The Anonymous Widower

Thoughts On The Sutton Loop Line

The Sutton Loop Line is a bit of a problem.

  • It runs two trains per hour (tph) in both directions.
  • Trains are eight-cars.
  • It is not the most heavily-used of lines.

It is deeply political and difficult to make any changes.

Network Rail’s original plan is described under Political Developments in the Thameslink entry in Wikipedia. This is said.

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

Was this design by those, who don’t understand the complexity of designing and running a train service?

On the other hand, the line has some strengths.

  • It is a double-track railway.
  • It is fully-electrified using 750 VDC third-rail.
  • Stations have long platforms.
  • There seems to be quite a bit of housing and other development.

But in some ways,  the line’s biggest strength, is the wide margins at both sides of the tracks.

This section between Hackbridge and Carshalton stations is not untypical.

Adding extra platforms or complete stations would not be difficult.

What solutions are available to improve train services on the Sutton Loop Line, for both passengers and train operators?

Splitting And Joining Trains

In Has Thameslink Got The Wrong Length Of Train?, I proposed the following.

  • Using twelve- and six-car trains on Thameslink.
  • Allowing two six-car trains to work as a twelve-car unit.
  • Trains would be able to join and split automatically, as Hitachi’s Class 395 trains are able to do.

I also proposed the following method of operation for the Sutton Loop Line.

The Sutton Loop Line could be run by using six-car trains that split and join in the area of Streatham station.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the track layout at Streatham, at the start of the loop.

Note.

  1. Streatham South Junction is the gateway to the Sutton Loop, with the tracks to the West going via Tooting station and those to the South via Mitcham Eastfields station.
  2. There is a lot of spare land in this area.
  3. Transport for London keep talking about creating an interchange at this point.

I think, if and when the interchange is built, it could be designed, so that it increased traffic around the Sutton Loop Line.

  • Two six-car trains running as a twelve-car could split at the interchange.
  • One train would go round the loop clockwise and the other anti-clockwise.
  • The trains would rejoin together at the interchange.

The same procedure could be done at Streatham, without creating the interchange, but it would block the station, if trains got delayed on the loop.

Currently, two trains per hour (tph) are proposed to run in both directions on the Sutton Loop Line.

This requires four eight-car trains and four paths through the central core.

If four six-car trains were to be used, running in pairs splitting at Streatham station or a new Streatham Common interchange, there would still be two tph in both directions round the Sutton Loop, but only two paths would be needed in the central core.

Travellers to and from stations on the loop would see six-car, rather than the current eight-car.

If the number of six-car trains were to be doubled and four paths used in the central core, the Sutton Loop Line would see four tph in both directions.

It sounds complicated but it would work and it has the following advantages.

  • Train frequency could be increased as required.
  • Paths are released in the central core.
  • Twelve-car trains would go through the central core, where the capacity is needed.

The service would need a few more drivers and other staff.

Loop Only Services To A New Streatham Common Interchange

If a new interchange station is built at Streatham Common, then extra services could easily be run round the loop.

  • Thameslink services could be reduced to perhaps one tph in each direction.
  • These would be augmented by perhaps a four tph shuttle around the loop starting and finishing at Streatham Common.
  • The shuttle trains could be any suitable unit, but surely a four-car would suffice.

I suspect that this wouldn’t work, as it would upset the natives.

The German Solution

I can’t help feeling that the Germans and especially those in Karlsruhe would look at the Sutton Loop Line and because there are both trams and trains, in the area, they would come up with a solution based on trains and tram-trains.

As fsr as I know, no-one has ever built a third-rail-powered tram-train!

But I don’t think that a tram-train powered by third-rail electrification, when running as a train is an impossibility. I lay out my ideas in The Third-Rail Tram-Train.

Safety

As to safety, look at this picture taken at Mitcham Junction station.

Note how the third electrified rails are in the middle away from the platforms. This is standard practice with this form of electrification.

So if it is deemed to be safe for trains now, it will surely be safe for third-rail train-trams.

When running as trams, the tram-trains will use 750 VDC overhead electrification.

Changing Networks

Tram-trains will need to change between the tram and rail networks.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the track layout at Mitcham Junction station.

Note.

  1. Wimbledon is to the West and Croydon is to the East.
  2. With the addition of some extra tracks, it should be possible for tram-trains to pass between the networks.
  3. As trams can take tight curves, a chord could allow Westbound tram-trains from Croydon to turn South to Sutton.
  4. Tram-trains will probably change networks using a couple of ininutes of battery power.

I doubt any of the engineering will be too difficult.

Adding The Sutton Loop Line To Tramlink Using Tram-Trains

Tram-trains would take the following route.

  • Arrive from Croydon at Mitcham Junction, where they would turn South onto the Sutton Loop Line.
  • Pass through Hackbridge and Carshalton stations.
  • Call in Sutton station for interchange with trams and National Rail.
  • Continue to Wimbledon station calling in Platform 9 for interchange with trams in Platform 10 and 10b and National Rail.
  • Pass through Hatdons Road and Tooting.
  • Take new chord to cross to the other leg of the Sutton Loop Line.
  • Pass through Itcham Eastfields station.
  • Rejoin the tram route at Micham Junction station.

Tram-trains could also travel in the reverse direction.

Trams And Tram-Trains At Wimbledon

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the track and platform layout at Wimbledon station.

Note.

  1. Currently, Thameslink services on the Sutton Loop Line use Platform 9 in both directions.
  2. Hayons Road station is to the North-East and |Wimbledon Chase station is to the South.
  3. Tram-trains on the Sutton Loop Line would do the same.
  4. Platform 9 probably defines the capacity of the Sutton Loop Line.

Access to the trams in Platforms 10 and 10b, is just a walk across the platform.

The picture was taken from a Thameslink train.

There might even be space for another tram platform, that can be accessed from the Haydons Road direction.

Trams And Tram-Trains At Sutton

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the track and platform layout at Sutton station.

Note.

  1. The Sutton Loop Line is the Northernmost pair of tracks.
  2. Carshalton station is to the East and West Sutton station is to the West.
  3. It could be possible for tram-trains to by-pass Sutton station and run on the streets of Sutton.

This picture shows Sutton High Street.

Is it going to be easy to bring the planned tram extension from Wimbledon to Sutton?

Dual Platform Issues

Platforms at the stations on the Sutton Loop Line are long and are certainly capable of taking eight-car trains.

But are they long enough to have a lower section of platform, so that tram-trains can have step-free access?

This is one of the problems, that should be solved in the tram-train trial in Sheffield.

The Split At Streatham Common

This Google Map shows, where the two routes of the Sutton Loop Line meet near Streatham Common station.

This picture shows a train going towards Mitcham, from one having passed through Tooting station.

I don’t think it would be the most difficult engineering project to create a chord, that would allow tram-trains to go directly between Tooting and Mitcham Eastfields stations.

A Possible Service

As I said earlier, Platform 9 at Wimbledon station. is probably the limiting factor on services round the Sutton Loop Line.

Thameslink is planning two tph in both directions.

I suspect that this could be supplemented by two tph services run by tram-trains, if a signalling solution can be implemented to allow four tph in each direction, through the platform.

Conclusion

There are several ways to improve the Sutton Loop Line.

 

 

 

March 14, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 1 Comment

Thameslink’s Sutton Loop Services Appear To Be Starting From Luton

I just looked at Thameslink’s core traffic on nationalrail.co.uk and it appears that services on the Sutton Loop Line are now starting from Luton.

Are there operational issues or are Thameslink changing the timetable?

It was operational, as a passenger had been taken seriously ill!

March 12, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , | Leave a comment

London Has A New Underground Line

On Friday, I went between Brighton and Cambridge stations on one of the first Thameslink services on the route.

I wrote about it in Observations On Thameslink Between Brighton And Cambridge.

