The Anonymous Widower

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

The Level Crossing At Hampden Park Station

I was in Eastbourne today, so I went and had a look at the level crossing at Hampden Park station.

To make sense of the pictures, this is a Google Map of the station.

You can even see cars waiting by the crossing. In various places on the web it is described as one of the busiest in Europe.

As someone who is very capable at solving mathematical puzzles, which is probably why I was good at writing resource scheduling algorithms, I tend to look at this level crossing as an extreme multi-variable problem.

  • The railway objective is to get up to fourteen trains per hour (tph) through the crossing and the station with perhaps six trains stopping at the station.
  • The road objective is to keep the traffic flowing smoothly.
  • From web reports mentioning the crossing, the natives are getting restless.

It does strike me, that something must be done to reduce both road and rail traffic through the crossing.

Remote Control Of The Level Crossing

One thing that was done in February 2015 was to close the signal box at the station and move control of the crossing to the Three Bridges Regional Operations Centre.

Hopefully with time, this will result in trains going into Eastbourne passing trains coming out at the level crossing, thus reducing the number of level crossing closures.

Reducing Road Traffic

This is a Google Map of the area around the station and the level crossing.

Note how the A2280 road goes from one side of the crossing to the other in a wide semi-circle to the South.

  • Is the signage good enough to encourage drivers to use the A2280?
  • Does the A2280 have enough capacity?
  • Are any classes of vehicles banned from using the  crossing?
  • Does level crossing traffic increase when children are going to and from school?
  • Are there any cycleways?

As I was on foot and don’t live nearby, I wouldn’t know the answers to these questions.

A Turn Up And Go Service Between Hampden Park And Eastbourne

On the Birmingham, Liverpool and London principle of what constitutes a Turn-Up-And-Go service, there should be four tph in both directions on a route.

So there needs to be at least four tph in both directions that stop at both Hampden Park and Eastbourne.

Tickets To And From Eastbourne

If you buy a ticket to Liverpool, it allows you to go to any the city’s central stations.

I would also make Hampden Park an Eastbourne station, so that a ticket to Eastbourne was valid to both Eastbourne and Hapden Park stations.

Tickets Between Hampden Park And Eastbourne

I’d make this free to all those in the following categories.

  • Those having a ticket to or from Eastbourne stations.
  • Disabled passengers.
  • People who had paid something like a tenner for a yearly pass.

Yearly passes would be available for all those, who lived or worked in the area.

All monies raised on the yearly passes would go to an appropriate local charity.

Would making the short journey free, mean that many living near Hampden Park station used the train to go to Easstbourne? And would this reduce traffic on the level crossing?

A Step-Free Bridge At Hampden Park Station

What would be the effects of putting a step-free bridge with lifts, that could be used by rail passengers and those wanting to cross the rail line, when the crossing is closed?

Reducing Rail Traffic

I believe that by controlling the trains on a one-in one-out basis as I described earlier, that a few closures an hour could be avoided.

But more closures could be eliminated if the chord was reinstated that allowed trains to by-pass Eastbourne.

This Google Map shows the area North of Hampden Park station.

Three stations are shown on the map.

A triangle of rail lines or their former locations can be picked out between the station.

Note too how the A22 road passes up to the East of Hampden Park to join the A27.

This road also crosses the former track of the East Coastway Line just South of the A27 in open country.

Would it be a sensible idea to build an |Eastbourne Parkway station at this location?

Using the by-pass and stopping at Eastbourne Parkway station would have the following effects.

  • A few minutes journey time would be saved.
  • There would be two less closures of the Hampden Park level crossing.
  • Passengers from Eastbourne wanting to catch a train to the West would change at Polegate station.
  • Passengers from Eastbourne wanting to catch a train to the Wast would change at Pevensey Bay station.

I’m certain, that a good scheme can be devised, that probably would make all changes of train, ones where passengers didn’t need to change platforms.

Conclusion

I think that the number of closures of the Hampden Park level crossing could be reduced to perhaps four or five an hour, where one train went in to Eastbourne and aother came out.

I also think that drivers can be nudged, so that they don’t travel across the level crossing so often.

May 26, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | 2 Comments

Is Hackney Downs Station A Suitable Case For Treatment?

Some of the stations on the London Overground, are architectural gems.

The picture shows some the internal detail of the refurbished Grade II Listed Crystal Palace station. The cafe was created in an area of the station, that few realised existed.

