The Anonymous Widower

Thoughts On Southeastern’s Metro Services

It is regularly proposed that Southeastern‘s Metro services should be taken over by Transport for London (TfL)

What Are The Metro Services?

According to Wikipedia, these are Metro services. I have added a quick thought of my own.

London Cannon Street And London Cannon Street via Greenwich And Bexleyheath

  • This service runs along the North Kent and Bexleyheath Lines at a frequency of two trains per hour (tph).
  • Stations served are London Bridge, Deptford, Greenwich, Maze Hill, Westcombe Park, Charlton, Woolwich Dockyard, Woolwich Arsenal, Plumstead, Abbey Wood, Belvedere, Erith, Slade Green, Barnehurst, Bexleyheath, Welling, Falconwood, Eltham, Kidbrooke, Blackheath, Lewisham, St. Johns, New Cross and London Bridge.
  • The round trip takes around 100 minutes.

This route would surely be ideal for operation by TfL, as it runs totally in Greater London.

London Cannon Street And London Cannon Street via Greenwich And Sidcup

  • This service runs along the North Kent and Sidcup Lines at a frequency of two tph.
  • Stations served are London Bridge, Deptford, Greenwich, Maze Hill, Westcombe Park, Charlton, Woolwich Dockyard, Woolwich Arsenal, Plumstead, Abbey Wood, Belvedere, Erith, Slade Green, Crayford, Bexley, Albany Park, Sidcup, New Eltham, Mottingham, Lee, Hither Green, Lewsisham, St. Johns, New Cross and London Bridge.
  • The round trip takes around 100 minutes.

This route would surely be ideal for operation by TfL, as it runs totally in Greater London.

London Charing Cross And Dartford via Blackheath And Abbey Wood

  • This service runs along the North Kent Line at a frequency of two tph.
  • Stations served are Waterloo East, London Bridge, Woolwich Arsenal, Abbey Wood, Belvedere, Erith, Slade Green, Dartford, Gillingham

Because it is more of an Outer Suburban service, this service would probably stay with Southeastern.

London Charing Cross And Dartford via Bexleyheath

  • This service runs on the Bexleyheath Line at a frequency of two tph.
  • Stations served are Waterloo East, London Bridge,Lewisham, Blackheath, Kidbrooke, Eltham, Falconwood, Welling, Bexleyheath and Barnehurst
  • London Charing Cross and Dartford takes around 60 minutes with a round trip of around 120 minutes.

This route would surely be ideal for operation by TfL, as it runs totally in Greater London except for Dartford.

London Victoria And Gravesend via Bexleyheath

  • This service runs along the Bexleyheath Line at a frequency of two tph.
  • Stations served are Denmark Hill, Peckham Rye, Nunhead, Lewisham, Blackheath, Kidbrooke, Eltham, Falconwood, Welling, Bexleyheath, Barnehurst, Dartford, Greenhithe

Because it is more of an Outer Suburban service, this service would probably stay with Southeastern.

London Charing Cross And Dartford via Sidcup

  • This service runs along the Sidcup Line at a frequency of two tph
  • Stations served are Waterloo East, London Bridge, Hither Green, Lee, Mottingham, New Eltham, Sidcup, Albany Park, Bexley and Crayford
  • London Charing Cross and Dartford takes around 45 minutes with a round trip of around 100 minutes.

This route would surely be ideal for operation by TfL, as it runs totally in Greater London except for Dartford.

London Charing Cross And Gravesend via Sidcup

  • This service runs along the Sidcup Line at a frequency of two tph
  • Stations served are Waterloo East, London Bridge, New Eltham, Sidcup, Bexley, Crayford, Dartford, Stone Crossing, Greenhithe, Swanscombe and Northfleet

Because it is more of an Outer Suburban service, this service would probably stay with Southeastern.

London Cannon Street And Orpington via Grove Park

  • This service runs along the South Eastern Main Line at a frequency of two tph.
  • Stations served are London Bridge, New Cross, St Johns, Lewisham, Hither Green, Grove Park, Elmstead Woods, Chislehurst, Petts Wood
  • London Cannon Street and Orpington takes around 40 minutes with a round trip of around 120 minutes.

This route would surely be ideal for operation by TfL, as it runs totally in Greater London.

London Charing Cross And Sevenoaks via Grove Park

  • This service runs along the South Eastern Main Line at a frequency of two tph.
  • Stations served are Waterloo East, London Bridge, Hither Green, Grove Park, Elmstead Woods, Chislehurst, Petts Wood, Orpington, Chelsfield, Knockholt, Dunton Green

Because it is more of an Outer Suburban service, this service would probably stay with Southeastern.

London Cannon Street And Hayes

  • This service runs along the Hayes Line at a frequency of two tph.
  • Stations served are London Bridge, New Cross, St Johns, Lewisham, Ladywell, Catford Bridge, Lower Sydenham, New Beckenham, Clock House, Elmers End, Eden Park, West Wickham
  • The Hayes Line could be on the Bakerloo Line Extension.
  • London Cannon Street and Hayes takes around 40 minutes with a round trip of just under 90 minutes.

This route would surely be ideal for operation by TfL, as it runs totally in Greater London.

London Charing Cross And Hayes

  • This service runs along the Hayes Line at a frequency of two tph.
  • Stations served are Waterloo East, London Bridge, Ladywell, Catford Bridge, Lower Sydenham, New Beckenham, Clock House, Elmers End, Eden Park, West Wickham
  • The Hayes  Line could be on the Bakerloo Line Extension.
  • London Charing Cross and Hayes takes around 40 minutes with a round trip of just over 90 minutes.

This route would surely be ideal for operation by TfL, as it runs totally in Greater London.

London Victoria And Orpington via Beckenham Junction

  • This service runs along the Chatham Main Line at a frequency of two tph.
  • Stations served are Brixton, Herne Hill, West Dulwich, Sydenham Hill, Penge East, Kent House, Beckenham Junction, Shortlands, Bromley South, Bickley and Petts Wood.
  • London Victoria and Orpington takes around 40 minutes with a round trip of around 95 minutes.

This route would surely be ideal for operation by TfL, as it runs totally in Greater London.

London Victoria And Bromley South via Beckenham Junction

  • This service runs along the Chatham Main Line at a frequency of teo tph
  • Stations served are Brixton, Herne Hill, West Dulwich, Sydenham Hill, Penge East, Kent House, Beckenham Junction, Shortlands
  • London Victoria and Bromley South takes around 30 minutes with a round trip of around 67 minutes.

This route would surely be ideal for operation by TfL, as it runs totally in Greater London.

Some General Observations

These are some general observations on all the routes.

  • Lewisham will be on the Bakerloo Line Extension.
  • There are interchanges with TfL services at Abbey Wood, Elmers End, Greenwich, Lewisham, London Bridge, New Cross, Peckham Rye, Waterloo East, Woolwich Arsenal
  • All of the routes appear to be capable of handling 90 mph trains.
  • It is possible that an interchange would be built at Penge between the Chathan Main Line and the East London Line of the London Overground.

A Trip Between London Cannon Street And London Cannon Street via Greenwich And Sidcup

I took this trip on a Class 465 formation.

  • The service is more of a suburban trundler, than a brisk commuter train.
  • I timed the train around 60-65 mph in places, but at times in was running at around 30 mph.
  • Stops always weren’t always performed in the most urgent manner.

I got the impression, that the service could be run faster.

The Current Metro Trains

Currently, the Metro fleet appears to be formed these trains.

  • Class 376 trains – Five cars – Built in 2004-5 – 75 mph maximum – 228 seats
  • Class 465 trains – Four cars – Built in 1994 – 75 mph maximum – 334 seats
  • Class 466 trains – Two cars – Built in 1994 – 75 mph maximum – 168 seats.

Note.

  1. All can run as ten car trains, either as five+five or four+four+two.
  2. All have First Class seating.
  3. None of the trains don’t gangways.
  4. A ten-car Class 376 formation has 456 seats and is just over 200 metres long.
  5. A ten-car Class 465/466 formation has 836 seats and is 205 metres long.
  6. I think there are enough trains to form 99 ten-car trains and 15 twelve-car trains.

But what is the affect on timetables in that all are 75 mph trains?

Possible Replacement Trains

The trains could be replaced by other two hundred metre long trains, as anything longer would probably need platform lengthening.

Various examples of Bombardier Aventras with different interiors must be in the frame, if they can sort their software problems, but other manufacturers could also produce trains.

Performance

Trains must be able to make full use of the track, which appears to be good for 90 mph.

As the new trains will share tracks with Thameslink’s 100 mph Class 700 trains and Southeastern’s 100 mph Class 377 trains, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the new fleet of trains have a 100 mph operating speed and the appropriate acceleration, that this brings.

Length

The current trains are just over 200 metres long, as are the nine-car Class 345 trains.

The new trains will be the same length to avoid large amounts of expensive platform lengthening.

Interior Layout And Capacity

These styles could be used.

  • Class 710-style with longitudinal seating, no toilets – Capacity estimate -482 seated and 1282 standing passengers.
  • Class 345-style with longitudinal/transverse seating, no toilets – Capacity – 450 seated, 4 wheelchair, 1,500 people total[passengers.
  • Class 701-style with transverse seating toilets – Capacity –  556 seats, 740 standing.

This will be a big increase in capacity.

Other Features

Trains will probably have these other features.

  • Full digital signalling, either fitted or future-proofed.
  • Ability to walk through the train.
  • Step-free access between platform and train.
  • Wi-fi, power sockets and 5G boosting.

First Class and toilets would be at the discretion of the operator, but TfL Rail and the London Overground see no point in fitting them.

Transfer To The London Overground

As I said earlier there is more than a chance, than some or all of the Metro routes will be transferred to the London Overground.

As Kent County Council doesn’t like the idea of London having control of their train services, I would suspect that a compromise would be reached, whereby any service wholly within Greater London or terminating at Dartford would be transferred to the London Overground.

This would mean that these services would be transferred.

  • London Cannon Street And London Cannon Street via Greenwich And Bexleyheath
  • London Cannon Street And London Cannon Street via Greenwich And Sidcup
  • London Charing Cross And Dartford via Bexleyheath
  • London Charing Cross And Dartford via Sidcup
  • London Cannon Street And Orpington via Grove Park
  • London Cannon Street And Hayes
  • London Charing Cross And Hayes
  • London Victoria And Orpington via Beckenham Junction
  • London Victoria And Bromley South via Beckenham Junction

All services would be run by high capacity 200 metre long trains.

  • The frequency would be two tph, with many doubling up to give four tph.
  • There would be no First Class seating.
  • Seating could be longitudinal, with no on-train toilets.
  • Step-free access between platform and train.

As the train will have better performance, services could be faster with shorter journey times.

Will Passengers Accept The Spartan Trains?

Some passengers might not like the lack of First Class, the longitudinal seating and no toilets.

But consider.

  • In the next few months, London Overground will be replacing conventional Class 315 trains between Liverpool Street and Chingford, Cheshunt and Enfield Town. Currently, these trains don’t have First Class or toilets and it will be interesting to see how the new Class 710 trains on these routes are received.
  • When Crossrail extends to Ebbsfleet and/or Gravesend, they’ll get more of this type of train.
  • Trains with longitudinal seating have a much increased capacity at all times and especially in the Peak, where it is needed.
  • If you look at passenger numbers on the London Overground there is a very steady climb. So London Overground must be doing something right.
  • Toilets are being removed on several Metro services from London to Heathrow, Hertford North, Reading, Shenfield and Stevenage.
  • It may be better and more affordable to build more toilets in stations.

I think there is more than a chance, that if TfL take over these Southeastern Metro routes, that a less austere train could be used.

Perhaps for compatibility with Crossrail, Class 345 trains with their mixture of longitudinal and conventional seating would be used.

Penge Interchange

I wrote about TfL’s plans for Penge Interchange in this post called Penge Interchange.

This new station, should be one of the conditions of TfL taking over Southeastern’s Metro services.

The new station could be fully step-free and would seriously improve connections to and from South East London.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 14, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Reading For Lunch On TfL Rail

On Sunday, TfL Rail took over the services between Paddington and Reading via Maidenhead.

The pictures show that there is still a lot of work to do to get a complete step-free Western Branch of Crossrail.

I walked to Carluccio’s at Reading, which is about a kilometre. It would be closer, if Reading had decent maps like other civilised towns or cities.

These are my comments about the new TfL Rail service.

Competitive Ticketing On TfL Rail

I would expect services on TfL Rail will be competitively priced and some details are given on this page on the TfL web site, which is entitled TfL Rail Will Operate Services To Reading From 15 December.

Freedom Passes

I can use my Freedom Pass all the way to Reading for a cost of precisely nothing.

  • There are lots of places along the line, where holders might go to enjoy themselves.
  • Freedom Pass holders can take children with them on some rail services in London. Will they be able to do this on TfL Rail?
  • Freedom Pass holders like to extract maximum benefit from their passes.

But it won’t be long before canny holders, realise that other places like these are just an extension ticket away.

  • Basingstoke – £4.50
  • Henley-on-Thames – £2.65
  • Marlow – £3.10
  • Newbury or Newbury Racecourse – £4.50
  • Oxford – £6.65
  • Winchester – £11.55
  • Windsor – £1.90
  • Woking – £9.75

I included Winchester, as that is where my granddaughter lives.

Will Freedom Pass holders take advantage?

  • This is not a rip-off offer, but a chasm in the fare regulations.
  • There are some good pubs and restaurants by the Thames.

They will take advantage in hoards.

Reverse Commuters

On my trip to Harrogate, I met a guy, who told me, that Reading has difficulty attracting workers for high-tech businesses.

I suspect that the new service might encourage some reverse commuting.

Will some Freedom Pass holders take advantage?

  • I know a lot of people still working, who commute within London on a Freedom Pass.
  • Not all Freedom Pass holders are pensioners. For instance, I would have been eligible because I lost my Driving Licence, when my eyesight was ruined by a stroke.

As the pictures show, there is a lot of offices going up around the station in Reading.

Access To The Thames

The route between Paddington and Reading gives access to the River Thames at the following places.

  • Windsor from Slough
  • Marlow from Maidenhead
  • Henley from Twyford.
  • Reading
  • Oxford from Reading

I wouldn’t be surprised to see the route being used extensively by leisure travellers to explore and visit London’s principle river.

Connection To Central London

When Crossrail opens to Central London, this must surely result in a large increase in cummuter, leisure and tourist traffic.

Indian Sub-Continent Families

There are a lot of people with roots in the Indian sub-continent living along the route between Paddington and Reading.

Note that Southall station is one of a small group of English stations with bilingual signage. At Southall the signs are in both English and Punjabi.

I feel, that strong family, cultural and religious ties will mean, that this large group will use the trains of TfL extensively in their daily lives.

Train Frequency

It was a Sunday, and the train had perhaps sixty percent of the seats taken.

I have this feeling that this route could suffer from London Overground Syndrome and that passenger numbers will rise much higher than the most optimistic forecasts, because of the factors I outlined in previous sections.

  • Competitive Ticketing On TfL Rail
  • Freedom Passes
  • Reverse Commuters
  • Indian Sub-Continent Families
  • Access To The Thames
  • Connection To Central London

This leads me to predict that this line will need a full four trains per hour (tph) service as far as Reading before the end of 2021 and not just in the Peak Hours.

Connections To The Branches

On my journey to and from Reading,, I didn’t see any trains on the four branches, that have the following frequencies.

  • Greenford – Two tph
  • Windsor – Three tph
  • Marlow – One tph
  • Henley – Two tph

Surely, as the current TfL Rail service has a frequency of two tph to Reading, it should interface better with the Greenford and Henley branches.

It appears to me, that there is scope for a better timetable and increased frequency on some of the branches.

Or is the current timetable geared to making profits in the cafes and coffee stalls at the interchange stations?

My timetable would be as follows.

  • Greenford – Four tph
  • Windsor – Four tph
  • Marlow – Two tph – Timed to be convenient for Reading services.
  • Henley – Two tph – Timed to be convenient for Reading services.

If the Crossrail and branch service are both four tph or better and there are reasonable facilities, I suspect that will work reasonably well.

But the higher the frequency the better!

Train Performance

On my trip, the Class 345 train was stretching its legs to the West of West Drayton and I recorded a speed of 90 mph.

Their performance doesn’t seem to be much slower than Great Western Railways 110 mph Class 387 trains.

Ticketing

From what I’ve seen, ticketing on this line needs to be augmented.

What is currently, in place will work for Londoners and those that live close to the line.

But would it work for tourists and especially those for whom English is not their first language, who want to visit Oxford and Windsor?

There would appear to be a need for a ticket which allowed the following.

  • Use of TfL Rail between West Drayton and Reading.
  • Slough and Windsor
  • Maidenhead and Marlow
  • Twyford and Henley
  • Reading and Oxford

Could it be called a Thames Valley Ranger?

The alternative would be to bring all the routes into London’s contactless payments system.

But would this mean complicated wrangling over ticket revenue between TfL Rail and Great Western Railway?

There certainly needs to be a simple ticketing system at Slough, so that passengers can purchase a return to Windsor.

The only ways at present are.

  • Buy a ticket at Paddington to Windsor.
  • Leave Slough station and buy a return ticket to Windsor.

Something much better is needed.

Crossrail To Oxford

Because of Network Rail’s l;ate delivery of the electrification West of Reading, the services have ended up as less than optimal.

I think eventually, services to Oxford, will be reorganised something along these lines.

  • Crossrail will be extended to Oxford.
  • Fast services to and from London would be the responsibility of Great Western Railway. The frequency would be at least two tph.
  • CrossCountry fast services would continue as now.
  • Stopping services to and from London would be the responsibility of Crossrail
  • Stations between Reading and Oxford, with the exception of Didcot Parkway would only be served by Crossrail.

The Crossrail service to Oxford would have the following characteristics.

  • Four tph
  • The service would terminate in a South-facing bay platform at Oxford station.
  • Pssible battery operation between Didcot Parkway and Oxford.
  • The service would have a dedicated pair of platforms at Reading.

There would possibly be a ticketing problem, but as there would be separation of fast and stopping services, I feel that a good solution can be created, which would allow changing between the fast and stopping services at Reading. So commuters from somewhere like Cholsey could either go Crossrail all the way to and from London or change to a faster train at Reading.

Conclusion

I am led to the conclusion, that this service will be overwhelming popular.

But the ticketing leaves much to be desired.

 

December 17, 2019 Posted by | Food, Transport | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Could Highbury & Islington And Canada Water Stations Be Connected By A Twelve Trains Per Hour Service?

This article on IanVisits, is entitled More Frequent Trains And A New Station For The London Overground.

This is said.

In a statement, the government agreed to requests for £80.8 million from the GLA to support transport upgrades so that 14,000 homes can be built along the East London Line.

Upgrades include

  • New Bermondsey station, which was originally to be called Surrey Canal Road, will be built.
  • A second entrance will be built at Surrey Quays station.
  • Frequency between Dalston Junction and Clapham Junction stations will be increased from four trains per hour (tph) to six tph.
  • Frequency between Highbury & Islington and Crystal Palace stations will be increased from four tph to six tph.

The frequency upgrades will mean twenty tph between Dalston Junction and Surrey Quays stations, or a tyrain every three minutes as opposed to the  current three minutes and forty-five seconds.

Consider the section of the East London Line that I use most between Highbury & Islington and Canada Water stations via Whitechapel station.

  • Highbury & Islington station has good connections to the Victoria Line, the Northern City Line and the North London Line.
  • Highbury & Islington station is the thirteenth busiest station in the UK.
  • Whitechapel station has good connections to the District and Hammersmith & City Lines, which have recently been increased in Frequency.
  • Whitechapel station will be on Crossrail, when it opens.
  • Canada Water station has a good step-free connection to the Jubilee Line.
  • Canada Water station is the seventeenth busiest station in the UK.
  • Currently, the frequency between Highbury & Islington and Canada Water station is eight tph and after the improvements it will be ten tph.

The frequency increase is to be welcomed but I wonder if it could be better.

Would it be possible that in addition to the proposed changes, the West Croydon and Clapham Junction services should swap Northern terminals, as they do on Sundays.

This would not affect any services South of Dalston Junction, but it would increase the number of services between Dalston Junction and Highbury & Islington via Canonbury to twelve tph.

This would give several benefits.

  1. Passengers changing from the North London Line to go South, would have an easier change at the less-crowded Canonbury station, rather than Highbury & Islington. Canonbury has only one Southbound platform, simpler passenger flows, is fully step-free and as the trains on the East London Line, will be at a higher frequency, the waiting time would be less and a maximum of just five minutes.
  2. Passengers could avoid the cramped Dalston Kingsland, which is not step-free, on many journeys.
  3. Half the trains going North through Dalston Junction would have a cross-platform interchange with the Westbound North London Line at Highbury & Islington.
  4. Passengers going South from Dalston Junction wouldn’t dither about at the bottom of the stairs, trying to ascertain, which train is going first. As there would be sixteen trains per hour leaving on the left island Platform 3/4, only passengers going to New Cross would go right.
  5. Dalston Kingsland and Highbury & Islington is one of the busiest Peak Hour services in the UK. Twelve trains per hour on the alternative route might ease the congestion.
  6. The increased frequency might help, when Arsenal are playing at home.
  7. In some ways, maximising the service between Dalston Junction and Highbury & Islington, compensates for the annoying cut-back of the 277 bus service.

I do feel that swapping the two services so that both six train per hour services terminate at Highbury & Islington could be beneficial.

Hopefully, TfL have got there first! Unless of course, there’s an operational reason, why the swap can’t be done!

 

October 30, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

World’s First Solar-Powered Trains Are Coming To England

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

This is the first paragraph

The first ever solar unit to directly supply a railway line with electricity has been put in place in England, paving the way for the world’s first solar-powered trains

I am not sure yet about this technology., powering large sections of the UK’s railways.

But the technology does have applications, if it is combined with energy storage.

Boosting Power With Third-Rail Electrification

Third-rail electrification has a problem, in that it needs to be fed with power every few miles. Inevitably, as timetables get busier, there are areas, where there is not enough power to supply the trains.

These systems can provide that fill-in power.

Note that 25 KVAC overhead electrification doesn’t have the problem, as the wires themselves distribute the electricity.

This means that the Great Western Main Line electrification is only supplied with power from the electricity grid at three places; the two ends and one in the middle.

Electrification In Visually-Sensitive Places

Look at this picture of Brunel’s magnificent Wharncliffe Viaduct.

It has been recently electrified and some groups object to the electrification of Grade I Listed structures like this.

Most modern electric trains can be dual-voltage and can work on both electrification systems used in the UK; 25 KVAC  overhead and 750 VDC third rail. They can also change between electrification systems at maximum speed

So could we see selective use of solar-powered third-rail electrification in visually-sensitive areas?

Possibly! But battery/electric trains may be a better alternative!

Charging Battery-Electric Trains

There are some branch lines, that will be served by battery-electric trains in the future.

These solar-powered systems could be used to provide the energy to charge the batteries for the return journey.

Powering Remote Stations

Stations are increasingly needing better electricity supplies with more lighting and various ticket and parking machines, and charging for electric cars will become more important.

Solar power systems and batteries could be used.

Conclusion

Solar power will be increasingly used on the railways, with a large number of stations like Blackfriars and the recently-opened White Hart Lane.

But that will happen, irrespective of the result of the Aldershot trial, as many stations are easy places to install solar panels, either on the roof or redundant spaces.

This Google Map shows one of my local stations; Haggerston.

It was rebuilt and reopened in April 2010, so solar panels were probably not thought about for the station.

From my helicopter, it appears that the stations at  Dalston Junction, Hoxton and Shoreditch High Street, which were all built at the same time, don’t have solar rooves either.

Perhaps Transport for London and/or Network Rail should rent their roof areas to companies, who run solar farms?

I’m sure there’s a mutually beneficial deal in there somewhere!

As to powering trains, I’m sure they that Riding Sunbeams has a place on third-rail networks, where power needs boosting.

However, electric trains with batteries might be a better option in other applications.

August 29, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

I Don’t Think Bombardier And Transport for London Will Be Disappointed

I’ve just been through this week’s performance of the service on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line, using the Real Time Trains web site.

  • This week was the first with a full four trains per hour service with four-car trains.
  • There were a couple of cancellations on Monday and Tuesday.
  • On Monday, a station guy, said there were problems earlier, but I found the service, as it should be.
  • On one day this week BBC London said there was a shortage of drivers around 07:30, but two bulletins later, they stated service was normal.

Not bad for the first week of a full service!

Train Testing And Driver Training?

It should also be noted that most nights, there are a few movements out of Willesden TMD. Are these test runs and/or driver training?

Ridership

I haven’t ridden the trains this week in the Peak, but in the Off Peak, the number of passengers does appear to be down on a few weeks ago.

It could of course be the increase in frequency!

Next week, I’ll have a ride in the Peak!

Conclusion

I suspect that Bombardier and Transport for London are not disappointed.

June 28, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 3 Comments

If This Is The End For The £1.3bn M4 Relief Road, Radical Thinking Is Needed

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Wales Online.

The article is a good analysis of one of South Wales’ major transport problems; How do you relieve capacity on the ageing M4 around Newport?

I haven’t been on that section of road for perhaps twenty years or even longer, but I can’t ever remember the road, not being full of traffic.

Abolition Of Tolls Not The Smartest Move

This is a subsection of the article about the abolition of tolls on the Severn Crossing, where this is one sentence.

The abolitions of tolls, as predicted, have already driven a 20% rise in traffic levels on the existing M4, which will only put more pressure on its resilience.

Any sensible person could have told you that.

Surely, the extra capacity should have at least been planned before the tolls were abolished.

But then politicians like buying votes with unsustainable decisions that benefit their electorate.

As another example, look at the problems, Sadiq Khan’s fare freeze has caused Transport for London. But then you can’t expect a lawyer and politician to get their sums right. My late wife was a lawyer and many of our friends in Suffolk were in the same profession. Few had any clue about handling numbers properly.

June 4, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Aviva Investors Acquires 101 Moorgate Development Site

The title of this post is the same as that of the title of this article on Property Funds World.

This introductory paragraph says it all.

Aviva Investors, a global asset management unit of Aviva, has completed the acquisition of the long leasehold interest in 101 Moorgate, EC2, from Transport for London (TfL). Aviva Investors will develop a mixed-use retail and office site above Crossrail infrastructure and opposite the new Crossrail Liverpool Street Station western entrance.

This Google Map shows a 3D visualisation of the site.

Note the site is indicated by the red arrow.

To it’s left is Moor House, which as well as being a large office block, incorporates a Crossrail ventiltion shaft.

Hopefully, Transport for London raised a few pennies for that deal.

 

May 29, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

The GOBlin Users Think Things Are Looking Up

This was one of their tweets tonight.

Two Class 710s out on the WCML tonight and they’ve allowed onto the fast lines as well with no shadowing ROG diesel! Things are looking up!

So are they right?

TfL and Bombardier are being increasingly brave with where they are taking the trains.

Pictures have been taken of Class 710 trains in these places.

  • During the day at Gospel Oak, Walthamstow Queens Road and Upney.
  • At night on the West Coast Main Line

As a software man of at least forty years experience, I wouldn’t be surprised to be told, that the important train control software is now working as it should in most situations.

  • And in those situations where it doesn’t work, Bombardier have probably got a work-round. Even if it is stop and reboot! We’re all familiar with that on our desk- or lap-tops.
  • It would mean a trained technician on each train, but as there are twenty trains al;ready built, testing and driver training can continue on as many trains, as can be accommodated on the various test tracks and routes.

As I have said many times, there has been a major failure on the part of all European train manufacturers and governments, to make sure there is enough testing facilities for all the trains ordered from European manufacturers in the last few years for both Europe and export.

Software needs a lot of testing and with desktop software, you need to have tens of testers, each with their own installation.

Why should trains, which these days are just computers on wheels be any different?

I suspect that the cabs and control systems in the various classes of Aventra, with the exception of the Class 345 train, are identical.

  • Bombardier have said the the 345s have an older computer architecture based on the Electrostar.
  • Having the same software on every Aventra must make testing and acceptance into service so much easier.
  • The software would be configured for the each train size and application.

I wouldn’t be surprised, if Bombardier retrofitted the 345s with the computer system of all other Aventras.

Identical computer systems across all Aventras would have benefits for Bombardier.

  • A mixed fleet of Aventras of different sizes and performance could be driven by all drivers, with the appropriate route knowledge.
  • New versions of the software could be distributed automatically over the Internet.
  • It would be easier to add new hardware and software features to the trains.

Aircraft manufacturers like Boeing and Airbus have been using similar philosophies for years.

If I’m right about this, I would expect to see the following after the 710s are working reliably on the GOBlin and the Watford DC Line.

  • A rapid introduction of the 710s on the Lea Valley Lines limited only by train testing and mileage accumulation, and driver training.
  • The next fleet of Aventras start to be tested for another operator.

Bombardier are gearing up for high production rates of Aventras, so there will not necessarily be serial production of fleets.

  • London Overground might take the initial twenty and run them for a year to ascertain any small design changes they need, which will be incorporated into the rest of the trains.
  • Greater Anglia may get some of their fleet, so they can train drivers and see what changes are needed on their platforms etc.

I actually think, that train companies would like to call off trains from Bombardier at a rate that they can bring into service. As Bombardier are producing a large number of very similar trains, they can then build them in the order that suits their customers and Bombardier’s cash flow.

But to do this successfully, you need orders for a large number of similar trains!

 

 

March 1, 2019 Posted by | Computing, Transport | , , , , , | 2 Comments

So Far So Good On The Gospel Oak To Barking Lne

Since Monday, I have taken four trips on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line, with two in the Class 172 trains and two in the four-car Class 378 train.

  • The only problem I’ve seen was at about two on Tuesday afternoon, where the platform at Blackhorse Road station was jam-packed and the next train was a 172!
  • There has been no reports in the media; good, bad or indifferent.
  • RidingTheGoblin on Twitter has been reporting no problems.

It looks to me, that the passenger experience will only get better for the next few weeks as two other four-car Class 378 trains replace two Class 172 trains.

That should take everything to mid-March.

So that gives Transport for London and/or Bombardier six weeks to rustle up some more trains.

Options could include.

Class 710 Trains

If Class 710 trains are delivered in time, drivers will have to be trained, so this would put at least a week or so in the critical path.

Borrow Some Class 378 Trains

Services could be reduced elsewhere on the Overground and more Class 378 trains introduced.

Conclusion

There is only one four-car train and judging from the effects I’ve seen with this single train, an all four-car fleet will mean that the capacity on the line will be very lsrge. Will it encourage more to use the line?

As to the future, it’s going to be a close-run thing.

My money is on Bombardier delivering the Class 710 trains. They have most to lose and it’s their fault!

January 31, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 1 Comment

TfL’s Reaction To The Gospel Oak To Barking Problem

In Gospel Oak-Barking Fleet Plan Remains Unclear, I wrote a section, which was entitled.The Situation On The Gospel Oak To Barking Line Is Critical.

I quoted the headings of this page on the Barking-Gospel Oak Rail User Group web site which was their latest newsletter.

  • Train Service On Brink Of Collapse
  • Not Enough Trains For Viable Service
  • TfL Has No Idea When New Trains Will Be Fit For Service
  • Rail Users Demand Mayor Takes Action To Restore Reliable Train Service Now
  • Rail Users Demand Compensation After Years Of Misery

It was all strong stuff.

The Barking-Gospel Oak User Group have now published a reply from TfL.

This is an extract.

I am very sorry for the continuing delay to the introduction of the new trains. I want to assure you that we are working very hard with all parties to bring the new trains into passenger service as soon as possible. However, the manufacturer, Bombardier Transportation has still not been able to fix the software problems that are causing the delays. Together with the Mayor and the Deputy Mayor for Transport, we are continuing to push hard to get the trains running as soon as possible.

As you know, we extended the lease on the diesel trains currently running on the line to account for the delay to the new trains. One of these trains will soon need to be released for use elsewhere in the country, with the remaining trains due to be released by mid March.

Given the continuing delays to the new trains, we are now exploring the option of modifying some other London Overground trains for temporary use on this line. There are a number of
considerations that need to be resolved before we can confirm whether this is possible. We are
testing a modified train on the line and expect to make a decision on whether it is possible to
operate it later this month.

So it looks like TfL are working towards running Class 378 trains on the route.

From the statement, it appears that one train is required soon and upwards of five are needed by mid-March.

As I indicated in Gospel Oak-Barking Fleet Plan Remains Unclear, five trains could be released by reducing the Stratford and Clapham Junction service from four trains per hour to two.

It would be tight, but the problem would be solved by the successful acceptance of a few Class 710 trains.

January 16, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 4 Comments