The Anonymous Widower

The Bank Station Upgrade And The Western Extension Of The DLR

This map from Transport for London (TfL), shows the possible Western extension of the Docklands Light Railway (DLR).

With all the problems of the funding of Crossrail 2, that I wrote about in Crossrail 2 Review Prompts Fresh Delays, could this extension of the DLR, be a good idea?

If you look at the Bank Station Upgrade in detail, the DLR gets a much needed boost in the upgrade.

The two DLR platforms underneath the Northern Line get a triple-escalator connection to the Northern Line level, from where they have the following.

  • Level access to the Northern Line.
  • Escalator access to the Cannon Street entrance.
  • Travelator/escalator access to the Central Line.
  • Access to the current escalators and lifts to the various entrances around Bank Junction.

There will also be lifts everywhere.

According to Services in the Wikipedia entry for the DLR, the following services turn at Bank station.

  • 22.5 trains per hour (tph) in the Peak.
  • 18 tph in the Off Peak.

So the turnback is handling a train around every three minutes.

I have no idea, what is the maximum frequency of the DLR, but as it is an automated system, with new trains to be delivered in the next few years, I suspect the frequency will be pushed higher in the future.

The Bank Station Upgrade has been designed to handle more passengers using the DLR, so there should be no problem about handling more passengers in the two platforms deep in Bank station.

The limiting factor would more likely be in the turnback.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr, shows the DLR lines at Bank station.

Note the turnback for the DLR, under the Central Line platforms 5/6, running alongside the Northern Line.

  • Trains stop in the arrivals platform 10 at Bank station and unload all passengers.
  • They then move to the turnback and the automation then switches to the other end.
  • They then move to the departures platform 9 to pick up passengers.

It is an inefficient way to turn trains. A through station at Bank would have a much greater capacity.

If you look at the map of the proposed Western extension, it has two branches which join and split at City Thameslink station.

  • Charing Cross, Green Park and Victoria.
  • Holborn, Euston and St. Pancras

It should be noted that the two-platform terminal station at Lewisham currently handles upwards of 20 tph in the Peak.

This would mean that if both Western branches had a two-platform terminus, then there could be a theoretical total of forty tph through Bank station.

If Dear Old Vicky can manage thirty-six tph with ten year-old-trains and less automation, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the DLR manage the magic forty tph, with twenty tph on each branch.

Obviously, though there would be other considerations and capacity limits, but I can see a big increase in the numbers of passengers using the DLR.

I would expect that the improvement to the DLR access being added in the Bank Station Upgrade must have been designed to handle the highest number of DLR trains and passengers that anybody can practically envisage.

It should also be noted that the DLR station is below the Northern Line and the turnback siding, which is shown in the map of the lines, will be well out of the way of the new Northern Line and travelator tunnels.

The map of the Western DLR Western Extension,  also shows the extension going West away from the Northern Line tunnels. This would mean it would comfortably  pass underneath the new Southbound Northern Line tunnel.

It therefor looks to me, that the Bank Station Upgrade is very much preparing Bank station for the DLR Western Extension to be built.

So will the DLR Western Extension be constructed?

Why Is It Needed?

Various reasons Have been given.

Better Connection To The Docklands Light Railway for Commuters From The South

The DLR Western Extension will connect to commuter routes at the following stations.

  • Charing Cross
  • City Thameslink
  • Victoria

This should help commuters get to the City and the business areas of East London.

Another Direct Connection Between East London And West Central London

It will also help travellers get betweenEast London and West Cerntral London without changing or using the overcrowded Victoria Line.

A few points.

  1. c2c commuters would also be able to change at Limehouse station to trains going further than Bank station.
  2. It would help me get to places South of Crossrail and Victoria becomes much easier.
  3. Access to Thameslink from the East will be improved, if you’re not near a Crossrail station.
  4. New housing in the East will get the transport links it needs.

East London has a great need for the DLR Western Extension.

Increase The Number Of Trains Serving Bank Station

The Mayor wants to extend the DLR to Abbey Wood and Thamesmead in the South East.

This will mean that extra capacity is needed in the West to turn the trains.

The DLR Western Extension and the Bank Station Upgrade seems a pretty good way to obtain this much-needed capacity.

The People Mover Between High Speed One, High Speed Two, West Coast Main Line And The East Coast Main Line

Proposals exist for a high capacity people mover between High Speed One at St. Pancras and High Speed Two at Euston.

The DLR Western Extension will accept this challenge and do it superbly and could even have connections to the East Coast Main Line.

Take The Pressure Off The Northern Line

Consider.

  • The Northern Line connects Euston and Bank stations via Kings Cross St. Pancras.
  • The Northern Line is supposed to take ten minutes.
  • The route is overcrowded and it is impossible to get a seat, for most of the day.
  • When High Speed Two opens in 2026, more travellers will want to travel to and from the City.

The DLR Western Extension could give as many as twenty tph on the following route.

  • St. Pancras
  • Euston
  • Holborn
  • City Thameslink
  • Bank

With the new DLR trains and the full automation of the DLR, the route will certainly outperform the Northern Line and possibly a black cab, driven  by Lewis Hamilton.

Improve Capacity Between Victoria And The City

Just as the DLR Western Extension will improve the route between Euston and the City of London, the other branch will improve the route between Victoria and the City

I’ve taken a District Line train from .Whitechapel to Victoria station and there are better ways to enjoy yourself.

It’s The Poor People’s Crossrail 2

Crossrail 2 with its mega station at Euston/Kings Cross/St. Pancras will give North-East London much better access to National Rail services going North.

To get to any of these stations now, I have to take a bus to either Angel or Moorgate stations and then get a tube.

I used to be able to get a bus to Highbury & Islington station, but the Mayor from South London has halved the service, so I don’t bother to wait fifteen minutes for a bus and go via Angel.

If the DLR Western Extension were to be opened, I’d get an Overground train to Shadwell station and change to the required route.

Agility – The DLR Advantage

I must say something about the big advantage of the DLR.

The trains have the ability to twist, turn and climb gradients, that a conventional train would find impossible.

This means that the tracks can be threaded through places, where heavy rail just can’t go!

Tunnels

The DLR tunnels and platforms at Bank station are the deepest in London. This article in the Telegraph says this about the deepest station in Central London.

It is the DLR concourse at Bank, which is 41.4 metres below.

Crossrail’s depth by comparison is described in this page on the Crossrail web site like this.

A network of new rail tunnels have been built by eight giant tunnel boring machines, to carry Crossrail’s trains eastbound and westbound. Each tunnel is 21 kilometres/13 miles long, 6.2 metres in diameter and up to 40 metres below ground.

The DLR Western Extension tunnels would cross Crossrail close to Holborn station, so they would probably need to go below Crossrail at this point.

Designing the route of the tunnels is probably the easy part, as construction will be much harder and will take a lot of planning.

Consider, the places for construction sites, where a tunnel boring machine (TBM) could be inserted or the spoil could be taken out.

  • Bank, St. Pancras and Victoria stations are very crowded places, with most of the land already built on.
  • There are the Royal Parks and London’s leafy squares, on the route.
  • This article on IanVisits describes the railway sidings under Smithfield Meat Market, which could be somewhere to start digging. Could spoil be taken out at night by train on Thameslink?
  • As Holborn station is getting a second entrance, this could also be a key site in the construction of the tunnels.

The tunnellers might use the techniques employed in the Bank Station Upgrade, where the tunnel was dug without a TBM and spoil was taken out by truck. But the tunnels for the DLR Western Extension will be much larger.

Stations

It is worth looking at the stations on the route.

Charing Cross

Charing Cross station has been rebuilt in recent decades and still has the two former Jubilee Line platforms in working order, that might be able to be reused.

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

Note.

  1. The old Jubilee Line tunnels go through the platforms.
  2. They are long enough to hold two trains.
  3. The tunnels would have to be enlarged to fit the larger DLR trains.

As these platforms and tunnels were built to be extended on a route not unlike that of the DLR extension, I suspect TfL have ideas about how this station could be rebuilt to be part of the Western DLR extension.

City Thameslink

– City Thameslink station is a reasonably-modern, one-line double-ended step-free station.

The DLR Extension would cross the station at right-angles, deep below Thameslink.

Euston

Euston station is being rebuilt for HS2 and the Underground station will be extensively improved.

I would be very surprised, if the new station, has been designed without a feasible place for DLR platforms to be added.

Green Park

Green Park station has been updated several times and I suspect that TfL have ideas about how the station could be served by the extension.

Holborn

Holborn station is being extended with a new entrance. As with Euston, I suspect it has been designed with a feasible place for DLR platforms to be added.

This document on the TfL web site, gives more details of what is proposed at Holborn station.

I extracted this visualisation of the proposed station.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines in the through and around the station.

.Note, Crossrail, which is shown by dotted lines passes to the North of the station.

This diagram from Crossrail shows a depth profile of the tunnels between Farringdon and Bond Street stations.

Note.

  1. The blue dot indicating the Piccadilly Line.
  2. The red dot indicating the Central Line

These two lines are close to Holborn station.

I would feel that the DLR Western Extension could be accommodated in the lower level of the updated station. If required, it could use the DLR’s agility to use a route, no normal railway could.

St. Pancras

St. Pancras station is virtually a new station, so at least, the surveys and drawings are up-to-date. This might make designing two platforms below the current complex a bit easier.

Although, actually building them might be more difficult.

Victoria

The Underground station has been substantially remodelled and rebuilding of the National Rail station is in the pipeline.

Plans are also being drawn up, as to how this station will connect to Crossrail 2.

Hopefully, they’ve taken the DLR Extension into account.

Should There Be Any Other Stations?

The DLR Western Extension must be built, so that if required, the two new branches can be extended.

Extending From St. Pancras

One article, I’ve read, says that this branch should be extended to Camden Town.

In Maiden Lane And York Road Stations, I suggested that it should be extended to these two former stations. I said this.

But why stop at S. Pancras? The DLR could be extended under Kings Cross station, stopping where required to finish at York Road station.

  • Only the building would be used.
  • There would be no connection to the Piccadilly Line.
  • The Docklands Light Railway tunnels would be several metres down to travel under buildings and the stations.
  • An underground passage could be built to a reopened Maiden Lane station.

A worthwhile use would have been found for an iconic building and Kings Cross Central would have much better public transport connections.

Given that over the next few years, there will be a large increase in capacity on the North London Line through Maiden Lane station, this could be a very important extension.

Extending further in the future from York Road would be enabled. Next stop Finsbury Park?

Or would it be better to create a connection to the Piccadilly Line at the combined York Road/Maiden Lane station complex?

Extending From Victoria

Obviously, if the Victoria Branch could be extended to Waterloo, this would be an ideal solution.

I would look at the possibility of having a very easy interchange between the Victoria Line and the DLR at Victoria.

Cross-platform interchange would probably be difficult, but if the DLR platforms were under those of the Victoria Line, I would feel a fast step-free interchange could be designed.

This would effectively mean that the Victoria Line would be a virtual extension to the Victoria Branch of the DLR Western Extension.

A Connection To Crossrail

Surely, the DLR Western Extension should connect to Crossrail. Especially, as it connects to Thameslink!

Conclusion

Build the DLR Western Extension!

Why?

  • It will add capacity between Euston and the City.
  • It will add capacity between Victoria and the City
  • It will unlock capacity at Bank and allow more services to the East.

It is the poor people’s Crossrail 2

It won’t be built though!

  • East London isn’t a priority and it’s where the scum and great unwashed live.
  • It doesn’t do much for South and West London, where important people live.
  • The North of England will object, as it’s another London project!

But I’m hoping that it will be built, as it will transform the lives of many who live in the East and/or rely on the DLR.

In 2010, I wrote Cinderella Will Take You to the Ball!, where I was looking forward to the Olympics.

After the Olympics, I was told by a Senior Manager of the DLR, whilst riding on a DLR train, that the system had performed magnificently at the Games and carried more passengers than everybody expected it would!

There certainly weren’t any complaints.

But I did find this article on Rail Magazine, which is entitled The Secret Of Serco’s Success.

This is the first two paragraphs.

In January 2013 Serco was awarded an 18-month contract extension to operate the Docklands Light Railway, one of the most reliable train services in the UK.

This extension (to September 2014) to the original seven-year franchise rewarded a remarkable performance in 2012, a performance that was also a principal reason for National Rail Awards judges awarding Serco Docklands the City & Metro Operator of the Year accolade.

So they got a Gold Medal too!

This is said about their performance during the year.

Almost 12 million passengers were carried during the entire Games period, and during the busiest times, passenger numbers reached more than double the normal level. Numbers peaked at around 500,000 passengers in a single day, over 125,000 more than DLR’s previous record. And yet, despite all that extra pressure, 2012 was DLR’s most reliable year ever.

Sexy the DLR is not, but like the character I name her after, this light railway, works incredibly hard and to a high standard!

It is a true heavyweight amongst urban transport systems.

Perhaps we should abandon Crossrail 2 and just extend the Docklands Light Railway?

 

 

December 2, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Has The Possibility Been Created For A Pedestrian Tunnel Between Bank And Moorgate Stations?

This visualisation shows the Bank Station Upgrade at Bank station, which is now underway to sort out the station’s problems of capacity and poor step-free access.

This is the bottom-left corner of the visualisation.

Notice that there are two fat tunnels running top to Bottom across the visualisation, which are the Central Line tunnels, with the Eastbound on the left and the Westbound on the right.

There are also four tunnels running left to right across the visualisation.

The top two, which are sticking out to the left of the Eastbound Central Line tunnel, are the current Northern Line running tunnels

  • The top one is the Northbound tunnel going to Moorgate station.
  • The other one is the current Southbound tunnel, which under the plans for Bank station will be closed to trains and used to improve passenger access to the Northbound platform. If you go to the Northern Line platforms, there are tell-tale blue hoardings, indicating where better access will be created.

These pictures show the current state of the current Southbound tunnel.

It looks like at least three sections of the wall between the two platforms will be removed.

The third tunnel, which is shown pink in the visualisations is the connecting tunnel between the Central Line and the new entrance to the station on Cannon Street.

Note the following.

  1. It has a travelator.
  2. it connects to a lobby, where there are triple escalators to the Central Line.
  3. It appears to come to a stop under the Eastbound Central Line platform.

What lies at the Northern end of this tunnel?

The fourth tunnel, which is the new Southbound running tunnel for the Northern Line, has been helpfully drawn with a rail track inside.

This is the top-right corner of the visualisation.

Note.

  1. There are three cross passages between the two running tunnels, just as there appears to be three blue hoardings in the existing Southbound running tunnel.
  2. The Northbound running tunnel now has a wide platform, which has been built inside the existing Southbound tunnel.
  3. The new Southbound running tunnel will be built with a wide platform.
  4. There are three escalators leading to the new Cannon Street entrance.
  5. There are three escalators leading down to the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) platforms

This map from carto.metro.free.fr, shows the layout of lines at Bank station and between Bank and Moorgate stations.

Note.

  1. The Central Line is shown in red.
  2. The Northern Line is shown in black.
  3. The DLR is shown in turquoise.
  4. The two Northern Line tracks cross to the North of Bank station.
  5. The lines at Moorgate station are shown at the top of the map.
  6. Crossrail is shown in violet.

The new Southbound tunnel will be created to the West of the DLR platforms.

This article on IanVisits is entitled Behind The Scenes At London Underground’s Bank Tube Station upgrade.

I suggest you read the article and I feel, you will get the impression the Bank Station Upgrade is a very difficult project, that is being achieved in an innovative manner by the contractors.

In one section, the article describes how they are actually building the new Southbound tunnel, through the piled foundations of existing buildings.

A Travelator Between Bank and Moorgate  Stations

I now feel I can answer the question in the title of this post.

The Route

If the route started at the Northern end of the long connection tunnel with the travelator at Bank station, a route could probably be found on the West side of the Northern Line to break-in to the basement of the Crossrail station at Moorgate station.

This image shows a cross-section through the Moorgate Crossrail station.

Note that under the escalators leading down from the Moorgate Ticket Hall to Crossrail, are a pair of circles.

  • These are the Northern Line running tunnels.
  • A travelator tunnel would be at this level but perhaps twenty or more metres to the West (left in the cross-section).

With modern design and construction techniques, I would expect that a connection could be made.

The Length

I estimate that the travelator would be between three and four hundred metres long.

As there are longer travelators either built or in planning in the world, I suspect, the length wouldn’t be a problem.

By comparison, these are example travelators in London.

  • Jubilee to Northern/Bakerloo Lines at Waterloo – 140 metres.
  • Sloping travelators to Waterloo and City Line at Bank – 76 metres
  • Proposed Central to Northern Lines at Bank – 94 metres

A travelator between Bank and Moorgate stations would probably be, the longest in London.

Building The Tunnel

If you read the IanVisits article, it details how the new Northern Line and travelator tunnels at Bank station were excavated.

I suspect similar techniques could be used to build the new tunnel.

The biggest problem would be removing the tunnel spoil and I suspect that if the tunnel were to be built, when a building on the route needed to be replaced, this would make construction a lot easier.

Why The Tunnel Should Be Built

The main argument for building the tunnel is that it would connect Bank station directly to Crossrail.

Why The Tunnel May Not Be Needed

There are various reasons, why the travelator may not be needed.

Pedestrianisation

The City of London is in favour of pedestrianisation and has already disclosed plans to make Bishopsgate, which is one of the most important North-South arteries through the Square Mile, much more pedestrian friendly.

I would expect more initiatives like this to follow.

So many travellers will use their feet on the surface, between Crossrail and Bank, when the two stations are completed.

Improved Northern Line Connections

The connections to the Northern Line will be improved at both Moorgate and Bank stations, when Crossrail and the Bank Station Upgrade are completed.

So those travellers needing or wishing to do a one-stop transfer, will find it easy.

Connectivity between Crossrail And The Central Line

Crossrail and the Central Line have good connectivity.

  • Stratford – A cross-platform interchange.
  • Liverpool Street – A step-free connection
  • Tottenham Court Road – A step-free connection
  • Bond Street – A step-free connection
  • Ealing Broadway – A step-free connection.

If travellers need Bank and they are coming from either direction on Crossrail, they can change at a convenient station.

Given that Bank station will have a large number of step-free entrances after the Bank Station Upgrade is completed, I suspect many Crossrail passengers will transfer to the Central Line to avoid the walk from Moorgate or Liverpool Street stations.

Conclusion

It may be feasible to build a trevelator between Bank and Moorgate stations, but developments already in hand, may give the project a very bad financial case.

 

December 1, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Paddington Bakerloo Line Link Project, London

The title of this post is the same as that of this page on the Institute Of Civil Engineering web site.

The page contains a video presentation of the building of the Paddington Bakerloo Line Link, that will connect the Bakerloo Line to Crossrail sometime next year.

If you think the golden age of British improvised tunnelling finished with the end of World War Two, with the likes of the Wooden Horse and the Great Escape, then think again.

  • A redundant Royal Mail building stars as the cookhouse, where the tunnel starts under the floor.
  • The old Rail Mail tunnel, doubles for the sewers.
  • Sections were dug by hand.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see more pedestrian tunnels dug with all the ingenuity of this one.

November 26, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Major Overhaul Of One Of Country’s Longest Tunnels Sees Delays Fall By A Fifth

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Rail Technology Magazine.

This is the first two paragraphs.

A major refurbishment of Sevenoaks tunnel has seen a 20% reduction in delays and halved journey times for passengers, even as the £21m infrastructure renewal nears completion.

One of the longest tunnels in southern England, Sevenoaks has been given a major overhaul which has included replacing thousands of sleepers, laying several miles of news track, and installing new drainage systems.

Sevenoaks tunnel is a single-bore tunnel, double-track tunnel about two miles long.

Obviously, this refurbishment has been worthwhile.

I do wonder how many other schemes, that are stuck in Network Rail’s pipeline would show similar improvements in the quality of the service?

 

November 24, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , | 4 Comments

Pedestrian Tunnels In London’s Transport System

I take particular interest in pedestrian tunnels, as I believe properly designed tunnels can be a solution to improving access to stations.

This list will be extended as I photograph more.

Bank – Bank And Monument Escalator Connection

I still think of this tunnel, as an escalator connection, as that was how it was marked on the tube map in the 1950s.

It is two escalators down a walk between the Docklands Light Railway platforms and then two escalators up at the other end.

Verdict – The connection is being upgraded.

Bank- Central To Northern Interchange Tunnel

This is the shortest way from the Central Line to the Northern Line.

It does involve a descent of a circular staircase.

When the Bank station upgrade is complete this route will be replaced by an escalator connection between the two lines.

This visualisation shows the connecting escalators.

Note.

  1. The two wide highest level tunnels are the Central Line.
  2. The infamous curved Central Line platforms,create a large gap to mind.
  3. The two mid-level crossed tunnels are the existing Bank and Monument Escalator Connection and the Waterloo & City Tunnel.
  4. The four narrower lowest level tunnels are from bottom to top; the Southbound Northern Line, a new tunnel with a travelator; the old Southbound Northern Line tunnel and the Northbound Northern Line tunnel.
  5. The old Southbound Northern Line tunnel will become a passenger walkway.

Poking through all this spaghetti are the three escalators connecting the Central Line level with the Northern Line level.

Verdict – This connection will become much better.

Bank – Waterloo & City Inclined Travelator

The inclined travelators that link the Waterloo & City Line platforms and the main station entrances around Bank junction, are unique on the London Underground.

There are other travelators, but no others are inclined.

Verdict – I wonder why there are no others, as this pair seem to work very well.

Bank – Waterloo & City Tunnel

This tunnel connects the Waterloo & City Line platforms at Bank station to the central tunnel at Bank station.

Verdict – It is a linear oasis in an otherwise dingy and cramped station.

Bond Street – Northern Entrance Tunnel

This new tunnel connects the new Northern entrance at Bond Street station to the platforms.

Incidentally, I’d arrived at Bond Street station through the main entrance and it was an awfully overcrowded scrum. The Northern entrance was quiet, as the pictures show.

The entrance is steps or a lift between the street and its own gate line and then a well-lit wide passage to the escalators.

In future, it will link to a wide tunnel to the Western end of the Crossrail platforms at the station.

It is much better way to enter Bond Street station.

Verdict – London and other cities with underground railways, need more new station entrances like this.

Green Park – Interchange Tunnel

This tunnel connects the Jubilee, Piccadilly and Victoria Lines at Green Park station.

The opening dates of the three lines, through the station were.

  • Piccadilly Line – 1906 – Modernised in the 1930s with escalators.
  • Victoria Line – 1969
  • Jubilee Line – 1979

Since 1979 the station has been continually improved and is step-free.

This map from carto.metre.free.fr shows the lines at Green Park station.

Note that the Jubilee Line is below the other lines and when the extension was built, it was a radical change to what was originally planned. The lines to the right lead to Charing Cross station and those going South to Westminster station.

The interchange tunnel is long and usually very crowded. I had an incident recently, where I was walking slowly to the Victoria Line and a group of tourists all with four-wheeled cases, were nudging me to go faster. When we all got to the steps at the end, there was an enforced slow down.

Verdict – I avoid interchanging at Green Park like the plague.

Kings Cross – Eastern Tunnel

This tunnel runs which used to be part of the access to the old Kings Cross Thameslink station, runs from East of Kings Cross station and then has access to the main tunnel connecting the Northern, Piccadilly and Victoria Lines.

It has partial escalator access at the Eastern end, where the buses from Islington and the East stop outside the old station entrance. Although getting buses to the East mens crossing the busy Pentonville Road.

Verdict – Needs improvement

Kings Cross – Interchange Tunnel

This tunnel connects the Eastern Tunnel at Kings Cross to the escalators and lifts that lead to the Northern ticket hall Kings Cross St. Pancras tube station. On the way is connects to the Victoria, Piccadilly and Northern Lines.

It is a long walk, especially, if you have accessed it, as I often do, from the Eastern Tunnel which is convenient for buses from Islington and Dalston.

Verdict – Too long and boring

Kings Cross – St. Pancras Tunnel

This tunnel connects St. Pancras station to the Northern ticket hall at Kings Cross St. Pancras tube station.

It is a wide, comfortable tunnel with a double handrail down the middle.

Note that the middle picture shows the connection to the next tunnel.

Verdict – Useful and a better walk than the surface alternative in cold or wet weather.

Kings Cross – Pancras Square Tunnel

This tunnel connects St. Pancras Square to the underground tunnel, that links St. Pancras station to the Northern ticket hall of Kings Cross St. Pancras tube station.

It is a good example of how to create a tunnel.

It has up and down escalators at the St. Pancras Square entrance.

Verdict – Good design and a pleasant walk.

Knightsbridge – Northern Exit Tunnel

This tunnel at Knightsbridge station was built in 2010 to connect the new entrance on the North side of Knightsbridge.

It looks to me that Transport for London had to make do with less space than they needed.

Verdict – Rather narrow and utilitarian.

Paddington – Bakerloo Line Link

This project to create a pedestrian link between the Bakerloo Line and Crossrail at Paddington is currently being built.

  • It will be one hundred and thirty metres long.
  • It will be twenty-five metres below the Paddington station concourse.
  • The design uses a route to avoid existing station facilities.
  • The tunnel is being built without major disruption to Bakerloo Line passengers.
  • It will have lifts and escalators at both ends.
  • The tunnel will handle five thousand passengers per hour in the Peak.

In August 2016, I wrote Paddington Is Operational Again, which describes the tunnel in detail.

Verdict – I have a feeling that this could be one of the most impressive parts of Crossrail.

I can’t wait for this tunnel to open.

South Kensington – Exhibition Road Pedestrian Tunnel

The Exhibition Road Pedestrian Tunnel at South Kensington station is unique in London, as it was built in 1885 and it is Grade II Listed.

As the pictures show, it can get very busy.

Verdict – A Victorian idea, that hasn’t been copied much.

Tottenham Court Road – Interchange Tunnel

This tunnel connect the Central and Northern Lines at Tottenham Court Road station.

It is a bit lacking in colour to my liking. But at least there is some of Eduardo palotzi’s tiles at one end.

Verdict – Bland and too long.

Victoria – New Tunnels

Victoria station has had a new entrance at Cardinal Place and a lot of new tunnels to sort out the poor connectivity, added in the last couple of years.

As the pictures show, not all the tunnels are finished.

Verdict – Victoria is no longer a station yo avoid

Waterloo – Interchange Travelator

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

Note the large separation of the platforms of the Jubilee Line and those of the Bakerloo and Northern Lines.

The solution was to install a travelator, when the Jubilee Line Extension was built.

Although expense wasn’t spared on the project, I think we would give it a more decorative lining today.

Verdict – It works.

Whitechapel – Refurbished Overground Staircases

There are two staircases between the District/Hammersmith & City Lines and the East London Line, that are being refurbished for Crossrail.

It looks like the work is of a high quality and that the old rails have not been replaced.

Verdict – These were scruffy tunnels a couple of years ago.

Summing Up

Some tunnels are obviously better than others, but what surprised me, was how well the Exhibition Rpad Tunnel to the museums coped with large numbers of passengers.

Perhaps, the Victorians got it right, as some of the best tunnels in my examples are the wider ones.

Comparing the Northern Exit Tunnel at Knightsbridge with the Northern Entrance Tunnel at Bond Street, shows how a wide tunnel and entrance, built with a lift, is a much better solution, than a narrow tunnel and entrance, without a lift.

The only narrow tunnel, that seems to work well is the tunnel connecting the Waterloo & City Line to the main Bank station complex.

But this tunnel is well-lit and I suspect tends to have passengers going the same way most of the time.

It also appears that recent tunnels like those at Bond Street and Victoria, are much better than those built about ten years ago, like the tunnel at Knightsbridge.

The Future

After Crossrail, London has a number of large station projects in the pipeline, some of which will require new connecting tunnels for passengers.

  • The upgrading of Bank station is underway, where tunnels are being dug and escalators, travelators and lifts and being installed.
  • The upgrading of Knightsbridge station is underway, but this will be simpler and I don’t think the upgrade includes more tunnels.
  • The upgrading of Camden Town, Holborn and Walthamstow stations are in the planning stage. All will probably involve creating a new entrance connected to the existing platforms with lifts and escalators, but no long tunnels.
  • Oxford Circus station is likely to be the subject of a major upgrade.
  • Euston and Euston Square stations are being upgraded for the arrival of High Speed Two and there will be new tunnels to dig, between the two stations.

There are also possible new lines to consider, which may or may not be built.

  • Bakerloo Line Extension
  • Crossrail 2
  • Docklands Light Railway to Thamesmead
  • Docklands Light Railway to Euston, St. Pancras and Victoria.

All will be built with lots of entrances and exits, and interchanges with existing lines, so it is likely, there will be quite a few connecting tunnels.

Conclusion

I think that three tunnel projects will define a lot of the thinking about pedestrian access in the future.

  • The Northern Entrance Tunnel at Bond Street, which surfaces in a commercial development.
  • The Paddington Bakerloo Line Link, which appears to be setting new standards of design and construction.
  • The narrow well-lit tunnel at Bank.

Could we see lessons learned with these newly-built tunnels applied to projects like Oxford Circus and Euston stations?

 

 

November 23, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Edinburgh’s Missing Link

In Edinburgh, I’ve walked in an Easterly direction, several times through Princes Street Gardens, with the final intention of taking a train from Edinburgh station.

But as the pictures show, there’s no way through.

You have to walk up to the road, fight your way across a pedestrian crossing and then walk down a ramp into the station.

Why isn’t there a pedestrian tunnel?

October 14, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

HS4Air’s Heathrow and Gatwick Tunnels And Stations

One of the details I like about the HS4Air proposal is that the HS4Air tracks cross both Heathrow and Gatwick Airports at right-angles  to the existing rail routes through the airports.

In my experience, stations with this layout, make for an easy interchange.

I suspect, the Heathrow and Gatwick Tunnels will be very deep under the airports, which will mean the following.

  • They won’t disturb the existing airport.
  • All the existing Crossrail design and construction expertise will be useful.
  • The station could be as large as needed, with through and terminal platforms.

The stations will have lifts, escalators and travelators all over the place to connect to the existing airport terminals.

Heathrow

The Heathrow HS4Air station could have direct services all over the place.

For many getting to Euston or Paddington to perhaps take a train to Swansea can be a pain, but if Heathrow develops a proper local transport network based on Crossrail and proposals like Heathrow Southern Railway, this will be much easier.

Heathrow Airport could become a massive High Speed Rail Hub buried under the existing Airport.

Gatwick

Gatwick Airport is already an excellent Rail-Hub between London and the South Coast.

HS4Air would mainly add fast connections to Heathrow and HS1.

I suspect that Gatwick would have a smaller number of terminal platforms than Heathrow.

Conclusion

These two stations will be massive building projects, which using the expertise gained from other similar projects, will not disrupt anything on the surface.

July 30, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Elon Musk Goes Underground With High-Speed Trains

The title of this post is the same as that of an article in the Business section of last Friday’s Times.

This is the first paragraph.

Futuristic electric trains will soon be whizzing under the streets of Chicago at up to 150 mph after Elon Musk’s tunnelling company was chosen by the city to build a new high-speed commuter link.

Currently, the Blue Line train takes about forty-five minutes for the eighteen miles at a cost of five dollars.

Heathrow Airport is eighteen miles from the City of London and Crossrail will do the trip for thirty-three minutes when it opens, next year for a cost of under a tenner.

So what is Musk proposing?

  • A journey time of twelve minutes.
  • Passengers will ride in skates, which will carry up to sixteen people on concrete tracks.
  • Skates will run at a frequency of 120 per hour for 20 hours a day.
  • The fare would be twenty-five dollars.
  • The system would cost about a billion dollars.

It is a technically ambitious proposal.

There’s more in this section called Chicago in the Wikipedia entry of The Boring Company.

A competition to build a high-speed link from downtown Chicago to the soon-to-be-expanded O’Hare Airport had been reduced to just two bidders by March 2018. The Boring Company was selected in June 2018 and will now negotiate a contract to be presented to the Chicago City Council. Construction is to be entirely financed by The Boring Company, which is subsequently to maintain and operate the link. The system will transport passengers in automated electric cars carrying 16 passengers (and their luggage) through two parallel tunnels running under existing public way alignments, traveling from block 37 to the airport in 12 minutes, at speeds reaching 125 to 150 miles per hour (200 to 240 km/h), with pods departing as often as every 30 seconds

It states it is two parallel tunnels!

Comparison With London’s Crossrail

Crossrail will effectively do the same job in London and a comparison between the two systems may produce some interesting conclusions.

Capacity

Musk’s system will have an hourly capacity of 1920 passengers per hour, based on 120 skates each carrying sixteen people.

Crossrail are talking of six trains per hour, each with a capacity of 1,500 people or 9000 passengers per hour.

I think that Crossrail will need to increase capacity, as Heathrow expands and longer trains and higher frequencies are possible.

But if Musk’s system is a runaway success, can it be expanded easily.

Journey Time

Musk’s system has a journey time of 12 minutes, as against Crossrail’s of 33 minutes

But Crossrail will stop up to ten times!

Intriguingly, the twelve minute is not the headline speed of 125 to 150 mph, but a slower 90 mph.

Routes

Little has been said of the route for Musk’s system, except that it goes between Downtown and O’Hare Airport.

Heathrow to the City of London, also goes direct to London’s major shopping area and the new business area of Canary Wharf.

It is also integrated with London’s existing Underground, Overground and rail lines at several places.

Does Musk’s system have a route structure, that won’t appeal to a lot of possible users?

Musk’s Thinking

This is an extract from the Future Goals section of the Wikipedia entry for The Boring Company.

According to Tesla, Inc. and SpaceX board member Steve Jurvetson, tunnels specifically built for electric vehicles have reduced size and complexity, and thus decreased cost. “The insight I think that’s so powerful is that if you only envision electric vehicles in your tunnels you don’t need to do the air handling for all carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, you know, basically pollutants for exhaust. You could have scrubbers and a variety of simpler things that make everything collapse to a smaller tunnel size, which dramatically lowers the cost … The whole concept of what you do with tunnels changes.

The philosophy is not unlike that of Crossrail.

  • I believe that Crossrail has been designed holistically, using the best tunnel and train technology.
  • The tunnel power supply is a simple end-to-end rail.
  • The Class 345 trains have batteries to make best use of electricity and provide emergency power.
  • The batteries will handle regenerative braking, thus minimising heat-producing electric currents in the tunnel.
  • Platform-edge doors and aerodynamic trains reduce mechanical energy losses.
  • The electric trains do not emit anything into the tunnel, except perhaps a small amount of hot air.

I suspect that Crossrail’s tunnel section will be a very energy-efficient railway.

Conclusion

Summing up both systems we get.

Musk’s system is.

  • A billion dollar cost.
  • Twelve minute journey time.
  • A vehicle every thirty seconds.
  • Only for the few, who want to go from O’Hare to Downtown, who can pay a premium fare.
  • Limited capacity.

A Crossrail-like solution would be.

  • Perhaps a ten billion dollar cost.
  • Twenty minute journey time.
  • A train every few minutes.
  • For everyone, who wants to travel from O’Hare to most places in Chicago with possibly a change, at a normal fare.
  • Expandable capacity.

Musk’s system will appeal to the rich and those who like novelty, but I don’t think it is a long-term solution and just like London, Chicago will eventually have a modern railway  linking it to the wider Chicago area.

Where Musk is right, is that he believes that tunnelling methods can be improved and become more affordable.

This will mean that more audacious railway schemes will be built.

 

 

June 19, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Photos From The Disused Tunnels Now Helping The Bank Tube Station Upgrade

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

The title probably, says it all and Ian describes how London always seem to have a spare tunnel, where it is needed.

April 24, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Another Ambitious Tunnel

This article on Global Rail News is entitled Study Finds C$1.7bn Undersea Rail Tunnel The Most Attractive Option For Labrador-Newfoundland Link.

The article cites innovations in tunnel technology is one of the reasons, that this tunnel is now possible at an affordable cost.

The study also proposed that the single rail tunnel, uses this operational method.

Travelling at up to 100km/h, the train would take 20 minutes to cross the strait. It would operate 12 hours a day, seven days a week, carrying a maximum of around 130 vehicles.

They indicate because of low traffic levels, this would handle traffic for over forty years.

Tunnel builders will increasingly get more ambitious and we’ll see more plans for tunnels in the future.

 

April 16, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 4 Comments