The Anonymous Widower

Bluebell Heritage Railway Planning Western Extension

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Ian Visits.

This is the introductory paragraph.

The Bluebell Railway, a heritage railway that runs through Sussex has filed a pre-planning application as it seeks to extend the railway westwards along a partially disused railway alignment.

It seems to be a well-thought out plan.

  • Part of the route is a freight line to bring aggregates out of the area.
  • The Bluebell Railway appear to have been talking to Hanson Aggregates and the plan would not appear to affect Hanson’s business.
  • The eventual destination is Haywards Heath station, where from maps and Wikipedia, it appears that not too much work would need to be done.

A Hayward’s Heath connection would surely be good for the finances of the Bluebell Railway.

Do Network Rail Have A Plan To Increase Capacity South Of Oxted?

In Kent Railway Viaduct Set For £3.5m Makeover, I wrote about Network Rail giving a viaduct a makeover, that will last for the next fifty years.

Could a reason for the makeover, be that once the trains to Uckfield are zero-carbon, there is a possibility that the frequency of trains on the route could be doubled to two trains per hour (tph)? This would surely increase the stresses and strains on the viaduct. Especially, if two trains were timetabled to pass in Ashurst station, where the line is double-track.

This would increase the trains North of Oxted station in the Off Peak from one train to Victoria and one to London Bridge to one to Victoria and two to London Bridge. Once capacity at East Croydon has been increased, this would provide a fifty percent increase in trains between London and Oxted.

If the capacity is increased through East Croydon and into London, I can see more people using the trains into London from Oxted and the South.

But there are some missing links.

  • Both London Bridge and Victoria don’t have easy connections to the Elizabeth Line.
  • Getting between Heathrow and Oxted is a double-change.
  • There doesn’t appear to be large amounts of parking, on the Oxted Line.
  • It also doesn’t look like there are obvious places to add stations.

I also suspect that faster electric or battery-electric trains working the Uckfield branch will attract more passengers.

Various solutions must be possible after an increase in capacity at East Croydon station.

  • As someone, who lives at the Northern end of the East London Line, we only have a connection to West Croydon station, rather than the much more useful East Croydon station. Will this change, after a remodelled East Croydon station?
  • In Major Upgrade Planned For Norwood Junction Railway Station, I wrote about possible improvements at Norwood Junction station. This upgrade would surely allow better connection between Southern, Overground and Thameslink, with the latter two lines giving access to the Elizabeth Line.
  • I also think that there could be more scope for trains to and from the South to stop at New Cross Gate station for interchange with the Overground.

It should also be noted that the Uckfield branch could become a twelve-car electrified branch.

There has been talk of increasing the frequency of Thameslink through London from its current 20 tph. As Thameslink, already runs to Oxted and East Grinstead in the Peak, perhaps Thameslink could take over the Uckfield Branch?

  • This would give direct access to the Elizabeth Line at Farringdon station.
  • Services would still serve East Croydon and London Bridge.
  • There would also be direct access to Eurostar services at St. Pancras.

Blackfriars, Cannon Street, Charing Cross, Euston, King’s Cross, Liverpool Street, Moorgate, Paddington, St. Pancras, Victoria and Waterloo would all be easy journeys, with no more than a single step-free change.

An East Grinstead And Oxted Shuttle

Could East Grinstead services be improved by adding a shuttle between East Grinstead and Oxted?

  • It would use the bay platform at Oxted station.
  • The timings would be arranged so there was an easy interchange.
  • East Grinstead and Oxted is electrified.
  • Oxted station is a step-free station.
  • The current service takes seventeen minutes between East Grinstead and Oxted, so an hourly service would be possible, which would mean both Uckfield and East Grinstead branches had a two tph service.

Such a service could certainly have possibilities.

How Does This Help The Bluebell Railway?

This map from OpenRailwayMap shows the proposed extension.

Note.

  1. Horsted Keynes station is in the North-East corner of the map.
  2. The Bluebell Railway runs North-South through this station.
  3. Haywards Heath station  is in the South-West corner of the map.
  4. The Brighton Main Line runs North-South through this station.
  5. Copyhold junction, which is to the North of Haywards Heath station, is where a short branch line serves Hanson Aggregates.

The proposed extension will run between the Hanson Aggregates site and Horsted Keynes station.

In my view, the obvious service would be to run between Haywards Heath and Oxted.

  • Haywards Heath station has been designed to turn trains.
  • Oxted station has a bay platform.
  • The route is electrified between Oxted and East Grinstead.
  • Copyhold Junction and Haywards Heath is electrified.
  • Only about thirteen miles of the route are not electrified.
  • The route services Lingfield racecourse and of course the Bluebell Railway.

Passenger numbers are incredibly hard to predict, but I believe that an hourly service could be very useful to some.

July 7, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Do They Paint Their Own Toilets Like This?

I took these pictures in the toilet of a Thameslink train.

It is vandalism, pure and simple and those that did this should spend a long time in a suitable prison!

But then I hate graffiti and others might consider it art!

 

 

June 28, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel, World | , , , | 5 Comments

A Trip To Northfleet

Yesterday, I went to Northfleet station.

Partly, it was to have a drink with my old friend; Ian, but mainly it was to take some pictures to add to Elizabeth Line To Ebbsfleet Extension Could Cost £3.2 Billion.

Normally, when I go to see Ian I take the HighSpeed service out of St. Pancras.

But this service is expensive and as I was leaving from Moorgate, I decided to take the Elizabeth Line to Abbey Wood and get a train to Northfleet station instead.

I have a few thoughts on my journey.

Cost

I used my Freedom Pass to Abbey Wood and then bought an Off Peak Day Return between Abbey Wood and Northfleet for just £4.95 with a Senior Railcard.

Convenience

As you have to use one of the bridges at Abbey Wood to change to and from the Elizabeth Line, I used the one at the station end and popped through the barrier to buy my onward ticket from a machine.

Surely, Freedom Passes should be linked to a bank account, so if you want to stray outside Zone 6, you are automatically charged.

Elizabeth Line Messages On Southeastern

At Swanscombe station today, whilst waiting for my Thameslink train to take me back to Abbey Wood, I noticed that the displays were telling passengers to change at Abbey Wood for the Elizabeth Line.

You certainly wouldn’t use the dreadful Swanscombe station with heavy cases, but stations like Abbey Wood, Dartford, Gravesend and others would enable granny or grandpa to take a sensible-size wheeled case to Heathrow Airport with reasonable ease, once the Elizabeth Line becomes a fully-connected railway between Abbey Wood and Heathrow.

Onward Trains At Abbey Wood

There are two easy onward Thameslink tph at Abbey Wood, that run at sixteen and forty-six minutes past the hour.

You can also take the first Dartford train and then take the first train from there.

If you get the Thameslink train from Abbey Wood timings are as follows.

  • Slade Green – 6 minutes
  • Dartford – 11 minutes
  • Stone Crossing – 16 minutes
  • Greenhithe – 18 minutes
  • Swanscombe – 21 minutes
  • Northfleet – 23 minutes
  • Gravesend – 27 minutes
  • Higham – 33 minutes
  • Strood – 39 minutes
  • Rochester – 42 minutes
  • Chatham – 45 minutes
  • Gillingham – 50 minutes
  • Rainham – 55 minutes

Note.

  1. There are also two Southeastern tph between Charing Cross and Gravesend, but they don’t serve Abbey Wood.
  2. The timings appeared sensible in my two trips; yesterday and today.
  3. Travellers also have a choice in that they can use the more expensive HighSpeed services to selected stations.

After just missing a Thameslink train today by a few seconds, and then had to wait thirty minutes for the next train, I am convinced that there needs to be a four tph service between Abbey Wood and Rainham.

Four tph Between Rainham And Abbey Wood

In Crossrail Ltd Outlines Plan To Complete The Elizabeth Line, I said this about Western branch services.

When Crossrail is fully open, the Western Branch frequencies are planned to be as follows.

  • Reading and Abbey Wood – 4 tph in the Peak and 2 tph in the Off Peak
  • Maidenhead and Abbey Wood – 2 tph all day
  • Heathrow Terminal 4 and Abbey Wood – 4 tph all day.
  • Heathrow Terminal 5 and Abbey Wood – 2 tph all day.

This includes 6 tph between Heathrow and Abbey Wood all day.

Crossrail To Ebbsfleet is proposing that the South-Eastern branch will terminate as follows.

  • 4 tph – Abbey Wood
  • 4 tph – Northfleet
  • 4 tph – Gravesend

So will this mean that the six tph to Heathrow will be split equally between Abbey Wood, Northfleet and Gravesend, with two Heathrow tph terminating at each terminal?

The North Kent Metro

My naive mind thinks, why don’t the two Heathrow and Gravesend services terminate at Rainham?

This would give the following.

  • The minimum four tph between Abbey Wood and Rainham.
  • Rainham should be able to turnback for tph.
  • Services would call at Belvedere, Erith, Slade Green, Dartford, Stone Crossing, Greenhithe, Swanscombe, Northfleet, Gravesend, Higham, Strood, Rochester, Chatham and Gillingham.

North Kent would have its own metro running under London Overground rules.

It could even start as soon as Class 345 trains are allowed to run to Rainham.

Airport Connect

Consider

  • The Elizabeth Line service between Abbey Wood and Rainham could serve Heathrow at its Western end.
  • The Thameslink service would serve Luton Airport Parkway.
  • Both services would serve Liverpool Street for the Stansted Express and services to and from Southend Airport.
  • Both services would serve Farringdon for services to and from Gatwick Airport.
  • An extra station at Silvertown could serve London City Airport.
  • In future, there could even be a connection to High Speed Two at Old Oak Common.

One service on the Elizabeth Line would connect all these together.

June 28, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

I’m Missing The Elizabeth Line Today

Today is a Sunday and because engineers are working on connecting the three sections of the Elizabeth Line, there are no trains in the central section between Abbey Wood and Paddington stations.

I have got used to the new line and generally use it if I stray farther than a couple of miles from home to the South. It’s just so handy, when you want to go in an East-West direction across London.

One of the draws to me of the Elizabeth Line is that it is air-conditioned and in the current heat-wave, it is much more pleasant to travel on the line compared to the Central and Northern Lines.

So for my journeys around Central London, I tend to stick to buses, the Overground, Elizabeth Line and Thameslink.

June 19, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Westbound Elizabeth Line To Northbound Thameslink At Farringdon Station

This journey is the reverse of the one I did earlier today in Southbound Thameslink To Eastbound Elizabeth Line At Farringdon Station.

These pictures show my walk at Farringdon station.

Note.

  1. This route starts at the Western end of the Elizabeth Line platforms in Farringdon station.
  2. I took the escalator there to the top.
  3. I then walked to the left of the second bank of stairs and escalators.
  4. This took me directly on to the Northbound Thameslink platform.

This route also works if you’re going East on the Elizabeth Line and want to go North on Thameslink.

This second set of pictures show the walk in the reverse direction.

Interchange with the Northbound Thameslink platform is very easy in both directions, as most of the walk between platforms is done on the escalator.

Conclusion

There would appear to be an imbalance of quality between the connections between the Elizabeth Line and the two Thameslink platforms.

  • Those going between the Elizabeth Line and the Northbound Thameslink platform will find it easy, as most of the route is on an escalator.
  • On the other hand, those using the Southbound Thameslink platform at busy times could find it congested and slow.

I suspect that regular users of the station, will develop their own routes through the station.

 

June 18, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 3 Comments

Southbound Thameslink To Eastbound Elizabeth Line At Farringdon Station

I travelled today from St. Pancras International station to Whitechapel station, using the following route.

These pictures show my walk at Farringdon station.

Note.

  1. I was riding at the back of the train, so I had a long walk to the lifts.
  2. It would be better to travel in the Southern end of the Thameslink train, as the lifts are at the Southern end of the Southbound Thameslink platform.
  3. I used the lifts to descend to the Elizabeth Line platforms.
  4. It is only a short walk between the lifts and the Elizabeth Line trains.

As the last picture indicates, the connecting lifts that I used, can also be used to go from the Southbound Thameslink to the Westbound Elizabeth Line at Farringdon Station.

These connecting lifts can also be used in the reverse direction to go from all Elizabeth Line services to Southbound Thameslink services to London Bridge, East Croydon, Gatwick Airport, Brighton and all the other Southern Thameslink destinations!

If you want to avoid the lifts, as it appears they can busy, you have to climb the stairs to get to the concourse and then descend to get the escalator down to the Elizabeth Line, that I wrote about in Westbound Elizabeth Line To Northbound Thameslink At Farringdon Station.

Conclusion

There would appear to be an imbalance of quality between the connections between the Elizabeth Line and the two Thameslink platforms.

  • Those going between the Elizabeth Line and the Northbound Thameslink platform will find it easy, as most of the route is on an escalator.
  • On the other hand, those using the Southbound Thameslink platform at busy times could find it congested and slow.

I suspect that regular users of the station, will develop their own routes through the station.

 

June 18, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Does The Paddington Bakerloo Line Link Make The Bakerloo Line A NW-SE Cross-Branch Of The Elizabeth Line?

