed to melt down in a curious way.

Displaying a page on the Internet was extremely slow, but my e-mail program couldn’t get through the mess and kept asking me for a new smtp password, which I hadn’t written down.

So I just hit return. But it was doing it every ten seconds or so.

And so I must have typed in something, in all this chaos and now as I haven’t got the right password, I can’t connect.

As I was trying to send an e-mail, when this happened, Outlook won’t let me do anything without putting in the correct password first.

I can’t even shut Outlook without forcing it.

I’m pretty certain, there’s a high proportion of boxes, that watch football illegally in this area, which probably caused the problem.

April 18, 2016 Posted by | Computing | , | 1 Comment

Farewell To BT Vision

I have not got rid of BT Vision and if I want to watch football that is shown on BT, I now watch it on Sky.

To say I’m pleased to be rid of BT Vision is an understatement.

  • BT don’t seem to have any logical channel numbering, unlike Sky and Freeview and I could never remember where something would be shown.
  • Often I had to resort to going through the channels one at a time, until I found what I wanted.
  • Sky is logical, as all the Sports channels seem to be together and if I want an event, I can easily find what I want, stating from 405 or so.
  • Regularly, I don’t watch a match, but listen to it on Radio 5. BT has this annoying habit of changing to a screen of programs that I might watch, if I had an IQ of about 12.
  • Sky just gives me information with a useful clock.

Whoever, designed their system should be sent to manage the satellite station on St. Kilda.

April 14, 2016 Posted by | World | , , , , | 2 Comments

Match One: Ipswich 2 – Fulham 1

It was a result, I hadn’t expected as I walked to Portman Road from Ipswich Station.

Ipswich Town is one of the better placed grounds with respect to transport and also access to the town centre. There are also maps, but as you can see the stadium from the train station, you don’t need to consult them.

The only problem I had, was that the club had run out of programmes.

The club must have been pleased with the result and also with the size of the crowd considering, the match was on Sky. It’ll be interesting to see, if the performance has any effect on the gates at home matches after the next, which is Norwich, so it will be a full crowd.

August 10, 2014 Posted by | Sport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Does Everyone Have To Fiddle?

I’ve just returned home and I wanted to get the football on quickly, whilst I put my shopping away.

But some idiot has decided that my Sky box needs updating with yet more features that I will never use.

Whilst I was getting round their unwanted help and demo, a goal was scored.

Luckily it was only scored by that prawn sandwich mob in red from Manchester, but it could have been scored by Aston Villa.

There’s an old adage, that says if it’s not broken, then don’t fix it!

The trouble with updates involving any form of computing or software, is that I’ve only known one person, who never created a bug when writing updates. On the other hand, they never delivered anything on time!

December 15, 2013 Posted by | World | , , | 1 Comment

One Down To BT Sport

A friend, who has Sky, missed his team; Sheffield United. win the FA Cup today, as the match was on BT Sport.

All of these channels must get their act together, so we can all watch our favourite sport.

It would be nice if all matches were available through the Internet on a dedicated UK Football portal. But that would probably be illegal under EU Law.

But then what does the EU know about football and technology?

December 8, 2013 Posted by | Sport, World | , , , , | 1 Comment

How Much Useless Advertising Do We Receive?

My Sunday Times is always full of junk. This picture shows this weeks offering.

How Much Useless Advertising Do We Receive?

How Much Useless Advertising Do We Receive?

How much of this is actually read? And how much ends up in landfill?

In my case, it was even more pointless, as I’ve just installed Sky.

 

November 18, 2013 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

I’ve Given In

I said in this post, that a Sky Satellite dish is so yesterday.

However, as I have received a letter from BT on the subject of broadband, I decided that the best solution would be to get a dish to get reasonable sports on my television.

The letter from BT is a classic, and it is only thanks to my MP that I got a reply.

Here’s one section.

I’ve been in touch with our supplier, Openreach to ask about Mr. Miller’s situation. Unfortunately, he’s currently unable to get fibre broadband as his phone line is routed directly from the exchange to his premises.

Openreach have confirmed that the Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) technology which they have deployed needs a fibre-enabled street cabinet to supply the service. But because Mr. Miller is located very close to the exchange and is fed directly from it, i.e. not via a street cabinet, this unfortunately means that he can’t have the fibre product at present.

So the solution to my fibre broadband problem, is to move further from the telephone exchange.

I am a qualified electrical engineer and do understand the technology, the problem and the solutions. So I can’t help but find their statement mildly amusing.

But I suppose to actually be honest about the problem, as BT has been in the end, after a kicking from my MP, would only chase customers away to other broadband suppliers, who of course because of my local loop problem, can’t actually deliver the product that everybody wants.

In my view, there should be an on-line database that everyone can access, that shows the phone and broadband standard and quality, that is available at every house or business premises in the country. After all, you might find the ideal building for your new offices and it would be prudent to confirm the status of the phones and broadband before you made an offer.

But why stop at phones and broadband, as it would be much better if all the other services were listed as well.

October 23, 2013 Posted by | Computing, World | , , , , | 2 Comments

A Sky Satellite Dish Is So Yesterday

I’ve just looked up what football matches, I can watch over the next few days, through my steam-driven broadband, BT Sport and Freeview.

Tonight, BT are showing Wigan, whilst ITV4 is showing Swansea and Tottenham. All in the Uefa Cup. As I’m seeing Wigan on Sunday, as I’m going to see Ipswich play there, it’s rather a no-brainer, which matches I’ll watch.

Tomorrow, I’m busy in Liverpool, but the only match is on BT and it’s a German one.  I’m not that sad yet!

Saturday, BT are showing a Premier League match, but as it’s Norwich, I assume they are going to pay me to watch it! Later I might want to watch Fulham on Sky, but obviously I can’t!

Sunday has some good matches on Sky, but I’m on the train going to Wigan and back to watch Ipswich. At least Virgin’s trains are higher up the speed and reliability scale compared to their broadband.

So BT Sport’s deal of free football with broadband, is equivalent to a supermarket giving away burgers made of horsemeat. It may look good, but it’s not what you want.

I’m almost getting to the point where I put up a satellite dish for Sky.

But that is yesterday’s old technology and I would only rip it out again, when fibre optic broadband became available.  I’ve no objections to Sky as a company, as they gave me good service, when I lived in Suffolk.

Fibre-optic broadband would give me everything I want.  But when will someone deliver it to me? Or is Hackney too rural for it to be hooked up? On the other hand if Innerleithen, in the Scottish Borders can have fibre optic broadband, why can’t I?

BT are keeping the delivery date secret! Which of course means I can’t plan!

I have written to my MP, Meg Hillier, who is also the member for Silicon Roundabout and Shoreditch. She said this in a letter to me.

I am very aware of issues around broadband in Hackney, particularly in the Tech City area around Shoreditch. The growth of these cutting edge businesses in my constituency  is an exciting addition but I am very concerned that the infrastructure to support their tech needs is not in place. 

She obviously has more clout than any Hackney resident, so if you have a desperate need for fibre-optic broadband, I’d send her an e-mail.  The best way is to use WriteToThem.

September 19, 2013 Posted by | Computing, Sport, World | , , , , , | 1 Comment