The Anonymous Widower

TfL In Talks Over Extending Crossrail Eastwards

The title of this article is the sam as that of this article on Construction News.

The article talks about the following.

  • Extending from Abbey Wood to Ebbsfleet International.
  • TfL has had discussions with Network Rail.

Serious talks may well happen, once the new Southeastern Franchise takes over later this year.

 

April 6, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Alstom To Join Stagecoach’s Southeastern Franchise Bid

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

Stagecoach has announced that Alstom is to become part of its bid for the new Southeastern franchise.

The move, which is subject to approval by the Department for Transport (DfT), will make Alstom a 20 per cent shareholder in the new train operating company.

I think the pairing of a train manufacturer with a train operator could be something that we’ll see more often. Remember that two of Abellio’s UK franchises; Greater Anglia and West Midlands Trains, have placed substantial orders for Bombardier Aventras.

UK rail franchises are not very similar, with often a mixture of different types of route.

In the case of the Southeastern franchise, there are the following.

  • High speed commuter routes.
  • Intense metro services.
  • Long-distance commuter routes.
  • Branch lines with low frequencies.
  • Extensions over lines without electrification.

Having a train manufacturer involved in the process, must help in formulating a high-class bid.

So how will Alstom’s expertise help in the formulation of the bid?

Highspeed Commuter Trains

The current fleet of Class 395 trains will need to be expanded, as the new franchise will be offering extra services to Hastings and Eastbourne, with the possible addition of a second London terminal.

The easy route would be to go to Hitachi and order some extra Class 395 trains. But these would have to be built with some method of using the Marshlink Line, which is not electrified. In Hitachi’s Thoughts On Battery Trains, I discussed Hitachi’s published thoughts on using battery trains on this line.

I don’t doubt that Hitachi could provide the trains.

Alstom have a lot of expertise in high speed trains and would have no problem producing a train with the following performance.

  • 140 mph on high speed lines.
  • 100 mph on third rail DC lines.

Could they have done the calculations and found that their hydrogen power technology could drive a train from Ashford to Ore at the 60 mph operating speed of the Marshlink Line?

In an article in the October 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, which is entitled Celling England By The Pound, Ian Walmsley says this in relation to trains running on the Uckfield Branch.

A modern EMU needs between 3 and 5 kWh per vehicle mile for this sort of service.

If I assume that the extra trains will be five cars and will be efficient enough to need only 3 kWh per vehicle mile for the 25 miles without electrification of the Marshlink Line, this gives an energy requirement of 375 kWh.

  • Electrification between London and Ashford would charge the batteries at the Ashford end.
  • Electrification between Hastings and Eastbourne would charge the batteries at the Hastings end.
  • Hydrogen-power would continuously top up the batteries en-route between Ore and Ashford.
  • Electrification at Ashford and Hastings would probably be able to do a lot of the acceleration to the 60 mph operating speed.
  • Rye station could be electrified to make the stop easier.

Only Alstom know what size of battery and hydrogen power-pack would be needed.

If they could produce a high speed train, that could extend its range by the use of hydrogen power, it would be a very public demonstration of the capabilities of the technology.

Commuter Fleet Replacement

A lot of the current fleet is coming to the end of its life and I would expect the new franchise will replace the trains. A proportion of the trains also have an operating speed of 75 mph and are lacking in some of the features passengers like.

So perhaps, Alstom would be looking forward to building trains for the new franchise.

They’ve even got a suitable design in Siemens Class 707 train, that was built for South West Trains, which was run by Stagecoach.

Conclusion

It looks to me, that Alstom have two trains; one in reality and one on the drawing board, that could enable Stagecoach to put forward a creditable bid for the Southeastern franchise.

But these trains will not be one-off specials for the Southeastern franchise.

The high speed train with a range extended by hydrogen would be a unique bi-mode train for 125 mph routes like the East Coast Main Line, Great Western Main Line, Midland Main Line and West Coast Main Line.

Think.

  • London Euston to Chester
  • London Euston to Barrow-in-Furness
  • London Kings Cross to Hull
  • London Kings Cross to Sunderland
  • London Paddington to Oxford

And that’s just the UK!

London St. Pancras to Hastings and Eastbourne would be the ideal route for a demonstrator. Especially, for the French!

The commuter unit may not be as unique, but the Siemens design is proven and it would be a competitor to Bombardier’s Aventra.

 

February 6, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Conditions And Thoughts On The New Southeastern Franchise

The January 2018 Edition of Modern Railways gives a review of the conditions, that the Department for Transport are imposing on bidders.

The First Sentence

This is the first sentence of the article.

The Department for Transport says bidders for the next Southeastern franchise will be required to provide space for at least 40,000 additional passengers in the morning rush hour with 12-car services on the busiest routes.

This raises an interesting question.

Does the DfT mean actual twelve-car trains or ones as long as current twelve-car trains?

In Big On The Inside And The Same Size On The Outside, I discussed how by using  good design, Bombardier were getting more passengers in a train of the same length.

