The Anonymous Widower

Ambitious £10bn Plans For Gatwick Heathrow HS4Air Rail Service Rejected

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

This paragraph outlines the reasons for rejection of HS4Air.

But the DfT has reportedly turned down the proposal, primarily over concerns about the affordability and that it would likely face issues because the proposed route will run across greenbelt land.

It would appear from the report, that the promoters of the project; Expedition Engineering, are not happy.

This is the last three paragraphs of the article

Lenczner said that most of the rail line was going to be in tunnels, ensuring the impact to open green areas was limited and less than the Lower Thames Crossing.

He said: “We’re trying to encourage people to get out of cars and use more sustainable modes of transport and the HS4Air would have contributed to that.

“We have had lots of messages of support who are also utterly gobsmacked that it has been rejected at this stage.

He added that “we don’t intend to back down,” and said the engineering company plans to challenge the DfT’s decision.

Alistair Lenczner is a director of Expedition Engineering.

I think that HS4Air proposal is the sort of bold infrastructure project, that we will increasingly need in a post-Brexit world.

There were four major proposals to create better rail access to Heathrow up before the Department of Transport.

In Could Rail Access To Heathrow Be Formed Of The Best Bits Of Various Schemes?, I summed them all up.

Heathrow Southern Railway

I summed up the Heathrow Southern Railway like this.

  • Connectivity to Waterloo, Clapham Junction, South and South West London
  • Extends Heathrow Express to Woking and Basingstoke
  • Adds a new route for commuters into Paddington.
  • Extends Crossrail from Heathrow to Staines.
  • It will be built alongside the M25 with a tunnel to Terminal Five.
  • All terminals served
  • Provides a freight route into the airport from the South West.
  • Privately funded.

HS4Air

I summed up HS4Air  like this.

  • Connectivity to High Speed 2, the Midlands, North and West of England and WalesHigh Speed
  • Possible connection to Gatwick and Ashford for the Continent.
  • North-South station in a tunnel deep under Heathrow.
  • The Heathrow station will be able to handle full-length high speed trains from Birmingham, Cardiff and Manchester.
  • Heathrow could become a High Speed Rail hub serving Greater Western London.
  • Sneaks along the M25.
  • All terminals could probably be served, by escalators and lifts from the deep station.
  • Provides a freight route into the airport from the North and West.
  • Privately funded

I’m keener on the section North of Heathrow, than that to the South.

Western Rail Approach To Heathrow

I summed up the Western Rail Approach To Heathrow like this.

  • Connectivity to Slough and Reading and further West with a change.
  • All terminals served.
  • Provides a freight route into the airport from the West.
  • Network Rail’s proposed scheme.
  • Government funded (?)

Windsor Link Railway

I summed up the Windsor Link Railway like this.

  • Connectivity to Slough and Reading and further West with a change.
  • All terminals served.
  • Provides a freight route into the airport from the West.
  • Privately funded

This scheme also unlocks development of upmarket housing in Windsor.

Why Does Heathrow Need Better Rail Access?

Heathrow Airport is continuously expanding and needs better transport access.

To the man or woman in the Woking 4×4, the baggage handler in his clapped diesel Toyota and the myriad numbers of Air Cargo operators with their polluting trucks, that means better and cheaper parking and more comprehensive road networks at the Airport.

We are not talking about an American Airport with masses of space, but an airport with limited land surrounded by housing, office and commercial development.

It also has a massive non-aviation pollution footprint, caused by all the diesel vehicles serving the airport.

Surely, more and better electric trains and road vehicles into Heathrow should be part of the solution. Most politicians, trade union officials, businessmen and travellers, probably feel so.

The Airport Of The Future

In the modern world, an ideal airport should be designed so that.

  • All air-side vehicles serving the planes, runways and airport buildings, should be battery-powered or zero carbon.
  • All passengers and airport workers must arrive or leave the airport, by means of electric train, bus, tram or taxi.
  • All supplies and air cargo must arrive and leave the airport by means of electric train or truck.

Heathrow will have a large fight to get the Planning Permission for their new runway and expansion plans. But declaring the Airport to be electric vehicle only on the ground, could be a bold move, that could turn the minds of opposing residents, politicians and Local Authorities.

Electric Air-Side Vehicles

This is starting to happen, with even giant electric aircraft tugs for A380s now available.

Moving People To And From The Airport

Add up all the numbers of passengers and workers and there isn’t enough capacity at the preset time.

There needs to be the following.

  • More frequent and longer trains.
  • More platforms
  • Access to the West
  • Access to High Speed Two

HS4Air offered a different approach of a North-South railway through the Airport, which could be built without disturbing the existing rail network at Heathrow.

But it has been rejected.

HS4Air would also have allowed important local networks to be built onto Crossrail.

  • Extending Crossrail to Staines.
  • Adding the West London Orbital Railway to Old Oak Common.

I feel that combining the best bits of HS4Air, Heathrow Southern Railway and the West London Orbital Railway could be a good idea, to bring all those important workers to the Airport.

Moving Air Cargo And Supplies To And From The Airport

Some of the automated-logistics networks used by the likes of Amazon are incredibly impressive.

Could a massive logistics hub be built in the centre of the Airport?

  • Electric trains would arrive with pre-loaded containers of air cargo and supplies.
  • The containers would be automatically directed to the appropriate place on a network of tracks deep under the airport.
  • Containers would also travel in the reverse direction with inbound air cargo, returned empties and rubbish.

I’m sure something like this will happen and underneath the third runway is surely the place to build such a logistics hub.

My Views On Each Proposal

These are my views on each proposal are as follows.

Heathrow Southern Railway

This is probably the second largest and boldest of the four schemes.

It has the following advantages.

  • It gives good connections to large areas of South and South West London.
  • It connects to the two big rail hubs of Waterloo and Charing Cross.
  • It extends Heathrow Express from a short express airport service into a much-needed new commuter route between Surrey and Hampshire and London.
  • It extends Crossrail to Staines to create an important local link into the Airport for the workforce.
  • It could connect to a freight logistics hub under the new third runway.
  • It could be built without affecting existing services.
  • It will probably be a  privately-funded scheme.

But there is a big disadvantage; there is no connection to Reading, Slough and the West.

HS4Air

This is probably the largest and boldest of the four schemes.

It has the following advantages.

  • It connects to High Speed 2 and the Great West Main Line.
  • It could be connected to Gatwick and High Speed One in the future.
  • It would be built mainly in tunnel under Heathrow Airport.
  • It proposes a North South station under Heathrow Airport, below existing rail links.
  • It would be able to handle full-size high speed trains.
  • It could connect to a freight logistics hub under the new third runway.
  • It would fit in well with the development of a third runway and new terminals, as it will be well below in tunnel.
  • It could be built without affecting existing services.

But there are disadvantages

  • It will probably be a very expensive privately-funded scheme.
  • It does provide good connectivity to Slough, but doesn’t improve the connectivity to other areas, where workers at the Airport will live.

I think if this scheme is built, then the following two smaller schemes should be built as well.

  • West London Orbital Railway.
  • Crossrail extension to Staines.

These schemes would bring in Heathrow’s much-needed workers.

I don’t think we’ve heard the last of this scheme.

Western Rail Approach To Heathrow

It has the following advantages.

  • It should provide good connectivity to Reading, Slough and further West.
  • It wouldn’t be difficult to build.
  • It could connect to a freight logistics hub under the new third runway.

But there are disadvantages.

  • Except for Slough, it doesn’t connect to much affordable housing, where Heathrow’s massive workforce live.
  • It is Network Rail’s pet scheme.
  • Would it need to be government-funded?

As with HS4Air, I think if this scheme is built, then the following two smaller schemes should be built as well.

  • West London Orbital Railway.
  • Crossrail extension to Staines.

These schemes would bring in Heathrow’s much-needed workers.

Windsor Link Railway

This is very much a local scheme and doesn’t give enough capacity increase for the Airport.

But I don’t rule out in the future, a tunnel under Windsor connecting Slough and Staines to aid the development of the important town.

A Pragmatic Approach

Could a pragmatic approach be taken to give Heathrow, the world-class rail access it needs?

What About The Workers?

This may seem a strange place to start, but I believe that if Heathrow expands, the following will be true.

  • The airport will need large numbers of workers.
  • Not all jobs will be high salaries, so good access to areas of low-cost housing from the airport on a 24/7 basis will be needed.
  • If you work at the airport, then it’ll be the first place from where you want to fly on holiday.
  • Heathrow will not want workers to add to the Airport’s chronic, local pollution footprint.

Prime areas for the recruitment of airport workers will be Basingstoke, Bracknell, Reading, Slough, Staines and North West and South London.

All currently have bad rail connections to Heathrow.

To ease these journeys, the following local connections must be built.

Crossrail Extension from Heathrow Terminal 5 To Staines

In Heathrow Southern Railway’s Plans For Staines, I looked at this extension in detail and came to the conclusion that four trains per hour (tph) could run to and from Staines for Crossrail.

Although this extension came about because of the Heathrow Southern Railway proposal, I feel that it should be built whatever scheme is chosen.

  • It will add a capacity of up to 6,000 passengers per hour, between Staines and Heathrow, in both directions.
  • It will increase the capacity of Heathrow Terminal 5 station.
  • It will enable extra Crossrail services between Central London and Heathrow Terminal 5.

But the main reason is that it will create a new route between Staines and Abbey Wood via Old Oak Common (for High Speed Two) the West End, Farringdon ( for Thameslink), the City and Canary Wharf.

West London Orbital Railway

The West London Orbital Railway is planned to run in a circular manner around North West London.

I wrote about it in detail in New Railway Line For West London Proposed.

Two routes are proposed.

  • Brentford to West Hampstead Thameslink via Old Oak Common.
  • Kew Bridge to Brent Cross via Old Oak Common.

The routes would use the freight-only Dudding Hill Line.

Major costs would be.

  • Resignalling the route.
  • Up to half-a-dozen new or upgraded stations.
  • A small number of battery-electric Class 710 (?) trains.

Crossrail or High Speed Two it is not!

The railway will bring large numbers of travellers to Old Oak Common station, where Crossrail will take them to the Airport or Central London.

Windsor Link Railway

I said I was taking a pragmatic approach to rail access to Heathrow and the Windsor Link Railway build in conjunction with extending Crossrail to Staines could have several advantages.

  • Remove a lot of road traffic from the Centre of Windsor.
  • Create a rail service between Reading and Heathrow via Windsor and Slough.
  • A Park-and-Ride could be built South of Slough by the M4.
  • Unlock land for development in Windsor.
  • One tunnelling project could be used to access Heathrow Terminal 5 station.

The route could be run with a frequency of four tph, using Crossrail trains.

Perhaps it should even be part of Crossrail?

What About The Air Cargo And Supplies?

 

 

 

 

 

January 6, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Could Rail Access To Heathrow Be Formed Of The Best Bits Of Various Schemes?

Various schemes have been proposed to improve rail access to Heathrow.

There are also two schemes in progress, that will improve rail access to Heathrow.

  • Crossrail, which will open in 2019.
  • Piccadilly Line Upgrade, which will be complete in 2025.

I also believe that if the West London Orbital Railway is created, then this could have a positive affect on travelling to and from Heathrow.

Heathrow In The Future

Heathrow are disclosing a master plan, for rebuilding a lot of the airport to make it more efficient and up with the best.

  • There will be two main terminals; Heathrow West and Heathrow East with satellites in between handling the actual planes.
  • These two terminals and the satellites will be between the two existing runways, with a passenger and baggage transport system beneath.
  • Terminal Five will become Heathrow West.
  • An extended Terminal Two will become Heathrow East.
  • Crossrail, Heathrow Express and the Underground will serve both main terminals.

I believe that this rebuilding will happen, whether or not a third runway is built and it could start in the next few years.

Heathrow’s Pollution Footprint

Heathrow is a big polluter, but it is not so much the planes, as the diesel cars, buses and trucks serving the airport.

Uses For Improved Rail Access

There are several uses for improved rail access to Heathrow.

Passengers

Many passengers feel they must drive to and from Heathrow.

Next year, Crossrail will connect Heathrow directly to the City of London, Canary Wharf, the West End and to the heart of London’s Underground, Overground and National Rail system.

An example journey will be Bond Street to Heathrow Central in twenty-six minutes.

New trains on the Piccadilly Line are planned to enter service in 2023 and will offer more capacity and more pleasant journeys.

Currently, Piccadlly Circus to Heathrow Central takes fifty-two minutes and I would hope that this time is reduced to perhaps 40-45 minutes.

I think, these two upgrades will change the way many in Central, North East, East and South East London access the airport.

  • Trains will be more comfortable.
  • Trains will be frequent.
  • Crossrail will be completely step-free.
  • The Piccadilly Line will have more step-free stations.
  • The Crossrail trains will have masses of space.
  • Trains will take passengers to all the terminals

But Crossrail and the Piccxadilly Line upgrade, will do little for those in North West and South West London and those living to the West of the airport.

Workers

Workers at Heathrow, range from highly-paid pilots down to  lowly-paid cleaners, with a full spectrum in between.

Many though have a problem, in that they need to get to and from the airport at times, that are inconvenient for public transport.

A station guy at Staines said that getting between there and Heathrow for an early start or after a late finish is difficult.

The lower-paid workers also need good links to areas of lower-cost housing.

In an ideal world, Crossrail and Piccadilly Line services, should run on a twenty-four hour basis, with appropriate frequencies.

Supplies For The Airport And The Aircraft

I wonder what percentage of the supplies for Heathrow is brought in by diesel truck.

In the Heathrow of the Future, surely many supplies could be loaded onto smart trolleys and taken on electric freight trains to delivery points under the airport.

Air Cargo

Heathrow is an important air cargo terminal, but as with supplies, surely the cargo can be collected outside of the airport and delivered by electric shuttle trains.

The Best Bits Of The Various Actual And Proposed Rail Routes Into Heathrow

Crossrail

  • Connectivity to large parts of London and the East.
  • Connectivity to lower-cost housing areas in East and West London.
  • High capacity.
  • Frequent trains
  • Modern trains
  • All terminals served
  • Extra trains could be added.

The capability for 24 hour operation has hopefully been built in.

Heathrow Southern Railway

  • Connectivity to Waterloo, Clapham Junction, South and South West London
  • Extends Heathrow Express to Woking and Basingstoke
  • Adds a new route for commuters into Paddington.
  • Extends Crossrail from Heathrow to Staines.
  • It will be built alongside the M25 with a tunnel to Terminal Five.
  • All terminals served
  • Provides a freight route into the airport from the South West.
  • Privately funded.

HS4Air

  • Connectivity to HS2, the Midlands, North and West of England and Wales
  • Possible connection to Gatwick and Ashford for the Continent.
  • North-South station in a tunnel deep under Heathrow.
  • The Heathrow station will be able to handle full-length high speed trains from Birmingham, Cardiff and Manchester.
  • Heathrow could become a High Speed Rail hub serving Greater Western London.
  • Sneaks along the M25.
  • All terminals could probably be served, by escalators and lifts from the deep station.
  • Provides a freight route into the airport from the North and West.
  • Privately funded

I’m keener on the section North of Heathrow, than that to the South.

Piccadilly Line Upgrade

  • Connectivity to West and North London
  • Connectivity to lower-cost housing areas in West London
  • Frequent trains
  • All terminals served.
  • No new infrastructure

Probably needs 24 hour operation.

Western Rail Approach To Heathrow

  • Connectivity to Slough and Reading and further West with a change.
  • All terminals served.
  • Provides a freight route into the airport from the West.
  • Network Rail’s proposed scheme.
  • Government funded (?)

West London Orbital Railway

  • Connectivity to North West London with a change at Old Oak Common.
  • Connectivity to low-cost hosting areas in West London.
  • Created as part of the Overground.
  • Eight trains per hour (tph) through Old Oak Common.
  • Connectivity for high-value passengers in affluent parts of North London.
  • Connectivity for important workers in less-affluent parts of North West London.
  • Probably, Transport for London funded.
  • No difficult construction.

The West London Orbital Railway should go ahead, because it connects so much of West London to Crossrail, Old Oak Common and High Speed Two.

Windsor Link Railway

  • Connectivity to Slough and Reading and further West with a change.
  • All terminals served.
  • Provides a freight route into the airport from the West.
  • Privately funded

This scheme also unlocks development of upmarket housing in Windsor.

Conclusions

I have seen railway stations and airports all over Europe.

Many airport stations are cramped, as they have been built as an afterthought.

But some like Schipol and Frankfurt have a comprehensive station, where you can get trains to a very long list of places without a change.

Heathrow Connectivity

Heathrow needs a very high level of connectivity, for passengers, workers and freight.

Two schemes provide that.

  • Heathrow Southern Railway, which extends Heathrow Express to the South West and provides links to Waterloo and Greater South London.
  • HS4Air, which has an elegant expandable station deep under the airport and connects to High Speed Two and the Great Western Railway in the North. Extending to Gatwick and Ashford for the Continent could also be possible, if required.

Western Rail Approach To Heathrow only does what it says in the name and HS4Air does that without bagging valuable platforms at Terminal Five.

What About The Workers!

Heathrow’s other big need is rail access for the increasing numbers of people, who work at the airport and live locally.

  • Heathrow Southern Railway links the airport to South West London  and also allows an extension of Crossrail to Staines.
  • Windsor Link Railway links the airport to Windsor, Slough and Reading.
  • Crossrail links the airport to Old Oak Common with its housing developments and rail connections with High Speed 2 and the London Overground.
  • West London Orbital Railway will bring more workers and passengers to Old Oak Common from all over North West and South West London.

Old Oak Common will be important for many working at the airport.

Old Oak Common station

Old Oak Common station will become an important interchange for workers and passengers travelling to and from Heathrow.

  • It must be totally step-free.
  • Some of the long interchange walks on current plans should be augmented by travelators.
  • Crossrail is planning six tph between Old Oak Common and Heathrow. Is that enough?

Get Old Oak Common right and all those needing to go to and from Heathrow will benefit.

Heathrow And Gatwick

The connection between Heathrow and Gatwick airports is tortuous at present, but will get better as the years progress, as Crossrail and Thameslink improve.

As the airports grow, with a third runway at Heathrow and a second one at Gatwick, how many people will want to travel quickly between the two airports, as increasingly, both airports will offer services to more destinations?

As a Londoner, I also believe that we will see more split flights, where passengers stopover in London for a night or two, when they are going halfway around the world. Terminal London will be the best airport transfer terminal in the world.

Predicting the number of travellers between the two airports will be extremely difficult and only a direct measurement will be a worthwhile figure.

If a direct rail link is needed, HS4Air should be extended to Gatwick to provide a frequent fifteen minute connection.

Heathrow And High Speed One

I will be very surprised if many travellers need to go quickly between Heathrow and High Speed One.

Why would anybody between say St. louis and Paris not fly direct? Perhaps only, if you were spending time in London between the two legs of your journey.

For those that need to do it, using an extended Crossrail between Heathrow and Ebbsfleet will probably be good enough.

But when passenger numbers say it would be viable, extending HS4Air to Ashford would be a distinct possibility.

Heathrow And High Speed Two

For all sorts of reasons Heathrow needs good connectivity to High Speed Two.

If I was the CEO of Heathrow, I would want to have a station at my airport, where passengers could travel to and from the major cities of Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Nottingham in as direct a manner as possible.

Using Crossrail to Old Oak Common will give access to all High Speed Two trains, but the ability to get a train to the North within thirty minutes of clearing immigration and customs, would be a major selling point for my airport.

Suppose HS4Air was providing four tph to Birmingham of which two tph, went to each of Crewe/Manchester and Nottingham/Leeds.

Or the four tph could be double trains, with one half serving each Northern route.

This would make Heathrow a viable alternative to regional airports.

Heathrow will strongly support HS4Air, as it would be like having a whole series of regional flights, with a thirty minute transfer to and from long-haul routes.

Western Rail Approach To Heathrow

The Western Rail Approach To Heathrow is far inferior to the HS4Air proposal.

Consider.

  • The Western Rail Approach To Heathrow only connects the Great Western Railway to Heathrow.
  • HS4Air connects High Speed Two as well.
  • HS4Air creates a new expandable station under the airport, which would be capable of handling the longest trains.
  • HS4Air can be expanded to Gatwick and Ashford.
  • HS4Air is privately funded.

Direct access between Slough and Heathrow can be provided by the Windsor Link Railway.

A Final Conclusion

All these schemes have their good points and I think that the best way to get the rail access that Heathrow and Gatwick need, is to let the private section build what the airports need, subject to the correct planning permissions.

 

 

 

 

August 13, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 14 Comments

How Would HS4Air Affect The Western Rail Approach to Heathrow?

The Western Rail Approach to Heathrow (WRAtH), is a proposed new rail route to Heathrow from Reading and Slough.

It has a similar objective to HS4Air’s connection to the Great Western Main Line at Iver.

Both railways would connect Reading and Slough to stations in the Airport.

But in my view the HS4Air approach has several advantages.

  • HS4Air connects to both Heathrow and Gatwick airports and Ashford, whereas WRAtH only connects to Heathrow.
  • It would connect high speed trains from Bristol, Cardiff, Oxford, South Wales and the West of England to Heathrow, Gatwick and Ashford for Continental services.
  • As an example a direct Cardiff-Ashford service would take three hours twenty minutes.
  • Trains would be faster, with an operating speed between Reading and Heathrow of at least 140 mph.

But perhaps most importantly, HS4Air could be a totally privately-funded project.

Conclusion

I feel Network Rail’s proposal for a Western Rail Approach to Heathrow is not needed, if HS4Air is built.

 

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

Crossrail’s Park-And-Ride Facilities

Crossrail is costing upwards of around fifteen billion pounds, but when it comes to providing Park-and-Ride facilities for passengers, it probably scores a massive zero-out-of-ten.

Consider.

  • Parking at Shenfield station is no more than adequate for current customers.
  • Abbey Wood station‘s restricted site, may well be getting a flagship station, but where will passengers park?
  • Crossrail’s South-Eastern branch doesn’t serve Ebbsfleet International stastion, which has masses of parking.
  • Of the three branches, only Reading station can probably increase its parking to cope.
  • Where are the Park-and-Ride sites , where Crossrail and the M25 intersect?

It is certainly not good enough.

A Park-and-Ride At Brentwood

This Google Map shows where Crossrail crosses the M25, just South of the junction between the M25 and the A12.

Crossrail And The M25 And A12 At Brentwood

Crossrail And The M25 And A12 At Brentwood

I feel that this would be a logical site for a station with large and efficient Park-and-Ride facilities.

  • It would be about thirty minutes from Liverpool Street station and seventy minutes from Heathrow.
  • There would be over a dozen trains per hour (tph) to and from Central London.
  • Long-distance trains to and from Chelmsford, Colchester, Ipswich, Norwich and Southend could call and have cross-platform interchange with Crossrail.

I suspect that there would be massive opposition to building the station.

A Park-and-Ride At Iver

This Google Map shows Iver station and the M25 as it goes South from the M40 to the M4.

Crossrail And The M25 At Iver

Crossrail And The M25 At Iver

I feel that this would be another logical site for a station with Park-and-Ride facilities.

In Network Rail Plans Another Tunnel Into Heathrow, I talked about plans to create a Western Rail Approach to Heathrow.

  • The route starts between Langley and Iver stations, goes South roughly parallel with the M25 and then goes into Terminal 5 from the West.
  • Much of the route is in tunnel.

Surely, if a Park-and-Ride site was to be built in the West of London, then these two projects should be combined.

Since I wrote about the PRT System in A Visit To Heathrow Terminal 5, I’ve met someone, who’s had a ride. Their view was totally positive on this new technology.

So I think there could be possibilities for a very futuristic transport system to Heathrow linked to Crossrail at Iver, in addition to the full rail option.

A Park-and-Ride At Abbey Wood

Abbey Wood Station

Abbey Wood Station

This Google Map shows the area of South East London around Crossrail’s terminus at Abbey Wood station..

There doesn’t appear to be much space around the station for a Park-and-Ride site.

This Google Map shows the roads in the area.

Roads Around Abbey Wood Station

Roads Around Abbey Wood Station

Abbey Road station is on Harrow Manor Way, which links two East-West routes; the A2016 and the A206.

As Abbey Wood is the only surface station on the South-Eastern branch, I don’t think that there is a great probability, that a large Park-and-Ride site can be built on the South-astern branch of Crossrail.

A Park-and-Ride On An Extended South-Eastern Branch

Crossrail have safeguarded an extension Gravesend, which is described in this section in Wikipedia.

The route to Gravesend has been safeguarded by the Department for Transport, although it was made clear that as at February 2008 there was no plan to extend Crossrail beyond the then-current scheme. The following stations are on the protected route extension to Gravesend: Belvedere, Erith, Slade Green, Dartford, Stone Crossing, Greenhithe for Bluewater, Swanscombe, Northfleet, and Gravesend

So does this route give possibilities for a large Park-and-Ride?

This Google Map shows how the proposed extended route of Crossrail, runs under the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge.

Crossrail, And The QE2 Bridge

Crossrail, And The QE2 Bridge

Slade Green station is to the West of the bridge  and the M25, in the top-left corner of the map, whilst Stone Crossing station is to the East, in the bottom right corner of the map.

This Google Map shows the route between Slade Green station and the Southern end of the bridge using the A206.

Slade Green Station To The QE2 Bridge

Slade Green Station To The QE2 Bridge

Slade Green station is in the top-left corner of the map and the Southern approach of the bridge in the bottom-right.

This Google Map shows between the bridge and Stone Crossing station.

The QE2 Bridge To Stone Crossing Station

The QE2 Bridge To Stone Crossing Station

The Southern approach to the bridge is in the bottom-left with Stone Crossing station in the bottom-right.

After a brief look at both stations, using Wikipedia and Google Maps, the following can be said.

  • Both stations are on the A206 road.
  • The links to the M25 and M2 could probably be improved.
  • There would appear to be space at both stations to build substantial parking.
  • Both have at least two tph to and from Abbey Wood at the present time.
  • From 2018, Thameslink will be running two tph will run from Rainham to Luton stopping at Stone Crossing, Slade Green and Abbey Wood stations.
  • Nearly all the trains on the line will be 12-car trains.

Could the Park-and-Ride needs on the Abbey Wood branch be solved by increasing the parking at stations like Stone Crossing and Slade Green, with passengers using local trains and Thameslink to access Crossrail?

  • There should be sufficient capacity in the 12-car trains to fit in a few short-distance travellers.
  • The frequency between Abbey Wood and Rochester should be at least four tph.
  • These trains will call at Slade Green, Dartford, Stone Crossing, Greenhithe, and Gravesend.
  • The Crossrail frequency at Abbey Wood will be at least eight tph.
  • Because of these frequencies, there shouldn’t be too much time wasted, waiting for a train at Abbey Wood.

I think that this shows that if the connecting trains to Abbey Wood have a medium to high frequency and there is plenty of parking along the line, then loyts of parking doesn’t need to be provided at Abbey Wood.

The more that I look at the lines and services in North Kent, it does appear that running Thameslink between Rainham and Luton via Greenwich, Abbey Wood and Dartford was a piece of very high-class thinking.

 

 

November 3, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Network Rail Plans Another Tunnel Into Heathrow

We may not build the tunnel boring machines any more, but we certainly know how to dig holes better than most, as Crossrail is showing.

We also seem blessed with a geology that in many places, has the consistency of Emmental cheese.

So it is not a surprise that a news item in Modern Railways has reported that Network Rail are planning on creating the access into Heathrow from the West using a 5 km tunnel from between Iver and Langley to the airport.

This Google Earth map shows the area.

Langley To Heathrow

Langley To Heathrow

The blue line is the Piccadilly Line at the airport  and the red arrow indicates Langley station. Iver station is towards London just before the M25. I would assume that the new tunnel will vaguely follow the M25 and link up to the airport at Terminal 5. It would probably be dug from Langley with a lot of the route directly under the motorway, so the work would not affect any sensitive sites.

I doubt it’s a plan, that will stir up much opposition, except in the area, where it leaves the Great Western Main Line. This Google Earth image shows the area in detail.

Langley And Iver

Langley And Iver

A quick look at this image, would appear to show that it’s mainly farmland with no housing, for quite a bit of the way between Langley and Iver stations.

Another plus point of this plan, is that the Class 345 trains being developed for Crossrail could probably be used on the new line to connect it to Reading and/or Oxford, if the Heathrow station was built to Crossrail dimensions and standards.

It is in some ways a pity, that Crossrail wasn’t designed to go to Terminal 5 at the airport and then on to Reading in the first place. But then some of the design of the western end of Crossrail had more to do with making sure that British Airways and Heathrow Airport didn’t get upset. It doesn’t matter if they do, as they are secondary to all the passengers  and staff who use the airport. After all if the passengers aren’t happy with Heathrow, after Crossrail/Thameslink opens, they can easily get to Gatwick and Luton.

I think that this is a very sound plan and if it could be routed to serve all terminals at Heathrow by perhaps going back-to-back with the current Crossrail line being built to the airport, we’d get a much better service to London’s main airport.

So if we end up with effectively a new Crossrail loop line, that leaves the Great Western at Airport Junction, goes round all the Heathrow terminals and then after Terminal 5 connects to the Great Western between Langley and Iver, what are the consequences.

1. The plan rectifies the big fault of Crossrail not serving Terminal 5.

2. It gives passengers what they want. Going to any terminal at Heathrow from either the West or London, you just get on a Crossrail train that is using the Heathrow loop line and get off at Terminal 1/2/3, Terminal 4 or Terminal 5. Some journeys to Heathrow now sometimes need a change of train at the airport.

3. Crossrail will be used to transfer between terminals.

4. A plan like this, is the last nail in the coffin of Heathrow Express, which will probably be on permanent life support after Crossrail opens anyway. Another nail will be driven, when Old Oak Common station opens as a major transport interchange.

5. When Heathrow Express is dropped, Network Rail will be pleased, as it will free up two platforms at Paddington, for long distance services to Wales and the West Country.

6. There will also be new platform space at Heathrow Terminal 4 and 5, as if all Crossrail trains to Heathrow are going straight through, there will be no need for terminal platforms under the airport. These platforms could be used for the new Crossrail loop line.

7. All rail traffic to and from the Airport will be controlled by Transport for London. This can only be a good thing for reasons that are too numerous to list.

8. British Airways will be livid at the loss of Heathrow Express and the handing of all rail transport to TfL. So be it! There are lots of other airlines!

9. Heathrow Airport may or may not be expanded. But surely a rail line passing under most of the airport would be much easier to fit into new terminals.

10. If you are going to Heathrow 123 today from Tottenham Court Road station, it takes 55 minutes by tube all the way. The Crossrail journey should take 30 minutes and it will be fully accessible. I doubt that Transport for London would close the Piccadilly Line to Heathrow, but I can see it becoming a very quiet way of getting to and from Heathrow.

So I think it is true to say that creating a direct tunnelled link into Heathrow from the West should please everybody, except those who feel that the dinosaur that is Heathrow Express should be preserved.

 

 

February 6, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , | 2 Comments