There is also work going on at Peckham Rye station, where an enormous Victorian waiting room has been discovered. An architect called Benedict O’Looney seems to be on a mission to restore the station to its former glory.

Peckham Rye station could be step-free as early as 2019, so I suspect that the station could become more important in the grand scheme of things.

What would Del Boy have thought?

There is also Camden Road station, which is in pretty-good nick.

If Camden Road station has a problem, it is that the station possibly needs more passenger capacity and perhaps one of the closed platforms to be reopened.

I’d love to know what is behind those windows on the top floor.

Hackney Central station has a similar building to Camden Road station.

It looks like Hackney Central will get a modern station building to go with the step-free footbridge. But I suspect everything is on hold until the plan for Crossrail 2 is finally decided.

Yesterday, I was in Hackney Downs station and I was told that the bland station building abandoned by British Rail, might be worth restoring.

 

Who knows what lies behind the brick walls and lurks in the dark spaces under the tracks in the old station building?

Knowing the way, many of these railway stations were built, I wonder if London Overground could come up with an imaginative scheme to create a Victorian counterbalance to the more modern Hackney Central, in what will inevitably be Hackney Interchange.

 

April 19, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Should Greater Manchester Have More Control Of Its Stations?

I ask this question because of this article in Global Rail News, which is entutled Manchester Seeks Station Devolution.

I don’t think there is a simple answer to this question.

As an example take the case of Haggerston station, near to me in London.

The station is owned by Transport for London and managed by London Overground, who also put their names on the trains.

But the actual operator is Arriva Rail London, who are paid a fee to run everything by London Overground.

It sounds complicated, but if Transport for London want to add a station, which they haven’t yet, they would decide this with the various London politicians.

Transport for London may not have added a station, but they have promoted the extension of the Northern Line to Battersea Power Station and they are putting the funding together to extend the Bakerloo Line to Lewisham.

Merseyrail works under a similar model and they’ve just announced the construction of Maghull North station and the purchase of a fleet of new Stadler trains.

So why shouldn’t Manchester and a few other cities have control of their stations?

This is a quote in the article from Jon Lamonte, TfGM’s chief executive.

The recent redevelopment of Irlam rail station has already showcased how our vision can become a reality, demonstrating just what can be achieved when local stations realise their full social and economic potential.

In some ways the local knowledge and control is what is important. If everything is under an elected figurehead like a Mayor or Transport Commissioner, then if it all goes wrong, they will feel the wrath of the electorate.

The problem with ,local control comes, when a decision involves other Local Authorities of perhaps a different political hue.

Suppose in Manchester that for their own perfectly valid reasons, Manchester wanted to move some Liverpool services between Manchester Victoria and Manchester Piccadilly stations.

Liverpool might not like this and the problem could rumble on and on.

So who has control of the regional stations has to be chosen with care.

In some ways, it would be a great advantage to both Liverpool and Manchester, if they both ran their stations using the Merseyrail model.

March 20, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | 3 Comments

What Is Most Important In A Train Service?

I am prompted to ask this question after my trips on the reopened Gospel Oak to Barking Line (GOBlin), which I wrote about in Along The Reopened Gospel Oak To Barking Line.

These are my thoughts on what is important in a train service.

Clean And Tidy Trains And Stations

London Overground is a network of nine lines and 112 stations and the operator makes sure that everything is clean and tidy.

Also unlike many rail lines in the world, it is very rare to find any graffiti on trains or inside stations on the Big Orange.

I’ve only ever seen one example of spray paint on a train, in the seven years, that I’ve used the Overground.

So what is it, that enforces the good behaviour?

I don’t know, but even on a crowded train, I’ve never seen any anti-social behaviour.

Could it be that the clean, practical environment of the trains and stations discourages it? Perhaps it has just been designed out?

Remember that stations are the marketing or retail face of the trains.

Would you buy your supper, clothes or household goods from a badly-designed and scruffy shop?

You wouldn’t!

And you didn’t buy much from BHS, Blockbuster, Comet or Woolworths either!

The Size, Quality And Type Of Trains

My fellow passengers on my GOBlin trips, didn’t seem bothered about the quality of the Class 172 trains., but a couple did say that four-car trains would be welcome, as overcrowding on the line can be a problem.

But I do wonder if you have a quality train of the right size and performance, does it matter what  method is used to power the train, so long as it is reliable.

I also think that if you asked a selection of users and residents by the line, that electric trains would be fasvoured on noise grounds, but some would object to gantries marching along the line in a sensitive area.

It should be noted, that one of the reasons for electrifying the GOBlin, is so that freight trains can be electric-hauled, which is preferable for environmental reasons, of which diesel locomotive noise is very prominent.

The Number And Quality Of he Stations

More and higher quality stations are a sound policy, that is only limited by the budget.

Many recently opened stations, like Dalston Junction, Galashiels, James Cook, Oxford Parkway and Southend Airport have been a success, as like most new stations, they’ve built to fulfil a perceived need!

In addition, stations like Deptford,  Hampstead Heath and Lower Edmonton have also shown an increase in patronage after upgrading with lifts and a refurbished  building.

A cynic might say, that Network Rail’s Access for All program is not just about passenger needs but more about getting more people  to ride in trains to generate revenue.

But the outcome is the same for those with special travelling needs.

A Turn-Up-And-Go Service

One lady of a certain age, I met yesterday, said she’d never used the GOBlin before and as she’d heard it was running again, she thought she’d give it a try, as she fancied a walk on Hampstead Heath.

Since, it was taken over by London Overground, the short line has been running four trains per hour (tph) in both directions, which is what London Overground, Merseyrail and other operators would consider a Turn-Up-And-Go-Service for an urban route.

If you just miss a train, then you only have to wait a maximum of fifteen minutes for another train.

But to be an efficient Turn-Up-And-Go Service other things are needed.

Contactless Ticketing

My fellow traveller was  like me, travelling on a free Frredom Pass, which means we just touched in and went on our way. But in London, I actually carry two other valid tickets as two of my credit/debit cards are contactless. I use one of these, when I’m travelling to Gatwick Airport, as it is outside the Freedom Pass area, but inside London’s contactless ticketing area.

, Surely when you use a line like the GOBlin, be it in London, Birmingham, Glasgow, Liverpool, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle, Paris or Zurich, you shouldn’t have to buy a ticket if you have a contactless debit or credit card.

These days with modern technology, no-one should not have to do anything more than touch in and touch-out with a contactless bank card to use a local transport network; based on bus, tram or train.

Operators that don’t embrace this contactless bank card route and insist you buy a separate card or download an app to your new Nokia 3310 are Luddites of the worst kind.

Getting To And From The Station

Efficient Turn-Up-And-Go also needs enough car and bike parking and/or well-documented bus links.

Tea And Coffee Kiosks

London Overground also like to add good tea and coffee kiosks into their Turn-Up-And-Go mix, often using very independent operators.

If you do miss that train, you might as well take your caffeine fix!

 

 

March 2, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

West Anglia Route Improvement – A Level Crossing Replacement Station

We have lots of level crossings in the UK and they are dangerous, hated by drivers of vehicles and trains, and cause all sorts of problems.

When I was writing Works Around Coppermill Junction And Along The West Anglia Main Line, I realised that the West Anglia Main Line has four major level crossings, all of which are at stations.

I’ve also since found that Ponders End used to have a level crossing.

As an example, I’ll consider Enfield Lock station, which needs updating for Crossrail 2.

This is a Google Map of the station.

enfieldlock2

To update the station for Crossrail 2, the following must be provided.

  • Two extra tracks through the station.. They will probably be to the East of the current tracks.
  • Two twelve car platforms for the current tracks, with step-free access to all trains that will call at the station for wheelchairs, buggies and those past their best.
  • Network Rail have said that the level crossing at the station will be closed.
  • New station buildings, as the current ones will be demolished for the new tracks.
  • Full step-free access.

In additions, these features would be welcome.

  • Access from both sides of the tracks.
  • Why not access from both sides of the road?
  • Ability for pedestrians, cyclists and those in wheelchairs to easily cross the tracks.
  • Kiosks accessible to both platforms.

No facilities are needed on the fast lines, except possibly acoustic fences.

Perhaps the solution is to close the level crossing and put a wide pedestrian and cycling underpass under the railway.

It would be of a similar width as the road, accessed by gentle slopes and landscaped to blend in with the surroundings.

The underpass would contain.

  • The booking hall, with perhaps a counter and ticket machines.
  • Secure bicycle parking.
  • A warm waiting room, that would mean passengers don’t have to wait in the cold in the winter.
  • Kiosks and possibly a cafe.
  • Lifts and steps to both platforms.
  • Is there enough space at the top of the slopes for a simple Kiss-And-Ride?

The level crossing has been replaced with a fully-accessible modern station.

I don’t think the idea is truly original, as I might have seen a station like this somewhere in Europe, possibly in the Netherlands or Germany.

Where Would Such A Station Be Built?

But, I do think the concept may have advantages in some situations, where perhaps some of these reasons apply.

  • The level crossing is heavily used by pedestrian and cyclists.
  • The level crossing crosses a large number of railway tracks.
  • Would removing the level crossing allow a needed increase in passenger or freight services?
  • The railway line is very busy and the crossing spends a lot of time closed.
  • There is no space for a bridge.
  • A station is needed in the area.
  • Heritage issues might rule out a conventional station with a step-free footbridge.
  • It’s reasonably easy to dig the underpass.

I think that a prerequisite is that there must be a reasonable diversion for vehicles.

After my observations today, Brimsdown could be a prime candidate.

  • Two new lines are being added through the station.
  • It is very busy with trains and in a few years time could have forty trains per hour.
  • The site has little space.
  • A bridge for vehicles is impossible, but there is an alternative route.

Network Rail and Enfield Council certainly need an innovative solution to remove this level crossing.

A Modular System

I also believe that a factory-built modular system could be designed, which would enable these stations to be installed quickly.

Get the design right and it might also find applications, where no level crossing exists, but good pedestrian and cycling access is needed across a railway, where a new station is also needed.

February 21, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , | 4 Comments

Elephant And Castle Station

Elephant and Castle station couldn’t be called a well-preserved architectural gem.

But it certainly could be improved.

It looks like it’s another of those stations, where the arches could be opened up underneath the railway.

February 16, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

A Look At New Station Projects

If as I wrote in Government Focuses On New Stations And Trains, the government is going to promote more stations, how are the various current station projects progressing?

This list of stations is not complete.

But I can make a few simple conclusions.

Some Regions Have More Stations In The Pipeline Than Others

There are probably several reasons for this.

  • Some regions like Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield have gone the light-rail route.
  • Some regions like East Anglia, East Midlands, Kent, Sussex and Teesside haven’t got their plans fully together.
  • Some regions like Bristol, London and Merseyside have got very detailed plans together.
  • Some regions like Cardiff, Edinburgh and Glasgow have already got extensive heavy rail networks.

I think Merseyside is the interesting region.

  • Merseyrail is very much an independent franchise strongly controlled by the region.
  • It runs a frequent four trains per hour (tph) to most destinations.
  • It seems to be run very professionally.
  • It is proposing at least seven new stations.

In lots of areas, it appears that Merseyrail and London Overground are singing the same tune.

I have a feeling when other regions get their acts together, we’ll be seeing a lot more plans for new stations.

Several New Passenger Routes Are Being Created

In the list of stations, the same new routes arise.

  • Aberdeen Crossrail
  • Anglesey Central Railway
  • Borderlands Line
  • Bristol Metro (MetroWest)
  • Camp Hill Line
  • Canada Dock Branch
  • Coventry to Nuneaton Line
  • Devon Metro
  • East West Rail Link
  • Edinburgh Suburban and Southside Junction Railway
  • Harrogate Line
  • Ivanoe Line
  • Leamside Line
  • Newcastle And Ashington Line
  • Ripley Branch Line
  • South Staffordshire Line
  • South Wales Metro

Birmingham, Bristol, Exeter and Merseyside have obviously been planning.

New Trains Stop At A Station Faster

The UK’s most frequent rail line is the Victoria Line, which is gearing up to a frequency of 36 tph or even more.

Crossrail and Thameslink will be running 24 tph through their central tunnels.

Trains like these and Bombardier’s new Aventras and Stadler’s new trains for Merseyrail will be optimised for fast stops.

  • Driver Only Operation
  • Wide doors and lobbies for easy access.
  • Optimum braking and acceleration.
  • Roll across step-free access for wheelchairs, buggies and large cases.
  • Automatic Train Operation as has been working on the Victoria Line since the 1960s

Trains like these will mean that new stations can be inserted on existing lines without degrading the service.

 

 

 

January 23, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , | 5 Comments

Cambridge Thinks About More Stations

This article in the Cambridge News has a headline of Support for re-opening South Cambridgeshire railway station is gathering pace.

It talks mainly about the reopening of Fulbourn station between Newmarket and Cambridge.

This is said.

The Reopen Fulbourn Railway Station group is calling for the station to be reinstated as part of a drive to boost rail connectivity in the area.

Later in the article it says that the Council also wants to open a new station at Addenbrooke’s Hospital and reopen the closed station at Cherry Hinton.

A station at Addenbrooke’s Hospital is pencilled in for the East West Rail Link and the other two stations are on the Ipswich to Cambridge Line.

Wikipedia says this about a previous attempt to reopen the station at Cherry Hinton.

Reopening of the station was proposed by Cambridgeshire County Council in May 2013 as part of an infrastructure plan to deal with projected population growth up to 2050. A proposal to reopen the station had previously been made in 1996 but 70% of residents who responded to a Council questionnaire were against it; in any event, a new station was not considered viable at that time.

There are some cynical comments to the article as well.

But circumstances have changed since 1996.

  • Cambridgeshire County Council has more responsibility for this type of spending.
  • As I said in Will We Be Seeing More Railway Stations?, it looks like design, technology, new trains and costs are making it easier to make a good case for a new station.
  • Greater Anglia will be running new high-performance trains through Fulbourn and Cherry Hinton in a couple of years.
  • Network Rail are removing level crossings in East Anglia and there are several in the area, including one at the site of Cherry Hinton station.

The level crossings could be the clincher, as there is a lot of opposition in some places to their removal.

Would Network Rail duck the problems and leave everything as it is?

December 29, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Will We Be Seeing More Railway Stations?

I didn’t put any qualification like UK or London in the title of this post, as it is a question that applies to all railways.

The post was prompted by an article in the January 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, which is entitled Funding Buds For New South Wales Stations.

The article talks of two possible stations.

  • A Cardiff Parkway station near St. Mellions.
  • A Magor Walkway station between Newport and Severn Tunnel Junction stations.

Cardiff Parkway station seems the more conventional of the two and is proposed to support a proposed new business park, with car parking and a bus station,

This article on Wales Online is entitled Plans revealed for huge new development and train station in Cardiff that could create 15,000 jobs, gives more details.

On the other hand, according to The Magor And Undy Walkway Station Website, the second station at Magor Walkway appears to be less conventional.

But the two stations do illustrate two common reasons for developing new stations.

A New Station To Support Development

Cardiff Parkway station falls into this category and there are several for this reason in the pipeline.

We will see a lot more, as having a station at a new development, has many positive effects on the project.

A New Station To Provide Better Transport Opportunities

Magor Walkway station falls into this category and others include.

There are also schemes for airport links to Glasgow, Liverpool, Leeds and Luton.

Why New Stations Don’t Get Built

Obviously, some stations don’t get built for reasons of practicality and cost.

The traffic may be there, but the proposed site is difficult, so a new station might be impossible to fit the space available.

When a re-opened station like Lea Bridge is reported to cost £11million, without car parking, new stations don’t come cheap.

So new stations need a good financial case to get built.

Another factor that is often ignored by campaigners for new stations, is the knock-on effects they will have on services through the station.

Stopping trains at a station on a single or double-track line will effectively block the line, thus slowing other traffic in the area.

But Innovation Is Making It Easier To Build New Stations

In the following sections, I shall detail some of the ideas and innovations that will make the building of stations easier.

The Rise Of The Single-Platform Station

Single-platform stations are not that common in the UK, and the first new one of this type I saw was James Cook station, which I wrote about in James Cook Station – The Reinvention Of The Halt .

Other recently built stations in this category include.

Note there is a parkway station on the list and Galashiels is a major train-bus interchange.

A good proportion of the list are also on newly opened lines.

Consider the advantages of a single-platform station.

  • There is no need for an expensive footbridge., that is part of the station.
  • Only one set of shelters, ticket machines and information displays are needed.
  • Single platform stations can be easily made long enough for the largest trains that will call.
  • Interchange to cars, buses and taxis is quick and easy.
  • Modern signalling makes bi-directional operation safe.

There may also be advantages in fitting a station into a restricted space, like shopping centres, airports, sports grounds or an historic town centre.

I think we’ll see a lot more single platform stations in the future.

The Express Stop Train

Next time, you’re on a train, notice how long it takes to perform a stop at a typical station.

It is often not a quick process.

  • Passengers have to lift children, buggies, bicycles and heavy cases over the step up or down between train and platform.
  • Passengers coming on get in the way of passengers getting off.
  • On a crowded train, that is not working under driver-only-operation (DOO) rules, the guard often has to struggle to get in position to open the doors.
  • Older trains without information systems, often mean that passengers aren’t ready to get off, so cause delays at the stop.

But look at the new trains for Merseyrail, I wrote about in Thoughts On Merseyrail’s New Trains.

  • They are designed to eliminate the gap between station and train and for passengers to step or roll across quickly.
  • They will have wide doors and probably ample lobbies, to ease entry and exit.
  • They will be information-rich trains, as are all modern trains.
  • They will be DOO, which avoids guard delays on crowded trains.
  • They will have high performance with respect to braking and acceleration.

I also wonder if braking and acceleration will be automated, so that they are fast, smooth and very safe in all weather and track conditions.

On Merseyrail, this will result in faster trains and a saving of nine minutes between Southport and Hunts Cross is quoted.

New trains on Greater Anglia, will also give substantial help in enabling a headline-grabbing Norwich in 90 and Ipswich in 60 service for all trains.

I suspect that as new trains improve their stop times, it will make it easier for a new station to be fitted into an intense schedule on a main line with extensive services.

Stations Without Electrification

Often electriofying stations is an expensive business, in planning, execution and in operation.

With the development of bi-mode and battery trains and especially ones that can switch mode automatically, I think we’ll see a lot more stations left without electrification, thus eliminating health and safety and heritage issues, whilst reducing costs.

The Station On A Train

Merseyrail’s new trains will be DOO and from the reports, it appears that all the CCTV needed for safe operation will be on the train, rather than the station.

So will this allow Merseyrail to simplify their stations, with the only CCTV needed on stations being only that for passenger and station security.

I wonder if the driver will have access to a station’s CCTV as he approaches. Being able to assess crowd density in a station on approach must be to the driver’s advantage.

Ticket Machines On A Train

Operators might even put a card-only ticket machine on the train, so the number of machines in stations can be cut to save costs.

I have seen this is in several places in Europe, but never in the UK.

Tram Style Operation Of Local Trains

There are two basic types of through platforms  in the UK, served by local or regional passenger trains.

  • Platforms where some freight and passenger trains pass through without stopping.
  • Platforms where all trains stop.

Merseyrail’s Northern Line and some of the branches of the Wirral Line would be examples of the second.

What would be the implications for station design, if say a branch line worked exclusively by one type of train ran to say a tram speed limit and the visual rules a tram driver would obey in the centre of Birmingham, Manchester or Nottingham.

Could we see new two platform stations built like say this station on the Croydon Tramlink?

Gentle Ramps To the Platforms

Passengers would just walk across the tracks to get to the other side.

I believe that Merseyrail’s new trains could work in this way.

Consider.

  • Stadler have enormous experience of trams and tram-trains.
  • Merseyrail’s new trains can be fitted with batteries, so for perhaps fifty metres either side of the station, the third rail can be removed.
  • The new trains look like trams, although they are trains.
  • There will always be a driver in the front of the train with a big horn, as the train enters the station.
  • Trains would be restricted to tram speeds in the station area.

Imagine a station on a network like Merseyrail or perhaps a branch line like the Walton-on-the-Naze Branch of the Sunshine Coast Line.

A train stopping at the station would go through the following procedure.

  • A safe distance from the station, after ascertaining, that the line in the station is clear, the driver initiates the automatic stop procedure or halts the train.
  • The train slows automatically from line speed to the tram speed perhaps fifty metres from the station.
  • The train proceeds automatically to the station at tram speed using onboard stored energy, as there is no electrification.
  • The driver would open the doors, so that passengers and their belongings can be unloaded and loaded.
  • Once everything is ready, the driver closes the doors and initiates the automatic leave sequence.
  • The train leaves the station at tram speed.
  • Once electrification starts and the train is connected, the train automatically accelerates back to line speed.

Note.

  1. The train is not at line speed anywhere near the station.
  2. The driver can take control at any time.
  3. The procedure is not very far removed from that used on the Victoria Line since 1967!

Effectively the operation of the train through the station is train-tram-train.

I wonder if Merseyrail have been thinking this way to create a tram-train link to Liverpool Airport.

Conclusion

Various innovations will mean that stations will cost less.

  • Simpler design.
  • Step-free without footbridges.
  • Less expensive features.
  • Equipment moved from station to train.

In addition, trains will find it easier to fit stops into busy timetables.

This will mean that the available station budget will go further and more stations will be built.

 

December 25, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment