The Anonymous Widower

Google Grabs The Best Site In London For Its Massive Groundscraper

This Google Map the site where the massive groundscraper is being built.


  1. Kings Cross station, which is on the right of the map, has extensive connections to the North-East of England and Scotland.
  2. St. Pancras station, which is on the left of the map, has extensive connections to the Midlands and Belgium, France and the Netherlands, with more services to come including Germany, Switzerland and Western France.
  3. Thameslink runs North-South beneath St. Pancras station, has extensive connections to Bedfordshire, Herfordshire, Kent, Surrey and Sussex.
  4. There are also six Underground Lines.
  5. Gatwick and Luton Airports have direct connections and City, Heathrow and Southend Airports  only need a step-free change.
  6. Improvements in the next few years could mean that HS2 and all of London’s five airports will have a fast direct connection to the area.

In the middle of all these railway lines, sits Google’s groundscraper, which shows as a white structure towards the top of the map.

These pictures show the area between the two stations, the under-construction groundscraper and the new blocks.

And these pictures show the progress on the site.

There is not much that is visible yet!

More Pictures!

But the building will be more visible soon! For those who can’t wait, this article from the Daily Mail has a lot of visualisations.


November 8, 2018 Posted by | Computing, World | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Heavyweight Backing Expected For £1.5bn Crossrail Extension

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

This is the first paragraph.

Government infrastructure tsar Sir John Armitt is this week expected to throw his weight behind a £1.5bn extension to Ebbsfleet.

The article also says.

  • Circumstances have changed greatly since the 2008 Crossrail Act.
  • Canary Wharf Group, who contributed £150million to the building of Canary Wharf station, may be prepared to contribute, as this will give access from their site to Eurostar.
  • The extension could support the construction of 55,000 new homes and 50,000 jobs.

The extension would take ten years to design and construct.


After my forays to and from Europe recently by Eurostar, I feel that a Crossrail link to Ebbsfleet will be heavily used.

  • As more destinations are served by trains from St. Pancras, more passengers will find Ebbsfleet a more convenient station for the Continent.
  • Ebbsfleet will be linked directly to Canary Wharf, the City of London, the West End and Heathrow.
  • Crossrail will give an easy Undergound-free link between Wales and the West Country and Ebbsfleet stations with a single change at Paddington station.
  • When HS2 opens, there will be an easy Underground-free link between the Midlands and the North and Ebbsfleet stations with a single change at Old Oak Common station.
  • St. Pancras only has four platforms with no space to expand, but it could be relatively easy to add capacity at Ebbsfleet.

If I was in charge of designing and building the Crossrail extension, I’d make sure that Eurostar made a contribution, as they will be big winners from the extension.

The City Of London

The extension may be beneficial to the City of London.

  • The extension would add more stations within easy reach of terminal stations in the City.
  • The extension might give an easier route to and from the City.
  • After Brexit, I suspect the institutions of the City will want more good connections to Amsterdam, Brussels, Frankfurt and Paris.

,Perhaps one of the big City companies might like to finance construction and charge a royalty on each rain?

London City Airport

Should the project to build the extension also include building a Crossrail station at London City Airport?

This would mean that passengers between places like Aberdeen, Belfast, Dublin, Edinburgh, Glasgow, the Isle of Man and Manchester, and Continental destinations served by train would have a more convenient interchange in London.

Ebbsfleet Valley

Ebbsfleet Valley is a proposed new town of 16,000 homes being built on brownfield land close to Ebbsfleet station.

£300million of government money has been pumped into the project. But according to Wikipedia, there has been criticisms of the project.

London Paramount Entertainment Resort

London Paramount Entertainment Resort is described like this in Wikipedia.

London Paramount Entertainment Resort (commonly referred to as London Paramount) is a proposed theme park for the London Resort in Swanscombe, Kent. The project was announced on 8 October 2012 and it was estimated to open by around 2023.. In June 2017, it was announced that Paramount had pulled out of the project[2]. However, London Resort Company Holdings still insist the project is going ahead.

I’ve never been to a theme park, as I prefer the real thing!

But others will like it!


