The Anonymous Widower

An Express Service On The Overground

On Thursday, last week, I was travelling between Highbury & Islington and Willesden Junction stations on the North London Line of the London Overground. From Willesden Junction I intended to get the Bakerloo Line to Paddington for my trip to Okehampton.

There had been a problem and the train was rather full.

The surprise was that after Camden Road station it went non-stop to Willesden Junction.

It got me thinking.

  • The Class 378 train sped along, as does the occasional Class 800 train, that is going to and from Hitachi’s North Pole Depot.
  • It has been proposed to turn back some trains at Camden Road to increase frequencies through East London, which I wrote about in Will Camden Road Station Get A Third Platform?.
  • There is a spare rarely-used bay platform at Willesden Junction station with short-distance step-free access to the two platforms that serve the Watford DC and Bakerloo Lines.
  • I seem to remember that original plans for the North London Line including extending some services to Willesden Junction.

Could an express service be run between Stratford and Willesden Junction stations?

  • It would stop at all stations to the East of Camden Road.
  • It would terminate bay platform at Willesden Junction.
  • It would improve the interchange at Willesden Junction station for many travellers.

I suspect though, it would need improved signalling, which is probably the reason it has never been implemented.

 

 

November 25, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 4 Comments

Would It Be Possible For The Bakerloo And Watford DC Lines To Use The Same Trains?

These two lines are very different.

Ten stations are shared between the lines, of which only one; Queen’s Park offers level boarding.

The Shared Stations

The nine shared stations often have considerable steps up and down, as at Willesden Junction station, which is shown in Train-Platform Interface On Platform 1 At Willesden Junction.

I am rather pleased and pleasantly surprised, that there are not more accidents at the shared stations, but using the line must be a nightmare for wheelchair users, buggy pushes and large case draggers.

If Transport for London proposed building a line like this, they would have to launch it at the Apollo, where comedians perform.

The One Train Type Solution

To my mind, there is only one solution. The two services must use the same type of trains.

These are a few thoughts on the trains.

Trains Would Be Underground-Sized

As the trains will have to work through the existing tunnels to Elephant & Castle station, the trains would have to be compatible with the tunnels and therefore sized for the Underground.

I suspect they would be a version of the New Tube for London, that are currently being built by Siemens for the Piccadilly Line.

New Tube For London And Class 710 Train Compared

These figures are from Wikipedia.

  • Cars – NTFL – 9 – 710 – 4
  • Car Length – NTFL –  12.6 metres – 710 – 20 metres
  • Seated Passengers – NTFL – 268 – 710 – 189
  • Total Passengers – NTFL – 1076 – 710 – 678
  • Passenger Density – NTFL – 9.5 per metre – 710 – 8.2 per metre
  • Speed – NTFL – 62 mph – 710 – 75 mph

Note.

The passenger density and speed are closer than I thought they’d be.

I’m sure Siemens can design a longer and faster train if required for the Euston service.

I feel that the New Tube for London could be designed, so that it could work the Watford DC service.

Platform Modifications

I suspect that the New Tube for London will be lower than the Class 710 train and all platforms would need to be lowered to fit the new trains.

I would also suspect that it would be easier to lower platforms, than modify them, so that they had dual-height sections to satisfy two classes of train.

It should be noted that the New Tube for London has shorter cars than the sixteen metre 1972 Stock trains currently used on the line, so there will be smaller gaps at stations with curved platforms like Waterloo.

I believe that with one class of train, all of the stations on the Bakerloo and Watford DC Lines could be made step-free between train and platform.

Queen’s Park And Euston

This map from cartometro.com, shows the route between Queen’s Park and Euston stations.

Note.

  1. The Watford DC Line is shown in orange.
  2. Queen’s Park station is to the West of Kilburn High Road station.
  3. It appears that Watford DC Line trains always use Platform 9 at Euston station.

The route seems to be a self-contained third-rail electrified line into Euston station.

On the subject of electrification between Queen’s Park and Euston stations, there would appear to be a choice between the third-rail system and London Underground’s four-rail system.

But it is rumoured that the New Tube for London will have a battery capability.

As Euston and Queen’s Park stations are only 3.7 miles apart, perhaps the choice would be to use battery power into Euston station, which would remove electrified rails from Euston?

How Many Trains Could Run Into Euston?

Currently, four trains per hour run into Euston.

It is generally accepted that six tph can use a single platform. But would this be enough?

I suppose there is the possibility of tunnelling under Euston station to a pair of terminal platforms.

In that case the current platform could be used by other services.

Southern’s Milton Keynes And Clapham Junction Service

This service wouldn’t be affected as it uses the fast lines between Willesden and Watford.

Conclusion

A common fleet used by the Bakerloo and Watford DC Line would appear to give advantages.

 

 

 

 

November 4, 2021 Posted by | Design, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Train-Platform Interface On Platform 1 At Willesden Junction

Access to trains at Willesden Junction station can be difficult for some people.

I took these pictures of the access between train and platform for a Bakerloo Line train at Platform 1.

It is a step down from the platform of at least twenty centimetres.

These for a Watford DC Line train are not much better.

Once at this station, an elderly Indian lady in a sari was getting off one of these trains. She shouted something like “Catch me!” and jumped. Luckily, I caught her and it was smiles all round.

Of the ten stations that are shared by both services, it appears that only Queen’s Park has level access for both services.

These stations are an accident waiting to happen.

November 3, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 6 Comments

A London Overground Replacement For Southern’s East Croydon And Milton Keynes Service

In July 2017, I discussed this suggestion by Chris Gibb in Gibb Report – East Croydon – Milton Keynes Route Should Be Transferred To London Overground.

In an article, in the July 2019 Edition of Modern Railways, , which was entitled ‘710s’ Debut On Goblin, this was this last paragraph.

On the West London Line, TfL is curremtly working with the Department for Transport on options for the devolution of services originally suggested in Chris Gibb’s report on the Govia Thameslink Railway franchise, which could lead to ‘710s’ being deployed here.

It made me think, that further investigation was called for.

An Apology

I apologise, if you think I’m repeating myself.

What The Gibb Report Says

The Gibb Report, says this about the current service between East Croydon and Milton Keynes Central stations.

I believe there is an option to transfer the East Croydon – Milton Keynes operation to TfL and it’s London Overground concession in 2018.

TfL may decide to change the service, for example by not running it north of Watford Junction, or running it to an alternative southern destination other than East Croydon. They could also develop the combined West London line service to better match available capacity to demand.

They would have a number of crewing and rolling stock options, but should be able to operate the service more efficiently than GTR in the longer term, without the involvement of Selhurst.

Selhurst TMD is the depot in South London, where the current Class 377 trains are based.

A few of my thoughts.

The Trains

Using Class 710 trains  as suggested in the Modern Railways article, would surely offer a suitable  crewing and rolling stock option for the route, if they were based at the convenient Willesden TMD, where the fleet of up to twenty-five dual-voltage Class 710/2 trains are stabled.

The Northern Terminus

Chris Gibb suggested the service might not go past Watford Junction.

I think that could be difficult.

  • The longitudinal seating of the Class 710 train, is probably not suitable for outer suburban services North of Watford.
  • East Croydon to Watford Junction takes 69 minutes, which is not a good journey time to create an efficient service.

It would also appear to be tricky for a train to transfer between the West London Line and the Watford DC Line.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the complicated track layout in the Willesden Junction area.

Note.

  1. The two Willesden Junction stations, labelled High Level and Low Level.
  2. The Watford DC Line, which is shown in black and orange, passing to the North of Willesden TMD. and through the Low Level station.
  3. The four tracks shown in black are the West Coast Main Line, with Watford to the West and Euston to the East.
  4. The North London Line to Richmond and the West London Line to Clapham Junction splitting at Wilesden High Level Junction.

The current service between East Croydon and Milton Keynes, is only one train per hour (tph) and uses a succession of flat junctions to take the slow lines to and from Watford.

This is not a good operational procedure and I suspect Network Rail and various train operators, would like to see it discontinued.

So if trains in a new London Overground version of the service, don’t go up the Watford DC Line or the West Coast Main Line, where do they turn back?

Note the siding to the East of the High Level platforms, which is labelled Willesden Junction Turnout.

This is regularly used to turnback London Overground services on the West London Line.

I feel that London Overground will be turning their replacement service in Willesden Junction High Level station.

Current train services at the station include.

  • For passengers, who want to go further North, there is a good connection to the Watford DC Line for Wembley Central, Harrow & Wealdstone and Watford Junction stations.
  • The Watford DC Line can also take you to Euston.
  • The Bakerloo Line between Stonebridge Park and Elephant & Castle via Central London.
  • Frequent North London Line services between Stratford and Richmond.

The station has kiosks, coffee stalls, toilets and waiting rooms.

There are certainly worse places to change trains.

The Southern Terminus

Obviously, existing travellers on the route would like to see as few changes as possible.

East Croydon station must be a possibility for the Southern terminus, as it is the currently used.

But East Croydon is a busy station and perhaps it is not a convenient station for trains to wait in the platform.

On the other hand, West Croydon station offers some advantages.

  • The station has a long bay platform, which might be long enough for nine or ten cars.
  • There is a separate turnback siding.
  • It has space to add another bay platform, but this may have been sold to a developer.
  • It already has a four tph London Overground service to Highbury & Islington station.
  • Using West Croydon avoids the crowded lines to the North of East Croydon station.

It is also managed by London Overground, so the landlord would be co-operative.

How Many Trains Would Be Needed For A West Croydon And Willesden Junction Service?

West Croydon station has two possible routes, that trains could take to Willesden Junction.

  • Via Norwood Junction and Clapham Junction in 55 minutes.
  • Via Selhust and Clapham Junction in 45 minutes.

These times mean that a two-hour round trip between West Croydon and Willesden Junction should be possible.

Trains required for various frequencies would be as follows.

  • One tph – Two trains.
  • Two tph = Four trains.
  • Four tph – Eight trains.

They would need to be dual voltage Class 710/2 trains, as are now running on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line.

Compare the figures with those for the current East Croydon and Milton Keynes service, which needs four pairs of four-car trains for an hourly service.

What Would Be The Frequency?

I think one, two and four tph are all possibilities!

One tph

One tph would be a direct replacement for the current service. But is it enough?

Services at West Croydon could probably share the bay platform with the existing Highbury & Islington station service.

Two tph

Two tph could be a compromise frequency.

Two tph could probably still share the current bay platform with the Highbury & Islington service.

Four tph

Four tph would be a full Turn-Up-And-Go service,

  • It would probably be London Overground’s preference.
  • It would give a very passenger-friendly eight tph between Willesden Junction and Clapham Junction stations.
  • The two services would call at opposite sides of Clapham Junction station.
  • It would give a four tph link between Croydon and High Speed Two.
  • Westfield wouldn’t mind all the extra shoppers at Shepherds Bush!

But there could be downsides.

  • The service could need an extra bay platform at West Croydon.
  • Would it be possible to turn four tph at Willesden Junction?
  • Will the train paths be available through South London.

But four tph would probably would be London Overground’s preference.

It will be interesting to see the reasons, why Transport for London choose a particular frequency.

A Trip Between Imperial Wharf And East Croydon Stations

Today, I took a trip between Imperial Wharf and East Croydon stations at around 11:30.

  • The train was  two four-car Class 377 trains working as an eight-car train.
  • After Clapham Junction it wasn’t very busy.
  • I was in the last car, which was empty, except for myself.

I came to the conclusion, that an eight-car train was too much capacity for the Southern section of the journey.

I suspect that Transport for London have detailed passenger estimates for this route, so they should be able to determine the frequency and length of replacement trains required.

The Upgraded Norwood Junction Station

In Major Upgrade Planned For Norwood Junction Railway Station, I talked about a plan to upgrade Norwood Junction station.

The idea behind the upgrade is to improve connectivity and capacity in the crowded Croydon area.

If the West Croydon and Willesden Junction service, was routed via Norwood Junction station, the upgraded station would give easy access to both East and West Croydon stations.

Conclusion

I’ve always liked Chris Gibb’s suggestion of the transfer of the service between East Croydon and Milton Keynes stations to the London Overground and I can now start to see flesh on the bones!

At the present time and until better data is available, I think the replacement service should be as follows.

  • The Northern terminus should be Willesden Junction.
  • The Southern terminus should be West Croydon station, where there are good tram and train connections.
  • The route would be via Shepherds Bush, Kensington Olympia, West Brompton, Imperial Wharf, Clapham Junction, Wandsworth Common, Balham, Streatham Hill, West Norwood, Gipsy Hill, Crystal Palace and Norwood Junction.
  • Going via Gipsy Hill, rather than the current route via Selhurst, would give access to the connectivity at Norwood Junction.
  • The frequency should be four tph.
  • Trains will be four- or five-car Class 710 trains.

The benefits would be as follows.

  • The rail hubs of Clapham Junction, Norwood Junction, West Croydon and Willesden Junction would be connected together by a Turn-Up-And-Go service.
  • The proposed four tph service would need eight Class 710 trains, whereas the current one tph service needs eight Class 377 trains. Would this be better value?

In the future with a connection to High Speed Two in the Old Oak Common area, the benefits would increase.

  • There would be a simple interchange with High Speed Two.
  • South London from Clapham to Croydon, would get a direct service to High Speed Two.
  • There would also be a better connection to Heathrow Airport and other rail services through Old Oak Common.

I think that the connection to High Speed Two trumps everything else.

July 1, 2019 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

‘710s’ Debut On Goblin

The title of this post is the same as an article in the July 2019 Edition of Modern Railways.

The article is mainly about the introduction of the Class 710 trains on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line.

But the last sentence of the article is worth more investigation.

On the West London Line, TfL is curremtly working with the Department for Transport on options for the devolution of services originally suggested in Chris Gibb’s report on the Govia Thameslink Railway franchise, which could lead to ‘710s’ being deployed here.

I investigate it fully in A London Overground Replacement For Southern’s East Croydon And Milton Keynes Service.

This was my conclusion.

At the present time and until better data is available, I think the replacement service should be as follows.

  • The Northern terminus should be Willesden Junction.
  • The Southern terminus should be West Croydon station, where there are good tram and train connections.
  • The route would be via Shepherds Bush, Kensington Olympia, West Brompton, Imperial Wharf, Clapham Junction, Wandsworth Common, Balham, Streatham Hill, West Norwood, Gipsy Hill, Crystal Palace and Norwood Junction.
  • Going via Gipsy Hill, rather than the current route via Selhurst, would give access to the connectivity at Norwood Junction.
  • The frequency should be four tph.
  • Trains will be four- or five-car Class 710 trains.

The benefits would be as follows.

  • The rail hubs of Clapham Junction, Norwood Junction, West Croydon and Willesden Junction would be connected together by a Turn-Up-And-Go service.
  • The proposed four tph service would need eight Class 710 trains, whereas the current one tph service needs eight Class 377 trains. Would this be better value?

In the future with a connection to High Speed Two in the Old Oak Common area, the benefits would increase.

  • There would be a simple interchange with High Speed Two.
  • South London from Clapham to Croydon, would get a direct service to High Speed Two.
  • There would also be a better connection to Heathrow Airport and other rail services through Old Oak Common.

I think that the connection to High Speed Two trumps everything else.

I will keep returning to this vital link down thw West London Line.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June 30, 2019 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

By Overground To High Speed Two

The North London Line will be my route to High Speed Two when it opens in 2026.

This map from Wikipedia, shows how the lines connect.

I will actually have two Overground stations, that I will be able to use.

Note.

  1. Wikipedia says that both stations should open in 2026, which is the same date as High Speed Two.
  2. Hythe Road station is 700 metres from the High Speed Two station.
  3. Old Oak Common Lane station is 350 metres from the High Speed Two station.

Currently, both lines have a four trains per hour (tph) service.

  • The Class 378 trains are five cars, which can get very busy in the Peak.
  • It would need an additional five trains to increase the frequency to five tph on both routes.
  • Six new five-car Class 710 trains are on order for North and West London Line services.
  • I feel the higher frequency could be in operation by the opening of High Speed Two.
  • Most stations between Stratford and Willesden Junction would appear to be able to accept six-car trains, if selective door opening were to be used.

I think by 2026, there will be a more than adequate service between Stratford and High Speed Two.

  • There will be at least ten tph to Stratford, with services split equally between Hythe Road and Old Oak Common Lane stations.
  • Richmond and Clapham Junction stations will get at least five tph.
  • Step-free access is not currently available at Brondesbury Park, Brondesbury, Finchley Road & Frognal, Kentish Town West and Dalston Kingsland stations.

But what other developments will or might happen?

Highbury & Islington Station

Highbury & Islington station is the thirteenth busiest station in the UK and it is in need of a major upgrade to bring the deep level platforms and their access up to the standard of the four London Overground platforms, which all have lifts.

I also think that the track layout at the station could be modified to allow trains on the East London Line to continue further to the West. This was mentioned, when the Oveground was created, but is seldom talked about these days.

Step-Free Access On The North And West London Lines

These two lines which form a Y-shaped railway that splits at Willesden Junction, will provide these services from High Speed Two to major interchange stations.

The only thing that is needed is to complete step free access at all stations on the North and West London Lines.

The Maximum Frequency Across North London

Five tph on both the North and West London Line would give the following turnback frequencies at the four terminals.

  • Clapham Junction – 5 tph
  • Richmond – 5 tph
  • Stratford – 10 tph

This chart from TfL shows planned improvements on the London Overground

Note that it clearly shows that it is possible to run a six tph service between two single platform stations.

I think it likely that it would be possible to run six tph on both routes, provided that the route and the signalling could handle the increased frequency.

Twelve tph between Stratford and Willesden Junction stations would probably be the maximum frequency.

But would the number of freight trains allow this frequency?

A Reduction In Freight Services

Currently, the North London Line carries a lot of freight trains, going between Barking, Felixstowe and London Gateway in the East to virtually everywhere West of London.

  • Noises from the East West Rail Consortium are hinting that services to and to and from Bristol, Liverpool, Manchester, South Wales, Southampton and the West Midlands might use their new route between Oxford and Cambridge.
  • Could more freight use ports like Liverpool and Teesport in the North of England, which would reduce the traffic through the ports in the South?

Whatever happens, the current succession of diesel-hauled freight trains across London is not environmentally-friendly and it will raise increasing numbers of protests.

I think it is inevitable that the number of freight services will reduce, thus allowing more paths for passenger trains.

Digital Signalling

To handle the increasing traffic on the North and West London Lines, I can see digital signalling being installed. There could even be a degree of Automic Train Control.

Six-Car Trains

Only a few stations can handle six-car trains without selective door opening and even the rebuilt West Hampstead station still has platforms for five-cars.

Selective door opening would allow six-car trains to use the five-car platforms and passengers have in London have shown they can cope with moving forward to get out at certain stations. Especially, as the walk-through design of the train, makes this a lot easier.

A Round-The-Corner Service

I can remember reading in Modern Railways, that one of the reasons for the East and North London Lines running parallel through Canonbury to Highbury & Islington was to possibly enable extension of the East London Line to perhaps Willesden Junction, where there is a handy bay platform.

This has not happened and I doubt we’ll ever see something like a New Cross to Willesden Junction service, as Crossrail will effectively provide a faster frequent service between Whitechapel and Old Oak Common stations.

West London Orbital Railway

The proposed West London Orbital Railway will have two routes.

  • West Hampstead Thameslink and Hounslow
  • Brent Cross Thameslink and Kew Bridge

Both routes will have four tph and have a connection to Crossrail, High Speed Two and the North London Line at Old Oak Common station.

The only possible problem would be the eight extra tph through Acton Central station and level crossing and South Acton station.

But it would become an important feeder route to Crossrail, Heathrow Airport and High Speed Two.

Conclusion

The North and West London Line route between Stratford and Willesden has the ability to handle a lot more traffic than it currently does.

Dgital signalling and six-car trains could add over another fifty per cent capacity to the route.

I very much feel that digital signalling will be absolutely necessary.

 

March 26, 2019 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Platform Action Has Finished At Willesden Junction

It looks like the low-level platforms at Willesden Junction station are now finished.

As you can see it’s just a simple bay platform between the two main platforms for the Watford DC and Bakerloo Lines.

July 22, 2015 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | 2 Comments

Is Everything A Short-Term Fix At Willesden Junction?

In posts yesterday, I highlighted the problems with platform/train gaps and the dreadful interchange at the North London Line platforms at Willesden Junction station.

But is all the work done to lengthen the platforms for five-car trains just a short-term measure, which doesn’t address these problems at all?

Obviously, work has to be done on the low-level platforms and as they don’t have too many problems, except for the step up and down into Bakerloo Line trains, it will make the low-level station a good one with step-free access, a cafe and toilets.

The Tube/Overground Mismatch

The Tube/Overground Mismatch

But upstairs, I can’t help feeling that solving the problems are virtually impossible, without a complete rebuild of the station. But look at this map of the proposed layout of the lines at Old Oak Common.

Rail Lines At Old Oak Common

Rail Lines At Old Oak Common

 

This would link HS2 and Crossrail to the North and West London Lines at a new station at Old Oak Common.

So if the Old Oak Common area is developed with a new station, would this have a knock-on effect at Willesden Junction? This could ich mean that the station had to be changed substantially  or possibly was no longer needed.

The big problem is what to do with the interchange between the North London Line and the Bakerloo and Watford DC Lines.

There have been plans for the Bakerloo Line to take over the Watford DC Line north of Harrow and Wealdstone. This would mean diverting the North London Line via Queen’s Park and Primrose Hill.

This would fit in well with the combined North/West London Line station at Old Oak Common. On the other hand, it would mean a few station closures and stations between Queen’s Park and South Hampstead would leave their links to Euston.

Old Oak Common station is still very much at the planning stage and if the ideas get firmed up to a mega-interchange, it should make it easier to sort out the North London Line and the Watford DC Line.

There is also the question of how the Croxley Rail Link will affect ridership on the Watford DC Line. The fastest jouneys to Euston Square from Watford Underground station, are now about 45 minutes, whereas the DC Line takes 52 minutes from Watford High Street. However by going one-stop the wrong way to Watford Junction station, you can do it in 35 minutes. As London Midland runs several trains an hour into Euston in about twenty minutes, this might be a preferred option.

If Crossrail goes up the West Coast Main Line, as is also being proposed, then the trains would surely stop at Harrow and Wealdstone and Watford Junction.

Transport for London have a lot of deep thinking to do.

November 6, 2014 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

More Platform Action At Willesden Junction

In a previous post, I talked about work on the Southbound platforms at Willesden Junction. Here’s some more pictures.

The low-level platforms to and from Watford are in better state than those on the North London Line.

November 5, 2014 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , | 2 Comments

The Dreadful Change At Willesden Junction

No sane person with movement issues, like a wheelchair, a baby in a buggy,a heavy parcel or just plain old age, would change between the North London Line and the Watford DC or Bakerloo Lines at Willesden Junction.

As a lot of the walkways are uncovered, you certainly wouldn’t do it in the rain.

November 5, 2014 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | 1 Comment