This is an extract from c2c’s Press Release.

The Aventra is one of the fastest-selling trains in the UK rail industry, and these new trains will be manufactured at Bombardier’s factory in Derby. Each new train, which will operate in a fixed set of 10-carriages, will include over 900 seats, plus air-conditioning, wifi, plug sockets and three toilets onboard. Each new carriage is larger and contains more seats than on c2c’s current trains, so each 10-carriage new train provides capacity for 15% more passengers onboard compared to a current 12-carriage c2c train.

So three x four-car trains working as a twelve-car train are replaced by one ten-car train, just as with Greater Anglia. Note the claimed fifteen percent capacity increase!

Metro Services

The article says this about Metro services,

Metro-style trains will be introduced on suburban routes, similar to those on other high-capacity routes into London.

Is the DfT thinking of trains like Crossrail’s Class 345 trains?

Changes Of London Terminals

The DfT was thinking of all inner suburban services going to a single London terminal, but this has been dropped following opposition.

Changes are still proposed, to stop conflicts at Lewisham.

  • Bexleyheath Line services will switch from Victoria to Cannon Street or Charing Cross.
  • Hayes Line services will not serve Victoria and Charing Cross, but not Cannon Street.
  • North Kent Line services will run to Cannon Street.
  • Sidcup Line services will run to Charing Cross and Cannon Street in the Peak.
  • Extra services will serve Abbey Wood for Crossrail.
  • More twelve-car trains.

The objective is a turn-up-and-go Metro-style service on suburban routes.

To London Overground, Merseyrail and other commuters around the K, that means four trains per hour.

As there was with the proposal Network Rail made to curtail Sutton Loop Line services at Blackfriars, there will be complaints. Especially, from those who were at Eton with certain MPs!

Hopefully the design of London Bridge station will help smooth things over.

Twelve-Car Trains At Charing Cross And Waterloo East

If most trains are twelve-car trains, then surely all platforms at Cannon Street, Charing Cross, London Bridge, Victoria and Waterloo East stations, must surely be able to handle trains of this length.

As it is specifically mentioned, Charing Cross and Waterloo East stations must be the most problem.

There have been suggestions of rebuilding the two stations, with the platforms at Charing Cross extending over the Thames.

Consider.

  • Modern signalling could handle twenty-four trains per hour between Charing Cross and London Bridge.
  • Connections to the Jubilee Line could be better.
  • The Bakerloo Line is planned to be extended to Lewisham.
  • Waterloo East station could surely have over-site development.
  • Techniques borrowed from London Underground could be used to turn trains faster at Charing Cross.

I have a feeling that we will see something fairly radical happen in the next few years to increase capacity across the South Bank.

Faster Services To Hastings

This is said about services to and from Hastings.

DfT has specified a new two trains per hour service between London, Tonbridge and Ashford, allowing services to Hastings to be speeded up by removing calls at Orpington, Sevenoaks and Hildenborough.

Bidders are incentivised to develop further proposals for reducing journey times, including for deliveringn high speed services between London St. Pancras, Hastings and Bexhill via Ashford.

That all sounds good for Hastings.

More Trains Between Strood And Tonbridge

This route along the Medway Valley Line will have two trains per hour all day.

Trains For The Franchise

The DfT has specified the trains in a fairly detailed way.

Cars No Longer Than Twenty Metres

This is probably because of curved platforms and other restrictions on the various routes.

It is also a similar car length to the current Class 465 trains and Class 377 trains.

No Extra Selective Door Opening, Except At Waterloo East

I suspect this could be that selective door opening, confuses passengers and perhaps slow the stops.

First Class To Be Removed By September 2020

Will this be popular with all passengers?

There doesn’t seem to have been too many protests about the future removal of First Class on Greater Anglia’s services in Essex.

But it will allow the capacity of the train to be increased, to provide space for some of those 40,000 additional passengers.

ETCS Will Have To Be Deployed

European Train Control System (ETCS)  can enable higher frequencies of trains in a safe manner and mandating that it be deployed is a sensible move.

At Least One Accessible Toilet On Main Line And High Speed Trains

I think most train operating companies would do this!

Adequate Wi-Fi

Not providing wi-fi and in addition 4G signals, is probably an easy way to reduce ridership.

Walk Through Trains

The fleets that have been bought recently, are all of this type, so I think it would be unlikely, that any new trains for the Southeastern franchise would be different.

My Thoughts

Train Length

 

Greater Anglia, Great Western Railway, South Western Railway and Virgin Trains East Coast have set a pattern, by ordering trains and half-trains, that can probably be used in a flexible manner.

Half-train/Full-train ratios for the various companies are.

  • Great Western Railway – 1.6
  • Greater Anglia – 4.0
  • South Western Railway 0.5
  • Virgin Trains East Coast – 0.5

Each company has chosen an appropriate number of trains for their routes, but each can adjust numbers by running two half-trains as a full train.