The beneficiaries of extending Crossrail to Ebbsfleet, include a lot of big players with possibly large financial resources.

I would suspect that some could be persuaded to fund particular parts of the project.

After all, if a housing developer invested say £10 million, in a new station for a development and then found it easier to sell the houses, there comes a point, where they make more profit and house buyers get a much better place to live.


June 4, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

A Connection Between City Thameslink Station And The Docklands Light Railway

In the Wikipedia entry for the Docklands Light Railway, there is a section describing a proposed Euston/St. Pancras Extension.

This is said.

In 2011, strategy documents proposed a DLR extension to Euston and St Pancras. Transport for London have considered driving a line from City Thameslink via Holborn north to the rail termini. The main benefit of such an extension would be to broaden the available direct transport links to the Canary Wharf site. It would create a new artery in central London and help relieve the Northern and Circle lines and provide another metro line to serve the High Speed line into Euston.

This map from Transport for London, shows the possible Western extension of the DLR.

With all the problems of the funding of Crossrail 2, that I wrote about in Crossrail 2 Review Prompts Fresh Delays, could this extension of the DLR, be a good idea?


  • Victoria, Euston and St. Pancras are prosposed Crossrail 2 stations.
  • It would link Canary Wharf and the City of London to Eurostar, Northern and Scottish services and High Speed 2.
  • It would give all of the Docklands Light Railway network access to Thameslink.
  • A pair of well-designed termini at Euston and St. Panras would probably increase frequency and capacity on the Bank branch of the system.
  • The DLR is getting new higher capacity trains.
  • Bank station is being upgraded with forty percent more passenger capacity.
  • Holborn station is being upgraded and hopefully will be future-proofed for this extension.
  • One big advantage at City Thameslink, is that Thameslink and the proposed DLR extension will cross at right-angles, thus probably making designing a good step-free interchange easier.
  • The Bank Branch of the DLR currently handles 15 tph, but could probably handle more, if they went on to two terminal stations at St Pancras and Victoria..
  • Waterloo and City Line can run at twenty-four tph.

Cinderella she may be, but then she always delivers, when there is a desperate need, just as she did magnificently at the 2012 Olympics.

The only problem with this extension of the DLR, is that compared to the rest of the system, the views will be terrible.

For myself and all the others living along the East London Line, with a step-free change at Shadwell, we would get excellent access to Euston, Saint Pancras and Victoria

But could the line still be called the Docklands Light Railway, as it spreads its tentacles further?


March 12, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

The Rigid Overhead Conductor Rails At St. Pancras Thameslink Station

Whilst waiting for a train in St. Pancras Thameslink station, I noticed that the station has been fitted with rigid overhead conductor rails.

I couldn’t remember it being there before. But I don’t often go to the station.

However, I did find this page in Rail Forums, which is entitled Conductor Rail At St. Pancras Thameslink.

Apparently, the change was made at Easter 2013. This is one reply.

Installed over Easter. Known as conductor beam. The contact wire is fixed to the underside. Much more robust than regular OLE, and practically zero maintenance.

It has replaced a tricky tension length of OLE between approx half way along St Pancras LL platforms and the middle of the old KX Thameslink platforms. The curvature, cant and gradient change through this section made the OLE pretty difficult to keep in the right place and had high wear rates.

Likely the conductor beam will be extended north through to Dock Jn and through the new Canal tunnels, not confirmed yet.

Given the robust nature and lower maintenance costs, I think we’ll be seeing lots more of this type of electrification.

November 5, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , | Comments Off on The Rigid Overhead Conductor Rails At St. Pancras Thameslink Station

Should A Mega-Station Be Created At Kings Cross-St. Pancras-Euston?

The three important stations of Kings Cross, St. Pancras and Euston sit like three isolated islands on Euston Road.

Kings Cross Station

Kings Cross station was extended and refurbished in 2012 and is the most modern of the three, with a well-designed square in front of the station.

Kings Cross serves as a terminus for East Coast Main Line and some Cambridge services.


Kings Cross has connections to the following Underground lines at Kings Cross St. Pancras tube station.

  • Circle, Hammersmith and City and Metropolitan.
  • Northern
  • Piccadilly
  • Victoria

On the whole, the connections to the Underground are generally good, but crowded.


