The Anonymous Widower

How Will Greater Anglia/London Overground Use The Third Track On The West Anglia Main Line?

This morning as I often do, I took the 11:00 train between Stratford and Enfield Lock stations.

I like to have a look at progress on STAR, which involves the following.

  • A five and a half kilometre third track to the East of the current two tracks of the West Anglia Main Line between Lea Bridge and Angel Road stations.
  • A third platform and station improvements at Tottenham Hale station.
  • A third platform, removal of a level crossing and complete rebuilding of Northumberland Park station.
  • Building of a completely new three-platform station at Meridian Water to replace the current inadequate Angel Road station.

This Google Map shows the location of Meridian Water station with respect to Tesco Extra and IKEA in Glover Drive.

You can just see the concrete foundations of the station and its platforms alongside the West Anglia Main Line to the West of the Tesco Extra.

In Meridian Water Station – 14th June 2018, I show pictures of the station just over two months ago.

There has been steady and worthwhile progess since.

  • Meridian Water station now has platforms under construction.
  • Northumberland Park station looks like it could be ready before Spurs’ new stadium.
  • The lift towers for the footbridge at Tottenham Hale station are being erected.
  • I estimate about seventy percent of the third track has been laid.
  • All the electrification gantries seem to have been erected and there are even some overhead wires.

The target for finishing the works is said to be May 2019 and I suspect that is achievable.

Use Of The Third Track

It certainly looks like the third track will be ready, so how will it be used?

The Northern End

At the Northern end, the third track appears to finish in a bay platform at Meridian Water station.

Once Angel Road station is closed and reduced to rubble, there would be plenty of space to add a junction, so that trains going South towards Stratford, could use the third track.

This would surely ease operation of the West Anglia Main Line.

Meridian Water Station

Meridian Water station appears to be being built as a three-platform station with provision for a fourth.

From various drawings and notes on the Internet it looks like there will be two platforms on the West Anglia Main Line and a separate bay or through platform to the East.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the relationship of Angel oad and Meridian Water station.

The dotted line on the map is the third track.

I took these pictures from a slow train through the station.

It looks very much like a through platform is being created.

I feel that access to this platform will be in two ways.

  • From the North via a junction with the Southbound track of the West Anglia Main Line. This junction could be to the North the current Angel Road station.
  • From the South using the new third track.

This would mean that no trains will have to cross the West Anglia Main Line using a flat junction.

I don’t believe that trains can run bi-directionally on the third track, as there is not enough time in an hour for four trains to shuttle between Lea Bridge and Meridian Water.

So that means all services calling at Meridian Water will go further up the Lea Valley to turn back.

Using The Third Platform At Tottenham Hale Station

I think it is likely that the current two platforms will be used as follows.

  • Platform 2 – Northbound trains
  • Platform 1 – Southbound trains to Liverpool Street

It would be logical that the new third platform would handle Southbound trains to Stratford.

As Platform 1 and the new platform share an island, passengers will have a step-free cross-platform  interchange, if they need to go to the alternative destination.

The following journey times should be noted.

  • Tottenham Hale to Stratford currently takes 14 minutes
  • Tottenham Hale to Liverpool Street currently takes between 14 and 17 minutes
  • Liverpool Street to Stratford will take eight minutes on Crossrail

I suspect a lot of passengers will change to a direct train.

It could also mean that an ideal service would see the same frequency of trains at both platforms.

The Southern End

At the Southern end, the third track joins the West Anglia Main Line going towards Stratford, but there is also a crossover to allow trains coming from Stratford to use the third track.

Is The Third Track Going To Be Bi-Directional?

Loops like this third track are often signalled to be bi-directional, to ease operation. But as I said earlier, I think the third track is too long to operate in that way all the time with passenger services.

What Will Be The Operating Speed Of The Third Track?

I have watched the third track being constructed and it is totally new.

  • All bridges have been replaced with new structures.
  • The track is fully electrified.
  • There appear to be no junctions, except at the two ends.

Everything certainly looks professional to my untrained eye.

The operating speed will probably be determined by the time set for the driver to take the train between stations on the line.

But the track has surely been designed to minimise the time between Meridian Water and Stratford.

Could The Third Track Be Extended Northwards?

The length of the third track is 5.5 km.

Could the third track be extended to the North?

If Crossrail 2 is built, there will be a need to make the route four tracks.

  • Two fast tracks for the expresses between London, Stansted and Cambridge.
  • Two slow tracks for Crossrail 2 as far as the terninus at Broxbourne.

These are my observations

  • Looking from both a train and on Google Map, it appears that it will be a tight fit to squeeze in two tracks.
  • There is the serious problems of the two level crossings at Brimsdown and Enfield Lock stations.
  • Waltham Cross station seems very tight too.

But I do think, that with a clever redesign at the three troublesome stations, that a third track, but not necessarily a fourth can be squeezed in  as far as North as Broxbourne, which would be another 11.2 miles.

Although in places, like these pictures taken just South of Tottenham Hale station show, there may be plenty of space for two tracks.

I suspect that to put in the fourth track will mean that the bridge at Ferry Lane will need to be rebuilt.

But it does appear that in building the third track, the builders are making sue there is space for a fourth track to be added in a few years.

Currently, How Many Calls Are There At Each Station?

These figures are calculated from the current timetable.

Lea Bridge

  • Two trains per hour (tph) – Stratford to Bishop’s Stortford

Two tph stop in both platforms.

Tottenham Hale

  • Two tph – Liverpool Street to Hertford East
  • One tph – Liverpool Street to Cambridge
  • One tph – Liverpool Street to Cambridge North
  • Four tph – Liverpool Street to Stansted Airport
  • Two tph – Stratford to Bishop’s Stortford

Ten tph stop in both platforms.

Northumberland Park

  • Two tph – Stratford to Bishop’s Stortford

Two tph stop in both platforms.

In addition, eight tph pass through both platforms without stopping.

Meridian Water

  • Two tph – Stratford to Bishop’s Stortford

Two tph stop in both platforms.

In addition, eight tph pass through both platforms without stopping.

Ponders End

  • Two tph – Liverpool Street to Hertford East

Two tph stop in both platforms.

In addition, eight tph pass through both platforms without stopping.

Brimsdown

  • Two tph – Liverpool Street to Hertford East

Two tph stop in both platforms.

In addition, eight tph pass through both platforms without stopping.

Enfield Lock

  • Two tph – Liverpool Street to Hertford East
  • One tph – Stratford to Bishop’s Stortford

Three tph stop in both platforms.

In addition, seven tph pass through both platforms without stopping.

Waltham Cross

  • Two tph – Liverpool Street to Hertford East
  • Two tph – Stratford to Bishop’s Stortford

Four tph stop in both platforms.

In addition, six tph pass through both platforms without stopping.

Cheshunt

  • Two tph – Liverpool Street to Hertford East
  • One tph – Liverpool Street to Cambridge
  • One tph – Liverpool Street to Cambridge North
  • Two tph – Stratford to Bishop’s Stortford

Six tph stop in both platforms.

In addition, four tph pass through both platforms without stopping.

Broxbourne

  • Two tph – Liverpool Street to Hertford East
  • One tph – Liverpool Street to Cambridge
  • One tph – Liverpool Street to Cambridge North
  • Two tph – Stratford to Bishop’s Stortford

Six tph stop in both platforms.

In addition, four tph pass through both platforms without stopping.

Harlow Town

  • One tph – Liverpool Street to Cambridge
  • One tph – Liverpool Street to Cambridge North
  • Two tph – Liverpool Street to Stansted
  • Two tph – Stratford to Bishop’s Stortford

Six tph stop in both platforms.

In addition, two tph pass through both platforms without stopping.

Bishop’s Stortford

  • One tph – Liverpool Street to Cambridge
  • One tph – Liverpool Street to Cambridge North
  • Two tph – Liverpool Street to Stansted
  • Two tph – Stratford to Bishop’s Stortford

Four tph stop in both platforms.

Two tph would terminate at the station.

In addition, two tph pass through both platforms without stopping.

A Summary Of Current Services

This is summary of stops at the selected stations.

  • Lea Bridge – 2 tph
  • Tottenham Hale – 10 tph
  • Northumberland Park – 2 tph
  • Meridian Water – 2 tph
  • Ponders End – 2 tph
  • Brimsdown – 2 tph
  • Enfield Lock – 3 tph
  • Waltham Cross – 4 tph
  • Cheshunt – 6 tph
  • Broxbourne – 6 tph
  • Harlow Town – 6 tph
  • Bishop’s Stortford – 6 tph

Note.

  1. To say the least service is a bit patchy, with some stations getting a much better service than others.
  2. London Overround, Merseyrail and others feel that a service of four tph is highly desirable and attracts passengers.

The service definitely needs improvement.

STAR Services

It is certainly intended that four tph, will be run between Stratford and Meridian Water stations calling at Lea Bridge, Tottenham Hale and Northumberland Park stations.

Current Services

Currently, this service is provided at a frequency of two tph by Greater Anglia, who extend the service to Bishop’s Strortford station.

There are various ways that this could be increased to four tph

Possible Northern Terminals

As I said earlier to avoid train-slowing flat junctions, STAR services must terminate North of Meridian Water station.

I think there are these possibilities.

  • Bishop’s Stortford, which currently handles two tph in the bay platform 3.
  • Broxbourne which is a large station with 8 platforms and has been earmarked as the terminal for Crossrail 2.
  • Hertford East has platform space, but there may not be the capacity for the trains on the Hertford East Branch.

Passenger numbers will drive the choice, but I suspect all three terminals have their merits.

In the following sub-sections I’ll look at each terminus.

Two Extra Trains To Bishop’s Stortford

I will assume these services will call at the same stations as the current two trains.

This is summary of stops at the selected stations.

  • Lea Bridge – 4 tph
  • Tottenham Hale – 12 tph
  • Northumberland Park – 4 tph
  • Meridian Water – 4 tph
  • Ponders End – 2 tph
  • Brimsdown – 2 tph
  • Enfield Lock – 4 tph
  • Waltham Cross – 8 tph
  • Cheshunt – 8 tph
  • Broxbourne – 8 tph
  • Harlow Town – 8 tph
  • Bishop’s Stortford – 8 tph

Note.

  1. Enfield Lock now has the preferred four tph.
  2. Ponders End and Brimsdown probably need more services.
  3. Are there too many services at Harlow Town and Bishop’s Stortford?

But generally, it is a better distribution than now!

Two Extra Trains To Broxbourne Or Hertford East

I will assume these services will call at the same stations as the current two trains, that run between Stratford and Bishop’s Stortford.

This is summary of stops at the selected stations, which will be the same for both destinations.

  • Lea Bridge – 4 tph
  • Tottenham Hale – 12 tph
  • Northumberland Park – 4 tph
  • Meridian Water – 4 tph
  • Ponders End – 2 tph
  • Brimsdown – 2 tph
  • Enfield Lock – 4 tph
  • Waltham Cross – 8 tph
  • Cheshunt – 8 tph
  • Broxbourne – 8 tph

Note.

  1. Enfield Lock now has the preferred four tph.
  2. Ponders End and Brimsdown probably need more services.
  3. There will be no increase in frequencies North of Broxbourne.

Operational needs and passenger numbers will decide if these are better destinations.

Use Of The High Meads Loop At Stratford

The High Meads loop under the Eastfield Shopping Centre was designed to turn trains.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the loop.

On the map it is the horeshoe-shaped double track shown in black.

  • , It goes through Platforms 11 and 12 in Stratford station.
  • Currently, Platform 11 is used exclusively as a terminal for the two tph between Stratford and Bishop’s Stortford.
  • Currently, Platform 12 is not used and the track is used to take trains to and from the Orient Way sidings
  • Both ends of the loop join together just to the South of the Orient Way sidings and Lea Bridge station.
  • In the past it has been used to turn Stansted Expresses, which used Platform 12 according to the signs still in place.
  • I believe it would be possible to build a platform on the loop to serve Stratford International station and the Northern part of the Olympic Park.

In my view it is wasted fully-working infrastructure.

The Wirral Line Loop Under Liverpool

The most important rail loop in the UK is the loop of the Wirral Line under Central Liverpool.

  • The loop is single-track with three single-platform stations
  • This loop handles fourteen tph.
  • The loop is built for full-size trains.
  • Trains take eight minutes to go round the loop from Liverpool James Street station and fourteen minutes from Birkenhead Hamilton Square station on the other side of the Mersey.

It was built in the early 1970s and I’m sure the designers of the High Meads Loop were influenced strongly by the track layout in Liverpool.

The Wirral Line Loop showcases the major examples of this type of track layout.

  • The driver just keeps driving and doesn’t have to change ends.
  • A single terminal platform can handle a maximum of perhaps 4-6 tph, whereas a single platform on a loop can handle at least 14 tph.
  • Stations can be provided at several places on the loop, where they are needed.

A loop is a very fast and simple way to turn trains.

Time Saving At Stratford Using The High Meads Loop

The 06:34 from Bishop’s Stortford stops at Tottenham Hale at 07:29, Lea Bridge at 07:33 and Stratford at 07:43.

The train then forms the 08:04 from Stratford, which stops at Lea Bridge at 08:10, Tottenham Hale at 08:18 and terminates at Bishop’s Stortford at 09:02.

So the train has taken thirty-seven minutes between the two calls at Lea Bridge station on a modern double track railway.

If the train loaded and unloaded passengers at Platform 11 at Stratford, I suspect that this time could be reduced to under twenty minutes, if the train continued round the High Meads Loop.

Even if there was an extra station on the loop to serve Stratford International station and the Northern part of the Olympic Park, I suspect that a saving on twenty minutes could be made.

Greater Anglia would be a big beneficiary. Currently the train leaves Bishop’s Stortford at 06:34 and arrives back at 09:02, which means a total trip time of 148 minutes for an out-and-back journey with ten intermediate stops both ways.

With a bit of time saving and the new Class 720 trains, I suspect that with the turnround time at Bishop’s Stortford added in, that a train could do the full trip within two and a half hours.

This would mean that ten trains would be needed for a four tph service between Stratford and Bishop’s Stortford.

Take off the twenty minutes saved by the High Meads Loop and the minutes saved by the new trains and I believe that well-driven trains could do the full trip in two hours

This would mean that eight trains would be needed for a four tph service between Stratford and Bishop’s Stortford.

Stansted Airport To Stratford

How much time would be saved if Stansted Airport trains went to Stratford and used the High Meads Loop?

The fastest trains take forty-seven minutes between Liverpool Street and Stansted, with about fourteen minutes needed for the short stretch between Liverpool Street and Tottenham Hale.

Using the High Meads Loop at Stratford would probably mean a similar journey time, as from Liverpool Street, but there would be other advantages, disadvantages and score draws.

  • Both platforms used by Stansted Expresses would be step-free.
  • Train tracks to Stratford are probably less likely to delay.
  • Walking routes at Stratford might be shorter.
  • Both Liverpool Street and Stratford will be served by Crossrail.
  • Stratford could have links to Highspeed services to Kent.

Greater Anglia would be a big winner, as they would have a better train utilisation.

What Length Of Trains Could Use The High Meads Loop?

The only restriction will be the length of platforms at Stratford, Lea Bridge and Tottenham Hale.

Without getting my tape measure out, I suspect they are all capable of taking a twelve-car Class 317 train, which is around 240 metres long.

Ten-car versions of Greater Anglia’s new Class 720 trains are 243 metres long.

I would be very surprised if the platforms couldn’t accept these long trains.

What Would Be The Ultimate Capacity Of The High Meads Loop?

Consider.

  • The Wirral Line Loop under Liverpool handles fourteen tph.
  • More complicated tunnels under London like Crossrail, the East London Line and Thameslink are planned to handle 24 tph.
  • Modern digital signalling will be applied in the next couple of decades to the West Anglia Main Line.

Consider.

  • The Southbound third track and the route to Stratford from Lea Bridge can probably easily handle fifteen tph or a train every four minutes.
  • Platform 11 at Stratford with perhaps some escalators, could probably handle fifteen or even twenty tph, as do stations like Canada Water and several stations on Thameslink and the Wirral Line.
  • Northwards from Stratford, there is probably a total limit of twelve tph along the Lea Valley, that could be increased by removing level crossing and modern signalling.

I suspect that the ultimate capacity is way in excess of the number of services that need to be run from Stratford up the West Anglia Main Line.

Using The High Meads Loop To Take Pressure From Liverpool Street

Liverpool Street is crowded.

  • Some platforms can’t accept full length trains.
  • West Anglia services crawk between Liverpool Street and Tottenham Hale at a speed of not much more than 40 mph at times.
  • The two operators; London Overground and Greater Anglia want to add additional services to the station.
  • c2c also want to serve the station, as they have capacity problems at Fenchurch Street.

However, future developments will make Stratford a viable alternative to Liverpool Street.

  • Crossrail will provide a high-capacity service linking both stations to the Canary Wharf, Heathrow and the West End.
  • Better access to the Central Line will happen.
  • Stratford has access to the important Jubilee Line.
  • Stratford will be able to take advantage of Docklands Light Railway developments.
  • Tottenham Hale station will have better interchange to the Victoria Line.

So why not move some services from the West Anglia Main Line to the High Meads Loop?

What Services Could Be Transferred From Liverpool Street To The High Meads Loop?

At present, all stopping trains between London and Bishop’s Stortford, start from Stratford and I can see this continuing after the third track opens.

I could also see extra services on this route to deliver the promised four tph to Meridian Water and Nothumberland Park.

Four tph can probably use Platform 11 st Stratford, but looking at the smooth unhurried operation of the Wirral Line Loop at Liverpool, I suspect that the High Meads Loop will be used.

Looking at all the other services between Liverpool Street and Tottenham Hale, only the two tph between Liverpool Street and Hertford East, stop at another station, which is South of Tottenham Hale.

So it would probably not be sensible to transfer theseHertford East services to the High Meads Loop, but it might be a good idea to add two tph all day between Stratford and Hertford East, to create a four tph service to Hertford East with two tph from both Southern terminals.

Some services between Liverpool Street and Cambridge and between Liverpool Street and Stansted might be augmented with more services or moving the services to the High Meads Loop at Stratford.

I would suggest that about half the services went to Liverpool Street and terminated as they do now and the rest used the High Meads Loop.

This would mean that those, who’d caught the wrong train or changed their destination, could just change at Tottenham Hale by walking across the island platform.

I was on a train going South to Liverpool Street recently, when I changed my mind and transferred to a Stratford train. As I inew a Stratford train was close behind, I only had to wait a few minutes.

Note that, if there are six trains on both branches, then the maximum wait would be ten minutes.

Examining A Possible Timetable

This is definitely my speculation, but I am trying to show what is possible!

I also very much believe that Network Rail, Greater Anglia and London Overground will come up with something much better.

A Few Rules

I am using these rules to guide me in my thinking.

  1. All trains going to Stratford use the High Meads Loop and Platform 11 at Stratford.
  2. No station gets an inferior service to that it gets at the present time.
  3. All Southbound trains for Stratford use the new third track between Meridian Water and Lea Bridge Junction.

I think that this could be a good mix of services.

  • One tph Liverpool Street to Cambridge
  • One tph Liverpool Street to Cambridge North
  • Two tph Liverpool Street to Hertford East
  • Four tph Liverpool Street to Stansted
  • Four tph Stratford to Bishop’s Stortford
  • Two tph Stratford to Hertford East
  • Two tph Stratford to Stansted

Note.

  1. Greater Anglia have said they will run a Stratford to Stansted service from 2019.
  2. The two extra Stratford to Bishop’s Stortford and Hertford East services will have similar calling patterns to the existing services.
  3. Eight tph goes to and from both Liverpool Street and Stratford.
  4. Currently, eight tph run between Tottenham Hale and Liverpool Street.
  5. Based on the my observations of the relaxed operation of the Wirral Line Loop under Liverpool, I feel the capacity of the High Meads Loop could be as high as sixteen tph.
  6. Calling patterns will be adjusted to improve frequencies at Ponders End and Brimsdown stations
  7. The only other passenger trains on the route are two tph between Stansted Airport and Cambridge.

The number of trains running on each section of track would be as follows.

  • Eight tph – Liverpool Street to Tottenham Hale
  • Eight tph – Stratford to Tottenham Hale – Southbound trains use the third track where is has been added.
  • Sixteen tph – Tottenham Hale to Broxbourne – Southbound trains use the third track where is has been added.
  • Twelve tph – Broxbourne to Bishop’s Stortford
  • Eight tph – Bishop’s Stortford to Stansted Airport
  • Six tph – Stansted Airport to Cambridge

I’m not sure if this would be achievable, but there are several double-track main lines in the country, that handle at least sixteen tph.

Extra Services On The Lea Valley Routes Of The London Overground

The London Overground services from Liverpool Street to Cheshunt and Enfield Town have the following characteristics.

  • A frequency of two tph.
  • Extra peak hour services.
  • Both services pass through Hackney Downs and Seven Sisters stations.

London Overgriound probably want to add two extra tph to both routes to increase the frequency to four tph. Unfortunately, the crowded lines South of Seven Sisters and a full Liverpool Street station, probably make this difficult.

Look at this map from carto.metro.free.fr, which shows the lines South of Tottenham Hale and Seven Sisters stations.

South Tottenham station is on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line, with the following connections.

  • At the Western end of the station, the Seven Sisters Chord connects the station to the Lea Valley Line to Cheshunt and Enfield Town.
  • At the Eastern end of the Tottenham South Curve connects the station to the line to the High Meads Loop at Stratford.

Would it be possible to run the extra two tph from both Cheshunt and Enfield Town to the High Meads Loop?

If it is possible, then the following frequencies will be achieved.

  • Four tph between Cheshunt and Edmonton Green
  • Four tph between Enfield Town and Edmonton Green
  • Eight tph between Edmonton Green and Seven Sisters.
  • Four tph between Seven Sisters and Stratford.

But more importantly, it will create more routes for East London’s Duckers-and-Divers to challenge the clock.

  • Large parts of Enfield and Haringey now get a direct connection to Stratford.
  • The new White Hart Lane station will have a direct connection to Stratford.
  • Stratford to stations on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line is now just a step-free change at South Tottenham station.

I also wonder how many new sites for housing will become viable because of all the new transport links.

Future Developments

There are several developments planned or proposed, that will affect traffic on the West Anglia Main Line.

Track Improvements

The mainly two-track West Anglia Main Line has a maximum operating speed of 100 mph, but travelling the line over the last few days, at times we were only travelling at about 50 mph for long periods.

So I suspect that the average operating speed could be increased.

There are also several level crossings, including those at Brimsdown, Enfield Lock and Cheshunt on the busiest Southern section of the route..

Digital Signalling

Modern digital signalling on the West Anglia Main Line must allow more trains to be squeezed into the timetable.

New Trains

The current trains that work the West Anglia Main Line are Class 379 and Class 317 trains.

Both trains are 100 mph trains although the Class 317 trains are now nearly forty years old.

They are being replaced with Class 720 and Class 745 trains, which although they are also 100 mph trains, may offer advantages, because they are newer designs.

  • Better acceleration and smoother regenerative braking.
  • Easier passenger entry and exit.
  • Shorter dwell times at stations.
  • Better passenger comfort and facilities.

But crucially, they will be able to take advantage of the modern digital signalling.

I think it is very likely that the new trains will speed up services on the West Anglia Main Line.

I also think that the combination of digital signalling and new trains, that are capable of using it, will allow higher frequencies of trains to be run on the West Anglia Main Line.

A Possible Pattern Of West Anglia Line Services

Could we see the following in the future?

  • London Overground services on the Lea Valley Lines use Liverpool Street, as they do now.
  • Greater Anglia services on the West Anglia Main Line to Bishop’s Stortford, Cambridge, Hertford East and Stansted Airport are split between Liverpool Street and Stratford.
  • Stratford services use the High Meads Loop and stop at either Platform 11 or 12 at Stratford.

It would certainly increase terminal capacity at the Southern end of the West Anglia Main Line and free up platform space in Liverpool Street.2 ru

.Conclusion

I wouldn’t be surprised to see the following.

  • Twenty tph up and down the West Anglia Main Line.
  • Direct services up the West Anglia Main Line to Norwich via Cambridge using bi-mode Class 755 trains.
  • Extra services between Stratford and Cambridge, Hertford East and Stansted.
  • Services are adjusted so that each station South of Broxbourne gets four tph or more.

Note that I haven’t mentioned adding a fourth track.

I believe that my calculations show it might not be needed to achieve the required intensive service on the West Anglia Main Line.

 

August 20, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Northumberland Park Station – June 12th 2018

The new Northumberland Park station is coming on and has allowed the temporary footbridge to go somewhere else!

The level crossing will not be reinstated and I was wondering how pedestrians and others will cross the railway. There is still an old bridge on the other side to the station, but it doesn’t look to be in the best condition.

I then saw the two staircases in the new station.

So will there be two separate routes across the railway in one bridge?

This image from Network Rail, shows the station from the Eastern side.

There appears to be the following.

  • Two bridge sections, with the one on the far side connected to the low station buildings.
  • Two sets of stairs and a lift giving access from the bridge to the current Platform 1 and new platform behind it, that will become an island platform.
  • Two tracks this side of the island platform.
  • With the two tracks on the other side of the island platform, this means the station will be ready for four-tracking of the West Anglia Main Line.
  • A set of steps leading down from the near rend of the footbridge, this side of the extra tracks.

I have wondered for some time, when the West Anglia main Line is four-tracked and/or Crossrail 2 is built, which pair of tracks will be the fast lines.

In the interim it is obvious, that the third rack, which will run between  Meridian Water and Lea #bridge stations, will run on the near side of the island platform.

My only question is will it only handle trains towards Stratford or will the line be bi-directional?

But when the line is fully four-tracked, I think that the lines from West to East will be as follows.

  • Northbound Slow (Current Platform 2) – Local trains and Crossrail 2
  • Southbound Slow (Current Platform 1) – Local trains and Crossrail 2
  • Northbound Fast – Stansted and Cambridge services
  • Southbound Fast – Stansted and Cambridge services

I have put the slow lines on the West, as these are the platforms with the best access and few if any, fast services will stop in the station.

Crossrail 2 could of course change everything.

But I suspect that Northumberland Park station is being rebuilt, so that it will work with the most likely arrangement of tracks.

June 12, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Walthamstow Central Tube Station To Receive £15m Improvement

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article in the Waltham Forest Guardian.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Walthamstow Central tube station has been allocated £15 million for improvements, but only if the controversial Walthamstow Mall redevelopment goes ahead.

New plans for the station include installing step-free access and a creating a new entrance.

That would surely get rid of the servere overcrowding that is experienced in Walthamstow Central station.

Overcrowding At Walthamstow Central Station

I often go to Walthamstow, at the tail end of the Evening Peak.

I have two routes.

  1. Take a bus to Highbury and Islington station and then use the Victoria Line.
  2. Take a bus to Hackney Downs station and then use the Chingford Line of the London Overground.

I always use the second route, as the two escalators at Walthamstow Central station can’t cope with the Victoria Line’s increased frequency of thirty-six trains per hour.

What makes matters worse is that all trains, except those going to and from the depot at Northumberland Park, run the whole length of the line between Brixton and Walthamstow Central stations.

Running this service on Dear Old Vicky, is one of the great engineering achievements on Metros around the world, but it means that passengers are finding some of the Victoria Line stations are inadequate. Walthamstow Central is one of them!

Another factor, that doesn’t help, is the excellent Walthamstow bus station. It is the third busiest in London and I’m sure it attracts more travellers to the rail and tube stations.

It is my belief, that the increase in train frequency and the building of the new bus station are the major cause of increasing overcrowding in the station.

It is worth noting that in 2016, the tube station handled nearly twenty-three million passengers with just two platforms and an up and a down escalator. By comparison, Cannon Street station, handled the same number of passengers with seven platforms and level access.

To be fair to Transport for London, they have sorted the gate lines at the station, but that still leaves the escalators severely overcrowded at times.

I actually can’t understand, why they haven’t replaced the middle staircase with a third escalator, as they have at Brixton, where there are also lifts.

Overcrowding Could Be Getting Worse!

Some transport improvements, that will happen in the next year or two,, will affect passenger numbers at Walthamstow Central station.

New Trains On The Chingford Line

The current Class 315 and Class 317 trains will be replaced by new Class 710 trains.

  • These will have the same number of carriages, but they will have a higher capacity, due to better design and being walk-through trains.
  • They will also have wi-fi and 4G available, if they follow the lead of the closely-related Class 345 trains.
  • Their operating speed has not been disclosed, but that of the Class 345 train is 90 mph, which is fifteen mph faster than a Class 315 train.
  • Their modern design will also allow them to save a minute or two at each of the seven stops.

The performance improvement may allow a more intense service.

The trains will certainly attract more passengers, as quality new trains always do!

  • Will the new trains generate more new passengers, than any forecaster dreamt was possible?
  • Will more passengers be attracted to stations North of Walthamstow Central and change to the Victoria Line?
  • Will some passengers change from using the Victoria Line to the Chingford Line?

Bear in mind, that new trains on the North London Line, started in 2010 with three-car trains running at six trains per hour (tph). They are now up to five-car trains running at eight tph. This is an capacity increase of over 120%.

On balance, I suspect that some of these factors will cancel each other out. But who knows?

New Trains On The Northern City Line

The geriatric Class 313 trains working the Northern City Line are being replaced by new Class 717 trains.

  • These new trains will offer higher frequencies and more capacity.
  • They will use 2+2 seating.
  • They will have wi-fi and power sockets.

Services on the Northern City Line have a cross-platform step-free interchange with the Victoria Line at Highbury & Islington station, so I believe the route will be increasingly used by passengers between the Walthamstow/Chingford area and the City of London.

Undoubtedly, it will increase passengers using the escalators at Walthamstow Central station.

New Trains On The Gospel Oak To Barking Line

The current two-car Class 172 trains on the Gospel Oak To Barking Line, are being replaced by four-car electric Class 710 trains.

  • The new trains will double capacity.
  • They will have better passenger facilities.
  • They will be more environmentally-friendly.

These trains could encourage travellers to use the quieter Walthamstow Queen’s Road station, instead of the very busy Walthamstow Central station.

Stratford To Meridian Water

This project will add a third track to the West Anglia Main Line and allow a four tph service between Stratford station and the new station at Meridian Water with stops at Lea Bridge, Tottenham Hale and Northumberland Park stations.

I have no view on how successful, this new line will be and how it will affect traffic on the Victoria line.

Crossrail

When you discuss transport provision in London, there is always a herd of elephants in the room!

Crossrail will change everybody’s journeys!

Crossrail will create a high-capacity fast route between Heathrow and Canary Wharf via Paddington, the West End and the City of London.

So how will those in Walthamstow and Chingford tie into this new high-capacity line?

In my view a direct link to Stratford is needed, which could be created by reinstating the Hall Farm Curve.

The World Ducking And Diving Championships

East Londoners would undoubtedly win the World Ducking-And-Diving Championships, if one were to be held.

Network Rail and Transport for London, are creating the ultimate training ground in North-East London.

Most people do a number of common journeys over time.

They get to know the best routes for these journeys dependent on various factors, like the time of day, weather and whether they are carrying heavy shopping.

For most people though, choosing the route for a particular day’s journey will not be process that can be written down, that might be more determined by random factors.

I for instance, will often choose my route, based on the first bus that comes along, even if it is not usually the quickest route.

To make journeys easier, through a network like North-East London, you need the following.

  • As many links as possible.
  • As few bottlenecks as possible.

These rules will allow the passengers to flow freely.

Passengers like water automatically find the quickest way from A to B.

Improvements In North-East London

There are various improvements in alphabetical order, that are proposed, planned or under construction for North-East London

Bicycle Routes Across The Lea Valley

The Lea Valley has a lot of green space and I have seen plans mentioned to create quiet cycling routes across the area.

It should also include lots of bikes for hire.

Hall Farm Curve

I mentioned this earlier and by building it to link Walthamstow and Stratford, it would enable direct access from Walthamstow and Chingford to the the following.

  • Olympic Park and Stadium.
  • The shops at Eastfield.
  • Crossrail
  • Docklands Light Railway
  • Jubilee and Central Lines
  • Highspeed serevices to Kent.
  • Continental services, if in the future, they stopped at Stratford.

It is a massive super-connector.

More Bus Routes

It may be that more bus routes or even stops are needed.

As an illustration of the latter, when the Walthamstow Wetlands opened, bus stops were provided.

New Stations

The new station at Meridian Water will add a new link to the transport network.

Two new stations on the Chingford Branch Line have also been proposed, which I wrote about them in New Stations On The Chingford Branch Line.

New stations are a good way to add more links in a transport network.

I shall be interested to see how many passengers the rebuilt Hackney Wick station attracts, when West Ham United are at home.

Northumberland Park Station

Northumberland Park station is being rebuilt with full step-free access, to provide better rail access to the new White Hart Lane Stadium.

Step-Free Access At Stations

Progress is being made, but there are still some truly dreadful access problems at some stations in East London.

Clapton, St. James Street, Seven Sisters, Stamford Hill and Wood Street certainly need improvement.

Tottenham Hale Station

Tottenham Hale Station is being rebuilt to give it full step-free access and a new entrance.

As this station handles well over ten million passengers a year, it is a good place to start.

Walthamstow Central Station

Walthamstow Central station is almost last in this alphabetical list.

It is probably, the second most important transport hub in North-East London and it does handle nearly thirty million passengers a year if the National Rail and Underground figures are combined.

But, is it treated last by the planners?

Walthamstow Wetlands

This massive urban nature reserve opened last year and its importance will only grow in the years to come.

Will transport links need to be added to the Wetlands?

West Anglia Main Line Four-Tracking

Stansted Airport will grow and to get proper rail access to the airport, the long promised four-tracking of the West Anglia Main Line will happen.

  • There will be two fast tracks for Cambridge, Stansted and possibly Norwich services.
  • There will be two slow tracks for local services up the Lea Valley to Broxbourne, Hertford East and Bishops Stortford.

Broxbourne station and the rebuilt Tottenham Hale station, will be the interchanges between fast and slow services.

Four-tracking will open up the possibility of lots more services up the Lea Valley.

There has been rumours, that Greater Anglia would like to open up a service between Stratford and Stansted. But that would be just for starters.

Liverpool Street station is full, but there is space at Stratford if the High Meads Loop under the shops and housing at Stratford is used, just like it was a few years ago.

The West Anglia Main Line could be turned into a high-capacity main line into London with two London terminal station; Liverpool Street and Stratford.

  • Both termini would be connected to Crossrail.
  • Liverpool Street connects to Central, Circle, Hammersmith and City and Metropolitan Lines.
  • The massive Liverpool Street-Moorgate Crossrail station will connect to the Northern and Northern City Lines.
  • Stratford connects to fast Kent services and Central and Jubilee Lines.

Will passengers for places like the West End get a fast train to Crossrail, rather than change for the Victoria Line at Tottenham Hale.

Conclusion

North-East London’s transport network is going to get better and better!

Note that I haven’t mentioned Crossrail 2! I doubt, this will be built before 2040!

 

 

 

 

 

May 29, 2018 Posted by | Travel, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Direct Trains Between Liverpool Lime Street And Norwich

In my wanderings around the UK, I very often come across this service and use it for short trips between two major towns or cities many miles from both Liverpool and Norwich.

The Current Service

Currently, the service is run by East Midlands Trains and is usually a two-car Class 158 train. Although, I have seen the service worked by a pair of these trains.

The route is very comprehensive with calls at Liverpool South Parkway, Widnes, Warrington Central, Manchester Oxford Road, Manchester Piccadilly, Stockport, Sheffield, Chesterfield, Alfreton, Ilkeston, Nottingham, Grantham, Peterborough, Ely and Thetford.

The service always seems to be full and I suspect that in addition to offering useful routes like Manchester-Sheffield, Liverpool-Nottingham and Nottingham-East Anglia, it is often a convenient route for some long distance business and family travellers.

The major problem for a train operator is that it needs a lot of rolling stock to provide a service.

Liverpool to Norwich takes five and a half hours, so to provide the hourly service probably needs as many as a dozen trains.

This extract comes from the East Midlands Trains section in Wikipedia entry for the Class 158 train.

The hourly Norwich to Liverpool service has been criticised for overcrowding, especially between Liverpool and Nottingham. This resulted from the Department for Transport specifying two-coach units in the EMT franchise starting in November 2007. In the light of persistent and excessive overcrowding, with some passengers being left behind on occasions, the DfT eventually admitted that it had made a mistake. Various cascades of other units enabled more Class 158 stock to be released for this route, and from the December 2011 timetable change the busiest services have been lengthened to four-coach trains between Liverpool and Nottingham, with units splitting and joining at Nottingham as necessary, two-coach trains being regarded as adequate between Nottingham and Norwich. Further services on this route were strengthened from December 2012.

Running a pair of Class 158 trains on the route between Liverpool and Nottingham, does seem to ease problems there, but I’ve encountered bad over-crowding at the Eastern end too.

Improvements On The Route

Several improvements or changes of rolling stock have or are taking place in the next few years.

Increased Capacity At Liverpool Lime Street

This is detailed in the 2017-2018 Station Remodelling section of the Wikipedia entry for Liverpool Lime Street station.

  • Two new platforms are being added.
  • Platforms are being lengthened.

In addition there are improvements on the approaches to the station.

Ordsall Chord And Related Improvements In Manchester

The Liverpool-Norwich service calls at both Manchester Oxford Road and Manchester Piccadilly stations, although it doesn’t use the new Ordsall Chord.

But I can’t believe that the Liverpool-Norwich service won’t be affected by all the works in Manchester.

Hope Valley Line Improvements

This article on Rail Technology Magazine is entitled Long-Awaited Hope Valley Line Plans Given The Green Light.

Improvements to the Hope Valley Line between Manchester and Sheffield include.

  • A loop to allow passenger trains to overtake slow freight trains.
  • Removal of a foot crossing.
  • Improvements around Dore and Totley station.

This is said on this document on the Transport for the North web site, which announces the Hope Valley improvements.

The new passing loops will mean three fast trains can run per hour between Sheffield and Manchester, one every 20 minutes, freight and stopping trains every hour, and a fast Manchester-Nottingham and East of England service every hour.

If nothing else, the extra capacity between Manchester and Sheffield, will reduce reliance on the Liverpool-Norwich service.

Improvements To The Midland Main Line

The Midland Main Line is not being electrified between Nottingham and Sheffield, but other improvements have taken place over the last few years.

  • In particular, the Erewash Valley Line has been improved and a new station at Ilkeston has been added.
  • The Liverpool-Norwich service calls at stations on this by-pass.
  • The line has been resignalled.

Would a train with a 125 mph capability, as opposed to the 90 mph operating speed of the Class 158 train, allow a faster service?

East Coast Main Line Running

The 90 mph Class 158 trains must present pathing problems on the East Coast Main Line, whereas a 125 mph train could mix it easier with the high speed trains.

Greater Anglia’s Plans

Greater Anglia have ordered a fleet of Class 755 trains.

  • The trains are bi-mode.
  • The trains have a 100 mph operating speed.
  • Greater Anglia have ordered fourteen three-car and twenty-four four-car trains.

Greater Anglia will be replacing 27 diesel trains, that consists of  58 carriages, with 38 bi-mode trains, that consist of 138 carriages.

  • There are forty percent more trains.
  • There are a hundred and thirty-eight percent more carriages.
  • Average train length of the diesels is 2.1 carriages, wheres that of the bi-modes is 3.6.

There are two possible reasons for these large number of trains.

  • Abellio have decided to buy a few bi-modes for their other franchises.
  • There is going to be a massive expansion of train services in East Anglia.

Two of the new bi-mode services interact with the Liverpool-Norwich service.

  • Colchester to Peterborough via Ipswich, Bury St. Edmunds and Ely
  • Norwich to Stansted Airport  via Ely and Cambridge.

Both services are thought to be hourly.

Consider the Colchester to Peterborough service.

  • I estimate that trains will take around two hours.
  • The round trip could be under five hours, even with a generous turn-round at both ends and perhaps a wait at Ipswich.
  • The waits would allow connecting passengers to join the train.
  • A five hour round trip would need five Class 755 trains.
  • I would choose four-car trains, as the route can get crowded.

Could the Colchester to Peterborough service be considered as an extension of the Liverpool-Norwich service, that serves Bury St. Edmunds, Ipswich and Colchester?

I think it could if the trains were timed appropriately.

  • Passengers from Liverpool to Ipswich, would change at Peterborough or Ely to the Peterborough to Colchester train, which would arrive a few minutes after the Liverpool to Norwich train.
  • Passengers from Ipswich to Liverpool, would change at Ely or Peterborough to the Liverpool train, which would arrive a few minutes after Colchester to Peterborough train.

Hopefully, the change would not require a platform change.

Consider the Norwich to Stansted Airport service.

  • I estimate trains will take about one hour and fifty minutes.
  • The round trip would be four hours and would need four Class 755 trains.
  • I would choose four-car trains, as the route can get crowded.

Could the Norwich to Stansted Airport service be equally spaced with the Liverpool-Norwich service between Ely and Norwich  to give a clock-face two trains per hour (tph)?

These services call at Ely

  • CrossCountry -Birmingham to Stansted Airport
  • East Midlands Trains – Liverpool to Norwich
  • Greater Anglia – Peterborough to Colchester
  • Greater Anglia – Norwich to Stansted Airport
  • Great Northern – Kings Lynn to Kings Cross

Totalling them up gives the following frequencies to various stations.

  • Bury St. Edmunds/Ipswich/Colchester – 1 tph
  • Cambridge North/Cambridge – 3 tph
  • Kings Lynn – 1 tph
  • Norwich – 2 tph
  • Peterborough – 3 tph
  • Stansted Airport – 2 tph

I suspect that the services will be arranged so there are convenient interchanges. No-one wants to spend an hour on a draughty Ely station waiting for the next train.

I also suspect that Greater Anglia  will use some of their extra trains to improve connectivity at Ely.

Speed Limits On The Route

Speed limits on the route are rather variable.

  • Liverpool to Manchester via Warrington is limited to 85 mph
  • The Hope Valley Line between Manchester and Sheffield is 90 mph
  • The proportion of the Midland Main Line, where 125 mph running is possible, is being increased.
  • Grantham to Peterborough on the East Coast Main Line allows 125 mph running.
  • The Peterborough to Ely Line is limited to 75 mph.
  • The Breckland Line between Ely and Norwich is limited to 75- 90 mph.

I feel that increasing speed limits on some parts of the line would help the Liverpool to Norwich service.

But surely, a train with a 125 mph-capability would help with journey times and train timetabling between Sheffield and Peterborough.

But on the rest of the route, trains with this speed capability, wouldn’t be needed.

Rolling Stock Choices For Liverpool Lime Street And Norwich

Various choices include.

Class 158 Trains

Everything could carry on as now using Class 158 trains

  • Two two-car trains working ass a pair would go from Liverpool Lime Street to Nottingham.
  • The trains would divide at Nottingham.
  • One train would go on its way to Norwich, and the other would wait at Nottingham to join with the train returning from Norwich.

With all the new diesel multiple units arriving in the next few years, I think it is likely that more Class 158 trains could be made available to strengthen the service.

The trouble with the Class 158 trains, is that with only a 90 mph operating speed, they can’t take advantage of the sections of the route where 125 mph running is possible.

Class 170 Trains

These trains were built as successors to the Class 158 trains.

  • They are more modern.
  • They are 10 mph faster.
  • Most  are three cars.

But they are still not fast enough for the 125 mph sections of the route.

A Second Service Between Liverpool And Nottingham

Improvements on the Hope Valley Line and in Liverpool and Manchester, might make it possible to run a much-needed second service between Liverpool and Nottingham via Manchester, Stockport and Sheffield..

This extra service could use the same trains as the full service.

Currently, the direct service between Liverpool Lime Street and Nottingham takes two hours thirty five minutes. In some ways, this is a problem, as if the timing was say two hours twenty minutes, a five hour round trip would be possible.

This would mean that the second service would need just five trains.

I doubt that Class 158 trains could meet this schedule, so more would be needed.

Class 800 Trains

Class 800 trains are 125 mph bi-mode trains, but are they fast enough on diesel to make real differences to the timetable by running fast on the Midland Main Line?

I think not!

So more trains would be needed to run the service.

Bombardier’s Proposed 125 mph Bi-Mode

A genuine 125-mph bi-mode, with that performance on both electricity and diesel, would be a totally different matter.

  • Timings between Liverpool and Nottingham would drop to perhaps two hours twenty, thus allowing a five hour round trip.
  • Timings between Liverpool and Norwich would drop to perhaps four hours fifty, thus allowing a ten hour round trip.

Even so a full service would require fifteen trains.

Bombardier have proposed a train of this type and I wrote about it in Bombardier Bi-Mode Aventra To Feature Battery Power.

In my view, this small exercise shows why some routes in the UK need a 125 mph bi-mode.

If the train can’t do 125 mph, where it is possible on the Midland and East Coast Main Line, the time savings on the route won’t be possible and more trains will be needed to run the service.

One great advantage is that the trains working this route could be the same as those working the main routes of the East Midlands franchise to and from London.

Short Formation InterCity 125 Trains

The forty-year-old InterCity 125 trains have the power and the speed to match the 125 mph bi-mode trains.

Short formation with four or five passenger cars between the two Class 43 locomotives are being used by Scotrail and Great Western Railway, but to use them on Liverpool to Norwich would require another fifteen trains to be updated, which is probably not as cost effective as new 125 mph bi-modes.

Conclusion

If service between the Liverpool Lime Street and Norwich is to continue in its present form, it needs 125 mph bi-more trains.

 

 

 

 

April 29, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Harlow Council Leader Jon Clempner Hopes Crossrail 2 Will Extend To Town

The title of this post is the same as this article in Essex Live.

You might feel that Jon Clempner has a point, if you look at this diagram of the West Anglia Main Line between the M25 and Stansted Airport.

Note that Harlow Town station is only five and a half miles North of Crossrail 2’s proposed terminal of Broxbourne.

Greater Anglia’s New Trains

Greater Anglia are replacing ten twelve-car Class 379 trains on Cambridge and Stansted Airport services with ten twelve-car Class 745 trains.

You might ask why bother with this replacement, if the number of trains and carriages are the same, which initially will result in the same number of services.

I answer that question in  Why Are Greater Anglia Replacing Class 379 Trains With New Stadler Class 745 Trains?

But this doesn’t mean the current frequency is cast in stone, as the other fleet of Class 720 trains have a similar performance to the Class 745 and 755 trains, so they can mix it on the West Anglia Main Line.

I feel that all the trains would have these features.

  • Trains would be fitted with the latest signalling, so they could work with headways between trains as low as two or three minutes.
  • Trains will all be 100 mph trains or faster.
  • Trains would be designed to stop and restart at a station very quickly.
  • Trains could couple and decouple to make a longer train in a couple of minutes.

They will offer lots of opportunities to improve services.

The Current Service North Of Broxbourne

These current services stop at Broxbourne station in both directions..

  • One train per hour (tph) between Cambridge and London Liverpool Street – fast – stopping at Bishops Stortford and Hsrlow Town
  • One tph between Cambridge and London Liverpool Street – semi-fast – stopping at Stansted Mountfichet, Bishops Stortford, Sawbridgeworth, Harlow Mill, Harlow Town and Roydon
  • One tph between Stratford and Bishops Stortford – local stopping at Roydon, Harlow Town, Harlow Mill and Sawbridgeworth
  • One tph between Stratford and Bishops Stortford – local stopping at Harlow Town and Sawbridgeworth
  • Two tph between Hertford East and London Liverpool Street

In addition, there are four tph between Stansted Airport and London Liverpool Street (Stansted Express).

This means that the frequency of trains through various stations are as follows.

  • Broxbourne – 10 tph – Six stop (not Stansted Express)
  • Harlow Town – 8 tph – Four stop and some Stansted Express stop
  • Bishops Stortford – 8 tph – Two stop, two terminate and some Stansted Express stop.

So there is a maximum of ten tph or just one train every six minutes at Brombourne.

Given that Crossrail and Thameslink handle twenty-four tph through their central tunnels, eight tph is not very high!

Crossrail 2 At Broxbourne

Crossrail 2 will have its own dedicated tracks between London and Broxbourne and could be running twelve tph.

So if there were to be cross-platform interchange between the North of Broxbourne services and Crossrail 2, passengers could change between services as they needed.

The trains going North of Broxborne would be as follows.

  • 2 tph to Cambridge or Cambridge North
  • 2 tph to Bishops Stortford
  • 2 tph to Hertford East.
  • 4 tph to Stansted Airport

There would be a lot of scope to create an efficient service between all stations on the West Anglia Main Line and the two london termini of Liverpool Street and Stratford.

The Hertford East Branch

The Hertford East Branch isn’t a problem now, but the two tph between Liverpool Street and Hertford East station take up valuable paths on the lines to London.

The branch also has the following characteristics.

  • The platforms may not be long enough for ten-car Class 720 trains.
  • It is mainly double-track with a short length of single-track through Ware station.
  • It is fully electrified.
  • It is just seven miles long.
  • It might be possible to add a chord so that trains can access the branch from the Harlow direction from the West Anglian Main Line.

I suspect Network Rail and Greater Anglia have a plan with at least the following objectives.

  1. Keep a direct service between London Liverpool Street and Hertford East.
  2. Increase the frequency of trains to and from Hertford East to four tph.
  3. Avoid as much infrastructure work as possible.

Because of the new trains ability to couple and uncouple, I wonder if we could see two five-car Class 720 trains arrive at Broxbourne as a ten-car unit, with one train going to Hertford East and the other going to Bishops Stortford.

This would have the following advantages.

  • Hertford East gets four tph, including two new tph from Stratford.
  • Bishops Stortford get four tph, including two new tph from Liverpool Street,
  • Two tph could serve each of the London termini of Liverpool Street and Stratford.
  • The number of trains along the West Anglia Main Line between Tottenham Hale and Broxbourne is unchanged.
  • Hsrlow Town and Sawbridgworth  get another two tph to Liverpool Street.

I’m probably wrong, but there will be a better idea somewhere.

Conclusion

Crossrail 2 doesn’t need to go to Harlow Town, but Greater Anglia’s new trains should give a better service.

 

August 3, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Musings On The West Anglia Main Line

The West Anglia Main Line is the main railway between Liverpool Street station in the City of London and the Scientific Powerhouse of Cambridge via Stansred Airport.

This post started off as The Mother Of All Level Crossing Jams, when I got caught in a jam caused by the level crossing at Enfield Lock station.

It has since grown into a long post of the inadequacies of this important main line.

The Mother Of All Level Crossing Jams

These are pictures I took at Enfield Lock station in mid-morning.

I had arrived at the station at 11:04 and my train had departed on its way at 11:08.

I was in no hurry taking the pictures and I left at 11:22 after eight trains had gone through, without the gates being raised.

In two of the pictures, you can see a discarded broken gate. Was it caused by an irate motorist?

After I got back to the station, the barriers were still going up and down like a whore’s drawers and talking to a fellow passenger, she said it happens all the time.

Improving The West Anglia Main Line

Consider the following, which could effect what happens in the future.

  • Stansted Airport, Greater Anglia, Transport for London, the London Borough of Enfield, Cambridge City Council and the local MPs, all want the line to be four-tracked so that services to Cambridge and Stansted Airport can have their own dedicated fast lines.
  • ,Greater Anglia have ordered lots of new trains and I suspect they want to run much-needed extra services into both Stratford and Liverpool Street stations.
  • Enfield Lock could be a Crossrail 2 station in ten years or so.
  • Crossrail 2 would want to run up to twelve trains per hour (tph).

It is a certainly a case of squeezing a couple of gallons into a pint pot.

Enfield Lock And Brimsdown

To make matters worse there is another equally congested level crossing at the next station to the South; Brimsdown.

This Google Map shows the area.

Note.

  1. Enfield Lock station is in the North West corner of the map, with Brimsdown in the South West corner.
  2. Mollinson Avenue, which tracks along the railway to its East, is nearly all dual carriageway.
  3. These is a lot of industrial premises in the area.
  4. There are a lot of distribution depots that need road access for heavy trucks.
  5. It is going to use all the ingenuity that Network Rail can muster to squeeze two extra tracks between those two stations.

If ever there was an area that needs an increased rail service it is this stretch of the West Anglia Main Line between Tottenham Hale and Cheshunt stations.

Improving The Lea Valley Lines

I suspect that British Rail foresaw the problem in the 1950s, as by 1960, they had electrified all the Lea Valley Lines including the goods-only Southbury Loop, which is now part of the London Overground, who run two tph on the route.

Both London Overground and Greater Anglia are getting new Aventra trains, which should increase the capacity and speed up services on both routes.

However, this could create a problem, in that they are such good trains, they may persuade more commuters to leave their cars at home and take the trains.

More Frequent Services

London Overground like to run four tph on their various routes.

At present, their Lea Valley services are as follows.

  • 4 tph from Liverpool Street to Chingford.
  • 2 tph from Liverpool Street to Enfield Town, with more services in the Peak and when Spurs are playing at home.
  • 2 tph from Liverpool Street to Cheshunt.

I suspect that they would like to run four tph all day and that after Crossrail opens and releases some platforms at Liverpool Street, this might happen.

However in Increased Frequencies On The East London Line, I publish a table, which says that from 2019, Enfield Town will get four tph.

Greater Anglia must be looking to improve services on the West Anglia Main Line, so that all stations South of Broxbourne get four tph, with perhaps two tph to each of  Liverpool Street and Stratford.

And then there’s STAR, which is a new service between Stratford and Angel Road stations. This article on IanVisits, which is entitled One of London’s quietest train stations set for major upgrade, gives a good explanation of this service, which will provide four tph between Stratford and a rebuilt Angel Road station, which will be renamed Meridian Water.

More Terminal Capacity In London

Adding these services together, I feel that  more capacity is needed at the London terminals of Liverpool Street and Stratford.

There are two short term solutions and one long term one.

Create More Capacity At Liverpool Street

This is the simplest short-term solution.

In the Wikipedia entry for Liverpool Street station, this is said.

Once Crossrail opens, platform 18 at the main Liverpool Street station will be decommissioned to allow platforms 16 and 17 to be extended, enabling them to accommodate longer trains.

I would assume this platform-lengthening is to accommodate the full-length Class 345 trains, that will run the Peak Hour service between Liverpool Street and Gidea Park stations.

I suppose too, having two platforms in Liverpool Street, that are capable of handling Crossrail trains must also be useful in special or exceptional circumstances.

Platform 18 is a curiosity, in that it is used by c2c as a diversion platform, when Fenchurch Street station is closed because of engineering works.

So after the work on platforms 16 and 17 is complete, will it be recommissioned?

That leaves fifteen platforms for Greater Anglia and London Overground to argue over.

If you compare the way Liverpool Street is organised compared to some more modern stations, I suspect that more modern trains can be handled without any expensive modifications to the existing station.

Modern practice means that a single platform can easily handle four tph, so as destinations like Norwich and Southend will only have three tph, could it mean that these destinations can be served by a single platform?

It would certainly make it easy for me, if I knew the fast Ipswich trains always left from platform 9.

I suspect that as London Overground has only three destinations; Cheshunt, Chingford and Enfield Town, whiich have a maximum frequency of four tph, that they could easily manage with four platforms; one for each destination and a spare.

This would give Greater Anglia eleven platforms.

Note this about Greater Anglia’s new trains.

  • The Class 745 trains will be of a fixed formation of twelve cars.
  • Will the three-car and four-car Class 755 trains have the ability to join and split automatically?
  • Will the five-car Class 720 trains have the ability to join and split automatically?

Having seen how Class 395 trains and others can do this in under a couple of minutes and the flexibility of destinations it gives, I will be very surprised if Greater Anglia haven’t specified this capability.

  • As an example, two four-car Class 755 trains could start at Lowestoft and Bury St. Edmunds respectively and then join at Ipswich, before proceeding to London as an eight-car train.
  • Would it be sensible that all trains go into Liverpool Street at maximum length?
  • Trains might split and join at Ipswich, Colchester and perhaps Chelmsford. All that is needed is a long platform.

Perhaps Greater Anglia’s platforms at Liverpool Street could be allocated something like this.

For Flirts (Class 745 and Class 755)

  • Norwich
  • Ipswich/Lowestoft
  • Stansted Airport
  • Cambridge

For Aventras (Class 720)

  • Bishops Stordford/Broxbourne/Hertford East
  • Colchester/Harwich
  • Clacton/Walton
  • Chelmsford/Braintree
  • Southend

On this rough assessment, it would appear that at least for a few years Liverpool Street station could cope.

Developing Stratford As A Second Terminal

Consider these facts about the railway hub at Stratford.

  • Stratford has not been fully developed as a terminal for the West Anglia routes and only handles two tph to and from Bishops Stortford.
  • Stratford has two platforms 11 and 12, that were built to serve the West Anglia routes; the West Anglia Main Line and the Lea Valley Lines.
  • Platforms 11 and 12 are on the High Meads Loop, which would reverse the trains on West Anglia routes.
  • Stratford is well connected to Crossrail, Central and Jubilee Lines of the Underground, the DLR, the Overground , Highspeed services to Kent and Greater Anglia services on the Great Eastern Main Line.
  • Stratford has better connections than Liverpool Street to London Bridge and Waterloo
  • Stratford could have excellent connections to Highspeed services to Kent and Continental services at Ashford International.
  • Stratford will be only a few minutes from Liverpool Street on Crossrail.

Stratford is also a destination in its own right, with the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and the massive shopping complex.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the complex at Stratford.

It is very much capable of development.

  • Better connections could be made between Stratford International and the main station.
  • The subways in the complex could be improved.
  • The Hall Farm Curve could be reinstated to give direct connections between Stratford and Walthamstow/Chingford.

I would not be surprised if Greater Anglia increased their services to and from Stratford.

I could also envisage a timetable, where trains alternate between the two terminals., as every passenger will have their favoured terninal.

Crossrail 2

Crossrail 2 is the long-term solution.

Upwards of ten tph will run between Broxbourne and Tottenham Hale, before entering the tunnel to Central and South West London.

It will obviously handle all the local services South of Broxbourne, with just the services from the North continuing to Liverpool Street and Stratford.

Following Abbey Wood, Reading and Shenfield stations on Crossrail, I think that we would see Broxbourne station developed as a simple interchange between longer distance services and Crossrail 2.

Both services would have their own tracks to London.

Conclusion

The West Anglia Main Line urgently needs improvement and this improvement can be broken down into a series of smaller projects, the first three of which have already started and could be completed by 2020.

  1. Creation of STAR – The Stratford-Angel Road Metro – Already started.
  2. Building of new Meridian Water station to replace Angel Road station – Already started.
  3. Rebuilding of Tottenham Hale station – Already started.
  4. Post-Crossrail Improvements at Liverpool Street and Stratford stations.
  5. Removal of level crossings at Brimsdown, Enfield Lock and Waltham Cross
  6. Four-tracking between Tottenham Hale and Broxbourne.
  7. Step-Free Stations
  8. Reinstatement of the Hall Farm Curve.

These projects will also get the main line Crossrail 2-ready.

This process has already started with the creation of STAR, which will create a third track as far as Angel Road station. In the article on IanVisits, this is said.

Along the tracks nearby there are already hi-vis wearing Network Rail contractors clearing the land to prepare it for the Stratford to Angel Road (STAR) rail upgrade project which will see a third railway track added. Passive provision for a fourth track will be included for Crossrail 2.

This work has already closed the level crossing at Nothumberland Park station.

In Innovation In Railway Projects, I describe how Network Rail are aiming to create a pipeline of smaller projects.

I feel that some parts of the updating of the West Anglia Main Line can be done in this way.

 

 

 

August 1, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Rise Of Gatwick Airport

I used to hate Gatwick Airport, but now on my short flights to Europe, I often find myself using the Sussex airport, as it is usually an easier train ride, than Heathrow or Stansted.

The South East’s Next Runway

I am coming more to the conclusion, that despite the report of the Airports Commission, Heathrow Airport will never have a third runway, but Gatwick may get a second one, as they can start to plan, for when the deal to not build a second runway with Sussex County Council, runs out in 2019.

  • No serious candidate for London Mayor would win an election if they proposed a third runway at Heathrow.
  • Heathrow is surrounded by housing, whereas Gatwick is surrounded by more much open countryside.
  • The protests over another runway at Heathrow would be enormous.
  • In a few years time, Gatwick will have the better rail links and fifteen million people will live within an hour’s train journey of the Airport.

But the main reason is that building a second runway at Gatwick will be a lot easier. Just look at this Google Map of Gatwick Airport.

Gatwick Airport

Gatwick Airport

Note the following about the map and the expansion of Gatwick Airport.

  • The second runway will be built to the South of the existing runway.
  • There doesn’t appear to be much housing in the area of the proposed new runway.
  • The M23 Motorway and the Brighton Main Line run North-South to the East of the Airport.
  • A third terminal would be built near to the existing railway line.
  • Note in the map, that in addition to the single runway, the taxiway can be used as a runway, if say the runway is under repair or blocked.

The second runway would increase the capacity of the Airport to over 80 million passengers a year.

I’ve always believed that Gatwick could also build a North-South runway over the M23. This was proposed in the 1980s by pilots and with the capability of aircraft increasing all the time, I don’t rule it out at some time in the future.

The Biggest Airport Terminal In The World

I have argued in the past, that when Crossrail and Thameslink are completed, then the following airports and international rail stations will be connected together.

There will also be an easy link to HS2 for the North and Scotland.

As passengers will be increasingly savvy, in many cases they will organise their travel to what is best for them and not the travel agents, airlines and the airports.

I believe that London will sell itself, as a place to break that long journey, just as Singapore and Dubai have done for years.

As the North of England, Scotland and Wales always say, London always wins!

But then London is the capital of the world!

Rail Links To Heathrow Airport

Crossrail should give Heathrow Airport a world-class link to Central London, if they can sort out Crossrail’s access problems to the airport, that I wrote about in Heathrow Express And Crossrail.

The over-priced joke that is Heathrow Express will be on borrowed time once Crossrail opens in 2019.

But there will still be problems with rail access to Heathrow Airport.

  • Terminal 5 will not be connected to Crossrail.
  • Changing terminals at Heathrow is a chore.
  • Heathrow Express only takes passengers to and from Paddington.
  • There is no direct rail access to Reading for the West.
  • For some parts of London, the Piccadilly Line will still be the best way to go to and from the Airport.
  • Access to Continental rail services from Heathrow will be difficult.

You would never describe Heathrow as fully integrated into the the UK’s rail network.

Heathrow will of course argue, that links to Central London are excellent and that those continuing their journey will just change terminals and be on their way.

Obviously, improvements will come, but nothing important for passengers will happen, until Heathrow puts passengers first and drops it’s arrogant attitude, which thinks it is London’s only airport.

Rail Links To Stansted Airport

Stansted Airport has the Stansted Express from Liverpool Street, which runs about four times an hour.

I believe in the next few years, the following will happen.

  • Crossrail will arrive at Liverpool Street in 2019, giving one-change journeys to and from Heathrow.
  • The West Anglia Main Line will be four-tracked, allowing faster Stansted Express services.
  • An improved rail service will be provided to the increasingly important rail hub at Cambridge.
  • An extra Stansted Express service will run to Stratford via the new Lea Bridge station.
  • Stansted Express will probably get new air passenger-friendly trains.

But the biggest improvement of rail services to Stansted Airport will come, when and if Crossrail 2 is built, as this will make travel to the airport from all over London a lot easier, with just a single change at Tottenham Hale or Broxbourne.

I also wouldn’t be surprised to see some Crossrail 2 trains extended to Stansted. After all, the tracks exist and if the airport said to Transport for London, here’s a few million from our petty cash to run Crossrail 2 to Stansted, I’m sure TfL would oblige!

This would give Stansted Airport one-change services to Gatwick, Heathrow and Luton airports, Continental Rail Services and HS2.

Rail Links To Luton Airport

Luton Airport has its own Thameslink station at Luton Airport Parkway.

But also it has plans to expand, as is reported in this article in the Daily Mail, entitled Luton Airport reveals plans for direct rail line that would cut train journey from central London to just 20 minutes.

I think that Luton Airport could use something like Class 387/2 trains, as used on Gatwick Express with an IPEMU capability, so that they could use a branch line without any electrification to underneath the airport terminal.

Rail Links To Gatwick Airport

I found this article in TravelWeekly, which is entitled Gatwick outlines plans for a train departure to London every three minutes.

It gives a very good summary of the train services that will run to Gatwick after Thameslink is completed.

The planned hourly timetable would see:

•         Four dedicated Gatwick Express trains to Victoria
•         Six trains to Victoria – originating from East and West Coastway, Horsham/Littlehampton, and Three Bridges/Haywards Heath
•         Four trains to Bedford via London Bridge – originating from Gatwick and Brighton
•         Two trains to Cambridge via London Bridge – originating from Brighton
•         Two trains to Peterborough via London Bridge – originating from Horsham
•         Two trains to London Bridge – originating from Littlehampton/West Coastway, and Haywards Heath/Three Bridges.

That is a total of twenty trains to and from London and beyond and most of the South Coast from Southampton to Hastings.

How many better rail-connected airports are there anywhere in the world?

The article also quotes Guy Stephenson, the Airport’s Chief Commercial Officer as saying.

The new high frequency service that will serve Gatwick will transform rail journeys for our passengers, with capacity doubling and a train to London every three minutes.

Crucially, the new trains will be much more reliable and will be stacked with amenities suited to the needs of air travellers.  Combined with robust new track and signalling systems, Gatwick’s passengers will experience a really pleasant and dependable service.

Overall, the improvements to Gatwick’s rail service means that 15 million people will be brought within 60 minutes of Gatwick by rail – the best reach of any UK airport,

Reading the article, you might think that Thameslink should be called Gatwicklink!

According to this Press Release on the Gatwick Airport web site, Gatwick Airport are going to spend £120.5million on updating the rail station. This is an architect’s impression of the new station.

GatwickAirport

I also think that Gatwick could extend their Gatwick Express services.

I think we can also see development of Airport services to and from Gatwick Airport station based on the following existing services.

Will we be seeing a second Gatwick Express route from Ashford or Ebbsfleet to Reading via Gatwick Airport?

Consider.

  • It would inevitably get known as the M25-on-rails.
  • It gives a large number of passengers a way to get to Gatwick and Continental Rail Services without going through Central London.
  • It could serve Heathrow, if they got their act together.
  • Surprisingly, I think this route will be quicker to go between Reading and Gatwick, than using Crossrail and Thameslink with a change at Farringdon.
  • The trains for such a service could be the same as the new Class 387/2 Gatwick Expresses, but with an IPEMU capability.

But it wouldn’t be just an Airport service, as I suspect that given adequate parking at stations, it would become a valuable cross-country route linking the rail hubs of Ebbsfleet, Gatwick and Reading. After all, North of London, the East West Rail Link is being created from Reading to Cambridge via Oxford, Milton Keynes and Bedford.

Southern also run a service from Milton Keynes to South Croydon via the West London Line. In the future this service will serve Old Oak Common station on Crossrail, HS2, the West Coast Main Line and the North London Line.

So will this service be extended from South Croydon to Gatwick and become a third Gatwick Express service?

These two additional Gatwick Express services would greatly increase or ease the airport’s links across the wider South East and to HS2 services out of Euston.

The only problem, is the overcrowding on the Brighton Main Line.

Conclusion

Gatwick will become the best rail-connected airport in the UK and will get a second runway!

 

February 10, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 2 Comments

Is A Rail War Starting To London’s Airports?

The following sections sum up the rail services to the various London airports.

London City Airport

London City Airport may only be small, but some people use it a lot. I never have, but that’s not for dint of trying. It’s just that if I include all the factors, by which I choose a flight, it hasn’t come out top yet!

London City Airport is only on the Docklands Light Railway, but when Crossrail is open and Bank station has been fully upgraded in 2021, it will be a relatively easy airport through which to travel.

Crossrail passes very close to the Airport and passive provision has been made for a Silvertown station that could be connected to the Airport. At present, the Docklands Light Railway provides enough capacity.

Eurostar

Eurostar is the cuckoo in the nest and should be included, as it will offer rail services to a couple of European Airports.

By the early 2020s, there will be new direct or single-change services to France, Germany, The Netherlands and Switzerland.

I also suspect that one of the first extensions of Crossrail will serve Ebbsfleet International station, so it will give a lot more passengers easy access to European services.

Gatwick Airport

This year the rail links to Gatwick Airport are getting a major upgrade.

And increasingly, as the next few years roll on, various developments will or could happen.

  • Thameslink and particularly London Bridge station will have greater capacity.
  • Thameslink will add many direct trains to new destinations like Cambridge, Stevenage and Peterborough.
  • Thameslink and other developments, will mean that nearly all stations East of the Midland Main Line, will have access to Gatwick Airport through with only a single change at a convenient interchange like Bedford, Cambridge, Farringdon, Finsbury Park, Luton, Peterborough or Stevenage.
  • The dreadful links to the Thameslink platforms at St. Pancras, from some other lines at Kings Cross and St. Pancras will be improved.
  • An IPEMU variant of the Class 387 Gatwick Express could easily reach Reading on an hourly-basis, to give single-change access between Gatwick Airport and Wales and the West.
  • The East Coastway and West Coastway routes could be extended to Ashford and Bournemouth respectively, improved with more and faster trains and a better interchange to Gatwick services at Brighton.

But I believe that what would transform train services to Gatwick, is when the whole of the area from Weymouth and Reading in the west to Ramsgate in the East becomes part of London’s Oyster and contactless bank card ticketing area.

Heathrow Airport

Heathrow Airport will have to wait until December 2019 before it gets any more capacity to Central London, in the shape of Crossrail.

Until then, it will have to make do with the current services.

  • The very crowded and slow Piccadilly Line.
  • The infrequent Heathrow Connect.
  • The overpriced and much unloved Heathrow Express.

But there are serious problems.

  • The rail lines into the airport are designed to maximise revenue for Heathrow, rather than the convenience of passengers.
  • Crossrail hasn’t been designed to serve Terminal 5 directly. How daft is that?
  • Links to the West are atrocious and rely on going into London and out again. Gatwick has better links to Reading!
  • As I wrote in Heathrow Express And Crossrail, Heathrow and TfL are still arguing about access for Crossrail into Heathrow.
  • Boris has indicated that Freedom Passes will be allowed on Crossrail to Heathrow.
  • Heathrow Express will be killed by Crossrail, if Heathrow allows it to serve the airport.
  • Gatwick, Luton and Stansted Airports will become part of London’s Oyster and contactless bank card ticketing area. Will Heathrow?
  • Improved rail links and services at Gatwick, Luton and Stansted Airports will make these airports more attractive for a lot of passengers than Heathrow.

On top of all this, Heathrow needs Crossrail to give the Airport connectivity to large parts of the South East, the West Coast Main Line and HS2.

I think all candidates for the next London Mayor, will be playing the anti-Heathrow card frequently and with immense relish.

In the end Heathrow will have to accept the following.

  • The closure of Heathrow Express.
  • Full access of Crossrail directly to all terminals, at an agreed price  with TfL.
  • Oyster and contactless bank card ticketing.
  • A rail link from the West, under probably Network Rail, Great Western and TfL control.

If they don’t like it, then I’m sure Gatwick, Luton and Stansted Airports will take up the slack.

Luton Airport

Luton Airport is in some ways the joker in the pack, but also it has plans to expand, as is reported in this article in the Daily Mail, entitled Luton Airport reveals plans for direct rail line that would cut train journey from central London to just 20 minutes.

In Will Bombardier Develop The Ultimate Airport Train, I discussed Luton Airport in detail and came to the conclusion that if Bombardier Class 387/2 trains as used on the Gatwick Express were fitted with an IPEMU capability, they could easily use terminal platforms without electrification in a tunnel under the Airport.

Whether they will or not, I don’t know, but there is scope for very affordable solutions to providing a fast rail link into Central London.

Luton Airport is closer than Gatwick is to Central London, so I would expect that Oyster and contactless bank card ticketing, would not be a problem.

Southend Airport

Southend Airport is the newest of London’s airports. I know it well from my days as a pilot and occasionally use it on trips to the Netherlands on easyJet.

Operationally for airlines, Southend Airport’s location, close to the Essex Coast is ideal, as it is away from other airports and pilots can get planes in to and out of the airport without too much delay. Also, flights coming in from the East have an uncluttered approach, over the sea and marshland. I once came in to the airport on a flight from  Schipol and was on the train from Southend Airport station to Central London, within an hour of boarding the flight in The Netherlands.

I can understand why the Roskill Commission recommended that London’s new airport should be built on Maplin Sands.

This airline-friendly location could drive growth at the airport, especially if the airport keeps its reputation for fast passenger handling.

The Airport talks about handling two million passengers by 2020 and I can’t feel that this is unreasonable.

What could help passenger growth is that there is plenty of scope for making rail trips to Southend Airport easier, especially for Southend’s typical traveller with just hand-baggage and perhaps a wheeled case.

At present Southend Airport and Southend Victoria have three services to and from Liverpool Street per hour, which stop at all stations between Shenfield and Southend Victoria and then just Stratford and Liverpool Street. This is a recent upgrade, as Wikipedia says one train stops at all stations.

Journey times are as follows.

  • Liverpool Street – 64 minutes – Just four minutes longer than Stansted.
  • Stratford – 57 minutes
  • Shenfield – 27 minutes

Capacity isn’t a problem as all stations can take eight-car trains.

The airport station is very close to the terminal and is fully step-free. Incoming passengers from the London direction, don’t even have to cross the railway to get to the terminal.

Crossrail and the new East Anglia franchise will certainly have effects, some of which have already happened.

  • Between Shenfield and London there will be at least eight high-capacity Crossrail trains per hour.
  • Will Crossrail run on a twenty-four hour basis?
  • Shenfield will have Oyster and contactless card ticketing. Will this go all the way to Southend Victoria?
  • Shenfield will be Freedom Pass territory.
  • Will Norwich-in-Ninety improvements mean that times between Shenfield and London are reduced?
  • Will more of the longer distance services to East Anglia, stop at Shenfield for interchange with Crossrail?

I suspect that the answer to the two last questions, will be yes. This improved connectivity and reduced journey time, would mean that a lot of places in East London, Essex and East Suffolk, would be just one change at Shenfield away from Southend Airport.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see some upmarket trains between Southend Victoria and Liverpool Street, with a four trains per hour frequency. Partly, this will be driven by the airport, but also by the competition for passengers between the two companies running services to Southend.

Stansted Airport

Stansted Airport is currently served by the adequate but slow Stansted Express.

Stansted Airport is owned and operated by the ambitious Manchester Airports Group and I can’t see them sitting idly by, whilst Gatwick and Luton expand into their market. After all, they have resources that other airports in the South East lack; space and spare capacity on the current runway.

The rail links need improvement and these will or could happen in the next few years.

  • The West Anglia Main Line will be developed and given four tracks between at least Broxbourne and Lea Bridge stations, with higher speed limits.
  • There will be a higher frequency for Stansted Express trains into Liverpool Street.
  • Stansted Express will serve Stratford several times an hour.
  • Stansted Airport station will gain a second tunnel and platform.
  • There will be an improved service between Stansted and Cambridge.
  • Stansted Airport will become part of London’s Oyster and contactless bank card ticketing area.

The service between Cambridge and Stansted is a truly inadequate, single train per hour to and from Birmingham via Peterborough and Leicester.

I believe that when the new East Anglian franchise is awarded, the route north from Stansted will see the greatest improvement. Note that Thameslink will have four trains per hour to Cambridge going through London of which two will go all the way to Gatwick Airport and Brighton.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see two half-hourly services added to the airport.

  • Stansted Airport to Peterborough via Cambridge, Cambridge North and Ely.
  • Stansted Airport to Norwich via Cambridge, Cambridge North and Ely.

Even if the current Birmingham service was cut back, this would still give four trains per hour between Stansted Airport and one of its most important catchment areas.

Note how Cambridge North station, which serves the North of the City and the Cambridge Science Park, will be given good rail links.

In Better East-West Train Services Across Suffolk, I wrote about a radical idea of Network Rail to create a much improved service between Peterborough and Ipswich, based on a rebuilt Newmarket station.

But who knows, what will actually happen? I don’t!

But whatever happens to the North of Stansted Airport, the rail links to the airport will be much improved by 2020 or so.

Road Improvements

Road improvements will not be numerous, but one new road will effect the use of airports.

If a new Lower Thames Crossing is built, it could make driving to Gatwick, Stansted and Southend Airports easier and some travellers will shun Heathrow.

On the other hand, if it wasn’t built, it might favour other airports.

Conclusion

All of London’s six airports, except probably London City will be seeing large investments in rail infrastructure, stations and trains in the near future.

Heathrow won’t like it, but I think the political consequences for the major parties of a new runway at Heathrow will make it unlikely that Heathrow gets another runway.

But given the rail infrastructure, I suspect that the other airports will take up the increased traffic for several years.

Gatwick, Luton and Stanstead will get very much improved services and I think Southend could become a Luton in the East.

As passengers will get increasingly savvy as to the routes they use, it will be very difficult to predict how the transport pattern to London’s Airports, will look say in 2025.

I’ll finish by listing some ideas I’ve read over the years.

There’ll be others and some might even be built.

January 9, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Security Is Sometimes Entertaining

There was a bit of delay at security, as the staff kept getting beeps from this rather obese couple, who had to go through the detector several times.

In the end the staff said the beeps were caused by the passengers’ fat or something like that!

It did mean though, that I was some minutes longer getting to the gate.

It all added more meaning to that old phrase. “Time to spare, go by air!”

December 8, 2013 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Stansted Airport Isn’t What It Used To Be!

When I flew out of Stansted Airport on Sunday to Bilbao on easyJet, the place was full.  And so were the bins!

Stansted Airport Isn't What It Used To Be!

Stansted Airport Isn’t What It Used To Be!

It’s not to the same standard it was a few years ago!

December 8, 2013 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 1 Comment