So will we see the same strategy on a future Southeastern franchise?

Perhaps most trains will be twelve-car trains with a small number of six-car trains, that can work together as required.

Train Speed

In Kent On The Cusp Of Change – Elimination Of Slow Trains, I came to this conclusion.

All trains incapable of running a service at 100 mph should be eliminated, just as the two operators;Greater Anglia and South Western Railway, are planning to do.

All of the new Southeastern franchise’s trains should be 100 mph trains.

 

 

 

December 22, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

C2E – Crossrail 1 1/2?

The title of this post is the same as that in this article in Rail Engineer.

It describes a proposal to extend the Abbey Wood Branch of Crossrail to Ebbsfleet International station along the North Kent Line.

The article starts with these two paragraphs.

With the main Crossrail project now mostly complete, and with tracks running right through the new tunnels, there has been much talk of Crossrail 2 as the next project, crossing under London from South West to North East and linking Wimbledon with the Leigh Valley.

Rather overlooked is a shorter-term proposal to extend the current Crossrail (or Elizabeth line as it will be called) from Abbey Wood to Ebbsfleet in Kent.

The article talks about the advantages of an extension to Ebbsfleet International station.

This proposal would connect several major brownfield development sites with central London, London City and Heathrow airports, and the West, while also connecting Crossrail passengers with Eurostar and the continent

Specific figures and points include

  • Bexley has 1,100 acres of development space available.
  • 55,000 homes could be built.
  • Potential for high-value jobs.
  • Dartford, where there is a lot of demand, has six trains per hour  (tph) to London.

In addition the following additional services call or will call in the near future at Dartford.

  • Southeastern – Two tph running between Gillingham and London Charing Cross.
  • Southeastern – Two tph running between Gravesend and London Charing Cross.
  • Thameslink – Two tph running between Rainham and Luton.

This map from the article shows the route.

I think it is a good plan and I’ll give my reasons in the following sections.

Abbey Wood Is Not A Terminal Station

Was the reason Abbey Wood station was chosen as a terminus more to do with giving a rail connection to the public transport desert of Thamesmead and all its supposed Labour voters?

  • It’s not by any important tourist venue like the Thames.
  • There’s not even a Shopping Centre.
  • There’s little space for car parking.
  • Abbey Wood station is a very cramped site.

When compared to the three other termini, it is the least significant.

  • Shenfield is a small town with shops and a railway junction.
  • Reading is a thriving city and a major transport interchange.
  • Heathrow is Heathrow.

I also suspect that the track layout at Abbey Wood station has been designed to allow Crossrail trains to continue Eastwards on the North Kent Line.

Ebbsfleet International Would Be A Much Better Terminal Station

Ebbsfleet International station has a lot going for it, as a Crossrail terminal.

  • It is a station for Eurostar and the Continent.
  • Some continental services might terminate at Ebbsfleet in the future due to capacity limitations at St. Pancras.
  • It would connect Crossrail to the Highspeed commuter services to and from East Kent and East Sussex.
  • There’s plenty of space for platforms and depots.
  • There’s already masses of car parking.
  • The area may get a theme park.

There is also the interesting possibility, that it could be faster for many passengers from Central London to use Crossrail and Ebbsfleet, rather than a taxi and St. Pancras to get a train to Paris and Brussels.

I also believe that one of our World Class architects can come up with a proposal for a passenger-friendly station that combines the current Ebbfleet International station with Northfleet station on the North Kent Line.

The Route Would Require Little Major Engineering Works

The route to Ebbsfleet would be predominantly, if not completely, on the surface, along the double-track North Kent Line. Having just flown my helicopter along the route, there is a lot of apace on either side of the tracks for quite a proportion of the route.

A four-track route would probably be impossible, but I suspect that Network Rail could design an efficient route, that would handle the services on the route efficiently.

Trains Along The North Kent Line

Current frequencies of Off Peak through trains on the North Kent Line between Abbey Wood and Gravesend stations are as follows.

  • Abbey Wood – 8 tph
  • Belvedere – 8 tph
  • Erith – 6 tph
  • Slade Green – 6 tph
  • Dartford – 4 tph
  • Stone Crossing – 4 tph
  • Greenhithe – 4 tph
  • Gravesend – 2 tph

There will be additional services in the Peak and Thameslink will run an extra two tph from Rainham to Luton, within the next year or so.

The North Kent Line doesn’t seem to have the most extensive level of services.

The New Southeastern Franchise

The new South Eastern franchise will be awarded in August 2018 and is due to start by the end of the year.

The franchise will probably bring changes and add new trains to the fleet and lines like the North Kent Line.

I also suspect that all trains running on the North Kent Line will in a few years be modern trains capable of operating at 100 mph.

Modern Signalling Could Handle Twenty-Four Trains Per Hour On The North Kent Line

There is no doubt, that if Crossrail-style signalling were applied to the North Kent Line between Abbey Wood the Medway towns, capacity could be increased, if all trains on the line were modern 100 mph units.

I doubt that twenty-four tph would be needed, but I’m sure that enough capacity could be created on the route to handle all services; curent or proposed.

How Many Trains Would Crossrail Run Between Abbey Wood And Ebbsfleet International Stations?

Crossrail’s timetable plan shows  these frequencies at the various termini in the Peak.

  • Abbey Wood – 12 tph
  • Gidea Park – 4 tph
  • Heathrow Terminal 4 – 4 tph
  • Heathrow Terminal 5 – 2 tph
  • Liverpool Street – 4 tph
  • Maidenhead – 2 tph
  • Paddington – 12 tph
  • Reading – 4 tph
  • Shenfield – 12 tph

From these figures, it would appear that four tph to Ebbsfleet International would be reasonable starting point.

This would give the following frequencies along the line.

  • Abbey Wood – 14 tph
  • Belvedere – 14 tph
  • Erith – 12 tph
  • Slade Green – 12 tph
  • Dartford – 10 tph
  • Stone Crossing – 10 tph
  • Greenhithe – 10 tph
  • Gravesend – 4 tph

Note I have added in the 2 tph Thameslink trains from Rainham to Luton.

These frequencies are well within the limits of a double-track railway with a 100 mph operating speed and modern signalling.

The Original Plan Was To Extend To Gravesend

The route for Crossrail from Abbey Wood is safeguarded to Gravesend. Under Future Extensions in the Wikipedia entry for Crossrail, this is said.

The route to Gravesend has been safeguarded by the Department for Transport, although it was made clear that as at February 2008 there was no plan to extend Crossrail beyond the then-current scheme. The following stations are on the protected route extension to Gravesend: Belvedere, Erith, Slade Green, Dartford, Stone Crossing, Greenhithe for Bluewater, Swanscombe, Northfleet, and Gravesend.

A depot would be built at Hoo Junction to the East of Gravesend.

The extended service could always call at both stations.

  • Ebbsfleet International station connects to Eurostar and has space for masses of parking.
  • Gravesend connects to services to East Kent and is on the Thames.

Money and accountants would decide.

Conclusion

Extending four tph from Abbey Wood to a new terminus at Ebbsfleet International station, doesn’t appear to be the most difficult of undertakings.

 

 

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

Could Class 800/801 Trains Work Southeastern Highspeed Services?

Southeastern Highspeed services are run by Class 395 trains.

These trains are capable of the following.

  1. 140 mph running on HS1.
  2. Running on third-rail lines.
  3. Joining and separating in under a couple of minutes.

As the electric Class 801 trains are also members of Hitachi’s A-train family, I’m sure that they could built to a similar specification.

  • The trains are capable of 140 mph on suitable lines.
  • Rhird-rail gear can probably be easily added.
  • The joining and separating is in the specification.

So I think the answer to my question must be in the afformative.

November 10, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts On Highspeed to Hastings

Since I wrote Kent On The Cusp Of Change – Highspeed To Hastings, a couple of months ago, several things have happened.

And Now There Are Three!

Trenitalia has pulled out of bidding for the new Southeastern franchise as reported in this article in the International Rail Journal.

This leaves just three bidders.

  • A joint venture of Abellio, East Japan Railway Company and Mitsui
  • Govia
  • Stagecoach

The same joint venture were recently awarded the West Midlands franchise.

The new franchise will be awarded in August 2018, with services starting in December 2018.

Electrification Has Been Abandoned

Major electrification schemes have been abandoned, so I suspect it will be even more unlikely that Ashford to Hastings will be electrified.

The Aventras Are Coming

Class 345 trains have started to appear on Crossrail and it is my opinion that they are a fine train.

In An Exciting New Aventra, I laid out the philosophy of the new trains and in How Long Will It Take Bombardier To Fulfil Their Aventra Orders?, I discussed how Bombardier will build the trains, at a rate of twenty-five carriages a month.

The rate comes from this article in The Guardian, which is entitled Full speed ahead for train builders as minister pulls plug on electrification, where I found this useful nugget of information, from the General Manager of Bombardier’s Derby plant.

Building trains in an “ergonomically correct” fashion, he says, means completing and testing the carriage’s constituent parts, then assembling them, rather than wiring them up afterwards – and also takes the risk away from a production line which boasts a rate of 25 carriages per week.

It sounds like Bombardier’s engineers have been drinking and swapping ideas, with Toyota’s production engineers a few miles down the road at Burnaston.

The New South Eastern Franchise

So do we have any clues as to what the new South Eastern franchise will be doing?

South Western Railway

South Western Railway‘s routes have a similar pattern to those of the South Eastern franchise, with an intense suburban network and longer distance services.

You could also argue that Greater Anglia isn’t much different.

Both these other franchises have are replacing their suburban trains with new 100 mph trains with all the trimming like wi-fi and toilets.

Both have chosen a mix of five and ten-car Aventras.

This would appear to give the following advantages.

