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

Should The Elizabeth Line Be Extended To Ascot?

The idea for this post came from an article in the October 2018 Edition of Modern Railways, that was entitled Windsor Link Railway Gains Momentum.

The article talks about the benefits of the Windsor Link Railway.

Property Development And Landscaping

Ever since I read about the Windsor Link Railway, I thought it would create or free-up sites in Windsor for property development.

I even wrote about this in Is This One Of The Most Valuable Sites For New Development In The UK?.

The article details or suggests the following.

  • Around twenty-one acres, which would include the two existing station sites could be developed.
  • The Windsor and Eton Riverside station, which Grade II Listed, could be developeed into a boutigue hotel on the river.
  • The gardens in the centre of Windsor could be extended.

The article also suggests that the property development could pay for the whole scheme.

Reducing Traffic In Windsor

Windsor is full of tourist coaches and other traffic.

The proposed railway would have.

  • A single sub-surface station in the middle of the town.
  • Twelve trains per hour (tph) through Windsor, in a single-track tunnel.
  • Areinstated Royal Curve at Slough to create a route between Reading and Windsor.
  • A Park-and-Ride by the M4 at Chalvey.
  • A journey between Waterloo and Windsor of around fifty minutes, with four tph.
  • Slough would be the Northern terminal, either in the current station or West of the town in the Trading Estate.
  • It should be noted that six-car Aventras similar to Crossrail’s Class 345 trains, would probably hold a thousand passengers.

If a railway like that didn’t cut traffic going into Windsor, then nothing will.

Western Access To Heathrow

The Windsor Link Railway could also serve Heathrow Terminal 5.

The article states that this would probably need a double-track tunnel, so provision should be made in the initial scheme.

Crossrail trains could also use the link to extend Crossrail to Reading via Windsor.

  • The Royal Curve at Slough would be rebuilt.
  • The new Windsor station would need to be able to handle two hundred metre long trains.
  • Trains would serve both Heathrow Central and Terminal 5.
  • Trains wouldn’t need a terminal platform at Heathrow Terminal 5 station.

But the biggest benefit (or even curse!) would be to connect Windsor to Central London.

Wider Connectivity

George Bathurst; the scheme’s proposer envisages trains from Windsor to the following places.

  • Heathrow
  • High Wycombe via Bourne End.
  • Reading
  • Waterloo
  • Woking

In one throwaway remake this is said.

The WLR connection to Heathrow could also be used (with dual-voltage stock) for extending the Elizabeth Line westwards, to Ascot for example.

This would need a chord at Staines, which I wrote about in Heathrow Southern Railway’s Proposed Chord At Staines.

Hence the title of this post!

The Heathrow Southern Railway And The Windsor Link Railway

I wrote about the interaction of the two proposals to access Heathrow from the West and South in Heathrow Southern Railway And The Windsor Link Railway.

This was my original conclusion.

Co-operation could be beneficial to both projects.

I have not changed my conclusion, although I have updated the related post.

Heathrow’s Destinations In The West And South

Taken together the two proposals; Heathrow Southern Railway and Windsor Link Railway, will or could offer the following destinations.

  • Basingstoke – Heathrow Southern Railway – Extension to Heathrow Express
  • Guildford – Heathrow Southern Railway – Extension to Heathrow Express
  • High Wycombe – Windsor Link Railway – Possible via Bourne End!
  • Reading – Windsor Link Railway – Possible Extension to Crossrail!
  • Slough – Windsor Link Railway – Possible Extension to Crossrail!
  • Staines – Heathrow Southern Railway – Extension to Crossrail
  • Weybridge – Heathrow Southern Railway – Local Service
  • Windsor – Windsor Link Railway – Possible Extension to Crossrail!
  • Woking – Heathrow Southern Railway – Extension to Heathrow Express

I can see two high-capacity stations at Terminal 5 and Windsor capable of handling upwards of ten tph in both directions, feeding services all over the area, bringing passengers, workers and freight to Heathrow.

A Crossrail Extension To Ascot

I’ll now look at this in detail.

The Route

As I said earlier this would need the reinstatement of the chord at Staines station.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows former route of the chord as a dotted line.

Would it be possible to get one of Crossrail’s two hundred metre long trains around a rebuilt chord?

From Staines, it would be an easy run up the Waterloo-Reading Line, with calls at the following stations.

  • Egham
  • Virginia Water
  • Longcross
  • Sunningdale

All appear to be stations capable of taking long trains.

Current Service

Currently, there are two services on this route.

2 tph – Waterloo and Reading

2 tph – Waterloo and Weybridge, which branches off at Virginia Water.

Benefits Of Extending To Ascot

At present Heathrow Terminal 5 is planned to get just two tph from Crossrail. But as Terminal 5 is the busiest terminal at Heathrow by a large margin, surely it needs more services than this.

I also think, that the ideal number of services between Staines and Ascot should be at least four tph.

If two tph ran through Heathrow Terminal 5 to Ascot, this would mean the following.

  • There would be at least four tph on services between Staines and Ascot.
  • Travellers would have a wider choice of London terminals.
  • Travellers would be have direct access to all terminals and HS2 at Old Oak Common.

There would also probably be less road traffic into Heathrow.

Why Stop At Ascot?

Although, George Bathurst suggested Ascot as a terminus, why not continue all the way to Reading station?

Stations on the route are.

  • Martins Heron
  • Bracknell
  • Wokingham
  • Wnnersh
  • Winnersh Triangle
  • Earley

Note that Reading station has three third-rail electrified platforms to handle trains from Ascot, Guidford, Staines and Waterloo.

Note the train in the platform is a Great Western Railway train to Gatwick, which in a couple of years will be run by tri-mode Class 769 trains.

As the platforms only handle four tph, there is plenty of capacity to turn extra trains.

I can’t see any reason, why if Crossrail is extended to Ascot, it shouldn’t be extended to Reading.

Especially, as all the benefits I talked about earlier to Ascot would also apply to terminating at Reading.

Conclusion

I believe that an extension of Crossrail to Ascot would be worthwhile, but that it should continue to Reading.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

September 28, 2018 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 | , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Windsor Link Railway Becomes Serious

I’ve always thought that the thinking behind the Windsor Link Railway was something of which I could approve.

It is a simple idea to connect Windsor’s two rail links and in a second phase provide Western rail access to Heathrow Airport.

This article on Global Rail News is entitled Consortium Submits Proposal For Windsor Link Railway In The UK.

This is the first two paragraphs of the article.

A consortium including global investor Meridiam has submitted a market-led proposal to the UK government to build the Windsor Link Railway.

Phase 1 of the project will cost £370 million and will see a new rail tunnel constructed in Windsor – as well as new houses – to connect the South Western and Great Western main lines. Phase 2 will connect Heathrow to the west.

I detailed the route in Walking The Proposed Route Of The Windsor Link Railway.

But what impressed me about the proposal, was the opportunities that it gives for new housing.

New housing is mentioned in my extract from the Global Rail News article and I put forward my thoughts in Is This One Of The Most Valuable Sites For New Development In The UK?.

This was my conclusion two years ago, when I wrote that post.

The Windsor Link Railway, is a project that must be judged as a whole.

But do that and there is a lot of money to be made from property development, which would more than pay for the railway.

If anything, after the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, there is more money to be made from the Windsor Link Railway.

I am not surprised,, Meridiam have backed the project.

 

 

 

August 1, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , | 1 Comment

Heathrow Southern Railway And The Windsor Link Railway

The Windsor Link Railway is a proposed new railway, that if it is approved, will be built in two phases.

Phase 1 is described in Wikipedia, like this.

Phase 1 of the scheme would run from Slough to Staines, via Chalvey, Windsor, Datchet, Wraysbury and Sunnymeads. A new all-in-one station in the Windsor Goswells would replace the existing two nearby stations (Riverside and Central)

Phase 2 is described like this.

Phase 2 of the project involves linking to Heathrow. As the Heathrow Airtrack scheme has been dropped by BAA, the proponents say a much cheaper method of connecting Heathrow to the north west, west and south would be via a bridge over the M25. This would also have benefits for the proposed intermodal freight depot at Colnbrook, Berkshire.

This map from the Windsor Link Railway web site, shows the new tracks for both phases.

Note that Southern Access on the map is close to the route of the Heathrow Southern Railway.

Thoughts On Phase 1

Phase 1 is mainly a scheme for Windsor and I believe, it could be very beneficial to a town, that will become an even bigger tourist attraction.

It is a scheme, that has no affect on the construction of the Heathrow Southern Railway.

However, if the Windsor Link Railway wanted to increase the frequency of the train service between Windsor and Eton Central and Waterloo, there may well be arguments over who gets the paths on the crowded lines between Staines and London.

Thoughts On Phase 2

If the Heathrow Southern Railway and Windsor Link Railway designed a joint scheme, I don’t believe there is any reason, why trains couldn’t use the Windsor Link Railway to run between Reading and Heathrow.

Capacity Of Heathrow Terminal 5 Station

Heathrow Terminal 5 station has been built with space for two bay platforms.

Each platform could probably handle four trains per hour (tph), although with the right scheduling and good signaling and operation, six tph is possible.

Heathrow Southern Railway proposes the following services to the terminal.

  • Four tph from Waterloo via Clapham Junction and Staines.
  • Two tph from Weybridge via Viginia Water, Egham and Staines.

So there could be upwards of four tph from Windsor and/or Reading, that terminate at Terminal 5.

Crossrail To Reading Via Windsor And Heathrow

Somebody will want to run Crossrail trains through Heathrow Terminal 5 to Windsor and Reading.

Would Windsor cope with all the extra visitors?

Note that Heathrow Southern Railway are already suggesting that Crossrail trains to Terminal 5 could be extended to a new platform at Staines.

Waterloo To Reading Via Staines, Heathrow Terminal 5 and Windsor

Suppose two tph of the Waterloo to Heathrow Terminal 5 trains, reversed and went on to Windsor and Reading.

  • It could make better use of the platforms at Heathrow.
  • Reading would have an additional two tph service to Heathrow.
  • Windsor would have a four tph service to Waterloo.

It’s a possibility with benefits.

Conclusion

Co-operation could be beneficial to both projects.

 

April 5, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , | 9 Comments

New Heathrow Rail Link To Lead The Way For Future Transport Funding Schemes

The title of this post, is the same as that of this Press Release on the Department of Transport web site.

This is the opening two paragraphs.

Private companies have been asked to come forward with ideas to deliver a new southern rail link to Heathrow Airport.

The link will be one of the first projects under government plans to invite third parties – such as local authorities and private sector companies – to invest in the rail network, over and above the £47 billion the government is already planning for the next 5 years.

In the past, I have talked about two privately-funded schemes for access from the South to Heathrow.

The Times is saying today, that it could be the second scheme.

But Heathrow can be such a money-earner, you do wonder if other schemes to serve the airport will be put forward.

How Would A Scheme Work In Practice?

A consortium consisting of engineering, financial and railway interests would put forward a scheme.

They would do the following.

  • Design the scheme and ensure it was acceptable to all stakeholders, including Network Rail, the Office of Rail and Road, local authorities, train operating companies, passengers, residents and in the case of Heathrow, the airport itself.
  • Raise the finance to build the scheme from appropriate institutions like insurance companies, banks and pension funds.
  • Build the scheme and get it approved by the appropriate companies, authorities and regulators.
  • Once the scheme is commissioned, trains using the scheme would pay appropriate track access charges, in the same way, that they do now, when they use Network Rail’s tracks.
  • Maintenance would be the responsibility of the consortium, that built the scheme.

In some ways the consortium functions like a mini-Network Rail, as it obeys all the same standards with regards to engineering and safety.

But.

  • The finance is not provided by taxpayers.
  • Any profits go to those, who conceived, built or financed the project.
  • Risks associated with the project are not borne by the Government or taxpayers.

If say in ten years time, the consortium goes bust, then I suspect that the assets would be bought on the cheap, by either Network Rail or another investor, who would learn from the original consortium’s mistakes.

Not that I think that will happen!

Has Anything Similar Been Done Before In The UK?

I think it is true to say, that various innovative ways have been found to fund railways in the UK.

The article from the Independent, which was written in 1992 is entitled Canary Wharf Banks Agree Funding For Jubilee Line.

This is a paragraph from the article.

The Government has always insisted that the scheme will not go ahead without private funding. In return for the financing, the banks are believed to be insisting that the Government chooses Canary Wharf as the site for the relocation of about 3,000 civil servants from the Department of Environment and the Department of Transport. It is also considering three other sites in the area.

So it looks like relocating three thousand civil servants got the Jubilee Line built!

Chiltern Railways have expanded by leaps and bounds over the years and some of their methods have been professional and innovative.

Project Evergreen with three phases has expanded and improved their passenger services.

This is an extract from the section of Wikipedia, that talks about the project.

Chiltern Railways former chairman Adrian Shooter said, “This is the biggest passenger rail project for several generations not to call on the taxpayer for support. Working closely with Network Rail, we are going to create a new main-line railway for the people of Oxfordshire and the Midlands. This deal demonstrates that real improvements to rail services can be paid for without public subsidy by attracting people out of their cars and on to trains.”

I don’t know whether this relates to all of Project Evergreen or just one part.

This is also said.

Network Rail provided the capital for the upgrade and will recover this through a facility charge over the subsequent 30 years, initially payable by Chiltern until its franchise expires, and then by the next franchisee. The infrastructure upgrade was carried out by main contractor BAM Nuttall, in partnership with Jarvis and WS Atkins.

It may all sound complicated, but Chiltern Railways is a train operating company that commuters don’t seem to complain about.

Could Any Other Schemes Be Funded Using The Department for Transport’s New Model?

Building the southern access into Heathrow Airport will be a large project costing more than a billion pounds.

But that doesn’t that all projects need to be that size!

I suspect, that the DfT’s model will be applied to some projects, as small as a hundred million pounds.

These are my thoughts on future projects, which I have split into various sections.

Airports

If a scheme like the Heathrow scheme  gets the go-ahead, then I think this could lead to other airport links being designed, funded and built using a similar model.

At present, Aberdeen, Bristol, Doncaster-Sheffield, East Midlands, Glasgow, Leeds and Liverpool airports are looking to improve rail access and the DfT’s model may be a way to build some, if the demand is there.

Network Extensions

The proposed Heathrow Southern Railway is effectively a well-thought out extension to three networks; Crossrail, Heathrow Express and South Western Railway to all of their mutual benefit.

I doubt there’ll be such big extensions, but there are some useful ones being planned.

  • Bramley Line -The track-bed of this route is still there and connecting March to Wisbech could create a new commuter route for Cambridge.
  • Fawley Branch Line – This would provide a passenger service and serve new housing developmemts in Hythe and Fawley.
  • Ivanhoe Line – Proposals to improve this service in Leicestershire with new stations.
  • Merseyrail Northern Line Extensions – The £300 million extension to Skelmersdale is being planned and another from Ormskirk to Preston is proposed using battery trains.
  • North Downs Line – This line could be updated to provide an improbred Reading- Gatwick. Would it make a freight route for Minis from Oxford to the Channel Tunnel?
  • Skipton To Colne Reinstatement – This  project of just a dozen miles is high profile amongst Conservative politicians and would provide another route across the Pennines.
  • West London Orbital – This £264 million extension to the London Overground would create two new lines in North West London.

This is by no means a complete list, but it shows how many routes could benefit with reinstatement or improvement.

Electrification

Why shouldn’t electrification be privately funded, with the builders and investors getting their returns, through an electrification access charge, which would be similar to a track access charge.

I discuss possible electrification schemes in Charting An Electric Freight Future.

The linked article is mainly about freight, but I suspect there are examples, where some shortish stretches of electrification could be privately-funded.

If electrification experts identified the problems of the past few years and how to solve them, there must be a case to formulate a business that merged engineering, finance and construction, that was able to install electrification on time and on budget.

Depots

Greater Anglia has commissioned a new depot at Brampton on a design, finance and build basis and it’s not the only depot built this way.

But that is more traditional financing.

Stations

The financing of some stations has been extraordinarily innovative.

I suspect that that some deals will get even more so.

Some will even charge for passengers per day.

Conclusion

One of the reasons, I like the DfT’s proposal of mixing design, finance and build with a good helping of innovation, is that this closely follows the model that we used with Metier Management Systems, when we started the company in the 1970s, to develop our Project Management system called Artemis.

  • We designed the systems.
  • We financed the systems.
  • We installed the systems
  • We maintained the systems.
  • The customers wanted the systems.
  • Customers paid so much a month.

The cream on top was the lashings of innovation.

There might be a lot of extra finance flowing into UK railways!

 

 

 

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March 20, 2018 Posted by | Finance, Transport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Garden Station

Stations increasingly are getting to be very grand and expensive buildings.

I was musing today about the design of the Windsor Royal station on the proposed Windsor Link Railway.

This railway could be a double-track railway between the current Windsor and Eton Riverside station and the Slough To Windsor And Eton Line, created in a cut-and-cover tunnel across Windsor.

Much of the area of the route is either car parks or gardens.

The station could be a single island platform with the following characteristics.

  • The platform would be long enough for the longest trains to use the route.
  • The platform would be wide enough to incorporate booking, passenger and staff facilities in a relaxed layout in the middle.
  • Escalator and lift entrances at several places along the platform.
  • Minimalist surface buildings much like the fosteritos of the Bilbao Metro.
  • Light pipes and other ideas could give the station a lot of natural light.

The surface area would be one large garden with walking routes to the sights of the town.

Any car parking would surely be provided at a Park-and-Ride station outside of the town.

 

September 14, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

The Windsor Link Railway Gets Public Approval

This article in the Windsor Express reveals the results of the consultation of a railway to connect the town’s two railway stations.

Surprisingly in my view, 64% of the public approved of the project.

I am dubious, that this project will ever get built, as it is too radical and Network Rail have their own plans for more railways into Heathrow.

But if I was Lord Adonis, I’d recommend building the line, as I think it gives tremendous possibilities for business, tourism and leisure in the Thames Valley.

April 25, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Connecting The Windsor Link Railway To The Slough To Windsor And Eton Line

I went to Windsor today, to see how the proposed Windsor Link Railway could connect to the Slough To Windsor And Eton Line.

This Google Map shows the area.

The Slough To Windsor And Eton Line

The Slough To Windsor And Eton Line

The single-track line from Slough to the north crosses the Thames on the Grade II* Listed, Windsor Railway Bridge, before curving to the east to go to Windsor and Eton Central station. South of the river, the line is on an elegant brick viaduct.

Note how it actually starts at quite a low level at the river and then rises towards the station, which sits above the town.

Look at  More Pictures Of The Bermondsey Dive-Under and the post shows how at Bermondsey, a similar Victorian viaduct to that at Windsor has been modified to create a new track layout.

As the Bermondsey Dive-Under incorporated multiple tracks and the Windsor problem will be that of connecting the single-track to Slough to the tunnel under Windsor, I can’t see that architects and engineers will have much trouble creating a superior solution.

I suspect too, that the final design will leave a large proportion of the viaduct without track, if the connection to Windsor and Eton Central station is closed.

February 25, 2016 Posted by | Transport | | 1 Comment

Is This One Of The Most Valuable Sites For New Development In The UK?

I don’t question the engineering behind the Windsor Link Railway, but I do question whether the project is viable financially.

Property Development

Obviously, the key to financial viability is the property development opportunities that the building of the Windsor Link Railway will enable.

I don’t know much about property development, but from conversations with serious property developers over the last few years, I can say this.

  • Some of the sums of money that can be involved are immense.
  • Location is still as important as it ever was.
  • Car parking can be reduced in developments above stations, which reduces construction costs.

An infrastructure investor from a large insurance company, also told me that developments with a new station and possibly a few new trains are easy to finance as a package.

Property Development At Windsor And Eton Riverside Station

Look at this Google Map of the Windsor and Eton Riverside station and the River Thames.

Windsor And Eton Riverside Station And The Thames

Windsor And Eton Riverside Station And The Thames

The railway and the adjacent car parks, use a surprisingly large amount of land, that would be released by the building of the Windsor Link Railway.

The Windsor Link Railway could be a single track tunnel, as the maximum frequency would only be four trains per hour in both directions, which would enter the tunnel around the end of the current platforms.

Obviously, all of the land where the current station and car parks would be available for development. There would just be a rail tunnel in the basement.

I also feel that done properly, this development with its superb location on the river, should be car-free.

If that is the case, then perhaps Windsor needs a station under this development?

As the development will be pretty grand and very desirable, I would design a station with the following characteristics.

  • Single-platform able to accept twelve-car trains. We don’t want to build a restriction for the future.
  • All trains could be IPEMUs running on batteries in the tunnel. Quiet, very green and no dangerous electrification.
  • Platform-edge doors. They’re probably needed under EU safety legislation.
  • Double-ended with one entrance in the development and another in Thames Street. If tourists can’t drive, they need to be in the centre.

I think with modern station design, that a single-platform station would be sufficient, although, it would probably restrict services to four trains per hour in each direction.

We’ve never built a combined up-market station and luxury development in this country yet, although there are quite a few stations like Dalston Junction with lots of dwellings on the top.

Windsor And Eton Riverside could be the place to start.

Property Development At Windsor And Eton Central Station

If the Riverside site could be properly developed, what about, where the Windsor Link Railway are proposing to put their proposed Windsor Royal station.

This is a Google Map of the area to the West of Windsor And Eton Central station.

WindsorAndEtonCentralStation2

Note how the area is dominated  by coach and car parks. Visitors want to come to see the river and the castle, socialise a bit, have a drink and a meal, and perhaps buy some tatty souvenirs. They don’t want to look at car and coach parks.

In Connecting The Windsor Link Railway To The Slough To Windsor And Eton Line, I looked at the engineering and I don’t think building the rail connection is impossible.

It is my view, that you build the railway and the station in the best way for train operation and passenger convenience. The station would probably have the following characteristics.

It could be a traditional surface station or underground, with minimal buildings above the surface.

I prefer the underground station, as it has other advantages.

  • There would be lots of entrances facing in all directions. Think fosteritos!
  • It could have a single-platform or a double-platform/island layout, capable of handling twelve-car trains.
  • Platform-edge doors.
  • A single track would lead to Slough and also to the tunnel under Windsor.

In the hole for an underground station, it would also probably be a good idea to build an adequately-sized underground car and coach park.

But surely visitors need some form of decent Park-And-Ride using an uprated train service. Such a station is envisaged by the Windsor Link Railway at Chalvey Interchange, which is South of Slough close to the M4.

Once the new station and the railway is fully connected, there is a magnificent opportunity to create a world-class park and related development over the top, between the existing railway viaduct and the iconic Thames.

The redundant Central station and the unused part of the massive viaduct would be developed appropriately.

Let’s face it Windsor is rather a crap and tatty tourist dump at the present time. The Windsor Link Railway could give the town the opportunity to give the historic town and castle the environment and status, it needs and deserves.

The Trains

In The IPEMU And The Windsor Link Railway, I wrote how IPEMU trains could make the design and building of the Windsor Link Railway easier and more affordable.

I believe it is essential that the Windsor Link Railway is run using trains with an IPEMU capability.

I also believe that as I saw in Future-Proofing The Uckfield Branch, that all platforms including the bay platform at Slough station must be capable of accepting twelve-car trains.

I am assured that this is in the design.

The Central Tunnel

I would suspect that many people would feel that digging the central tunnel across Windsor will be an enormously  expensive operation.

Construction companies put in cut-and-cover tunnels like this all over the world and especially in Germany. The last tunnel, I saw being built was the large Stadtbahn Tunnel in Karlsruhe right down the main street, which would take the German version of the Class 399 tram-train.

Digging A Big Hole

Whilst this tunnel is controversial and has its problems, it is much larger than that proposed through Windsor. The final cost estimate for Karlsruhe eas €588million for a double-track tunnel, which is 3.5km. long and has seven stops.

In the UK, the only similar tunnel is the Dalston Western Curve, where a new tunnel was dug along an existing alignment.

This article in the Londonist describes a visit to the tunnel before it opened.

Intriguingly, the Dalston tunnel was reportedly dug by a German sub-contractor, who specialise in getting trams in tight places.

We sometimes seem too conservative when we dig tunnels. I can’t think of a cut-and-cover tunnel built in the last twenty years in the UK? Not even one built to create an entrance to a car park!

In June last year I wrote Walking The Proposed Route Of The Windsor Link Railway. I felt afterwards that a single-track tunnel between the area of the Riverside station and a new Windsor Royal station to the North of the current Central station would be possible.

Since then, the IPEMU train has become a serious possibility and if trains on the Windsor Link Railway had this capability, then the tunnel could have these characteristics.

  • Single-track tunnel.
  • Built using cut-and-cover.
  • No electrification.
  • IPEMU trains only in the tunnel.
  • Evacuation walkway like the DLR.
  • No massive ventilation and evacuation shafts.

My project management knowledge tells me, that this is the sort of tunnel, that could be built without causing too much disruption to train services and road traffic, by getting all of the jobs in the right logical order.

Conclusion

The Windsor Link Railway, is a project that must be judged as a whole.

But do that and there is a lot of money to be made from property development, which would more than pay for the railway.

February 24, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 2 Comments