The Anonymous Widower

Doubts Arise About A third Runway At Heathrow

I have always been sceptical about a third runway at Heathrow and put down my thoughts in Will The Third Runway At Heathrow Be Actually Built In The Near Future?.

Media reports are now saying that there should be more consultation, due to the election stopping the publication of updated forecasts for passengers and pollution. The Labour Party also seems to be against the idea.

By the end of 2019, Crossrail and Thameslink will be fully operational and I believe that they will push everybody including politicians, airline boses and other business leaders to seriously rethink their positions. The statements of Willie Walsh; the Chairman of the airline group;IAG seems increasingly sceptical about Heathrow’s third runway.

2019 also marks the date when Gatwick Airport can start to think about developing a second runway.

In Could Thameslink Connect To Heathrow?, I showed that it would be possible to create a high-capacity link between Heathrow and Gatwick via Thameslink.

  • The link would connect Gatwick, Heathrow, HS1 and HS2.
  • No expensive infrastructure would be needed.
  • This link could easily accommodate four trains per hour and possibly double that, when Heathrow rebuilds its terminals to make it a greener airport, more reliant on rail.

It could be in place in 2020.

Conclusion

All of these forces will kick the third runway even further into the future.

 

September 9, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Could Thameslink Connect To Heathrow?

This may seem an outrageous idea.

But I think it could be possible.

Can Class 345 Trains And Class 700 Trains Use The Same Tracks And Platforms?

Crossrail may use Class 345 trains and Thameslink may use Class 700 trains, but can the two trains use the same tracks and platforms?

Recently, Cambridge North station has opened and it will certainly be compatible with Class 700 trains and Greater Anglia’s Class 720 trains, which are closely related to the Crossrail trains.

Heathrow’s platforms do not have platform-edge doors.

Both trains are designed to work at high frequencies using ERTMS.

So I think the answer to my question is a solid yes!

How Would Thameslink Trains Get To Heathrow?

The original plan for Heathrow Express envisaged using both Paddington and St. Pancras as terminals in Central London.

It would have used the Dudding Hill Line as a connection between the Great Western Main Line and the Midland Main Line.

This Google Map shows the tracks to the East of Acton Main Line station.

Note.

  • The four tracks of the Great Western Main Line run through Acton Main Line station.
  • The most Southerly pair of tracks are the fast lines, whilst the next pair are the slow lines as used by Crossrail.
  • The tracks shown in orange are the North London Line.
  • The two extra lines to the North of Acton Main Line station are the Goods Lines, connect at Acton Wells Junction to the North London Line, so freight trains can go across London between the Great Western Main Line and Stratford.

After crossing over the Central Line, the route splits with the North London Line going East to Stratford and the Dudding Hill Line going North through Acton Canal Wharf Junction.

To get to and from Heathrow, the services would take the same route as Crossrail to the West of Acton Main Line station.

The services would use the existing Cricklewood Curve Junction to connect with the Thameslink route to the North of Cricklewood station.

What New Infrastructure Would Be Required?

The infrastructure needed would not be of the sort of scale needed for Crossrail or Thameslink.

  • The Dudding Hill Line is would need to be electrified.
  • The Dudding Hill Line is double-track throughout.
  • The 30 mph speed limit of the Dudding Hill Line would need to be increased.
  • Would Harlesden and Dudding Hill stations be reopened or other new ones built?
  • The stations at Heathrow could probably handle Class 700 trains without too much difficulty.
  • There might be a need for a flyover to sort out the tangle of lines between Cricklewood and St. Pancras.

But nothing is too complicated or difficult.

What Frequency Of Thameslink Trains Would Serve Heathrow?

Currently, the following services are provided

  • Heathrow Express has four tph to Terminal 5 via Heathrow Central
  • There is a shuttle between Heathrow Central and Terminal 4, run by Heathrow Express.
  • Heathrow Connect run two tph to Heathrow Central.

When Crossrail opens in December 2019, the service to Heathrow will be four trains per hour (tph) to Terminal 5 and two tph to Terminal 4.

Crossrail will also provide the shuttle between Heathrow Central and Terminal 4.

It is certainly not a system designed by any individual or committee with any sense of good design.

At least, both Terminal 4 and Terminal 5 stations have two terminal platforms, so the two stations should each be able to handle up to eight tph.

If they did this would mean up to sixteen tph on the Heathrow spur, which would be well within the capability of the route and trains running using ERTMS, which will handle up to 24 tph on both Crossrail and Thameslink in the few years.

Under current plans, it appears that when Crossrail opens, the stations will get the following services.

  • Heathrow Central – 10 tph
  • Heathrow Terminal 4 – 2 tph plus shuttles
  • Heathrow Terminal 5 – 8 tph

I’m assuming that Heathrow Connect will quietly fade away.

With a bit of reorganisation of the services, it should be possible to squeeze another six tph into the airport, without building any new terminal platforms.

So I feel that say four tph Thameslink trains to Heathrow would be possible.

Could Crossrail Handle The Extra Trains?

The Thameslink trains would have to run on the Crossrail tracks between Acton Main Line station and Heathrow Airport Junction.

Currently Crossrail are proposing running 12 tph on this section, so as ERTMS can handle double this, I suspect there shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

Could Thameslink Handle The Extra Trains?

This article on Rail Engineer, which is entitled Thameslink Signalling Update, says this about possible Thameslink frequencies.

To meet the specification of 24 tph through the Thameslink core section, it is necessary to deploy Automatic Train Operation (ATO). This will provide a peak theoretical capacity of 30 tph, thereby creating a reliable 24 tph service with acceptable recovery margins.

So an extra six tph could be possible.

Would A Service Between Heathrow and Gatwick Airports Be Possible?

In my view it would be the logical service.

It would certainly be possible!

And it could also be a journey without any change of train!

Would There Be Any Other Useful Connections?

These are a few thoughts and ideas.

Same Platform Interchanges

Cross-city lines like Crossrail, Merseyrail’s Northern Line and Thameslink, have the advantage, that if you are going in the right direction, but are on a train to the wrong destination, you can just get off the train and wait for the correct train.

So if you leave Heathrow on a Gatwick train and you need to go to Maidstone East, you would get off at any of the stations in the central core and wait until the next Maidstone East train arrives.

Everybody will have their own favourite interchanges. Mine would probably be Blackfriars station, as it is above the Thames, has lots of seats and there is a large coffee shop on both platforms.

The ability to do this will mean that all stations South of West Hampstead  Thameslink station will have a very easy link to and from Heathrow.

Reversing Stations

Crossrail has several stations where you can reverse your direction of travel by just walking across the platform. Whitechapel station will allow passengers to go between Abbey Wood and Shenfield stations without going up or down any steps or escalators.

Thameslink only has one reversing station at London Bridge station, although St. Pancras Thamslink has escalators and lifts to allow passengers to change direction in a short time.

West Hampstead Interchange

If plans for a West Hampstead Interchange materialise, this will link the following lines.

  • Chiltern Railways
  • Jubilee Line
  • Metropolitan Line
  • Midland Main L:ine
  • North London Line

Note.

  1. This could be a very good interchange to be connected to Heathrow.
  2. West Hampstead Interchange would be a good alternative until Old Oak Common station is built.
  3. Passengers going between Heathrow and stations on the Midland Main Line to the North could change here.

Those like me living along the North London Line would find it a convenient way to get to and from Heathrow.

Kings Cross And St. Pancras Stations

The massive complex at Kings Cross and St. Pancras stations currently links the following lines.

  • Eurostar
  • Midland Main Line
  • East Coast Main Line
  • Southeastern Highspeed services
  • Circle Line
  • Hammersmith and City Line
  • Metropolitan Line
  • Northern Line
  • Piccadilly Line
  • Victoria Line

But the only way to get directly to Heathrow is a nearly hour long journey on the Piccadilly Line. Thameslink could be just over half that time, in a less cramped train.

Blackfriars Station

I use Blackfriars station a lot, as it is my the Tate Modern.

But others will use it as a same platform interchage for reasons I outlined erlier.

London Bridge Station

London Bridge station is another important interchange, with links to the following lines.

  • Southeastern services to Kent
  • Southern services to Surrey and Sussex.
  • Jubilee Line
  • Northern Line

Note.

  • This new station is well-equipped and interchange is totally step-free.
  • It is also a short walk to the city across London Bridge.
  • This station will be a very good same platform interchange.
  • The station allows passengers to reverse direction by just walking across the platform.

As with West Hampstead, this could be a very good interchange to be connected to Heathrow.

East Croydon, Orpington and Wimbledon Stations

East Croydon, Orpington and Wimbledon stations, which are important local hubs, would all be well-connected to Heathrow.

Collateral Benefits

Crossrail 2

Crossrail 2 is planning to have a Euston St. Pancras station, which is described like this in Wikipedia.

It would be a “mega station” serving the existing Euston, King’s Cross and St. Pancras main line stations. If funded and completed, it will be one of two such stations on the Crossrail 2 route (the other being Dalston).

If this station is designed properly, I am sure it will have the following.

  • A step-free and convenient link to both Thameslink and Eurostar.
  • Some form of high-capacity hi-tech people-mover, stretching under Euston Road, linking Kings Cross, St. Pancras and Euston stations.

I believe a station design is possible that makes the connection between HS1 and HS2 a no-hassle transfer for all passengers in less than ten minutes.

The people-mover should be in place when HS2 opens in December 2026, so that a credible HS1 to HS2 link opens at the same time.

Gatwick, Heathrow, HS1 And HS2 Will Be On One Rail Line

This could be of tremendous benefit to Londoners, travellers, tourists, rail companies and airlines, but Heathrow might not like it, as it could undermine their dominant position.

If Crossrail 2 opens around 2030, this will bring Stansted into the hub.

The Most Important Railway Station In The World

Eventually, Euston St. Pancras station will become the busiest and most important railway station in the world.

How Will Terminal Development At Heathrow Affect Crossrail And Thameslink?

Heathrow are disclosing a master-plan, for rebuilding a lot of the airport to make it more efficient and up with the best.

  • There will be two main terminals; Heathrow West and Heathrow East with satellites in between handling the actual planes.
  • These two terminals and the satellites will be between the two existing runways, with a passenger and baggage transport system beneath.
  • Terminal Five will become Heathrow West.
  • An extended Terminal Two will become Heathrow East.
  • Crossrail, Heathrow Express and the Underground will serve both main terminals.

I believe that this rebuilding could start in the next few years.

Heathrow will make sure they future-proof rail access, so we could see.

  • More terminal platforms at both Heathrow East and Heathrow West
  • Through platforms at Heathrow West to allow trains to go West from both terminals.
  • Freight shuttles bringing in provisions for the airport, the airlines and the aircraft.

This will allow Crossrail, Thameslink, Heathrow Express and other operators to have as many services as is thought necessary.

The biggest constraint will be the capacity of the Great Western Railway and the two tracks used by Crossrail.

Will Other Operastors Be Allowed Use Heathrow?

This probably depends more on politics than anything else, but technically these facts apply.

Bombardier Aventras

Bombardier have hinted that the design of an Aventra can provide commuter trains like Crossrail’s Class 345 trains and 125 mph expresses.

So it would be likely that a 125 mph Aventra of appropriate length would be able to serve Heathrow, if that were thought necessary!

All Trains Would Be Electric

I suspect that regulations would mean all trains would be electric, as you don’t want diesel or hydrogen fuels in the tunnels under Heathrow.

ERTMS

I also suspect that all trains using the eathrow stations would need to be equipped with ERTMS.

Possible Routes

Who knows what routes will become possible, but as the list of trains grows that are acceptable to Heathrow, various possibilities will arise.

  • Great Western Railway to Bristol
  • Great Western Railway to Cardiff
  • London Overground to Clapham Junction station
  • London Overground to Stratford
  • South Western Railway to Southampton
  • East Midlands Trains to Bedford/Kettering/Corby
  • West Midlands Trains to Watford/Milton Keynes/Birmingham

After Heathrow terminals are updated to East and West, there would be scope for cross country routes going vaguely South-West to North-East calling at both terminals in Heathrow.

 

Will Thameslink And Crossrail Strangle Heathrow Express?

I wonder if a ink to Thameslink will be more valuable to Heathrow, than Heathrow Express.

  • Abandoning Heathrow Express would release valuable platform space at Heathrow and Paddington.
  • Crossrail and Thameslink together would have connections all over London, rather than just Paddington.
  • Crossrail to and from Paddington would only take about five or six minutes longer.
  • Heathrow Express will have to update their trains with ERTMS and to compete with Crossrail.
  • Heathrow Express usually means a taxi to your hotel to and from Paddington.
  • Crossrail will connect the West End, The City and Canary Wharf to Heathrow.

Convenience and cost will eventually strangle Heathrow Express.

Conclusion

The following statements would appear to be true.

  • Class 345 and Class 700 trains can use the same infrastructure.
  • Crossrail and Thameslink both use ERTMS.
  • The stations at Heathrow,the Western section of Crossrail and the Thameslink core have spare capacity.

This means it should be possible to extend Thameslink services to Heathrow with a frequency of at least four tph, using an electrified Dudding Hill Line.

Some new infrastructure would be required, but nothing as comprehensive, as that for Crossrail and Thameslink.

 

 

September 8, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Beginning Of The End For The Thameslink Works

They seem to have been going on for ever, but this article in Rail Engineer entitled Thameslink – The Final Countdown, describes the work in the last few months before the new Thameslink service opens next year.

This is the first paragraph.

With just a few months to go, including two major commissionings, the rebuilt, remodelled and resignalled London Bridge becomes fully operational on 2 January 2018. The Thameslink service resumes through the high level station via the new segregated alignment between Blackfriars and Bricklayers Arms Junction, engineered into the remodelled layout as a key objective of the project together with the introduction of Automatic Train Operation (ATO) overlay to ETCS.

So it looks like from January 2nd, 2018, instead of a jolly round South London, Thameslink trains will be calling at their own pair of platforms in London Bridge.

Other points and milestones flagged up in the article include.

  • British Rail’s Network South East proposed thought up this plan in 1990.
  • The complete concourse at London Bridge opens in January 2018.
  • Other fit out work in London Bridge station will continue until May 2018.
  • Most of the track works at London Bridge will be sorted during the August Bank Holiday blockade.
  • The Christmas 2017 Blockade will finish things off for the January 2nd opening.
  • ATO (Automatic Train Control) will go live on 2nd January 2018 and allow twenty trains per hour (tph), through the Central Core of Thameslink.
  • 24 tph will start with the May 2018 timetable change.

Let’s hope it’s all been worth the trouble and strife.

Certainly, the flag-ship of the scheme; London Bridge station looks capable of becoming one of the world’s great railway stations.

  • Interchange between the various routes at the station is easy.
  • Signage and information set new standards.
  • It has a proper bus station and taxi rank.
  • Although not completed yet the connection to the Underground looks like it will be much better than most .

But to me, the biggest advantage is that London Bridge will become an easy-to-access rail hub, which will be my starting point for many journeys, as I have a regular bus service to the station from virtually outside my house.

The high-frequency rail link between London Bridge and Waterloo East station, also gives me a  relaxed route home from Waterloo station using the 141 bus from London Bridge station to a stop perhaps fifty metres from my house.

Going to London Bridge station, the walk is a perhaps a hundred metres to the bus stop, but there is no roads to cross. The buses run from five in the morning to midnight and during the day, there is a bus every few minutes, which takes just under half-an-hour to London Bridge. According to Transport for London’s Journey Planner, the fastest journey is thirty-three minutes with a lot more walking, the Overground and the Jubilee Line.

St. Pancras takes the same time with a long underground walk to Thameslink, so it looks like my fastest way to Gatwick and Brighton will start with a bus to London Bridge station.

Conclusion

I don’t know what it’s like in other cities, but in London, it’s often as quick, but easier and more pleasant to use the buses rather than the Underground or equivalent, if the journey is short.

August 22, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | 2 Comments

17 Tube Stations That Face Chronic Overcrowding If Crossrail 2 Is Stopped

The title of this post is the same as that of an article in today’s Standard.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Hundreds of thousands more Londoners will suffer chronic overcrowding on the Tube if Crossrail 2 does not go ahead, it was claimed today.

Transport for London released a list of 17 Underground stations that could buckle under the strain of too many commuters within a few years.

It then lists the stations.

  • Euston
  • King’s Cross St. Pancras
  • Liverpool Street
  • London Bridge
  • Victoria
  • Waterloo
  • Finsbury Park
  • Stockwell
  • Stratford
  • Oxford Circus
  • Highbury & Islington
  • Clapham Common
  • Clapham North
  • Clapham South
  • Holborn
  • Warren Street
  • Leicester Square

It then quotes Caroline Pidgeon, who obtained the list, as follows.

Overcrowding on the Underground is already a daily battle, with many passengers facing regular delays to simply get through barriers at stations.

Unless Crossrail 2 is built these delays will increasingly build up until drastic measures are necessary at 17 key Tube stations, not to mention Clapham Junction railway station.

“Planning ahead for Crossrail 2 is not an optional extra for London’s transport network but of vital importance to keep London moving.

She has certainly highlighted a serious problem.

Call For Crossrail 2

Two years ago to the day, I wrote a post called Call For Crossrail 2 in response to a letter in The Times, from a wide cross section of business leaders calling for a start to be made on the line.

In the post, I talked about improving various stations, just by building Crossrail 2, so in the following notes on the list of crowded stations, I will refer to this post several times in the following.

Euston

Euston tube station is a particular problem in that in the next decade or so, the following will or could happen.

Hopefully, the rebuilding for whichever comes first of  HS2 or Crossrail 2, will make provision for even the most fanciful of expansions.

One Transport for London engineer told me that one of the main reasons for building HS2 and terminating it at Euston, is to be able to sort out the dreadful Euston tube station.

Kings Cross St. Pancras

Kings Cross St. Pancras tube station had a pretty good makeover around the time of the 2012 London Olympics, but it does suffer congestion and travellers have to walk long distances.

The Wikipedia entry for Kings Cross St. Pancras tube station has a section for Crossrail 2. This is said.

Since 1991, a route for a potential Crossrail 2 has been safeguarded, including a connection at King’s Cross St Pancras and Euston, forming the station Euston King’s Cross St Pancras. The proposed scheme would offer a second rail link between King’s Cross and Victoria in addition to the Victoria line. The locations for any new stations on the route will depend on the loading gauge of the final scheme. In the 2007 safeguarded route, the next stations would be Tottenham Court Road and Angel.

There is also a proposal to reopen the closed York Road tube station. In the Wikipedia entry for York Road station under Proposed Reopening, this is said.

One of London’s largest redevelopment projects, King’s Cross Central, began construction in 2008 across the road from the station. Islington council and Transport for London commissioned a study in 2005 to consider the possible reopening of the station. At the same time, however, it was recognised that other transport priorities reduced the likelihood of such a project moving forward in the near future. The site would need extensive overhauls to bring the station up to modern day standards, at a cost estimated at £21 million in 2005. Local political groups have been keen to see the station reopened in order to reduce passenger congestion at King’s Cross St. Pancras and to encourage development in the surrounding community. The Islington Liberal Democrats advocated the reopening of the station in their 2006 local election manifesto, and at least one candidate for the Islington Conservative Party similarly campaigned for the station to be reopened. However, to date, the reopening proposal has not been taken forward.

I wonder if York Road tube station will ever be reopened.

Liverpool Street

The Liverpool Street station complex will be even bigger and busier after Crossrail opens.

The main difference will be that the current Shenfield Metro will now disappear into the ground at Stratford and go under Central London to Heathrow and Reading.

Crossrail 2 will effectively channel the Lea Valley services, that current go into Liverpool Street station under London to emerge in the Wimbledon area.

Effectively, Crossrail and Crossrail 2 major effect on Liverpool Street station are to free up capacity in both tracks and platforms, thuis allowing more longer distance services to use the station.

London Bridge

London Bridge station is being rebuilt and expanded, but little seems to be planned for London Bridge tube station to cope with more passengers.

In Call For Crossrail 2, I said this about Crossrail 2 and the Northern Line.

Crossrail 2 will have interchanges with the Northern Line at Angel, Kings Cross St. Pancras, Euston, Tottenham Court Road, Tooting Broadway and possibly Clapham Junction. So it looks like that Crossrail 2 will certainly make journeys easier for users of the Northern Line.

This should mean that travellers on the Northern Line will be able to avoid a congested London Bridge tube station.

Victoria

Victoria tube station is being extended and rebuilt, which should result in sufficient capacity for more than a few years.

In Call For Crossrail 2, I said this about Crossrail 2 and the Victoria Line.

Crossrail 2 will effectively by-pass the central part of the Victoria Line as the two lines connect at Tottenham Hale, Seven Sisters, Kings Cross, Euston and Victoria.

This should take some of the pressure from Victoria tube station.

Waterloo

Waterloo tube station is a very busy tube station, as it has to cope with all the passengers using Waterloo station.

Crossrail 2 will allow passengers to bypass Waterloo, when travelling to and from Central London.

However, three major improvements will be delivered this year.

  • The old Eurostar platforms are being brought back into use.
  • Extra capacity is being added to the Underground station.
  • I also think that when they have completed the improvements at the Bank end of the Waterloo and City Line. 
  • Will improvements follow at the Waterloo end?

I think Waterloo shouldn’t be judged until the current round of work is completed.

Finsbury Park

Finsbury Park station is a station that suffered badly when the Victoria Line was tunnelled through in the 1960s.

Lifts are being installed, but extra services will be added.

  • Thameslink will call regularly at the station.
  • The services on the Northern City Line will become the Great Northern Metro with an increased frequency.

Crossrail 2 will provide relief for Finsbury Park, as it provides a by-pass for the Victoria Line.

But the station needs to have quite a bit of rebuilding.

Stockwell

Stockwell tube station is where the Victoria and Northern Lines meet South of Victoria.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines at Stockwell station.

I’m not sure how Crossrail 2 helps here, but I suspect Transport for London hope that the new line will divert passengers away from Stockwell.

Stratford

Stratford station is another station that will be partially bypassed by Crossrail 2.

I do think that after Crossrail opens, that changes will be made at Stratford station to perhaps move some Liverpool Street services to Stansted and Cambridge.

This would bring more services to some not very busy platforms.

In West Anglia Route Improvement – The High Meads Loop, I described how it might all work.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines in this area.

Trains from Cambridge and Stansted would arrive at Temple Mills East Junction and would go round the High Meads Loop dropping and picking up passengers in Platforms 11 and 12 bwfore returning North.

An extra platform could even be added to serve services in Stratford International station.

The tunnels under the platforms at Stratford station would probably need improvement, but who knows how Eastenders will duck and dive after Crossrail opens.

As an example, passengers from Shenfield to Canary Wharf will probably use the cross-platform change at Whitechapel station, rather than pick up the Jubilee Line or the DLR at Stratford.

Oxford Circus

Oxford Circus tube station has needed improvement for years.

Crossrail will give some relief, as there will be new additional entrances to Tottenham Court Road and Bond Street stations closer to Oxford Circus.

I did look at what might happen in What Will The Elizabeth Line Do For Oxford Street?.

I came to this conclusion about Crossrail 2 and Oxford Street.

Crossrail 2 has just one interchange in the Oxford Street area at Tottenham Court Road station.

I would be very surprised in that in the massive rebuilding of the current station for Crossrail, that provision hasn’t been made to connect to Crossrail 2.

There have been surface issues around the station concerned with Crossrail 2, but given good planning of the project, I feel that the building of Crossrail 2 would only effect the area in a similar way to the replacement of a major block on Oxford Street.

Crossrail 2 will have two major effects.

  • It will bring large numbers of visitors to the Oxford Street area.
  • Just as Crossrail and the Central Line will work as a high-capacity pair, it will work closely with the Victoria Line to relieve that line.

This leads me to the conclusion, that the wider Oxford Street area needs to be and will be pedestrianised.

In some ways preparation for the pedestrianisation has already started by reorganising the buses.

Oxford Circus tube station is also high on Transport for London’s improvement list.

This map from carto.metro,free.fr shows the lines through the station.

I suspect that if developers were interested in rebuilding any of the buildings on the South side of Oxford Street or perhaps even around the BBC to the North, that there could be arm-twisting and deal-making to sneak new entrances into Oxford Circus tube station.

Highbury & Islington

Highbury & Islington station, is one of my local ones and it is getting some much-needed improvement.

  • The Northern City Line will be getting frequent new Class 717 trains to create the Great Northern Metro.
  • Highbury Corner will be remodelled to improve pedestrian access to the station.
  • Bus and taxi access is being improved..

But nothing has been announced about improving the chronic access to the two deep-level lines at the station.

Speaking to staff at the station, they feel that a solution is possible, using the second entrance on the other side of the road.

In some ways the Great Northern Metro with its cross-platform interchange with the Victoria Line could be the saviour of this station, as it gives direct access to the City and to Crossrail at Moorgate station.

One of London’s forgotten lines could be riding to the rescue.

Clapham Common

Clapham Common tube station is one of my least favourite. This picture shows why.

It’s downright dangerous now, so when the Northern Line frequency is increased will the station cope?

Clapham North

Clapham North tube station is another dangerous island platform.

But at least the station has escalators.

In A Journey Round The Clapham Stations, a post I wrote in December 2015, I said this.

Having seen Clapham North and Clapham Common stations today, I do wonder if a diversion could be dug as at Angel, Bank and London Bridge, to create safe new stations. This new tunnel could surely be part of the works to add step-free access to one or both stations and connect the tunnels to Clapham High Street station.

What with the Northern Line Extension to Battersea, the rebuilding of Bank and Camden Town stations and all the resignalling of the past few years, the Northern Line could at last be fulfilling its potential.

This could go a long way to  sorting the problem of the Clapham stations.

Clapham South

Clapham South tube station is not as bad as the other two Clapham stations discussed earlier.

Crossrail 2 may reduce the level of overcrowding on the Northern Line trains through the three Clapham stations, as passengers could change at Balham or Tooting Broadway stations to and from the new high-capacity line.

However, nothing short of some serious building work will solve the island platform problems at Clapham Common and Clapham North stations.

Holborn

Holborn tube station is very busy, but is one that could benefit from Crossrail, due to that line’s relationship with the Cerntral Line.

Crossrail 2 will certainly benefit the station, as it will relieve the pressure on the Piccadilly Line.

But Transport for London have published plans to add a second entrance and full step-free access. This is a 3-Dview of the plans.

Note the second entrance will be in Procter Street.

The only problem is that it could be 2021 before a decision is made.

However as a Piccadilly Line station, Holborn will benefit from the New Tube For London, before the upgrade.

Warren Street

Warren Street tube station is another Central London station on the Victoria Line, that could benefit from Crossrail 2’s duplication of the Victoria Line.

Leicester Square

Leicester Square tube station is just one stop on the Northern Line from the major new interchange of Tottenham Court Road station, which will be served by both Crossrail and Crossrail 2.

The station has needed more capacity since I first used it in the 1950s.

It needs step-free access.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines around Leicester Square station.

There is quite a tight knot of stations, of which only Tottenham Court Road has both escalators and lifts, although Goodge Street and Covent Garden have lifts only.

Leicester Square is an unusual station in that both the Northern and Piccadilly Lines are accessed by short passages and a short staircase from a fair-sized lobby at the bottom of a long set of escalators.

Clapham Junction

Clapham Junction station is the only non-Underground station in the seventeen stations named, where overcrowding could become chronic if Crossrail 2 is not built.

It is the busiest station by number of trains in Europe, so it must be difficult to keep on top of increasing numbers of passengers.

In the Wikipedia entry for the station under Future Proposals, this is said.

In 2007 the alignment of one of the two variants of Crossrail 2, that via the station rather than Putney and Wimbledon, was safeguarded. The Department for Transport and Transport for London continue to discuss proposal for a Clapham Junction Northern Line extension and its London Underground alignment has been legally reserved through Battersea Park, and would connect Clapham Junction to the London Underground for the first time.

Government and Network Rail funding for in the early 2010s of £50 million of improvements was granted. This comprised an upgrade to the main interchange: new entrances and more retail.

Surely something needs to be done, if Crossrail 2 is not built.

My proposals would include.

  • Developing the West London Line services.
  • Extending the Northern Line from Battersea Power Station station.
  • Improving the frequency of trains into Waterloo.
  • Make the station subway step-free.

There may be a need for more platforms, but the London Overground found this difficult.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the platforms in the station.

Simple it isn’t!

Conclusions

It surprised me how many of these stations will need substantial building work to cure the overcrowding.

Note.

  1. Every Victoria Line station between Oxford Circus and Finsbury Park is on the list.
  2. Four Northern Line stations between Stockwell to Clapham South is on the list.
  3. I think this shows how the designers of the Northern and Victoria Lines didn’t expect the traffic the lines now handle.

But overall, I think it shows how when you design a station, you don’t cut corners.

I also think to blame all these problems on the uncertainty about Crossrail 2, is probably a bit strong.

Consider.

  • Liverpool Street will probably have enough capacity when Crossrail opens, especially as the station will incorporate Moorgate and be substantially step-free.
  • The new London Bridge effectively adds high-frequency rail lines to Blackfriars, Cannon Street, Charing Cross and St. Pancras and when Thameslink and Southeastern are fully developed, the station will cope.
  • Victoria shouldn’t be judged until the current upgrade is complete.
  • Waterloo shouldn’t be judged until the current upgrade is complete.
  • Finsbury Park shouldn’t be judged until the current upgrade is complete.
  • Stratford will probably have enough capacity when Crossrail  opens, especially as the station is substantially step-free.
  • Oxford Circus should see improvement when Crossrail opens, especially as there’ll be new step-free entrances to Tottenham Court Road and Bond Street, that will be closer to Oxford Circus, than the current stations.
  • Highbury & Islington should see marginal improvement, when the Northern City Line is updated.

However, nothing short of substantial construction will sort Euston, Clapham Common, Clapham North, Holborn, Leicester Square and Clapham Junction.

 

 

 

 

July 18, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Gibbs Report – Cambridge Depot

The Gibbs Report, looks in detail at GTR’s depot capacity and especially the stabling for Thameslink.

The report indicates particular problems at Cambridge.

The facility is currently unsuitable for 12 car fixed formation trains and the current trains have to be uncoupled to be accommodated.

Greater Anglia will have the following trains at Cambridge in their open-air depot.

All trains are fixed-formation and I suspect that Greater Anglia have a well-planned train parking philosophy, which could include.

  • Parking two five-car Aventras in a long ten/twelve-car siding.
  • Remote wake-up for the Class 720 and Class 745 trains as I discussed in Do Bombardier Aventras Have Remote Wake-Up?
  • Parking the odd Class 755 train, that will work services to Ipswich in one of the bay platforms.
  • Parking the Class 755 trains, that will work Norwich to Stansted, at the ends of the route.
  • Having a remote toilet servicing team for their trains.

But it would be difficult to fit in the following two trains per hour (tph) Thameslink services.

  • Cambridge to Brighton – Twelve-car Class 700 train
  • Cambridge to Maidstone East – Eight-car Class 700 train

Both services would be run all day, with journey times in excess of two hours, which probably means each service would need nine or ten trains.

GTR will have a need for their own depot as mixing eight and twelve car trains will just fill up Greater Anglia’s depot and I doubt they will be pleased.

The problem can’t be eased by running twelve-car trains to Maidstone East, as the Thameslink platform at that station is too short.

Although Maidstone East station may be redeveloped in the future and a twelve-car platform 3 could be incorporated.

This Google Map shows the layout of Maidstone East station.

Could a twelve-car pltform be squeezed in?

Six-car as opposed to eight-car trains may offer an alternative solution here.

Cambridge would be served by a twelve-car train, that was formed of two six-car units coupled together.

At Bromley South or Swanley station, the two trains would split, with one portion going to Maidstone East station and the other to another convenient station.

Returning North the trains would join up again and travel to Cambridge as a twelve-car train.

The advantages of this are as follows.

  • Two eight-car tph in the core are replaced by twelve-car trains.
  • Two eight-car Cambridge to London tph are replaced by twelve-car trains.
  • Another destination South of London gets awo six-car tph to Cambridge.

The only loser is Maidstone East station, which sees the train length of its two trains per hour to Cambridge reduced from eight-cars to six.

July 9, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Gibbs Report – Depot Issues

The Gibbs Report, looks in detail at GTR’s depot capacity and especially the stabling for Thameslink.

The section on depots starts like this.

The way in which the train fleet has expanded in recent years has resulted in a shortage of stabling facilities. New facilities have been located away from train crew depots (e.g. Hove from Brighton) and are less efficient, involving driver time in taxis. Siemens new depot at Three Bridges is now the main centre for the Thameslink fleet, and overall the depot capacity on Southern is just about sufficient from what I have seen, although it is inflexible and inefficient.

It then goes on to list problems at specific locations.

Ashford

Perhaps the late choice of Maidstone East station, as a terminus, has meant that a site hasn’t really been found for a depot at Ashford.

Bedford

The depot is unsuitable for 12-car fixed formation Class 700 trains, which block the entrance.

Cambridge

The facility is currently unsuitable for 12 car fixed formation trains and the current trains have to be uncoupled to be accommodated.

North Kent

The original plan was to increase stabling facilities at Slade Green, but this has now been established to cost £72m and too expensive. An alternative is urgently needed.

The report sums up the depot issues like this.

All of the above issues need to be finalised before the driver recruitment plans can be commenced, as the driver recruitment strategy must be decided around the stabling locations of the trains, and driver depot facilities, including parking, must be included in the scheme
implementation.

It also goes on to say, that more trains may need to be ordered to increase capacity on the Brighton Main Line and that a new depot will be needed.

Bombardier’s Class 345 Trains For Crossrail

Before I add my fourpennyworth on depot issues, I will look at some of the features of Bombardier’s Class 345 trains.

All Trains Are The Same Length

It is intended that all trains will be the same nine-car length, although at the present time, the trains under test in East London are a couple of cars short of a full train.

This is mainly because the platforms in Liverpool Street, are not long enough for a full train and won’t be lengthened until a year or so.

I suspect too, it enables Bombardier to build the trains in a more efficient manner and test out each type of coach fully.

One of the advantages in having all trains of the same length, is that you maximise the capacity in a depot and as on both routes, the manufacturer pays for the main depots, a correctly-sized depot will reduce costs.

Note that Thameslink’s main depots don’t seem to have issues, so can we assume they were well-designed?

The Class 345 Trains Have No Toilets

There was a bit of a fuss, when this was announced, as I wrote about  in Do Crossrail Trains Need Toilets?.

But given that many Crossrail stations have toilets on the platforms and trains are every ten minutes, no toilets on the train gives advantages.

  • There is no toilet on the train that needs regular cleaning and fails occasionally.
  • Overnight servicing of the train does not need the toilet to be emptied.

I also suspect that the modular nature of the Class 345 train would allow one to be fitted if required.

Class 345 Trains Are Designed For Remote Wake-Up

Remote wake-up is discussed in Do Bombardier Aventras Have Remote Wake-Up?.

So imagine a Class 345 train finishes its last journey of the day in a platform at Shenfield station or a convenient stabling siding.

  • The driver checks the train for sleeping bankers, locks up and goes home.
  • The train reports to Ilford, that a couple of light bulbs have failed.
  • The servicing and cleaning team arrive and get the train pristine for the morning.
  • The train shuts down fully and all power is switched off to the overhead wires, so trespassers won’t be electrocuted.
  • At an appropriate time, the train is signalled to come to life and warms up ready for the day, using battery power.
  • The driver arrives and when signalled joins the main line, raises the pantograph and takes the train on its way.

When I once described this process to a driver from Northern going to pick up a Class 156 train in Halifax, he had a big smile.

In some ways, it’s a bit like parking your car out on the street.

  • Except that for trains, you need a convenient piece of track.
  • As power will be needed to warm the train up in the morning and you don’t want 25 KVAC  live wires about, the only source of power possible is a battery.
  • If the train had a toilet, it would be a more complicated process.

What will the devious Derbians think of next?

Solving GTR’s Depot Problems

In my view there is one big difference between Thameslink and Crossrail.

With Crossrail, which was in part a new railway line, every component was designed so it fitted together like a giant three-dimensional jigsaw.

But Thameslink was designed by different teams over a series of decades.

As we can’t go back to square one on Thameslink we have to make the best of what we’ve been left with.

Bombardier’s remote wake-up concept is a straight steal from some upmarket road vehicles, so why haven’t Siemens stolen it? Especially, as the Derby Telegraph article dates from June 2011. Perhaps, their press cuttings agency doesn’t read that newspaper?

If they had developed the technology, it would certainly help with remote stabling of trains, as you can have a much simpler facility.

The Problem Of Cambridge

I discuss this in Cambridge Depot

The Problem Of North Kent

Chris Gibbs suggest creating a new depot at Hoo Junction, which I discuss in Hoo Junction Depot

Thameslink’s Mixed Length Fleet

Thameslink also have a curious mix of eight-car and twelve-car trains, whereas Crossrail have sensibly opted for a common length, which as I said, must be much easier to store.

Intriguingly, both Greater Anglia and South Western Railway have ordered mixed fleets of five and ten-car Aventras. But most six-year-olds can tell you that 5+5=10.

The decision to buy a mixed length fleet of twelve and eight-car trains for Thameslink has caused a lot of these depot and a few other problems.

I wrote more about the problem in Has Thameslink Got The Wrong Length Of Train?.

I think in the end, Thameslink will lengthen the eight-car trains to twelve-cars and then lengthen the short platforms on the Sutton loop Line and a few other places.

This would create sixteen per-cent more capacity through the central tunnel, by making all trains twelve-cars.

But that is an expensive way to solve the problem created by not designing Thameslink as a continuous twelve-car railway.

Conclusion

It’s a bloody-great mess.

If you compare depot philosophies at  Crossrail, Greater Anglia and Thameslink, the first two companies seem to have developed a comprehensive purchase and maintenance solution for all their new trains, whereas Thameslink have worked on the basis that it will be alright in the end.

These factors don’t help Thameslink.

  • The choice of a mix of eight- and twelve-car trains.
  • The inability to join two short trains together to make a long train.
  • The design of a Class 700 train, which appears to be geared more towards a traditional depot.

I will be accused of being patriotic, but having ridden in both Class 700 and Class 345 trains, I’m coming to the conclusion, that Thameslink should have bought Aventras.

I would also have to ask, if Krefeld in Germany is a better place than Derby, for decision makers to visit.

July 8, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Gibbs Report – Moorgate Services Could Be Transferred To The London Overground

The Gibbs Report, looks in detail at services out of Moorgate station on the Northern City Line in detail.

Note that current plans for this line include.

It could also be rebranded as the Great Northern Metro.

Chris Gibbs flags up various issues with this service. He says this about the infrastructure.

25 new Class 717 six-car trains are being built by Siemens as a dedicated fleet for this route, and will be maintained by GTR at their Hornsey Depot. The line between Drayton Park and Moorgate is a former underground line transferred to BR in 1976 and partly converted for main line trains.

It retains various Underground characteristics, such as third rail electrification with a fourth return rail, and tripcocks at all signals, and I believe Old Street and Moorgate stations are owned by London Underground as part of shared stations, and are in need of modernisation. The track and signalling is owned and operated by Network Rail.

I would add a personal observation. Highbury and Islington station is a station where the below-ground platforms are in desperate need of improvement and step-free access. Over the last year or so, with GTR’s labour troubles, the operation of the station at times, has not been smooth, much to the exasperation of London Underground/Overground staff.

Chris Gibbs also notes several issues with the employment of staff after 2018.

Other current Great Northern services run between Kings Lynn, Cambridge, Peterborough and Kings Cross, and these will be part of the Thameslink operation from 2018, with most services continuing to destinations south of London and a few running to Kings Cross. I understand Great Northern drivers will be “temporarily” split between Metro and Thameslink in 2017 to avoid them all having to learn the cross London routes and Class 700 trains, so there may then be a some division for TUPE purposes.

At present it is proposed not to initially train about 100 drivers on Class 700 trains, spread across several locations, and it is proposed to open new drivers depots, for example at Welwyn Garden City and Finsbury Park. These proposals have not yet been approved by DfT, and recruitment has not yet begun. However there is still risk that splitting the driver workforce, who currently enjoy variety of work, may be unpopular, and more work is required to evaluate this. All Great Northern Metro services are currently DOO.

It looks like a disaster waiting to happen to me.

He finishes his discussion on the Great Northern Metro like this.

I believe there is an option to transfer the Great Northern Metro operation to TfL and it’s London Overground concession in 2018. If TfL / the London Overground concessionaire were to take the lead in this transfer, and the implementation of the new trains and service, this could reduce risks associated with the Thameslink programme, led by GTR. 

However to do this, a decision should be made immediately, and discussions commenced with
TfL, GTR and the London Overground concessionaire.

Personally, I think that this would be a very good idea.

In this area of London, we have three stations that need to be dramatically improved; Old Street, Essex Road and Highbury and Islingtont.

All are on the Northern City Line and they could start with a deep clean at Essex Road, which was probably cleaner when it opened in the same year my father was born.

But being serious, these three stations could be serious development opportunities.

  • Highbury and Islington is a major interchange that hasn’t been rebuilt properly since it was bombed in World War 2 and was changed on the cheap to squeeze the Victoria Line through underground.
  • Essex Road could also be redeveloped with a modern step-free station underneath.
  • Old Street is now surrounded by towers and the road layout is being simpified, so why not put a massive tower on the site and build a modern station underneath?

Having only one operator at the stations must surely ease redevelopment.

I think if the split between GTR and the Great Northern Metro was thought through properly, there could be advantages all round.

  • All services North of Welwyn Garden City on the East Coast Main Line and the Cambridge Line would be provided by GTR.
  • All Hertford Loop Line services would be provided by London Overground.
  • All Hertford Loop Line stations would be managed by London Overground.
  • All stations South of Welwyn Garden City on the East Coast Main Line would be managed by London Overground.
  • A turnback platform would be built at Stevenage.
  • Welwyn Garden City and Stevenage stations would be updated to allow easy interchange between GTR and Great Northern Metro services.
  • Alexandra Palace station is developed, so that cross platform interchange is possible between GTR and Great Northern Metro services.

It certainly looks like a properly integrated 100 mph suburban rail route can be built to Stevenage, with similar fleets of 100 mph Class 700 trains and Class 717 trains on Thameslink and the Great Northern Metro respectively.

The East Coast Main Line would work as now.

  • Great Northern Metro services between Moorgate and Welwyn Garden City
  • Outer suburban services between Kings Cross and Stevenage, Peterborough and Cambridge.
  • In 2018, Thamelink will link St. Pancras to Stevenage, Peteborough and Cambridge.

On the Hertford Loop Line, there would just be a Great Northern Metro service between Moorgate and Stevenage, via Hertford North.

There could be possible problems and questions.

  • Would residents of Hertfordshire, object to services being controlled by the London Mayor?
  • Who would pay for the required turn-back platform at Stevenage?
  • Could London Overground absorb the route without too many problems?
  • Would there be enough paths on the East Coast Main Line?
  • Where would the depot for the Class 717 trains be located?
  • How will Siemens respond to the change of operator for their Class 717 trains?

But there are some other factors in favour.

  • The Great Northern Metro service on the Hertford Loop Line would effectively be an independent double-track railway capable of handling as many six-car Class 717 trains as were desired. The current three trains per hour (tph) is probably way below the theoretical capacity, which is probably determined by the single platform at Stevenage.
  • London Overground successfully integrated the Lea Valley Lines into their operation.
  • London Overground and the Great Northern Metro both work under DOO.
  • Hopefully, Transport for London have the knowledge to integrate the Class 717 trains into the tunnels to Moorgate. But they have an excellent museum!
  • London Overground’s working practices would appear to be similar to those on the Great Northern Metro.
  • London Overground’s station manning policies are better for passengers and may even be better for staff, who always seem to be courteous and enjoying their work.

But surely the biggest thing in the transfer’s favour, is that it gives responsibility to new train introduction and updating of the Great Northern Metro to another operator, who has a proven record in this field, so that GTR can concentrate on launching Thameslink services.

Collateral Benefits Of Updating Great Northern Metro Services

After train replacement the Great Northern Metro will be run by modern 100 mph trains, as opposed to 75 mph scrapyard specials.

Currently, the Class 313 trains take the following times.

  • Moorgate and Hertford North – 45 minutes – 13 stops
  • Moorgate and Letchworth Garden City – 79 minutes – 16 stops.
  • Moorgate and Stevenage – 63 minutes – 15 stops.
  • Moorgate and Welwyn Garden City – 49 minutes – 16 stops

As modern trains can save a minute or two on each stop, there must be the possibilities of faster services, with the serious possibility of Letchworth Garden City within an hour from Moorgate, with the new 100 mph Class 717 trains.

Stevenage would certainly be well within the hour and I suspect that because of the extra speed an additional fourth train could be run to both Hertford North and Welwyn Garden City, with all Hertford North trains running on and terminating at Stevenage, once the turnback platform is built.

To run four tph each route would require just eight trains or sixteen trains in total.

If you split the order for twenty-five trains into two, that would mean twelve trains would be available for each route, which are enough trains to have the following service.

  • 6 tph – Moorgate to Welwyn Garden City
  • 6 tph – Moorgate to Stevenage via Hertford North

These are the sort of frequencies that train operating companies like to run in South London.

Alexandra Palace to Moorgate would have a massive twelve tph.

The current timetable handles this frequency in the Peak, so it could be possible all day, with very little work needed on the infrastructure. London Underground would probably laugh at 12 tph, when you consider the Northern and Victoria Lines handle three times as many trains to a two platform below ground terminal.

But is it really needed?

If you look at the timing of the fast Class 387 trains between Stevenage and Finsbury Park, they take around twenty minutes going fast down the East Coast Main Line, as against the Class 313 trains which take forty-four minutes using the Hertford Loop Line. On a rough estimate the new Class 717 trains might be able to do this trip in perhaps twenty-five minutes on an updated Hertford Loop Line.

A fast high-capacity service on this route that has been neglected, must be capable of development with perhaps a Park-and-Ride and a couple of new stations.

It may not be a bad idea to update the Hrtyford Loop Line with modern signalling and to allow faster running, as surely if the normal trains on the loop were modern 100 mph units, then extra paths could be found to act as diversion routes for the bottleneck of the double-track Digswell Viaduct.

It’s amazing how faster trains can unlock the potential of a rail route.

Conclusion

Chris Gibbs has made an interesting proposal.

There are good reasons to transfer the Great Northern Metro to London Overground.

  • London Overground have the expertise to introduce the new trains.
  • Transport for London have the expertise to redevelop the stations on the route at the Southern end.
  • GTR will be able to concentrate on Thameslink
  • Moorgate, Old Street, Essex Road and Highbury and Islington stations become Transport for London-only stations.
  • London would gain a new Metro line between Moorgate and Alexandra Palace via Highbury and Islington and Finsbury Park, that extends into Hertfordshire and has a frequency of at least twelve tph.
  • Crossrail gets another North-South feeder line.
  • Highbury and Islington and Finsbury Park will become high quality interchanges.
  • The Hertford Loop Line can be developed independently of Thameslink and the East Coast Main Line to be a high-capacity North-South Metro from North London to Stevenage.
  • The Victoria Line gets a cross-platform connection to the Great Northern Metro for Crossrail at Highbury and Islington.

The only problem, is that it might remove some of the reasons for extending Crossrail 2 to New Southgate.

Overall it strikes me that GTR have been working totally without any vision or any idea about how their new trains will transform the Great Northern Metro.

 

July 8, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kent On The Cusp Of Change – Thameslink

The Kent On The Cusp Of Change article in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways talks about Kent and Thameslink.

This is said.

Under the Thameslink plans, due to come in next May, are two trains per hour (tph) Maidstone East to Cambridge and 2 tph Rainham to Luton, while the longstanding Sevenoaks via Bat & Ball to Blackfriars service will be extended to Welwyn Garden City in the peaks.

The Rainham to Luton service effectively creates a four tph service through the Medway towns to Abbey Wood, Greenwich, London Bridge and beyond.

The Maidstone East to Cambridge service, also creates four tph between London and Otford.

Onward From Maidstone East

I do wonder if the powers that be, looked at extending the service to Maidstone East station to the well-connected Ashford International station.

Consider.

  • With the opening of the Ashford Spurs in Spring 2018, South East London and a lot more of Kent would have good access to Continental services.
  • Thameslink would have a Southern access to Thanet to complement the Northern access at Rainham.
  • Stations on the Maidstone Line could get four tph.

As Maidstone East to Ashford International takes thirty minutes, I suspect the extra time needed, makes scheduling trains difficult.

On the other hand, the Class 700 trains, probably execute stops faster than the current trains.

Could Thameslink Serve Ebbsfleet International Station?

If the Fawkham Junction Link is reinstated, this is a possibility.

Could A Catford Interchange Improve Thameslink?

The Maidstone East and Sevenoaks services both go through Catford station, which is close to Catford Bridge station.

Transport for London have said several times, that they would like to create a consolidated Catford Interchange station.

If one were to be created, could there be a bit of tidying up of services through the area, in much the same way as Gatwick Airport station acts as an important interchange on the Brighton Main Line?

Could Thameslink Capacity Be Increased?

I feel that Thameslink’s decision to serve Maidstone East and Rainham stations is a good one, but I suspect there are strips of paper on the Timetabling Room floor with other Kent and Sussex stations on them, like Ashford International, Canterbury, Dover, Hastings and Uckfield.

I also think too, that there may be stations, where additional trains could be desirable.

So could the current twenty-four trains through the central core of Thameslink be increased?

I think the answer is probably in the affirmative, as signalling, driver aids and the drivers themselves will get better, as the system develops.

In this article in Rail Engineer entitled Crossrail – approaching the final stages, this is said.

When the new Elizabeth line opens, 24 trains per hour will operate in each direction through the centre of London. The new signalling system will incorporate Automatic Train Operation to support this service, with the capacity for higher frequency of 30 trains per hour in the future. As a consequence, Siemens is installing the Communications-Based Train Control system (CBTC). It is similar to one already successfully installed in Copenhagen, so expectations are high.

So could similar techniques be used in Thameslink to create another six paths an hour.

That would still only be one train every two minutes.

I suspect too, capacity could be increased by lengthening some trains from eight to twelve cars.

Conclusion

Thameslink is very tied up with the Southeastern franchise.

See Also

These are related posts.

To know more read Kent On The Cusp Of Change in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways.

June 29, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kent On The Cusp Of Change – Crossrail

The Kent On The Cusp Of Change article in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways talks about Kent and Crossrail.

This is said.

In December 2018, the Elizabeth Line is due to reach its south-eastern terminus at Abbey Wood, where there will be interchange with the North Kent line.

A wide range of new journey opportunities will open up, which over time will influence many choices over work and home locations. A train every five minutes from Abbey Wood to Canary Wharf and central London is expected to have a dramatic effect in North Kent.

The article goes on to say that a working group called Crossrail Gravesend is pushing to extend the Elizabeth Line to Ebbsfleet International station for High Speed One.

Current Services Between London, Abbey Wood And The Medway Towns

Adding together current services at Abbey Wood station  as given in Wikipedia with the proposed Thameslink service between Rainham and Luton, which I wrote about in Thameslink To Rainham, gives the following service level at Abbey Wood station.

Westbound;

All trains will call at London Bridge station, which after rebuilding for Thameslink is complete, will be a formidable interchange to other services, such as the Underground, buses and Shank’s pony.

Londoners tend to think of Crossrail, as London’s most important rail project, but I do think that the rebuilding of London Bridge station in a few years time will be considered the second most important.

In addition, as Abbey Wood will be connected to Crossrail, there must be few places in Central London, to which travel is difficult from Abbey Wood station.

Eastbound;

  • 2 tph to Barnehurst via Slade Green returning to London via the Bexleyheath Line
  • 2 tph to Dartford
  • 2 tph to Gillingham (Kent)
  • 2 tph to Rainham (Kent)
  • 2 tph to Crayford via Slade Green returning to London via the Dartford Loop Line,

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines around Dartford station.

Note.

  1. Barnehurst is on the Bexleyheath Line.
  2. Cayford station is on the Dartford Loop Line.
  3. The North Kent Line goes East from Datford station to Gravesend , the Medway Towns and Thanet.

In addition at Abbey Wood station, using their separate platforms and separate tracks to the Crossrail tunnel, 12 tph will be providing the Crossrail service.

Future Services From London To The Medway Towns

Looking at the Southeastern services to Gillingham and the Thameslink services to Rainham, the following can be said

  • These are the only services, that go more than a few miles past Abbey Wood station.
  • The Gillingham service is a Southeastern Metro service, so probably needs to be run by faster modern trains, rather than the current Class 465 trains.
  • The combination of the Gillingham and Rainham services will hopefully give a very passenger friendly train every fifteen minutes between Abbey Wood and Gillingham, via Dartford, Gravesend, Rochester and Chatham.
  • The Gillingham service calls at Lewisham, Blackheath, Charlton and Woolwich Arsenal between London Bridge and Abbey Wood.
  • The Rainham service calls at Greenwich between London Bridge and Abbey Wood.

I do wonder, if it would be better if the Southeastern service from Charing Cross to Gillingham were to be extended to Rainham and always run by a twelve-car train.

  • Rainham is only four minutes further from London than Gillingham.
  • Rainham has a twelve-car bay platform.
  • Gillingham’s bay platform may not be able to take a twelve-car train.
  • Four tph can be handled in a single bay platform.

This would give a high-capacity four tph service between Abbey Wood and the Medway Towns, with two tph from Thameslink and two tph from Southeastern.

But the major factor would be that passengers would surely find it a very easy service to use.

Service Frequencies East Of Dartford

Note that of the eastbound trains, only 6 tph go through Dartford, as the other 4 tph loop back to London.

Between Dartford and Rochester, there is only the 4 tph to Gillingham/Rainham, although they are joined by 2 tph Highspeed trains between Gravesend and Rochester.

It would thus appear that the maximum frequency between Abbey Wood and Rochester is probably 6 tph.

When you consider that the trains through the area, will all be modern trains fitted with the latest ERTMS signalling, handling these numbers of trains and perhaps 4-8 tph for Crossrail between Abbey Wood and Gravesend in the future, will be well below the 24 tph handled by Crossrail and Thameslink in their central tunnels.

The New Track Layout At Abbey Wood Station

Looking at the new track layout at Abbey Wood station, it appears to be very simple with just a reversing siding to the East of the two Crossrail platforms 3 and 4.

Cross-overs appear to be provided so that the following is possible.

  • Trains from Crossrail can continue towards Dartford after calling at Platform 4.
  • Trains from Dartford can continue towards Crossrail after calling at Platform 3.

It looks to me, that the track layout is designed, so that Crossrail trains can easily run to and from Dartford or any other station that the planners decide is the terminus.

Capacity Between Abbey Wood And Rochester

As the double-track line between Abbey Wood and Rochester with modern signalling can probably handle up to probably 24 tph, there is capacity for a lot of Crossrail trains to go past Abbey Wood.

Suppose  Crossrail is extended to Gravesend with 4 tph extended to the new terminal and trains stabled at a new depot at Hoo Junction to the East of the town.

The following frequencies to and from London would apply at various stations.

