The Anonymous Widower

West Hampstead Station – 7th July 2018

The new bridge at the West Hampstead station is now in use and it looks like the new station will be completed by the end of the year.

As the last picture shows this could be one of those station developments, where a deck could have been built over the North London Line to increase the number of flats built in the development on the South side of the railway.

This Google Map shows West Hampstead station on the North London Line and West Hampstead tube station on the Jubilee and Metropolitan Lines, although the latter don’t stop.

Note the development stretches a long way to the West between the North London Line and Underground Lines.

There have been plans to create a West Hampstead Interchange on West End Lane.

As these envisaged moving the Overground station to the East side of West End Lane and the new station is being built on the West side, It would appear there’s been a rethink.

Perhaps the Underground station is to be moved to the West side of West End Lane and will have an entrance on the small square in front of the M & S Simply Food and alongside the new Overground station.

This Google Map shows an enlargement of the area.

The new station could have platforms on the following lines.

  • Jubilee Line
  • Metropolitan Line
  • Cjhiltern Railway

It would be a very worthwhile interchange. Especially, as passengers could do the following.

  • Walk across the square for the Overground for East London.
  • Walk perhaps another hundred metres to West Hampstead Thameslink station, which is also proposed as the terminus of the West London Orbital Railway.

There could also be a development on the top of the new station, which would hopefully contribute to the cost.

I have no idea, if anything will happen here, but Transport for London are looking to create new stations with over-site development. The Mayor also seems keen on the West London Orbital Railway, as it is based on under-used infrastructure and requires no new track or tunnels.

 

 

July 7, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Financial Trouble At TfL: Can It Stay Afloat?

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Railway Technology.

This is the first paragraph.

London’s public transport provider, TfL, is under increasing pressure. Not only has its government operating grant been slashed but a funding freeze is also expected to cost £640m across the course of the current mayoralty. Can TfL create the commercial income needed to keep it afloat or are there serious causes for concern?

The government is cutting subsidy to TfL, but Sadiq Khan knew that when he stood for Mayor.

So what did he do? He offered a fare freeze until 2020.

It looks like more fantasy Socialist accounting to me, to ensure victory in an election.

The article also says this about the future.

Nevertheless, TfL’s hopes for the future are pinned on the completion of its upcoming Elizabeth Line project, scheduled for the end of the year. The £14.8bn project, which will create a brand new line running underground across London, is expected to be a big revenue raiser. TfL predicts that ridership will increase from the current 46 million passengers on TfL Rail, to nearly 270 million by 2022-2023.

If these predictions are wrong, TfL will be in trouble.

For myself, I suspect that Crossrail will suffer with its own version of London Overground Syndrome, with passenger numbers much higher than predicted. In The Scottish Borders Have Caught London Overground Syndrome, I talked about an outbreak in the Scottish Borders, after the opening of the Borders Railway, and said this.

This disease, which is probably a modern version of the Victorian railway mania, was first identified in East London in 2011, when it was found that the newly-refurbished East London Line and North London Line were inadequate due to high passenger satisfaction and much increased usage. It has now spread across other parts of the capital, despite various eradication programs.

But for the Mayor to rely on that, is clutching at straws.

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

London Mayor Sadiq Khan Plans TfL ‘Junk Food’ Advert Ban

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

I don’t buy junk food, except for the odd bag of gluten-free chips from McDonalds, where there is nothing else I can find.

The move is to cut obesity in the capital.

I think a relately problem is the steadily-growing numbers of fast food shops in places like Kingsland High Street, near where I live?

  • They offer unhealthy food.
  • Few offer food for those like me, who have special needs.
  • They contribute largely to litter all over the place.
  • They are always dropping junk mail through my door.

Walk past these shops, just after school has finished and they are full of kids, stuffing themselves.

So what is Sadiq Khan doing to curb the numbers of the unhealthy places? Precisely, nothing!

In the BBC article, Karl Mercer the BBC corespondent says this.

It seems the mayor is trying to have his (low-calorie) cake and eat it.

Perhaps aware that high sugar, fat and salt ads bring in around £13m for TfL he says his new ban will not apply to companies – just to their less healthy products.

I think it is unworkable policy, that if it results in reduced advertising spend for TfL, could result in higher fares or Council Tax.

 

 

 

May 12, 2018 Posted by | Food, Health, Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment

New Overground Trains For Gospel Oak To Barking line Delayed… By Three Months

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

Various reasons are given.

  • The Bridge at Crouch Hill station.
  • Delays in testing the overhead wires.
  • Software problems on the trains.
  • TfL are awaiting trains for driver training.

Network Rail and TfL are apparently blaming each other.

There has been some very bad planning and design on the updating of the Gospel Oak to Barking Line.

  • Crouch Hill bridge should have been rebuilt earlier.
  • Some of the overhead gantry supports were built to wrong dimensions.
  • Some of the project planning seems optimistic with hindsight.

Would I also be right in thinking, that the process of introducing the new trains could have been better handled?

Or is it just, that the idea was to get the Geospel Oak to Barking Line working first and run perhaps a couple of Class 710 trains on the line for the following purposes.

  • Give a thorough testing of all systems.
  • Accumulate certification mileage.
  • Training of drivers.

This would appear to be what happened with Crossrail’s Class 345 trains, which could be seen shuttling up and down between Stratford and Shenfield stations for a couple of months in the middle of the day, before they were allowed to carry fare-paying passengers.

Perhaps, the testing of the trains and initial training of the drivers should have been planned for the Northern section of the Watford DC Line, where the same dual-voltage 710/2 variant of the trains will eventually be deployed.

Conclusion

It would all have been so much different, if the electrified railway had been delivered on the original target date that according to Wikipedia, would have allowed the new trains to run in early 2018.

 

 

April 26, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 2 Comments

Will London Overground Procure Some Class 230 Trains?

Transport for London has a cash flow problem caused by various factors.

  • The reduction in grant from Central Government.
  • A fall in bus revenue caused by traffic congestion.
  • The freeze of fares by the Mayor.
  • The need to add services to stimulate much-needed housing.

This article in Rail Magazine is entitled Vivarail’s D-Trains Confirmed For Bedford-Bletchley.

As West Midlands Trains have now confirmed the order for the Class 230 trains, does this mean that buying Vivarail’s innovative refurbished London Underground D78 Stock, is now a less-risky train purchase?

Battery Or Diesel Class 230 Trains?

Would Transport for London buy a diesel or battery version of the Class 230 train?

Transport for London will have an exclusively electric fleet in a few months, when they have passed the Class 172 trains to West Midlands Trains.

I can’t believe they’d want to buy a small number of diesel trains, so I suspect they’ll go for battery versions.

Advantages Of Class 230 Trains For Transport for London

The trains must have advantages for Transport for London.

  • They are simple trains, built for remote servicing.
  • In some applications, their short length of just two cars must help, in that expensive platform extensions will not be needed.
  • I would suspect that one two-car train is designed to rescue another.
  • Capacity can be increased by adding a third-car.
  • Transport for London must also have a lot of expertise on how to get the most out of these trains.

Possible Routes

There are a handful of possible routes.

Greenford Branch Line

The Greenford Branch Line must be a prime candidate for running with two-car battery version of a Class 230 train.

Consider.

  • Using a four-car train, like a Class 710 train would require the platform at Greenford to be lengthened.
  • A Class 230 train would only need some form of simple electrification at Greenford and/or West Ealing stations.
  • Class 230 trains, would probably fit all platforms easily and give level access for wheelchairs and buggies.
  • Could London Overground’s third-rail engineers add suitable electrification to charge the batteries at Greenford station?
  • The branch is only four kilometres long.
  • The branch only has the two tph passenger service and the occasional freight train.
  • All trains use the new bay platform at West Ealing station.

One train could obviously work the current two trains per hour (tph) timetable, but could two trains and a possible spare run a four tph service on the branch?

The advantages of using Class 230 trains over a more conventional approach using perhaps Class 710 trains would include.

  • No electrification of the branch.
  • No platform lengthening and possibly little platform modification.
  • Only a short length of third-rail electrification would be needed to charge the batteries.
  • A four tph service might be possible.

The big advantage would be that it would be a low-cost project.

Romford To Upminster Line

The Romford To Upminster Line is currently run by a single four-car Class 315 train, which was to be replaced by a new Class 710 train.

In the March 2018 Edition of Modern Railways, whilst discussing nine more Class 71 trains for the London Overground, it is said, that a Class 315 train will be retained for the Romford To Upminster Line.

Why not procure another Class 230 train and use that to shuttle along the branch?

Consider.

  • The electrification can be removed from the line, to save maintenance costs.
  • A short length of third-rail electrification can be used to charge the batteries at Upminster station.
  • The trains could be stabled at Upminster Depot.

The line used to have a short passing loop between Romford and Emerson Park station, that could be long enough for a two-car Class 230 train. If this loop were to be reinstated without electrification, if might allow a four tph service.

It would be another low-cost project.

Bromley North Line

The Bromley North Line is currently served by Southeastern.

Reading Wikipedia for the line, I get the impression, that the line isn’t a major problem, but there are little annoyances.

  • Services are not frequent enough at some times of the day and week.
  • Connection to services to and from London aren’t always convenient.
  • It is not the easiest branch to provide with trains and drivers.

In addition, Southeastern would appear to be amenable to pass the line to Transport for London.

The track layout for the line has the following characteristics.

  • Double-track throughout.
  • There is a single platform at Grove Park station.
  • There are two platforms at Bromley North station.
  • The intermediate station; Sundridge Park has two platforms.

It looks like the line was designed so that two trains can operate simultaneously.

  • Two Class 230 trains could run a four tph service.
  • Stabling and servicing could be in Bromley North station.
  • Trains could be third-rail or battery.
  • A spare train could be held ready if it was felt needed.

It would be a self-contained low-cost solution.

Epping To Ongar

The Epping to Ongar service on the Central Line is no more, but would it be viable now with a Class 230 train?

Brentford Branch Line

The Brentford Branch Line has been proposed for reopening.

Class 230 trains powered by batteries would be ideal rolling stock.

The trains would be charged in Southall station.

West London Orbital

This article on Global Rail News is entitled Commitment To West London Orbital rail line.

This is said.

A press release distributed by the office of London Mayor Sadiq Khan said: “This new line, delivered through TfL, the West London Alliance, boroughs and Network Rail, could potentially support the delivery of an additional 20,000 homes, as well as employment growth in west London.”

In this article on Ian Visits, this is said about the service on the proposed West London Orbital line.

Phase 1: 4 trains per hour from West Hampstead to Hounslow, calling at West Hampstead, Cricklewood, Neasden, Harlesden, OOC, Acton Central, South Acton, Brentford, Syon Lane, Isleworth, Hounslow.

Phase 2: additional 4 trains per hour from Hendon to Kew Bridge, calling at Hendon, Brent Cross/Staples Corner, Neasden, Harlesden, OOC, Acton Central, South Acton, Kew Bridge.

The track is all in place and with a new bay platform at Hounslow, Class 230 trains could work Phase 1 on batteries with ease.

The key to the intermediate stations is property development. At Neasden, Harlesden and Old Oak Common, there is a lot of spare land around the Dudding Hill Line, where the trains will run. Developers will be told to build an appropriate amount of housing with a new station underneath.

The West London Orbital could be built to the following specification.

  • No full electrification.
  • Battery trains.
  • Platforms long enough for four-car Class 710 trains.
  • Bay platforms with possible charging at West Hampstead, Hendon, Hounslow and Key Bridge stations.
  • Four tph on both routes.

It lends itself to a very efficient way of building the railway.

  1. Build a platform on the freight line through West Hampstead Thameslink station.
  2. Build a bay platform that will accept a four-car train at Hounslow station.
  3. Establish a four tph shuttle service between West Hampstead  Thameslink and Hounslow stations calling at Acton Central, South Acton, Brentford, Syon Lane and Isleworth.
  4. Stations could be built at Neasden, Harlesden and Old Oak Common, where there is a generous amount of brownfield land, with lots of space for housing above the tracks and platforms.

Note.

  1. Batteries would be charged between Acton Central and Hounslow using the existing third-rail electrification.
  2. About five miles of the route would not be electrified.
  3. Housing developments on top of a station are a property developers dream.

The service could be started using Class 230 trains, with the option to switch to four-car Class 710 trains, powered by batteries, when more capacity is needed and Bombardier have fully developed the battery Aventra.

Phase two of the project would need development of platforms at Hendon and Kew Bridge stations.

The beauty of the West London Orbital, is that the only costs for Transport for London are four new platforms, some track-work and a fleet of new trains.

Hopefully, the development of the intermediate stations would be down to property developers, as they will make a fortune out of the housing!

Conclusion

I think the answer to my original question posed in the title of this post is Yes!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Tunnelling Complete On Northern Line Extension

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Global Rail News.

This is said in the Wikipedia entry for the Northern Line Extension To Battersea.

The main tunnelling started in April 2017.

So as it’s now November 2017, the tunnellers have performed like a Jack Russell after a rabbit.

I do think that this excellent performance might give Transport for London ideas for some new passenger or train tunnels under London.

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

Specialist Trains Lead The Charge Against Leaf Fall on The Piccadilly Line

The title of this post is the same as the title of this press release on the Transport for London web site.

Last year, the Piccadilly Line suffered badly from leaves on the line as this article on the BBC, which is entitled Piccadilly Line delays: Wet leaves cause train shortage reported. This was the opening paragraph.

The Piccadilly Tube Line has been hit with major delays after half its trains were taken out of service as wet leaves on the track damaged their wheels.

Transport for London’s press release, talks about using RATs.

The two Rail Adhesion Trains (RATs) are part of a package of measures being introduced this Autumn to tackle wheel flats and prevent disruption.

A robust action plan to tackle leaf fall on the Piccadilly line is well underway for the Autumn months, TfL confirmed today.

It follows the publication of an independent report, commissioned by TfL, into leaf fall issues on the Piccadilly line that have led to delays and disruption on the line over the past two years.

Two 1973-stock trains have been converted into specialist engineering trains which will travel on the Piccadilly line treating rails to reduce the risk of poor adhesion. The adhesive material they dispense helps the train wheels grip the tracks during braking. When trains brake on slippery tracks it can cause the wheels to lock and subsequently wear down, an issue known as wheel flats.

Other measures TfL is taking to ensure that services on the Piccadilly line run as smoothly as possible this Autumn include:

  • Aggressive vegetation clearance.
  • Obtaining better weather prediction data.
  • Better signage and information for drivers.
  • Developing an Autumn leaf-fall timetable.
  • Recruiting more maintenance staff and purchasing more spare wheels.

It’s certainly a comprehensive package of measures.

September 3, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | 1 Comment

How Long Will It Take Bombardier To Fulfil Their Aventra Orders?

I was reading this article in The Guardian, which is entitled Full speed ahead for train builders as minister pulls plug on electrification, when I found this useful nugget of information, from the General Manager of Bombardier’s Derby plant.

Building trains in an “ergonomically correct” fashion, he says, means completing and testing the carriage’s constituent parts, then assembling them, rather than wiring them up afterwards – and also takes the risk away from a production line which boasts a rate of 25 carriages per week.

It sounds like Bombardier’s engineers have been drinking and swapping ideas, with Toyota’s production engineers a few miles down the road at Burnaston.

But even so 25 carriages a week is an impressive  figure, as that is almost three Class 345 trains for Crossrail in a week.

Bombardier have not been producing at that rate until now, as if they had, there would be Aventras in sidings all over the place. In The Class 345 Trains Are More Numerous, I described how I saw four yesterday and Transport for London have said they will have they will have eleven in service by September.

But this is all consistent with not going into full production, until you are sure, that you’ve got everything right, as any prudent company would do!

The Trains On Order

Bombardier have the following orders for Aventras.

  1. Crossrail – Class 345 – 70 x nine-car – 630 cars – To be delivered in 2015-2018
  2. London Overground – Class 710 – 45 x four-car – 180 cars – To be delivered in 2017-2018
  3. Greater Anglia – Class 720 – 89 x five-car – 445 cars – To be delivered in 2018-2020
  4. Greater Anglia – Class 720 – 22 x ten-car – 220 cars – To be delivered in 2018-2020
  5. South Western Railways – Class xxx – 30 x five-car – 150 cars – To be delivered in 2019-2020
  6. South Western Railways – Class xxx – 60 x ten-car – 600 cars – – To be delivered in 2019-2020
  7. West Midlands Trains – Class xxx – 36 x three-car – 108 cars – To be delivered from 2020
  8. West Midlands Trains – Class xxx – 45 x five-car – 225 cars – To be delivered from 2021
  9. c2c – Class xxx – 10 x six-car – 60 cars – To be delivered from 2021

This gives a total of 2,618 cars to be built.

The Building Schedule

Orders 1 and 2 are both directly or indirectly for Transport for London, with Wikipedia stating that the Class 710 trains for the Lea Valley  Lines are being stabled at Ilford TMD, where the current Class 345 trains are also stabled, whilst they are being tested between Liverpool Street and |Shenfield stations.

I suspect that this close relationship between the orders means that Bombardier and Transport for London have agreed a delivery schedule, that brings in trains as they are needed. There’s not much point in building Class 345 trains for Crossrail, when some won’t be needed until 2019, if there is a more urgent need for Class 710 trains for the Overground.

To improve matters for Bombardier, Orders 3 and 4 for Greater Anglia, will probably be stabled in part at Ilford TMD.

Bombardier have not only got four substantial initial orders, but because they can all be introduced into service from Ilford TMD, they must have a tremendous advantage in terms of testing, introduction into service, manpower and costs.

So it looks to me that the two London orders will be built first, followed by the Greater Anglia and then the South Western Railways.

The London orders total 810 cars, which would take 32 weeks using Bombardier’s figure of 25 cars per week in The Guardian.

But assuming they started full production on the 1st of August, that gives them seventy-two weeks until the end of 2018, which gives a equired production rate of under twelve cars a week.

Surely, given their past history of building around a couple of thousand Electrostar cars, that must be achievable. Especially, as the modular structure of the Aventra, which has been developed with suppliers, must make building quicker.

The Greater Anglia and South Western Railways orders, which total 1,415 cars, would need to be built in 2019-2020 or lets say a hundred weeks.

So the build rate would be 14 cars a week, which is well below Bombardier’s figure.

The Body Shells

It should also be stated that Bombardier make their body shells at Derby, whereas Hitachi make their’s in Japan and ship them to Newton Aycliffe. This must ease having a high production rate for Bombardier, as for this you must have timely and reliable deliveries.

The Class 345 and 710 trains seem to have different car lengths, so it would appear that their production of body shells is flexible.

Little can be discerned about the production process from the Internet, as articles like this one on Global Rail News, which is entitled Bombardier completes first Crossrail body shell, are short on production details.

If they have a capacity to produce twenty-five body shells a week, I don’t believe that this can be done without the use of sophisticated designs assisted by large amounts of automation, as used in most car and van body production.

I have found this picture of a number of Aventra car body sides on the Internet.

Note the double-skinned nature of the body sides, with reinforcing ribs inside, which must have great strength, light weight and a minimum number of components. I have read somewhere, that Bombardier are extruding aluminium for body components.

All of the holes could then be automatically cut by robots.

The joys of modern manufacturing!

Final Assembley

Modern manufacturing methods, as employed by car companies for years doesn’t mean you have to produce a sequence of identical vehicles on the line. Computer systems make sure all the components to build each car arrive at the right time.

A Class 345 train might have four or five different types of car, so similar methods would be used to speed production of the individual cars.

West Midlands Trains

Abellio, who own Greater Anglia, have decided they want to use Aventras on their new West Midlands Trains franchise.

According to Wikipedia, the new franchise is proposing to introduce the following trains

  • 333 new Aventra carriages in three and five-car trains.
  • 80 new CAF Civity carriages in two and four-car trains.

Some of the trains are direct replacements for other trains.

  • The 36 x three-car Aventras will replace the 26 x three-car Class 323 trains.
  • The CAF Civity trains will replace various diesel multiple units around Birmingham.

In some ways the puzzle is that there are 29 x five-car Aventras on order for electrified suburban lines.

Adding up the current and future number of electrified carriages on Birmingham suburban routes, shows that the number of carriages to be used will increase by three times.

New electrification is on the way.

  • Chase Line to Rugeley Trent Valley.
  • Cross-City Line to Bromsgrove.

But these short schemes won’t need all those trains, unless West Midlands Trains are going to run ten-car trains across Birmingham.

But possibilities exist.

  • Electrification further towards places like Nuneaton and Worcester.
  • Electrification of the Camp Hill Line across the City Centre.
  • Aventras will be using batteries to reach places without electrification.
  • Some Aventras could be bi-mode. I discuss the concept of a bi-mode Aventra in Is A Bi-Mode Aventra A Silly Idea?.

All will become clear in the next couple of years.

The West Midlands Trains orders for Aventras  total 333 new carriages, which will all be pretty similar to previous orders, except in details like car length, number of cars, top speed and the interiors.

At Bombardier’s quoted production rate of 25 cars per week,l that means they would take jus fourteen weeks to build them, after the design was finalised.

That sounds unbelievable!

c2c

This order is for just sixty carriages, which will be delivered as six x ten-car trains.

This is an extract from c2c’s Press Release.

The Aventra is one of the fastest-selling trains in the UK rail industry, and these new trains will be manufactured at Bombardier’s factory in Derby. Each new train, which will operate in a fixed set of 10-carriages, will include over 900 seats, plus air-conditioning, wifi, plug sockets and three toilets onboard. Each new carriage is larger and contains more seats than on c2c’s current trains, so each 10-carriage new train provides capacity for 15% more passengers onboard compared to a current 12-carriage c2c train.

So three x four-car trains working as a twelve-car train are replaced by one ten-car train, which results in.

  • A modern instead of a twenty-year-old train.
  • 15% more capacity.
  • Wi-fi and plug sockets.
  • Better passenger experience.
  • Two cabs instead of six.
  • Fixed-formation trains don’t have end gangways.
  • Twenty bogies instead of twenty-four.

Revenue per train will surely increase, but electricity and maintenance costs will also decrease.

So the accountants get a double dose of pleasure!

c2c also hint that more new trains are on thew way.

But as they are also reported to have extended the lease on their Class 387 trains, they have excellent cover whilst waiting for delivery of new Aventras.

Currently, they have the equivalent of 25 x twelve-car trains with a few spares.

So a complete train replacement if they like the Aventras, will probably be something like another twenty to thirty trains.

This would seem to be a very low-risk plan!

The New South Eastern Franchise

The needs of the current South Eastern and West Midlands franchises are surprisingly similar.

  • High speed running on HS1 and the West Coast Main Line.
  • Suburban services in city networks; London and Birmingham.
  • A few short branch lines.
  • Some lines without electrification.
  • An ageing fleet without wi-fi.

So could we be seeing a mass fleet replacement with Aventras, as in West Midlands Trains.

Note that one of the bidders for this franchise is the same consortium of Abellio, East Japan Railway Company and Mitsui, who successfully bid for West Midlands Trains.

Abellio bought a large number of Aventras for Greater Anglia and helped develop battery power for the trains.

So could we be seeing a large number of Aventras added to the fleet for the South Eastern franchise?

Currently, the franchise runs 824 Electrostar and 674 Networker carriages.

To replace the Networkers would be 27 weeks of production at Bombardier’s rate of 25 carriages a day.

The South Eastern franchise also needs more high speed trains for HS1. I can’t believe that Bombardier couldn’t achieve a top speed of 140 mph with an Aventra. They probably will have a solution for covering the line between Ashford and Hastings. My money’s is on some form of energy storage.

Conclusion

Bombardier would not quote the capability of being able to make 25 trains per week to a newspaper like the Guardian, if they didn’t know it was possible.

But to meet the deliveries needed by the four initial customers, probably needs about half the quoted production rate, which is the sort of conservative thinking I like.

This gives Bombardier the float to sort out production problems or non-delivery of sub-assemblies outside of their control.

But it would also give them the capacity to fit in other orders. Suppose Crossrail decided to extend to Gravesend or Southend and needed another five Class 345 trains, then in theory, that is only two days production, provided the suppliers can deliver.

The UK’s railways are going to be full of Aventras.

 

 

 

August 20, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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

The 10:35 From Liverpool Street To Shenfield

I took these pictures on the untimetabled 10:35 TfL Rail service between Liverpool Street and Shenfield stations and on the return to Liverpool Street.

As you can see it is a new Class 345 train.

There were a lot of Crossrail and Transport for London staff about, talking to passengers.

These are my thoughts on various issues.

Ride Quality

This is up with the best or the legendary British Rail Mark 3 coach, which was designed in the 1960s.

One of the Crossrail staff was wearing stiletto heels close to four inches and she was walking up-and-down with no difficulty.

For someone who suffered a bad stroke, my balance is good and I had no difficulty walking along the seven-car train.

Cabin Height And Width

I don’t know how Bombardier have done it, but the cabin seems higher and wider than any other train I’ve ridden in the UK.

Next time, I ride one, I’ll take a couple of tall guys and a tape measure.

Information

The current on-train information is simple, but then as I suspect the screens are software driven, any degree of required complication can be added.

I don’t know whether it is deliberate but everything is large and easy to read. There is also no maps or exhortations about security.

Long may it stay that way!

Simple is efficient!

Seats

Not everybody was completely satisfied with the seats, but I found them much more comfortable than those in the Class 700 trains on Thameslink.

There were some good points.

  • The sets of four seats were arranged as they were in the original InterCity 125 around a large window.
  • The metro-style seating had a wide aisle in the middle, that would satisfy a basketball team.
  • An amply-proportioned  man, thought the seats comfortable.
  • Most seats had well-designed armrests.
  • There was plenty of space under the seats for airline-size carry-on baggage or a labrador.

On the other hand, there were no cupholders, tables or litter bins. But there aren’t any on the Class 378 trains or London Underground‘s S Stock.

Entry And Exit

I feel that trains should be a level step across from the platform.

This train wasn’t as good as a Class 378 train on many Overground stations, but it was better than some.

As many Crossrail stations will be one train type only there is probably scope to get this better.

I regularly see a lady in a simple wheel-chair on the Overground and I feel she would probably be able to wheel herself in and out, which she does at Dalston Junction station with ease.

It should be noted that each coach has three sets of wide double doors and a large lobby, so perhaps a mother with triplets and a baby in a buggy would find entry easier than any train on the Underground.

Walking Up And Down The Train

I found this very easy on a train that was no more than a third full, as it was an extra service to introduce the train to passengers.

There were numerous hand-holds and vertical rails in the centre of the lobbies. Unlike on some trains in France, Italy or Germany, the rails were very simple. They also borrowed heavily from the Overground’s Class 378 trains.

Wi-Fi And 4G

I didn’t try the wi-fi, as it is not something I use very often.

But I was getting a strong 4G signal all the way to and from Shenfield. Was this direct or was I picking up a booster in the train? I  suspect it was the latter at some points close to Liverpool Street.

Windows

The windows on the train are large and well-positioned.

The simple seat and window layout, seems to appeal to all classes of rail user.

A Train For Families

When Celia and I had three children under three, with two able to toddle-along (they had too!) and the youngest in his McClaren, I could imagine us taking a train from Barbican station to perhaps go shopping on Oxford Street, sitting in one of those set of four seats by that large window.

A Train For Commuters

The Class 378 trains of the Overground cram them in and the metro layout of much of the Class 345 train will accommodate large numbers of commuters.

I would question, if there are enough seats, but the proof should be apparent by the end of the year, as eleven of the current seven-car trains will be in service between Liverpool Street and Shenfield.

For the full Crossrail service, they will be lengthened to nine cars and there is a possibility of adding a tenth.

A Train For Shoppers

If say, I’d been to Eastfield at Stratford and was coming back to Moorgate heavily loaded with shopping to get a bus home, I could probably put some bags under the seat. Try that on the Underground!

A Train For The Not-So-Young

From what I saw today, I couldn’t make too many observations, as the train wasn’t crowded, but the few older travellers that I did see were smiling at the experience.

A Train For The Disabled

As I’m not disabled, I can’t comment and would love to hear from those who are.

A Train For The Tall

Compared to other trains in London, the headroom seemed to be generous, but then I didn’t see anybody who was much more than six foot.

A Train For The Airport

Class 345 trains will serve Heathrow Airport. I feel they will cope, as the metro layout of the Class 378 trains, seems to accommodate large cases well!

Comparison With A Class 700 Train

The Thameslink Class 700 trains are designed for running over a longer distance at a higher speed and they have toilets.

But for a thirty minute journey through a busy part of London, there is no doubt in my mind, as to which train I would choose.

The Class 345 train, with its large windows, more comfortable seating, space for bags, uncluttered views and the appearance of more space, is undoubtedly in my view a better designed train.

Incidentally, for every metre of a nine-car Class 345 train, 7.31 passengers can be accommodated, as opposed to 7.07 in an eight-car  Class 700 train.

I think we can put all this comparison down to Derby 1 – Krefeld 0!

Comparison With A Class 387 Train

The trains will be compared with Bombadier’s last Electrostar, the Class 387 train, which will be in service with GWR between Paddington and Reading, alongside the Class 345 train.

Passengers will be able to take whichever train they want on this route.

Will they choose the Class 387 train, with its tables, very comfortable seats and toilets or the Class 345 train?

I’d choose the Class 387 train, as I like to lay out my newspaper for reading.

No matter what happens Derby wins again.

Moving Forward On Approach To Liverpool Street

I was surprised how many people walked to the front as we approached Liverpool Street.

But were they only demonstrating the Londoners’ ducking and diving ability of getting to the right place for exit.

Regular passengers on regular routes will anticipate their stops and I will be interested to see how much passenger behaviour increases the capacity of the train.

Conclusion

This first Aventra feels like it is a very good train.

Consider how Bombardier improved the Electrostar since it was first produced in 1999.

So what will an Aventra be like in 2035?

 

June 27, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , | 10 Comments