The Anonymous Widower

Should Some Thameslink Routes Be Transferred To Transport for London?

Some commentators and politicians advocate the transfer of some Thameslink services to Transport for London (TfL).

Thameslink has been designed as a single solution to multiple needs, with too much input from politicians worried about losing elections.

Split Fleets And Franchises

If you look at Greater Anglia, Great Western Railway and South Western Railway, who have a similar mix of services as do Thameslink, they have opted for split fleets with short-medium and long distance trains,designed for their tasks.

In the North of England, the short-medium routes are run by Northern and the long distance routes by TransPennine.

Transport for Wales has now split their fleet into three; South Wales Metro, North Wales Metro and long distance.

The Consequences Of Thameslink’s Single Fleet

Services with different needs are using one fleet of Class 700 trains.

Effectively, Thameslink are using a train more suitable for services between St. Albans and Wimbledon stations, on long distance services between Bedford, Cambridge and Peterborough, and destinations along the South Coast.

Going between Brighton and Cambridge stations on an ironing-board seat is not a pleasant experience, as I noted in Observations On Thameslink Between Brighton And Cambridge.

I believe that Thameslink could be split into two; short-medium and long distance routes.

Short-Medium Thameslink Routes

Currently of the twenty-four services planned in the Provisional Timetable, just four are short medium services that run all day.

If we apply the London Overground principle of four tph stopping at all stations, then the Sutton Loop services, are already working  to a version of this principle.

Could other services work to the Overground principle?

East Coast Main Line

On the East Coast Main Line, a terminal to the North of Welwyn Garden City station is probably impossible, due to the limited capacity of the Digswell Viaduct.

Welwyn Garden City also has a flyover, so that four tph services to London can reverse in a single platform.

Welwyn Garden City with small modifications should be able to handle four tph on both Moorgate and Thameslink services.

Hertford Loop Line

The Hertford Loop Line services have or could have excellent cross-platform interchanges with Thameslink services at Finsbury Park and Alexandra Palace stations, although they could be improved.

The weak interchange is coming South at Alexandra Palace, which means using a bridge, but it is easy to use Finsbury Park instead.

The Hertford Loop Line also gives access to three terminal stations; Gordon Hill, Hertford North and Stevenage, which could handle four tph.

So could we see Thameslink services using the route?

It would probably need some new six-car trains, which could be shortened from Thameslink’s dreadful Class 700 trains.

Finsbury Park Station

These pictures were taken at Finsbury Park station.

Could a bay platform for Thameslink services by added here?

I suspect that one could, but would it be worthwhile?

Midland Main Line

On the Midland Main Line, in addition to St.Albans City, currently, short-medium distance services terminate at Kentish Town and Luton.

It is a pity, that the Midland Main Line doesn’t have a handy branch!

A Balanced Northern Service

I think for balance that both Northern branches will take an equal number of short-medium distance trains. Perhaps, four tph to two destinations on each branch.

I might choose.

  • St. Albans City on the Midland Main Line.
  • Luton on the Midland Main Line.
  • Welwyn Garden City on the East Coast Main Line.
  • Stevenage on the East Coast Main Line via the Hertford Loop.

All services would be four tph.

Southern Destinations

In the South, there are several stations, that could handle four tph.

Traffic will determine which, but I like the claims of Dartford, East Croydon, Orpington and Sutton on the Wimbledon Loop.

Transfer To London Overground

These short-medium distance routes should be transferred to the London Overground.

It should be noted how if the Moorgate services are also transferred to the London Overground, as I outlined in Should The Moorgate Lines Be Transferred To Transport for London?, then the following frequencies would apply.

  • 8 tph – Alexandra Palace to Welwyn Garden City
  • 12 tph – Alexandra Palace to Gordon Hill
  • 8 tph – Gordon Hill to Hertford North
  • 4 tph – Hertford North to Stevenage.

There would be 20 tph between Finsbury Park and Alexandra Palace.

With ETCS, I don’t think that last frequency would be unrealistic, as there are two separate lines in each direction between the two stations.

Long Thameslink Routes

Class 700 Trains

These are currently, a disaster for passengers, as travelling between say Brighton and Cambridge in the dreadful Class 700 trains, is possibly the worst train journey in the UK in new train. In some ways Pacers are better!

This article in the Express is entitled ‘One Is Not Amused’ The Queen Is Not Happy With Changes To Trains, Claims Rail Boss.

If the Royal Posterior finds them hard in First Class, the seats must be dreadful there too!

But it’s not just the passengers who don’t like them.

I came back to London recently with a group of East Midlands Trains drivers. Their professional view of the Class 700 trains, is that they are not fast enough with an operating speed of 100 mph, as against the 125 mph of the trains run by East Midlands Trains.

It should be noted that on the East and West Coast Main Lines, the semi-fast medium-distance services are generally run by 110 mph trains.

So I feel very strongly, that the Class 700 trains are not only bad from the customers point-of-view, but totally unsuitable to run services on the Midland and East Coast Main Lines, where all other trains can cruise happily at 125 mph.

They must be assigned to more suitable duties!

The Routes

Get some new trains on these routes designed by people with sense and style and the routes would be transformed.

I also think, that the destinations served South of the Thames should be simplified. Thameslink is trying to serve too main destinations in the South, compared to the North, where long distance routes only serve Bedford, Cambridge, Peterborough and the intermediate stations.

Perhaps, there should be more services linking from all along the South Coast to an improved rail station at Gatwick Airport.

An Airport Route

I have travelled to and from Gatwick Airport several times, since Thameslink reopened through London Bridge a few months ago.

Outside of the Peak, these trains may be busy between London Bridge and Gatwick stations, but in the Central Core, passengers are fairly thin on the uncomfortable seats.

Luton Airport have been campaigning for more services and I suspect Gatwick would like more too.

So why not run a four tph service between the two airports, using well-designed airport trains?

An Increased Frequency Through The Core

Thameslink is currently planning twenty-four tph through the core tunnel, but there are statements that thirty tph could be handled.

The destinations to handle the extra trains exist in the South, especially, if routes out of London Bridge are replaced by Thameslink services, but accommodating more services on the East Coast and Midland Main Lines could be tricky.

Conclusion

I believe it is possible to split Thameslink into two sections.

Long distance services with new trains would stay with National Rail, but short-medium services would go to the London Overground and probably be run by six and eight-car versions of the existing trains.

 

July 15, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | 2 Comments

From Farringdon To Tottenham Court Road Station

After photographing the artwork at the new Barbican entrance to Farringdon station, I went to the current station entrance with the aim of getting to Tottenham Court Road station.

Obviously, when Crossrail opens, this will be a single-station hop on Crossrail, but there is no obvious quick way as present.

So out of curiosity, I asked one of the station staff, what is the recommended route.

She said, that the easiest way is to walk to Chancery Lane station and take the Central Line.

I also asked her why Thameslink, which is so much part of Farringdon station and will be such an important route at the station after Crossrail opens.

She said, but that’s National Rail.

So I walked to Chancery Lane.

It was a very hot day and uphill. But I made it without difficulty.

Crossrail will certainly make my journey easier, but I can’t help feeling that some journeys from Farringdon are better done using Thameslink.

Consider the following journeys.

Farringdon To London Bridge

Currently, I would do this journey using Thameslink, but what will Transport for London want us to do?

  • Use Crossrail to Moorgate and get the Northern Line.
  • Use Crossrail to Bond Street and get the Jubilee Line.
  • Use Crossrail to Whitechapel and get the Jubilee Line.

I shall still use Thameslink.

Farringdon To Victoria

Currently, I would do this journey using Thameslink to Blackfriars and then get the Circle or |District Lines.

I suspect that Transport for London would recommend one of these.

  • Use the Circle Line all the way. Easy but long.
  • Go to Kings Cross on the Circle or Metropolitan Lines and get the Victoria. Not the easiest with a heavy case.

I shall continue to use Thameslink.

The New Museum Of London

The new Museum of London will be built close to Farringdon station.

I think, it will end up as one of London’s top museums.

But is it easy to get to the British Museum, National Gallery,Tate Modern and all those other museums in South Kensington.

The British Museum will be just a stop on Crossrail, when that opens, but for the others Thameslink will play a part.

For these routes and other reasons, Thameslink must be on the Tube Map.

July 8, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

The East London Line In 2030

The East London Line was opened in May 2010 using pieces of redundant infrastructure in the East of London.

Modern additions were added.

A new fleet of Class 378 trains were purchased and services began between two Northern and four Southern destinations, at a frequency of four trains per hour (tph).

Looking back just over eight years later, the line has been an overwhelming success.

East London Line Capacity

The proof of this success surely is shown in the increasing capacity of the line since 2010.

The Class 378 trains have got longer.

  • In 2010, they started at just three cars.
  • They were soon extended to four cars.
  • In 2016, all trains became five cars.

The trains could go to six cars, but there are platform length issues, that make five cars the current limit.

On the other hand, selective door opening could be used, which works so well with walk-through trains.

Now, Transport for London are going to increase frequencies on the line.

  • In 2018, an additional two tph will run between Dalston Junction and Crystal Palace stations.
  • In 2019, an additional two tph will run between Dalston Junction and Clapham Junction stations.

This would give twenty tph between Dalston Junction and Surrey Quays stations.

Given that Crossrail and Thameslink will handle twenty-four tph in their central tunnels, I suspect that to have the same frequency on the East London Line would not be impossible.

Developments That Will Happen

These developments will happen, that will affect the East London Line.

Crossrail

The Whitechapel station interchange with Crossrail will become the Jewel in the East, as it will give access to Canary Wharf, the West End, Stratford, Liverpool Street, Paddington and Heathrow to all those (like me!), who live along the East London Line.

As both lines will have train frequencies of at least twenty tph, you should never wait more than a few minutes for your train.

I can see, the number of passengers changing between Crossrail and the East London Line being very high.

  • For many travellers it will be their quickest way to Crossrail.
  • The Class 378 trains are more passenger-friendly than Thameslink’s Class 700 trains, which are best avoided, by those with sensitive posteriors.
  • Whitechapel station gives access to both the Eastern branches of Crossrail.
  • All East London Line services call at Whitechapel.

My scheduling experience says that the frequency of trains on Crossrail and the East London Line should be the same, to smooth travellers passage through the station.

So expect Crossrail to eventually push the East London Line to twenty-four tph.

Increased Frequencies On The Underground

The Sub-Surface Lines of the London Underground are being re-signalled, which will mean more capacity, where the District and Metropolitan Lines interchange with the East London Line at Whitechapel station.

There could also be improvements on the Jubilee Line, where it meets the East London Line at Canada Water station.

I doubt we’ll see more improvement to the Victoria Line, as you can only extract blood from a stone for a limited period.

It is also probably true, that Dear Old Vicky needs some relief.

New South Eastern Franchise

The new South Eastern Franchise will be awarded in August 2018, with the new incumbent taking over in December 2018.

The current Southeastern services have little interaction with East London Line services, except at New Cross station, where the following services call.

  • Southeastern – Northbound – Eight tph to Cannon Street via London Bridge.
  • Southeastern – Southbound – Eight tph to Lewisham via St. John’s.
  • Overground – Four tph to and from Dalston Junction.

New Cross is a good interchange for travelling to and from South East London and I suspect the new franchise will only make it more useful.

New Trains On The Northern City Line

The Northern City Line has been ignored for decades and in my view it is a disgrace with elderly Class 313 trains, dirty, dark and dingy stations and unmotivated staff, who seem abandoned by their employers.

If ever there is a line that should join the Overground, it is this one!

At least, the line is getting new Class 717 trains, which will bring the following.

  • Modern trains with wi-fi and hopefully comfortable seats.
  • Increased capacity.
  • Up to twelve tph between Moorgate and Alexandra Palace stations via Highbury & Islington and Finsbury Park stations.
  • More passengers to the East London Line at Highbury & Islington station.
  • A direct cross-platform and step-free link for the Victoria Line to Crossrail.

Planners do not seem to have realised the effects these new trains will cause in North London and at Highbury & Islington station in particular.

North London Line Improvements

In the next few years, there will be improvements on the North London Line.

All these improvements will bring more passengers to the East London Line and put more pressure on Highbury & Islington station.

Property Development Along The East London Line

Only two stations on the East London Line; Dalston Junction and Shoreditch High Street, were designed to have development on top.

Dalston Junction station has now been virtually fully developed and only now are tower blocks starting to grow around and on top of Shoreditch High Street station.

The City of London will also expand to the East, which will mean more offices and housing clustered around stations like Whitechapel, Shadwell and Canada Water.

Property developent will greatly increase the ridership of the East London Line.

Rebuilding Of Highbury & Islington Station

Many travellers in East London, use the Overground to get to Highbury & Islington station for access to the Underground.

The below ground section of this station needs substantial improvement with a second entrance, more escalators and lifts.

Plans get talked about, but nothing happens.

I believe that the new Class 717 trains on the Northern City Line could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, as they will bring more travellers to the station.

But on the other hand the existing cross-platform interchange with the Victoria Line, might mean that less travellers need to go to and from the surface.

I have this feeling, that a rebuilt Highbury & Islington station will happen before 2030 and would attract more travellers to the East London Line.

Developments That Could Happen

These developments could happen, that will affect the East London Line.

Bakerloo Line Extension To Lewisham

I believe extending the Bakerloo Line to Lewisham station is more likely to happen than Crossrail 2 and if it was built it would connect to the East London Line at New Cross Gate station.

This map shows the extension.

I believe that the East London Line and the extended Bakerloo Line will complement each other.

  • The Bakerloo Line will probably have at least twenty tph between Queen’s Park and Lewisham stations via Waterloo, Oxford Circus and Baker Street stations.
  • The East London Line will have at least six tph between Highbury & Islington and Crystal Palace stations and four tph between Highbury & Islington and West Croydon stations.
  • New Cross Gate is currently a step-free station, so I suspect it will be a very smooth interchange.

Connections between South East and the whole of North London will be substantially improved.

Brockley Interchange

It has been suggested that Brockley station be connected to the line between Nunhead and Lewisham stations, which crosses over the station.

Wikipedia says this about the connection.

At the London end the line is crossed by the Nunhead to Lewisham line. At this location adjacent to Brockley station was sited Brockley Lane station which closed in 1917 with the original London, Chatham and Dover Railway branch to Greenwich Park. The connection of that line to Lewisham is a later development. The possibility of opening platforms on this line with direct access to Victoria Station and the Bexleyheath Line to Dartford has often been suggested but is currently low on TfL’s priorities.

In some ways the Bakerloo Line extension to Lewisham does a similar job in connecting the East London Line to Lewisham, but at a much higher frequency.

Another problem with the Brockley Interchange is that there are only two tph between Victoria and Lewisham, that pass over Brockley station and does the capacity at Lewisham station exist to allow this to be increased to a viable frequency, that would make building Brockley Interchange an interchange worth building?

Crossrail 2

Will Crossrail 2 be built or even started before 2030?

I personally doubt it, unless Brexit is an unqualified success and the project is privately-funded.

There are also other projects that might lower the need for Crossrail 2 and allow it to be delayed to beyond 2030.

Extension Of East London Line Services Along The North London Line

I can remember reports, when the London Overground was created, that suggested that some East London Line services, might be extended to the West, possibly to Willesden Junction station.

I think there are two major problems.

  • Trains going West from Highbury & Islington station from the East London Line could stop in Platform 1 or 2 and go straight through on their way to Clendonian Road & Barnsbury station. But those going the other way would probably need to cross tracks on flat junctions!
  • Where is the suitable bay platform to turn the trains?

On the other hand, many passengers would find it useful, as it would avoid a change at Highbury & Islington station.

Penge Interchange

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines through Penge West and Penge East stations.

The two stations are a valid out-of-station interchange, but neither is step-free.

Penge East station could be difficult to make step-free, as the footbridge is listed.

I think that it is one of those structures that Network Rail wouldn’t miss, if it was decided to install it at the National Railway Museum.

Could this be one of the reasons, why it has been suggested that a new station be built, where the lines through the two Penge stations cross.

  • It could be fully step-free.
  • The station would be built on railway land.
  • It would have four tph between Victoria and Bromley South stations.
  • It would have four tph between Highbury & Islington and West Croydon stations.
  • It would have two tph between London Bridge and Caterham stations
  • It might also be possible to have platforms on the Crystal Palace branch, thus adding six tph between Highbury & Islington and Crystal Palace. stations.
  • The station could have Thameslink platforms.

Note that the Penge Interchange offers four tph to and from Victoria, whereas the Brockley Interchange only offers a measly two tph.

Penge Interchange might allow the two older Penge stations to be closed.

Shoreditch High Street Connection To The Central Line

The Central Line passes directly underneath Shoreditch High Street station, as this map from carto.metro.free.fr shows.

Note the reversing sidings at Liverpool Street station in the South-West corner of the map.

Wikipedia says this about the possibility of creating an interchange.

There have also been discussions of creating an interchange with the Central line between Liverpool Street and Bethnal Green which runs almost underneath the station. However, this would not be able to happen until after the Crossrail 1 project is complete, due to extreme crowding on the Central line during peak hours.

Consider.

  • Liverpool Street to Bethnal Green is one of the longest stretches on the Underground without a station.
  • There is a lot of  residential and housing developments, being proposed for around Shoreditch High Street station.
  • Large numbers of passengers use the East London Line to get to Highbury & Islington station for the Underground. Would a Shoreditch High Street connection take the pressure off?
  • It could give East London Line travellers, a single-change connection to Liverpool Street, Bank, St. Paul’s, Chancery Lane and Holborn stations.

For construction and operational reasons, the decision to create this connection will not be taken until Crossrail is fully open.

I suspect passenger statistics will play a large part in the decision.

Southeastern Connections

Southeastern has three main terminals in London.

  • Cannon Street – Jubilee and Northern Lines
  • Charing Cross – Circle and |District Lines
  • Victoria – Circle, District and Victoria Lines.

But they also serve other stations in South London with good connections.

  • Abbey Wood – Crossrail
  • Greenwich -DLR
  • Lewisham – DLR and possibly Bakerloo Line
  • London Bridge – Jubilee and Northern Lines and Thameslink
  • New Cross – East London Line
  • Woolwich Arsenal – DLR

The rebuilding of London Bridge station has probably improved connectivity, but are further improvements needed?

Two of the possible improvements to the East London Line; the Brockley and Penge Interchanges will connect current Southeastern services to and from Victoria to the East London Line.

Would the new South Eastern franchise like a connection to the East London Line?

  • ,Passengers to and from East London surely have have an easier route, than going to Victoria and then using the Underground!
  • Passenger numbers at Victoria might be marginally reduced
  • Both new interchanges would give a route to Crossrail at Whitechapel, which is not an easy connection to and from Victoria.
  • I have looked at timings and it appears that the Whitechapel route is perhaps five minutes slower to the West End or Paddington, but perhaps a dozen minutes faster to the Northern part of the City of London.

It is my view, that if Penge Interchange is built, then Brockley Interchange could be forgotten.

Thameslink Improvements

With all the money spent on Thameslink, it is likely that Network will want to maximise their investment by running as many trains as possible on the route.

Currently, the plan is for twenty-four trains an hour through the central tunnel, which then split as follows.

  • Eight tph via Elephant & Castle
  • Sixteen tph via London Bridge of which twelve tph continue to East Croydon.

It would also appear that there are another five tph between London Bridge and East Croydon, but only one tph runs on the fast lines.

So there would appear to be plenty of capacity between London Bridge and East Croydon stations, even if the central tunnel frequency on Thameslink were to be upgraded to thirty tph.

I think we might see a bit of sorting out of Thameslink to minimise some of the problems, that became evident after the May 2018 timetable change.

A problem I have, which I share with the millions in East London, is that it is difficult to get to Gatwick Airport, as there is no common station between the East London Line and Thameslink.

  • If the Penge Interchange is built, should Thameslink trains stop at the station?
  • When the Bakerloo Line is extended to New Cross Gate station, should Thameslink trains stop at the station?
  • Should all slow trains on the line be run by the London Overground?
  • Should all fast trains on the line be run by Thameslink?

Thameslink could be so much more useful.

West Croydon Or East Croydon

From a personal point of view, when I go to Croydon, I want to get to East Croydon station, as I’m usually taking a train to the South Coast or Gatwick Airport.

  • Inevitably, I end up taking a tram from West Croydon to East Croydon station.
  • Ging the other way is more difficult, as I inevitably get lost trying to find West Croydon station.
  • Although, there are now some trams at East Croydon only going to West Croydon.
  • Trains to the North of Penge West station, never seem to be very full.
  • East Croydon station is more important than West Croydon station.

So would it be better if the East London Line trains went to East Croydon?

The problem is that there is no space in East Croydon station.

Perhaps two new platforms could handle both East London and West London Line services.

West London Line services should also be run by the London Overground, as was proposed by Chris Gibb, as I wrote about in Gibb Report – East Croydon – Milton Keynes Route Should Be Transferred To London Overground.

I would do the following.

  • Sort out Victoria and Thameslink services at East Croydon station, so that all Northbound and Southbound services used a separate pair of platforms, with one platform face for Thameslink and the other for Victoria services.
  • If possible, move services like London Bridge to Uckfield to Thameslink.
  • Put a pair of terminal platforms under the Thameslink and Victoria services platforms, connected to these platforms by escalators and lifts.
  • Most of the tunneling would be under railway property North of East Croydon station.
  • These platforms could probably handle up to six trains per hour (tph) each.
  • It would be possible to run six tph between Highbury and Islington and East Croydon stations.
  • The West London Line could have a highly desirable four tph to the mega-station at Old Oak Common.
  • It might even be possible to use the platforms for service recovery on Thameslink.
  • It could release the pressure on the difficult Windmill Bridge Junction, which is a bit of a bottleneck.

It would be costly, but planned properly, I believe it could be created without any major disruption to the existing East Croydon station.

It would create a simple one-change link between Gatwick Airport, Brighton and other South Coast destinations to the following.

  • Through services to London Bridge, St. Pancras and Victoria.
  • East London Line services to East London and Whitechapel for Crossrail for the City, Central London and Shenfield.
  • West London Line services to West London and Old Oak Common for High Speed 2, West Coast Main Line and Crossrail for Heathrow and Reading.

Capacity at East Croydon would probably be increased.

Conclusion

The East London Line will get better and better.

 

 

June 23, 2018 Posted by | Travel, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Some Class 700 Trains Now Have Tables

I took this picture yesterday, on a Class 700 train.

But they still have hard seats, no wi-fi and no power sockets.

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

London To Rainham And Back On Thameslink

Today was the first Monday of a new timetable and I took a trip to Rainham (Kent) station from London Bridge on the new Thameslink service,, before returning to Abbey Wood station.

Note.

  1. I took a picture at each station as we went out to Rainham.
  2. There is a lot of housing and commercial development going on by Dartford and Rochester stations.
  3. Thameslink are scheduled to run trains between Luton and Rainham (Kent) stations every thirty minutes.
  4. There were two Class 345 trains at Abbey Wood station.
  5. I went in a Class 700 train with eight-cars.

There was the odd cancelled train on the route, but what surprised me on the return journey, was that my train passed four Class 700 trains going in the other direction.

I must assume, that Thameslink were training more drivers for the route.

The Service I Took

The Thameslink service between Luton and Rainham, that I took from London Bridge to Rainham is a replacement for the Southeastern service between Charing Cross and Gillingham.

  • Both services use the same route between London Bridge and Gillingham.
  • Both services stop everywhere between London Bridge and Gillingham.
  • Both services are well-connected to other services at Abbey Wood (Crossrail), Woolwich Arsenal (DLR), Greenwich (DLR) and London Bridge (Northern and Jubilee).
  • The previous Southeastern service took 66 minutes between London Bridge and Gillingham,
  • The current Thameslink service is timetabled to take 82 minutes.
  • The Thameslink service takes over forty minutes to turn round at Rainham.

Given that the Thameslink Class 700 trains are 100 mph trains and the previous Class 465 trains are only 75 mph trains, I find it extraordinary that faster and more modern trains are delivering a slower service.

Complaints

There have been complaints about the new timetable, so I asked a couple of station staff, what they felt about the new Thameslink service from Luton to Rainham.

They seemed in favour and added, these points about the service.

  • It would help with getting the service out of trouble, when there were delays East of Rainham.
  • It gives a direct connection to Dartford.
  • The extra capacity will help.

The service to Rainham will surely act as a collector service for those changing to Crossrail at Abbey Wood.

Rainham to Bond Street with a change at Abbey Wood, should be under an hour and a half.

May 21, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Thameslink Information At London Bridge Station – 3rd March 2018

This picture was taken at the foot of the escalators leading to the Thameslink Platforms 4 and 5 at London Bridge station.

Thameslink Information At London Bridge Station - 3rd March 2018

The trains were fairly crowded, although it was mid-afternoon.

But at the bottom of the escalators under the tracks going through the station, in the vast space, there were relatively few travellers.

I should visit in the Peak.

But it does seem the design is working.

May 3, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

More Thameslink Trains Serving The East Coast Main Line From May 20th 2018

The National Rail timetable is now showing the following new Thameslink trains serving the East Coast Main Line.

There will be two trains per hour (tph) between Peterborough and Horsham.

  • XX:26 and XX:56 – Peterborough
  • XX:08 and XX;38 – Finsbury Park
  • XX:00 and XX:30 – London Bridge
  • XX:08 and XX:38 – Horsham

Note.

  1. Trains take two hours and 45 minutes.
  2. Stops include Huntingdon, St. Neots, Hitchin, Steveange and Finsbury Park, to the North of the Thames.
  3. The trains call at St. Pancras Thameslink, Farringdon, City Thameslink and London Bridge in the core.
  4. Stops include East Croydon, Gatwick Airport, Three Bridges and Crawley to the South of the Thames.
  5. The first train is 05:24 from Peterborough.

Trains generally leave Horsham at XX:25 and XX:55.

There will be one tph  between Cambridge and Brighton.

  • XX:54 at Cambridge
  • XX:52 – Finsbury Park
  • XX:15 – London Bridge
  • XX:19 – Brighton

Note.

  1. Trains take two hours and 25 minutes.
  2. Stops include Royston, Hitchin, Steveange and Finsbury Park, to the North of the Thames.
  3. The trains call at St. Pancras Thameslink, Farringdon, City Thameslink and London Bridge in the core.
  4. Stops include East Croydon, Gatwick Airport, Three Bridges and Haywards Heath to the South of the Thames.
  5. The first train is 05:54 from Cambridge.

Trains generally leave Horsham at XX:07.

But going to Gatwick, I might go to Finsbury Park, where I can now get three trains per hour to the Airport.

  • XX:08 taking around 70 minutes
  • XX:38 taking around 70 minutes
  • XX:52 taking around 52 minutes

But coming back, I would take the first train to London Bridge, from where I’d get a 141 bus to just outside my door.

Are The Trains Acceptable?

For my journey of an hour to Gatwick, the trains are just about acceptable.

But, in some ways, I think that passengers from Cambridge and Peterborough will only use Thameslink to South of East Croydon occasionally, as over two hours in a Class 700 train, is an experience, passengers will be reluctant to repeat.

I would do the following.

  • Add wi-fi and power sockets.
  • Add a few tables to make some groups of four seats, suitable for families.
  • Add seat-back tables.
  • Make the seats more comfortable.

I’d love to have five minutes with the idiot who signed off the order for these trains, which must be the worst new trains on the UK network. Perhaps, that’s not being harsh enough. I suspect they could be the worst new trains in the world!

I’ve had better passenger comfort in a Pacer, that I wrote about in Is This Really A Pacer In A New Outfit?.

But that journey was only between Rotherham and Sheffield, not say Cambridge and Gatwick.

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

Noise From Trains Revisited

Nearly, two years ago, I wrote a post entitled Are You Annoyed By Noisy Trains At The Bottom Of Your Garden?.

A few days ago, the post had a comment from a lady saying this.

we live on top of thames link between st pancras and farringdon stations. We are used to the trains having lived here for nearly 30 years. But recently in the last 6 months 2017/2018 the noise and vibration from the trains has increased also the frequency. From before 6am until after 1am in the morning. These new trains make the house rattle and you can feel the vibration through the floor. You have to turn up the radio or TV and visitors always comment on how do you manage to live with it.

No one seems to know anything when I made enquiries to thameslink. Spoke to me as if i was completely mad.

I contacted the lady and the problem seems to be that the eight-car Class 700 trains are the problem.

Now if the twelve-car trains are quieter, it sounds to me, that there must be a peculiar resonance between eight-car trains and the track.

According to Wikipedia, the train formations are.

  • Eight-car – Bo’Bo’+2’2’+Bo’Bo’+2’2’+2’2’+Bo’Bo’+2’2’+Bo’Bo’
  • Twelve-car – Bo’Bo’+2’2’+Bo’Bo’+Bo’Bo’+2’2’+2’2’+ 2’2’+2’2’+Bo’Bo’+Bo’Bo’+2’2’+Bo’Bo’

Note.

  1. Bo’Bo’ is a powered-car.
  2. 2’2′ is a trailer car.
  3. The plus sign separates each car.

From my engineering knowledge, could it be something to do with the fact that the twelve-car train has four trailer cars in the middle of the train, whereas the eight-car train has only two.

I suspect that these trains were designed as twelve-car units and because of the problems of lengthening some platforms, Siemens were asked if they could build an eight-car version as well.

With the dynamics tuned to the twelve-car train, I’m not surprised that the eight-car trains create an annoying resonance.

I shall be using my Freedom Pass to investigate this phenomenon, by riding in the middle sections of these trains.

April 6, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , | 3 Comments

The Cranleigh Line

Looking for possible privately-funded rail projects, I have come across the Cranleigh Line on Wikipedia.

This is part of what is said on Wikipedia about Possible Reopening, in a eport by Buchanan and Partners in 1994.

The report estimated that around 500 car users could transfer to rail each day. The cost of reinstating the line between Guildford and Cranleigh was projected at £24 million which would include the base, civil, electrical, engineering and signalling works. It did not include land acquisition costs, legal costs and bridge works. The reinstatement of the bridge over the River Wey was costed at £750,000.

The report concluded that, based on a preliminary analysis of the line’s potential returns, re-opening would not be feasible. The line was, according to the report, likely to recoup only 3% of the capital investment in the first year of re-opening, and this without taking into account its operating costs. British Rail usually insisted on a figure of at least 8% before investing capital into re-opening a line. Nevertheless, the County Council decided to commission a detailed economic feasibility study by British Rail into the line’s potential for re-opening, and looked into the possibility of using a light railway or tramway substitute.

What would a report say now?

Given that the line runs between the busy stations at Guildford and Horsham, the latter of which has a Thameslink frequency of two trains per hour, I think that the answers would be very different.

The route would also be one, that could be run by a third-rail tram-train!

Consider.

  • The tram-trains would use battery power, where there is no third-rail electrification.
  • The route between Guildford and Peasmarsh Junction is electrified and has no stations.
  • The route between Horsham and Stammerham Junction is electrified and has no stations.
  • Between Peasmarsh Junction and Stammerham Junction, there were stations at Bramley & Wonersh, Cranleigh, Baynards, Rudgwick and Slinford.
  • Stations could be rebuilt and added to as required.
  • Between Peasmarsh Junction and Stammerham Junction, the new line would be without electrification.

Could the new line share the route with walkers and cyclists?

I think there is a chance here to create a new type of light rail link!

 

 

March 26, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment

MK-Bedford New Line Mooted

The title of this post, is the same as the title of an article in the April 2018 Edition of Modern Railways.

This is the first paragraph.

A new railway between Milton Keynes and Bedford for the East West Rail project has been suggested as a way of avoiding problems with the Marston Vale Line, where the hourly stopping service and numerous level crossings limit capacity for through regional trains.

Another aim is that the next phase of the project should be completed by the end 2022, which is between a one and two years earlier than the existing target.The Chairman of the East West Rail Company, then said he’d like the the railway to open in 2027.

The article says a new route will be expensive, but innovative ways of doing things could help.

Consider these points about the Marston Vale Line

  • The stations need development.
  • There are at least thirteen level crossings.
  • New houses are being built near some stations.
  • The operating speed  is just 50 mph.
  • Finding a new route at Fenny Stratford, Woburn Sands, Aspley Guise, Ridgmont and Lidlington could be difficult.
  • The railway passes under the M1 and the A421, so moving these crossing points could be difficult.

It’s all a complicated design problem.

East West Rail could borrow a trick from the Heathrow Southern Railway, which is planned to run alongside the M25 to get to Heathrow. The new railway could be routed alongside the A421 in the Bedford area.

This Google Map shows the A421 to the South of Bedford.

Note.

  • The Marston Vale Line goes across the North West corner of the map.
  • The Midland Main Line goes across the map in a North-South direction.
  • The roundabout at the North East connects the A421 to the A6.
  • The building by the roundabout is a hotel.

If the East West Rail Link was routed alongside the by-pass a station could be built where the two lines cross.

  • The Midland Main Line and Thameslink would be linked to the East West Rail Link.
  • Passengers for Bedford would be able to use the frequent Thameslink service to get to the town.
  • A big Park-and-Ride could be built.
  • Marston Vale Line services would take the same route as they do now, via Bedford St. Johns station.

If it was desired, chords could be built to enable services on the East West Rail Link to serve Bedford with a reverse in Bedford station.

Oxford has a Parkway station, Milton Keynes has a Milton Keynes South station at Bletchley, Cambridge will probably have a Cambridge South station, so why shouldn’t Bedford have a Bedford South station?

March 22, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment