The Anonymous Widower

Crossrail Tests Its Trains In Southend

The title of this post is the same as that of this article in the Southend Echo.

This is the first paragraph.

Crossrail trains are being tested from Southend to London – raising hopes that in future they could run to and from the town on a regular basis.

As the title of the article indicates, it could be that Bombardier and Crossrail are seeing how a Class 345 train performs on the route, prior to the delivery of Greater Anglia’s similar Class 720 trains, which are another train in Bombardier’s Aventra family.

Southend Victoria Station

Southend Victoria station could be a destination for Crossrail in the future, but consider these facts.

  • Southend Victoria station is 41.5 miles from London Liverpool Street station and the fastest services take about an hour.
  • Southend Victoria has a frequency of three trains per hour (tph) to London Liverpool Street.
  • Southend Victoria station has four terminal platforms and is a short walk to the Town Centre.
  • Reading station is 36 miles from London Paddington station and the fastest services take just over half-an-hour.
  • Fast-growing Southend Airport with its station is on the Shenfield to Southend Line and the Airport would surely welcome a direct link to Central London and Heathrow.
  • The three tph on the Shenfield to Southend Line doesn’t have a good interchange with the one train every forty minute service on the Crouch Valley Line.

If there is a major problem, it is that Greater Anglia is losing passengers to c2c with its station at Southend Central.

Between 2013/14 and 2015/16 Southend Victoria has lost 2.79 million passengers, whereas in the same period Southend Central has gained  1.14 million.

From what I have seen Greater Anglia intend to speed up the Liverpool Street to Norwich services to ninety minutes and run at a frequency of 3 tph. They are also going to add a fourth train that goes to Ipswich. So again, the three tph service to Southend, isn’t the best fit to services on the Great Eastern Main Line for passengers travelling between say Southend and the County Town of Chelmsford.

There are probably not too many reasons for Crossrail to be extended to Southend for its own sake, but if Greater Anglia and Crossrail decide that an integrated service is to be provided between Shenfield and Southend, then everything is up for discussion.

Fast Trains Between London And Southend Victoria

The current Southend to London trains stop seven times to the East of Shenfield.

They would probably need to stop at Southend Airport and perhaps two of the busiest stations, but cutting out five stations would probably bring the journey time down to fifty minutes, which would attract passengers and make it easier for Greater Anglia to run the service, as trains could do the round trip in comfortably under two hours.

Running three tph, as now, would need just six trains and running a desirable four tph would need eight trains.

I’d be very interested to see what time a one of the new Stadler Class  745 trains, could achieve on the route, with just four stops at Stratford, Shenfield, Billericay and Southend Airport.

Slow Crossrail Trains Between Shenfield And Southend Victoria

Paired with the fast trains could be a number of extended Crossrail services.

Based on Crossrail’s projected timings between Liverpool Street and Shenfield of 41 minutes and the current 35 minutes between Shenfield and Southend, a timing of 76 minutes is estimated.

  • Crossrail’s trains could save as much as two minutes at each of the seven stops, East of Shenfield.
  • The Shenfield to Southend Line has an 80 mph speed limit, which I suspect could be improved.

So could we see Slow Crossrail trains achieving the times that Fast Greater Anglia trains do now?

I think the answer is yes and it shows how trains have improved in the last few decades.

How Many Trains Could Use The Shenfield To Southend Line?

The capacity must be quite high, as the only complication is the totally independent Crouch Valley Line.

Southend Victoria station has four platforms, so the station could probably handle sixteen tph, which is more than enough.

I feel that it would be possible to run four Fast expresses and four Slow Crossrail trains in an hour.

Whether that would be an acceptable timetable is another matter.

Interchange With The Crouch Valley Line

The Crouch Valley Line’s one train every forty minutes must be a nightmare for Greater Anglia and passengers alike, and I suspect that Greater Anglia have a cunning plan to run a two tph service on the line.

It appears that the track layout can achieve this, with the two trains passing at North Fambridge station. But as they don’t run two tph on this branch there must be other limitations.

Foremost of these could be the three tph service on the Shenfield to Southend Line.

So sorting out the Shenfield to Southend Line might improve the service on the Crouch Valley Line.


I have come to these conclusions about services between Liverpool Street and Southend Victoria stations..

  • A Fast Greater Anglia express service could probably achieve a sub-fifty minute time.
  • A Slow Crossrail service, could probably do the trip in an hour.
  • Better interchange with Crouch Valley Line and Great Easstern Main Line services would be achieved.
  • Four Fast and four Slow services in each hour is possible.

My choice for the Liverpool Street to Southend Victoria service would be as follows.

  • Four tph – Crossrail Class 345 trains – Stopping at all stations.
  • Four tph – Greater Anglia Class 745 trains – Stopping at Southend Airport, Billericay, Shenfield and Stratford.

Or the simple option of just running the four Crossrail trains.

Crossrail to Southend, isn’t a ridiculous aspiration.

August 11, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Southend In The Sun

I went to Southend more out of curiosity than anything else, as the BBC Weather web site said that nearby Shoeburyness would be one of the sunniest places in the UK.

As you can see, the BBC was right.

December 28, 2016 Posted by | World | | 1 Comment

Leaving From Southend Airport

It’s a long time, that I did some of my flying training at Southend Airport.

I flew from the airport to Las Palmas, as it was only flight I could get on the Sunday, that had seats.

Southend Airport, must be one of the few with a lawn outside the terminal where passengers can waste time before going through the gate or people can wait for a passenger.

I couldn’t use the station, which is only about a hundred metres from the gate, as being Sunday, it was a bus on part of the way to London because of Crossrail work.

So I used Southend Central station and got a lift with a couple of Dutchmen.

November 7, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Enthusiasm For Class 345 Trains

I have read several articles on the new Class 345 trains for Crossrail.

This article from Railway Technology Magazine, which is entitled There has never been a ‘better designed’ train than Crossrail, is particularly enthusiastic.

This is said.

There has never been a train “better prepared or better designed” in the UK than theCrossrail train, London Underground’s managing director Mark Wild told RTM at a visit to Bombardier’s testing facility in Derby.

Speaking to RTM after the first Crossrail train, Class 345, was unveiled and taken for a ride across the Bombardier test track for the first time, Wild sang the many praises of the state-of-the-art vehicle, calling it a “world-class train” for passengers.

“It’s a sensational train. I’m so pleased to see it – it’s so exciting,” he said. “I’ve been lucky enough to be involved with other train procurements in my career and this is definitely the best. This will be a big success – obviously it has to be tested thoroughly, but it is already looks great.”

But of course the proof of the train, will be in the riding.

I can’t wait, until May 2017, when they will start running between Liverpool Street and Shenfield.

I think that Bombardier, Crossrail and TfL are handling the introduction of the trains into service in a way, that means they can handle any teething troubles.


  • Liverpool Street to Shenfield is a self-contained line.
  • By the end of this year, Liverpool Street to Shenfield will have had the extended platforms completed and the power systems upgraded for Crossrail.
  • Bombardier have a facility for servicing trains at Ilford, so the testing will be on their door-step.

Bombardier are also introducing the trains as seven cars, as the platforms at Liverpool Street are too short. But after their lengthening of the Class 378 trains on the Overground, this process probably has no fears for the company.

It will also mean, that when the platforms are lengthened, this can be done at a time, when all the trains are going through the central tunnel.

But to me, the platform lengthening at Liverpool Street has more to it.

The Services section for Crossrail in Wikipedia is saying that only four trains to Gidea Park in the Peak will use Liverpool Street.

Lengthening the platforms for just four trains does seem a lot of work just to allow the standard trains to enter Liverpool Street.

Obviously, if there is a problem like a broken-down train in the tunnel, the ability to use Liverpool Street station as an alternative destination will be valuable.

Or could it be that there are other plans to perhaps run Crossrail trains to Southend Victoria?

I feel the latter would make a lot of sense.

  • The Southend Victoria route, gets much needed new trains.
  • Southend Airport gets a premium service.
  • The use of the upgraded Crossrail route is increased.
  • These trains could perhaps just stop at Stratford, Ilford, Romford, Gidea Park and Shenfield.
  • They could be mechanically and electrically identical to the Crossrail trains, but with a more appropriate interiror.

This is only the same as is happening on the Western Branch, where other services are using Crossrail’s tracks to go to Paddington.

Crossrail is going to be a lot bigger than a cross-London railway called the Elizabeth Line.



August 3, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Wickford Station

I took these pictures at Wickford station.


  • There is a disused Platform 4  at the London End.
  • The Crouch Valley Line service to Southminster station uses Platform 1 at the Southend End.
  • The service between London and Southend is generally three trains per hour.
  • The service on the Crouch Valley Line is for a lot of the time, one train evrry forty minutes.
  • The station is not step-free.

As one of the station staff says, the station needs a drastic makeover.

But as the station handles over two million passengers a year, I think that it must be a fair way up the list of stations to be improved.

London To Southend Services

Wickford station is on the line route between London Liverpool Street and Southend Victoria station, which is run by Abellio Greater Anglia (AGA).

There is also a line between London Fenchurch Street and Southend Central station, which is run by c2c.

Comparing the two services gives the following.

  • The c2c service has six trains per hour, whereas the AGA service has three.
  • The c2c service is a few minutes faster.
  • The trains on the c2c service are Class 357 trains, a couple of decades younger than AGA’s Class 321 trains.
  • c2c are intending to bring in new trains in a few years.
  • c2c’s stations seem to be in better state than AGA’s.

To add to the problems of the AGA service, in a couple of years time, Crossrail will be running new trains between Liverpool Street and Shenfield.

I also believe that slower trains like the Class 321 trains, are an operational problem to increase capacity and speed on the Great Eastern Main Line South of Shenfield.

Because of the competition from c2c and the problems with running alongside Crossrail into London, I suspect that the new East Anglia Franchise will have to invest in new trains on the Liverpool Street to Southend Victoria route.

As Crossrail will be running Class 345 trains based on the Aventra, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Aventras running to Southend Victoria.

But these will not be designed with a Metro interior, but probably with an interior like a Class 387 train, with lots of space and tables.

Southend will certainly have a much improved train service to London.

If the service on the AGA route through Wickford were to be four or six trains per hour, then this would interchange much better with a two trains per hour service on the Crouch Valley Line.



July 18, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , | 1 Comment

Prittlewell Station

After my doctor’s appointment, I came back from Prittlewell station.

The pictures show that it is getting the standard level of care from Abellio Greater Anglia. The Class 321 Train was certainly living up to its nickname of a Dusty Bin.

But if I’m honest, I wouldn’t be sorry if Abellio Greater Anglia didn’t keep the East Anglian rail franchise, when it is renewed.

At present the management just don’t seem to care, if the poor state of the stations and trains, and the service they provide are anything to go by. Just to look at say Hackney Downs station after the London Overground takeover, to see what a good deep clean and some paint will do.

July 14, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , | 1 Comment

A Double-Sided Station

Southend Central station is one with an unusual layout. It is just off the High Street in Southend, as this Google Map shows.

Southend Central Station

Southend Central Station

The main station buildings are on the Southern side of the line, but on the Northern side, there is another set of entrances and some facilities.

The pictures show both sides of the station and the bridge across the High Street.

It strikes me that if this station ever gets rebuilt, perhaps in conjunction with a shopping, residential, leisure or office development, the architect has a lot of scope to create a uniquely accessible building.

July 14, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

The Long Way Back From Rayleigh

For various reasons, I go to a dentist in Rayleigh near Southend.

Usually, it is a simple out and back from Stratford.

But today although it was easy getting there, coming back was a long journey, as a man was killed by a train at Harold Wood according to this report in the Romford Recorder.

I was informed that there would be a long wait at Rayleigh, so as a bus arrived, which was going to Southend, I took that as if the Liverpool Street was closed, I could at least get a c2c train to Barking or West Ham.

It is only when you are forced to take a bus in a strange town, that is information-free and nearly all your fellow travellers are wearing head-phones, you realise how most buses are terrible outside London.

I haven’t been to the centre of Southend since the 1960s, so it was only because my phone told me, that I was somewhere near the centre, that I got off at the right stop, near Southend Victoria station.

After buying my ticket and a drink, I was then informed that the trains were still not running. So I decided to walk to Southend Central station for the c2c train. This Google Earth image shows the two stations.

Central Southend

Central Southend

Victoria is at the top and Central is on the railway line that runs across the image.

The walk was easy, if rather windy and after ascertaining that c2c would happily accept my GreaterAnglia ticket, in a few minutes I was on a train to London. These pictures taken on the first part of the journey, illustrate the quality of the weather and how close the line is to the coast.

The weather was certainly worse than I encountered on the Cumbrian Coast.

In the end I changed onto the Metropolitan Line at Barking and then came home my usual way via Whitechapel and Dalston Junction.

May 6, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

An Historical Side-Effect Of The London Gateway

This story from the Southend Echo, tells about the excavation of HMS London. They say this.

A PHOTOGRAPHIC exhibition detailing the excavation of a shipwreck off Southend pier has opened to the public.

HMS London was first rediscovered in 2005 during works to build the London Gateway superport.

Mary Rose it is not, but HMS London would appear that it is starting to give up its secrets.

I shall certainly go to the exhibition of photos at the Beecroft Gallery in the town.

April 9, 2015 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

Bikini Record Goes Bust

An attempt at Southend yesterday to break the number of women wearing bikinis failed.

Appearently only 42 turned up, when they needed 1923 to break the record.  Southend must be just too cold.  I though Essex girls were up for anything.

There are some appropriate Essex girl jokes here. It is probably a good idea if you don’t go there, if you can be easily offended or are female and were born in Essex.

August 3, 2009 Posted by | News | , , , | Leave a comment