  • The 100 mph trains with excellent acceleration and smooth regenerative braking help to make services faster and more frequent.
  • A near identical fleet will help maintenance and crew training.
  • It is easier to get the train-platform interface better, if only one class of train calls at a station.
  • Platform compatibility with Crossrail and Crossrail 2.

I suspect that the new South Eastern franchise will think on similar lines.

The Networkers Must Be Going

Southeastern currently has a total of 674 Networker carriages, most of which will surely be moved on by the new franchise holder.

I believe that these trains with their 75 mph speed and average performance, is not high enough for efficient timetabling of services and that consequently the new franchise holder will probably replace these trains with 100 mph units.

One choice would be to use a mix of new five and ten-car Aventras as chosen by Greater Anglia and South Western Railway. Replacing Networker carriages with the same number of Aventra carriages would take around six months of production at Bombardier.

The Aventras must be high on the list of new trains, as some of the new trains, may have to use the same platforms as Crossrail, if the line is extended from Abbey Wood station.

The Extra High Speed Trains

To serve Hastings and increase the number of Highspeed services, the new franchise holder, will have to obtain some more trains that can use High Speed 1.

Some of these trains will need the ability to travel on the Marshlink Line between Ashford and Hastings.

Consider.

  • It probably wouldn’t be a good idea to have two different types of trains working to Ashford on High Speed 1.
  • Class 800 trains, which are closely related to the Class 395 trains have onboard diesel power and might have energy storage to handle regenerative braking.
  • Class 395 trains are getting towards ten years old and are approaching the need for a refresh.
  • Hitachi have built trains with onboard energy storage in Japan.
  • Diesel fuel might not be allowed in the tunnels of High Speed 1.
  • Hitachi would probably be very disappointed to not get this order.

More Class 395 trains fitted with either onboard energy storage must be the favourite.

Conclusion

Kent will get Aventras to improve suburban services and more Class 395 trains with batteries for Highspeed services.

 

September 7, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Waterloo Upgrade August 2017 – Waterloo To Sevenoaks

During this week Network Rail are working on the OverJubilee or the lines between London Bridge, Waterloo East and Charing Cross, so capacity from places like Sevenoaks station is reduced.

To compensate Southeastern are running a two trains per hour (tph) service between Sevenoaks and Platform 22 at Waterloo station.

  • One train goes to Dover Priory station and the other goes to Ramsgate station.
  • The trains take the old Eurostar route into Waterloo station over the Waterloo Curve or the Nine Elms Flyover.

So I thought I’d have a look, hoping to perhaps have a lunch in Sevenoaks.

These are a few pictures I took.

There would have been more, but it was chucking it down and the ones I took were terrible.

The Linford Street Junction And The Waterloo Curve

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the Linford Street Junction and the Waterloo Curve.

The Junction and the Curve are used by trains to connect from Waterloo in the North East, to the lines from Victoria that go across South London via Denmark Hill and Peckham Rye stations.

Note how the train going into Waterloo and the train coming out passed on the flyover. I assume this was for safety so that trains could leave and join the lines to Victoria at Linford Street Junction.

These pictures of the flyover were taken on another journey to Clapham Junction station.

The flyover is recent and was built for Eurostar and completed in May 1993. There’s a page called Nine Elms Flyover on the Kent Rail website, which gives a detailed history of the flyover.

The Route Between Waterloo And Sevenoaks

The journey between Waterloo And Sevenoaks passed through the following stations without stopping.

  • Vauxhall
  • Wandsworth Road
  • Clapham High Street
  • Denmark Hill
  • Peckham Rye
  • Nunhead
  • Lewisham
  • Hither Green
  • Grove Park
  • Elmstead Woods
  • Chislehurst
  • Petts Wood
  • Orpington
  • Chelsfield
  • Knockholt
  • Dunton Green

From Lewisham station onwards the route is on the South Eastern Main Line.

Overall Impressions

The route seemed to work well, although between Waterloo and Lewisham, the train was rather slow, with a slight delay joining the lines out of Victoria.

The journey was timed at 47 minutes, with the fastest normal services between London and Sevenoaks being around ten minutes faster.

It certainly seems to be providing an extra two tph between London and Sevenoaks. In Eurostar days, it handled up to six tph.

I also suspect it could handle twelve-car trains, although my journey was in an eight-car train.

Future Developments Along The Route

There are going to be more developments to rail services along the route and also into Kent. Many will be driven, by the bidding for the new Southeastern Franchise.

Ashford International Station

In  Kent On The Cusp Of Change – Ashford Spurs, I talked about the completed upgrading of Ashford International station, so that more Eurostar and other Continental services can call.

As the station is going to get more Highspeed services, I can envisage some innovative ways to make more and better use of this station.

Bakerloo Line Extension To Lewisham

The Bakerloo Line Extension will provide passengers with the option of using the Underground from Lewisham to access Central and North London.

Brockley Lane Station

The Lewisham Line runs between Peckham Rye and Lewisham stations and is used by Southeastern trains from both Victoria and Waterloo.

There used to be a Brockley Lane station, where the route crosses the current London Overground’s East London Line, close to Brockley station.

This is said under Future in the Wikipedia entry for the station.

According to the Department for Transport and the Transport for London rail prospectus report released in 2016, it has been listed as one of the Southeastern franchise planned improvements in the document entitled “New interchange at Brockley”, suggesting that there might be a case to reopen the station.

Creating an interchange here would certainly open up lots of travel opportunities.

It should be noted that Brockley station will from 2020, have a ten tph service to Canada Water and Whitechapel stations, with all their Crossrail and Underground connections.

Charing Cross Station

Charing Cross station is bursting at the seams, with typically fourteen and more trains in each hour.

This extract comes from Network’s Kent Route Study.

Charing Cross has just six 12-car platforms and Platforms 4, 5 and 6 are very narrow, leading to operational restrictions.

Class 465 units cannot operate in 12-car into these platforms and selective door operation is used on Class 375 units.

A major rebuild of the station could allow it to be extended south over the river, like Blackfriars, providing compliant platforms and greater passenger circulation.

At concept level, a new link to Waterloo from a southern entrance to Charing Cross may supersede Waterloo East allowing the station area to be used for  additional track capacity, but there are likely to be many issues with a project on this scale.

One of the many issues would be how to keep services running during the rebuild of the station.

I suspect that Waterloo could have a role to play in handling some of the services.

Fawkham Junction Link

In Kent On The Cusp Of Change – Fawkham Junction Link, I talked about the proposal to reopen the Fawkham Junction Link,  which was originally used to allow Eurostar trains to get to Waterloo station.

If this link were to be reopened, coupled with what has been happening between Waterloo and Sevenoaks, this would enable extra Southeastern HighSpeed services to Thanet to be run to either Victoria or Waterloo.

Victoria Station

Victoria station will periodically need work and might even be subject to a major upgrade project.

As with Charing Cross, I’m sure Waterloo could be used as an alternative terminus for a few trains.

Could Southeastern Services Into Waterloo Become Permanent? 

I suspect that as has been successfully shown this week, that it is a feasible proposition.

But whether it actually happens would be up to the train operators.

Consider.

  • Eurostar used to run a 6 tph service on this route.
  • A single well-designed platform can handle 4 tph.
  • The new platforms can handle twelve-car trains.

But most importantly, the train operators will have all the passenger data!

Conclusion

Southeastern and Network Rail have certainly shown it is possible to run a two tph service successfully between Sevenoaks and Waterloo.

If nothing else, it could prove to be a useful alternative route during engineering works or other diversions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 30, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

What Is Happening At Platform 9 At London Bridge Station?

I regularly come home from Waterloo station, by walking to Waterloo East station and then getting a Southeastern train to London Bridge station, from where, I get a 141 bus to a zebra crossing on the corner opposite my house.

Location is important, when buying a house!

You might ask, why I don’t use the Jubilee Line between Waterloo and London Bridge. I prefer not to be in a dark tunnel in an small-diameter Underground train, when there is a full-size alternative on the surface.

When the new Southeastern Franchise is awarded, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a succession of large-windowed trains, like Aventras,  replacing the over twenty-years-old Class 466 trains. They could become a tourist attraction linking Greenwich and Westminster via The Shard, that would be so much more interesting than the Jubilee Line.

This diagram from Wikipedia shows the proposed platform layout for London Bridge station from 2018.

Note.

  • The island Platform 6 and 7 is flanked by two lines coming from Charing Cross station.
  • The island Platform 8 and 9 is flanked by two lines going io Charing Cross station.
  • The tracks through Platforms 6 and 9 appear to be on loops from the track going through the other paired platform.

I assume the layout is to get sufficient platform capacity for the ten-car trains going through the station.

Look at this Google Map of the station.

The Platforms are numbered from top-right to bottom-left.

  • Platform 1 doesn’t appear to be complete and will be a bi-directional platform into Cannon Street station.
  • Platforms 2 and 3 are the first through island platform and serve Cannon Street.
  • Platforms 4 and 5 are the second through island platform are are for Thameslink.
  • Platforms 6 and 7 are for trains coming from Charing Cross.
  • Platforms 8 and 9 are for trains going to Charing Cross.
  • Platform 10 upwards are bay platforms for terminating services.

Note.

  • The generous width of the through island platforms.
  • Ot appears it might be possible to put a second platform on the other side of the track through Platform 9. Let’s call it Platform 9a
  • This extra Platform 9a and the bay Platform 10 could be easily connected, with a walk-through.

These pictures were taken from outside the station and show the area to the West of Platform 9.

Some substantial construction work is going on.

These pictures were taken inside the station.

I wonder what the final outcome will be!

 

August 20, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | 2 Comments

Kent On The Cusp Of Change – Abbey Wood Station

The Kent On The Cusp Of Change article in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways talks about Kent and Crossrail.

This is said.

In December 2018, the Elizabeth Line is due to reach its south-eastern terminus at Abbey Wood, where there will be interchange with the North Kent line.

A wide range of new journey opportunities will open up, which over time will influence many choices over work and home locations. A train every five minutes from Abbey Wood to Canary Wharf and central London is expected to have a dramatic effect in North Kent.

The article goes on to say that a working group called Crossrail Gravesend is pushing to extend the Elizabeth Line to Ebbsfleet International station for High Speed One.

In this post, I will talk about issues at Abbey Wood station.

The Modern Railways article says that Abbey Wood station is a cross-platform interchange, as do other articles.

Track Layout At Abbey Wood Station

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the layout of lines at Abbey Wood station.

Compare this with this track layout, that I posted in Abbey Wood Station –  29th August 2016.

Note the following.

  • The older layout shows cross-platform interchange.
  • The current one has two pairs of platforms, with Platforms 3 and 4 for Crossrail and Platforms 1 and 2 for other services.
  • The current layout probably connects better to the existing lines to Dartford.

These pictures were taken on the 28th June 2017 and show pictures generally taken from the West of the station.

They show a similar layout, of two Northern platforms (3 & 4) for Crossrail and two Southern platforms (1 & 2) for all other services.

Note.

  • The two cross-overs to the West of Abbey Wood station to get the Crossrail trains to and from the right platforms.
  • The station building and the two footbridges over the lines.
  • The solid wooden fence between the two pairs of lines.
  • The robust nature of the overhead wiring.

I suspect, that if they had wanted to have Eastbound and Westbound lines each share an island platform, it would have required a flyover, which would have been a large expense.

These pictures were taken on the 10th July 2017 to the East of the station.

Note that the first seven pictures were taken from a public footbridge that crosses the tracks about five hundred metres to the East of Abbey Wood station and the last few pictures were taken from a train leaving Abbey Wood station for Dartford station.

This recent Google Map shoews from Abbey Wood station, to where the reversing siding ends close to where Aliske Road turns North

The pictures and the map show the following.

  • The two third-rail electrified tracks of the North Kent Line run between Platforms 1 and 2 at Abbey Wood station to Belvedere station.
  • The North Kent tracks are fully in use, by services between London and Kent.
  • The two Crossrail Platforms 3 and 4 at Abbey Wood station are electrified with overhead wires.
  • The two tracks in Platforms 3 and 4 would appear to join together into a single line mainly without electrification, that connects to the North Kent Line about a kilometre to the East of Abbey Wood station.
  • There is only a short length of electrification to the East of the station.

It is not what I expected, as it means that there is no cross-platform interchange between services going to North Kent and Crossrail, as various sources including the The Kent On The Cusp Of Change article have said.

Passengers changing between the North Kent Lines and Crossrail will have to go over through the station or use the bridge.

So how will the station handle the various train movements?

Comparison Between Abbey Wood and Shenfield Stations

Abbey Wood will after rebuilding be a station with two North Kent and two Crossrail platforms

Shenfield station has now been converted into a station with six platforms, three of which can be used as Crossrail platforms.

In the Peak, services to the two stations are as follows.

  •  Shenfield – 10 trains per hour (tph)
  • Abbey Wood – 12 tph

In addition 4 tph on the Shenfield Branch turn-back at Gidea Park station.

In the Off Peak, services to the two stations are as follows.

  •  Shenfield – 8 tph
  • Abbey Wood – 8 tph

So it would appear that Abbey Wood is the harder station to operate with more services in the Peak and one less platform.

Train Stabling At Abbey Wood Station

Train stabling needs to be provided on a busy branch line, as it makes it easier to adjust the number of trains running to the demand throughout the day.

At Shenfield, the stabling sidings are beyond the station, which must be easier operationally, than the position of the sidings at Abbey Wood, where they are back down the line at the Plumstead tunnel portal.

If you look at the second set of pictures taken to the East of the station, spaqce would appear to be very limited. So is this why stabling is not ast of Abbey Wood station.

Turning Back Crossrail Trains At Abbey Wood

At Shenfield, train operators have been turning back Class 315 trains at a rate of six tph since 1980, so with the addition of a new platform and modern trains and signalling, the handling of ten tph should be achievable.

But at Abbey Wood in the Peak, there is a need to turn trains round at a rate of twelve tph or a train every five minutes.

The operation could involve each of Platform 3 and 4 handling six tph, using the cross-overs to the West of the station to get the train between each platform and the right Crossrail track, but handling six tph on two platforms feeding a 12 tph double track railway is a tough ask.

From what I have seen, I think that Crossrail will turnback their trains like this.

  • All Crossrail trains from London arrive in Platform 4.
  • All Crossrail trains to London depart from Platform 3.
  • All trains arriving in Platform 4 use the unelectrified single track line as a reversing siding to get to Platform 3
  • As the pictures show, the single track line is probably long enough to store a failed train, for later recovery.

