The Anonymous Widower

Extending The Elizabeth Line – Improving The Northern City Line

Some parts of North and North-East London, have less-than-good connections with the Elizabeth Line.

  • The Piccadilly Line has no direct connection with the Elizabeth Line.
  • The Victoria Line has no direct connection with the Elizabeth Line.
  • The Bank branch of the Northern Line has only a poor connection with the Elizabeth Line at Moorgate station.
  • The Northern City Line has only a poor connection with the Elizabeth Line at Moorgate station.
  • The Charing Cross branch of the Northern Line has a good connection with the Elizabeth Line at Tottenham Court Road station.
  • The Lea Valley Lines of the London Overground have good connections with the Elizabeth Line at Liverpool Street station.
  • Thameslink has a good connection with the Elizabeth Line at Farringdon station.

It would appear that if you live near one of the Lea Valley Lines or Thameslink stations, you can access the Elizabeth Line fairly easily at Liverpool Street or Farringdon stations, but if you rely on a Northern, Northern City, Piccadilly or Victoria Line local station, you are not so lucky!

Could The Northern City Line Be Improved To Give Better Connections Between North London And The Elizabeth Line?

This map from cartometro.com shows the lines between Finsbury Park and Highbury & Islington stations.

Note.

  1. The dark blue tracks are the Piccadilly Line, which calls at M (Manor House), Finsbury Park, Arsenal, Holloway Road and Caledonian Road, before going South-West to King’s Cross St. Pancras.
  2. The lighter blue tracks are the Victoria Line, which calls at Finsbury Park and Highbury & Islington, before going South-West to King’s Cross St. Pancras.
  3. The black tracks on the Western side of the map are those of the East Coast Main Line into King’s Cross.
  4. The black tracks going South-East from Finsbury Park are the Northern City Line, which calls at Finsbury Park, Drayton Park, Highbury & Islington, E (Essex Road) and Old Street before terminating at Moorgate.

This second map shows the lines through Finsbury Park station.

 

Note.

  1. The dark blue tracks are the Piccadilly Line.
  2. The lighter blue tracks are the Victoria Line.
  3. The black tracks going through Drayton Park station are the Northern City Line.
  4. The platforms of the Piccadilly and Victoria Lines are paired at Finsbury Park station, so that passengers can change lines with a simple walk-across.

This third map shows the lines through Highbury & Islington station.

Note.

  1. The dark blue tracks are the Piccadilly Line.
  2. The lighter blue tracks are the Victoria Line.
  3. The orange tracks are the London Overground.
  4. The black tracks going through Drayton Park and Highbury & Islington stations are the Northern City Line, which terminates at Moorgate station.
  5. The platforms of the Northern City and Victoria Lines are paired at Highbury & Islington station, so that passengers can change lines with a simple walk-across.

The big problem with Highbury & Islington station is that is not step-free.

A Step-Free Route Between Wood Green And Moorgate  Stations

Currently, it is possible to go between Wood Green and Moorgate stations by using three trains.

  • Piccadilly Line – Wood Green to Finsbury Park – 6 mins
  • Victoria Line – Finsbury Park to Highbury & Islington – 6 mins
  • Northern City Line – Highbury & Islington to Moorgate – 10 mins

Note.

  1. These are actual times measured on my phone.
  2. The total time is twenty-two minutes.
  3. I had to wait a couple of minutes at both changes.
  4. Both changes are walk-across.
  5. The changes are not as perfect as they could be, although they would be easily managed with a buggy or a heavy case.

These pictures show the change at Highbury & Islington station.

These pictures show the change at Finsbury Park station.

This route works for all stations Between Manor House and Cockfosters.

  • Cockfosters – Add 15 minutes
  • Oakwood – Add 12 minutes
  • Southgate – Add 9 minutes
  • Arnos Grove – Add 6 minutes
  • Bounds Green – Add 3 minutes
  • Turnpike Lane – Subtract 2 minutes
  • Manor House – Subtract 5 minutes

But look at the frequencies of the three sections in trains per hour (tph)

The Northern City Line frequency is not high enough, as you could have a fifteen minute wait for a train.

Improvements Needed To The Northern City Line

The Northern City Line now has new Class 717 trains, a terminal platform at Stevenage and full digital signalling is being installed.

  • The major improvement needed would be to improve frequency to at least 12 tph.
  • Six tph on both branches should be possible.

I would also install step-free access at more stations.

Moorgate Station’s Northern City Line Platforms

These pictures show the platforms of the Northern City Line at Moorgate station.

Note.

Improved Connections At Moorgate Station

I talked about the connections between the Northern and Elizabeth Lines at Moorgate station in Elizabeth Line To Northern Line At Moorgate Station.

This was my conclusion.

Routes between the Northern and Elizabeth Lines at Moorgate need to be improved.

I feel that some of the improvements could be fairly minor, but adding step-free access to the Northern City Line could be more difficult.

An Improved Connection Between Bank And Moorgate Stations

Currently, there are three ways between Bank and Moorgate stations.

  • Use the Northern Line
  • Use a 21, 43 or 141 bus routes
  • Walk

I believe that it would also be possible to dig a pedestrian tunnel between the two stations and fit it out with a moving walkway.

This visualisation shows the updated Bank station.


Note.

  1. Moorgate station is to the left.
  2. The only more-or-less completed bits are the two Northern Line tunnels and platforms and parallel pedestrian tunnel.
  3. The four cross tunnels can be picked out towards the far end of the station.
  4. Three of the cross tunnels can now be used by passengers.
  5. The moving walkway can be accessed from the two cross tunnels nearest to the Central Line.
  6. The escalators from the yet-to-open Cannon Street entrance appear to lead directly into a cross tunnel and a parallel tunnel to the moving walkway.

I believe that the moving walkway to Moorgate station could connect with the Bank station complex, at the Moorgate end of the new moving walkway in Bank station.

 

September 5, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Extending The Elizabeth Line – Thoughts On The Maximum Frequency In The Central Tunnel

The Wikipedia entry for the Elizabeth Line, says this about the indicative timetable after the 6th November 2022.

The indicative timetable consists of the following services on the Elizabeth line during peak hours: there will be 24 trains per hour (tph) in each direction in the central section (Paddington to Whitechapel): of these, 12 will run between Shenfield and Paddington, 6 will run between Abbey Wood and Heathrow, and 6 between Abbey Wood and either Reading or Maidenhead. Some trains on the Reading branch will not stop at all stations. Passengers travelling between stations west of Paddington and those on the north-eastern branch will need to change trains in the central section. Changing trains at Hayes & Harlington will be required for travel between Hanwell, West Ealing or Acton Main Line and other stations on the Reading branch.

The north-eastern section via Stratford is expected to see an additional four trains per hour during peak times between Gidea Park and the existing main line Liverpool Street station’s high level terminating platforms. Since these trains run over existing above-ground lines from Liverpool Street to Stratford, they will not call at Whitechapel.

When you consider, that Dear Old Vicky can handle 36 tph in the Peak, I  feel that at some point in the future, the Elizabeth Line will handle more trains in the Central Tunnel.

This article on London Reconnections, which is entitled The Ninety Second Railway: Making the Victoria The Most Frequent Metro In The World, gives a history of increasing the frequency on the Victoria Line.

This is a paragraph from the article.

Of course, having the trains is only one part of the requirement. As our editor John Bull is prone to point out, there comes a point where frequency is not about how many trains you can squeeze through the tunnels, but about how quickly you can get passengers onto and clear of, the platforms.

As a regular passenger on the Victoria Line, there are times, when you notice that there are queues for the escalators and in the passageways at certain stations.

The Victoria Line probably can’t go to forty tph without substantial work on several stations.

But as these pictures show, the Elizabeth Line has space.

The Central Tunnel stations also have step-free walk-across access to the trains.

On my many journeys on the Lizzie Line, I’ve yet to see any delays in boarding in the Central Tunnel.

Extra Terminals

At present, the Elizabeth Line has been designed to have these terminal stations.

  • Abbey Wood
  • Heathrow Terminal 4
  • Heathrow Terminal 5
  • Maidenhead
  • Paddington
  • Reading
  • Shenfield

The capacity in the East must match the capacity in the West.

Possible terminals in the East could be.

  • Beaulieu
  • Gravesend
  • Hoo
  • Northfleet
  • Southend Victoria

And in the West they could be.

  • Bedwyn
  • Oxford
  • Swindon

The numbers must still match.

Extra services would probably best be added gradually with time, when a need was proven.

Conclusion

I feel that only three things will limit the frequency of Elizabeth Line trains through the Central Tunnel.

  • A frequency that fits the passenger numbers and route preferences.
  • The capacity of the terminals
  • The ability for engineers to meet that frequency safely and at an affordable cost.

Given that at certain times of the day, the Elizabeth Line is busier than you would expect, I wouldn’t be surprised to see that frequency higher than that planned.

September 4, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

New £3.6bn London Transport Funding Deal Agreed

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

These five paragraphs outline the deal.

A new £3.6bn government bailout to keep Tube trains, railways, buses and trams running in London has been agreed.

The package includes almost £1.2bn of upfront funding for Transport for London (TfL) to secure the long-term future of the capital’s transport network.

It is the sixth bailout for TfL after its revenues plummeted in the pandemic.

The funds will allow Piccadilly line trains to be built as well as upgrades to three Tube lines.

TfL Commissioner Andy Byford described the deal as “hard won” but Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, who is also chair of TfL, branded it “far from ideal”.

I have a few thoughts.

Will The North And Scotland Like It?

In my travels around the UK, when I ask someone on a bus,train or tram about their new transport funding, I often get a reply something like.

It’s good, but London gets more.

I don’t think other areas of the UK will like £3.6 billion, especially after Crossrail’s over budget and late construction.

Driverless Trains

The BBC article says this about driverless trains.

The 16-page settlement letter includes a commitment to “press forward a joint programme on the implementation of driverless trains on the London Underground”.

These seven paragraphs in the  settlement letter say this about driverless trains.

29. TfL’s record of modernisation and innovation should not leave it behind other European
networks, which are achieving significant operational efficiencies through driverless trains.
Accordingly, DfT and TfL will press forward with the joint programme on the implementation of
driverless trains on the London Underground, recognising TfL’s safety, regulatory and statutory
responsibilities.
30. Taking the findings of the network review to the next stage, TfL will continue to work with DfT
to develop the evidence required to make a strong case for investment in driverless trains on the
London Underground. This will include but not be limited to the work set out below.
31. TfL will work with DfT to assess the case for introducing GoA4 on the London Underground
network, taking into account opportunities and risks.
32. TfL will undertake further studies and wider research to support progressing driverless trains
on the lines where the case(s) are strongest.
33. In addition, TfL should continue working with DfT to make progress developing and testing
innovative technology, where it can save money in the delivery of driverless trains.
34. Based on the findings of the above, TfL will work with DfT to develop a business case for
driverless trains as necessary.
35. TfL will ensure senior representation on the joint programme and will actively support this work
through the provision of staff resources, expertise and access to both the London Underground
network and any information sources. TfL’s participation should seek to explore all options in a
collaborative and open manner and work with the programme on an implementation plan. HMG
will provide resource funding to TfL to enable it to support the programme’s work

Around 1970, I worked at ICI in sections who were at the forefront in creating computer-controlled chemical plants.

I also remember that Simulation magazine gave a detailed description about how London Underground’s Victoria Line worked using automation, which colleagues thought was an excellent system.

The trouble with driverless trains, is that they have got too political.

  • You have the Government wanting to introduce driverless trains for reasons of efficiency and to follow the best technological practice in Europe.
  • You have the Unions totally against it for their obvious reasons.
  • You have the Mayor of London grudgingly accepting it.

I take a practical attitude to automation based on the views of world-class automation engineers, I worked with in the 1960s and 1970s.

  • In an airliner, most of the flying, landing and control of the aircraft is automatic, with the pilot monitoring everything on instruments.
  • Much of the automation I was involved with all those years ago, was about ensuring optimal operation of plant and machinery and ensuring that the safety margins were not exceeded.

These two paragraphs from Wikipedia, explain the operation of the Victoria Line.

On opening, the line was equipped with a fixed-block Automatic Train Operation system (ATO). The train operator closed the train doors and pressed a pair of “start” buttons and, if the way ahead was clear, the ATO drives the train at a safe speed to the next station. At any point, the driver could switch to manual control if the ATO failed. The system, which operated until 2012, made the Victoria line the world’s first full-scale automatic railway.

The Victoria line runs faster trains than other Underground lines because it has fewer stops, ATO running and modern design. Train speeds can reach up to 50 miles per hour (80 km/h). A common method used by north London residents to visit the West End is to take the Northern line Bank branch, change platforms at Euston, and continue on faster Victoria line trains. The original signalling has been replaced with a more modern ATO system from Westinghouse Rail Systems incorporating ‘Distance to Go Radio’ and more than 400 track circuits. The track operator, London Underground Limited, claimed it is the world’s first ATO-on-ATO upgrade. The new system allowed a revised timetable to be introduced in February 2013, allowing up to 33 trains per hour instead of 27. In combination with new, faster trains, the line’s capacity increased by 21%, equivalent to an extra 10,000 passengers per hour.

Note.

  1. I very much approve of this type of automation, which fits well with the operation of metro services.
  2. The driver is very much in control, as he initiates and can stop all train movements.
  3. The original automation in the 1960s, used thermionic valves and relays.
  4. I believe that automation like this can be exceptionally safe.

As the extract says, Automatic Train Operation system (ATO) increases the frequency of trains, runs them faster and increases capacity.

The only problem is how do you sell it to the unions.

 

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

Would A Joint Development Of Thameslink And The Elizabeth Line Be A Cost-Effective Way To Improve London’s Rail Network?

The operation of Thameslink and The Elizabeth Line are more similar than many people think.

  • Both have a central tunnel.
  • On the Elizabeth Line, the central tunnel is between Paddington and Whitechapel stations, which always takes thirteen minutes.
  • Trains on the Elizabeth Line run five minutes apart.
  • On Thameslink, the central tunnel is between St. Pancras International and London Blackfriars stations, which always takes nine minutes.
  • Trains on Thameslink run 3-4 minutes apart.
  • There are no branches in the central tunnels.
  • No other regular train services run through the central tunnels.
  • Trains appear to be controlled very accurately to the timetable.
  • Each train on both lines seems to take a similar time through their central tunnel.

I am by training a Control Engineer and this is not surprising, as if you want to get the most number of trains down a tunnel, they should all take the same time and be equally spaced.

  • As there are twelve trains per hour (tph) on the Elizabeth Line, the five minute interval is to be expected.
  • As there are twenty tph on Thameslink, the 3-4 minute interval is to be expected.

It should be noted that the Victoria Line was fully opened in 1971.

  • It has a single central tunnel with no branches.
  • The line is used exclusively by Victoria Line trains.

But when new faster trains and automatic train control (ATO) were introduced, it enabled the train frequency  to be increased from 27 to 33 tph.

By comparison to the Victoria Line, I believe that increased frequencies of trains through Thameslink and The Elizabeth Line should be possible.

The Elizabeth Line Frequency

The Wikipedia entry for the Elizabeth Line gives a central tunnel frequency of 24 tph, consisting of the following services.

  • 12 tph – Shenfield and Paddington
  • , 6 tph – Abbey Wood and Heathrow
  •  6 tph – Abbey Wood and either Reading or Maidenhead

Note, in Extending The Elizabeth Line – High Speed Trains On The Elizabeth Line, I said this.

Because of the current track layout at Abbey Wood, I believe that without track modifications, Abbey Wood station will not be able to handle more than 12 tph.

So will Abbey Wood be restricted to 12 tph for some years?

It does appear to me, that to increase the frequency through the Elizabeth Line’s central tunnel, there will need to be services to new destinations in both the East and the West.

Various destinations have been suggested for the Elizabeth Line.

  • Northfleet, Gravesend and possibly Hoo for Chatham.
  • Billericay, Southend Airport and Southend Victoria.
  • Tring and Milton Keynes
  • Staines

I would also add.

  • Chelmsford and the new station at Beaulieu.
  • Didcot, Oxford and possibly Swindon.

There are a lot of possibilities.

The Thameslink Frequency

The Wikipedia entry for the Thameslink gives a central tunnel frequency of 20 tph, consisting of the following services.

  • 2 tph – Cambridge and Brighton
  • 2 tph – Cambridge and Maidstone East
  • 2 tph – Peterborough and Horsham
  • 2 tph – Bedford and Brighton
  • 2 tph – Bedford and Gatwick Airport via Redhill
  • 2 tph – Luton and Rainham via Greenwich
  • 2 tph – St Albans City and Sutton via Wimbledon (loop)
  • 2 tph – St Albans City and Sutton via Mitcham (loop)
  • 2 tph – Kentish Town and Orpington via Catford

There are few suggestions for extra Thameslink services.

High Speed Trains On The Elizabeth Line

Some suggested destinations for the Elizabeth Line and some existing destinations for Thameslink are on high speed lines, that will be digitally-signalled in the next few years.

These destinations might be better served by an Elizabeth Line or Thameslink train with a better performance.

In Extending The Elizabeth Line – High Speed Trains On The Elizabeth Line, I explained my reasoning in detail.

Conclusion

A comprehensive survey needs to be carried out to identify what destinations should be added to the Elizabeth Line/Thameslink network.

Reasons for a new destination could possibly be employment, housing, leisure, tourism or other factors.

August 14, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | 2 Comments

Wide Platforms On The Piccadilly Line Extension

As a child, I used to live on the Northern reaches of the Piccadilly Line.

  • My family lived near Oakwood station.
  • I used to have my hair cut in the barbers at Cockfosters station.
  • My school was at Southgate station.
  • My father’s print works was close to Wood Green station.
  • I regularly brought shopping home from Marks & Spencer in Wood Green, by using Turnpike Lane station.
  • I saw Eric Clapton, John Mayall and others at the Manor House pub by Manor House station.

Incidentally, I’ve never had much to do with Arnos Grove or Bounds Green stations.

Perhaps because in those days of the 1950s, I rarely used other lines, I didn’t notice the wider platforms of the extension, which opened in 1933.

The Wikipedia entry for the Piccadilly Line, says this.

Platforms 400 ft (120 m) long were originally planned for each station to fit 8-car trains, but were cut short to 385 ft (117 m) when built. Some stations were also built with wider platform tunnels to cater to expected high patronage.

Perhaps, that explains the wider platforms at Turnpike Lane and Manor House stations.

I suspect that Transport for London wish that the Victoria Line had been built to the same standards of the Piccadilly Line Extension of the 1930s.

 

 

August 12, 2022 Posted by | Design, Transport/Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Elizabeth Line To Open On 24 May 2022

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release on Crossrail.

This is the sub-title.

Trains to run every five minutes 06:30 – 23:00 Monday to Saturday between Paddington and Abbey Wood.

And these are the first two paragraphs describe what will open.

Transport for London (TfL) has today confirmed that, subject to final safety approvals, the Elizabeth line will open on Tuesday 24 May 2022. The Elizabeth line will transform travel across London and the South East by dramatically improving transport links, cutting journey times, providing additional capacity, and transforming accessibility with spacious new stations and walk-through trains. The Elizabeth line will initially operate as three separate railways, with services from Reading, Heathrow and Shenfield connecting with the central tunnels from autumn this year.

In the coming weeks, Elizabeth line signage will continue to be uncovered across the network in preparation for the start of customer service. The updated Tube and Rail map will also be released later showing the new central section stations connected with the rest of the TfL network for the first time.

These are some points from the rest of the press release.

  • Work will continue in engineering hours and on Sundays to allow a series of testing and software updates in preparation for more intensive services from the autumn.
  • All services between Reading and Heathrow to Paddington and Shenfield to Liverpool Street, currently operating as TfL Rail, will be rebranded to the Elizabeth line.
  • Passengers wanting to do longer journeys may need to change at Paddington or Liverpool Street stations.
  • Services from Reading, Heathrow and Shenfield will connect with the central tunnels in autumn when frequencies will also be increased to 22 trains per hour in the peak between Paddington and Whitechapel.
  • Paddington and Canary Wharf will have a journey time of only 17 minutes. It takes thirty minutes by the Underground.
  • All Elizabeth line stations will be staffed from first to the last train, with a ‘turn up and go’ service offered to anyone needing assistance.
  • Step-free access is in place from street to train across all Elizabeth line stations between Paddington and Woolwich.
  • Work is ongoing at Bond Street Elizabeth line station, which means that it will not open with the other stations on 24 May. It will open later in the year.
  • Changes will be made to 14 bus routes to improve links to Elizabeth line stations in east and south-east London, where many customers will use buses to get to and from stations.
  • Full services across the entire route introduced by May 2023.

I have some thoughts.

My Routes To Crossrail

Like many in London, I will have multiple routes to and from Crossrail.

  • I could take a 21 or a 141 bus from the bus stop round the corner to the Moorgate end of Liverpool Street station on Crossrail.
  • I could take a 38 bus from another bus stop round the corner to Tottenham Court Road station on Crossrail.
  • I could also take a 38 or 56 bus from this stop to Angel station and get a Northern Line train to Liverpool Street station on Crossrail.
  • I could also take a 38 or 56 bus from this stop to Essex Road station and get a Northern City Line train to Liverpool Street station on Crossrail.
  • I could also take a 30 bus from this stop to Highbury & Islington station and get a Northern City Line train to Liverpool Street station on Crossrail.
  • I could take a 30, 38 or 56 from yet another stop round the corner to Dalston Junction station and get an Overground train to Whitechapel on Crossrail.
  • I could even walk a few hundred metres to take a 76 bus from the stop in the centre of de Beauvoir Town to the Moorgate end of Liverpool Street station on Crossrail.

One of the reasons, I bought my house, was that it would have good connections to Crossrail.

But there is a cloud on the horizon.

My easiest route will probably be to use a 21 or 141 bus direct to Moorgate.

But our South London Mayor in his wisdom is hoping to retire the 21 bus leaving us with just the 141 direct to Moorgate.

I am by training a mathematical modeller and I have lived much of my life at various points on the transport corridor from Cockfosters to Moorgate formed by the Piccadilly Line and the 141 bus. I can even remember using the predecessor of the 141 bus, which was the 641 trolley-bus to come up to London with my grandmother in the 1950s.

I’m certain that when Crossrail opens, that if you live in say Wood Green, Southgate and Oakwood, if you want to use Crossrail to get to Heathrow or Canary Wharf, you will be highly likely to take the Piccadilly Line to Manor House and then take a 141 bus to Moorgate to pick up Crossrail.

The only alternative will be to change at Finsbury Park for the Moorgate Line, which even after the improvements at Finsbury Park, would not be an easy change with a heavy bag or a baby in a buggy.

I talked about this problem before in Does London Need High Capacity Bus Routes To Extend Crossrail?, where I said this.

I suspect that when Crossrail opens, the 141 bus will be heavily used by travellers going between the Northern reaches of the Piccadilly Line and Crossrail at Moorgate.

The 141 bus goes between London Bridge station and Palmers Green and it has a route length of about nine miles.

Currently, buses run every fifteen minutes or so, but I doubt it will be enough in future as Transport for London are rerouting the closely-related 21 bus.

I suspect any route seen as an extension of Crossrail needs to have the following characteristics.

  • High frequency of perhaps a bus every ten minutes.
  • Interior finish on a par with the Class 345 trains.
  • Wi-fi and phone charging.

I would also hope the buses were carbon-free. Given that some of these routes could be quite long, I would suspect hydrogen with its longer range could be better.

It should be noted that the 43 bus, that passes Moorgate, is already carbon-free.

I will be interested to see what action is taken by Transport for London.

I believe their current plan is lacking and will make it difficult for those where I live to get to Crossrail at Moorgate.

Feeder Bus Routes To Crossrail

I believe that there could be considerable scope for more high-capacity high-quality feeder routes to and from Crossrail.

Currently, there are four bus routes that pass Moorgate station, that come into this category.

  • 21 – Lewisham Shopping Centre and Newington Green
  • 43 – London Bridge Station and Friern Barnet
  • 76 – Waterloo Station and Stoke Newington
  • 141 – London Bridge Station and Palmers Green

How many other routes are there, that stop outside a Crossrail station?

I suspect that for many Londoners and visitors, a bus to Crossrail will be their fastest way to their ultimate destination.

For instance, my fastest way to Bond Street, Canary Wharf, Ealing, Heathrow, Paddington and Reading will start with a bus to the Crossrail entrance at Moorgate station.

And it looks like Transport for London will be reducing my bus frequency to Moorgate, when it probably needs a slight increase.

Crossrail’s North-West Essex Extension

One of the elegant parts of Crossrail’s design is its interchange with the Central Line at Stratford station.

  • The Eastbound Crossrail and Central Line platforms share an island platform.
  • The Westbound Crossrail and Central Line platforms share an island platform.

This arrangement allows step-free cross-platform interchange between the two lines.

This map, which was clipped from Wikipedia, shows the North-Eastern end of the Central Line.

I am sure, that those who live to the North-East of Stratford station will be some of the residents of London, who benefit the most from Crossrail.

The following stations are step-free.

  • Buckhurst Hill
  • Debden
  • Epping
  • Hainault
  • Newbury Park
  • Roding Valley
  • South Woodford
  • Stratford
  • Woodford

I suspect more stations will be made step-free.

Cross-Platform Interchanges

It was originally planned, that a similar cross-platform interchange would have been built at Walthamstow Central station, that would have allowed the Victoria Line to continue to Woodford.

As the Stratford interchange works so well, I’m surprised the track layout hasn’t been used at more places on London’s rail network.

The Whitechapel Reverse

In Is Whitechapel Station Going To Be A Jewel In The East?, I discussed the importance of Whitechapel station.

Whitechapel station solves the round-the-corner problem for passengers, who want to go between say Romford and Woolwich stations.

Passengers just walk the few metres between the two platforms at Whitechapel station and take the first train to their destination.

I will be interested to see if Crossrail has an effect on traffic over the Dartfood Crossing and through the tunnels. How many will use Crossrail instead, when they are visiting their team, clients or family on the other side of the river?

I call stations like Whitechapel reversal stations, as they allow passengers to easily reverse direction. There is more about reversal stations in Reversal Stations.

The New Tube Map

These pictures show the new tube map.

Note.

  1. Crossrail is shown as a double purple line.
  2. Thameslink is also shown as a double pink line.
  3. There are certainly some drawing gymnastics to fit it all in.

But Harry Beck’s design survives.

Abbey Wood Station

The more I look at the design of Abbey Wood station and compare it to the Crossrail/Central interchange at Stratford, the more I think it is a substandard station.

Would it have been better, if one island platform had been designed for Westbound services and the other had been designed for Eastbound services? Crossrail services might be on the outside with North Kent services between the two island platforms.

This would have enabled a journey between say Rochester and Bond Street to have been done with a simple cross-platform change at Abbey Wood station.

No Victoria Line Interchange

I was surprised by these omissions.

This article on London Reconnections is entitled Horrible Holborn: When Postponement Is Not An Option.

It is well worth a read.

One section is entitled The interchange that isn’t, where this is said.

Whilst modelling showed that Bond St and Tottenham Court Road would be capable of managing the expected passengers once the Elizabeth line opens, it was clear that a combined Oxford Circus/Bond St (Crossrail) east entrance could not. If you have ever wondered why the Elizabeth line has no sub-surface interchange with the Victoria line at Oxford Circus despite the eastern ends of the Bond Street platforms being tantalisingly close, this is your answer. As the Victoria line at Oxford Circus is never likely to be able to handle the expected numbers of people that would board if there were direct access from the Bond St Crossrail platforms, it appears the two stations will never be linked with publicly accessible passages below ground.

In other words, you would solve the problem of the interchange between the Elizabeth and Victoria Lines and create severe overcrowding on the Victoria Line.

When I have supper with my son at the Angel, he comes from his home in Walthamstow, via a cross-platform change at Euston.

Routes like this allow those that live on the Victoria Line to access the Elizabeth Line.

No Piccadilly Line Interchange

The article says this about an Elizabeth Line station at Holborn.

It is pertinent to note that an early plan to have a Crossrail station at Holborn was abandoned. In reality, it would have been too close to Tottenham Court Road station to be really worthwhile. It would have restricted the alignment (bearing in mind that sub-surface Crossrail stations have to be straight and level). It would also have added considerable expense and may have put the entire project at risk. At the end of the day, it just wasn’t a good business case. Whilst a station on the scale of the Elizabeth line could not be justified, however, an improvement of the existing Holborn station could.

The article also says that upgrading Holborn station would not be easy, even without the connection to the Elizabeth Line.

May 15, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

London Underground Gets Approval For Walthamstow Central Tube Station Upgrade

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

It is from over a year ago and I’m only including it, as it includes a cutaway of the upgrade.

I go regularly to Walthamstow Central station and hopefully, this will make my journeys easier in busy times.

This paragraph from Wikipedia  describes some of cost-cutting design features of the current station.

The underground station, like many stations on the Victoria line, was built to a low budget. White ceiling panels were never fixed to the ceilings above the platforms; instead the steel tunnel segments were painted black and used to support the fixtures and fittings, cutting lighting levels. A concrete stairway sits between two escalators instead of a third; this economy caused a disruptive station closure for several weeks in 2004 when both escalators went out of service.

Hopefully, these short comings will be addressed in the upgrade.

But it doesn’t appear there will be step-free interchange between Underground and Overground.

April 17, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Thought On The Prospects For Crossrail

Someone asked the question, in a discussion group, that I visit, if Crossrail will be a success.

I believe that you only have to look at the success of the London Overground to realise that Crossrail will be a success.

When the North London Line reopened as the first route of the London Overground with new Class 378 trains, it used to run four-car trains at a frequency of six trains per hour (tph) between Stratford and Willesden Junction stations.

Now the line runs eight tph on that route and the trains are five cars.

That is a capacity increase of 66% in terms of cars per hour.

And still at times, the trains are full and Transport for London are looking at ways of adding extra trains and/or cars.

Crossrail will have the factors going for it, which helped to make the Overground that success. It is new and has a novelty value, but above all like the Overground, it is built for full-sized people, who could be pushing bikes and buggies and trailing baggage.

Crossrail, also increases options for alternative routes for Londoners , who are World Champions at ducking-and-diving.

Crossrail has also been designed so that the trains can be extended.

If Crossrail has a problem, other than the lateness and budget overrun, it is that it doesn’t connect to the Victoria or Piccadilly Lines.

February 18, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Does Anybody Know Of A Shuttle Train Without A Timetable?

In Very Light Rail – A Revolution, I suggested that automated shuttle trains could be run between West Ealing and Greenford on the Greenford Branch.

Trains would not run to a timetable, but when they were ready and the line was clear, they would move to the next station.

I suspect the safest way would be for when the driver had a green signal and the doors were closed, they just pressed a button which told the train to proceed to the next station.

I believe this was the system, that was used when the Victoria Line was opened in 1968.

It has its advantages.

  • On average passengers don’t have to wait so long.
  • If the driver sees a group of passengers coming, he can delay the train for a minute or so until they have got on.
  • If perhaps a passenger in a wheelchair is having a bit of difficulty, he can wait.
  • If, as on the Greenford Branch, another train needs to come through, the shuttle train can park up in a platform and continue operating after the second train has cleared. Separation between the lightweight passenger train and any other train is maintained at all times.

But the biggest advantage is that you get more trains per hour (tph).

I know that cable cars, cliff railways, funiculars and of course lifts often work without a timetable, but does anybody know of a rail line, that works without one?

January 12, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Would Automated Trains With The Ability To Run Backwards Improve Passenger Train Services?

At several stations on the UK rail network trains reverse direction, where the driver changes cabs before driving the train out of the station.

A classic example is at Bourne End station on the Marlow Branch Line.

  • There is one train per hour (tph)
  • The branch is seven miles long.
  • The journey takes around twenty-three minutes.
  • There are several level crossings.
  • Turnrounds take around ten minutes at Marlow and Maidenhead.
  • There are three intermediate stations; Furze Platt, Cookham and Bourne End.
  • Stops at the first two stations are timing for half-a-minute, whereas four-and-half minutes are allowed at Bourne End.

I wonder whether with a specially-designed train, that the service frequency could be doubled to two tph.

In the 1960s, Victoria Line trains had a sophisticated control system, which when the driver saw that everything was safe in a station and the signals were green, they just pushed a button and automation moved the train to the next station, where the doors opened automatically.

I am sure that sure a system would work on the Marlow Branch Line.

  • All station stops, including Bourne End would be half-a-minute and this would save four minutes.
  • The driver would stay in one cab making sure everything was working well.
  • The driver would monitor everything on CCTV.
  • The driver would probably be in the Bourne End end of the train for safety reasons.
  • There would only be one train on the line at any one time, which increases safety.

Could track improvements and faster running bring the Marlow and Maidenhead time back to under fifteen minutes?

This would give two tph with the only infrastructure work being probably realigned track for faster running and repeater signals, so the driver would be informed all the time.

This is just a simple example and I am sure there are many more.

Conclusion

Automation can improve service frequency to the benefit of both passengers and operators.

December 21, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | 1 Comment