The Anonymous Widower

Liverpool South Parkway Station Stands In For Lime Street

I went to Liverpool to see the new Maghull North station and a few other things in the Second City.

Liverpool Lime Street station is closed at the moment due to major works, so all London trains are going only as far as Liverpool South Parkway station.

These pictures show the station.

The station was coping well, as passengers from outside Liverpool ytansferred to Merseyrail to continue their journeys to the City Centre.

On my visit to Liverpool, I went first to Maghull North station, so I got a Southport train on Merseyrail’s Northern Line to Sandhills station, where I changed trains.

There are not many cities in the UK, which have the luxury of an alternative terminus of the quality of Liverpool South Parkway station to stand in, when the main station has to be closed.

When we left for London, the train initially went towards Liverpool and then crossed over to the line to London, before coming back through the Liverpool South Parkway station.

This was because the station wasn’t designed for use as a terminus and there is no other way to get the train on the right line for Crewe and the South.

It would also appear from the pictures, that to cope with the length of the eleven-car Virgin Pendelinos, that a temporary platform extension has been built.

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

Additional Double Track In South Wales

In the July 2018 Edition of Modern Railways, there is an article entitled KeolisAmey Wins Welsh Franchise.

This is said about the additional double track on the South Wales Metro.

Additional double track will be needed in 15 locations to support increased Core Valley Lines (CVL) frequencies.

So where are these locations?

I shall start by listing all the single platform stations.

I have ignored the following.

  • Terminal stations.
  • Stations on the Coryton Line.

I have grouped them by branch.

Aberdare Branch

Merthyr Branch

Rhondda Line

Rhymney Line

These total up to fourteen stations.

As the Butetown Branch will be extended through Cardiff Bay station and this station will need a second platform, does this add up to the fifteen new sections of double-track?

How Difficult Will It Be To Add A Second Track At Stations?

Of the fifteen stations, those on the Aberdate, Merthyr and Rhondda will only see the Stadler Citylink Metro vehicles, which will be running to the same rules as trams.

So could it be that these stations will be arranged like this stop on the London Tramlink, which is typical of many tram stops throughout the UK, Europe and the world?

Note.

  • There is no bridge.
  • There is full step-free access.
  • The overhead wires are kept well out of thew way.

As most tram networks have done in the UK, they could design a modern suite of shelters, ticket machines, information displays, seats help points and other items.

I suspect that the platform height would be designed to fit both the tri-mode Stadler Flirts and the Stadler Citylink Metro Vehicles.

The only stations that are served exclusively by the tri-mode Stadler Flirts and might be given an extra track are Pontlottyn and Brithdir stations at the Northern end of the Rhymney Line.

These stations only get four tph in both directions.

Do Many Stations Have Passing Freight Trains?

I never like to be on a platform, when a freight train goes through and it happens regularly at stations near me like Canonbury and Dalston Kingsland.

I looked on Real Time Trains and there don’t appear to be many such trains on the CVL

I suspect too, that they could use temporal separation, with any freight trains ruining, when the Metro is closed.

Conclusion

I do find it strange that the total number of one platform stations is the same as the number of locations, where the track will be doubled.

But surely, if all stations were on a double-track, this would give the maximum flexibility to run services.

If too, the stations could be built without footbridges to the standards of trams, then construction costs could be saved!

June 28, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Oostende Station – 16th May 2018

I caught the train back to Brussels from the building site that is Oostende station.

I’v been to various stations in the last ten years or so, that are being rebuilt, including Berlin Hbf, Liverpool Lime Street. London Bridge and Stuttgart Hbf.

But not gave out the air that was shown at Oostende station.

  • Information was non-existent.
  • Floors were uneven and a hazard.
  • Safety seemed a bit random.
  • The toilets were tucked away from the station and run by a drogon, who demanded fees for something that looked very dubious.

It very much gave the impression that passengers were not very important.

Is this the best that Belgian Railways can do?

 

 

May 17, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , | 4 Comments

Around Antwerp Station

I took these pictures of the magnificent Antwerp station in the evening light.

I certainly haven’t seen a better station in Belgium.

May 15, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Volunteers Transform Neglected Rail Station Gardens Into Welcoming Area

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article in the Westmoreland Gazette.

In my travels I come across many stations, where volunteers make a difference.

Kents Bank station can be added to that list.

Many more stations need volunteers to do some community gardening and other work.

April 24, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , | 2 Comments

New Heathrow Rail Link To Lead The Way For Future Transport Funding Schemes

The title of this post, is the same as that of this Press Release on the Department of Transport web site.

This is the opening two paragraphs.

Private companies have been asked to come forward with ideas to deliver a new southern rail link to Heathrow Airport.

The link will be one of the first projects under government plans to invite third parties – such as local authorities and private sector companies – to invest in the rail network, over and above the £47 billion the government is already planning for the next 5 years.

In the past, I have talked about two privately-funded schemes for access from the South to Heathrow.

The Times is saying today, that it could be the second scheme.

But Heathrow can be such a money-earner, you do wonder if other schemes to serve the airport will be put forward.

How Would A Scheme Work In Practice?

A consortium consisting of engineering, financial and railway interests would put forward a scheme.

They would do the following.

  • Design the scheme and ensure it was acceptable to all stakeholders, including Network Rail, the Office of Rail and Road, local authorities, train operating companies, passengers, residents and in the case of Heathrow, the airport itself.
  • Raise the finance to build the scheme from appropriate institutions like insurance companies, banks and pension funds.
  • Build the scheme and get it approved by the appropriate companies, authorities and regulators.
  • Once the scheme is commissioned, trains using the scheme would pay appropriate track access charges, in the same way, that they do now, when they use Network Rail’s tracks.
  • Maintenance would be the responsibility of the consortium, that built the scheme.

In some ways the consortium functions like a mini-Network Rail, as it obeys all the same standards with regards to engineering and safety.

But.

  • The finance is not provided by taxpayers.
  • Any profits go to those, who conceived, built or financed the project.
  • Risks associated with the project are not borne by the Government or taxpayers.

If say in ten years time, the consortium goes bust, then I suspect that the assets would be bought on the cheap, by either Network Rail or another investor, who would learn from the original consortium’s mistakes.

Not that I think that will happen!

Has Anything Similar Been Done Before In The UK?

I think it is true to say, that various innovative ways have been found to fund railways in the UK.

The article from the Independent, which was written in 1992 is entitled Canary Wharf Banks Agree Funding For Jubilee Line.

This is a paragraph from the article.

The Government has always insisted that the scheme will not go ahead without private funding. In return for the financing, the banks are believed to be insisting that the Government chooses Canary Wharf as the site for the relocation of about 3,000 civil servants from the Department of Environment and the Department of Transport. It is also considering three other sites in the area.

So it looks like relocating three thousand civil servants got the Jubilee Line built!

Chiltern Railways have expanded by leaps and bounds over the years and some of their methods have been professional and innovative.

Project Evergreen with three phases has expanded and improved their passenger services.

This is an extract from the section of Wikipedia, that talks about the project.

Chiltern Railways former chairman Adrian Shooter said, “This is the biggest passenger rail project for several generations not to call on the taxpayer for support. Working closely with Network Rail, we are going to create a new main-line railway for the people of Oxfordshire and the Midlands. This deal demonstrates that real improvements to rail services can be paid for without public subsidy by attracting people out of their cars and on to trains.”

I don’t know whether this relates to all of Project Evergreen or just one part.

This is also said.

Network Rail provided the capital for the upgrade and will recover this through a facility charge over the subsequent 30 years, initially payable by Chiltern until its franchise expires, and then by the next franchisee. The infrastructure upgrade was carried out by main contractor BAM Nuttall, in partnership with Jarvis and WS Atkins.

It may all sound complicated, but Chiltern Railways is a train operating company that commuters don’t seem to complain about.

Could Any Other Schemes Be Funded Using The Department for Transport’s New Model?

Building the southern access into Heathrow Airport will be a large project costing more than a billion pounds.

But that doesn’t that all projects need to be that size!

I suspect, that the DfT’s model will be applied to some projects, as small as a hundred million pounds.

These are my thoughts on future projects, which I have split into various sections.

Airports

If a scheme like the Heathrow scheme  gets the go-ahead, then I think this could lead to other airport links being designed, funded and built using a similar model.

At present, Aberdeen, Bristol, Doncaster-Sheffield, East Midlands, Glasgow, Leeds and Liverpool airports are looking to improve rail access and the DfT’s model may be a way to build some, if the demand is there.

Network Extensions

The proposed Heathrow Southern Railway is effectively a well-thought out extension to three networks; Crossrail, Heathrow Express and South Western Railway to all of their mutual benefit.

I doubt there’ll be such big extensions, but there are some useful ones being planned.

  • Bramley Line -The track-bed of this route is still there and connecting March to Wisbech could create a new commuter route for Cambridge.
  • Fawley Branch Line – This would provide a passenger service and serve new housing developmemts in Hythe and Fawley.
  • Ivanhoe Line – Proposals to improve this service in Leicestershire with new stations.
  • Merseyrail Northern Line Extensions – The £300 million extension to Skelmersdale is being planned and another from Ormskirk to Preston is proposed using battery trains.
  • North Downs Line – This line could be updated to provide an improbred Reading- Gatwick. Would it make a freight route for Minis from Oxford to the Channel Tunnel?
  • Skipton To Colne Reinstatement – This  project of just a dozen miles is high profile amongst Conservative politicians and would provide another route across the Pennines.
  • West London Orbital – This £264 million extension to the London Overground would create two new lines in North West London.

This is by no means a complete list, but it shows how many routes could benefit with reinstatement or improvement.

Electrification

Why shouldn’t electrification be privately funded, with the builders and investors getting their returns, through an electrification access charge, which would be similar to a track access charge.

I discuss possible electrification schemes in Charting An Electric Freight Future.

The linked article is mainly about freight, but I suspect there are examples, where some shortish stretches of electrification could be privately-funded.

If electrification experts identified the problems of the past few years and how to solve them, there must be a case to formulate a business that merged engineering, finance and construction, that was able to install electrification on time and on budget.

Depots

Greater Anglia has commissioned a new depot at Brampton on a design, finance and build basis and it’s not the only depot built this way.

But that is more traditional financing.

Stations

The financing of some stations has been extraordinarily innovative.

I suspect that that some deals will get even more so.

Some will even charge for passengers per day.

Conclusion

One of the reasons, I like the DfT’s proposal of mixing design, finance and build with a good helping of innovation, is that this closely follows the model that we used with Metier Management Systems, when we started the company in the 1970s, to develop our Project Management system called Artemis.

  • We designed the systems.
  • We financed the systems.
  • We installed the systems
  • We maintained the systems.
  • The customers wanted the systems.
  • Customers paid so much a month.

The cream on top was the lashings of innovation.

There might be a lot of extra finance flowing into UK railways!

 

 

 

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March 20, 2018 Posted by | Finance, Travel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Maiden Lane And York Road Stations

These two disused stations are in the area of Kings Cross Central to the North of Kings Cross and St. Pancras stations.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the layout of the lines and stations.

Note.

  1. The lines into Kings Cross station shown in black.
  2. The North London Line shown in orange.
  3. The Piccadilly Line shown in blue.

It would appear that  York Road station has been designed to generous proportions.

Ian Visits

ThIs article on the Ian Visits web site, is entitled Reopening The Piccadilly line’s Disused York Road Tube Station.

Ian comes to the following conclusions.

A rebuilt Maiden Lane station on the Overground would be much cheaper to build, at around £8 million, and have much lower running costs. The site for the Overground station would be around 100 yards further to the north of York Road Station, roughly where a Camden Council maintains a bus garage.

Replacing that with the usual generic block of flats may generate the cash to fund a rebuilt Maiden Lane station.

However, York Road tube station is unlikely to ever reopen to the public again.

I very much agree.

However, there is a set of circumstances, where the building at York Road station may get reopened.

Look at this picture of York Road station.

The station building is a classic design by Leslie Green and just across the road from Central St. Martins, which is a constituent college of the University of the Arts London. So surely, if the college were to have, it’s own station, it should be to one of London’s iconic designs.

Ian gives a lot of reasons, why York Road would be an expensive station to add to the Piccadilly Line, despite the fact that it could have lifts like Caledonian Road descending to the platforms.

But suppose the Docklands Light Railway were to be extended from Bank station as has been proposed.

This map shows a possible route.

But why stop at S. Pancras.? It could be extended under Kings Cross station, stopping where required to finish at York Road station.

  • Only the building would be used.
  • There would be no connection to the Piccadilly Line.
  • The Docklands Light Railway tunnels would be several metres down to travel under buildings and the stations.
  • An underground passage could be built to a reopened Maiden Lane station.

A worthwhile use would have been found for an iconic building and Kings Cross Central would have much better public transport connections.

February 23, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 1 Comment

Bromley-by-Bow Station To Be Made Step-Free

Bromley-by-Bow station is to be made step-free.

I took these pictures this morning.

Work appears to be well underway.

This page on Hawkins Brown website gives comprehensive details of the project.

They are the architects for the project.

January 25, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Cockfosters Station To Be Made Step Free

These pictures show Cockfosters station.

As a child, I used to go to the barbers in Cockfosters station to get my hair cut. I suppose, I went by myself from the time I joined Minchenden Grammar School at eleven. But I could have gone earlier, as it wasn’t that far from where we lived.

The barbers is not there anymore!

The station hasn’t changed much underground, although there’s now a cafe and there are barriers to check the tickets.

As to step-free access, there will need to be a lift on both sides of Cockfosters Road, as stairs are impossible, exzcept for the fully able-bodied.

There will certainly be more difficult stations to make step-free.

Once passengers are down in the station, it is a completely level walk, push or drag to the trains.

What Are Transport for London’s Plans?

Transport for London have stated that their aim is to eventually have all Underground stations with full step-free access.

But Cockfosters station may attract a large number of visitors with bikes, buggies and wheelchairs.

  • The station is on the London Outer Orbital Path.
  • Trent Park is nearby.
  • Cockfosters is at the end of the Piccadilly Line. So is it a stations, where passengers are dropped for Central London, Kings Cross and Heathrow?

Christ Church, Cockfosters is nearby, where C and myself got married. Possibly more importantly,the UK Memorial Service for Elivis Presley was held in the church, as this page recalls.

One thing that appears to be better at Cockfosters station from my childhood are the buses.

  • There are more bus routes calling at the station.
  • All the buses now have wheelchair spaces and access ramps.
  • Bus information is better.

So will we see the bus routes from Cockfosters station further developed to serve new housing developments?

 

January 24, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

West London Stations To Be Made Step-Free

Twelve stations in West London are to be made step-free on the London Underground.

These Crossrail stations in West London, will also become step-free.

This gives a total of twenty stations, that will become fully step-free in West London.

These pictures show the various London Underground stations. at the end of January 2018.

Boston Manor

No work has started yet!

Harrow-on-the-Hill

The station is unusual in that there are steep steps up to a bridge over the tracks, at both entrances to the station. Then there would need to be further lifts to the platforms.

Work has started.

Ickenham

No work has started yet! Will the current bridge be replaced?

North Ealing

No work has started yet!

Osterley

No work has started yet!

Park Royal

No work has started yet!

Ruislip

No work has started yet! Will the current bridge be replaced?

Sudbury Hill

No work has started yet!

Platform Height Problems

Boston Manor, North Ealing, Osterley, Park Royal and Sudbury Hill stations were all District Line stations moved to the Piccadilly Line.

This picture was taken at Osterley station.

Could we see trains running on the Piccadilly Line, where the suspension jacks the train up as required?

This may seem rather fantastical, but most modern trains run on airbags to give a smooth ride.

This picture shows the bogie under a Class 378 train.

Note the air-bag! Pump it up and the train rides higher.

This technique could be used to solve the problem of Piccadilly Line trains calling at platforms shared with Metropolitan Line trains.

Summary

They are much more of a mixed bunch than those I wrote about in Eastern Central Line Stations To Be Made Step-Free.

This probably due to the fact, that the Eastern stations were all build by the Great Eastern Railway at around the same time.

These West London stations were built at various times, with some being built in the 1930s.

  • Boston Manor was rebuilt in 1934 and is Grade II Listed
  • Hanger Lane was built in 1947.
  • Osterley was built in 1934 and is Grade II Listed.
  • Park Royal was built in 1932 and is Grade II Listed
  • Sudbury Hill was built in 1931 to a design of Charles Holden and is Grade II Listed.

Didn’t they have disabled people and prams in those days, just a few years before I was born?

Some of the precipitous steps in this group of station are very dangerous.

At least some of the other stations of this era like Bounds Green, Southgate and Word Green have escalators.

What Are Transport for London’s Plans?

Transport for London have stated that their aim is to eventually have all Underground stations with full step-free access.

If you look at maps of West London, stations for Underground and National Rail are not that numerous and it is rare to find step-free access, unless a satation has been built in the last couple of decades.

So perhaps, TfL are improving the balance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

January 23, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | 3 Comments