The Anonymous Widower

Crossrail Are Uphill Excavating Again

In Coal Mining In Whitechapel, I described how the Crossrail contractors were using a technique called uphill excavation to connect the Crossrail tunnels to the existing Whitechapel station above.

In this document on the Crossrail web site, the company describes how the technique is being used again to connect the running tunnels to the Broadgate ticket hall above. This is said about the methods used.

This excavation will be carried out using an innovative method of uphill excavation. Traditional uphill excavation is considered unsafe due to the risk of excavated material falling onto the excavator and operatives, however the BBMV team realised that the ability to excavate upwards from existing tunnels at the base of the escalator shaft would generate significant time and cost savings. In response BBMV introduced a bespoke uphill excavator that is suspended from the ceiling of the construction tunnel and advances in line with the tunnel progression. A walkway along the side of the excavator provides the engineer with a safe working area and emergency egress for the operator. Once this excavation of this escalator shaft is complete we will begin to construct an access passage that will lead passengers from the Ticket Hall into the station tunnels, in early 2016.

There is also the first published picture I’ve found of an uphill excavator.

BBMV's Uphill Excavator

BBMV’s Uphill Excavator

I think we’ll find in the coming years that uphill excavation will be increasingly used in the construction of railways and other tunnels underneath towns and cities.

I’m sure, Crossrail 2 will use the technique to create stations at Angel, Chelsea and Tottenham Court Road. The biggest advantage is that it will silence the Militant Wing of the heritage lobby and all the luvvies, who are against London getting a better public transport system.

I also think, that we could build underground stations for HS2 at Euston, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds, and use the technique to provide link tunnels to the existing stations above.

October 2, 2015 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

The Piccadilly And Victoria Lines, Manor House Station And Harringay Green Lanes Station

The planners and the politicians created a real dog’s breakfast here, when the Victoria Line was designed and built in the 1960s.

A Few Facts

I’ll start with a few facts, as far as we can trust Wikipedia.

From the Planning and construction section of the entry for the Victoria Line.

A test tunnel from Tottenham to Manor House under Seven Sisters Road had been bored in 1959 and was later incorporated into the running tunnels.

From the entry for Seven Sisters station.

The section of Victoria line between Seven Sisters and Finsbury Park stations is the longest between adjacent stations in deep level tunnels on the London Underground network.

From our own observations.

There is a ventilation station at the junction of Green Lanes and St. Ann’s Road. This was put in, as it’s a long way between Turnpike Lane and Manor House stations. The Cockfosters Extension section of the entry for the Piccadilly Line says this.

It was also planned to build a station between Manor House and Turnpike Lane at the junction of Green Lanes and St Ann’s Road in Harringay, but this was stopped by Frank Pick, who felt that the bus and tram service at this point was adequate. However, a ‘Ventilation station’, in similar architectural style to tube stations of the time was provided at the site, and is visible today. There was also some opposition from the London and North Eastern Railway to the line.

I think we underestimate the influence the LNER had on shaping London’s railways. Much was positive, but some was about protecting their interests.

I had a great uncle, who lived in Harringay and in the 1950s, we’d go and visit him on the 29 bus, as it was a long walk from Turnpike Lane.

What Might Have Been

Here again from various parts of Wikipedia.

From the Victoria Line section of the entry for the Piccadilly Line

During the planning stages of the Victoria line, a proposal was put forward to transfer Manor House station to the Victoria line, and also to build new “direct” tunnels from Finsbury Park to Turnpike Lane station, thereby cutting the journey time in and out of central London. This idea was eventually rejected due to the inconvenience to passengers that would have been caused during rebuilding, as well as the costs of the new tunnels.

From the entry for Seven Sisters station.

During the planning phase of the Victoria line, thought was given to converting Manor House into a Victoria line station and diverting the Piccadilly line in new tunnels directly from Finsbury Park to Turnpike Lane via Harringay Green Lanes, but the idea was abandoned because of the inconvenience this would cause, as well as the cost.

From fifty years and more after construction of the Victoria Line it might seem to be a feasible plan on a cursory look.

  1. It would speed trains on the Piccadilly Line to Kings Cross and Central London, as the route is shorter.
  2. There would be an extra station at Harringay Green Lanes on the Piccadilly Line, which would replace Manor House.
  3. It might also be feasible to turn the ventilation station at Green Lanes into a station.
  4. There would be an extra station at Manor House on the Victoria Line.

Also affecting these services will be this summer’s upgrade to the Victoria Line which will allow thirty-six trains per hour on that line.

So if you take the two improvements together passengers on both the Victoria and Piccadilly Line would get a better service with extra stations.

Enter Crossrail 2

Crossrail 2 will add another dimension to the planning in this area.

I’ll start with a personal observation from my childhood.

Many times, I travelled from Oakwood to Leicester Square or South Kensington and it’s a long way! It probably still is! And in trains that are a lot more crowded.

The opening of Crossrail 2 will affect the Piccadilly and Victoria Lines.

  1. Passengers on the Piccadilly Line from Wood Green northward may switch to Crossrail 2 at Turnpike Lane.
  2. Passengers on the Victoria Line from Walthamstow may switch to Crossrail 2 at Tottenham Hale.
  3. Many passengers from the London Boroughs of Barnet, Enfield, Harringey and Waltham Forest, will change their route to Central London with the arrival of Crossrail 2. And before that an upgraded Thameslink.

I think overall, we’ll see an easing of the lot of passengers on both the Piccadilly and Victoria Lines, by the end of the next decade. The Piccadilly Line should also have been upgraded with new and larger trains, running to an increased frequency. The Future Upgrades section for the Wikipedia entry for the Piccadilly Line says this.

On current plans, resignalling work on the Piccadilly line will begin in 2019 and new trains should be in service by 2022.

If the Piccadilly Line eases South of Turnpike Lane, then there may be scope for opening more stations on the line at perhaps the ventilation station on Green Lanes and Harringay Green Lanes.

And what about an interchange to the North London Line at Maiden Lane to serve the Kings Cross Central development?

How Could New Stations Be Built?

Doing anything at present to create any new stations on the Piccadilly Line is probably not feasible, as it would be impossible to shut the Piccadilly or Victoria Lines for long enough to do anything substantial. There’s been enough chaos caused by shutting the outer reaches of the Victoria Line this summer.

Transport for London have a similar problem about creating a link between the Central Line and the East London Line at Shoreditch High Street station. Transport for London feel that nothing can be done until Crossrail opens. I discussed that link in Will Shoreditch High Street Be Connected To The Central Line?.

Creating new stations on the Piccadilly Line probably can’t be done, until Crossrail 2 is opened, as how do the passengers get to work, rest and play?

I think that in a few years time actually creating the stations will not be as difficult as it would be today, from a construction point-of-view. The experience gained on building Whitechapel station on Crossrail, where a technique called uphill excavation has been used, might be applicable.

Conclusion On The Piccadilly Line In Harringay

My view is that a sort out of the Piccadilly Line and its stations in Harringay is possible and probably very worthwhile, but only after Crossrail 2 has been opened.

Planned Rail Development At Harringay Green Lanes Station

Over the next few years, there will be two major developments on the GOBlin through Harringay Green Lanes station.

The line is going to be electrified with 25 KVAC overhead lines, which will mean putting up structures to support the cables. The bridge across Green Lanes will probably be replaced, as it doesn’t look to be in the best of condition and to be safe, it will probably be replaced before the wires are erected.

The new electric trains will be four-car and this will probably mean the platforms have to be extended. I suspect that Transport for London may well future-proof the station and extend the platforms for perhaps six or even eight-car trains.

There is definitely space at the eastern end of the station to do the platform extension, but why not extend the platforms over the bridge and perhaps even use glass sides, as they’ve done at Deptford.  Extending over the road will also mean that in future a western entrance or link to Harringay station could be created.

As no plans to replace the bridge have been published that I can find, could it be that Network Rail and their architects are working with property developers to design a proper flagship station?

I also think that designing a station to carry the overhead wires in its structure, as I’ve seen at Liege station, may simplify the design and save on the cost of the building.

Property Development And Harringay Green Lanes Station

If you want a profitable development, building car parking is a waste of money, so good access to public transport is essential.

For this reason and especially for housing, property development will be the force that drives the development of London’s transport system.

There is a lot of scope for property development in the area around Harringay Green Lanes station.

This document from the London Borough of Harringey entitled Harringay’s Local Plan lists a large number of development sites around the station.

On Page 92 the document details the St. Ann’s Hospital Site, which lies to the north of the GOBlin. It details how the South West corner of the hospital site will be connected to Green Lanes and the station.

On Page 94 the document goes on to talk about the Arena Retail Park, which adjoins the station.

Both sites have something that developers love. They are both in single ownership; one public and the other private.

So you can have control of the sites without the sort of problems that Tottenham Hotspur have had on building their new stadium, which has delayed the development for some years.

As it will be in the developers’ interest and profitability to have good public transport, I would be very surprised not to see a very good station built at Harringay Green Lanes to serve their developments and also to improve the transport opportunities for locals. This is said in the document.

Access to Harringay Green Lanes Station should be improved by creating a
new entrance on Portland Gardens.

Also, no sane developer would build this station without a secret place, where the escalators and lifts to the Piccadilly Line could be installed. As an example, Tottenham Court Road and perhaps Angel stations, are already ready to accept Crossrail 2.

I believe that given the amount of property development that will take place in the area, a new station at Harringay Green Lanes will be one of the first new buildings to be constructed.

Imagine the advertising potential for your development to see a shiny glass and steel station built over Green Lanes, as you drive or ride a bus through the area. Buiilding the station partly over the road would mean you need to use less valuable land and it would be easier to create a Hackney style link to Harringay station along the railway. If you want to see what can be done, go to Deptford station.


If you have a flagship station at one end of Green Lanes in Harringay, why not have one at the other by converting the ventilation station into a real one?

I just wonder if that should and could be done before Turnpike Lane is rebuilt for Crossrail 2, so that there is an alternative station, if Turnpike Lane had to be closed.

Crossrail have shown that they like to be good neighbours and converting the ventilation station could be something they’d look at to cool the anger of diverted passengers and local residents. The superb new Pudding Mill station on the DLR was built by Crossrail, as the old station was in their way and had to be demolished. I was very surprised that the new station is so spectacular, but I suspect that through good design, clever use of space and leaving out expensive escalators and various utilities not needed if there are driverless trains and no booking office, that the station wasn’t as expensive as it looks. The property developers and West Ham United won’t be complaining.





August 16, 2015 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Luvvies Don’t Like Crossrail 2

Kings Road is one of the worst roads for traffic in London, as Traffic in the New Kings Road shows.

So you’d think that a new Crossrail 2 station would be welcomed. But according to thus article in the Standard which is entitled Felicity Kendal and Trevor Eve join fight to stop Crossrail station on King’s Road, there is a campaign against the line. The article says this.

The campaign group No Crossrail in Chelsea warns that it will lead to years of disruption and ruin the character of one of London’s best loved “villages”

I have always thought that there would be such a campaign in Chelsea, as let’s face it, these people probably don’t go anywhere unless they’re in a large gas-guzzler or taxi.

The joke is that if a station is built in the Kings Road, I believe it will be built by uphill excavation from the tunnels deep below and the amount of surface disruption will be about the same as that of building a couple of new shops with flats on the top.

These people don’t know what they are missing, being so detached from London’s transport system. After all Crossrail 2 would allow them to come and enjoy the sights of Dalston, Tottenham and Walthamstow. But they probably go no further than John Lewis at Sloane Square. (I know it’s called Peter Jones, but John Lewis know that to change the name would create a battle that would make Stalingrad look like a childrens tea party!)

These campaign groups are a disgrace and if any of the members have Freedom Passes, they should be publicly cancelled.

Incidentally, Patrick Stewart and other so-called important people staged a campaign against the Super Sewer. That was extremely successful and they are now looking forward to a sewage system of which London could be proud.

July 22, 2015 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment

Call For Crossrail 2

In The Times today, there is a letter from a wide cross section of business leaders calling for a start to be made on Crossrail 2. ITV have reported a major speech by Boris Johnson on the subject today.

I am very much in favour of the construction of this North-East to South-West line across London, which was first proposed in the 1970s.

Cynics amongst you, will probably say that I am in favour of Crossrail 2, as I live just a few hundred metres away from the proposed double-ended Dalston station, that will transform the area and make my house rise substantially in value.

In my view there are several reasons why Crossrail 2 should be built.

1. HS2

HS2 is currently planned to terminate at Euston station, although I think that could be changed by a more innovative solution. But whatever happens to the London end of HS2, it needs to be simply connected into the knitting of the Underground, so terminating somewhere in the area between Kings Cross and Euston, is probably a certainty.

Every recent design for Crossrail 2 shows it serving the three important London stations of Kings Cross, St. Pancras and Euston. It also links these stations to Victoria and Clapham Junction.

Have you ever tried to use the Victoria Line between Euston and Victoria with a heavy case or a baby in a buggy? It’s bad enough at normal times and impossible in the rush hour.

So when HS2 starts squeezing more passengers through the congested Euston Underground station, it will be a disaster.

I believe that the only way to connect HS2 into London is to build Crossrail 2 first.

2. Sorting The Northern Line

If there is one line of the Underground that needs some substantial sorting it is the Northern Line. Probably because it the oldest deep line of the Underground, it never seems to be where you want it to go! For instance, I can get to Angel fairly easily, but often want to a station on the other branch of the line through London.

The line is being improved in the following ways.

1, An extension to Battersea is being created, that may eventually go to Clapham Junction.

2. Future developments at Bank station should see an improved station with new or larger platforms and tunnels.

3. Rebuilding plans exist for the bottleneck of Camden Town station, but every plan seems to offend one pressure group or another.

4. Long term objectives include splitting the line into two, with all City branch trains going to Morden and all Charing Cross trains going to Battersea.

Crossrail 2 will have interchanges with the Northern Line at Angel, Kings Cross St. Pancras, Euston, Tottenham Court Road, Tooting Broadway and possibly Clapham Junction. So it looks like that Crossrail 2 will certainly make journeys easier for users of the Northern Line.

But Crossrail 2 will have its biggest effect at Euston station, which is a station that needs serious improvement.

1. The station is a maze of cramped tunnels and is not by any means step-free.

2. Euston Square station needs to be properly connected to the Euston main line and Underground stations.

3. Changing between the two branches of the Northern Line at Euston, is not easy, as you have to walk a fair distance in crowded tunnels.

Adding a Crossrail 2 station at Euston won’t be a trivial matter, but it gives everybody a chance to dig their way out of the problems left to us by history.

In  Crossrail 2 Tunnels Under London, I speculated that Crossrail 2 will be dug very deep and that the uphill excavation technique used at Whitechapel will be used to connect to existing stations.

Could techniques such as this be used to excavate a new Euston Crossrail 2 and Underground station beneath Euston Road, that linked upwards into Euston main line station and Euston Square Underground station?

At the very least techniques should be investigated so that Euston is extended without all the hassle of demolition. After all, architects and engineers worked out how to extend Kings Cross and St. Pancras, whilst keeping the stations running during the construction.

3. Easing Congestion On The Victoria Line

This summer, the Northern end of the Victoria Line is being closed for most of August whilst a crossover is changed at Walthamstow Central. According to this press release on the Transport for London web site, this will mean thirty-six trains an hour from Walthamstow Central to Brixton from April 2016.

But this is only correcting one of the faults of a line that was built to an inadequate specification in the 1960s, which resulted in some crap inaccessible stations and a foreshortened line compared to what it should have been.

Crossrail 2 will effectively by-pass the central part of the Victoria Line as the two lines connect at Tottenham Hale, Seven Sisters, Kings Cross, Euston and Victoria.


4. Development Of North East London

I have lived in the North East sector of London for well over thirty of my nearly sixty-eight years.

Some of the problems I observed around White Hart Lane stadium in the 1960s, are still there and only now fifty years later, is that area being redeveloped, with a new football ground, a big supermarket, lots of houses and a virtually new White Hart Lane station. The long awaited development has been totally necessary for at least forty years.

But that area of Haringey is just one small part of North East London, that needs help to create more quality housing, successful business and jobs and leisure opportunities for all.

At least developers are busy all up the Lower Lea Valley and in Waltham Forest.

1. As I said earlier, Tottenham are at last starting to build a new football stadium.

2. Haringey is developing the Tottenham High Road

3. There is a massive development starting at Meridian Water, which I wrote about here.

4. Thames Water are even doing their bit, by developing the reservoirs into the Walthamstow Wetlands, which will become  the largest urban wetland nature reserve in London.

Transport for London are doing their best to improve transport links in North East London, with the expansion of the London Overground and the upgrading of the Victoria Line.

Crossrail 2 with its stations in the Lea Valley and at Tottenham Hale, Seven Sisters and Dalston will be the high capacity link to Central London, that could create real wealth in some of these poorer areas of London.

5. Avoiding Waterloo

From North East London to Waterloo is not the easiest of journeys, unless you can get on the Victoria Line easily and just walk across at Oxford Circus. This is a route I sometimes use, but generally in the week I use a bus to Bank and then the Waterloo and City Line. We’ve had all the fuss about the Night Tube, but I think to get seven-day working on the Waterloo and City and the Northern City Lines is more important.

Network Rail have announced they are going to upgrade Waterloo, but will this solve the problem of getting to the station?

However, Crossrail 2 will give many a new route to places like Southampton and Portsmouth, that avoids Waterloo, by changing at Clapham Junction instead. Other routes will also be available via Victoria, Tottenham Court Road and Wimbledon.

From South West London, as many stations will be  connected to Crossrail 2, anybody going to Central London will be able to go direct.

I believe that Crossrail 2 will take a lot of pressure, from one of London’s busiest stations.

6. Better Connectivity

Some of the very important places I need to get to are quite difficult from Dalston. I suspect others say that about their parts of London.

For me, the difficult ones are the stations at Charing Cross, Waterloo and Paddington, although Crossrail will ease going to the last, as I’ll just change at Whitechapel. Crossrail 2 will ease getting to Charing Cross and Waterloo, as I’ll just change at Euston or Tottenham Court Road onto the Northern.

In some ways Crossrail 2 is just adding two more arms to a spider centred on Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road and Farringdon stations.

When Crossrail, Crossrail 2 and Thameslink are completed, so many journeys across the capital from the suburbs will just be either direct or a single change in the centre.

Thinking Outside The Box About Building Crossrail 2

I suspect that due to the cost of building a rail line like Crossrail 2, that there are some very radical plans for building  the line.

So let’s look at the various parts of the project.

1. The tunnelled section between Tottenham Hale and Alexandra Palace to Wimbledon together with the below-ground stations will be the major cost of Crossrail 2. All of the central stations, with the exception of Chelsea are interchanges.

2. The trains hopefully will be a follow-on order to the Class 345 trains that have been ordered for Crossrail.

3. It would also to be hoped that other designs could be lifted across or modified to keep costs at a minimum.

4. The three surface sections of the line up the Lea Valley Lines, up the East Coast Main Line and  spreading out from Wimbledon, have stations in various states of repair and only a few have full step-free access.

Crossrail is being built, by boring the tunnel and then creating the stations and upgrading the surface sections, but I would almost build Crossrail 2 in the reverse order.

Although the surface sections are not in the best of health, whereas Crossrail linked two four-track railways together, a lot of the lines in the outer reaches of Crossrail 2 only have two tracks, which will mean that upgrading them to the required standard will be a lot easier.

So after finalising the design for the whole line, I’d build Crossrail 2 like this.

1. Rebuild all surface racks and stations to the required modern standard with the removal of level crossings and the addition of appropriate step-free features. Obviously, higher levels of passenger comforts would be added like better information and integration with surface transport, wi-fi, perhaps a decent coffee shop, warm waiting room and clean toilets.

But then we should be doing this with all stations in the UK and not just those touched by Crossrail 2. How much would it encourage people to travel by rail, if they knew that all stations, they would encounter on a journey would be of a high standard?

2. All of the surface lines for Crossrail 2 are electrified, even if some use third-rail electrification. One of the costs of overhead electrification is raising bridges and structures to give clearance, so I would use dual-voltage trains in the same way as Thameslink.

3. The new trains, which hopefully would be the same Class 345 trains, as those on Crossrail would then be introduced on the surface lines. Depots would need to be built.

4. The  Central London interchange stations of Seven Sisters, Dalston, Angel, Kings Cross/St.Pancras/Euston, Tottenham Court Road, Victoria, Clapham Junction, Tooting Broadway and Wimbledon would all be upgraded, so that they are ready to accept the access tunnels from the new Crosrail 2 platforms.

As I believe that Crossrail 2 will be dug at a depth of around or more than fifty metres and it will be connected to existing stations, as Whitechapel has been by uphill excavation, these modifications will not be as great as those at the Crossrail stations like Liverpool Street, Tottenham Court Road, Bond Street and Paddington.

Looking at the list of stations, I can add these notes.

Dalston Junction, Angel, Kings Cross St. Pancras, Tottenham Court Road, Victoria and Clapham Junction have been recently or are being rebuilt and I would hope they have been future-proofed for connection to Crossrail 2.

Seven Sisters, Dalston Kingsland, Euston and Wimbledon need substantial improvement or rebuilding, so this would include provision for Crossrail 2.

5. Only when all the surface sections and the Central London stations were upgraded and ready, would the two tunnel boring machines be threaded between Tottenham Hale and Wimbledon.

This phase would be completed as follows.

  • Connecting or uphill excavating from the tunnels into the existing stations.
  • Fitting out the tracks and the new platforms.
  • Testing of systems and trial running of the trains.

It does sound simplistic, but then engineers will have learned a lot from building Crossrail.

6. Finally, the Chelsea station would be built. As this is a completely new station leaving it until after the line has been built in much the same way as Pimlico was built for the Victoria Line would probably ease construction of the line.




July 18, 2015 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 2 Comments

Whither HS2 And HS3?

This morning there is an article in The Independent, which is entitled SNP fury as HS2 finds ‘no business case’ for taking fast train service to Scotland. Here’s the first paragraph.

The £50bn High Speed Two rail link will not be extended to Scotland, as the team behind the project has found there is “no business case” for the undertaking.

There may not be a conventional business case, as some of the reasons for developing a high speed railway up and down the country are emotional or for a country, where none of us will still be alive.

When HS2 is talked about in the media, freight is rarely mentioned outside of specialist magazines and web sites.

Although, HS2 will be built for the biggest freight trains, there are no plans for using it for this purpose at present. But, if the high speed line moves passengers away from the conventional East Coast, West Coast and Midland Main Lines, this will reduce the number of passenger trains and open up more paths for much needed freight trains to drive the economy.

The Electric Spine will take pressure off existing routes to the North and Scotland, but it does nothing to increase capacity north of Warrington and York, where both the East and West Coast Main Lines do not have the capacity of their southern ends. Some extra tracks and easier routes may be possible in places on these two Main Lines, but upgrading them will be difficult and politically sensitive.

The only other way to create more capacity between the North of England and Central Scotland is to electrify the Settle to Carlisle Line and complete and electrify the Waverley Route to Edinburgh.

I also mistrust all forecasts of passenger ridership on the railways. Two examples illustrate how bad they can be.

The estimate for traffic through the Channel Tunnel was very much on the high side and only now are the number of train passengers rising substantially towards that figure.

Locally, to me, the London Overground was started with three-car trains, which just five years later they are now converting to five cars. The original estimate ranks with some of the most spectacularly bad Treasury and Department of Transport predictions.

Add to this the usual mistakes, where they get the number of trains wrong and lumber places with unsuitable, inadequate or poorly designed trains, that are often unique one-offs to fit the budget. This means you can’t easily rustle up some more standard trains. At least with the Overground, Bombardier delivered the Class 378 trains, which can be cut and pasted into new formations and are still in production.

If you want to see an inadequate set of trains look at the Class 185 trains built for Trans Pennine services. Wikipedia has a whole section devoted to Overcrowding and Passenger Feedback. I have this feeling that some of the other trains ordered lately might be disasters, as the dead hand of the Treasury was too much on the decision.

So I can understand, why the SNP are angry that HS2 will not be extended to Scotland. More capacity is needed between England and Scotland for both freight and passengers, and if that is new capacity, it is likely that it would work well and in a reliable way, using standard trains that are just not UK-only specials, bought from the Treasury’s scraps and petty cash.

I do think though that our designs for HS2 are rather dated and don’t take things that are happening or have happened into account.

Crossrail in London has shown that putting a large twin rail tunnel under a major city, is not the problem it once was. Crossrail have also been very innovative in creating stations with the minimum disturbance to existing infrastructure. As an example, the new Whitechapel station for Crossrail has also used a technique called uphill excavation, where you create escalator and lift shafts upwards from the tunnels, rather than traditionally from the surface, which is much more disruptive.

These techniques can revolutionise the construction of HS2.

Take cities like Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield, which have developed and are continually developing extensive local rail, tram and bus networks. So why are we in Birmingham still talking about creating an HS2 station at Curzon Street? Surely, we just dig a very deep pair of HS2 tunnels under the city and then uphill excavate into not only New Street, but Moor Street and Snow Hill as well. The tunnels would be only made as long as necessary, although the underground station could be very large. But it probably wouldn’t be much bigger than the enormous double-ended Liverpool Street/Moorgate station being created for Crossrail.

The great advantage of this method of construction is that you can continue to develop your network of local trains, trams and other transport links, untroubled by the construction of the new station deep below. Anybody, who thinks this is not possible, should spend half-an-hour walking around Whitechapel station, where the Hammersmith and CityDistrict and East London Lines are passing untroubled over the giant hole and through the building site for the new station.

I would have no idea as to the costs of this method of construction, but it surely must be more affordable, than creating a new station or modifying an old one, by traditional methods.

A station in Manchester could probably be created in a similar manner with a giant double-ended station linking into Manchester Piccadilly station at the Southern end and Manchester Victoria station at the Northern. This is a Google Earth image of Manchester city centre between the two main stations.

Manchester Piccadily And Victoria

Manchester Piccadily And Victoria

Victoria is at the top and Piccadilly is at the bottom. The distance between the two stations is probably a couple of hundred metres more than between Moorgate and Liverpool Street, so designing a station deep beneath the city centre should be possible with a bit of help from long escalators and perhaps a travalator. If nothing else, it would be a wonderful way to transfer between the two stations in Manchester’s rain. It could also have entrances in places like Piccadilly Gardens

Leeds station could be a number of platforms for the high-speed lines under the current station.

Since HS2 has been proposed and still-born, the Northern Powerhouse and HS3 has arrived.

In my view we should plan HS2 and HS3 together and construct them together, as needs determine and budgets allow.

HS2 would start in London, possibly in an underground station which would be under one of the three stations on the Euston Road; Kings Cross, St. Pancras and Euston. It would probably be under Euston, but wherever it was it would be closely integrated into the Crossrail 2 station, which would be under Euston Road at right angles to the other lines and will serve the three current and the new HS2 stations.

I wouldn’t totally rebuild Euston station for HS2, as the station is so complicated and second-rate in its relationship with the Underground, that creating a decent connection between the current station would be so difficult to do without gumming up London’s transport system for umpteen years.

The approach used at Kings Cross to create the magnificent station we have today should be copied, where the main station was left virtually intact and new Underground entrances and subways were dug and tunnelled out to get the Underground connection working and then build a spacious station to give access to the platforms  for the long-distance trains.

I also think that it would be better to build Crossrail 2 first and connect it to the three current stations on Euston Road, then tunnel HS2 accurately into the knitting.

The current Euston station would be kept fully operational throughout the construction of HS2 and only when that line is complete, would Euston station be given the sort of upgrade that has been so successfully done at Kings Cross, St. Pancras, Waterloo and Paddington.

HS2 would go North to a station at Old Oak Common, probably mostly in tunnel and it would then pass stations at Birmingham Interchange (Airport), Birmingham, Crewe, Manchester Interchange (Airport), Manchester and Leeds. I would put the stations in tunnels underneath the current transport hubs.

A branch off the main HS2, north of Birmingham, would go under Nottingham, Sheffield, finally rejoining the main HS2 at Leeds.

And why not balance the network, by having a branch off HS2 south of Birmingham going towards Bristol and Cardiff.

If the alignments were developed correctly, then loops under cities like Stoke might be possible.

HS3 could actually be integrated into HS2. Perhaps it would start under Liverpool Lime Street and then pass under Manchester Interchange, Manchester and Leeds.

From Leeds the HS2 and HS3 would split again, with one branch going North to Newcastle via York and the other going to Hull via Sheffield and Doncaster.

Obviously, this is only a back-of-an-envelop design and properly thought through it could be much better.

But I do feel that HS2 and HS3 will both benefit if they share a route between Manchester Interchange and Leeds, via perhaps Manchester and Huddersfield.

One of the aims of this design is to create a high-speed railway network, with as little demolition and disruption to the workings of our cities as possible.

What happens in Scotland is tricky, as in my view a lot of improvements are mainly Scottish solutions. For instance, as I said, the Waverley Route needs to be rebuilt to a high standard with electrification, Glasgow Crossrail needs to be created and Edinburgh to Glasgow needs to be fully electrified.

But when Newcastle gets a high speed connection to the south, the final piece in the jigsaw of high-speed lines would be to extend HS2 to Edinburgh and Glasgow. Hopefully, by the time that happens, we’ll have learned how to do it in a quick, affordable and non-disruptive way.

The one thing we mustn’t do is build HS2 as it is currently designed, as we can do much better than is proposed.


May 24, 2015 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 4 Comments

Crossrail 2 Through East London

TfL have now published their preferred route for Crossrail 2 and in this post I will detail, how I think it will affect East London.

In this post, I will refer to the Crossrail currently being built as Crossrail 1 to avoid confusion.

The Progression Of Large Projects

I have been around the management of large projects for just over forty years, since I wrote my first software system for project management in 1973. From talking to project managers over that time, I have come to various conclusions, some of which will certainly affect the realisation of Crossrail 2.

The second system I wrote; Artemis, was very much involved in providing the necessary management for the development of North Sea Oil. Project managers told me many times, that things were getting easier and more affordable because of the development of bigger and better rigs, platforms and lifting capabilities. In parallel better techniques and methods were also being developed.

I was also told many times, that doing the second, third or fourth version of something like a concrete production platform, got easier each time, especially if substantially the same team could be used.

Crossrail 2 Is The Next In A Long Line

You could argue that Crossrail 2 will be the latest in a succession of large tunnelling projects under London, since the Second World War.

1 The Victoria Line was bored in the 1960s and I can remember seeing film of the digging of both this line’s tunnels and those at Dartford on the television. Pleasant and safe working, it was not! The BBC have posted a 1969 documentary called How They Dug The Victoria Line on iPlayer. It is a must watch!

2. The Jubilee Line was bored in two sections and was completed as we see it now in 2000. In some ways it is the first modern line and stations in London, where some the latter were built to be architectural gems, like some of London’s pre-war stations.

3. Around the turn of the millennium, the Docklands Light Railway was also extended with two branches and four tunnels under the Thames. I have a feeling that the tunnels of the DLR are the first under London to have wholly concrete as opposed to all or partly iron or steel linings. This video, shows the tunnel from Bank to Shadwell.

4. The London tunnels of HS1, were completed in 2007 to St. Pancras and were the first full-size rail tunnels to be dug under London, since the Snow Hill Tunnel opened in 1866.

5. Over the last few years, the forty-two kilometres of tunnels for Crossrail 1 have been bored under London. Like HS1’s tunnels they are full-size with overhead electrification and hopefully non-corroding concrete linings.

These five tunnels show a constant progression of larger and better-designed and constructed tunnels, that have been built by using a succession of bigger and better machines.

You also have a tremendous base of knowledge built-up by companies, engineers and tunnel workers, which as the recent documentary on the BBC about Crossrail showed, includes families and individuals, who’ve worked on all these five tunnels and a good few others besides!

It is my belief that when the politicians press the Go-button on Crossrail 2, the tunnels will make a painless progression under London as Crossrail 2 sneaks along the defined route.

Crossrail 1 And Crossrail 2 Compared

At first sight, both Crossrails would appear to be two large tunnels and train lines across London, from where lines fan out into the wider suburbs and nearby towns and cities at each end.

But there are some major differences.

Crossrail 1 is much more complicated than Crossrail 2. I suspect some will argue that if they were designing Crossrail 1 today, it would be very different to what is being built. For instance, of the major rail terminals in London, it only serves Liverpool Street and Paddington. I think that the design of Crossrail 2 cleverly builds on Crossrail 1 and helps get over some of the earlier line’s deficiencies.

Crossrail 1 was designed in an era, where passengers needed booking offices in stations. In the last couple of years, the growth in contactless ticketing is showing that booking offices can be closed and the space used for more productive purposes.

Crossrail 1 chose to have the major tunnel portals at Royal Oak, Pudding Mill Lane and Plumstead which would appear to be much more cramped and congested sites than those of Crossrail 2 at Tottenham Hale, New Southgate and Wimbledon.

In addition the surface sections of Crossrail 1 would appear to require a lot more work to bring them up to modern standards, than similar parts of Crossrail 2.

This efficient simplicity in the design will keep costs, time-scales and disruption during the construction phase of Crossrail 2, to a much lower level than Crossrail 1.

Crossrail 1 was skilfully threaded through the mass of tunnels under London, as the BBC documentary showed. The engineers could have gone deeper to get under the Northern Line at Tottenham Court Road but for some reason they didn’t. Perhaps going deeper would have meant difficulties and extra costs in the design of stations. Crossrail 2 will have to go deeper in the Dalston area to get under High Speed One and it will also have to pass Crossrail 1 at Tottenham Court Road. The tunnels of High Speed One are at a depth of 34 to 50 metres, so will we see Crossrail 2 bored across London below all the other foundations and infrastructure?

Crossrail 1 by virtue of its route through Central London has necessitated the expensive rebuilding of quite a few stations. It has also needed expensive new stations at Canary Wharf, Woolwich and Custom House. On the other hand, Crossrail 2 would appear not to require so many stations to be completely rebuilt, as the three central stations of Euston/St. Pancras, Tottenham Court Road and Victoria, will have been or are being rebuilt for other reasons and like Angel will have been rebuilt with provision to link to Crossrail 2. This will save time and costs in construction and probably mean that the disruption caused by Crossrail 2 would be much less than Crossrail 1.

The big station reconstruction will be Euston for HS2 and that will cause massive disruption to everything. Making sure the new station will connect easily to Crossrail 2, is a small problem in the grand scheme of things.

When Crossrail 1 opens, Whitechapel station will be the Jewel In The East. And this will not be just about how the station was designed and will look, but about the way it was built. Instead of digging down from the current station to the new Crossrail 1 tunnels, the thirty metres or so long shaft for the escalators and lifts is being dug upwards from the tunnels, using a coal mining technique called uphill excavation.

Currently the escalators in London with the highest vertical rise are those at Angel station, which rise twenty-seven metres, but this is a dwarf compared to some of the longest in the world. Crossrail 2 looks certain to break London’s record.

Crossrail 2 Could Be A Very Deep Line

I think we could see an unprecedented deep tunnel for Crossrail 2 across London, with tunnels in places over fifty metres below the surface. By comparison, Crossrail 1 is thirty metres deep at Whitechapel, which is not as deep as the Saint Petersburg metro , which has one station at a depth of eighty-six metres.

No major station rebuilding, the digging of stations from the tunnel up, longer escalators and other smaller improvements in techniques and machines , lead me to the conclusion, that the central section of Crossrail 2 will be one deep tunnel that excavates its way to the surface mainly direct into existing Crossrail 2-ready stations.

It will be a very cost effective and hopefully much quicker way of building a railway under London, which could cause a lot less disruption than the current Crossrail 1.

What Can Crossrail 2 Learn From Crossrail 1?

In my view from the outside, Crossrail 1 has been a pretty well-managed project. But it has skilfully used various ideas to make construction flow smoothly.

One big problem with large tunnelling projects is getting rid of all the spoil dug out of the tunnels. Crossrail 1 changed, the tunnelling strategy to remove excavated material by barge from Leamouth rather than the originally proposed complex conveyor system in Mile End.

To further use the spoil on the Wallasea Island Wild Coast Project was a master-stroke with a large dose of green.

It would appear that all three of Crossrail 2’s portals have good rail and/or water access to remove spoil. Will it be used to similar effect?

Crossrail 1 has been able to use archaeology for positive publicity to balance negative stories. I don’t think Crossrail 2 will be going through such rich veins of historical interest, but they will have to find a positive story to spin, that is not directly-related to the project.

Crossrail 1 had a major problem with the junction of the two eastern branches under Stepney. Instead of being heavy, they worked with the Stepney City Farm to create a solution acceptable to both parties. Crossrail 2 must work the same way in sensitive areas, like their proposed junction under Stamford Hill and the only new station on the line at Chelsea.

When people talk about Crossrail 1, the subject of disruption always comes up. In any plan for the design and construction of Crossrail 2, minimising disruption should be an important objective.

There is an entry entitled Controversy in the Wikipedia entry for Crossrail.

This is one of the things that is said.

There had been complaints from music fans, as the redevelopment of the area forced the closure of a number of historic music venues. The London Astoria, the Astoria 2, The Metro, Sin nightclub and The Ghetto have been demolished to allow expansion of the ticket hall and congestion relief at Tottenham Court Road tube station in advance of the arrival of Crossrail.

Crossrail 2 might well find that if they avoided unnecessary demolition, they might calm a few Nimbys.

What Can Crossrail 2 Learn From Other Metros?

From the little of Crossrail 1, I’ve seen in reality, and the masses of visualisations I’ve seen in places like the Crossrail 1 web site, the line strikes me as sound and solid, but not that adventurous in its approach to design and architecture. The stations with perhaps a couple of exceptions, do not have mould-breaking designs that characterise the Piccadilly and Jubilee Lines.

London Transport, the predecessor to Transport for London, was rightly famous for its design from typefaces and maps to stations and buses.

The rules still seem to be applied, but Crossrail 1 doesn’t seem to have extended them, in the way that the Victoria Line did and the Docklands Light Railway and the London Overground still are.

I recently went to Bilbao and saw Norman Foster’s award-winning Metro, which is very much a design-led system.

Crossrail 2 needs to find itself a modern extension of London Transport’s philosophy. They might perhaps start by stealing and Londonising the Bilbao’s fosteritos.

The Safeguarded Areas For Crossrail 2

Crossrail 2 has now firmed up the areas they want to be safeguarded from any possible development that might make building the line difficult. has also given a handy checklist of all the changes, that have been recently agreed.

The web site says this about safeguarding.

The updated route means that relevant planning applications in safeguarded areas will be referred to TfL for advice. If development interferes with Crossrail 2, either a compromise will be reached or the development will not be allowed.

It also says this about TfL and compulsory purchase.

TfL said it currently has no plans to compulsorily purchase properties along the route.

This page on the Crossrail 2 web site, explains all about safeguarded areas and acts as a key to the detailed maps.

The maps show the route of the line and how it effects individual areas, streets and houses.

The only problem is that the PDF maps are sometimes a bit on the skew, but hopefully they will be improved.

Crossrail 2 Through East London

I’m going to look at the area as it works it way through Hackney from Tottenham Hale to The Angel.

Tottenham Hale

The portal for the North Eastern branch is south of Tottenham Hale station, from where it goes up the West Anglia Main Line to Cheshunt, Broxbourne and Hertford East.

It is basically a good plan, as it would appear that the tunnel portal appears to be in an area with all the beauty and charm of East London after the Blitz. It is also located close to rail and water for the efficient and environmentally sound removal of tunnel spoil. Thames Water are even ceating the Walthamstow Wetlands in the area and may have innovative uses for some f the tunnel spoil.

This post entitled Crossrail 2 At Tottenham Hale, shows some maps and pictures and gives my thoughts in full.

South Tottenham/Seven Sisters

It looks increasingly like South Tottenham and Seven Sisters stations could share a double-ended Crossrail 2 station and become a major  interchange between London Overground ‘s Gospel Oak to Barking and Lea Valley Lines, the Victoria Line, Crossrail 2 and National Rail services.

Such an interchange will support major development in a part of London, that desperately needs more housing, jobs and leisure and business opportunities.

This post entitled Crossrail 2 At South Tottenham/Seven Sisters, shows some maps and pictures and gives my thoughts in full.

The Junction Under Stamford Hill

The two northern branches of Crossrail 2, that go to New Southgate and Tottenham Hale respectively, would appear according to the safeguarding map on the Crossrail 2 web site, to join together under Stamford Hill.

It all seems to point to some clever strategy and alignments, that will allow the junction to be created deep underground, without disturbing anything or anybody on the surface.

This post entitled The Crossrail 2 Junction Under Stamford Hill, shows some maps and pictures and gives my thoughts in full.


If there is one area in East London that needs to see its existing transport links tidied up and new ones added, it is Hackney and Dalston.

I have heard from Michele Dix of Crossrail 2, that they are looking at a double-ended station to serve both Dalston Kingsland and Junction stations. This was said.

We have been working closely with the London borough of Hackney on the early development of the proposals for how Crossrail 2 could ultimately serve Dalston. The work to date has been based around delivering a double-ended station, with one end being at Dalston Junction, and the other at Dalston Kingsland, thereby allowing the Crossrail 2 station to link to both existing stations. As Mr. Miller rightly points out, the distance between the existing stations is well suited to the 250m long platforms that will be required for the Crossrail 2 station, and the greater interchange opportunities to London Overground services also deliver significant benefits.

I believe that there is an opportunity to create a world class station that subtly brings together all the good elements of the area. The only necessary demolition would be the unloved Dalston Kingsland station. TfL have told me off the record, that Kingsland station will be replaced fairly soon.

This post entitled Crossrail 2 At Dalston, shows some maps and pictures and gives my thoughts in full about the stations.

De Beauvoir Town

Looking at the safeguarding maps gives the impression that Crossrail 2 will swing under De Beauvoir Town before turning in the direction of the Angel and Kings Cross.

I think the only negative effect will be the possible use of the Bentley Road Car Park as a work site. Why else would it have been singled out for safeguarding?

This post entitled Crossrail 2 Under De Beauvoir Town, shows some maps and pictures and gives my thoughts in full.


Just as at Stamford Hill, I feel that Crossrail 2 could effectively take a route through the hill at the Angel, well below the foundations of any building on top.

Angel station was rebuilt in the 1990s and this was after a route for Crossrail 2 was first safeguarded, so I suspect that creating a Crossrail 2 station at Angel would have been taken into account in the rebuilding.

I think the biggest decision to be made at the Angel, is whether the new station is double-ended with entrances on both sides of the hill or it just pops up into the current station.

As at Dalston, there is scope for the creation of an affordable world class station, which is subtly blended with the good buildings in the area.

How Will Crossrail 2 Be Built?

Crossrail 1 was built rather traditionally, in that the tunnels have been bored first and then the stations have been created.  One thing that surprised me was that the surface sections, which have nothing to do with the tunnels were not prepared for Crossrail 1 a lot earlier.

This is probably because politicians dithered for years about giving the go-ahead for the line. More time and the better planning before tunnelling started would have enabled, the surface stations and possibly one or two of the Central London ones to be made Crossrail 1-ready.

Crossrail 2 has a big advantage over Crossrail 1, when it comes to the politics of the route and construction.

With the exception of a few stations in Hertfordshire and some in the boroughs of Elmbridge, Spelthorne and Epsom and Ewell, Crossrail 2 is a London project, where nearly everything is under the control of Transport for London and ultimately the Mayor. As the only work that will need to be done to outlying stations like Hertford East and Epsom, is bring the existing structures up to a modern standard, that will be capable of handling larger trains, I can’t imagine many complaints about Crossrail 2 from that quarter. It’s interesting to note, that now tunnelling is complete most of the negative stories from Crossrail 1 are about works on the surface section.

As construction of Crossrail 2 is unlikely to start for some years, the tunnelling can probably be scheduled to start after all of the stations have been upgraded to be Crossrail 2-ready.

When St. Pancras was rebuilt for High Speed One, provision was made for Thameslink, and in the same way when Euston and Victoria are rebuilt, I will be surprised if the designs don’t incorporate full provision for Crossrail 2.

Where I live in Dalston, which according to my letter says will have a double-ended station serving both Dalston stations, a TfL manager told me that Dalston Kingsland station is to be rebuilt in the next few years. So as Dalston Junction station was built with Crossrail 2 in mind, boring the tunnels through Dalston will only require threading two needles with the same thread simultaneously.

Probably the only station that needs to be created or rebuilt after or alongside the tunnelling is Chelsea Kings Road, which I suspect will be more politically difficult than any other.

A lot of other features of Crossrail 2, like trains, signalling and the design of tunnels, platforms, track and overhead line systems will probably be the same as Crossrail 1.

I would suspect that a decision will be made to use the same Class 345 trains for Crossrail 2, that are being built for Crossrail 1. The only difference would be that they will need to be dual-voltage to run on the third-rail lines in the south. But they could be built as a run-on to the trains needed for Crossrail 1 and possibly introduced early on the surface lines from Liverpool Street to Hertford North or Victoria to Epsom. I feel that a common weakness of Crossrail 1 and Thameslink, is that they are introducing new types of train as they are respectively building or updating the lines. By using a proven train type the risks associated with the project will be reduced.

So I think we will get a series of phases for Crossrail 2.

1. Introduce some of the new trains on some of the surface sections. New trains on these lines will be needed anyway, as some of the current ones are getting pretty tired and dated.

2. Rebuild Euston station for High Speed Two and make provision for connection to Crossrail 2. This phase alone is probably the most expensive and contentious rail project that will happen in London in the next few years and inextricably links the work for Crossrail 2 and HS2.

3. The current situation at Victoria station is difficult to say the least. Hopefully in 2018, it will have a much better Underground station, with two platforms at which Crossrail 2’s tunnellers will aim their boring machines.

4. Make all the existing stations on the surface lines, Crossrail-2 ready and to a modern standard. Much of the work on the surface sections will be done anyway under Network Rail’s Access for All program.

5. Bore the tunnels through Central London.

6. Fit out the tunnels and the new station platforms.

7. Build the station at Chelsea. This could be an independent last phase, as was Pimlico station on the Victoria Line

Obviously, there are other ancillary projects like the creation of a depot for the trains and as a lot of Phases 1 to 4  won’t interfere with Phases 5 and 6, it could be scheduled to be done at the same time, if planned properly.

As so many elements of Crossrail 2 should be the same as Crossrail 1, any good project manager would probably say costs would be saved by scheduling Crossrail 2 to follow Crossrail 1 by a couple of years or so.


I am optimistic that Crossrail 2 can set new standards of design, affordability, accessibility and neighbourliness as it is built across London in a much shorter time with less demolition and disruption than Crossrail 1.

Well! At least I’m very hopeful!

March 29, 2015 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Coal Mining in Whitechapel

I’ve just received Crossrail’s Autumn 2014 newsletter and there’s a section about using coal mining techniques to connect the Crossrail platforms at Whitechapel to the rest of the station and the surface. They say this.

An uphill excavator is being used for the first time in the UK on the Crossrail project. The machine is being used at Whitechapel, before installing the escalators that will take passengers from the platforms (over 30 metres below ground) to and from street level.

Due to difficulties in accessing the station box to dig downwards, Crossrail’s Whitechapel contractor BBMV decided that excavating the escalator barrel upwards, starting from the platform base, was the best solution.

The uphill excavator, traditionally used in coal mines, is being used in an innovative way on the Crossrail project. Built to do two jobs in one, it works its way up by excavating the earth using a digger fixed to the front. With a spray nozzle attached to the top of the machine it also installs the tunnel lining as it goes.

I suspect this won’t be the last place that the technique is used under London. I think it could find applications in connecting stations to the surface in a reversing loop with stations, or perhaps adding step-free access to a deep Underground station.

Whatever happens, it does seem that engineers are throwing conventional thinking out of the window.

Tunnelling certainly seems to be fun!

December 9, 2014 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 7 Comments