The Anonymous Widower

A Tale Of Two Stations

This article from City AM is entitled Opinion: How a mixture of new business, Crossrail and, finally, homes will transform Tottenham Court Road forever.

This is said.

In recent years, the area around Tottenham Court Road has gone through a marked transformation. Once considered the scruffy end of Oxford Street, with no real identity, the area has become a thriving crossroads between London’s creative and technology industries.

In the middle of all the development is Tottenham Court Road station, which is being developed for Crossrail.

This morning Is Open House and I went a few miles South on the East London Line to Peckham Rye station, where I took these pictures.

The old Victorian waiting room is being transformed into possibly a community space.

This is only one of a number of developments in the station and it is to be hoped that the transformation of the building designed by Charles Henry Driver, will start the upgrading of Peckham.

Look at the classic 1980s-era extension in brick, by British Rail in the last picture. Incarceration for life with very hard labour, is too soft a punishment for the idiots who designed and sanctioned that monstrosity.

 

 

September 16, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | 2 Comments

Coastal Communities Among Worst Off In UK, Report Finds

The title of this post is the same as an article on the BBC web site, which they are covering on BBC Breakfast.

When I was fifteen my parents partially-retired to Felixstowe and I remember a very boring couple of summers in the town. In summer 1963, I spent most of it reading Nelkon and Parker in preparation for my A Level Physics course.

In those days, public transport to Ipswich was dire with nothing back after working hours and I can remember that I only ever went to the cinema in Felixstowe once!

Today, the last train from Ipswich is 22:28, but in those days it was about 19:00.

So one factor that applied, was you needed a car to have any social life outside of the dreary town. The few people of my age, I knew in the town couldn’t wait to leave school, so they could earn money to buy a car.

If you look around the country, the coastal areas that are vibrant and successful like say Bournemouth, Brighton, Liverpool, Southend and Swansea, tend to be larger, with excellent external and internal public transport links.

Other non-successful coastal towns like Felixstowe, Hastings, Hull, Lowestoft, Redcar, Skegness and Ysrmouth don’t have the same quality of external transport links, although some like Hull have good bus networks.

I may be being selective, but I believe it would make a big difference to a lot of coastal towns, if they had a first class rail service to the nearby inland larger towns and cities.

If there is no rail route, then a first class bus connection is needed.

Felixstowe

I’ll take Felixstowe as an example.

  • The train service is one train per hour and it finishes around ten in the evening.
  • The length of the line is such, that one train can do the return trip in an hour.
  • Most of the rolling stock used on the line are past it, although I’ve done the trip in a passenger-friendly Class 170 train.
  • If it is a sunny Saturday or Sunday, the train can get overloaded at times.

Hopefully, the train service will get better.

  1. Greater Anglia have ordered new three-car Class 755 bi-mode trains.
  2. Network Rail are improving the Felixstowe Branch Line.
  3. Ipswich station is to be upgraded with an extra bay platform for Felixstowe and Lowestoft services.

Point 1 would probably attract more passengers and points 2 and 3 would allow a half-hourly service at selected times of the day.

The increase in capacity and quality, should be enough, so that on a glorious day if people in Ipswich decide to go to the coast, the trains can make it a good experience.

It will be interesting to see how the number of rail passengers to Felixstowe change in the next few years.

Incidentally, Felixstowe station shows how you can create a quality station for a town of 24,000 people.

  • The Grade II Listed station buildings have become a Shopping Centre with a cafe and bar.
  • There is just a single platform that can take a four-car train.
  • There is a ticket machine and a basic shelter.
  • The station is on the High Street.
  • The car park is shared with the local Co-op supermarket.
  • The station is unstaffed, but the trains are double-manned.

How many coastal stations could be Felixstowed?

Felixstowe used to have a second station at Felixstowe Beach, which is near to the Port of Felixstowe and Landguard Fort.

Some might argue that reopening the station would be a good idea, especially as it could be a modern single platform station.

But surely, it would be better to improve the bus services in the town or provide quality bike hire at the station.

Greater Anglia’s Class 755 Trains

Greater Anglia have ordered 24 x four-car and 14 x three-car Class 755 trains.

  • The trains are bi-mode.
  • In terms of carriages, the new bi-mode fleet will be at more than twice the size of the current diesel fleet.
  • Greater Anglia have said, that they will use electric power from overhead wires, even if it’s only available for short distances.
  • The trains are probably large enough for an on-board full function ticket machine and lots of buggies, bicycles and wheel-chairs.
  • They will probably carry their own wheelchair ramp, as I saw in What Train Is This?

This article in RailNews is entitled Greater Anglia unveils the future with Stadler mock-up and says this.

The bi-mode Class 755s will offer three or four passenger vehicles, but will also include a short ‘power pack’ car to generate electricity when the trains are not under the wires. This vehicle will include a central aisle so that the cars on either side are not isolated. Greater Anglia said there are no plans to include batteries as a secondary back-up.

So Stadler are using their well-proven design, which I saw in Germany.

What surprises me is the ruling out of batteries by Greater Anglia.

The central powercar would surely be the ideal place to put energy storage, for the following reasons.

  • It could be easily integrated with the diesel power-pack.
  • The weight of the battery is probably in the best place.
  • It could be part of an energy saving regenerative braking system, which would work under electric or diesel power.
  • In Battery EMUs For Merseyrail, I wrote how Stadler were fitting batteries in Merseyrail’s new fleet.

When the trains arrive, it’ll all be explained. Perhaps, Greater Anglia’s words were carefully chosen.

How will these trains change the coastal towns of Cromer, Felixstowe, Lowestoft, Sheringham and Yarmouth?

If it’s positive, Greater Anglia will be setting a strong precedent.

What Needs To Be Done To Railways To And Along The Coast

In no particular order, there are various topics.

A Coastal-Friendly Train Fleet

From personal experience on East Anglian trains, I feel that the passenger profile is different with always several bicycles on a train. Greater Anglia will have researched their passengers’ journeys and this has resulted in their choice of three- and four-car bi-mode Class 755 trains.

  • One- and two-car diesel multiple units are being replaced with three-car bi-modes
  • The Class 170 trains appear to be being replaced by four-car bi-modes.

So it would appear that Greater Anglia are expecting more passengers on the coastal routes to Cromer, Felixstowe, Lowestoft and Yarmouth, as they are always running at least three-car trains.

I also suspect they will be allowing for more bicycles and buggies, with higher traffic at weekends with good weather.

Their fleet choice will also allow them to use a four-car train instead of a three-car.

Looking at the fleet choices of other train operators like Northern working over a wide area with a large proportion of leisure traffic, they seem to have a degree of flexibility.

Stations In Coastal Towns

Many  stations in coastal towns were built in the grand manner. This is St. Leonard’s Warrior Square station.

Felixstowe station was built in this way and the station buildings are Grade II Listed. This is the single platform.

But it also shows how you can create a quality station for a town of 24,000 people.

  • The station buildings have become a Shopping Centre with a cafe and bar.
  • There is just a single platform that can take a six-car train.
  • There is a ticket machine and a basic shelter, underneath an ornate 1898 canopy.
  • The station is on the High Street.
  • The car park is shared with the local Co-op supermarket.
  • The station is unstaffed, but the trains are double-manned.

How many coastal stations could be Felixstowed?

These are a few pictures of other stations in coastal towns.

Some are grand, some are simple and some need a lot of improvement.

But if you want to improve the fortunes of a coastal town, or any town for that matter, you must give it a decent station, which will be one of main entry points for visitors.

The larger stations must have the following characteristics.

  • A certain style.
  • Good understandable information and perhaps a proper Tourist Office.
  • A cafe or a bar.
  • Decent bus connections to the rest of the town.
  • Bicycle hire
  • A shop for a paper and some chocolate.
  • A cash machine with no extra charges.

Hopefully, the station needs a central location in the town.

But Felixstowe station shows what can be created, with its Victorian canopy and a single platform, tucked away behind a shopping centre, built around the original Listed station building.

These days with modern signalling and double-ended multiple units, single-platform stations like Felixstowe, could probably handle four trains per hour.

New Stations

In DfT Names Five Winners Of Fresh £16m Stations Fund, I talked about new stations funded by the Government’s New Stations Fund. Two of the five stations are near the coast; Bow Street and Horden Peterlee.

So does the Government realise the value of good rail links to coastal areas?

The Walkers’ Halt

Some of the coastal lines go along some of the most spectacular coast-lines in the UK.

This Google Map shows the Durham Coast Line just South of Seaham station.

A modern train like a bi-mode Class 755 train could have the following characteristics.

  • The ability to execute station stops with a short dwell time.
  • In-cab radio signalling.
  • CCTV to aid the driver at a station stop.
  • On-board ticketing machine.
  • On-board wheelchair ramp.
  • Two crew members.

So would it be able to stop to pick up and set down at an old-fashioned halt with perhaps a single platform?

The England Coast Path

The England Coast Path will be 4,500 kilometres long and go round the whole coast of England.

In places, it must go near to railway lines, so will we see simple walkers’ halts, as I described in the previous section?

It strikes me, that we need a large helping of careful design to make sure that the England Coast Path and our costal rail routes would well together.

I used England as an example, but I suspect, the same logic applies in the rest of the UK.

Conclusion

This post isn’t complete yet!

I do feel though based on my East Anglian experience, that improving the train service to coastal towns could be the first step in improving their prosperity.

Too often going to the coast by train is a second-rate experience. Greater Anglia with its train fleet renewal seem to be creating a new era of getting to the coast in Norfolk and Suffolk.

Other companies should be made to follow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

September 4, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bury St. Edmunds: A Town With Dreadful Rail Access

If you need to go to Bury St. Edmunds by train from London, it is usually a cross-platform change every hour at Ipswich station.

It is actually, a journey that will get better in the next couple of years, because Greater Anglia are doing the following.

  • Introducing new Class 745 trains between Liverpool Street and Ipswich
  • Running three express trains per hour (tph) between Liverpool Street and Ipswich
  • Reducing Liverpool Street to Ipswich times to sixty minutes.
  • Introducing new Class 755 trains between Ipswich and Bury St. Edmunds.
  • Running two tph between Ipswich and Bury St. Edmunds.

Journeys will get more frequent and there will be more seats.

A quick calculation on Greater Anglia’s non-electrified routes gives the following.

  • They are currently served by a total of thirty-two coaches in excellent trains like Class 170 trains and twenty-nine coaches in scrapyard specials.
  • They will be replaced by a total of fourteen three-car and twenty-four four-car bi-mode Class 755 trains consisting of a total of one hundred and thirty-eight coaches.

That is a 4.3 to 1 increase, so you can’t accuse Greater Anglia of not making a generous promise.

Greater Anglia have not disclose much about their plans, but I would suspect that they could include.

  • At least two tph on as many routes as possible.
  • A much improved service between Bury St. Edmunds and Cambridge.
  • More services at Cambridge North station.
  • Direct services between Bury St. Edmunds and London.

They’ve certainly got the trains for a major expansion of services and stations like Cambridge, Cambridge North, Colchester, Ipswich and Norwich are excellent transport hubs.

But stations like Bury St. Edmunds let the others down and don’t provide the service passengers expect.

I think to quote any optimistic Estate Agent, it is a building with possibilities.

Consider.

  • I suspect that Greater Anglia wish the track and platform layout was more train operator friendly.
  • There is a cafe on the Ipswich-bound platform.
  • Facilities are limited.
  • The only shop is a barbers.
  • Car parking is limited.
  • The town centre and the bus station is a stiff walk away.
  • There is no shuttle bus to the town centre.
  • It is a Grade II Listed building.

For a town of 40,000 people it is a disgrace.

Improving Access To Trains

I’ve read in several places that Cambridge and Greater Anglia would like to create a frequent service between Cambridge and Bury St. Edmunds with several new stations, to help in the development of Greater Cambridge.

For example, a simple triangular route could be run between Cambridge, Ely and Bury St. Edmunds.

To do this efficiently would probably need a West-facing bay platform at the station.

But as this Google Map shows, that would be difficult.

It might be possible to split one or both platforms, as happens at Cambridge.

When you consider, that the space in the middle of the platforms, is large enough for at least one extra track, I’m sure Network Rail have ideas to create a more usable station without spending an enormous amount.

One thing that surely helps, is that it is unlikely that many trains will be longer than four-cars.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 25, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Crossrail 2: City Mayors Criticise Government Backing

This is the headline on an article on the BBC.

This is the first three paragraphs.

Two city mayors have criticised the government’s decision to back Crossrail 2, days after it scrapped rail electrification plans in Wales, the Midlands and the north of England.
Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham said there would be “widespread anger” at the decision to back the railway line, which will run through London.
Liverpool City Region’s mayor said there needed to be “balanced spending”.

I can understand the anger, especially in Manchester, where the electrification is running a couple of years late.

The Picc-Vic Tunnel

Manchester was unlucky, in that of the three Northern tunnel projects of the seventies; Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle, the Picc-Vic tunnel was the one that was cancelled by Harold Wilson. Birmingham and London both got cross-city rail tunnels with the same name; Snow Hill.

Perhaps, Manchester should have renamed Piccadilly Gardens!

Liverpool’s tunnel of the same period has recently been rebuilt and Merseyrail have just ordered a new fleet of Stadler trains to improve and expand their commuter network.

Newcastle’s tunnel helped to create the Tyne and Wear Metro, which is in the process of ordering new trains and expanding.

What would have happened to Manchester, if British Rail’s plans had been allowed to proceed?

All Manchester got was the Metrolink, which compared to tram systems in Birmingham, Blackpool, Croydon, Edinburgh and Nottingham is rather second-rate, despite being the largest.

The Ordsall Chord

Let’s hope that the Ordsall Chord works as it says on the tin. Wikipedia says this about the chord’s operation.

The Ordsall Chord will provide a direct link between Piccadilly and Victoria stations, allowing trains from Manchester Victoria and the east to continue to Piccadilly. Following completion of the chord, four trains per hour will travel between Manchester Airport/Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Victoria in each direction, and associated reorganisation of train paths and retimetabling will provide eight trains per hour from Manchester Victoria towards the west via Chat Moss, and six trains per hour from Manchester Piccadilly towards either Chat Moss or Bolton and Preston (trains from both Victoria and Piccadilly stations to the west and north west (Chat Moss, Liverpool, Bolton, Preston, etc.) do not actually pass over the Ordsall Chord, both ends of which lead eastwards, but travel over pre-existing track).

But as British Rail said in the 1970s, surely a properly designed tunnel under Manchester with up to three stations in the City Centre  would have been better, than the Ordsall Chord.

But what’s done is done and anyway, if the Picc-Vic tunnel had been started in 2016, as was the Ordsall Chord, it probably wouldn’t have been finished until 2026.

Where Are The Trains?

Northern and TransPennine Express are renewing their train fleets, but Manchester’s new electrified lines will need new trains from the end of this year.

The elderly Class 319 trains have stepped up to the plate, like the troopers they have always been. They would have arrived earlier, had the new Class 700 trains arrived on time.

Where Is The Electrification?

The UK and not just the North, has a particular problem and that is, that a lot of our railway lines run through quality countryside, some of which is spectacular.

So imagine trying to electrify the following lines with overhead wires.

  • Manchester to Buxton
  • Ipswich to Lowestoft
  • Ashford to Hastings
  • Settle to Carlisle
  • Preston to Leeds via Hebden Bridge

The Heritage lobby and their lawyers would tie nNetwork Rail in knots for decades.

On a practical level, from the stories I’ve heard about the electrification of the Gospel Oak to Barking Line near where I live, there are myriad problems with installing electrification in this country.

A lot seems to be down to the fact that British Rail and their predecessors weren’t good at keeping records.

The Class 319 Flex Train

I was once told by an engineer who worked on the InterCity 125, of a mythical pub in Derby, where Rolls-Royce and British Rail engineers met to talk about their problems. Could it be that Derby-based Porterbrook and Northern have tapped this network and came up with the bi-mode Class 769 train, which is a modification to a Class 319 train and must surely be the ultimate manifestation of British Rail’s legendary Mark 3 coach.

But the Class 769 train has been well received, as other orders have been forthcoming.

Surely, the planners could see the demand for this one coming, so where is the four-car suburban bi-mode?

Northern have ordered eight of these bi-mode and it will be interesting to see how they are used.

If nothing else, the Class 769 train has already proved that there is a need for a quality four-car bi-mode train.

Bi-Mode Trains And Bottlenecks

I would assume that the Ordsall Chord has a modern signalling system and that the number of trains that could use the chord could be as high as sixteen trains per hour, which is the current capacity of the Thames Tunnel on the East London Line.

The chord may be able to handle all the trains, which would allow services on both sides of Manchester to be run Crossrail-style as back-to-back services.

As a simple example perhaps Manchester to Buxton and Manchester to Clitheroe could be combined into a Buxton to Clitheroe service run by Class 319 Flex trains, which uses electricity from Hazel Grove to Bolton and diesel engines to climb to the two end stations.

Routes like this will surely release much-needed platform space in Manchester Piccadilly station.

But the two island platforms at Manchester Piccadilly will be a bottleneck.

I can see this happening across the Pennines at other stations.

Bi-mode trains will provide the train capacity, but are the stations up to it?

The Long Term Solution

Class 769 trains are not a long term solution. In my view they are a superb development solution.

If we assume that electrification is ruled out for the near future, this will inevitably lead to more bi-mode trains.

Purists will say no, as they will want electrification and nothing less.

But then we have no experience of a modern bi-mode train.

The first bi-mode to come into service will probably be a Class 800 train built by Hitachi.

In Do Class 800/801/802 Trains Use Batteries For Regenerative Braking?, I answered the question I posed and I now believe that these trains can store energy.

So will the bi-mode of the future not be an electric train with an onboard diesel engine, but a sophisticated design, that can obtain its motive power from multiple sources, thus reducing noise, vibration and carbon footprint?

There are at least two other companies who will join this fight.

  • CAF have lots of orders with both Northern and TransPennine Express and they will not want to lose them. So I think it is reasonable to expect something radical from the Spanish company with a proven record in innovation.
  • Bombardier have designed the Aventra to have onboard energy storage and I would be very surprised if they haven’t thought about how to squeeze in a small diesel generator.

Will Alstom, Stadler and Siemens sit idly by, whilst other companies carve up the UK market? I doubt it.

The new bi-mode trains will provide the capacity, but other things must be done.

  • Stations must be improved to cater for the extra passengers.
  • Track and signalling must be improved to allow higher speeds.
  • As electrification was done on the cheap in the past, there are some lengths of electrification, that must be done.
  • HS2 must go on at full speed.
  • Ticketing must be made as easy as London and the South East.
  • Planning of a High Speed line across the North should be seriously started.

It will be interesting to see what develops.

Conclusion

I would spend the money on new trains, better stations and improving the passenger experience.

Electrification would come later, when there is a proven need.

But I wouldn’t rule out the train-makers creating a wholly different game.

 

July 25, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 4 Comments

Grayling Sets An Excellent Precedent

This article on the BBC is entitled St Mellons Private Rail Station Welcomed By Chris Grayling.

This is said.

A proposal to create Wales’ first privately-owned railway station has been welcomed by UK Transport Secretary Chris Grayling.

He told MPs he was very happy to see plans for St Mellons Parkway in east Cardiff go ahead.

Cardiff South and Penarth MP Stephen Doughty said south Wales needed new stations to make the most out of rail electrification.

The new station has been provisionally named Cardiff Parkway.

Mr Doughty said the proposals to build the station in east Cardiff were “backed by the private sector, backed cross party, backed by the Welsh Government, backed by Cardiff council”

Chris Grayling said he was happy to see it go ahead and that as it was privately-funded, it didn’t need the same form of public funding.

At the present time, there is only one privately-funded station; Southend Airport.

There is also this article on Wales Online, which is entitled There could be 12 new railway stations built in Wales.

Builders are going to be busy!

July 23, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 4 Comments

Gibbs Report – Some Little Used Stations Have Too Many Services

The title of this post is a sub-title in the Gibbs Report

The section starts like this.

The franchise obligations for the GTR franchise are those inherited from the three previous competing franchises.

Some elements of these obligations have not been reviewed properly since privatisation, and service levels are far above current demand. On a system that is so
dependent on every aspect working perfectly, calling at stations with very few passengers is one more thing that causes the system to fail.

I have studied the ORR’s station usage, and identified seven stations that appear to have an excessively frequent off peak service.

The stations mentioned as receiving too many services are as follows.

Chris Gibbs says the following.

  • The stations will stay open.
  • Peak services will not be reduced.
  • Off peak services may be reduced.

I have looked at the Wikipedia entries for these stations and they are a mixed bunch, typical of what you see all over the country. Bishopstone station is even a Grade II Listed Building on the At Risk Register.

Conclusion

I think there is a case to develop a procedure, whereby the station can be transferred for community use.

Perhaps, a body like English Heritage can come up with some rules.

July 9, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , | 1 Comment

Gibbs Report – More Station Shelters Should Be Installed

The Gibbs Report, says that more station shelters should be installed.

The Gibbs Report says this about shelters.

When the decisions were taken to lengthen most services to 12 cars, and the trains were ordered, one element of the overall system was missed: the provision of shelters at stations. It is noticeable how, on wet days, peak passengers board together from places of shelter, causing overcrowding at that point and sub threshold delays at numerous stations. Most stations, whether large or small, do not have shelter along the full length of the platform, or a canopy. Even Gatwick Airport, is an example of this: fine on the sunny daypicture, but inadequate in the rain.

So it looks like the lack of shelters is a cause of train delays.

Conclusion

I have just watched the updating of the Gospel Oak to Barking Line, where several new shelters have been added.

I am very surprised GTR didn’t realise the importance of shelter for passengers.

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

Gibbs Report – Gatwick Airport Station Should Be Transferred To Gatwick Airport

The Gibbs Report, says that the Gatwick Airport station should be transferred to Gatwick Airport.

The Gibbs Report says this about the development of the station.

The scheme to provide additional concourse and platform capacity at Gatwick Airport has £120.5m assigned to it in CP5, with a £30m contribution from Gatwick Airport Limited (“GAL”).

Since the original concept was developed, the specification and costs have risen significantly, but not been matched by the budget, which has remained fixed. The outputs now fall far short of GAL’s expectations and ambitions, and do not meet Network Rail’s own Station Capacity Planning Guidance (2015).

The report then recommends that Gatwick Airport station, be sold to the Airport, with the Airport assuming responsibility for the development.

Conclusion

Chris Gibbs makes a compelling case for the proposal.

How many other stations could be developed in this way?

There must be quite a few sporting, leisure and shopping venues, where a rail station lies inside or very close to the venue, where combining the station with a new development will be to everybody’s advantage.

In the GTR area, perhaps Falmer station should become part of the Amex Stadium.

 

July 7, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 2 Comments

All Change At South Kensington Station

The title of this post is the same as that of this article in Rail Engineer, which describes the plan for developing South Kensington station.

The article gives a lot of insight into the expanding of the station and how it will be funded.

It is a busy station that in 2016 handled nearly thirty-four million passengers.

It was certainly busy today with visitors today, when I passed through as I went to and from the Victoria and Albert Museum, which has now been expanded.

Expanding the station will certainly test the skills of those managing the project. Especially, now that the V & A will be drawing more people to the area.

Funding Station Expansion

I said earlier that South Kensington station has a yearly traffic of just under 34 miilion.

These are figures for 2015/2016 for some important provincial stations in England.

  • Bank – 94 million
  • Birmingham New Street – 39 million
  • Blackpool North – 2 million
  • Brighton – 17 million
  • Bristol Temple Meads – 11 million
  • Camden Town – 23 million
  • Dalston Junction – 5 million
  • Dalston Kingsland – 6 million
  • Euston – 42 million
  • Liverpool Lime Street – 15 million
  • Manchester Piccadilly – 26 million
  • Newcastle – 8 million
  • Nottingham – 7 million
  • Peterbirough – 5 million
  • Sheffield – 9 million
  • Waterloo – 39 million

These stations were chosen pretty much at random, but I do think they show that London Underground stations seem to attract a lot of traffic near tourist attractions.

So perhaps we should built more stations near to major tourist attractions.

Are these the sort of projects that can be funded privately by property development?

It is proposed to use this model at South Kensington station.

I deliberately put in my two local stations of Dalston Junction and Dalston Kingsland.

Dalston Junction, is the bigger station, with twice as many platforms as Dalston ingsland.

It is also step-free with blocks of flats on top.

So is it surprising that it is not the busier station of the two?

I think it just goes to show, that predicting passenger numbers, is not an easy task.

 

 

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

Should We Rethink City Centre Public Transport Access And Pricing?

In my view, certain city and town centres in the UK, have too many vehicles going through.

London certainly does!

But London has a plan to increase capacity on its Underground and Overground network.

  • Crossrail to increase E-W capacity – Opening by 2020.
  • Thameslink to increase N-S capacity  – Opening in 2018.
  • The Northern Line Extension to Battersea to increase N-S capacity  – Opening by 2020.
  • The Northern Line will be split into two lines, after rebuilding Camden Town station – From 2025.
  • The New Tube for London to increase capacity on the Deep Tube Lines – From 2023.
  • The Sub-Surface Lines are being upgraded
  • New trains on the Overground from Liverpool Street – From 2018.
  • New trains on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line – From 2018.
  • Infrastructure on the Underground is being improved with more lifts, escalators, wi-fi and 4G access.
  • The Bakerloo Line is being extended – From 2028/2029.

In addition, there will be a lot of improvement to walking and cycling routes in the City Centre.

Crossing the City Centre will be the Magnificent Seven

Just these major services add up to a total of over three thousand cars an hour passing through the City Centre.

Note.

  1. The Northern Line counts as two lines, as once Camden Town station is rebuilt, it will be split.
  2. The other five lies are either new or have been substantially modernised.
  3. I have deliberately chosen end stations either in Zone 1 or Zone 2.
  4. The Central and Jubilee Lines can almost be considered subsidiary lines of Crossrail, running stopping services that call at a lot more stations.

And then there are the second level of unmodernised lines or ones just outside the City Centre.

  • The Bakerloo Line will be running at least the current twenty six-car trains per hour between Paddington station in the North and Elephant and Castle station in the South, via ten intermediate stations including Marylebone, Baker Street, Oxford Circus, Charing Cross and Waterloo.
  • The Circle Line will be running at least six seven-car trains per hour in a circle around Zone 1 and on a spur to Hammersmith station.
  • The District Line will be running at least eighteen seven-car trains per hour between Whitechapel station in the East and Earl’s Court station in the West across the South of Zone 1, via fourteen intermediate stations including Cannon Street, Blackfriars, Charing Cross and Victoria.
  • The East London Line will be running at least twenty six-car trains between Shreditch High Street station in the North and Canada Water station in the South, via four intermediate stations including Whitechapel and Shadwell.
  • The Hammersmith and City Line will be running at least six seven-car trains per hour between Whitechapel station in the East and Paddington station in the West across the North of Zone 1, via nine intermediate stations including Liverpool Street, Moorgate, Farringdon, Kings Cross St. Pancras and Baker Street.
  • The Metropolitan Line will be running at least eleven eight-car trains per hour between Aldgate station in the East and Baker Street station in the West via seven intermediate stations including Liverpool Street, Moorgate, Farringdon and Kings Cross St. Pancras.
  • The Northern City Line will be running at least ten six-car trains between Highbury and Islington station in the North and Moorgate station in the South, via Essex Road station.
  • The Piccadilly Line will be running at least the current twenty-one six-car trains per hour between Finsbury Park station in the North and Earl’s Court station in the West, via fourteen intermediate stations including Holborn, Piccadilly Circus and Green Park.
  • The Waterloo and City Line will be running at least eighteen six-car trains per hour between Waterloo and Bank stations.

Note.

  1. I have included some Overground and National Rail Lines in this group.
  2. These routes add approximately forty percent capacity to the City Centre routes.
  3. Don’t underestimate the Northern City Line.

All of these lines create an extensive network of lines in London’s City Centre.

London’s City Centre has the following problems.

  • Traffic congestion.
  • Virtually no available parking.
  • Limited parking for the disabled.
  • The air pollution is getting worse.
  • No space to put any new roads or parking spaces.
  • Safety for pedestrians and cyclists could be improved.

I return to half the question I asked in the title of this post.

Should We Rethink City Centre Public Transport Access?

I think the answer is yes, as get it better and travellers might be persuaded to abandon their cars further away from the City Centre.

These are a few things, I’d improve or change.

Enough Car Parking At Outlying Stations

This is not always the case. There should also be enough parking for the disabled.

Good Bus Routes At Outlying Stations

Outlying stations in London are better than most, but some stations need more and better bus routes with better information.

Get it right and it might mean that the need for more car parking is avoided.

Step-Free Access

All stations, platforms, lifts and trains must be suitable for a list of approved scooters, wheel-chairs and buggies.

Better  Interchanges

Some interchanges like Kings Cross St. Pancras, Green Park and Waterloo are designed for people, who like to walk down endless tunnels. Transport for London can do better as this picture from Bank station shows.

Some certainly need travelators and more escalators and lifts.

My particular least favourite station is Kings Cross St. Pancras, where I always go by bus and come home by taxi, as Underground to and from train, can be a real case of walking for miles.

It’s as if the station complex was designed by someone with a real sadistic streak.

I’m going to Chesterfield from St. Pancras on East Midlands Trains today and will get a bus to in front of the station and walk the length of the station to the platforms at the other end.

When Thameslink is fully open, everybody will be complaining about the lack of lift connections between Thameslink and the EMT platforms, which are on top of each other.

You can’t win with St. Pancras!

More Entrances And Exits At Stations

At Victoria and Shepherds Bush stations, new entrance/exits have been added, and the future Bank, Bond Street and Camden Town stations, will have multiple ways to get in and out.

In addition the massive Crossrail stations at Moorgate/Liverpool Street and Tottenham Court Road will be labyrinthine, with two or more entrances.

More Interchanges

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows how the East London and Central Lines cross at Shoreditch High Street station.

This would be my choice for an extra interchange, as it would mean that I would get easy access to the Central Line after three stations from Dalston Junction station, which is my nearest access to trains.

And What About Pricing?

Crossrail and Thameslink could be railways with an unusual usage profile. I believe that outside of the Peak, the central sections of these two routes could have a much more relaxed feel with the ability to handle lots of passengers in the Off Peak. They will also be like express motorways taking the pressure off lines like the Central, Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly in the City Centre.

So will this spare capacity, change passengers habits and attract more leisure travellers into the City Centre?

Get the access right and make the City Centre, easy to access from everywhere, with all stations step-free and especially in the City Centre itself, and couple this with the new capacity, I believe that we can reduce the traffic in the City Centre, by encouraging drivers to leave their vehicles further out.

Pricing of tickets could be the smart weapon to encourage this use of Park-and-Ride.

London’s ticketing system, which is based increasing on contactless bank cards collects masses of data about passengers movements and thus Transport for London know all the busy routes and stations.

The system works by logging your various journeys throughout the day and then charging the card overnight, applying any daily, weekly or monthly caps.

Very radical ideas could be applied to the ticketing rules.

For example, anybody who has come into the City Centre from the suburbs can have as many Zone 1 journeys in the day as they want.

So a couple of typical Essex Girls might leave their expensive wheels at Chadwell Heath and just tap in and out all day, as they travelled between Bond Street, Eastfield, Knightsbridge, Marble Arch and Westfield.

How much economic activity would this sort of behaviour generate?

Secondary Effects

If London can persuade anybody coming into the Centre, that the place for a vehicle is not in the Centre, then there will be secondary effects.

Air pollution levels will drop, especially if all taxis and commercial vehicles are zero-emission.

Bus numbers can be reduced, if the Underground is more convenient and free for short journeys in the City Centre.

If traffic in the centre drops, more and more journeys will be done on foot or a bicycle.

 

Would it also mean, that vehicles could be properly charged for coming into the Centre and checked.accordingly. Would this drop all forms of crime?

What About Other Cities?

Some towns and cities in the UK are developing city centre networks.

To be continued…

 

June 7, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 2 Comments