But the Class 345 trains have a system called Auto-Reverse.

When the train is ready to leave Platform 4,the driver initiates an Auto-Reverse and the train moves automatically into the reversing siding, whilst the driver starts to walk back through the train to the other cab.

  • By the time, the train is in the reversing siding, the driver is ready to drive the train into Platform 3.
  • The process will have to be done within five minutes.
  • The process could also involve the basic cleaning and removal of rubbish, with cleaners getting on at Platform 4 and getting off at Plstform 3.

Crossrail is not your bog-standard railway.

Trains Leaving Service At Abbey Wood

Suppose a train was leaving service at Abbey Wood.

Normally, it would probably perform the Auto-Reverse and go to the stabling sidings at the Plumstead tunnel portal.

It might even go the wrong way directly out of Platform 4, if the signalling was bi-directiomal.

Remember too, that Class 345 trains could be two independent half-trains, so if one half fails, the other could be designed to get the train to safety and out of the way.

Class 345 trains are not a bog-standard trains.

Running Crossrail Trains To And From Gravesend

From what I have seen, I’m convinced that the track layout at Abbey Wood station, means that Crossrail can be easily extended to and from Dartford, Gravesend, Rochester, Gillingham or Rainham.

Let’s assume the terminal for four tph is Gravesend.

Crossrail trains from London to Gravesend will do the following.

  • Stop in Platform 4 at Abbey Wood station.
  • Lower the pantograph
  • Take the single uon-electrified line alongside the North Kent Line.
  • Cross over to the Down North Kent Line.
  • Use the third-rail electrification to travel to Gravesend.

Crossrail trains from Gravesend to London will do the following.

  • Use the third-rail electrification to travel from Gravesend.
  • Cross over to the single non-electrified line alongside the North Kent Line before Abbey Wood station.
  • Stop in Platform 3 at Abbey Wood station.
  • Raise the pantograph.

The Crossrail trains would be needed to be fitted with third-rail shoes.

Interchange BetweenThe Extended Crossrail And Other Services.

Suppose you are going from Ramsgate to Paddington, you would get a Highspeed service to Gravesend and then wait for a Crossrail train to call at the same platform.

To repeat myself, Crossrail is not a bog-standard railway.

Crossrail’s Trump Card

When the trains turnback at Abbey Wood or extend to and from Gravesend, the Class 345 trains will have to use the non-electrified single track line shown in the pictures.

It may be electrified in the next year! But why bother?

The distances that need to be handled without power are not much more than a kilometre at slow speed.

The Class 345 trains could be fitted with batteries to bridge the gaps in the electrification.

These batteries will also do the following.

  • Handle regenerative braking.
  • Provide emergency power, in the event of complete tunnel power failure.

Conclusion

To repeat myself again, Crossrail is not a bog-standard railway.

See Also

These are related posts.

To know more read Kent On The Cusp Of Change in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways.

 

July 10, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , | 19 Comments

Gibb Report – Hoo Junction Depot

The Gibb Report, looks in detail at GTR’s depot capacity and especially the stabling for Thameslink.

This is a paragraph, which suggests creating a new depot at Hoo Junction.

I recommend a different approach: I think a dedicated GTR Thameslink stabling facility should be built at Hoo Junction, near Gravesend. There is a large former freight yard there, on both sides of the railway, which now stables engineering trains for Network Rail. This should be rationalised and space created for stabling all the North Kent Thameslink Class 700s, in sidings with newly created servicing facilities.

The Wikipedia entry for Crossrail has a section entitled To Gravesend And Hoo Junction, where the following is said.

The route to Gravesend has been safeguarded by the Department for Transport, although it was made clear that as at February 2008 there was no plan to extend Crossrail beyond the then-current scheme. The following stations are on the protected route extension to Gravesend: Belvedere, Erith, Slade Green, Dartford, Stone Crossing, Greenhithe for Bluewater, Swanscombe, Northfleet, and Gravesend.

This area around Hoo Junction has also been suggested as a possible depot for Crossrail.

In addition, Southeastern are running short of space in Slade Green Depot.

This Google Map shows the Hoo Junction area, with the North Kent Line passing through from Gravesend station in the West to Higham station in the South East.

There looks to be space for multiple depots with a large number of sidings at Hoo Junction.

These pictures show the apace to the North of the North Kent Line.

And these show the space to the South.

There even used to be a Staff Halt at Hoo Junction.

But that’s just the railways.

This report on the BBC indicates that the new Lower Thames Crossing will cross North-South between Gravesend and Hoo Junction.

Perhaps the developments at Hoo Junction, should incorporate a Park-and-Ride station.

Conclusion

This is a good idea and I would go further than Chris Gibbs does in his report, which is mainly into the problems of GTR.

Crossrail, the Department of Transport, Kent County Council, Network Rail, Southeastern, Thameslink and all other stakeholders and residents should sit round a large table and agree a common long-term philosophy that is in all their best interests for the future.

July 9, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 4 Comments