That journey took me on London’s new Underground Line between London Bridge and Finsbury Park stations.

The following trains are going North from London Bridge to Finsbury Park.

  • 11:29 – Horsham to Peterborough – Arrives at Finsbury Park at 11:52
  • 12:49 – Brighton to Cambridge – Arrives at Finsbury Park at 13:13
  • 15:04 – Horsham to Peterborough – Arrives at Finsbury Park at 15:27
  • 15:34 – Brighton to Cambridge – Arrives at Finsbury Park at 15:57

And the following trains are going South from Finsbury Park to London Bridge.

  • 10:59 – Peterborough to Horsham – Arrives at London Bridge at 11:24
  • 12:09 -Cambridge to Brighton – Arrives at London Bridge at 12:37
  • 14:29 – Peterborough to Horsham – Arrives at London Bridge at 14:55
  • 15:11 – Cambridge to Brighton – Arrives at London Bridge at 15:37

All journeys take around 23-25 minutes, with stops at Blackfriars, City Thameslink, Farringdon and St. Pancras International stations.

It may officially be part of Thameslink, but it will function like a convewntional Underground Line, but with bigger trains.

The Underground Alternative

If you look at Transport for London’s Journey Planner, this give a time of twenty minutes for a journey between London Bridge and Finsbury Park, using the Northern and Victoria lines with a change at Euston.

That is also not a step-free or wheel-chair friendly route.

Obviously, at the moment, most passengers have no choice, as there is only four trains per day in each direction on the new Thameslink route.

But when a Full Service is running, with a train every ten minutes, things will be very different.

My Access To Thameslink

Timings to Thameslink stations from my house are as follows.

  • Finsbury Park – 15 mins by 141 Bus and Piccadilly Line
  • London Bridge – 25 mins by 21 or 141 Bus
  • London Bridge – 31 mins  using Transport for London’s Journey Planner’s recommended route via Dalston Junction and Canada Water.

The latter probably explains why Londoners are generally Grade 1 Duckers-And-Divers!

I suspect, when I go to Gatwick Airport, I’ll go via Finsbury Park, using the mini-cab from around the corner or a black cab, as both will be quicker.

I suspected right. Returning from Finsbury Park station to home this evening, took ten minutes and cost a tenner.

A Preview Service

Thameslink are only running a preview service between London Bridge and Finsbury Park at the current time.

On my Friday trip, it was particularly noticeable, that passengers were thin on the ground between the two stations.

  • But then passengers probably didn’t know about the service and may have been confused seeing a train going to Cambridge.
  • It’s also not shown on the Tube Map.
  • I didn’t notice any advertising for the new route.

So how do you use something that you don’t know about?

The Full Service

This route will have the following characteristics, when Thameslink open it fully.

The Route Will Serve The City of London Well

These factors will help this section of Thameslink serve the City of London.

  • Step-free stations at Farringdon, City Thameslink and London Bridge ring the South and West of the City of London.
  • Crossrail with an interchange with Thameslink at Farringdon also gives a quick route to the East of the City of London and Canary Wharf.
  • The City of London is also planning a lot of pedestrianisation.

Other developments like Crossrail and the expansion of Bank station and the Docklands Light Railway, will make London’s financial district, one of the best connected by public transport in the World.

The Route Will Have Tourist Attractions

The route could have been designed for tourists.

  • London Bridge station has London and Tower Bridges, Southwark Cathedral, Borough Market, HMS Belfast and the Shard.
  • But the most spectacular modern architecture at London Bridge, is the station itself, with its lifts, escalators, fifteen platforms and a shopping centre.
  • Blackfriars is a unique station, as it spans the Thames with entrances on both banks, and it is the world’s largest solar-powered bridge.
  • Blackfriars station is a short walk along the river from the Tate Modern and the Millennium Bridge.
  • Many good walks along the river start from Blackfriars.
  • City Thameslink station dates from 1990 and it shows, but it is close to St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Old Bailey, so it attracts visitors at both ends of the moral spectrum.
  • Farringdon station will be a major interchange, where Crossrail and Thameslink connect, so don’t let unsuitable organisations build all the hotels this area will attract.
  • Farringdon is close to two of London’s iconic markets; Smithfield meat market and the attached wife market.
  • Saint Pancras International station is a fur coat and no knickers station, as although it looks good, it’s practicality is suspect.
  • If they’d given the job to the architect, who updated Kings Cross station next door, they would have got a a more practical station.
  • Finsbury Park station is a place, where you go and explore the local area, which is vibrant and full of history.
  • You may even get as far as Alexandra Palace or Manor House, where I saw John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers with a very drunk Eric Clapton in the 1960s.

It is a line to explore London.

Six Trains Per Hour

There will be six trains per hour (tph), which will run All Day.

  • Two tph – Peterborough to Horsham – twelve-car
  • Two tph – Cambridge to Brighton – twelve-car
  • Two tph – Cambridge to Maidstone East – eight-car

This gives a six tph service between Finsbury Park and London Bridge and also a four tph service to East Croydon and Gatwick Airport.

Two Additional Trains Per Hour In The Peak

In the Peak, there will be two tph, that run from Welwyn Garden City to Sevenoaks.

But they will go via Elephant and Castle rather than London Bridge.

Thameslink must have their reasoning behind this service, but I have some questions.

  • Would commuters in the Peak prefer to go to London Bridge?
  • Would passengers from Sevenoaks and Welwyn Garden City like an All Day service?

These questions and others will be answered in the next few years, as hameslink develops.

Full Step-Free Access At London Bridge Station

London Bridge station has full step-free access for all the following services.

  • Thameslink
  • Services to and from Cannon Street station
  • Services to and from Waterloo East and Charing Cross stations.
  • Jubilee and Northern Lines of the Underground
  • Terminating services at London Bridge
  • Several bus routes, including my bus home!

Note.

  1. Passengers will use the escalators to get to the right destination.
  2. Thameslink passengers will use the island platform to reverse direction.
  3. It took me just two minutes to change from Platforms 2/3 to Platforms 8/9.
  4. Going from Platform 6/7 to the bus station was under three minutes and a 141 Bus was just getting ready to leave.
  5. Passengers can walk across London Bridge to the City of London.

There are few stations better than London Bridge anywhere in the world!

Full Step-Free Access at Finsbury Park Station

Finsbury Park station is being updated to have full step-free access for the following services.

  • Thameslink
  • Great Northern Services to Cambridge, Kings Lynn and Peterborough
  • Northern City Line services to and from Moorgate station
  • Piccadilly and Victoria Lines. of the Underground.

There will also be same-platform interchange between Thameslink and Northern City Line services.

The Improved Northern City Line At Finsbury Park Station

The Northern City Line will be substantially improved.

  • New Class 717 trains have been ordered.
  • This could mean an increased All Day service of perhaps 10-12 tph.
  • Moorgate station will be on Crossrail.
  • There will be a same-platform interchange with Thameslink at Finsbury Park station.
  • Hopefully, the terrible stations on the route will be improved.

This line will change from being a crowded, outdated backwater of the UK rail system to an important modern link to the City of London and Crossrail from large parts of North and North-East London.

The Link To Crossrail

The link between Thameslink and Crossrail at Farringdon station will probably be heavily used, if it is well-designed and fully-step free. Which I suspect it will be, until proven otherwise!

Don’t forget too, the link to the Metropolitan and Circle Lines at this key station, which is much better than the link at St. Pancras

Step-Free Access At All The Intermediate Stations Between London Bridge and Finsbury Park

Access at Blackfriars, City Thameslink, Farringdon and St. Pancras stations are all fully step-free.

The Fastest Way To Gatwick Airport And Brighton From North London

My friend lives in Walthamstow and always goes to Gatwick Airport by using the Victoria Line and Gatwick Express.

  • This takes twenty-three minutes for the Victoria Line and thirty minutes for the train.
  • The Thameslink route via Finsbury Park, takes nine minutes for the Victoria Line and an hour for the train.

Note.

  1. Both trains will run every fifteen minutes, when the full Thameslink service is running.
  2. The Thameslink timing is only the time of the Preview Service. Will the Full Service be faster?
  3. Finsbury Park and Victoria will both be fully step-free within a year or so.
  4. The trains on Gatwick Express will be more comfortable.
  5. The walk at Finsbury Park is shorter than at Victoria.
  6. The Thameslink route will be more affordable.

Everybody will have their own preference.

The biggest winners will be.

  • Those living on the Northern reaches of the Piccadilly Line, who will have a full step-free interchange to Thameslink at Finsbury Park
  • Those living on the Northern City Line, who will have a same-platform interchange to Thameslink at Finsbury Park.
  • Those who walk, cycle or take a bus or cab to Finsbury Park.

Gatwick Airport could be a big winner, as a whole area of North London and Hertfordshire now has a new excellent direct connection to the Airport.

What Still Needs To Be Done?

It is a well-thought out route, but some things still need to be done.

Is Six Tph Enough Trains Between London Bridge And Finsbury Park?

I ask this question, with my scheduling hat on!

At the moment of the 24 tph through the Snow Hill Tunnel, two-thirds of the trains go up the Midland Main Line, with just a third on the East Coast Main Line.

I think that, when Thameslink increase the frequency through the central core, that they will increase the frequency through Finsbury Park.

Could Two Tph From The Sutton Loop Go To Welwyn Garden City?

Curremtly, four tph start at St. Albans City station, go through London, then round the Sutton Loop, before returning to St. Albans City.

Would it be desirable to start two of these services from Welwyn Garden City station?

It will all depend on operational issues and the routes passengers take.

City Thameslink And St. Paul’s Stations Need A Connection

I believe this is possible and I wrote about it in A Pedestrian Connection Between City Thameslink Station And St. Paul’s Tube Station.

 

Should The Docklands Light Railway Be Extended To City Thameslink, Euston And St. Pancras?

I wrote about this extension in detail in A Connection Between City Thameslink Station And The Docklands Light Railway.

Could Thameslink Connect To The Waterloo And City Line?

I wrote about this connection in Could The Waterloo And City Line Have An Intermediate Station At Blackfriars?

Development of new trains for the Underground, will make this link possible.

 

Should Thameslink Be On The Tube Map

I wrote about this in Thameslink Should Be On The Tube Map.

All Of Thameslink Should Be In The Oystercard Area

Gatwick Airport is already in the Oystercard area, but it is silly that Oyster cards and contsctless cards can’t be used on all Thameslink services.

Conclusion

The possibilities for Thameslink and the effects it will have will be enormous.

 

March 11, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Future Of Commuting

I take the title from this article in this Guardian, which is entitled Cattle-class: are Thameslink’s new ‘tube-style’ trains the future of commuting?

This is the sub-title to the article.

As the UK south-east’s rail nightmare continues, a new class of commuter trains has been quietly revealed – long, metro-style carriages without tables, built to accommodate as many standing passengers as possible. Is this the new normal?

The New Class 700 Trains

I have travelled on the new Class 700 trains and I wrote about my journey in A First Ride In A Class 700 Train.

These are things I thought some people might not like.

  • The lack of audible messages. – I liked the quiet, but I’m not blind.
  • The lack of tables in Standard Class compared with say the Class 387 trains, that currently work the line.
  • The lack of wi-fi.
  • The length of the train at 242.6m., if they get in the wrong carriage.
  • The high step up into the train.

The last one is possibly to be compatible with other trains and is being addressed at East Croydon station, by raising the platforms. I didn’t go to Gatwick, but imagine large numbers of heavy cases being loaded and unloaded.

I think that the problem is that some bright spark in the Department of Transport or the Treasury, decided that the trains should be a one size fits all and that they had to cope with a lot of stations, where the platforms wouldn’t be seriously modified.

Thank goodness this idiot didn’t order the same trains for Crossrail.

The Routes Compared

It is interesting to compare the route and trains of Thameslink with Crossrail

The trains are similar in length, with about a third of the passengers getting seats at full capacity of 1500 for Crossrail’s Class 345 trains and 1800 for Thameslink’s Class 700 trains.

But I think there will be a big difference in passenger loading between the two lines.

These are times from four selected end points to Farringdon, where the two lines cross.

  • Bedford (Thameslink) – 60 minutes
  • Brighton (Thameslink) – 86 minutes
  • Reading (Crossrail) – 58 minutes
  • Shenfield (Crossrail) – 43 minutes

So it looks like the average commute on Thameslink could be longer, so possibly their trains should reflect that, with wi-fi, lots of tables etc.

But whereas Brighton and Bedford will get a few trains every hour to Central London, Shenfield will get ten.

Shenfield and Reading will also have long distance services coming in from further out and going direct to the capital.

Unfortunately, trains can’t start further South than Brighton.

Another big difference, is that Crossrail serves a lot of the places, commuters and visitors to the capital want to go. For example.

  • Bond Street for the shops and the Underground
  • Canary Wharf with a cross-platform change, if not direct.
  • Heathrow for the planes
  • Liverpool Street for long distance trains and the Underground.
  • Moorgate for a walk to the City.
  • Old Oak Common for long distance trains and the Overground.
  • Paddington for long distance trains.
  • Stratford for the Queen Elizabeth  Olympic Park, shopping and the Underground.
  • Whitechapel for the Overground.

Thameslink’s list is shorter and less impressive.

  • Blackfriars for a walk to the City.
  • City Thameslink for a walk to the City.
  • Gatwick for the planes.
  • Kings Cross St. Pancras for Eurostar and long distance trains.
  • London Bridge for a walk to the City and the Underground.

I might be wrong, but this leads me to think that Crossrail will act like a high-capacity Underground Line across Central London,and will for example, be used by visitors wanting to have a walk in the City and then go to do some shopping in Oxford Street. Thameslink doesn’t have  similar casual uses across Central London.

Another difference, is that Crossrail’s Shenfield and Reading branches are very much all-stations branches, whereas Thameslink’s have a lot of semi-fast trains.

This thinking leads to an important difference.

Crossrail’s train design and capacity depends heavily on the needs from Stratford to Old Oak Common, wheras Thameslink’s trains are more about the needs of long-distance commuters.

But then, Crossrail has been designed as a system of trains and routes to satisfy the capital’s needs, whereas Thameslink has been created by stitching together a series of Victorian lines, that all have different needs.

A Redesign For Thameslink

I think a few years after Crossrail and Thameslink open, Thameslink services will have a big redesign.

So what will happen?

It will be driven by the statistics of where passengers need to go.

But I can see the following happening.

Upgrading Of The Class 700 Trains

The more I read about the two sets of trains, the more I feel that passengers will moan about the Class 700 trains on Thameslink, when they experience the Class 345 trains on Crossrail.

Points of annoyance could include.

  • The lack of wi-fi and charging sockets.
  • Nowhere to put a coffee.
  • The number of tables.
  • The layout of the seats.
  • Bicycles

But then these trains weren’t specified by the operator, unlike those on Crossrail, where Transport for London had a big input.

Creation Of More Cross-Platform And Same-Platform Interchanges

The only quality interchange between Thameslink and other services is London Bridge. But that has been designed recently.

East Croydon has been the victim of make-do-and mend for decades.

Gatwick Airport could be so much better.

St. Pancras is truly terrible and was designed so that passengers are kept fit, by walking long distances underground to reach other services.

West Hampstead Thameslink could be another Stratford, but it falls short.

I think we’ll see improvements to some of these stations to create better same-platform or cross-platform interchange between Thameslink and longer distance services.

As an example Alexandra Palace and Finsbury Park seem to have been improved so that Thameslink has a good interchange with local services out of Kings Cross and Moorgate.

On Thameslink East Croydon, Gatwick and West Hampstead Thameslink must be updated to improve connectivity between Thameslink and longer distance services.

Separation Of Short And Longer Distance Trains South Of The River

On Crossrail, passengers going further East can change at Liverpool Street or Stratford in the centre or Shenfield in the East and those going further West can change at Paddington in the centre or Reading in the West.

Four of the five interchange stations; Liverpool Street, Paddington, Reading, Shenfield and Stratford, are large stations with excellent facilities and lots of trains and I can see that Shenfield will be improved by some pragmatic use of the current platforms and the nearby High Street.

North of the River on Thameslink, the interchange between short and longer distance distance trains isn’t perfect, but Finsbury Park, Kentish Town, Welwyn Garden City and West Hampstead are better and have more spare capacity than East Croydon.

The only decent interchange South of the River is the recently-updated London Bridge. But it is too close to the centre of London.

South of the River, Thameslink needs a station like Reading or Shenfield, where passengers have a cross-platform or same-platform change to and from a proper long-distance commuter train to a comfortable high-density shuttle across London, as an alternative to getting one train all the way.

The Brighton Belle Will Return

The Brighton Belle was the way to commute between London and Brighton until it ceased running in the 1970s.

I may have ridden it once as a child of about seven with my father, but we may have made our trip to Brighton on an ordinary train.

Having travelled to Brighton many times, the route could probably sustain a higher quality service than it currently gets.

Currently, there are three services on the route.

  • Thameslink, that when complete will go via Gatwick, East Croydon and London Bridge to all points North of the River.
  • Southern to Victoria, that will go via Gatwick Airport, East Croydon and Clapham Junction.
  • Gatwick Express to Gatwick and Victoria.

All are operated by the same franchise, Govia Thameslink Railway.

In my view, this is part of the commuting problem to the South Coast and especially Brighton.

There are no paths for a high-class operator on the route between either Victoria or London Bridge and Gatwick, but I think that better use could be made of the current services to increase capacity and the quality of the trains.

So I believe that as it was after the initial privatisation, Gatwick Express should become a separate franchise.

In its simnplest reincarnation, it would offer a high-class operator between Vicrtoria, Gatwick and Brighton, perhaps calling at Three Bridges and/or Horsham, just as did the original Brighton Belle called at Horsham.

But I’ve believed for some time that with the electrification of the Great Western Railway, that a service between Reading and Gatwick, should come under the control of Gatwick Express.

Consider.

  • A network of upmarket Gatwick Express services could be developed centred on Gatwick.
  • A Class 387 train, running from Reading to Gatwick would do the journey faster than using Crossrail/Thameslink, without all the problems of even a simple change.
  • A Gatwick to Ebbsfleet or Ashford service would be possible.
  • Gatwick could have Gatwick Express services to Luton Airport using Thameslink via London Bridge and St. Pancras.
  • The current services to Victoria and Brighton would continue.
  • It would have dedicated platforms at Brighton, Gatwick, Victoria and possibly Reading.

Properly structured it could be a mix of high-class Airport and commuter services.

  • It must have nothing to do with Govia Thameslink Railway.
  • The Class 387 trains are probably good enough for the franchise.
  • Something like a Chiltern-style Class system might be best.
  • Surely, modern technology should be able to create a decent buffet car.
  • Ticketing would be as now and must include contactless bank card and Oyster.
  • If it wants to extend services to Eastbourne, Portsmouth and Southampton, it should be taken seriously.

I’m certain, a bright marketing man would come up with an iconic name for the service.

The only problem would be that Govia Thameslink Railway would object like mad, but in some ways they’ve brought it on themselves.

Only Twelve-Car Trains Through The Central Tunnel

It is essential that to maximise capacity of the line, that in the most restricted section through the central tunnel, that all trains through the tunnel are twelve-car trains.

So this would mean that Sutton Loop Line services would have to terminate at Blackfriars station, as was originally intended until MPs intervened.

In the Wikpedia entry for The Sutton Loop Line, this is said.

Recent proposals were to increase the frequency of the Thameslink service but terminate at Blackfriars. This would allow the trains through the core section to be replaced with longer trains which could not use the loop, but this has not proceeded due to objections from loop passengers about the withdrawal of their through service.

It might be difficult to bring in now, due to the layout of Blackfriars station. This means that passengers going South will need to Cross under the lines to get to the bay platforms on the other side of the station.

It should be noted, that under the latest plans, passengers coming South on Thameslink and wanting to go to Sevenoaks, will have to negotiate this down and up at Blackfriars. It will be easier, if they are on the Midland branch, as they could get any of the four Sutton Loop Line trains and change at Elephant and Castle. But those passengers on the East Coast branch have only the 2 tph Maidstone East service that goes through Elephant and Castle.

Sufficient Trains On Each Section Of Thameslink

If you look at the current proposed timetable in All Change On Thameslink, you can summarise  each section as follows.

  • Bedford to St. Pancras – 16 trains per hour (tph)
  • Bedford to Luton – 8 tph
  • Luton to St. Albans – 10 tph
  • St. Albans to Kentish Town – 14 tph
  • Kentish Town to St. Pancras – 16 tph
  • Peterborough/Cambridge to St. Pancras – 6 tph
  • Peterborough to Hitchin – 2 tph
  • Cambridge to Hitchin – 4 tph
  • Hitchin to St. Pancras – 6 tph
  • St. Pancras to Blackfriars – 22 tph
  • Blackfriars To Elephant and Castle – 8 tph
  • Elephant and Castle to Sutton Loop – 4 tph
  • Elephant and Castle to Swanley- 4 tph
  • Swanley  to Maidstone East- 2 tph
  • Swanley  to Sevenoaks – 2 tph
  • Blackfriars to London Bridge  16 tph
  • London Bridge to Orpington – 2 tph
  • London Bridge to Rainham via Greenwich and Dartford – 2 tph
  • London Bridge to East Croydon- 12 tph
  • East Croydon to Gatwick – 10 tph
  • Gatwick to Brighton – 4 tph
  • Gatwick to Horsham – 2 tph
  • Gatwick to Littlehampton – 2 tph

My numbers are probably not totally correct, but it does show there are reasonable frequencies everywhere.

Note.

  • Rainham to Luton via Dartford, Greenwich and London Bridge looks a service for an area of South East London that needs development.
  • Rainham to Luton calls at Abbey Wood for Crossrail, so it also is a valuable extension to Crossrail services at Abbey Wood.
  • Swanley  seems to be developing into an interchange for services to Kent, with four tph to Blackfriars and two tph to each of Maidstone East and Sevenoaks.
  • Gatwick gets a frequency of 10 tph to London on Thameslink.
  • There are 8 tph between Gatwick and Luton airports.

These frequencies have changed from those given in Wikipedia

The Effect Of The Northern City Line

The original service plan for Thameslink to the North of London, showed the following.

  •  4 tph to Bedford
  • 2 tph to Peterborough
  • 4 tph to Cambridge

In total sixteen sixteen services were planned go up the Midland Main Line and eight up the East Coast Main Line and the Cambridge Branch.

But as I showed in All Change on Thameslink, it is now planned to be.

  • 8 tph to Bedford
  • 2 tph to Peterborough
  • 4 tph to Cambridge

The service to Finsbury Park and Welwyn Gsrden City has also disappeared, so although the total number of services on the Midland Main Line remains the same, the number of services on the East Coast Main Line has dropped to six.

Could this be because the Northern City and the Hertford Loop Lines are going to be given an increased role in providing services, when the new Class 717 trains arrive in a couple of years?

It certainly looks as if Govia Thameslink Railway could be organising their services out of Kings Cross and Moorgate to augment the Thameslink services.

It looks like the following is happening.

  • Short distance services up to about Hitchin and Letchworth Garden City are being served by trains from Kings Cross and Moorgate.
  • The increase in the number and quality of the Class 717 trains is being used to provide an improved local service.
  • Trains from Thameslink and Great Northern will provide the bulk of the long distance commuter services to Cambridge and Peterborough.
  • GTR have also said that their Class 387 trains, will be working between Kings Cross, Cambridge, Peterborough and Kings Lynn.

I don’t think anybody will be complaining.

Embracing The East London Line

If you were going from say Gatwick Airport to Hatfield, when Thameslink is fully open in a few years time, you would probably get one of the direct trains, which will run at a frequency of 4 tph.

But rail enthusiasts and masochists might travel by this route.

  • Gatwick Airport to East Croydon on Thameslink or Southern.
  • East Croydon to Norwood Junction on Southern
  • Norwood Junction to Highbury and Islington on the East London Line
  • Highbury and Islington to Finsbury Park on the Northern City Line
  • Finsbury Park to Hatfield on Great Northern or Thameslink.

I know it’s rather convoluted, but it does show how the East London Line is an important cross-London route, with strong links to railways controlled by Govia Thameslink Railway.

It is well-connected at the North, but connections at the South to Southern and Thameslink at the important station of East Croydon are woeful.

Thameslink must embrace the East London Line fully, just as it is embracing the Northern City Line.

Swanley Station

Swanley station could prove to be an important station for Thameslink.

Currently services call at the station are as follows.

  • 4tph to London Victoria via Bromley South
  • 2tph to West Hampstead Thameslink via Catford
  • 2tph to Sevenoaks via Bat & Ball
  • 1tph to Ashford International via Maidstone East
  • 1tph to Canterbury West via Maidstone East
  • 1tph to Dover Priory via Chatham

But if the current plans for Thameslink are fulfilled there will be the following Thamesline services through Swanley.

  • 2 tph – Maidstone East to Cambridge
  • 2 tph – Sevenoaks to Blackfriars

Adding these to the current services gives.

  • 4tph to London Victoria via Bromley South
  • 4tph to Blackfriars via Catford
  • 2tph to Cambridge via Catford and Blackfriars
  • 2tph to Sevenoaks via Bat & Ball
  • 4 tph to Maidstone East

Effectively, Swanley will get a turn-up-and-go 4 tph service to Blackfriars, Maidstone East and Victoria.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the layout of lines at Swanley station.

Swanley Station

Swanley Station

Note.

  • Swanley station has two island platforms.
  • The line going North-East is the Chatham Main Line.
  • The line going South-East is the Maidstone Line, leading to Maidstone East and Sevenoaks stations.
  • At present, the platform arrangement is not one island platform for each direction.

This station could be dramatically improved to be a cross-platform interchange with London-bound and coast-bound services each with their own island platform. If of course, this were to be possible for other operational reasons.

The only passengers who would be inconvenienced, would be those who were travelling between stations on different lines to the East.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • The East London Line having cross-platform interchange vwith Thamesllink.
  • Sortout the dreadful St. Pancras with good interchange between Thameslink and other lines.
  • Gatwick acts as a collector station, where passengers from all over the South change trains to a high-capacity Gatwick to Luton/Bedford shuttle.

Thameslink will be radically different to how it is planned to be today.

 

 

 

September 10, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Exploring The Sutton Loop Line

The Sutton Loop Line is not well known in North London, except as a routing shown on Thameslink train information displays.

This morning, I took the line from Tooting station and after a short stop at Sutton station, I continued on my way back into Central London.

These are some of the pictures that I took.

I think the trip did give me a better understanding of this line in South London.

These points are general.

Step Free Stations

Very few of the stations I passed through had any form of step-free access.

Some were island platforms, which have their advantages, but access up and down a single wide staircase to a road overbridge is so nineteenth century.

Variable Quality Stations

Some stations have had a refurbishment and others haven’t!

A Curious Timetable

Streatham to Sutton via Wimbledon calls at more stations, than the other way via Mitcham Junction and this is reflected in the times, with the shorter route taking fifteen minutes and the longer one thirty-one minutes

The curious timings on the loop, actually mean that from Streatham station northwards or southwards, the trains have an interval of very close to fifteen minutes.

So it would be prudent to check, that you’re always taking the best way to get to your destination station!

These points are specific to stations of sections of the line.

St. George’s Hospital

According to this article in he Local Guardian entitled St George’s Hospital Trust announces support for Tooting Broadway in Crossrail 2 plans, the hospital trust is not happy.

It would be ridiculous to spend the best part of an extra billion pounds on Crossrail 2 to put the line through Tooting Broadway station, rather than Balham station, when that money could probably be spent on a mixture of patient care , better bus links, and a lift or two at the Underground station. The latter will happen anyway, whether Crossrail 2 is built or not!

Could there be a better solution for step-free transport access to St. George’s Hospital?

Look at this Google Map of the hospital in relation to Tooting Broadway station and the Sutton Loop Line to the west of Tooting station.

St. George's Hospital, Tooting Broadway Station And The Sutton Loop Line

St. George’s Hospital, Tooting Broadway Station And The Sutton Loop Line

Tooting Broadway station is at the top right of the map and the Sutton Loop Line  runs across the South West corner of the map.

If a new station were to be built on that line, with full step-free access, it would be closer to the Hospital, than any station on Tooting Broadway. It would also be close to some of the bus stops that serve the hospital.

Haydons Road Station And AFC Wimbledon’s New Stadium

This Google Map shows Haydons Road station and the site of AFC Wimbledon‘s new home at Wimbledon Stadium.

Haydons Road Station And AFC Wimbledon's New Stadium

Haydons Road Station And AFC Wimbledon’s New Stadium

The stadium will be at the old greyhound stadium, which is the two green circles at the top.

The green scar from the stadium site to the east of the station, is the course of the River Wandle. Surely, a riverside walk should be created for supporters walking between the stadium and station.

The map also shows the amount of land wasted in the area by unnecessary cemeteries. How many houses could be built on the land they occupy?

Wimbledon Station

Trains on the Sutton Loop Line always use Platform 9 at Wimbledon station, which gives cross-platform access to Tramlink on Platform 10.

So one train might be going to Sutton and the next to Central London and beyond.

Wimbledon Chase And South Merton Stations

These two stations are shown on this Google Map.

Wimbledon Chase And South Merton Stations

Wimbledon Chase And South Merton Stations

Wimbledon Chase station is at the top left and South Merton station is at the bottom, just tom the left of the middle.

You will notice, I’ve included the main A24 road on the map.

This is because that road could be used for an extension of Tramlink from South Wimbledon to Sutton via St. Helier Hospita;. This map shows that extension.

St Helier Tramlink

St Helier Tramlink

Transport for London and the London Borough of Merton are opening up a lot of possibilities here and I hope that a world-class solution emerges, to link the whole corridor together.

 Morden South And Morden Stations

This Google Map shows the close relationship between Morden South station and Morden station

Morden South And Morden Stations

Morden South And Morden Stations

Their close location and the depot in betwen, has always puzzled me. It is explained in the History section for the Wikipedia entry for Morden station.

It was all down to railway politics, between Southern Railway and the Underground companies.

You just wonder though, if they were sorting out the lines around Wimbledon, that something could be done to make it easy to connect between the two stations.

Hackbridge

I hadn’t heard about Hackbridge, which is a suburb in the London Borough of Sutton.

But there is a Hackbridge Masterplan on Wikipedia. This is the first paragraph.

The London Borough of Sutton is working to make Hackbridge the ‘UK’s first truly sustainable suburb’. There has been a regeneration scheme in Hackbridge which has a number of developments on many sites. These are mentioned as part of the Hackbridge Regeneration. Detailed plans include proposals for new eco-friendly homes, more shops, leisure and community facilities, jobs, sustainable transport and pedestrian/ cycle initiatives, improved networks and open spaces.

It all sounds good to me. This is a Google Map of the area.

Hackbridge

Hackbridge

Note the rail line going up the map with Hackbridge station about a quarter of the way up.At the top of the map, is an icon indicating the BedZed Pavilion.

If they are truly into green transport, it strikes me, that there needs to be another station between Hackbridge and Mitcham Junction, which is the next one to the North. As the Tramlink through Mitcham Junction runs down the eastern side of the site and has a stop at Beddington Lane on the north east corner, I would also feel that there scope for extensions to the through Hackbridge.

The Future Of The Sutton Loop

With all the investment in Thameslink, there is no doubt that the future of the Sutton Loop is secure, but what will it look like in ten or twenty years?

I think it seems to have suffered a lack of imaginative thinking in the past few years, but with Transport for London thinking hard about a new interchange hub at Streatham Common station, that I wrote about in Puzzled Over Streatham Common Station, I think we’ll see some more improvements.

A lot of the stations need to have a refurbishment and proper step-free access.

If this follows the pattern of previous lines in London and elsewhere, I think that after station improvement, this line will need additional services.

As it won’t be possible to get more trains through the core, then this could need for some form of local train or tram-train on the loop. Perhaps these would terminate at perhaps Streatham Common station, which I wrote about in Puzzled Over Streatham Common Station.

If two extra trains each way round the Sutton Loop were to be added, they could be timed to run every fifteen minutes between the existing services. So each station on the loop would get a four trains per hour service both ways.

One possibility would be to do the extra services with tram-trains, which after Streatham Common, went on to Croydon to connect up with the existing Tramlink routes.

As I said earlier trains go through Streatham to and from the loop every fifteen minutes, which would be every 7-8 minutes with the extra trains.

So if say you wanted to go to Central London, if you caught an intermediate train on the loop, you might have to wait 7-8 minutes for a Central London train.

The possibilities are endless.

Obviously, traffic patterns will determine how the line develops, but I predict that there will be a big future for the Sutton Loop.

December 20, 2015 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 3 Comments

Puzzled Over Streatham Common Station

Transport for London’s proposal for the Bakerloo Line Extension comes with a very nice map of the various projects that will be carried out to improve rail services in South London.

Rail Improvements South Of The Thames

Rail Improvements South Of The Thames

It is all good stuff and most is easily explained.

The black boxes are about more general and larger projects, whereas the yellow boxes are comments about specific stations.

The projects; large and small, fit together like a jigsaw. And not a particularly difficult one to understand!

Of the larger projects, the simple extension of the Bakerloo Line to Lewisham station via two new stations and New Cross Gate station is a masterstroke.

  • It provides a thirty trains per hour rail link through the Old Kent Road Opportunity Area.
  • It gives all those living on the East London Line, as I do, a much needed connection to the Bakerloo Line.
  • Coupled with an upgraded Lewisham station, it gives South East London access to the Underground.
  • The project can be opened without an expensive set of new trains.
  • New Cross Gate and Lewisham stations have space for construction.
  • The extension can be built with minimal closure of the Bakerloo Line.
  • The project is almost a repeat of the Northern Line Extension.
  • No-one’s current train service will be discontinued.
  • There is no replacing heavy rail with smaller Underground trains.
  • If in the future, the line needs to be extended, this will be no problem, if Lewisham station is designed correctely.

The only negative, is that the plan doesn’t provide a much-needed rail link in Camberwell.

But Transport for London have done there research and have concluded that reopening the disused Camberwell station on Thameslink could be a worthwhile alternative.

The TfL report gives this concise summary.

A new station at Camberwell would be a significantly lower cost option to a Tube extension, whilst serving the same catchment area. Investigations show significant journey time improvements could accrue to Camberwell passengers and that operationally there may be scope to integrate re-opening of the station into the launch of the completed Thameslink programme.

We will therefore undertake further planning work with Network Rail and the London Borough of Southwark to assess the proposal. 

It is a second masterstroke.

Camberwell station will probably get a similar service to Loughborough Junction station. I’m not sure what it will be, but something like four eight-car trains an hour both ways. In around fifteen minutes, passengers could be at.

  • Balham for the Northern Line and Crossrail 2
  • Elephant and Castle for the Bakerloo and Northern Lines
  • Blackfriars for the Circle and District Lines
  • Farringdon for Crossrail and the Metropolitan Line.
  • Kings Cross St Pancras for main line services and the Victoria Line.

Camberwell station could easily be double-ended, with entrances on both sides of Camberwell New Road.

Camberwell would get at least a high-capacity four trains per hour service to virtually everywhere, with just a single change.

And this could be delivered by 2020, if they get the turbo-charged engineering skates out.

On the South London map, there are some other stations mentioned.

  •  Brockley – Potential new interchange hub
  • East Croydon – Extra platforms & grade separation
  • Lewisham – Upgraded major hub for SE London
  • Streatham Common – Potential new interchange hub
  • Wimbledon – Crossrail 2 upgrade

All of these station upgrades are understandable, with the exception of Streatham Common station.

I can only believe that Transport for London have a cunning plan for this station and the tangle of lines to its North.

Streatham Common Station And The Tangle Of Lines

Streatham Common Station And The Tangle Of Lines

So what would an interchange hub be like?

In the simplest design, two platforms would be built across the lines through Streatham Common station alongside the Sutton Loop Line. They would be connected to extended platforms from the existing station, by stairs and lifts.

I think there would be space to build some bay platforms into the station, so that Streatham Common station could be used as a terminus.

This schematic of the rail lines is from carto.metro.free.fr

Lines At Streatham

Lines At Streatham

Note how there are very few rail lines, south of Streatham towards Mitcham Eastfields station. Wikpedia says this about the station.

The station is located at Eastfields Road level crossing, in an area previously poorly served by public transport. The nearest station was Mitcham Junction, which along with Mitcham tram stop, was over 1 mile (1.6 km) from the district.

I wrote about the station in Mitcham Eastfields Station.

The lines that currently go or could go through the Dtreatham stations are set out in the following sections.

The Sutton Loop Line Of Thameslink

Streatham station is the last station on Thameslink before the Sutton Loop starts and finishes. Stations on the Sutton Loop include.

The fourteen stations have the following service.

  • Currently, there are two trains per hour in each direction on the loop.
  • Only Mitchan Junction and Wimbledon have connecions to Tramlink.
  • I think Streatham to Streatham takes about forty-five minutes of travelling time.
  • These trains eventually terminate and come back at St. Albans or Luton in the Peak.
  • When the ongoing Thameslink Programme is finished, there will be two eight-car Class 700 trains in each direction every hour.

When the Thameslink Programme was planned, Network Rail intended to terminate these services at Blackfriars.

Residents and their politicians objected! Wikipedia says this.

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

I think this illustrates a certain sensitivity about train services in the area. Do they think that other places like Balham, Croydon and Wimbledon, get all the goodies?

So we have four trains an hour through the core section of Thameslink going on the Sutton Loop.

Although, this shouldn’t affect the services on the loop, could this cause problems for passengers on the trains through Wimbledon and Sutton, as long-distance trains are being used for short local journeys.

For example, you might have mothers with buggies taking babies and children to nurseries and schools, mixed up with commuters, who want to go north of the Thames.

A simple solution would be to have more trains going round the loop, so that instead of just two trains per hour each way, there were perhaps four or even more.

But where would they come from?

They could come a long way from somewhere like Orpington or Cannon Street, which would mean finding paths all over South East London and perhaps beyond.

Or perhaps they could just do the loop and start and finish at either Streatham or an expanded Streatham Common.

As Streatham is just a two platform station, with little space to expand, a bay platform in Streatham Common might be one solution.

Possible Reason for an expanded Streatham Common station – The station could be the terminus of a two train per hour local service around the Sutton Loop.

The Brighton Main Line

The Brighton Main Line goes from Victoria to East Croydon with fast trains generally only stopping at Clapham Junction station en route. However services pass through several important stations like Balham and Streatham Common without stopping.

Could there be advantages in stopping some of these services at an upgraded Streatham Common?

I don’t know under normal circumstances, but there may be good operational reasons for services to be able to call at Streatham Common station.

Possible Reason for an expanded Streatham Common station – The station could be a valuable interchange between Brighton Main Line and other services.

Tramlink

Although Tramlink doesn’t go anywhere near Streatham at present, it does have a main route, south of the area.

There is also a distinct lack of rail services in the area between Streatham and Mitcham, which led to the building of Micham Eastfields station.

In Wikipedia, it says that extensions to the Tramlink have been proposed North and South of Croydon. This is said about North of Croydon.

To the north of Croydon, it is proposed to use a highway alignment based on London Road. To the south of Thornton Heath Pond, the use of a shared carriageway is a possibility. North of this point the road becomes the A23 again, but there are likely to be some opportunities for trambaan type segregation to Norbury and between Norbury and Streatham, although Norbury is a pinch point. The proposal is to terminate the line at Streatham railway station, providing an interchange to the extended East London Line

Possible Reason for an expanded Streatham Common station – The station could be a destination for Tramlink.

Tram-Trains

In areas of Germany, where there are both trains and trams, the Germans are getting very enthusiastic about tram-trains which can run on both networks.

If tram-trains, were to be used on a possible Tramlink Extension to Streatham, they could join the railway at a convenient station, like Norbury or Streatham Common and become trains to go round the Sutton Loop.

Possible Reason for an expanded Streatham Common station – Tram-trains on Tramlink.

The East London Line

I use the East London Line a lot and it has the problem of success.

Trains have grown from three to five cars and some recent trips from Denmark Hill to Dalston Junction have shown, that at times standing is common.

Increased frequencies in 2018/2019, will ease the problems, but would another terminus in South London be a good idea for the East London Line?

The capacity of the core section of the East London Line is twenty-four trains per hour, so even from 2018/2019, there are four more paths available.

So could we see some services going to Streatham Common station perhaps via Peckham Rye, Tulse Hill and Streatham?

A factor that might apply here, is can Platform 1 at Clapham Junction cope with enough trains from Dalston Junction?

Possible Reason for an expanded Streatham Common station – A terminus for a branch of the East London Line.

The West London Line

Southern’s hourly service between South Croydon and Milton Keynes calls at Streatham Common station.

London Overground has a service of around four trains per hour on the West London Line between Clapham Junction and Willesden Junction, which Southern’s service augments for part of the route.

But there are problems with the West London Line.

  • There are some extended service intervals at times.
  • The Southern service doesn’t call at Willesden Junction.
  • West London Line services call at different platforms at Clapham Junction.
  • As with the East London Line, could platform space at Clapham Junction be a problem for the West London Line of the Overground

Unlike the East London Line, the West London Line is not a turn-up-and-go service.

So could there be advantages to use Streatham Common station, as a southern terminus for services through the West London Line?

Possible Reason for an expanded Streatham Common station – A terminus for the West London Line.

HS2

When HS2 opens in 2026, getting to Euston station will not be easy, as it is unlikely that Crossrail 2 will have been started, let alone up and running.

Passengers will need to get to a Northern or Victoria Line station and have a deep and possibly tedious journey across Central London.

Thameslink will be of use to some, but there will be a walk or a short-but-difficult tube journey between St. Pancras and Euston.

But HS2 will stop at Old Oak Common station on the North London Line. If the West London and East London Lines were to be extended to Streatham Common station, either could be a good alternative route to HS2 and the West Coast Main Line.

I estimate that Streatham Common to Old Oak Common will take thirty three minutes, compared to Morden to Euston on the Northern Line, which can take forty-one minutes.

Possible Reason for an expanded Streatham Common station – The station could be an important hub, collecting passengers for HS2 and the West Coast Main Line

Crossrail 2

Crossrail 2 is not planned to call at Streatham Common station, although it might go underneath in its route from Balham to Wimbledon.

Even so, I suspect that an expanded Streatham Common station will be to the advantage of Crossrail 2.

As I said earlier the station can help improve services on the Sutton Loop, which would have effects.

  • Bring more passengers to Wimbledon for Crossrail 2.
  • If extra stations were added to the Sutton Loop, these could help solve the Tooting Broadway/Balham wars.
  • Could a new station be built at St. George’s Hospital, between Tooting and Haydons Road stations?

But the biggest benefit would be that Streatham Common station, would be an alternative hub, for those wanting to avoid Wimbledon during the building of Crossrail 2.

Possible Reason for an expanded Streatham Common station – Crossrail 2

East Croydon

When East Croydon station is being extended or the grade separation at Windmill Bridge Junction is being built, surely a well-connected interchange at Streatham Common, could be an asset towards helping to maintain a service.

Even under normal circumstances with a decent tram and train connection to Croydon, Streatham Common station may take the pressure off public transport in Croydon.

Possible Reason for an expanded Streatham Common station – Alternative routes for Croydon

Conclusions

Build a Streatham Common interchange hub!

It is just a pity that Crossrail 2 can’t have a station at Streatham Common.

Is the Streatham Common interchange hub, a third masterstroke?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

December 19, 2015 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | 4 Comments

A Report On The Bakerloo Line Extension

Transport for London, have released a report on the Bakerloo Line Extension that they call the Option Selection Summary Report.

It is one of those worthy documents, you get from analysing the data from consultations.

But it is full of several nuggets, which although not directly associated with the Bakerloo Line could be very important for passengers coming from or venturing to South London.

They have also provided this helpful map, which lays out possible actions and improvements.

Rail Improvements South Of The Thames

Rail Improvements South Of The Thames

I hope that the boxes can be read.

I shall deal with the various boxes in separate sections, going in a vaguely East to West direction. I will leave out the Crosrail 2 related topics for the moment.

Bakerloo Line Extension

The summary on the map says thirty trains per hour (tph) into Central London, releasing peak capacity on South Eastern. They describe the extension like this in the Executive Summary of the report.

Following the 2014 consultation, we have conducted a comprehensive assessment of the consulted route options alongside alternatives suggested by respondents and stakeholders. The work has concluded that an extension to Lewisham via the Old Kent Road is currently the best option as a first phase, as the route would serve the Old Kent Road Opportunity Area and support significant numbers of new homes and jobs for London. This would include a major new interchange at Lewisham. It is estimated that the selected corridor could enable over 25,000 new homes by serving Opportunity Areas and regeneration areas along its length.

From the map, the route of the extended Bakerloo Line, would be a simple one from the current terminus at Elephant and Castle station to Lewisham station, via two new stations in the Old Kent Road and an interchange at New Cross Gate station with the London Overground and main line services from London Bridge.

These are various highlighted points from the report.

  • Assessment of the alternative route options suggested during the 2014 public consultation has demonstrated that the options towards Lewisham remain the most effective for addressing the challenges in south east London.
  • An extension should serve Lewisham station due to the new homes that could be unlocked in growth areas along its route, and the wider transport connectivity and access improvements it would provide. 4.2.1. Our assessment work has found that although shor
  • We currently recommend a route to Lewisham via Old Kent Road for further development as part of an initial phase for an extension. We have found that this option has the greatest potential to unlock new homes to support London’s growth and significantly improve transport provision in south east London.
  • An extension via Old Kent Road would provide a step-change in the capacity, connectivity, accessibility and speed of travel for residents.
  • By improving transport and unlocking new homes and jobs growth, the economic benefits of the Old Kent Road option are higher than the route via Camberwell and Peckham Rye. The latter option is estimated to be more expensive to deliver and has a lower potential of obtaining funding.
  • Delivering a major transport infrastructure project is a challenging and often risky process. By integrating planning with the Opportunity Area development, the proposed route via the Old Kent Road offers the best prospect of successful delivery.
  • An initial extension to Lewisham could form part of a wider package of complementary rail improvements across south and south east London, providing improved journeys via Tube and rail connections.

The report doesn’t rule out extensions beyond Lewisham. This is said.

The assessment shows there could be significant additional benefits from an extension beyond Lewisham and therefore it has not been ruled out at this stage, with further work required to develop the deliverability and case further.

Under Next Steps, this is said.

We will focus developing plans for the first phase of an extension to Lewisham via the Old Kent Road, with further public consultation anticipated in 2016.

TfL’s proposals for the Bakerloo Line Extension would appear to be simple and deliverable at an acceptable cost to give the greatest benefit to South East London.

It should also not be the most difficult line to build, as it is only three stations, with it would appear plenty of green space and cleared sites on the surface for access.

It would almost be a repeat of the Northern Line Extension, except that it is shorter.

For people like me living on the East London Line, the interchange to the Bakerloo Line at New Cross Gate will be very much welcomed, as it improves connectivity to that difficult-to-access area between Piccadilly Circus and Elephant and Castle. Try getting from Dalston to Charing Cross in the rush hour!

I think the biggest problem of this short extension, is going to be that even at an increased frequency of 30 tph, it will quickly get close to capacity.

Lewisham Station

The map also labels Lewisham station with a box saying upgraded major hub for SE London.

This Google Map shows Lewisham station.

Lewisham Station

Lewisham Station

I think that there would appear space for improvements and digging the shafts for the creation of the Bakerloo Line Extension.

South Eastern Improvements

The summary on the map says explore potential for further service upgrades to further improve journeys, including access to Tube at Lewisham.

Some stations have been upgraded to a modern standard, but many still don’t have the fscilities that passengers expect these days.

Nothing is said about TfL’s long term ambition to take over the Metro services of Southeastern.

South Central Improvements

The summary on the map says consider increased services through major station upgrades, new interchanges and new trains.

I could repeat what I said in the previous section for South Eastern Improvements.

New Trains

This is very much a general point about new trains.

London’s latest train fleets are increasingly becoming walk-through from one end to the other.

Passengers are also getting very savvy in their train usage and often board a train in a coach, that will be close to their exit at the destination.

And if they get on at the wrong point, they will often walk to their desired exit position, before the train stops.

So could this be used to advantage in the design of stations, with more perhaps having multiple exit points, as do some Crossrail stations?

Brockley Station

The map also labels Brockley station with a box saying potential new interchange hub.

This Google Map shows Brockley  station.

Brockley Station

Brockley Station

The Bexleyheath Line between Nunhead and Lewisham stations crosses the East London Line and Brockley station at a high level.

I wrote A Four-Poster Station about connecting these two lines.

It would appear that Transport for London have advanced this project from one word in their 2050 Infrastructure Plan to a proposal.

This is the sort of connectivity, that us plebs in Dalston will like a lot. From 2018, as I wrote in Increased Frequencies on the East London Line, there will be ten services per hour between Dalston Junction and Brockley stations and one change at Brockley, will open up many transport opportunities.

East Croydon Station

The map also labels East Croydon station with a box saying extra platforms & grade separation.

This Google Map shows East Croydon station.

East Croydon Station

East Croydon Station

The station is towards the bottom of the map and the semi-circular shape at the top is Selhurst Depot.

There is a large section labelled Future in the station’s Wikipedia entry and given the legendary congestion and the large expansion plans for Croydon, I think it is highly likely that expansion of the station and grade separation will go ahead even if the Bakerloo Line Extension doesn’t!

Camberwell Station

The map also labels the now-disused Camberwell station with a box saying potential new Thameslink station. The TfL report says this.

Similarly, we are working with Southwark Council to look into the re-opening Camberwell station on the Thameslink line to improve access into Central London and support local development.

This Google Map shows the area around the disused station.

Camberwell Station

Camberwell Station

Camberwell station used to be where Camberwell New Road crosses under the railway.

The TfL report makes these points.

  • Camberwell has no direct rail connection.
  • A two-branch extension of the Bakerloo Line; Old Kent Road and Camberwell, will be very costly.
  • A Thameslink station at Camberwell, would serve the same area as an Underground station and is a much more affordable option.

The TfL report gives this concise summary.

A new station at Camberwell would be a significantly lower cost option to a Tube extension, whilst serving the same catchment area. Investigations show significant journey time improvements could accrue to Camberwell passengers and that operationally there may be scope to integrate re-opening of the station into the launch of the completed Thameslink programme.

We will therefore undertake further planning work with Network Rail and the London Borough of Southwark to assess the proposal. 

I would be very surprised if the Bakerloo Line Extension calls at Camberwell.

I would also suspect that being able to open a new Ca,berwell station, at the same time as Thameslink, would be very easy to justify on a costs basis.

Streathham Common Station

The map also labels Streatham Common station with a box saying potential new interchange hub.

This Google Map shows Streatham Common station.

Streatham Common Station

Streatham Common Station

Wikipedia introduces Streatham Common station with these words.

The station is managed by Southern who also operate trains from the station. Direct trains from the station run to Victoria, London Bridge, East Croydon, Shepherds Bush, and Milton Keynes Central. Southern consider the station to be the 6th busiest station on their 158 station network as it receives 12,932 passenger journeys a day, totalling 4,655,520 per year. The Office of Rail and Road figures are lower at 3,827,296.

The station has four platforms, but only platforms 1 and 2 are in daily use; platforms 3 and 4 are normally for passing Express trains, but they are occasionally used during engineering work or major disruption. Step free access to both platforms and both station entrances is available.

Just to the North of the station, is the Sutton Loop Line of Thameslink and I suspect that Streatham Common is mentioned in TfL’s report, is that they have a cunning plan to link the various lines in the area together.

To try to get a better feel of the area, I took a train to Streatham Common station, walked to Streatham station and then took a train to Micham Junction, which travelled across Streatham Common station. I took these pictures.

My walk showed me how complicated the lines are in the area and that is emplasised by this Google Map of the junction.

A Tangle Of Lines

A Tangle Of Lines

I do wonder if there are operational problems in Streatham, that perhaps necessitate a bit of a sort out.

It’s also not an easy walk between Streatham and Streatham Common stations because there is a massive Tesco Extra blocking the walking routes. It certainly follows Tesco’s tradition of trying to create some of the ugliest buildings in the UK.

My other thought, is that the space around the railway lines is quite generous and are Network Rail looking to create some more housing around the junction.

I think that any plans that Network Rail have for Streatham will be revealed in due course.

Conclusion

I think Network Rail, Transport for London and others have decided to bundle a lot of smaller projects under the umbrella of the Bakerloo Line Extension, with the intention of getting value-for-money, that delivers a lot of improvement in an ordered manner in a short timescale, all over South London.

It could be described as the following.

  • One large billion pound project to create the actual Bakerloo Line Extension.
  • One large project, possibly with a property developer, to sort out East Croydon station.
  • Three mid-sized projects to create the Brockley and Streatham Common interchanges and Camberwell station.
  • A lot of small projects to create quality stations all over South London.
  • Some new trains as required.

So there would be something for everybody. Even the man on the Clapham omnibus!

But who knows?

 

 

 

 

 

 

December 18, 2015 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , | 3 Comments