If you want to go East connectivity is good, but when taking a bus to the West or South, finding the stop can be difficult.


The taxi rank at Kings Cross generally works well, as it was reconfigured when the station was updated.

Summing Up Kings Cross Station

Kings Cross has a lot of space both inside and outside and using the station can be an easy process compared to many.

St. Pancras Station

St. Pancras station was rebuilt and extended for Eurostar and Southeastern Highspeed services in 2007.

I always describe St, Pancras as a Fur-Coat-And-No-Knickers station.

It may look spectacular, but it wasn’t designed for passengers or staff, due to the dreadful connectivity between the various services at the station.

  • Continental
  • Midland Main Line
  • Southeastern Highspeed
  • Thameslink

With all these services set to expand, I have a feeling that St. Pancras faces a capacity problem.


To further complicate matters, it’s a often a long walk to the Underground line you need, as these were designed to serve Kings Cross.

  • Circle, Hammersmith and City and Metropolitan.
  • Northern
  • Piccadilly
  • Victoria

There is a ticket hall at the front of the station, but it’s often very crowded with large numbers of Eurostar passengers queuing for tickets.


It’s a walk to Kings Cross in most cases unless you can find a way across the busy Euston Road.


I always walk to Kings Cross, as like most passenger facilities at St. Pnncras, the taxi rank wasn’t well-designed.

Summing Up St. Pancras

St. Pancras doesn’t have the space inside or outside that Kings Cross has and often feels cramped with every seat taken.

With the increase in all services expected in the next few years, passengers should think hard about how they can avoid the station,

Euston Station

Euston station is going to be rebuilt in the next few years for HS2.

Currently, it serves as a terminus for West Coast Main Line and a few suburban services.


The Underground at Euston is a mess with Euston tube station handling the following lines.

  • Both branches of the Northern
  • Victoria

Round the corner is the cramped Euston Square station which handles the Circle, Hammersmith and City and Metropolitan Lines.

Neither station is fully step-free and the Underground connection will need expansion for HS2.


Euston has a good bus station if you’re going East, but going West means crossing the busy Euston Road.


Euston has an underground taxi rank, that seems to work well.

Summing Up Euston Station

Space is at a premium in Euston station and the Underground connections need urgent improvement.

Crossrail 2

Crossrail 2 is being put forward  as the project that will sort out the problems of the three stations on the Euston Road.

A mega station is to be built called Euston St. Pancras, which will serve all three stations.

But Euston and St. Pancras need extra capacity in connecting services now, not in the early 2030s!

Existing Lines

This map from shows the current Underground Lines at the three stations.

Can these lines be improved to help solve the capacity problems?

Victoria Line

If you want an example of the quality of the engineers working on the London Underground, you only have to look at the Victoria Line.

Fifty years old next year, the line was built on the cheap, but with superb automatic systems and some clever station layouts and now every year, more trains seem to be squeezed down its pair of tunnels. Currently, the frequency of trains is thirty-six trains per hour (tph) along its whole length.

As the Victoria Line calls at all three stations, any improvements to Dear Old Vicky, like step-free access at Euston, will help.

Northern Line

The Northern Line has three major projects underway.

  • The extension to Battersea
  • The upgrading of Camden Town station.
  • The upgrading of Bank station

When these are complete around 2024, it will be possible to split the line into two separate lines each handling 36 tph.

But more trains will be needed.

Piccadilly Line

The major upgrade for the Piccadilly Line will be new trains, which should arrive from 2022, which will bring a double-digit increase in capacity.

It should also be noted that the frequency in the core is only twenty-one tph, so upwards of thorty tph must be an objectve.

Unlike the Northern And Victoria Lines, the Piccadilly Line doesn’t call at Euston station.

Circle, Hammersmith and City and Metropolitan Lines

The Circle, Hammersmith and City and Metropolitan Lines are being upgraded. This is said on Wikipedia.

