The Anonymous Widower

Construction Has Started On The Silvertown Tunnel

These pictures show that construction has started on the Silverton Tunnel.

Note that New Civil Engineer is reporting that tunnelling has started.

My Current Thoughts On The Silvertown Tunnel

In 2015, I wrote No To Silvertown Tunnel, which I started with these two paragraphs.

My personal feelings about the Silvertown Tunnel are that it is irrelevant to me, except that it might help some trucks bring goods that I buy online or at a local shop. Although as a sixty-eight year-old-widower living alone, I don’t think my transport needs through the tunnel will be high.

I don’t drive after my stroke and I like that lifestyle, except when last night it took me three trains, a coach and a taxi to get back from watching football at Ipswich. But that tortuous late night journey was caused because NuLabor spent my tax money on pointless wars that will haunt us for generations, rather than in extending and renewing our rail system, that will nurture and enrich our future.

But my objections to the Silvertown Tunnel have changed and expanded.

New Transport Infrastructure Attracts Passengers

This may seem obvious, but there has been several cases recently in London to prove my point.

  • The London Overground has been a success beyond Transport for London’s wildest dreams and as an example the North London Line, that started with three x three-car trains per hour (tph) is now running eight x five-car tph. This is a four time increase in capacity.
  • New buses and contactless ticketing have encouraged more passengers to use the buses.
  • Electrification and new trains has transformed the Gospel Oak to Barking Line.
  • The expansion of Thameslink and new trains now carries a lot more North-South traffic through London.
  • Every time, a new section of the Elizabeth Line opens more passengers are attracted to the new line.
  • The remodelling of London Bridge station has increased passenger numbers. And shoppers!

On a personal note, I live on a bus corridor, that runs between North London and Moorgate for the Lizzie Line. Since the Lizzie Line has been fully connected, passenger numbers have risen by a big margin.

I don’t believe that the ability to attract more traffic of the Silvertown Tunnel will be any different.

More Traffic Means More Congestion And Pollution

I live close to the Balls Pond Road, which increasingly seems to be a truck route across North London.

The Silvertown Tunnel will be two lanes each way; one for trucks and buses, and one for smaller vehicles.

I can’t see that pollution and congestion around the Silvertown Tunnel and on the routes to the tunnel, will not increase.

There Is Little Or No Provision For Cyclists And Pedestrians

This will be a big problem. Especially, as the local traffic in the area will increase dramatically.

Does Central London Have Enough Parking For The Increased Traffic?

Parking in Central London is probably close to capacity now!

So What Would I Do?

Given that construction has already started, I feel it is too late to cancel.

Better Alternatives Than Driving

I feel measures should be adopted that provide better alternatives than driving.

Obviously, this won’t help with trucks, but it could reduce the total number of vehicles going through the tunnel.

These could include.

  • Increase the frequency of trains on both the Lizzie Line and Thameslink.
  • Increase the number of destinations on both the Lizzie Line and Thameslink.
  • Add an extra car to Lizzie Line trains.
  • Remove First Class on the shorter eight-car Thameslink trains.
  • Add provision on some Lizzie Line and Thameslink routes for bicycles.
  • Add a Silvertown station to the Elizabeth Line for London City Airport.
  • Add one or more pedestrian and cycling bridges across the Thames.
  • Expand of the Docklands Light Railway.
  • Expand the Thames Clipper.
  • Connect Barking Riverside station to Thamesmead and Abbey Wood station either by a rail or a fast ferry.
  • Keep the cable-car.

I suspect there are other viable ideas.

Develop Incentives To Use Public Transport

Incentives could be in these areas.

  • Better station and bus terminals encourage more to use trains and buses.
  • Full free onboard wi-fi and phone charging.
  • Special fares for some journeys.

An example of the latter could be a discount for certain cross-river journeys.

Make The Silvertown Tunnel Available For Zero Carbon Vehicles Only

This would surely cut pollution in London.

Conclusion

We should use the Silvertown Tunnel to improve London’s air quality.

November 23, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Britain’s Longest Road Tunnel Could Be Built Along A27

The title of this post is the same as that of this article in The Argus.

These three paragraphs outline the scheme.

The longest road tunnel in the UK could be built as a long-term solution to congestion along the A27.

The tunnel, which would cost around £2 billion, has been touted as a way of addressing traffic and a way to improve local quality of life.

A new report by Transport for the South East (TfSE) said investing in such schemes is the only way carbon emissions from congested road traffic can be seriously tackled and improve.

The article also states, that the project is unlikely to be started before 2050.

These are my thoughts.

Where Will The Tunnel Be Built?

This Google Map shows Worthing.

Note.

  1. The A27 road runs roughly across the top of the map.
  2. The A27 has sections of dual-carriageway.
  3. There are two roundabouts, where the A27 connects with the A24 road between London and Worthing via Sutton, Dorking and Horsham.
  4. The West Coastway Line runs across the middle of the map.
  5. Four of the five stations in Worthing are visible.
  6. From East to West the stations are East Worthing, Worthing, West Worthing and Durrington-on-Sea, with Goring-by-Sea off the map to the West.

This Google Map shows the section of the A27 to the West of the A24.

Note.

  1. The A27 goes all the way across the map.
  2. There is a large junction with the A280 at the Western edge of the map.
  3. There is a large roundabout at the junction with the A24, at the Eastern edge of the map.
  4. The Western half of the A27 between the two junctions, appears to be dual-carriageway.
  5. The A27 continues in the West as a dual-carriageway between the junction with the A280, almost as far as Arundel.

I suspect the Western portal of the tunnel would be close to the junction with the A280 and for much of the route, it could be bored under the A27 to minimise noise and vibration for those living along the route.

This third Google Map shows the section of the A27 to the East of the A24.

Note.

  1. The A27 goes all the way across the map.
  2. It shares a route with the A24 between the two roundabouts towards the West of the map.
  3. The Eastern section of the A27 appears to be dual-carriageway.
  4. T27 continues in the East to the North of Shoreham and Brighton and the South of Lewes.

I suspect the Eastern portal of the tunnel would be close to the Western end of the dual-carriageway section to Lewes and for much of the route, it could be bored under the A27 and A24 to minimise noise and vibration for those living along the route.

As we’re good at tunneling in the UK, I don’t think this will be a difficult tunnel to bore.

What Should We Do In The Interim?

The article in the Argus says this.

Should the plans go ahead, the tunnel could be ready for construction by 2050, with a range of other measures proposed to cut congestion in the short term.

2050 is a long time to wait.

I haven’t driven in the area much in the last twenty years, as even before I didn’t drive, I’ve tended to take the train to places like Brighton, Eastbourne, Portsmouth and Southampton.

In my experience the East and West Coastway Lines along the South Coast have reasons, why people drive for preference.

  • The trains are not frequent enough. There should be four trains per hour (tph) if possible.
  • There needs to be more direct train services to London and Gatwick Airport.
  • Some of the stations are not very passenger-friendly. More step-free access is needed.
  • Some of the stations can’t handle twelve-car trains.
  • The Class 313 trains, that are used to the West of Brighton, were built in the 1970s. Similar trains of that period in the rest of the UK, have either been replaced or will soon be.
  • Is there enough car parking?
  • Could some closed stations be reopened?
  • Could Park-and-Ride facilities be built, where the A27 crosses the railway?
  • Would it help, if the West and East Coastway Lines didn’t need a change at Brighton?
  • Would a high speed service between Eastbourne and London via Hastings and High Speed One attract leisure passengers.

An improved railway might reduce traffic on the A27.

Perhaps the easiest improvement would be to replace all the East and West Coastway fleet with new or refurbished trains with the following specification.

  • 100 mph operation.
  • High-class well-designed interior matched to the passenger mix.
  • Ability to handle the Marshlink Line and other sections without electrification.
  • Wi-fi and power sockets.
  • A refreshment trolley might be a good idea.

A marketing campaign might help.

September 20, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

HS2 Completes First Tunnel Cross Passages

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release from High Speed Two.

This is the first paragraph.

As the tunnelling machines under the Chilterns approach the four-mile mark, HS2 completes the first of thirty-eight underground connections between the northbound and southbound tunnels.

This video from High Speed Two, shows the construction of the cross tunnels.

There appears to have been a resurgence of traditional tunneling methods, albeit it with the assistance of modern mechanised tools.

In London recently, these tunnels have been dug without the use of expensive tunnel boring machines.

  • The running and station tunnels for the Bank Station Upgrade.
  • The tunnel for the Paddington Bakerloo Line Link.

I suspect there will a lot more dug traditionally in the future.

Bank And Moorgate

The map from cartometro.com shows the plethora of lines at Moorgate and Bank stations.

Note.

  1. Moorgate station is served by the Circle, Elizabeth, Hammersmith & City, Metropolitan, Northern and Northern City Lines.
  2. Bank station is served by the Central, Circle, District, Northern and Waterloo & City Lines.
  3. Bank station is also one terminus of the DLR.

I believe it would be possible to dig a long pedestrian tunnel with a travelator, between Moorgate and Bank stations under Moorgate, which connects the two stations.

City Thameslink Station And St. Paul’s

I discussed this in A Pedestrian Connection Between City Thameslink Station And St. Paul’s Tube Station.

August 30, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

HS2 Starts Work On First Pioneering ‘Green Tunnel’

The title of this post is the same as that of this press release on the High Speed Two web site.

These three paragraphs introduce the work at Chipping Warden.

HS2 today [Friday 10th June] announced the start of construction at the site of its first innovative ‘green tunnel’, designed to blend the high speed railway into the landscape and reduce disruption for communities.

Unlike a normal underground tunnel, the one-and-a-half mile (2.5km) Chipping Warden green tunnel in Northamptonshire is being built on the surface using a pioneering off-site manufacturing approach to speed up construction and improve efficiency.

This approach will see more than five thousand giant concrete tunnel segments made in a factory in Derbyshire before being assembled on site. The completed tunnel will then be covered by earth, with trees, shrubs and hedgerows planted to fit in with the surrounding countryside.

Note.

  1. High Speed Two are building five of these tunnels between London and Birmingham.
  2. I know from talking to engineers at Custom House station, which was also built in a factory, that the quality is excellent.
  3. But is it also cheaper and quicker, as all segments on the five tunnels are identical, no expensive tunnel boring machine is required and conventional equipment can be used?

These are some images from High Speed Two, which show the erection of the first segments of the green tunnel.

There is also this video, which shows more about the green tunnels.

I suspect we’re going to see a lot more of these tunnels.

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

The New Track Layout At Bank And Moorgate Stations

This map from cartometro.com shows the new track layout through Bank And Moorgate.

Note.

  1. Crossrail is shown in purple.
  2. The Central Line is shown in red.
  3. The Circle, Hammersmith and City and the Metropolitan lines are shown in yellow and mauve.
  4. The Circle, District lines are shown in yellow and green stripes.
  5. The Northern Line is shown in black.
  6. The Northern City Line, that terminates at Moorgate is also shown in black.

The routes of the Northern Line are now clear from the map.

The Northbound Route Of The Northern Line

The Northbound trains pass through the following platforms.

  1. The Easternmost platform, which is numbered 4 at Bank station.
  2. The Western Northern Line platform, which is numbered 7 at Moorgate station.

This route of the Northbound tunnel will be identical before and after the works.

The Original Southbound Route Of The Northern Line

Until January this year, the Southbound trains passed through the following platforms.

  1. The Eastern Northern Line platform, which is numbered 8 at Moorgate station.
  2. The original Western Northern Line platform, which was numbered 3 at Bank station.

Note how the Northbound and Southbound tracks cross between the two stations.

The New Southbound Route Of The Northern Line

The new Southbound route is shown dotted on the map.

  • The new Southbound platform is also shown dotted.
  • The Northbound and Southbound tracks still cross between the two stations.

The tracks don’t return to standard left-hand running until South of Borough station.

After the line fully-reopens, some time in May this year, the Southbound trains will pass through the following platforms.

  1. The Eastern Northern Line platform, which is numbered 8 at Moorgate station.
  2. The new Western Northern Line platform at Bank station.

Effectively, the Southbound tunnel has been moved to the West to create more space in Bank station.

Conclusion

The design of the new tunnel appears simple, but I don’t think it was that easy to construct.

 

 

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

Final Tunnelling Gets Underway On Bank Station Blockade

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Four weeks into the closure of Bank Station for its capacity upgrade, main contractor Dragados is making good progress on all key activities, including final tunnelling works.

This has been traditional tunneling, that would have been familiar to those like the Victorians, where a lot of the digging has been done by hand, with the addition of smaller diggers and power tools.

The project seems to be on schedule for a mid-May opening.

March 2, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment

HS2 Reveals Images Of First Landscaped ‘Green Tunnels’ For Bucks And Northants

The title of this post, is the same as this press release from High Speed Two.

This image shows one of the proposed tunnels.

The article explains the design and describes how the tunnels will be built in a factory in Derbyshire and assembled on site.

Off-site concrete construction was used at Custom House station on Crossrail. I wrote about the construction of this station in An Express Station.

The picture shows Custom House station under construction. One of the engineers told me, that the quality of the concrete in the station, is so much better than normal.

January 11, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment

Walking The Line

A friend asked, if I’d like to accompany her on a walk along the tunnels of the Post Office Railway.

I said yes, went along and took these pictures.

Note.

  1. The tracks are only two-foot gauge.
  2. The trains were driverless and electrically powered.
  3. The two modern trains with the plastic roofs; one of which is red and the other green, are used to take Postal Museum visitors along the tunnels.
  4. The yellow train was painted that colour for its part in the Bruce Willis film; Hudson Hawk.
  5. A large number of the sleepers had plaques on them, indicating their sponsors. The sleeps looked to be nearly all original.
  6. The paintings on the wall show the Twelve Days of Christmas and date from when Christmas parties for children were held in the tunnels.
  7. The tunnels were dug by hand using a Greathead Shield.
  8. There was no evidence of rodents.

It is a unique railway that is well worth a visit.

A few other facts and thoughts.

New Tunnels

Most modern tunnels like Crossrail, High Speed Two and the Thames Tideway are now dug by tunnel boring machines or TBMs. These pictures show Millicent and Ursula preparing to start boring the Thames Tideway.

Not all tunnels though use a TBM. Recently, the new running tunnel at Bank and pedestrian tunnels at Paddington and possibly Moorgate have been dug in the traditional way, but probably with the aid of some of the likes of JCB’s finest.

There was also the innovative way, that Whitechapel station was built, that I described in Coal Mining in Whitechapel.

Tunnel Life Research

This is a paragraph from the Wikipedia entry for the Post Office Railway.

A team from the University of Cambridge has taken over a short, double track section of unused Post Office tunnel near Liverpool Street Station, where a newly built tunnel for Crossrail is situated some two metres beneath. The study is to establish how the original cast-iron lining sections, which are similar to those used for many miles of railway under London, resist possible deformation and soil movement caused by the new works. Digital cameras, fibre optic deformation sensors, laser scanners and other low-cost instruments, reporting in real time, have been installed in the vacated tunnel. As well as providing information about the behaviour of the old construction materials, the scheme can also provide an early warning if the new tunnel bores are creating dangerous soil movement

This is worthwhile research, as there have been some problems with London’s older tunnels.

Building The Paddington Bakerloo Line Link Project

This was done in and around the Paddington end of the Post Office Railway.

There is a link to a professional presentation about this complex project in Paddington Bakerloo Line Link Project, London.

Royal Mail Group assets at Paddington helped in the comstruction of the link.

December 29, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 2 Comments

Electrifying Derwent Valley Mills

Under the latest plans the Midland Main Line will be electrified.

One problem is electrifying the line through the World Heritage Site of Derwent Valley Mills.

This Google Map shows the Midland Main Line between Belper and Duffield stations.

Note.

  1. Belper with its station is at the North of the map.
  2. Duffield station is at the South of the map.

In the middle of the map the railway line disappears into Milford Tunnel.

Wikipedia says this about the portals of the tunnel.

Both portals are grade II listed, being part of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site.

I doubt that the Heritage Taliban would allow the tunnel to be electrified, as they wouldn’t want wires near the tunnels.

But between Belper and Duffield stations is only 4.2 kilometres.

This Hitachi infographic shows their Intercity Battery Hybrid Train, which I described in Hitachi Rail And Angel Trains To Create Intercity Battery Hybrid Train On TransPennine Express.

Note that the train can cover gaps of 5 km.

The Class 810 trains, that will be used by East Midlands Railways will have four diesel engines and I’m certain these trains will be able to be retrofitted to be Intercity Battery Hybrid Trains.

The electrification of the line will be discontinuous with no wires between Belper and Duffield stations.

Express trains going between Derby and Sheffield will go through the following procedure.

  • Arrive at Duffield station with a full battery, after using the electrification from Derby and the South.
  • Drop the pantograph in the area of Duffield station and switch to battery power.
  • Proceed through Milford tunnel at an appropriate speed.
  • Once under the electrification again at Belper station, they would raise the pantograph and switch to using the electrification.

The problem of electrification of Milford tunnel in the area of the World Heritage Site has been neatly side-stepped.

 

 

November 18, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Bakerloo Line Extension | TfL Instructs Consultants To Work Up Tunnel Designs

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on New Civil Engineer.

This project is the Mayor’s pet, as it is good for those that vote for him in South London.

But I believe that the West London Orbital Railway should have a higher priority as it serves an area that is in massive need of improvement in public transport and can be delivered quickly and for a lot less money.

November 1, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 5 Comments