The Elizabeth Line has these major North-South cross-branches.

  • Jubilee Line at Bond Street station.
  • Charing Cross Branch of the Northern Line at Tottenham Court Road station.
  • Thameslink at Farringdon station.
  • Bank Branch of the Northern Line at Moorgate station.
  • East London Line of the Overground at Whitechapel station.

With the opening of the Paddington Bakerloo Line Link, another North-South cross-branch of the Elizabeth Line has been added.

It could be argued that London has a new NW-SE high frequency link between Harrow & Wealdstone and Abbey Wood stations.

  • Bakerloo Line – Harrow & Wealdstone and Paddington
  • Paddington Bakerloo Line Link – 165 metre level step-free walk
  • Elizabeth Line – Paddington and Abbey Wood via Whitechapel and Canary Wharf

The journey would appear to take 73 minutes from the National Rail journey planner, which allows fifteen minutes for the change at Paddington.

May 28, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Farringdon Station – 13th February 2022

The two main entrances to Farringdon station have now been finished and the road that runs between them has now been pedestrianised.

Is Farringdon station the only London station with separate entrances for National Rail and the Underground that are on opposite sides of a pedestrianised plaza?

Does it need to have some outdoor cafes in the Summer months?

February 13, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Spalding Station – 8th September 2021

I’d only ever been through Spalding station a couple of times, but I’d never seen the station, so because I wanted to take some pictures of the completed Werrington Dive Under, I decided to take a train to the station today.

The quality of the station was a welcome surprise.

  • It was opened in 1848.
  • But it is a Grade II Listed Building.
  • It has a very tasteful step-free footbridge totally in-keeping with the rest of the station.
  • The Entrance Hall, which I didn’t photograph, was excellent.

I can only fault the station in that it lacks a café or better still a real ale pub. But there is a Sainsbury’s outside the door.

Greengauge 21’s Suggestion, That Thameslink Be Extended To Spalding

In the study by Greengauge 21, which is entitled Connecting East Lincolnshire, this is said.

As noted the Spalding-Peterborough line should be a strong candidate for electrification because of its freight potential, and if so it could also accommodate an extension of Thameslink services from London and the South East to Spalding where interchange would be made with a Spalding–Boston–Louth–Grimsby express bus using the A16.

This Google Map shows the station.

Note.

  1. The station only has forty-five parking spaces.
  2. I suspect the express bus could park outside the station.
  3. There is probably space to the North of the station for a turnback siding.
  4. Trains seem to take about 21 minutes to cover the 16.6 miles from Peterborough.

There certainly doesn’t seem to be anything that gives a great big No!

 

September 8, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Does High Speed Two Mean By Classic Compatible Trains?

The Classic-Compatible trains are described in this section in Wikipedia, by this sentence.

The classic-compatible trains, capable of high speed but built to a British loading gauge, permitting them to leave the high speed track to join conventional routes such as the West Coast Main Line, Midland Main Line and East Coast Main Line. Such trains would allow running of HS2 services to the north of England and Scotland, although these non-tilting trains would run slower than existing tilting trains on conventional track. HS2 Ltd has stated that, because these trains must be specifically designed for the British network and cannot be bought “off-the-shelf”, these conventional trains were expected to be around 50% more expensive, costing around £40 million per train rather than £27 million for the captive stock.

The Classic-Compatible trains will share these characteristics with the Full-Size trains.

  • Maximum speed of 225 mph.
  • Cruising speed of 205 mph on High Speed Two.
  • Length of 200 metres.
  • Ability to work in pairs.
  • A passenger capacity around 500-600 passengers.

But what characteristics will the Classic-Compatible trains share with other trains on the UK network?

The Classic-Compatible trains will share some tracks with other trains, according to High Speed Two’s latest plans.

  • On the East Coast Main Line, the trains will run between York and Newcastle.
  • On the Liverpool Branch between Weaver junction and Liverpool Lime Street station.
  • On the Midland Main Line between Clay Cross North junction and Sheffield.
  • On the Midland main Line between East Midlands Hub and Bedford.
  • On the West Coast Main Line, the trains will run between Crewe and Glasgow.
  • On the West Coast Main Line, the trains will run between Stafford and Macclesfield.

As High Speed Two develops, the Classic-Compatible trains could venture off the main routes to places like Aberdeen, Barrow-in-Furness, Blackburn, Blackpool, Cleethorpes, Holyhead, Huddersfield, Inverness, Middlesbrough, Redcar, Scarborough, Stirling and Sunderland.

They will need to be able to go anywhere, which is worthwhile to connect to High Speed Two.

The main restriction is the size of the train and so a Classic-Compatible train probably can’t be larger than the largest train on the UK network, with respect to width, height and to a certain extend length.

Widths of typical trains are as follows.

  • Class 319 train – 2.82 metres
  • Class 321 train – 2.82 metres
  • Class 387 train – 2.80 metres
  • Class 700 train – 2.80 metres
  • Class 710 train – 2.77 metres
  • Class 745 train – 2.72 metres
  • Class 800 train – 2.70 metres
  • Mark 4 coach – 2.73 metres

Heights of typical trains are as follows.

  • Class 319 train – 3.58 metres
  • Class 321 train – 3.78 metres
  • Class 387 train – 3.77 metres
  • Class 710 train – 3.76 metres
  • Class 745 train – 3.95 metres
  • Mark 4 coach – 3.79 metres

Note.

  • I find it odd, that the smallest width is one of the newest trains; Hitachi’s Class 800.
  • Length is fairly irrelevant as many trains in the UK are almost 240 metres long.

I suspect that Classic-Compatible trains will have width of between 2.70 and 2.80 metres and a height of around 3.80 metres.

Could A High Speed Two Classic-Compatible Train Go Through The Thameslink Tunnel?

I ask this question, as surely in a post-pandemic world, where we are all flying there may be a case to be made for a train service between the North of England and Gatwick Airport.

But when East Midlands Railway has their new Class 810 trains, it might be possible, if they didn’t use the diesel engines.

Signalling would not be a problem, as in a few years time, all trains will be equipped with the latest digital signalling systems.

If running a Class 810 train, through the tunnel is possible, given that a  Classic-Compatible train will not be larger than a Class 810 train, will High Speed Two’s trains be able to cross London in the Thameslink Tunnel?

As Midlands Connect are planning to run a Leeds and Bedford service using High Speed Two Classic-Compatible trains, could this service be extended through the Thameslink Tunnel to Gatwick Airport and Brighton?

I have a feeling that this will be physically possible.

  • It would be under the control of the signalling.
  • There’s no reason, why a high speed train can’t have a precise low speed performance.
  • It would stop at all stations.
  • It would use one of the Bedford and Brighton paths on Thameslink

Passengers would like catching a train at a station in Central London and like being whisked all the way to East Midlands Hub and Leeds.

Could A High Speed Two Classic-Compatible Train Go Through The Crossrail Tunnel?

Consider.

  • It would surely be possible to arrange tracks at Old Oak Common to allow High Speed Two Classic-Compatible trains to go between High Speed Two and Crossrail.
  • Crossrail is considering running to Ebbsfleet.
  • It might even be possible to connect in East London.
  • The High Speed Two Classic-Compatible trains would be digitally-signalled and controlled through Crossrail without stopping.
  • Platform edge doors would ensure safety, but also prevent the trains from stopping at the existing stations.

I have just looked at the London railway map on carto metro, there are stretches of Crossrail under London, where there is space for a station with 200 metre, if not a 400 metre platforms, to the West or East of current Crossrail stations.

  • To the West of Bond Street
  • To the East of Tottenham Court Road
  • To the West of Farringdon
  • To the East of Liverpool Street
  • To the West of Canary Wharf
  • To the East of Canary Wharf

Would all appear to have the required space and be possibilities for extra High Speed Two platforms.

Effectively, some stations would have two sets of platforms on the tracks beside each other.

  • One pair of platforms would be the existing station, with platform edge doors compatible with Crossrail’s Class 345 trains.
  • The other pair of platforms would be the High Speed Two station, with platform edge doors compatible with High Speed Two Classic-Compatible trains.
  • The signalling and train control systems would automatically stop trains in the appropriate platform.
  • Extra passageways would link the new platforms to the existing station.

I suspect when Crossrail was designed, the possibility of adding extra stations to the underground section was considered and there is a method of adding extra platforms in Crossrail’s book of cunning engineering ideas.

Conclusion

I don’t rule out a High Speed service between Birmingham and stations in the North of Great Britain and major cities on the Continent.

  • Crossrail would be used to link High Speed One and High Speed Two.
  • High Speed Two Classic-Compatible trains would be used.
  • Stops in London could be Old Oak Common, Bond Street, Liverpool Street, Canary Wharf and Ebbsfleet

It may sound to be a fanciful idea, but I believe it is possible.

 

 

 

August 23, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 8 Comments