Together with the introduction of S Stock trains, the track, electrical supply and signalling systems are being upgraded in a programme planned to increase peak-hour capacity on the Circle and Hammersmith & City lines by 65 per cent by the end of 2018. A single control room for the sub-surface railway is to be established in Hammersmith and an automatic train control (ATC) system will replace signalling equipment installed from the 1940s. The cross-London Crossrail line, planned to open in 2018, is expected to reduce crowding between Paddington and Whitechapel.

This should result in a large increase in capacity between Baker Street and Liverpool Street.



Although Crossrail doesn’t fully open until December 2019, and doesn’t even call at Kings Cross, St.Pancras and Euston stations, the new line will have an effect on passengers travelling to the three stations.

  • In my quote  from Wikipedia, it says that Crossrail is expected to reduce crowding between Paddington and Whitechapel.
  • Crossrail is expected to have a link with HS2 at Old Oak Common station.
  • Crossrail may be extended up the West Coast Main Line.

The latter two points would allow passengers to bypass Euston.


Thameslink when it is running fully at the design frequency of 24 tph will certainly have effects on passenger traffic.

But it is difficult to say what they will be.

Difficult Interchanges

If you look at the interchanges between the various lines, in my opinion, the following are the more difficult interchanges.

  • Euston Square tube station to Euston station.
  • Euston station to St. Pancras station.
  • Victoria Line to Thameslink at St. Pancras station.
  • Circle, Hammersmith and City and Metropolitan Lines ro Thameslink at St. Pancras station.
  • Euston Square tube station to Northern Line at Euston station.

In addition Euston Square and Euston stations are not step-free.

Transport for London probably know the improvements that would offer the most benefit.

Euston Square Station And Euston Station

The poor connectivity between Euston Square tube station and Euston station, is a major problem.

Sort this bad connectivity, when Euston station is rebuilt for HS2 and world’s oldest underground railway, dating from 1863, will be providing a high-frequency service to the UK’s premier high-speed railway.

Euston Road

Euston Road, which can be very busy, is a major problem for passengers needing to cross to perhaps use buses going to the West.

The experience of using the stations could be improved for a proportion of travellers, if crossing the road was easier.

Should A Mega-Station Be Created At Kings Cross-St. Pancras-Euston?

I’ll return to the original question I asked.

  • If Crossrail 2 is built, there will obviously be a mega station at Euston St. Pancras.
  • But I believe that all the other improvements that will happen before HS2 opens may well be enough to cope with the extra capacity needed for a few years.

Obviously though, any improvements must not compromise the building of Crossrail 2’s mega-station.


I believe it is possible to improve connectivity to the three major stations of King Cross, St. Pancras and Euston, by doing the following.

  • Improving the frequency and capacity on the various Underground lines serving the three stations.
  • Splitting the Northern Line into two separate lines.
  • Improving the links between the existing Nation Rail and Underground Lines.
  • Integrating Euston Square station into Euston station, when Euston is rebuilt for HS2.
  • Improving the crossing of Euston Road on foot.

In some ways the last-but-one point is the most important, as it cures the worst interchange.






September 29, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Extending The Docklands Light Railway West From Bank Station

Two possible routes have been proposed foe extending the Docklands Light Railway to the West

Whether either is worth developing, I don’t know.

But consider.

  • The Thameslink Programme will improve access between London Bridge and Charing Cross stations, which could take pressure off the Jubilee Line.
  • The Thameslink Programme will improve Southeastern services into Cannon Street and Charing Cross stations.
  • Charing Cross station has a couple of spare platforms, that some would like to re-use.
  • Euston and St. Pancras stations have bad access to Canary Wharf and South East London.
  • The Bakerloo Line Extension has been given the green light.
  • Crossrail connects Canary Wharf to Bond Strreet, Heathrow, Liverpool Street and Paddington.

But the big issue, is what happens about Crossrail 2.

I feel that the more likely extension to the West is to go from Bank to Euston via City Thameslink and Holborn and/or Tottenham Court Road stations and finish by going on to St. Pancras.

It could link HS2 at Euston and European services at St. Pancras to the following.

  • Thameslink at City Thameslink station.
  • Crossrail at Tottenham Court Road station.
  • Bank and Canary Wharf stations.

It would also provide a decent link between the long distance services at Euston, Kings Cross and St. Pancras.

These factors would also influence the design of the DLR Extension.

  • The DLR has all the agility of a mountain coat to climb hills and turn sharply, so it might be possible to squeeze it through places impossible for a Crossrail or an Underground line.
  • 3D-design techniques are getting better every year.
  • Tunnel boring machines are getting more accurate.
  • Escalators are getting longer.

So could we see the extension going from Bank to City Thameslink as a traditional extension and then going in a long double-track loop via some or all of the following stations.

  • Holborn
  • Tottenham Court Road
  • Oxford Circus
  • Regents Park
  • Euston
  • St. Pancras
  • Covent Garden

It would all depend on where they could squeeze the tracks through.

  • Stations could be island platforms between the tracks.
  • Platform edge doors could be fitted.
  • Escalators and lifts could link the platforms to existing station.

There’s no reason why the line should be designed traditionally for the DLR.


February 17, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Design Crime – Train Platform Interface At St. Pancras Thameslink

Frank Grdner has been complaining at the problems of travelling on planes in a wheelchair.

I took these pictures of the step between platform and train at St. Pancras Thameslink station.

All of the trains including the 1980s built Class 319 trains seem to require the same step-up into the train.

As the Platforms at the station were built after the Class 319 trains became the most numerous trains on the route, this a real design crime of the highest order.

It would appear that Merseyrail will offer roll-across access with their new trains, so why isn’t Thameslink.

But then in an ideal world, St. Pancras station needs a substantial rebuild underground.

January 11, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Does Sheffield Get The Public Transport It Needs?

I ask this question, as I spent a day in Sheffield yesterday, watching Ipswich play Sheffield Wednesday. These are some observations.

The London Sheffield Train Service

In the 1960s and before, Sheffield had a higher priority than it does now in the Government’s rail policy.

One of the flagship services was the Master Cutler going into Kings Cross.

I can remember this train with an iconic Class 55 locomotive on the front, speeding through Oakleigh Park station.

The service between London and Sheffield station isn’t bad, but to put it mildly, the First Class isn’t first class compared to say, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle.

Yesterday on my trips up and down, not as much as a cup of coffee was offered. Perhaps more importantly, tickets weren’t checked coming back to London. Wi-fi wasn’t working on the way up, but I didn’t check it, as I generally don’t use it, as logging in on some services generates spam.

The other big problem with all services out of St. Pancras, is that their are no late trains back to the capital, whichy must encourage people to drive.

Two developments should improve the service to London.

  • Electrification, which surely must see a time around two hours to London.
  • The new East Midland Franchise.

If the second has the same affect, as the new East Anglian Franchise did, we should see serious improvements.

Sheffield needs at least three trains-per-hour (tph) to and from London and the South. In my view this is the minimum frequency for a journey that could be two hours or under from London. Manchester and Norwich have or will have it, so why not all cities and major centres between these two sizes?

One of the problems of increasing the frequency from 2 tph or even lengthening trains, is my Aunt Sally or that Fur Coat And No Knickers Station of St. Pancras.

So something radical will have to be done by the new Franchise, as increasing services out of St. Pancras will need some clever train scheduling.

Sheffield’s Non-Standard Tram System

The Sheffield tram seems to work, but if they were being designed today, they would be very different, as would be the Manchester Metrolink.

  • The Siemens-Duewag Supertram are to a special design to cope with gradients.
  • The trams are only 40% low-floor.
  • The trams are long, to avoid running in multiple.
  • There is a lot more street running, than other systems.

This all means that expanding the system will be difficult and expensive.

On my trip yesterday, I encountered some problems.

  • The trams were very crowded.
  • There was a long delay because someone had parked on a double-yellow line blocking the tram tracks.
  • The frequency is not high enough.

Some problems would be solved in say Manchester and other tram systems in the UK, would be solved by just ordering more trams. I suspect that because of the non-standard nature of the system, and the obselete tram design, that this is not possible, at an affordable cost.

Sheffield’s solution is to add a new route to Rotherham using Class 399 tram-trains. They will also order some extra vehicles to improve frequencies on the existing network.