  • Abbey Wood – 10 tph + 12 tph Crossrail
  • Belvedere – 10 tph + 4 tph Crossrail
  • Erith – 10 tph + 4 tph Crossrail
  • Slade Green – 10 tph + 4 tph Crossrail
  • Dartford – 6 tph + 4 tph Crossrail
  • Stone Crossing – 4 tph + 4 tph Crossrail
  • Greenhithe – 4 tph + 4 tph Crossrail
  • Swanscombe – 4 tph + 4 tph Crossrail
  • Gravesend- 4 tph + 4 tph Crossrail + 2 tph Highspeed

North Kent is going to get a better train service.

Hoo Junction

Hoo Junction, which is a few miles to the East of Gravesend station, has been identified by Crossrail planners, as a suitable area for a depot to serve an extended South-Eastern branch of the line.

Chris Gibbs, in his extensive report on GTR’s performance, suggests that the Hoo Junction area , be used as a depot for Thameslink services to North Kent. I wrote about this in Gibbs Report – Hoo Junction Depot.

In addition, Southeastern are running short of space in Slade Green Depot.

But that’s just the railways.

This report on the BBC indicates that the new Lower Thames Crossing will cross North-South between Gravesend and Hoo Junction.

Should there be a Park-and-Ride station at Hoo Junction?

It would have a four tph service between London and the Medway Towns with a stop at Abbey Wood for Crossrail.

In Gibbs Report – Hoo Junction Depot, I came to the following conclusion.

Crossrail, the Department of Transport, Kent County Council, Network Rail, Southeastern, Thameslink and all other stakeholders and residents should sit round a large table and agree a common long-term philosophy that is in all their best interests for the future.

What happens at Hoo Junction, will be tremendously important to transport infrastructure in the South East of England in general and Kent in particular.

Crossrail To Ebbsfleet International Station

The article talks about extending Crossrail to Ebbsfleet International station, by adding two new tracks  through Slade Green and Dartford stations, serving existing stations.

As I showed in the previous section, I think extra tracks are not necessary, as modern signalling can handle the required number of trains with ease. I suspect though, that the 75 mph Class 465 trains will need to be retired from the North Kent Line, as their performance is just not good enough.

The report says this about the connection at Ebbsfleet.

There would be a new station that would have pedestrian access with Ebbsfleet HS1 station and Northfleet on the historic line – this could be the terminus, or the new line might reach as far as Hoo Junction on the east side of Gravesend.

I’ve always felt that Ebbsfleet International station was a logical South-Eastern destination for Crossrail, mainly because of the space at the station for platforms, depots and car parking.

Consider.

  • St. Pancras station may have too few platforms for Continental services in the future, so Ebbsfleet International may end up being a terminus for some of these services.
  • Southeastern is developing the Highspeed commuter services to East Kent and East Sussex, which probably need a connection to Crossrail and/or Thameslink.
  • The Fawkham Junction link connects Swanley and Ebbsfleet International stations, and it could be used by extra Highspeed services or Thameslink.

I’ve always felt that there’s a simple solution in there, but vested interests and politicians seem to stop railway planners from finding it.

So why not use upgrade Northfleet station with the following features?

  • The ability to accept the services along the North Kent Line – 4 tph + 4 tph Crossrail
  • The ability to accept twelve-car trains.
  • A pedestrian link to Ebbsfleet International station based on something a bit sexy. Perhaps a fast travelator or some other form of people mover.

This Google Map shows that there is plenty of space between the stations.

 

Northfleet station is to the North-East of Ebbsfleet International station.

Could it be that a simple solution  would work?

  • Belvedere, Erith, Slade Green, Dartford, Stone Crossing, Greenhithe and Swanscombe become Crossrail and North Kent stations.
  • Northfleet station is connected to Ebbsfleet International station in a passenger-friendly way.
  • The four tph service through the Medway towns to London Bridge continue and are better-integrated with Thameslink at London Bridge.
  • The Swanley link to Ebbsfleet is reopened to allow more service opportunities.

But then what do I do know?

Is Abbey Wood Station A Cross-Platform Interchange?

One thing that the Modern Railways article says, is that Abbey Wood station has been designed with cross-platform interchange, in such a way that any delays to Kent services don’t have any knock-on effects on the new services.

The Modern Railways article says that Abbey Wood station is a cross-platform interchange, as do other articles.

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

Compare this with this track layout, that I posted in Abbey Wood Station –  29th August 2016.

Note the following.

  • The older layout shows cross-platform interchange.
  • The current one has two pairs of platforms, with Platforms 3 and 4 for Crossrail and Platforms 1 and 2 for other services.
  • The current layout probably connects better to the existing lines to Dartford.

These pictures were taken on the 28th June 2017.

They show a similar layout, of two Northern platforms (3 & 4) for Crossrail and two Southern platforms (1 & 2) for all other services.

Note.

  • The two cross-overs to the West of Abbey Wood station to get the Crossrail trains to and from the right platforms.
  • The station building and the two footbridges over the lines.
  • The solid wooden fence between the two pairs of lines.
  • The robust nature of the overhead wiring.

I suspect, that if they had wanted to have Eastbound and Westbound lines each share an island platform, it would have required a flyover, which would have been a large expense.

But at least with this layout, Crossrail trains can have their own pair of lines to the East, running to the North of the current tracks. The Modern Railways article says this.

Mindful of this, the working group is proposing two new dedicated tracks for the extension, running alongside the line through Slade Green and Dartford, with platforms serving the existing stations.

This Google Map shows the route through Dartford.

In some places putting in two extra tracks would be very difficult and extremely expensive and very disruptive to local residents.

Given the capabilities of modern signalling, now being demonstrated on Thameslink in Central London, I believe that something practical for the train companies and friendly for the passengers will emerge.

But one thing is certain. There will not be cross-platform interchange between Crossrail and other services at Abbey Wood station.

Interchange Between North Kent Services And Crossrail

I have a feeling, that this will come down to personal preferences.

After the opening of Crossrail to Abbey Wood in 2018 and the opening of Thameslink to Rainham, passengers will probably have to use Abbey Wood, where it will be an up-and-over via escalators, lifts or stairs.

If and when Crossrail is extended to Gravesend, any of Abbey Wood, Dartford and Gravesend, could be used as a same-platform interchange.

It would also be possible to take a Highspeed service from Ramsgate and change to Crossrail at Gravesend. Would this avoid the extra charge for High Speed One?

I think that Gravesend could become the interchange of choice, as it could have the following London-bound trains, if Crossrail is extended.

  • 2 tph – Thameslink to Luton
  • 2 tph – Southeastern to Charing Cross
  • 2 tph – Highspeed to Ebbsfleet International, Stratford international and St. Pancras.
  • 4 tph – Crossrail

There could be a need to improve the platforms to cope with the increase of passenger numbers.

Conclusion

Crossrail will get very involved with the new Southeastern franchise.

See Also

These are related posts.

To know more read Kent On The Cusp Of Change in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways.

 

June 28, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

The Changing Face Of Cambridge

I took these pictures, as my train to Cambridge North station, made a stop at Cambridge station.

There’s certainly been a lot of new building.

Over the years, I’ve seen Cambridge station change from a simple station, where staff had to work hard to juggle terminating and through trains to maintain a decent service into a major rail interchange with the following platforms.

  • Two very long through platforms; 1 and 7, capable of taking the longest trains on the UK rail network.
  • Platform 1 is actually bi-directional and can be used as two shorter platforms; 1 and 4.
  • Two London-facing bay platforms; 2 and 3 capable of taking eight-car trains.
  • Two North-facing bay platforms; 5 and 6, capable of taking six-car trains from Ipswich, Norwich, Peterborough and the North.
  • A twelve-car platform; 8, that can be used as either a through or a bay platform.

Is there another regional station in the UK with such a comprehensive layout?

Cambridge station and its new sibling a few miles to the North are certainly ready for all the rail developments planned to happen in the next few years.

  • Thameslink arrives in 2018
  • Greater Anglia’s new trains arrive in 2019.
  • The East-West Rail Link could arrive in the mid-2020s.

I would not be surprised if Cambridge created the Trinity by starting the proposed new Cambridge South station at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in the next couple of years.

After all, a third station, will give Cambridge one more station than Oxford.

 

 

 

May 21, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment