The Anonymous Widower

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 | Travel | , , , , , , , | 6 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 | Travel | , , | 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 | Travel | , , , , , , , | 3 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 | Travel | , , , , | 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 | Travel | , , , , , | 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 | Travel | , , | 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 | Travel | , | 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 | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

London Bridge Station Will Be A Game-Changer For Many Passengers

After my first glimpse of the new London Bridge station, which I posted in London Bridge Station Wakes Up, I have a feeling that the station could be a gam-changer for many passengers.

These are a few of the ways the new station will help. Some are very specific for me, as I live in Dalston, without direct access to the Underground.

London Bridge Station Is Bus-Friendly

Ever since the new bus station at London Bridge has opened, it has been easier for those like me in Islington, Hackney and Tower Hamlets to get to the station, as there are several buses between our area and London Bridge.

But now the top entrance under the Shard is now complete, you can take one escalator to the concourse under all the tracks.

You can also still walk through direct to platforms 10-15, which I often do, as these platforms are the terminals for trains to and from Freedom Pass territory. There’s also a convenient M&S Simply Food, which I regularly use.

I also think that, as the concourse,has better access to and from Tooley Street, this will help those wanted to use buses on Tooley Street.

This visualisation from this page on the Thameslink Programme shows what Tooley Street will look like.

London Bridge Ststion And Tooley Street

London Bridge Ststion And Tooley Street

There seems to be a wide pavement between the traffic and the station.

London Bridge Station Is Reasonably Tube-Friendly

The main London termini serving the South, are not as far as I’m concerned the easiest to get to by Underground, especially from East London.

Victoria and Waterloo are a long way to the West and Cannon Street and Charing Cross are downright difficult to get to.

However, the Northern and Jubilee Lines probably make London Bridge,  the easiest terminal for the South for many to use.

Will Thameslink Be Considered Part Of The Tube?

Since it opened in the 1980s, I’ve always considered that Thameslink should have been considered to be another Underground line.

Although, I really haven’t used Thameslink seriously, until I moved back to London in 2010.

I believe that the following things should be done to make Thameslink better for passengers and increase ridership on the line.

  • Show all Thameslink routes and stations on the Tube map.
  • Allow Oyster and contactless bank card ticketing at all Thameslink stations.
  • Have the same Freedom Pass rules as Crossrail.
  • Run Thameslink stations under TfL design, information and operational rules.
  • Thameslink stations should be manned from first to last train.
  • Disabled passengers should be able to just turn up and ask for assistance.
  • Thameslink should be part of the Night Tube.

As I suspect that as these conditions will apply to Crossrail, surely both lines running under the same rules would be very passenger friendly.

I look forward to the day, when I touch in with my bank card at Finsbury Park and touch out at Cambridge or Brighton.


London Bridge Station Will Be An Easier Walk To The City

I’ve walked across London Bridge in late afternoon on a sunny day and the pedestrian traffic to London Bridge station from the City is large.

It would appear that all the work being done on the Tooley Street side of the station, will open up routes to the concourse under the tracks and create better walking routes to and from the City.

Unfortunately, it’s probably not possible to totally pedestrianise Tooley Street, as there is nowhere for the traffic to go.

London Bridge Station For Cannon Street And Charing Cross Avoidance

Before work on the station started, you could always avoid going to Cannon Street or Charing Cross stations to get a train, by catching it as it passed through London Bridge

But it wasn’t the easiest of connections.

Now though with the new platforms 8 and 9 open, you can see how Cannon Street and Charing Cross services will be handled at London Bridge station.

London Bridge Station And Thameslink

If I needed to use the old London Bridge station to access Thameslink services, it wasn’t the easiest.

But now that I can see how I will access the Thameslink platforms at London Bridge, I will probably use a 141 or 21 bus through the City.

I have a feeling that London Bridge will see a bigger increase in passenger use of the Thameslink platforms, when they reopen, as the interchange at London Bridge will be so much easier than say St. Pancras.

In fact, London Bridge station, just amplifies how bad  the passenger-friendliness is at St. Pancras station.

Island Platforms And Thameslink

On Crossrail all Central London stations between Woolwich and Paddington, would appear to be island platforms or ones where you can walk across between the Eastbound and Westbound platforms without any steps.

If you look at some of the classic Underground stations, built over the last hundred years,  like Angel, Bermondsey, Gants Hill, Pimlico, Regents Park and Southgate, then they are all built to this simple design.

  •  Escalators and/or lifts are probably easier to provide, as these can descend to the central space to serve both lines.
  • A large circulation space can be built between the tracks.
  • When staff are provided on the platforms, it probably means they can be more efficiently provided.
  • Passengers can easily reverse direction, either deliberately or because they’ve got on a  train going in the  wrong direction.
  • The layout might be better for health and safety reasons, if say power fails on one track and passengers need to be evacuated.

It is for these and other reasons, that I think island platforms, should be built wherever possible.

But on the central section of Thameslink, only London Bridge has an island platform.

To make matters worse the idiots, who designed St. Pancras Thameslink station, inexplicably chose to build it with two separate platforms.

Thus, they made say New Barnet to Luton Airport with heavy bags, much more difficult than it should be.

You actually wonder, if that journey will be more convenient, when London Bridge is fully connected to Thameslink, by doing the extra stops to London Bridge and changing trains there.

Probably not, as the extra stops would take twenty minutes or so!

But if they had a good coffee stall and kiosk on the platform at London Bridge, you might think about it.


August 30, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

All Change On Thameslink

Wikipedia gives a Provisional Timetable for Thameslink.

  • 4 trains per hour (tph) – Sutton to St. Albans (2 tph via Wimbledon, 2tph via Mitcham)
  • 2tph – Brighton to Bedford
  • 2 tph – Gatwick Airport to Bedford
  • 2 tph – Brighton to Cambridge
  • 2 tph – Horsham to Peterborough
  • 2 tph – Tattenham Corner to Cambridge
  • 2 tph – Sevenoaks to Kentish Town
  • 2 tph – Caterham to Finsbury Park (stopping via Sydenham or semi-fast)
  • 2 tph – Maidstone East to Luton
  • 2 tph – East Grinstead to West Hampstead
  • 2 tph – Littlehampton to West Hampstead

Some services are extended in the Peak to and from Bedford, Luton, Three Bridges and Welwyn Garden City.

According to Modern Railways for August 2016, the new proposal is.

  • 4 trains per hour (tph) – Sutton to St. Albans (2 tph via Wimbledon, 2tph via Mitcham)
  • 2tph – Brighton to Bedford
  • 2 tph – Three Bridges/Gatwick Airport to Bedford
  • 2 tph – Brighton to Cambridge North
  • 2 tph – Horsham to Peterborough
  • 2 tph – Maidstone East to Cambridge
  • 2 tph – Sevenoaks to Blackfriars
  • 2 tph -Orpington to Kentish Town/West Hampstead
  • 2 tph – Rainham to Luton (via Dartford and Greenwich)
  • 2 tph – East Grinstead to Bedford
  • 2 tph – Littlehampton to Bedford

No information on Peak  extensions is given.

I can make the following observations.

More Off Peak Trains Through The Core

According to Modern Railways for August 2016, there will be another 2 tph in the Off Peak, through the core from St. Pancras to London Bridge.

The core section of Thameslink, which effectively goes from West Hampstead/Kentish Town and Finsbury Park in the North to London Bridge and Elephant and Castle in the South.

Thameslink Core

Thameslink Core

This section is getting to look more like a high-capacity Underground Line. The frequency is in the mid-twenty trains per hour, which is better than some Underground lines.

There is also a lot of connections.

  • West Hampstead – Jubilee Line and North London Lines and possibly Chiltern and Metropolitan Lines.
  • Kentish Town – Northern Line
  • Finsbury Park – Great Northern, Piccadillyand Victoria Lines.
  • St. Pancras – Circle, Metropolitan, Northern,Piccadilly and Victoria Lines, and Main Line services out of Kings Croiss and St. Pancras.
  • Blackfriars – Circle and District Lines
  • London Bridge – Northern and Jubilee Lines and Main Line services.
  • Elephant and Castle – Northern and Bakerloo Lines

With this level of connections, it should surely be on the Underground Map.

Changing In The Core

Passengers will have to get more used to changing trains in the core section between St. Pancras and Blackfriars.

Passengers will get off one train at a station they like, wait for hopefully a few minutes, before getting a train to their preferred destination.

I think Thameslink could make this a lot easier, by providing kiosks and coffee shops on the platforms of the station, they would like people to change.

New Routes

Thameslink will open up new routes.

Until I was fifteen, I lived near Oakwood station and getting to and from Gatwick from there is not easy. But after Thameslink opens, the Piccadilly Line takes me to Finsbury Park for Thameslink, where I suspect I’ll be able to get a train to Gatwick.

All the fuss is about Crossrail, but the effect of a full Thameslink could be almost as great.

London Bridge Station

According to a platform layout diagram in Wikipedia of London Bridge station, Thameslink will use the following platforms.

  • Platform 4 to go South.
  • Platform 5 to go North.

Is the design of the island platform 4/5 in the new station, wide enough to have kiosks and/or coffee shops?

It’s certainly an island platform, that will enable passengers to change direction.

Sutton Loop Services

Sutton currently has 2 tph to St. Albans and 2 tph to Luton, so the new proposal might be seen as a cutback, as it doesn’t go all the way to Luton.

Will users of the Sutton Loop Line find this acceptable? According to the Political Developments section in the Wikipedia entry for the Thameslink Programme, this is said.

Network Rail had planned to terminate Sutton Loop Thameslink trains at Blackfriars station, rather than have them continue through central London as at present. This upset many residents in South London and their local politicians, who saw it as a reduction in services rather than an improvement. In response to pressure, government has ordered Network Rail to reverse the decision.

There are powerful interests!


Are some Cambridge services going to Cambridge North station, to give better connections between Thameslink and services to and from Kings Lynn, Norwich, Peterborough and the Midlands?

Cambridge North station is given in Wikipedia as a three platform station.

Is that enough? Especially, if trains arriving at Cambridge North station from the North were to be turned back.

Thameslink will also highlight a real problem at Cambridge.

After Thameslink opens, for many passengers, going to say Ipswich or Norwich via Cambridge could be a better option, than going via Liverpool Street.

At present trains from Cambridge to Ipswich, Norwich and Peterborough do not have enough capacity or frequency. At least a four-car train running every thirty minutes is needed now and, Thameslink will bring more passengers to the routes.

Hopefully, the new East Anglia Franchise will improve these important services across the region.

Midland Main Line

It would seem that services on the Midland Main Line branch of Thameslink, stop a few stations further in with perhaps fewer services going to Luton.

Given that the Midland Main Line is to be electrified and fast trains will be running from St. Pancras to Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield, the interface between the two lines needs to be well thought out.


  • The interchange between Thameslink and Midland Main Line services at St. Pancras is not the best.
  • Will Bedford be upgraded to be a better interchange?
  • Trains on the electrified Midland Main Line will probably be 200 kph trains, as opposed to the 160 kph of the Class 700 train‘s on Thameslink.
  • The trains run on separate pairs of lines, with the slow lines to the East and the fast lines to the West.

In my view, there is a need for a cross platform interchange between Thameslink and long distance services, but on a brief look, this might be difficult, at anywhere other than Bedford station.

As Bedford  will also become the Eastern terminus of the East West Rail Link, and there is space in the area of the station, could we see Bedford developed into an important and efficient interchange?

St. Pancras Station

A lot of this could have been much easier, if St. Pancras station had been designed as a working station, rather than to show off! It may have a fur coat, but it’s certainly got no knickers.

A simple illustration of the bad design of St. Pancras, is to imagine you’re coming from say Flitwick on Thameslink and want to go to anywhere on the Northern, Piccadilly and Victoria Lines.

  • The Piccadilly and Victoria Lines are a long walk from Thameslink and the Midland Main Line platforms at St. Pancras.
  • The Northern Line is better as sensible passengers will use Kentish Town or London Bridge to change.

At least there is a good interchange to the Circle, District and Metropolitan Lines at Farringdon and Blackfriars.

In some ways the easiest way to get from the Thameslink platforms at St. Pancras to the Victoria and Piccadilly Lines, especially if you’re going South, is to get off at Farringdon station and use the cross-platform interchange between the Southbound Thameslink and the Westbound Circle/Metropolitan, which I showed in A Space Too Good To Leave Empty, and then take one stop back to Kings Cross before walking up the stairs to take the escalators to the Northern, Piccadilly and Victoria Lines.

East Coast Main Line

Thameslink’s links to the East Coast Main Line hopefully will be much better, as there are stations, where interchange to local and long-distance services could be excellent.

  • Finsbury Park (At least 6 tph) will hopefully give good interchange to Great Northern, Piccadilly and Victoria Lines and local services.
  • Welwyn Garden City (At least 4 tph) will interchange with local services
  • Stevenage (At least 4 tph) will interchange with local services and some long distance trains.
  • Peterborough (2 tph) will interchange with local services and lots of long distance trains.

As the slow lines are on the outside of the fast lines on the East Coast Main Line, I suspect that there are several good opportunities to create cross- or same platform interchanges between local services, Thameslink and long distance services to the North and Scotland.

Northern City And Hertford Loop Lines

One set of services that will benefit from Thameslink are those on the Northern City Line out of Moorgate and the associated Hertford Loop Line.

  • The service will be connected to Thameslink services at Finsbury Park, Welwyn Garden City, Stevenage and other stations.
  • The lines recently went to seven-day-a-week operation.
  • The lines are getting new Class 717 trains.
  • The Hertford Loop Line is a double-track line with a 120 kph speed limit and stations for six-car trains.
  • The current Southern terminus at Moorgate, is not the easiest to access.

In the future, don’t discount improvements to the Hertford Loop Line, to get more trains through the area.


  • The Hertford Loop Line is the only diversion past the bottleneck of the Digswell Viaduct.
  • Both ends of the line are grade-separated.
  • The fastest trains between Finsbury Park and Stevenage on the main line take 18 minutes with no stops and 31 minutes with five stops.
  • A typical stopping train on the Hertford Loop Line takes around 41-50 minutes.
  • The line can handle long trains and frequently does, when there are problems on the main line.
  • Thameslink Class 700 trains could certainly run on the line, but couldn’t stop unless platforms were extended.
  • After the Great Northern Class 717 trains are delivered, under normal operation only the most modern trains with the latest signalling will use the line.
  • Stevenage station already has  cross platform interchange between main line, Thameslink, local  and Hertford Loop services.

I think we shouldn’t discount the possibility of some Thameslink services going via an uprated Hertford Loop Line to release paths on the congested part of the East Coast Main Line.

Suppose the  Hertford Loop Line was updated to include.

  • 160 kph speed limit.
  • Perhaps longer platforms at Hertford North station.
  • Cross-platform or same platform interchange at Finsbury Park and Stevenage and perhaps Alexandra Palace.
  • Perhaps a new parkway station South of Stevenage which could accept 12-car Thameslink trains.

I suspect Network Rail are updating their book of cunning plans to get more capacity through and around the Digswell Viaduct.

More Routes To Kent

The headline of the article in the August 2016 article in Modern Railways is Thameslink To Medway In Revised Timetable.

So why is Thameslink increasing its presence in Kent?

I could be cynical and say it is to take traffic from their rival company; Southeastern, but I think it is all about managing resources.


  • The core section of Thameslink can handle 24 tph in both directions.
  • North of the Thames, the increased capacity has been used to create a second route out of London to Welwyn Garden City, Cambridge and Peterborough.
  • East Croydon is a bottleneck and can’t take any more trains.
  • The Bermondsey Dive-Under and the new London Bridge station will create more capacity and better routes to South East London and Kent.
  • Thameslink has always served Kent.
  • Many Kent services go right across London to Victoria, whenb perhaps it would be easier if they served London Bridge or went through Thameslink.

So by switching some of the available services through London to Kent, this could be to relieve pressure at Victoria and East Croydon. So perhaps in the long term, this will allow more services from Victoria to Brighton via East Croydon and Gatwick Airport

But obviously, these changes wouldn’t be done if the passengers didn’t need to use the route.

I have to admit, that I hear regular complaints about the quality of the train service in South East London.

The 2 tph between Orpington and West Hampstead certainly looks like a measure to address South East London’s bad connectivity. I know one solicitor who’ll use it to get from home to her office.

The 2 tph between Rainham and Luton is the interesting service, as it goes via the Medway towns, Dartford and Greenwich.

  • It gives the Medway towns an additional route and more capacity to London.
  • It connects to Greenhithe for Bluewater.
  • It connects to Crossrail at Abbey Wood.
  • Could this route release capacity in Victoria?

One thing that surprises me, is that it duplicates the proposed Crossrail extension to Gravesend. Perhaps it is just a better idea.

The other  Kent service which is the 2 tph between Cambridge and Maidstone East, which is extended to Ashford in the peaks, seems to be a replacement for an existing service, but it could be taking the pressure off Victoria services.

Obviously Thameslink have the detailed passenger figures and can plan accordingly.

But surely, if the East Coastway service is extended to Ashford, perhaps by the use of IPEMU-capable Class 377 trains, then does this create another high-class commuter route to the far South-East?

Connecting To East Croydon And Gatwick From East London

For those of us in East London, who live along the East London Line, this is one of the most important sections of Thameslink.

At present, we can get to and from Gatwick Airport and East Croydon stations, by changing at somewhere like New Cross Gate or Norwood Junction stations.

It had been hoped that the improved Thameslink would have laid down a simple rule for getting from the East London Line to Gatwick, but when I asked Thameslink about this, they referred me to Transport for London, who unsurprisingly referred me back to Thameslink. I wrote about it in detail in Searching For What Is Going To Happen On The East London Line After The Thameslink Programme Opens.

Obviously, when Crossrail opens, it will help, as it runs from Whitechapel to Farringdon, but it would still be ideal to be able to get to Gatwick with one change, without making several and going halfway round London.

London Bridge To Caterham And Tattenham Corner via Purley

These destinations were originally to be incorporated into Thameslink, but it now appears, that they will become a shared service from London Bridge that divides at Purley station.

The current service is 2 tph from London Bridge to both Caterham and Tattenham Corner. As each train stops at all stations between New Cross Gate and East Croydon stations, this could appear to be the service that the East London Line needs.

The current London Overground services on the East London Line through New Cross Gate are 4 tph to West Croydon and 4 tph to Crystal Palace. As I said in Increased Frequencies On The East London Line, from 2018 Crystal Palace will receive 6 tph from Dalston Junction station.

So this means that from 2018, every six minutes a London Overground train will travel in both directions between New Cross Gate and Sydenham stations,. The services would run on the slow lines well out of the way of Thameslink on the fast lines.

There would probably be paths on the fast line to run the London Bridge to Purley services, but because Thameslink is such a high-frequency service, I suspect that they would run on the slow lines.

This would of course create a local Metro service to feed passengers to London Bridge and especially East Croydon to access longer distance services.

Let’s hope that there is sufficient capacity on the slow lines between New Cross Gate and East Croydon to incorporate a London Bridge to Purley service of sufficient frequency, so that plebs like me in Dalston wanting to go to East Croydon, can just get the first train to Sydenham and wait for a few minutes for the arrival of an East Croydon train.

In a perfect world, there would be ten trains per hour from London Bridge to East Croydon to match the Overground service. This would mean that the two services would alternate.

But I doubt this will happen, as other trains use the slow lines, like the service from Victoria to Sutton via Crystal Palace and West Croydon.

However, if we have at least a  4 tph service between London Bridge and Purley via East Croydon, that would mean that a reasonable service with one same platform interchange would exist between the East London Line and East Croydon, with all its connections to the South. Thameslink would be providing at least the following services from East Croydon.

  • 4 tph to Brighton
  • 4 tph to Three Bridges
  • 2 tph to Horsham

All 10 tph would serve Gatwick Airport.

I  wonder if the London Bridge to Purley services would share the same platform or island platform at East Croydon with Thameslink services.

If they did, then going to and from Gatwick Airport and Brighton from anywhere on the East London Line, would involve a maximum of two same platform changes.

London Bridge To Uckfield

For several months, I’ve thought that London Bridge to Uckfield will be run by an IPEMU or a train with onboard energy storage. I wrote about this in The Uckfield Branch Is Almost Ready For Longer Trains.

At present this service uses the fast lines between London Bridge and East Croydon and is run by Class 171 trains. An ideal train would be a modified Class 377 train, running in anb 8-, 10- or 12-car formation.

Between London Bridge and South Croydon, it would run using the third rail electrification and could keep up to a Thameslink speed. Only South of Oxted would it use the energy from the onboard storage to power the train.

Will Thameslink really want this interloper on their train superhighway between London Bridge and East Croydon?

Probably not!

But surely, the service could share the slow lines with the London Bridge to Purley services and the London Overground.

The Extended East London Line

Summarising the services that use the East London Line and the slow lines of the Brighton Main Line North of New Cross Gate we get from 2018.

  • 4 tph Dalston Junction to West Croydon (London Overground) – Uses route from New Cross Gate to Norwood Junction
  • 6 tph Highbury and Islington to Crystal Palace (London Overground) – Uses route from New Cross Gate to Sydenham.
  • ? tph London Bridge to Purley (Southern) – Uses route from New Cross Gate to East Croydon
  • ? tph London Bridge to Uckfield (Southern) – Uses route from New Cross Gate to East Croydon
  • 4 tph Crystal Palace to West Croydon (Southern) – Uses route through Norwood Junction.

If say we had 4 tph to Purley and and 2 tph to Uckfield, then that would mean.

  • 16 tph between New Cross Gate and Sydenham
  • 14 tph through Norwood Junction
  • 8 tph through East Croydon
  • 8 tph to West Croydon

I suspect, that people who know about train scheduling could squeeze up to about the same twenty trains per hour along the line, that London Overground will be running through the Thames Tunnel.

If something like this train pattern were to be implemented, it would effectively create an extended East London Line from Highbury and Islington and Dalston Junction in the North to Gatwick Airport, Brighton and Uckfield in the South via East Croydon. All passengers would probably do is change trains, but not platforms once or twice.

The Brighton Main Line 2

There are a lot of commuters and others, who press for a second main line to Brighton, It even has its own web site, which would seem to like to see.

  • Another route to London created using the Uckfield Branch and a reinstated Wealden Line.
  • Better access to the Canary Wharf area of London.

Having looked at what Thameslink are doing, I think I can say the following.

  • The new 12-car Class 700 trains will bring extra seats.
  • Brighton will get 4 tph Thameslink train service through London.
  • Thameslink services will interchange with East London Line services in a more efficient manner to give better access to Canary Wharf, Shoreditch, Whitechapel and East London in general.
  • If the Thameslink services do create capacity at Victoria and East Croydon, then we’ll see more  services from Brighton to Victoria.
  • 10- or 12-car services will run from Uckfield into London Bridge, at 2-4 tph.

Hopefully, it will put off the day, when serious money needs to be spent to build a second line from Brighton to London.


I obviously don’t know, if this logic is right!

But if the following is done.

  • Move services from Surrey to Kent.
  • Provide a new Metro route from London Bridge to Caterham and Tattenham Corner via Purley.
  • Optimise service end-points.
  • Look seriously at the Hertford Loop Line
  • Have a good think about how to serve Cambridge.

The following will happen.

  • Victoria will have some spare capacity.
  • Pressure on East Croydon will be eased.
  • A frequent service can be created between London Bridge and Uckfield.
  • The East London Line gets connected to Gatwick and Brighton.
  • South East London gets much needed connectivity.

But the biggest effect will be the ability to create more services between Victoria and Brighton via East Croydon and Gatwick Airport.

It all illustrates some of the possibilities created by the new Thameslink proposals.

And all without any new infrastructure, other than what is currently being constructed.



July 26, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 3 Comments