Progress has been slow to say the least, and I can’t help thinking that designers of CAF, who have produced the excellent Urbos 3 trams for Edinburgh and the Midland Metro, couldn’t have rearranged some of their solutions to provide extra trams to improve the current Sheffield network.

At some point the original trams will need to be replaced and the tram-train might provide a solution for this, but surely a 100% low-floor tram designed especially for Sheffield’s non-standard network, could be a more affordable solution.

Progress On The Tram-Train

I took a walk along the River Don and this must be the slowest railway project in the UK. That says something, considering we’ve got some real dogs out there.

Tram-train services to Rotherham are supposed to start in 2017.

There is still a lot to do.

Trams To Hillsborough Stadium

The Hillsborough Disaster happened on the fifteenth of April 1989 and the Sheffield Supertram opened on the 21st March 1994.

As one of the causes of the Hillsborough disaster was traffic problems on the M62 from Liverpool, surely you’d think that the design of the Supertram would have been arraqnged so that supporters could get to the stadium eaqsier.


But not a jot of it, as I suppose that the powers that be, decided that lightning doesn’t strike the same place twice.

This Google Map shows Hillsborough Stadium.

Hillsborough Stadium And The Supertram

Hillsborough Stadium And The Supertram

The Supertram has a stop at the top of Leppings Lane, which is ideal for the Visitors end.

The tram route runs on the North-South road at the West of the map.

This Google Map shows the area of the Leppings Lane tram stop.

Leppings Lane Tram Stop

Leppings Lane Tram Stop

It doesn’t seem to be the most difficult project to improve the access to the Supertram at this stop.

Given Sheffield Wednesday’s new owners, it is not inconceivable that the club ends up in the Premier League.

From my experience yesterdsy, the current arrangements would be difficult, so something creative needs to be done.

Getting between the station and Hillsborough is not easy, as a change of tram is needed.

Leppings Lane is only one stop from the end of the line at Middlewood. Surely, on match days, one simple solution would be to run trams direct to the station from Middlewood.

But the restricted number of trams probably makes this impossible.


Sheffield’s public transport network needs improvement.




November 6, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

A Fur Coat And No Knickers Station

St. Pancras stayion is not my favourite.

My hate affair with the station started when I wrote Could St. Pancras Thameslink Station Have Had An Island Platform?, where I first called the dreadful concoction a fur coat and no knickers station. I said this.

St. Pancras is very much a fur coat and no knickers station!

Show on top and draughty and lacking at the bottom!

I don’t take back one word of what I said.

The station is the interchange between the following lines.

  • Metropolitan and Circle Lines of the Underground
  • Midland Main Line to Corby, Derby, Leicester, Nottingham and Sheffield.
  • Piccadilly Line of the Underground
  • South-Eastern Highspeed services to Kent.
  • Thameslink between Bedford and Brighton
  • Victoria Line of the Underground.

So to say the least it’s complicated.

Problems For Train Operators

The three main operators of the services in the above ground station, must despair at how few platforms, they have been allocated.

If you catch a Midland Main Line train to Nottingham say, you often have to walk to the second train in the platform. If they had a couple more platforms, then this walk would be avoided and extra services like a Luton Airport Express, that I wrote about in Luton Trains Its Eye On Sub 30-Minute Express, would become possible.

It’s the same with Douth-Eastern Highspeed services on the other side of the station.

Eurostar is perhaps better. But, if other operators wanted to run services, is there the space to accommodate their trains and the services they require?

Endless Walking For Passengers

Problems for passengers are very much concerned with the difficulty of changing between the various lines at the station.

I’ll give exchanging between the Victoria Line and Thameslink as an example.

It’s a very long walk down a tunnel to get from the Victoria Line to St. Pancras station and then you have to descend into Thameslink.

I wonder how many trains out of St. Pancras are missed because first-time passengers, assume that the time they’d habitually allow at Waterloo, London Bridge or Euston, is totally inadequate?

Thameslink Is Not An Island Platform

Thameslink needs this so that passengers on the Bedford branch can easily walk across the platform to get the Cambridge/Peterborough branch.

But it’s all too late now to do something.

Crossrail 2

How do you fit Crossrail 2 into this mess?

What Would I Do?

I would ask a friendly earthquake to completely destroy the complex, so it is rebuilt as a properly functioning station.

My serious ideas follow.

Short Term Improvements To St. Pancras

These would mainly be concerned with handling passengers.

  • Thameslink needs a link at the Southern end of the platforms to the Metropolitan Line Ticket Hall.
  • The Metropolitan Line Ticket Hall is decluttered and just serves as an interchange between lines.
  • Eurostar needs to educate its passengers, so they use contactless bank card ticketing or Oyster.
  • Perhaps Eurostar stewards, should sell a suitably-valued Oyster on board.
  • Less shopping and more ticket machines and staff to handle passengers from and to Eurostar.
  • More escalators are needed to the Midland Main Line platforms.

I suspect all operators have their own pet projects.

A Luton/Gatwick Express

Four Thameslink trains an hour between Gatwick and Luton Airports could be dedicated as Luton/Gatwick Expresses.

  • Paint them red, so passengers don’t end up in Peterborough instead of Luton.
  • Use trains with tables, wi-fi and space for luggage.
  • Run them between Bedford and Brighton.
  • Stop at Luton, Luton Airport Parkway, St. Albans City, West Hampstead Interchange, St. Pancras, Farringdon, City Thameslink, Blackfriars, London Bridge, East Croydon, Gatwick Airport, Three  Bridges and Haywards Heath or whatever travel patterns say.

This would give Luton Airport the service they desire, without needing any extra platforms in the Midland Main Line station.

It would be interesting to see the passenger patterns to and from the airports. Do they have a different pattern than that of commuters, so some degree of smoothing numbers, will be naturally applied?

A Heathrow Express

Four trains per hour to Heathrow via West Hampstead Interchange and Old Oak Common for HS2, would be what Heathrow and HS2 needs.

But where do you find the single platform to turn the trains at St. Pancras?

More Platforms At St. Pancras

On resource grounds alone this is essential.


The architects who created this mess, shouldn’t be let near a station again.

October 27, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , | Comments Off on A Fur Coat And No Knickers Station

Luton Trains Its Eye On Sub 30-Minute Express

This was the headline on a small piece in The Times on Monday.

Luton Airport want the following from the new East Midlands Franchise.

  • A dedicated fast train.
  • Four trains an hour (tph) to and from St. Pancras.
  • A journey time of less than thirty minutes.

The airport says it won’t need any new infrastructure, but they are planning a fast link from Luton Airport Parkway station, which I wrote about in Luton Airport Goes For Light Rail.

This is an extract from the article..

The move would add up to £110million of extra fare revenue to the government over ten years and take almost 1 million cars off the road, a study by North Star, the consultancy found.

At present there are two separate services to Luton Airport.

  • Thameslink, which leaves from the low-level Thameslink platform takes 45 minutes to the airport, with a frequency of six tph.
  • East Midlands Trains, which leave from the high-level platforms take around 30 minutes to the airport, with a frequency of 1-2 tph.

Note these points about the current service.

  • The lack of a dedicated platform for the fast trains to the airport, must confuse occassional passengers.
  • The time of sub-thirty minutes is certainly possible on East Midlands Trains.
  • There is not enough platforms in the high-level station for a dedicated platform for an express Luton Airport service.

The problems are made worse by A Fur Coat And No Knickers Station at St. Pancras.

The new franchise will probably be buying new electric trains for the Midland Main Line services. These could be key to providing an express airport service to Luton Airport.

Abellio has stated that their new Flirts and Aventras for Greater Anglia, will have a very fast stop and restart time, thus enabling services like Norwich in Ninety and Ipswich in Sixty.

So we then have the possibility of similar trains on the Midland Main Line  to Corby, Derby, Leicester, Nottingham and Sheffield stopping at Luton Airport Parkway, without adding a large delay to the service. This would give Luton Airport, the following express services.

  • At least four tph to and from St. Pancras in under thirty ,minutes.
  • At least two tph to and from Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield.
  • At least three tph to and from Leicester.

The only complaints would come from East Midlands Airport.

As there will be at least eight tph on Thameslink, this should be enough trains for everyone.


October 26, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment