As most readers will know, the Thameslink Programme is a £5.5 billion project to upgrade and expand the the Thameslink service. More accurately, it is the name given to two related projects. One is lead by Network Rail and is a £3.5 billion project to upgrade the stations, track and signalling on this route and the other is a new build of rolling stock led by the DfT. As an RUS piece, this article is obviously about the first of those projects.

As the RUS focuses on schemes that are currently approved, one of the good reasons to search the RUS is to find out more about the plans for Thameslink. Sadly though, although Thameslink is mentioned on numerous occasions, one is not much the wiser at the end of it.

Thameslink has long suffered from information blight. Unlike Crossrail with its excellent website, Thameslink seems to fall between two stools. On the one hand First Capital Connect has an informative website but this is geared at existing customers who may be disrupted by the work being done. Network Rail does provide information on their site but the emphasis is on publicity for the work they do or – to be more accurate – the work they have done. Neither is really much use for finding out what is going to happen.

There is another very valid reason why one cannot find out how Thameslink will look when completed – nobody really knows.

Unlike Crossrail, where the final routes needed to be well defined before proceeding, Thameslink plans merely showed “indicative services” that were sufficient to justify the core scheme. If a subsequent proposal could be shown to be better then there was no reason why a change could not be made during the lifetime of the project.

Indeed, with the scheme virtually becoming a two-stage project (mainly but not entirely due to the Olympics) and the spending review meaning that things post-Olympics will not proceed as fast as originally planned, it seems that there will be a mid-project “pause for breath” whilst the project is re-evaluated and detailed preparations are made.

So what do and don’t we currently know about the Thameslink programme? Well it does seem pretty well established that 24 trains per hour (tph) will run in each direction between Blackfriars and Kings Cross Thameslink. This does seem to be a fundamental part of the scheme and without it much of the benefit is lost. If the capacity were to go down to 20tph then the reality is that eight extra services per hour would have to be found space at mainline termini that simply do not have the capacity for them. Additionally, it would be hard to justify the post-Olympics part of the project on the basis of an extra 4tph – as by December 2011 we should have 16tph (and we already have 15tph although admittedly some of these only go as far as Kentish Town).

It also seems pretty well established that ultimately the objective is to run 12 carriage trains, but this appears to be overstated as it only applies to 14 of those 24tph. It also seems inconceivable that the recently built (but currently unused) tunnels from Kings Cross to the ECML were not used in future, so our routes north of London are pretty well decided.

Indeed the only real issue seems to be whether to go to King’s Lynn as originally planned or to stop at Cambridge. Current thinking seems to be to stop at Cambridge and leave longer distance journeys to and from Kings Lynn as services that terminate at Kings Cross. Rather curiously, in one place the RUS refers to Kings Lynn being served by Kings Cross using “two x eight-car 365 stock” and in another “12-car outer suburban operations (including Thameslink)/IEP on Ely/Kings Lynn”.

Fortunately, however, the RUS details its projections for services north of the river. They are:

– Bedford (MML) eight x 12-car Thameslink stock
– Luton (MML) two x eight-car Thameslink stock
two x 12-car Thameslink stock
– St Albans (MML) four x eight-car Thameslink stock
– Welwyn Garden City (ECML) four x eight-car Thameslink stock
– Peterborough (ECML) two x 12-car Thameslink stock
Cambridge (ECML) two x 12-car Thameslink stock

Now we come to south of the river and this is where we really are in a world of speculation. Take what comes as, what Peter Snow would say on election night, “just for fun”. The RUS gives us hints and clues but we really need to look elsewhere as well.

The one thing we can know for sure is that trains on the Wimbledon loop will no longer be Thameslink trains. Basically, once it was decided to put the through platforms at Blackfriars on the eastern side, these services were doomed due to potential pathing problems. In the overall scheme of things this was probably a good thing, since any service serving Tulse Hill station is likely to be restricted to 8 carriages for many years to come.

The main Thameslink route will be via London Bridge down the Brighton Main Line (BML). This will be almost a fully-segregated route down to at least just north of Norwood Junction on the fast lines, as the only other services using it will be the Uckfield services and a few empty coaching stock movements after the morning peak and prior to the evening peak.

London Bridge is only going to have 6 terminal platforms and – according to the RUS – 34tph in peak hours are going to enter London Bridge from the Brighton main line. Some of those services really are not suitable for inclusion into Thameslink (e.g. Caterham and Tattenham Corner services) so options are limited but it seems likely that Network Rail would like to get as many BML London Bridge terminators as they can onto Thameslink.

The RUS also states that “The RUS has not been able to robustly timetable any additional trains, with key contraints [sic] identified including the East Croydon area, and London Bridge platforms.” However note that that restriction does nothing to prevent running Thameslink services to Guildford via Norwood Junction, which was originally one of the favoured options and though subsequently discarded now seems up for consideration once again. This would at least mean that Sutton would retain a Thameslink service albeit at a reduced frequency.

We also have the East Grinstead line as a hot favourite for Thameslinks services, particulary as by then it will already be suitable for 12-car trains. A possible joker in the pack is the Uckfield line which is currently diesel operated but has seen tremendous growth now the service has improved and it is now recognised that many people from this area of Sussex just drive to the nearest convenient railhead with a decent service.

We can take for granted that existing Thameslink services on the BML will be retained and Horsham trains have always been a favourite for takeover by Thameslink. In recent years these have started moving away from Victoria and now often terminate at London Bridge. Sources suggest a further two semi-fast terminating services at Three Bridges (effectively a Horsham train not going all the way). So 12tph down the Brighton line as follows would not be an unreasonable guess:

4 x fast Brighton (as present) (12-car)
4 x semi-fast Three Bridges – two extended to Horsham (12-car)
2 x fast to East Croydon then all stations to East Grinstead (12-car)
2 x Norwood Junction, West Croydon then either seni-fast or all stations to Guildford. (8-car)

This leaves four 12-car trains and eight 8-car trains that need to take over a South East trains service. This could either be via Elephant and Castle or via London Bridge. The RUS gives no clue as to what they will be so we need to look back at the original proposals and the service currently run.

Possibilities are:

2 x fast Eastbourne via BML rerouted from serving Victoria (12-car)
2 x fast Littlehampton via BML and Hove rerouted from serving Victoria (12 car)
2 x all stations Sevenoaks via Elephant and Castle and Swanley (8 car)
4 x all stations Orpington via Elephant and Castle (8 car)
2 x fast Ashford International via London Bridge (8 or 12 car)
various options to take over South Eastern suburban services in particular some of the Dartford services.

The does, however, seem to be a horrible mismatch when it comes to the length of trains. South of the river most services will be at least 10-cars long and one doesn’t want to replace longer trains with shorter ones. It is almost inconceivable that South Eastern suburban services could manage with shorter trains without a corresponding increase in frequency that simply isn’t going to happen, so the Dartford option would only seem viable once Dartford station is rebuilt to take 12-car trains. Conversely, however, the Thameslink programme includes doubling Tanners Hill fly-down by St Johns station and there would be difficult to see any logic in including this construction work in the project if it were not to include an element of taking over some services running via Lewisham.

The fact is that the final decision is going to depend on other factors and it is not going to be made until it has to be (or as a cynic might say, if the DfT is involved, somewhat later than that). If Crossrail goes to Dartford then some of the pressure is taken off South Eastern services through London Bridge. Thameslink has a limited ability to take some pressure off Victoria services from the south by rerouteing some trains but this would probably not be popular with existing customers and would be done at the expense of relieving London Bridge.

Finally, possibly the most interesting thing about Thameslink in the RUS is not about Thameslink at all but the fact that it is going to have a major effect on a lot of lines. Like the project itself these final details are undecided, but Thameslink will lead to freeing up a few train paths, in particular into termini, and it is yet to be decided which services should benefit from this.

Another factor, often overlooked, is that because Thameslink runs a 15 minute interval timetable other timetables will have to be based on this. Let us presume that Thameslink take over a suburban service on South East trains. The suburban service would have to be entirely rewritten as it is all interdependent. Take as an example the Hayes line which, in the rush hour, currently has a 10 minute service with trains alternating between Charing Cross and Cannon Street. This 6tph service will not be possible, so either the service will have to go to 8tph (but there won’t be the spare paths so some other suburban service will lose out) or it goes down to 4tph and the overcrowding certainly won’t be popular with commuters on that line.

Whatever happens, the Thameslink programme will give plenty to write about as decisions about it are made and consequential changes gradually come to light.

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There are 242 comments on this article
  1. Andrew Bowden says:

    It will be very interesting to see what happens to the franchises themselves with all this as well.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Doesn't the London RUS state that one of the reasons for not pursuing BML2 (reopening of Uckfield-Lewes) is that it is pointless due to a lack of capacity north of Croydon? Would T2000 not solve that?

  3. Anonymous says:

    any idea what will happen to cricklewood station?

  4. Anonymous says:

    Well written post, very clearly explained.

    The big risk for me in the Thameslink project is the fact that track capacity in the central section will not be increased, yet the number of trains being forced into it is being upped by 50%. Will there be reliability issues?

  5. Michael Abrahams says:

    The main Thameslink route will be via London Bridge down the Brighton Main Line (BML). This will be almost a fully-segregated route down to at least just north of Norwood Junction on the fast lines
    I just wanted to pick up on this point as my understanding from the 2008 South London RUS (p114) was that there would be four Thameslink stopping services on the Sydenham corridor, two from Norwood Junction and two from South Croydon.
    Is there any reason to believe that these will not be delivered to replace existing Southern Services?

    Without moving some of the Southern (not South Eastern) services to the higher level station at London Bridge there will not be enough platforms for the remaining Southern Services, even without the SLL.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Once the ECML is linked in, do we have any idea which stations will be served? Is it likely that Finsbury Park will be included? What about lesser suburban stations such as Harringay? Or will a discrete suburban service be maintained terminating at Moorgate?


  7. greg tingey says:

    "London Bridge is only going to have 6 terminal platforms" …
    Well, THAT's a mistake, for a start!
    Put the old two on the South side back in, and demolish the horrible brown glass box that stands there.

    Sooner or later, re-opening to Lewes, with sparky traction is going to have to come – by 2020? 2025?

    What WILL the Wombledon-loop services be, then? Should be every 20 mins or 1/4-hourly, but to and from where?
    Victoria? (Already close to full) … LB terminators? (Platform space, as above) … Blackfriars terminators? … (pathing Loughboro' Jn – BlackF should be possible)

    Portsmouth via Horsham SHOULD revert to the "old" LBSC route throughout, with the via-Gatwicks terminating at Horsh.

    SER possibilities.
    How about (shock, horror!) giving Maidstone a decent service: stops being: LB, Bromley S., Maidstone, then all lamp-posts to Ashford.
    Not sure about Swanley or Otford stops, because Maidstone's present service is just so bad ….

    NOT Dartford – the possibilities for service screw-ups is too great, and, let's face it, it's an inner-suburban service.

    Lastly: to "a-nonny-mouse": Track capacity in the central section IS increasing, because they are upgrading the signalling – to 4-aspect, and closer spacings (shorter block-sections).
    You can get quite a bit extra in, if you do that.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Which RUS are you referring to?

    Thee are some fairly clear Thameslink service patterns in the Kent, Sussex and South Lndon RUS documents. Are you saying that these are no longer applicable?

    The Kent RUS has a clear analysis of why the peak service pattern in that area will have to change to a 15/30 minute one from a 20 minute one at present. Isn't this fairly firmly decided?

    Are you referring to the peak-hour or off-peak service pattern (tph)?


  9. Chz says:

    There's no longer anywhere to pass slow services on the old route to Portsmouth. That's going to render it a LOT slower than the service via Gatwick, and it was already the slower way to get there.

    I've always been confused by the Guildford->London Bridge service. It seems barking to have such a long stopping service (at least it's fast from Norwood now – didn't used to be!) but it's normally rammed. I can't imagine anyone would use it off-peak, much as I'd like to have my CSB-LBG service back during the day.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Are you referring to the Generation 2 RUS for London and the South-East?

    This RUS appears to focus on issues that were not fully dealt with in previous RUS documents. I think that that is the reason why there is little detail about Thameslink service patterns: these are dealt with in RUS documents like the Kent and Sussex ones.

    The decision to have a substantial number of fixed-formation 12-car trains means that most Thameslink routes have to just 12-car trains and 12-car platforms. As far as I can see, this was considered in the Kent, Sussex and South London RUS documents.


  11. A Nonn of Croydon says:

    As I'm sure Pedantic of Purley recognises, fast trains on the East Croydon – Victoria corridor are well-filled all day and evening (weekends too), and rammed in the rush hours. Diverting to London Bridge/Thameslink unless replaced with something else to Victoria (preferably an increase) ought to be a definite non-starter.

  12. Pedantic of Purley says:

    To try to answer most of the points now:

    @Anon 01:27

    Cricklewood station remains as it is. Enough services will remain 8 carriages long to provide it with a decent service. I suspect Cricklewood is one of these stations that rail companies would rather didn't exist but they begrudingly live with it.

    Anon @07:18

    This has been partially answered by Greg but bear in mind it is not just the track capacity of the central section but the need to avoid conflicting movements south of Blackfriars. I would love to do an article on the Bermondsey diveunder and St John's flydown to discuss this but I am reluctant to do so as any reliable up-to-date information is very difficult to come across.

    @ Micheal Abrahams

    I dismissed the possibility of the stopping services on the Sydenham corridor becoming part of Thameslink since the plans are to run 10 carriage trains along this route. I think the contract to extend the platforms was let in past few days. At a recent talk I went to (reliable source but reluctant to give much away) this option wasn't even mentioned. And RUSs get out of date very quickly. I am referring to the more recent London and South East one.


    I won't comment on all your points except to add my usual mantra that people with access to the critical information are generally in a better position to judge what is best than we are. However having been brought up in the South Eastern area I agree with your comments about the opportunities for screw up if Thameslink goes to Dartford. Leave Dartford for Crossrail is what I say.


    See above comment about RUS.

    Yes. I understand the 15 minute interval is fairly firmly decided. Apologies if this wasn't clear.

    I admit I rather dodged the question of whether we were talking about peak or off-peak tph because it is not 100% clear to me. I have the same issue with Crossrail. Clearly 24 tph is peak service but I get the impression that the service will not go down much, if at all, between the peaks. However the difference between peak and off-peak is becoming more blurred these days and I wouldn't be surprised if 24 tph was becomes the service between early morning and late evening.

    @ Chz

    I assumed a semi-fast service in my first draft which was the one that made it to the website. On reflection I realised that this was just my presumption. I too am a bit dubious about this option but it seems to be in favour at the moment. That said, it would be nice to have a decent fast service from West Croydon to London throughout the day.

    By the way, there is another howler that made its way into the published article but no-one has spotted it and it is not fundamental to the main theme.

    If I get a chance I will try to address points raised by other people.

  13. KG says:

    Many years ago (back in the mid 90s) I am sure there was talk of Thameslink 2000 trains stopping at Paddock Wood (at the time my local station)on their way to Ashford. At that time the platforms were lengthened and I am sure this was well before the Electrostar orders that also benefited from the 12 car platforms.

  14. Anonymous says:

    What a briliant deal the Thameslink Programme is if you happen to live on the Wimbledon loop. Eight years of service disruptions and weekend closures, rewarded by a truncated train service and the same, short, clapped out 319s.

    Why couldn't they keep the through platforms on the west side of Blackfriars bridge too, so some Wimbledon trains could continue north?

  15. Anonymous says:

    Why are these articles referring to THE RUS as though it's a single document? The recent London and SE (draft) is not a replacement for the earlier ones, it is a higher level regional view of cross boundary issues. There is little to suggest that the 2008 South London RUS is not still valid for Thameslink south of Blackfriars.

  16. Anonymous says:

    If you are referring in this article to the London and SE RUS, I suggest that you look at the previous RUS, especially Kent and Sussex. If these are still valid, there is a lot of useful information about Thameslink that could reduce the specukation in your article.


  17. Anonymous says:

    The decision not to go to Kings Lynn is confirmed in the FAQs on the 'Thameslink Programme' website, and now also appears as a footnote under their 2018 route map.

    Looking at your BML possibilities, I'd have thought the answers are clear in the Sussex RUS – and I think it's already 99% certain Littlehampton and Eastbourne are not part of the plan.

    The diagram at Fig 4.1 shows this:
    4 tph Brighton
    2 tph Three Bridges via Redhill
    2 tph Horsham via Redhill
    2 tph from East Grinstead

    Another 4 tph from the slows on the Sydenham Corridor gives the 14 tph total planned for from the 'Southern' side.

    I expect the same sort of detail can be gleaned from the Kent RUS, which also remains extant.

  18. Pedantic of Purley says:

    The reason I largely ignored the Kent and Sussex RUS in relation to Thameslink is that my understanding is that absolutely nothing is fixed or decided upon and at the moment just about everything south of the river is subject to change.

    One only has to look at Thameslink to Ely (a controversial saga in itself) to see that what six months ago was a definite and had been so since Thameslink 2000 days is now very unlikely to happen. I normally frown on wild speculation but in the case of Thameslink south of the river it can be justified because, as I mentioned at the start of the article, nothing as yet appears to have been definitively agreed.

  19. Anonymous says:

    As far as Uckfield(…Lewes) goes, is it utterly crazy to consider if OHLE might be more cost effective than third rail (which I'd assume would be the plan)?

    If OHLE were cheaper, would it be worth going for it – it's not as if it would be any less integrated into the rest of the third-rail network than it is now.

  20. Anonymous says:

    KG @ 1024

    "2tph Paddock Wood or beyond to Thameslink corridor via London Bridge"

    Is in the Kent RUS – it is potentially more relevant than current speculation.

  21. someone says:

    Why couldn't they keep the through platforms on the west side of Blackfriars bridge too, so some Wimbledon trains could continue north?

    Because than all Thameslink services to London Bridge would have to cross the terminating platforms. By reversing the layout at Blackfriars service will be able to run directly from London Bridge through to St Pancras without any conflicts.

    (Incidentally, to the author, the 24tph to Kings Cross Thameslink you cite would be pretty useless unless you also have some secret document stating the station will be reopened. If only, it offered a much quicker and easier interchange for the deep tube lines at Kings Cross St Pancras than St Pancras does.)

    It is also still not currently a certainty that the Wimbledon-Sutton loop will be removed from Thameslink, despite what this article says. It is certainly very likely though, it is the favoured option and the new track layout could force the issue. But, as states in the article, nothing has been decided yet.

    One of the options in the original South London RUS was for a half hourly peak service between London Bridge and Blackfriars via the loop in each direction, doubling the current service. i.e, 4tph from London Bridge with two going clockwise and two counter-clockwise, and the same from Blackfriars. It does not address off-peak services, but if this could continue all day it would more than offset the loss of direct services to Luton and St Albans.

    The new draft South London RUS has a more radical approach. It proposes changing both the loop and London Bridge – West Croydon via Streatham with three new services all running 2 trains per hour: Blackfriars to Epsom via Mitcham Junction, Blackfriars to West Croydon via Streatham Common, and London Bridge to Sutton via Wimbledon.

    In addition to those, which rearrange existing services and frequencies, the London Bridge to Sutton via Norwood Junction services would be extended around the loop to run back to London Bridge via Wimbledon and Peckham Rye. Although given that direct London Bridge to Sutton services ended following the opening of the East London Line I am not sure whether that is still an option, or whether the replacement 2tph Victoria to Sutton via Streatham Hill extension could form this new loop.

    At the moment though everything is just a proposal or recommendation, competing with other proposals and recommendations, and depending on proposals and studies. Nobody knows what will actually happen, and that includes whether or not through Thameslink services will end on the loop.

  22. Anonymous says:

    In April 2010, the status of 12 car trains along the Sydenham corridor was given as "From 2015 onwards the planned Thameslink train service will require 12-car capability on this route. However, 12-car capability is recommended in advance of this, to maintain capacity at time of a potentially reduced train service during London Bridge construction". In October, this had changed to "Passive provision recommended for 12-car wherever possible, as
    12-car recommended after 2015", which would seem to indicate that it is stiill possible that Thameslink will use the slow lines as per the 2008 RUS.

    Things may well have changed since October given the CSR, but with peak loading expected to reach 125% capacity by 2016, there is a significant requirement for further capacity on this route. We do not want to return to the 155% utilisation of 2006.

  23. Anonymous says:

    how about a sevice down to littlehampton via sutton, epsom, dorking, horsham.

    another to sutton via wimbledon

    this would keep the loop operational

  24. Anonymous says:

    So do we have any idea which stations on the ECML will be served by Thameslink? Is it likely to be just Finsbury Park, then significant stations such as Potters Bar, Welwyn, Stevenage, etc? Is it likely that the Hertford Loop will be included – I’m guessing not from the indicative route map. Is there any chance of London suburban stations (Harringay, Hornsey etc) receiving services that go through to South London and beyond, or will they continue to terminate at Moorgate/KX?

  25. Alan Burkitt-Gray says:

    On a slightly separate issue, it's clear that Thameslink has failed to win the same public attention that Crossrail has gained. Maybe because it was originally Thameslink 2000, which went into hibernation; and because it shared its name with a train company that lost its franchise to FCC. But …

    Why doesn't the project borrow, or steal, the Crossrail name? Crossrail 1 would be cheeky, but how about Crossrail 2? (And yes, there's another Crossrail 2 lurking deep within the planners' files, Chelsea-Hackney, but that's been there in one form or other since the 1930s, and it's unlikely to be realised before it marks its 100th birthday.)

    But with the Crossrail 2 name, people would see what it actually does: just the same as Crossrail 1, but north-to-south instead of west-to-east.

  26. Anonymous says:

    How about the 1tph Reigate and 1tph Tonbridge/Tunbridge Wells, both via Redhill?

    Also any indication of how many TL semi/fast trains will stop at Norwood Junction (which has a good amount these days) and also New Cross Gate – which is now on the fast map?

    Will the Brighton trains be able to remain fast, and can they overtake at Norwood Junction?

  27. John Bull says:

    Having done some digging, I'll add the following to Pedantic's earlier comments. Everything below is sourced to a standard I'm happy with, but obviously its worth remembering that Thameslink really isn't set in stone yet. As a result the points below are very much part of the current "state of play" and not definitive.

    – It appears that a final decision on the full routes will be made in 2013-14 – which is after the commencement of the final stage of construction and Rolling Stock has been tendered for.

    – In reference to the 24tph peak through the centre, this will likely only be the peak with off-peak nearer to 18tph. Ultimately Blackfriars station will currently likely see 32tph in the peak (which translates in Thameslink terms to 8tph from the bays, 4x Wimbledon loops, 2x Rochester, 2x Ashford International services).

    – It looks like the 4tph to St Albans will, if thing stay as currently proposed, be the Orpington services. 2tph to Luton will likely be via Sevenoaks. The St Albans services will be "all stations" service to St Pancras.

    – The loop seems likely to lose its 319s – it'll get new Rolling Stock. (Indeed the plan is to ditch the 319s completely by 2017 anyway).

    – Thameslink services to Maidstone East are currently expected to be an all day service, rather than an Ashford train.

    – Post Thameslink the line from Lewisham – Orpington is expected to be full.

    – The Dartford lines via Woolwich and Welling are part of the Thameslink project for 12 car trains with SDO at Woolwich Dockyard.

    – There appears to be an idea (although just that) for an East Croydon – Finsbury Park peak all-stations service, replacing the Southern service on the slows. This seems to extended to run to Welwyn Garden City.

    – On the other side, there is a suggestion that there be an increased service along the Hertford Loop, with some ex-Welwyn Garden City trains therefore being swapped to go via Hertford and Thameslink taking the strain via the East Coast route.

  28. Anonymous says:

    The Kent RUS suggests the following Thameslink peak services:-

    Via Denmark Hill

    Maidstone 2 tph
    Swanley and Sevenaoks 2 tph
    Orpington and Sevenoaks 2 tph

    Via London Bridge

    Tunbridge Welss 2 tph
    Paddock Wood 2 tph

    These 10 tph plus the 14 tph give the total of 24 tph through the core Thankeslink route. In my opinion these may change, but are just as valid as the routes shown in the London and SE RUS (which may also change). Recent changes in the Ket and Sussex specs appear to be about which will be 12-car services (in the short-term) rather than final destinations.


  29. Anonymous says:

    “- There appears to be an idea (although just that) for an East Croydon – Finsbury Park peak all-stations service, replacing the Southern service on the slows. This seems to extended to run to Welwyn Garden City.
    – On the other side, there is a suggestion that there be an increased service along the Hertford Loop, with some ex-Welwyn Garden City trains therefore being swapped to go via Hertford and Thameslink taking the strain via the East Coast route.”

    Sorry to labour the question John, but the above two points both imply to me that suburban stations othernthan Finsbury Park (e.g. Harringay) could well be served by cross-river services… is this your interpretation too?

  30. Anonymous says:

    From what I remember about the South London RUS, Dartford routes were a bad idea for Thameslink, though the lengthening and Lewisham sort out would be useful anyway.

    South London RUS had the following services south of the river:
    via Elephant
    -2 Orpington
    -2 Sevenoaks
    -2 Ashford
    via London Bridge
    -4 Brighton
    -4 Three Bridges/Horsham
    -2 East Grinstead
    -4 East Croydon/Norwood Junction
    -2 Tunbridge Wells
    -2 Paddock Wood

    I'd expect something similar to be the final plan – just a couple of changes to make it less branchy, with more 4tph services. We're seeing that with St Albans-Orpington being 4tph (losing Paddock Wood as a destination is the other obvious one – have 4tph to Tunbridge Wells).

  31. Anonymous says:

    'someone' @ 1159

    The new RUS draft is a (second generation) regional RUS for 'London and the Southeast'.

    It isn't a replacement South London RUS – the 2008 version of that remains valid.

    I think you might have assumed the opposite…

  32. Anonymous says:

    Could somebody indicate if there is any official plan of what will happen to the franchises after 2014/2015?

    Is the plan to have a 'super-Thameslink' franchise taking in all relevant routes North and South of the Thames or for a mix of TOCs to operate through the core section?

  33. Pedantic of Purley says:

    In an attempt to comment on some of the other queries raised:

    * My understanding is that there will be a Thameslink franchise covering all services. It is the preferred solution because it will have a dedicated fleet in dedicated depots – itself yet another source of controversy.

    * I hope to write a piece at some future date about the Brighton Main Line (and BML2) which should cover some of the capacity issues raised.

    * A couple of comments from the RUS on Finsbury Park:

    The disused eastern platform will be brought back into use with associated platform access and secondary means to exit. This will be accompanied by the extensions to some platforms for Thameslink trains.

    … the train service frequency on both the Hertford Loop and to Welwyn Garden City can be expected to increase once the Finsbury Park to Alexandra Palace section comprises six fully usable tracks and additional capacity overall is provided at London King’s Cross through the connection to the Thameslink tunnels.

    * As it is difficult to lengthen the trains from Finsbury Park to Moorgate the plan is to use freed-up paths to increase the frequency. This will need improved signalling in the tunnel south of Drayton Park.

    * My knowledge of north London suburban services is not good but my understanding is that the intention is mainly to take over existing suburban services into Kings Cross and so I am presuming that the stopping pattern is roughly the same.

  34. KG says:

    losing Paddock Wood as a destination is the other obvious one – have 4tph to Tunbridge Wells

    I expect the only reason PDW and TBW share the 4tph between them is due to capacity constraints for turn around at TBW, PDW and TON. This gives 4tph at TON with interchange for trains to Ashford, Kent Coast and Redhill, as well as other services to TBW.

  35. someone says:

    The new RUS draft is a (second generation) regional RUS for 'London and the Southeast'.

    It isn't a replacement South London RUS – the 2008 version of that remains valid.

    I think you might have assumed the opposite…

    I was not even thinking of the London and South East RUS at all!

    Although double checking it seems what I thought was a draft to a new South London RUS is in fact the original version which lead to the final 2008 one. Not really sure how that happened as I only downloaded it from the Network Rail site in December, and there is no date given in the URL or the cover to have pointed this out. It is only buried in the text it reveals this.

    I guess that means the London Bridge loop and Thameslink to Epsom and Croydon idea was an earlier one abandoned in favour of a London Bridge to Blackfriars loop rather than the other way around.

  36. Anonymous says:

    Current plans seem to suggest that suburban stations to Welwyn Garden City will have Thameslink services but the Hertford loop will not.


  37. Anonymous says:

    Just on a slightly separate note, does the idea behind the BML2 not involve going over the tracks currently used by tramlink? [cobarn]

  38. Anonymous says:

    kg – Tunbridge Wells had 4 tph reversing under the South London RUS's plan (two Thameslink, two Charing Cross) – swap the Charing Cross-Tunbridge Wells and Thameslink-Paddock Wood trains around and you can have 4tph Tunbridge Wells – Thameslink.

  39. Paul says:

    Those asking about Harringay need to bear in mind that both there and Hornsey have platforms only on the current slows. It seems unlikely to me that platforms or platform faces would be added to the new tracks 5+6, and equally unlikely that these stations could reasonably be extended to 12 car platforms.

    Both also have an enviable (for NR services at such small stations) frequency of 6tph all day with more in the peaks.

    However, one would hope the pattern of Thameslink services and the additional tracks might reduce the peak 'flighting' of services on the slows and give these stations a more even peak frequency, as the current uneven one is IIRC a bit of a nightmare for crowding.

    If additional platform faces were added though, this would have the side benefit of maintaining more services through weekend possessions of the slows.

    There also seems to me to be a possibility that evening/weekend services will ultimately have to go somewhere other than Kings Cross due to platform availability, especially if the off-peak frequencies increase. Maintaining longer hours on the Moorgate section seems more likely than diverting them through thameslink though.

  40. Greg Tingey says:

    Mention of Paddock Wood reminds me.

    Any hope of Ashford-via PDW getting a halfway decnt service again?
    As opposed to the NOT "high-speed" overpriced con that runs from St.P. I accept that the new St.P-ASH services are good, and an improvement, but the deliberate downgrading of the service via PDW is a disgrace, as are the prices charged for ASH – St.P.
    (For trains that are SLOWER than KX-Perterboro')

  41. Anonymous says:

    I think the Thameslink route will become exclusively a 12-car operation (especially in the peaks) otherwise the mixing and matching of different length trains will cause severe operational and timetabling difficulties. It would probably be best to stick to the standard 4-car units (as opposed to 6, 8 or 12-car fixed formation units) to maintain compatibility with existing stock, and allow splitting and joining as required.

  42. Paul says:

    Folks, West London Tram was dumped by Ken long before the 2008 election, I can't remember the PR line at the time but its unpopularity with the people it was meant to serve was clearly a driver.

    In any case, it was not a Boris-binned scheme. Those were principally CRT, Greenwich transit and the tramlink extensions. Not to mention the secondary components of the ELL clapham extension (Surrey Canal Road and the Bellingham service; one suspects Boris wouldn't have gone ahead with anything if Thameslink hadn't needed the SLL out of London Bridge).

  43. Paul says:

    Balls, I posted that comment on the wrong item. Sorry all!

  44. MiaM says:

    A question:
    Is there any good reason to not run maximum number of TPH from St.Pancras / Kings Cross to Farringdon even off-peak?
    I understand that it's probably a bad idea to keep peak TPH on the whole network, but the trains that run all day and in peak hours reverse at St Pancras/Kings Cross and Farringdon / London Bridge could perhans run through the Tameslink route off-peak, to fill upp the route through the city?

    Also another note:
    Atleast in theory you could mix 15-min and 10/20-min services on the same system. It's a bit complicated and it would be a real pedagogical challenge to explain the timetable, but you could let train numer 1,3,5,7…23 run as 10/20 min services and let train numer 2,4,6,8…24 run as 15 min services. It doesn't even have to be the same on each end of the central common section, but if you mix 15/10/20 then every train would probably have to be of the same length.

  45. Anonymous says:

    From what I have heard the Hertford loop service will increase to 6tph post Thameslink with no Welwyn Garden City trains going to Moorgate

  46. Anonymous says:

    I think the Sydenham corridor Slow Line services have been dropped as they would have crossed between Slow and Fast Lines at Bricklayers Arms Junction. All other Southern / Thameslink / Fast Line / Slow Line traffic is segmented by that stage. The Thameslink timetable will be VERY rigid (with 24tph it has to be) and Sydenham corridor Fast and Slow Line slots are already pinned down by crossing moves at Norwood Junction for services to/from places such as East Grinstead, Uckfield, Caterham and Tattenham. Clockface LOROL services are a further constraint. Introducing another set of crossing moves at Bricklayers Arms would leave no planning flexibility or performance robustness, and would effectively undo many of the benefits of the new Thameslink flyovers. Why spend millions on infrastructure to remove conflicts only to add a new set?

  47. Lemmo says:

    Yes, this was outlined in the London & SE RUS in July 2011, after this article was posted. Indeed, all the Thameslink Brighton line services in Table 5.2 on p72 will use the Fast lines.

    At least at Norwood Jn there is potential to expand to provide six platform lines (oddly, on seven platforms as Platforms 1 and 2 serve either side of the Up Slow). Although it’s not possible to segregate the routes, it might help ease crossing movements.

    We’re looking at doing a post on the Bermondsey Dive-under soon.

  48. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Platform 2 at Norwood Junction no longer serves the up slow. Because the third rail is present next, to it trains are only allowed to open their doors on the platform 1 side. It would be safer and clearer for all concerned if they put up a fence at the edge of platform 2 and not advertise it as a platform.

    Platform 7 is not currently in use and, from memory, the tracks serving it are rusty.

    As Lemmo has pointed out, the article has been superseded. But the suggested service outlined in the LUS table (which cannot be relied upon) brings its own problems. The trains are going to be fixed formation trains. Do it really make any sense to send eight carriages of dual-voltage stock down the long Tattenham Corner branch in the middle of the day or on a Sunday when it is quite quiet?

    A lot of things have changed since Thameslink was first proposed. London Overground is one such significant change. Extending services to 10-car trains making them unsuitable for Thameslink which only supports 8-car and 12-car trains is another. The number of ideally suited routes for Thameslink is fewer than the number required. Hence some slightly unsatisfactory decisions are going to be have to be made.

  49. Anonymous says:

    For those interested, there will be public meeting on Thursday night about the plans to terminate Wimbledon loop services at Blackfriars.

    Local politicians from around the loop have been campaigning to encourage people to respond to respond to the current DfT consultation. That only lists the removal of cross-London services from the loop as an option on which it wants opinions, rather than presenting it as a definite change.

    The meeting will be at the Hideaway jazz bar, which is roughly opposite Streatham railway station, at 7:30pm. Apparently there will be a DfT representative in attendance.

  50. Jonno says:

    That loop service is awful. Perhaps the best bet long term is to campaign for Wimbledon-Sutton to be one of the crossrail 2 branches and the tooting bit to get an enhanced service to blackfriars by taking over the former clockwise paths to Wimbledon. Side benefit of this is it might tempt a few people off the northern line down south.
    Eastfields people would need to be compensated somehow though.

  51. Rogmi says:

    I was always against the Wimbledon loop service terminating at Blackfriars. However, given the appalling service FCC run on the loop, meaning that a half hour service is often turned into a service with hourly or longer gaps. A shorter running distance, with a self-contained service to / from Blackfriars, should mean that there are less cancellations due to problems north of Blackfriars. Better still, replace it with a tram service on the Sutton – Wimbledon – Streatham side as previously partly proposed.

  52. mr_jrt says:

    I’d like to see a solution found for Sutton that enables LO services to be extended from West Croydon to Wimbledon via Sutton to take over the south side of the loop (and maybe Epsom Downs too). Coupled with a LO projection to Wimbledon from Clapham Junction via East Putney you end up with a simplified service pattern that lends itself well to increased capacity as it could largely be segregated. Banishing Tramlink from inside Wimbledon station (to free up the platform) and rejoining the former loop trackbed east of the station would ensure that Haydons Road and Tooting were still well served, abet passengers would need to interchange to NR services at either Wimbledon or Mitcham Eastfields/Junction. If Tooting gets a station on Crossrail 2 that just cements the deal really.

  53. Lemmo says:

    The problem is Herne Hill, which we’ll be looking at in a post in the near future. Resolving grade-separation at Herne Hill is problematic and likely to be very expensive… but perhaps not as expensive as twisting the Crossrail 2 alignment via Tooting Broadway to relieve the Northern Line. Sorting out Herne Hill and pumping an intensive Thameslink service via Tooting may present a more attractive business case, especially give the benefits it will also bring the South East main line into Victoria.

    However, there are two issues here: improving the derisory service on the Wimbledon Loop, and allocating which routes go through the Thameslink core. We’ve already discussed the flat junction at the south end of Blackfriars, which could well become the weak point in the system. If an increased service from E&C through the core will reduce operational resilience then it is a no-go. But arguably a much-improved (min 6tph) Wimbledon Loop service into Blackfriars will be enough to win people over, perhaps operated by TfL as part of Overground. But then you’d probably need more terminal bays at Blackfriars, which they haven’t built, or safeguarded… a topic we return to shortly.

  54. Anonymous says:

    Local newspaper report on last week’s public meeting about the Wimbledon loop curtailment.

    Residents say ‘no’ to Thameslink Wimbledon loop train cuts

  55. Anonymous says:

    Does anyone know if the cambridge line to KX is going to get a new set of trains when the bedford-brighton line is getting new rolling stock?

  56. Anonymous says:

    “The one thing we can know for sure is that trains on the Wimbledon loop will no longer be Thameslink trains.”

    Or not.

  57. Arkady says:

    Can anyone estimate the overall core capacity decrease that will result from this guarantee?

  58. Brock says:

    The news release suggests that it will be done without a decrease in core capacity, and this looks feasible.
    Two of the four Wimbledon loop trains could replace previously proposed Bellingham services which would presumably terminate instead at Blackfriars. Not sure about the other two Wimbledon loop trains but they may replace other previously considered Thameslink services via the Catford Loop. It looks like Network Rail has worked out a way to sort out services at Loughborough junction so that the resulting pattern of Thameslink services across Blackfriars Junction is not affected.

  59. answer=42 says:

    Well, here’s a thing. If HM Govt can talk to Network Rail and persuade them to change their plans, then said Network Rail is defined as a nationalised industry and its debt included in government debt by UK National Statistics. The 5-yearly High Level Output Statement and Statement of Funds Available are carefully constructed to avoid this, no matter how prescriptive they are in reality. Perhaps another DfT outtake, due new staff?

  60. Anonymous says:

    Arkady: “Can anyone estimate the overall core capacity decrease that will result from this guarantee?”

    Under the RUS proposals there would have been 10tph (all day) from Blackfriars via Elephant:

    2tph Blackfriars to Sutton via Wimbledon
    2tph Blackfriars to Sutton via Mitcham

    2tph Luton to Sevenoaks
    2tph St Albans to Bellingham
    2tph Welwyn Garden City to Maidstone East

    So going by the release the number going through the core will remain at 6tph off-peak, but has been increased to 8tph peak. As the loop already serves St Albans and Luton presumably they will continue to do so, so I guess Sevenoaks ones will now go to Welwyn.

    Presumably those Maidstone services, along the Bellingham ones, will take over the terminating platforms.

    Although terminating the loop trains and running Catford ones through the core allowed them to be completely segregated was operationally ideal, the capacity easily exists to keep that level of service.

  61. Greg Tingey says:

    Oh, do come on!
    Apart from the first few months/years … in fact sincel the implosion of Railtrack dues to that firm’s gross incompetence (No engineers) the railways have been nationalised – it’s just that this model costs twice as much as the old one, & guvmint can wriggle out of it better than before, by spreading blame in several directions, instead of one.
    So that *ahem* “this week” they can blame the horrible/incompetent/corrupt [delete as appropriate]:
    ROSCO’s/DafT/OpCo’s/ORR/NotwonkFail/unions/ATOC [again, delete as appropriate]
    Yes, but true!

  62. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Whatever the rights or wrongs of keeping the Wimbledon through service, the worrying bit of the announcement for me was:

    At peak times, from December 2018, 16 trains per hour will approach Blackfriars from the London Bridge direction

    In the plans this was 18 tph. The engineering work and disruption created at London Bridge will be unaltered but the future benefit at this location is now reduced by over 11% in a project with an overall cost of £6 billion.

    I hate to bang on about this but what is the point of public enquiries if the government of the day just decides to change things at a late stage of the project when all the relevant infrastructure (at Blackfriars) has already been put in place ?

  63. Greg Tingey says:

    Because they are lawyers & not engineers.
    When it comes to calculations and engineering-type decisions involving NUMBERS, I’m afraid that anything beyond simple addition (usually of their fees) is beyond them.

  64. Anonymous says:

    DfT had probably never noticed the change. Anyway they won’t be in power in 2018 so they can blame the other lot when it all changes by then.

  65. Anonymous says:

    Pedantic of Purley: “I hate to bang on about this but what is the point of public enquiries if the government of the day just decides to change things at a late stage of the project when all the relevant infrastructure (at Blackfriars) has already been put in place ?”

    This decision was the result of a public enquiry, and as far as I am aware it is the only one there has been asking what routes should form part of the network. The question asked in the consultation was:

    The question to be decided is which six or eight trains (depending on whether 16 or 18 approach from London Bridge) go through the Thameslink core and which terminate. Trains that use these routes today come from Sutton, Wimbledon, Ashford (via Maidstone East), Rochester, Sevenoaks, Orpington, Beckenham Junction and Kent House. We are seeking respondents’ views on which of these service groups should run through the Thameslink core and which should terminate at Blackfriars.

    Clearly people on the loop valued the through service, while those on the Catford side did not. Which is hardly surprising as many people will have chosen where to live or work based on ease of commute. I also do not see how the infrastructure is an issue when it is perfectly capable of supporting the decision, even if the RUS proposal is operationally preferable. I am sure you can redraw the entire south London rail network to remove many conflicts and reach an operational ideal, but the rail network is supposed to serve the needs of the public where possible.

    So far there have been ever-changing ideas on what routes will operate as part of Thameslink south of the river, but nothing has ever been fixed, they have just been suggestions.

  66. Brock says:

    Of the18 tph in the peak via London Bridge shown in the RUS, 4 tph serve Ashford and Tunbridge Wells.
    However, these trains are effectively a diversion of existing Cannon Street services, which has not been popular in some quarters, so I would guess that the reduction to 16 tph noted by PoP may involve these.

    Given that the news relase specifically mentions the Maidstone East service, my guess is that it will only be the Bellingham services which terminate at Blackfriars.

    It will be interesting to see what, if anything, is announced next.

  67. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Because they are lawyers & not engineers.

    Someone once said that one of the reasons for poor government decisions is because government decision makers don’t understand basic science. The defy-the-laws-of-physics IEP seems to bear this out.

    If we only have 16 tph Thameslink into London Bridge then does this mean we have totally lost two trains per hour into London in the peak hours ? Or does this mean that the two trains that were due to be part of Thameslink will now have to terminate at London Bridge ? This would then be in the terminating platforms which would now be fewer in number because it was thought not so many would be needed because …

    It is also extremely worrying when the rail minister, Steven Hammond, says “This would cause considerable inconvenience and disruption all because that would allow Network Rail some marginal seconds in efficiency gain.” They may only be marginal seconds but they block conflicting moves at vital times and reduce either capacity or resilience. No doubt this rail minister (who just happens to be the MP for Wimbledon) will be the first to shout when reliability and on-time statistics do not turn out to be as they should be in the future and will not comprehend (or will choose not to comprehend) that the two events are related. And as I have tried to point out above these things inevitably have knock on effects and other consequences that again the political decision maker does not grasp – or chooses not to grasp.

    We live in a democracy and we have a proposal that disadvantages an identifiable group of people. Unfortunately this has not been done in an equitable manner because there will another group of people – potentially more of them – who will be disadvantaged by the decision to continue these services and the voice of this other group has not been heard. Unfortunately for them they don’t yet know who they are because DfT had never got around to publishing their definitive plans for Thameslink routes. Furthermore we still do not know which group will now no longer have a future Thameslink service as a result of this decision. Its easy for a minister to announce that a rail service will not be cut after all. The difficult bit is to say to another group “Sorry you won’t get your improved service in the future as we have decided to give priority to the people of Wimbledon”.

  68. Fandroid says:

    4tph from the Wimbledon Loop sounds good until you realise that means the combined flow from both directions, so the basic train service on the loop is still 2tph in each direction. What happened to the aspiration for a genuine 4tph, or is that impossible while Herne Hill and other junctions remain as they are?

    8tph in total through Elephant & Castle still sounds pathetic for a 4-track line.

  69. Brock says:

    Another issue worth considering is the unsuitability of the new Blackfriars station to handle large interchange flows between the terminating and through platforms. The two subways are at the far ends of the 12 car length platforms, with the one at the north end currently outside the barrier lines.
    Under the previous proposal, all passengers between the Wimbledon loop and Thameslink stations north of Blackfriars would have to change, With the new proposal, they will continue to have a through service, and the folk on the Catford loop will contine to have through services as well.
    And if “disgusted of Tunbridge Wells” keeps his favoured service to Cannon Street, we might actually have a result from a public consultation which keeps more people happy!
    Yes, it’s not as clean operationally, but passengers are important, too.

  70. ngh says:

    Re Fandroid 1746 21/1/2013

    Add some Southeastern services terminating at Blackfriars via Herne Hill to the 8tph?

  71. timbeau says:

    As an occasional user of the Wimbledon loop, I can’t say I would have minded if the trains terminated at Blackfriars – there would at least be a better chance of getting a seat in the evenings! The through service is not very useful anyway – for St pancras and beyond it is quicker to go via Victoria from anywhere south of Herne Hill, either via Herne Hill itself or, from the Wimbledon, Sutton, Mitcham loop, via Clapham Junction. Indeed, the quickest way from Wimbledon to Blackfriars is neither FCC nor the District Line, but SWT to Waterloo and walk!

    And FCC clearly aren’t very interested in operating the service – it is always the first to go when they decide to weed things out – as I write they are running 25% of the service (one train an hour, one way round the loop only – and even that is being disrupted by problems at Leagrave and Harpenden).

  72. Nick in Sutton says:

    The through Thameslink service may not be the quickest way from the Wimbledon side of the loop, I think it’s more useful from Sutton, especially if you need to catch a Midland train from St Pancras. It’s also cheaper when you can avoid using the tube, and there’s a much better chance of getting a seat.

  73. ChrisMitch says:

    I use the Wimbledon loop service from Tooting and Mitcham Eastfields. I too have no strong feelings about services terminating at Blackfriars. I would trade an increase in train frequency for the Blackfriars termination – however this was not an option in the consultation.

    And timbeau is right – FCC’s commitment to running the service is abysmal. Trains are regularly cancelled with a negative notice period (after they should have arrived).

    This doesn’t really help to turn the route into a useful metro-service does it?

  74. timbeau says:

    Thameslink from Sutton to St Pancras may be cheaper, (but irrelevant if you have a travelcard) but its certainly not quicker than via Victoria. Journey Planner gives you best times of 45 minutes via either route, but much more frequent via Victoria

  75. Brock says:

    On reflection, the ramifications of increasing to 8 tph from Elephant & Castle through the central core are wider than I initially thought, The Wimbledon loop services run all day and will be 8 car – so they can’t be directly substituted for 12 car or peak only services.
    What the release doesn’t mention is what the off-peak service through the core will be. The RUS suggests 18 tph, of which 10 tph are 8 car and 8 tph are 12 car. And all the 8 car services run all day.
    So if there are 8 tph all day via Elephant & Castle, all of which are 8 car, then:
    – If the overall level of off-peak services is unchanged, that only leaves 2 tph of 8 car services remaining south of the Thames. This could mean that the 4 tph service via Purley then 2 tph each to Caterham and Tattenham Corner would have to be revised.
    – Or, if the off-peak core service was increased to 20 tph, the additional trains would have to go somewhere north of the Thames. The nearest convenient point would, of course, be West Hampstead, however there may be more interesting destinations via Finsbury Park.
    And there would only then be capacity for an additional of 4 tph peak services, so my earlier comment re 16 tph at London Bridge still stands, though this would potentially also affect peak services north of the Thames as well.
    As ever, it’s what the DfT release doesn’t say that is potentially of wider interest.

  76. Anonymous says:

    Pedantic of Purley – As opposed to “Sorry after having to suffer years of disruption you won’t even get the same level of service in the future as we have decided to give priority to the people of Bromley or somewhere else where there is no interest in the service you want.” And it is hardly the party political decision of one local MP when the campaign against removing the loop from the network had a very vocal campaign on all sides of the loop from residents, community groups, and politicians from all parties, including a former Labour transport minister. And of all those which would have been affected, Wimbledon with a much faster link into Waterloo was the least interested. Much has been said on this site (notably the safeguard Blackfriars article) about how little of the available capacity from Blackfriars to Loughborough Junction is being used. Yet the way you are talking you would think it is already stretched to breaking point.

    Fandroid – You are right, an 4tph service in both directions was never an option because there is no spare capacity at Herne Hill for this. The RUS instead proposed a 4tph service from London Bridge to Blackfriars via the loop (this was illustrated as London Bridge – Mitcham – Sutton – Wimbledon – Blackfriars and vice versa but it was not clear if this was the proposal or a simplification and they would run half hourly in alternate directions.) Keeping the loop as part of Thameslink does not preclude having a separate half-hourly loop to London Bridge giving 4tph around it. The peak capacity for this would be freed up by no longer having to divert morning services from Brighton via Tulse Hill, and there is already a 2tph-ish peak service like this going counter-clockwise.

    timbeau – I used to use the Thameslink from Tooting over the Northern Line because while it may have been (inconveniently much) less frequent and take longer, I got a seat, it was a lot more pleasant, and it was a lot less hassle where I had to change. Being the quickest service does not necessarily make it the best. You would have to be crazy to want to change at Herne Hill for Victoria in the peak (which from Streatham station and Tulse Hill is the only way to get to Victoria by rail). And for Sutton itself it is worth remembering that over half the services go via Croydon and take about 45 minutes just to get to Victoria.

  77. Pedantic of Purley says:


    I think you are missing my point but I suspected I would be misinterpreted. I am not entirely unsympathetic to the cause. I have stood at Blackfriars station and seen a Wimbledon bound train already well-filled on its journey south. I am also concerned about the trend of sacrificing extremely well used inner urban services just to provide more slots for longer distance trains.

    My objections are to the decision making process and not the actual decision made.

    For the record:

    i) I never suggested it is a party political decision. I know full well it is supported by MPs of other parties. Nevertheless it is funny how this happens when a MP for Wimbledon is at the DfT. Surely there is a potential conflict of interest and something to suspect that the decision may have not have been made on a disinterested basis ? I have never heard any reference to Stephen Hammond taking a back seat to this process to ensure impartiality. It is not good enough for justice to be done, it must be seen to be done.

    ii) The fact that at this late stage we get this decision making when this was known ten years ago. Had we have had this decision ten years ago then it is possible that track layouts may have been adapted to take into account the revised flows. Or even considered an extra terminating platform at London Bridge although I suspect that will not be necessary.

    iii) The argument that people down the Catford loop showed little objection is hardly relevant when we don’t know what the consequences of this revised plan are. For instance, it may be quite likely that the East Grinstead Line will now not be part of Thameslink because 2 tph are lost through London Bridge. If this turns out to be the case then why weren’t the people of East Grinstead consulted? For East Grinstead replace it with Tunbridge Wells or whatever service gets axed as a result of this.

    iv) I think the argument about ” after having to suffer years of disruption…” is extremely shallow. If the future service is to be based on past disruption then under current plans, such as they can be gleaned, there looks like there will be far greater disruption of users of Thameslink via London Bridge than Wimbledon customers every suffered.

    v) It is not the available capacity from Blackfriars to Loughborough Junction that I was concerned about. Any southbound through train leaving Blackfriars blocks the path of a northbound train from London Bridge. These critical potential conflicts have consequences and they cannot be dismissed as “some marginal seconds in efficiency gain”.

  78. Graham Feakins says:

    @ Anonymous 05:07PM, 21st January 2013

    “Clearly people on the loop valued the through service, while those on the Catford side did not. Which is hardly surprising as many people will have chosen where to live or work based on ease of commute.”

    I am afraid that is absolute nonsense. When the original plans were announced and the Wimbledon Loop was intended to be terminated at Blackfriars and the Catford Loop would be continued through Blackfriars, there was nothing to complain about from residents using the Catford Loop from Denmark Hill outwards.

    It was only when the objections to terminating the Wimbledon services at Blackfriars belatedly bubbled up that something has to be said to ensure that the Catford Loop also retained its through services and not be sacrificed. After all, it was the Catford Loop services which were always intended to be through services post-2018.

    Of course those on the Catford side value the through Thameslink services! The vast majority of submissions have not therefore been to complain that the Catford services will be terminated at Blackfriars because that was never the stated intention but instead to support both through services from the Wimbledon Loop and the Catford Loop.

    After all, this is meant to be the Thameslink “Improvement” Works, not the Thameslink “Worsening” Works! That is what the passengers thought, anyway.

  79. Greg Tingey says:

    Anon @ 16.56
    “…they won’t be in power in 2018” Actually, “they”, the DafT WILL still be in power, still screwing thing around – that is, in fact at least half the problem, isn’t it?

    Pedantic @ 17.37
    Actually that should have read “…will not be capable of comprehending” shouldn’t it? Given that we are inter alia discussing maths/physics/engineering understanding? Oops.
    And, even worse that your final paragraph – because no-one (even now) thinks of future-proofing, expanding Blackfriars to six platforms is not going to happen, as discussed elsewhere.
    @ 23.51 … never mind “impartial” what about “competent” (again) & your part (v) brings us back to the half-arsed design of the flyovers (not) to the SE of Blackfriars, again, doesn’t it? Oh dear.
    Like the flat junction & only 2 platforms at the St Pancras Thameslink box.

    Yup. A half-hourly “service” around the Wombledon-Sutton loop, plus bottleneck @ Wombledon station, because of single-track, because Tramlink is a different money-box & Herne Hill as already discussed & …….

    Overall, one wonders if the Wim-Loop problem can’t be solved with “BR” services, at all.
    1 – Extend Drastic Line to Sutton
    2 – Extend Northern Line to Sutton
    3 – Extend Tramlink to Streatham
    Engineering required:
    1 – Flyover for Drastic @ Wimbledon station – expensive but do-able
    2 – Pennies by Morden depot
    3 – Very cheap, once DafT are hit over the head with something large, dragged off to Pforzheim & told to “copy that!”
    1+ 2 – terminating roads @ Sutton – difficult to find space, though not desperately expensive.
    A cheaper alternative (?):
    1 – Extend Tramlink to Sutton, with street running @ Sutton end – peanuts cost
    2 – extend Northern line also to Sutton ….
    3 – As above.
    Much cheaper!

    NONE of the above addresses the “problem” of grossly under-used capacity of 4 tracks Blackfriars Loughboro’ Jn, does it? Back to Herne Hill!

  80. Anonymous says:

    I was referring to the ministers who make the announcements. I don’t think DfT have any problem with making it up as they go along. All we can hope for is a minister that knows enough to tell the Civil Servants they are talking rubbish – Lord Adonis was the only one capable of that in modern times.

  81. StephenC says:

    As someone living in the area, I’d say that Wimbledon to Sutton would be best served by Tramlink (this wasn’t my original view, but I’ve come to see it as the most effective). Specifically, it is the ability to stop more frequently that would be a bonus along the line – 5 to 8 more stops would be feasible in terms of locations. This is partly because the areas served are very different from Tooting/Clapham/Streatham. Those have high density terraces, Wimbledon to Sutton has much lower density semis, so each station serves fewer people (maybe 4 times less people walking distamce to each station). Thus a tube lne or high frequency main line service isn’t terribly viable. Its also important to note that those travalling from say South Merton to London all tend to change at Wimbledon anyway, so conversion to a tram is not a negative in terms of changes of train at that end of the line.

    By contrast, Haydons Road and Tooting (mainline) are surrounded by higher density housing, and the rail line points more towards London, so I’d recommend keeping London services there. In fact, were they enhanced to say 8tph, then they might well draw people away from the Northern line (which is overcrowded to the point that people in Clapham cannot board). A two platform terminus for 8 car trains at Wimbledon would also be very achievable in conjunction with sharing the platforms with Tramlink.

  82. Paul says:

    Brock @ 05:36pm

    In the DfT consultation on the merger of Southern and Thameslink I think those ‘longer distance’ SE services had already been ‘airbrushed out. The relevant section reads:

    “Transfer of services from Southeastern in 2018
    7.17 We have yet to confirm the exact scope of services that we will transfer from Southeastern in 2018 and we are seeking respondents’ views as part of this consultation. Current thinking is that in addition to Thameslink core services serving Sevenoaks, these will be expanded to include Maidstone East. It is also possible that in peak hours this may include some services from Dartford and Orpington.”

    The interpretation had to be (in hindsight) that Dartford and Orpington probably had already replaced Ashford and Tunbridge Wells, although I don’t think this was widely discussed at the time?

  83. Brock says:

    Paul @ 12:13pm
    An interesting point. Dropping 2 tph each peak Thameslink services from Ashford and Tunbridge Wells would leave room for 2 tph from Dartford or Orpington within the16 tph via London Bridge. May need some more rebalancing of the the 12 car to 8 car splits, though.

  84. Anonymous says:

    Pedantic of Purley – On the layout of Blackfriars, I do not see how it could have been any different regardless of plans for the Wimbledon loop. The original proposals for routes were made as a result of the design rather than feeding into it, and at the time they were made, and until the RUS came out, there had been no suggestion of removing the loop from the network. Any issue with whether through trains come from Catford or Herne Hill have no baring on London Bridge services as those will be filtered accordingly beforehand.

    As to the change in the split between London Bridge and Elephant services, they could be entirely unrelated. If there have been complaints from residents of Tonbridge and Ashford about having their services changed then it could be a result of the loss of those. I also remembering reading that to run those services they may have to instead go via Herne Hill. Sadly I cannot remember where I read that or why. But the only reason they were added to the proposals was not to improve service or because of demand, but to reduce demands on Cannon Street. I do not know what may have changed there, but those residents there may well feel that retaining such services to be an improvement over losing the destination they value.

    Graham Feakins – Catford services were not always intended to be through services, they were only proposed by Network Rail as recommendations coming from an RUS. As for the public consultation, the question asked was which destinations approaching Elephant should continue through the core, not should the Sutton services be retained as part of Thameslink. People in Catford and wherever else had a chance to make their case, and community groups and politicians there would have been asked to make a submission just as much as the ones on the loop. Even at their most ‘hare and tortoise” complacent, with the volume of the responses from those around the loop requiring the deadline be extended, that they still chose not to vociferously make their case suggests the demand was not there. To say that the Catford line will have their service worsened when at its worst it service will stay the same, while in all likelihood will see a frequency increase regardless is bizarre.

    Greg Tingey – In what way does extending Tramlink to Streatham have anything to do with Thameslink when the two go to completely different places? I do agree with StephenC however that the Wimbledon to Sutton line would make sense being converted to a tram or District line extension as stations along there effectively feeding into Sutton or Wimbledon and are not well served for central London directly as going around the loop extends journey times on an already infrequent service. As for the single track bottleneck at Wimbledon, they already run a peak of 7tph through it. An 4tph service in each direction would only see a train need to go through Wimbledon every 7.5 minutes, which is just longer than the journey time from Haydens Road to Wimbledon Chase, let alone over the single track section.

  85. Whiff says:

    @ Pedantic – This local paper article doesn’t suggest that the MP for Wimbledon has taken a step back from the decision-making process since joining the DfT.

    I’m sure I read somewhere, but can’t remember where, that the plan was to run trains from London Bridge around the loop and then to Blackfriars (now on to North London). I assumed that this meant that there would be 4 trains an hour in each direction but split between the two termini.

  86. timbeau says:

    Anon 13:41 Why does Greg’s proposal to extend Tramlink to Streatham not relate to Thameslink? Tramlink and Thameslink both serve Wimbledon, and Thameslink also serves Streatham. But if the District Line takes over Wimbledon to Sutton, either Thameslink’s route through Haydons Road will have to terminate at Wimbledon, or something else will have to operate the route – Greg’s proposal is, I think, to extend Tramlink’s Wimbledon service via Haydons Road to Streatham – although how he proposes to thread it through the complex of junctions in the Streatham Common area I’m not sure. It might be easier to serve Streatham Common station rather than Streatham itself – less central but better connections.

  87. Paul says:

    The 4 tph (4 tph each direction) from Blackfriars bays around the loop and to London Bridge (that Whiff recalls) was a proposal in the 2008 South London RUS, page 111/112.

    So is there any obvious reason why half of such a service (ie 2 tph each way round the loop) cannot run in between the newly revised service running through ‘Thameslink (which is also 2 tph each way round the loop)?

  88. Snowy says:

    If the District line were to be extended to take over the route to Sutton, where would it cross the mainline tracks? Either the london end betwen the depot & station although with the flyover all ready there would this be an engineering challenge or is there space available to continue the district line through the current stairs up to the station exit & then either a fly over or dive under to join the branch line? Does anyone who knows the track layout & surround have any suggestions?

  89. Brock says:

    Paul @ 04:48pm
    As noted by others further up the thread, the basic capacity through Herne Hill for services via Elephant & Castle and Tulse Hill is 4 tph. This is currently used by the loop services – and as we now know will continue to be used.
    The proposed 4 tph service from the Blackfriars bays to London Bridge would have used this capacity instead.
    So there probably isn’t capacity to run any more trains from Blackfriars.

    However there may be potential to run more trains round the loop from elsewhere, as currently happens in the peaks.

    Amending the previously proposed timetable to reinstate the loop trains potentially leaves “orphan” paths between Tulse Hill and London Bridge which would have been used by the Blackfriars – London Bridge service. Assuming these will still be needed to serve stations via Peckham Rye, they will have to go somewhere south of Tulse Hill.

  90. Anonymous says:

    timbeau and Greg – Sorry, I always think of Tramlink as being radial of Croydon, the idea of extending from Wimbledon to Streatham never occurred to me. I see no need for such a conversion though as it would be detrimental to the value of the train, which is direct services. Once you start having to change then for those coming from Tooting it will be easier to use the Northern line or Mitcham Eastfields. While a tram would be better than a bus from Haydon’s Road to get to Wimbledon, that alone cannot justify the cost.

    Conversion between Sutton and Wimbledon would mean Thameslink having two branches, to Wimbledon and Sutton, but I do not see why this would be a problem. Far from it, the service would be more resilient and as Stephen C said earlier, you could convert platform 9 and 10 at Wimbledon to have two southern bays for trams and two northern bays for the Thameslink services.

    As a flight of fantasy, what I would like to see is a spur built between West Norwood and Streatham (the angle at which the lines cross should make this possible, though it would be using flat junctions) and the Overground to Crystal Palace then extended to Wimbledon. Capacity for this should not be a problem on those two lines, the problem would be the junction between Streatham and Tooting should the Thameslink service be expanded with a London Bridge loop.

    Brock – You seem to be complicating something very simple. There is little difference between running separate Blackfriars and London Bridge loops as there is combining them. In some ways that would be better as a problem in Peckham would have less impact on Thameslink services, or a problem at Elephant on London Bridge ones. And half of this is already in operation as there is a half-hourly peak service London Bridge – Wimbledon – Sutton – London Bridge (and vice versa in the evening), so it is only a case of using the freed-up capacity at Tulse Hill by the removal of Brighton Thameslink services to run the same in the opposite direction. The other issue is having the service run all-day to provide loop stations a more reasonable frequency, while the RUS only concerns itself with peak services.

  91. Lemmo says:

    “…the basic capacity through Herne Hill for services via Elephant & Castle and Tulse Hill is 4 tph… So there probably isn’t capacity to run any more trains from Blackfriars.”

    Says who? The posts on the Blackfriars bays and on Herne Hill look at this in some detail, and the Herne Hill post also looks at the potential to adapt the service pattern in order to reduce crossing movements. Reconfiguring the track layout at Herne Hill could allow a more intensive 6tph crossing from Tulse Hill to the E&C route, and a new service pattern could allow more services from West Dulwich to run via E&C.

    The clear conclusion is that you have to take a network-wide view, and create a clear picture of what you want the south London rail network to look like. This will then drive investment priorities and reconfiguration of the service pattern.

    I agree with PoP. What this episode demonstrates is a shambolic decision-making process purporting to be responsive to public consultation. You don’t finalise the detailed design of a £6 billion rail project, and then consult while you’re building it, and then change the design. It’s pitiful.

    It just further emphasises the dearth of leadership and lack of an overall strategy for rail in London.

  92. Brock says:

    Anonymous @ 06:35 pm
    Thanks for suggesting a simpler solution. After submitting the post I spent some time sketching out possible service patterns, and I agree with your comments re separate Blackfriars and London Bridge services round the loop.

    Lemmo @ 07:51 PM
    Fair comment. I’ll go back and re-read your earlier posts in detail.

  93. Greg Tingey says:

    Excuse me but: With regard to [original wording replaced PoP] bays/running roads for trams & rail services ….
    In Germany, around Pforzheim, tram & “heavy” rail use the same tracks & have done for over 10 years, now.
    the ONLY obstacle to this happening here is DafT.
    I was envisaging German-style tram / train operation(s)
    Sorry about the explosion, but this sort of blinkered re-invention of the tram-wheel is really annoying (& stupid)

    Re: District passing beyond Wimbledon – see my original post… it is expensive & difficult, hence my second suggestion that trams take over Wimbledon-Sutton (with street running @ the Sutton end) + extend Northern line to Sutton. also + tram / train (train being an “UndergrounD” one, of course) between S Morden & Sutton.
    Sorry, but I didn;t realise I’d have to spell it out, to an audience that is usually as well-informed as this one?

    Oh, the decision-making process was “shambolic” was it?
    I was under the impression that there had been no decision-making made at all, & that no process had been gone through.
    Merely that certain local special-interest groups had been allowed to overthrow any minimal planning that had occurred.

  94. Anonymous says:

    So Wimbledon (frequent trains to Waterloo, Tram, District Line) and Sutton (fast and stopping trains every few minutes) to say nothing of the nearby Northern line is to retain its through Thameslink services even though this makes Thameslink more difficult operationlly. Meanwhile there is speculaton about Crofton Park, Catford and Bellingham (er, nothing else other than a pitiful 2tph despite being in zone 3) losing their through service as a result. Couldn’t be anything to do with well heeled, well organised types versus poorer disparate people could it? Let’s get rid of the South London Line and replace part of it with a new Vic-Bellingham service. Oh let’s not, let’s use the cash to get trendies from Camberwell to Hoxton instead.

  95. Anonymous says:

    Where is that speculation coming from? The government release says the Sevenoaks via Catford services will go through the core.

  96. mr_jrt says:

    For me the ideal would be to extend the District south through Wimbledon station with grade separation south of it, but I suspect the raft cannot handle this. As a reasonable 2nd choice, then a flyover north of the station into the loop platforms is a good fall back option. It means evicting Tramlink, yes, but that’s no great bother as it means you can have much more room for facilities up at road level (and outside the gateline!). Conversion of Wimbledon to Haydon’s Road to Tramlink removes the need for that service to be NR, and then heading to either Mitcham or Streatham completes the Tramlink side of things.

    Extend LO from West Croydon to Epsom Downs to remove the Southern services from that stretch of line, and build new bays (or essentially a new station) on the north side of the line west of the road bridge at Sutton for the District to terminate in. This removes the conflicting flat junctions, and the line from Mitcham to Epsom becomes a simple two-track line.

    Finally, at Sutton you have the option of a proper rebuild to provide 4 through lines instead of the aforementioned bays, in which case some grade separation to connect the line from Wimbledon to the line from West Croydon creates a further opportunity to either extend the District to West Croydon, or LO to East Putney. Once there, the issue becomes adding additional lines between the old flyover and Clapham Junction, where the main problem is Wandsworth Town station, then you can have a LO loop around south London (Surrey Quays, Clapham, Wimbledon, Sutton, Croydon, Surrey Quays). Extend the Crystal Palace services to the West London Line via Clapham & Streatham and you have a much simplified set of LO routes.

  97. Greg Tingey says:

    Ideal-world solution, with money no object.
    Now, try my second, much cheaper alternative?
    Tram Wimbledon – Sutton
    Northen Line Morden – Sutton + dual running S of S Morden
    EITHER Tram to Streatham OR terminate stub service at Wimbledon
    Get dual tram-train operation up & running – the only obsatcle to that in this country is sham-regulatory, since the Germans have been doing it for many years.

    We still have the problems of Herne Hill, & the underutilisation of Blackfriars Loughboro’ Jn.
    The latter can surley cope with extra Blackfriars – Catford Loop (?) sevices
    What do we put in the (?) is the question – Maidstone stoppers?

  98. Graham Feakins says:

    Anonymous 01:41PM, 22nd January 2013

    The actual Thameslink franchise consultation said this: “Many stakeholders are aware that Network Rail has recommended, in both the South London and London and South East Route Utilisation Strategies, that Wimbledon loop services should start and terminate at Blackfriars. Network Rail wishes to see trains presented to the Thameslink core punctually, and it sees the crossing moves that the Wimbledon loop trains have to make south of Blackfriars as potential conflicts with other trains, and thus a threat to punctuality. At peak times, from December 2018, it will be possible for up to 16 trains per hour to approach Blackfriars from the south route via Elephant & Castle, but for no more than eight of these to proceed through the Thameslink core. The other eight must terminate in the new platforms on the west side of Blackfriars station. All these trains will approach Blackfriars either from the Denmark Hill direction (including Catford loop trains) or from Herne Hill (including Wimbledon loop trains). The question to be decided is which six or eight trains (depending on whether 16 or 18 approach from London Bridge) go through the Thameslink core and which terminate. Trains that use these routes today come from Sutton, Wimbledon, Ashford (via Maidstone East), Rochester, Sevenoaks, Orpington, Beckenham Junction and Kent House. We are seeking respondents’ views on which of these service groups should run through the Thameslink core and which should terminate at Blackfriars.”

    It follows from this paragraph that the Wimbledon voice was going to be louder, or at least the one the press chose to emphasise, as it was only when the Thameslink consultation was published that the Wimbledon loop folk woke up and found the need to be vociferous.. I can assure you that major representations were indeed made by those concerned from Denmark Hill outwards, including the major hospitals, local transport groups, MP’s, local councillors etc. in support of through services – in addition to the Wimbledon services. Many worked closely with the Wimbledon/Herne Hill groups to ensure a consistent approach.

    One point I made at the time was that I disagreed with Network Rail’s suggestion concerning conflicting moves (see above) as there are effectively three crossing places on the 4-track layout between Loughborough Junction and Blackfriars providing ample flexibility.

    Note the important aspect, however, that it is notable that the terminating platforms cannot be used from the London Bridge direction and the latest track plans I have seen support this. However, they might have to be used in the peaks to accommodate 8-9 main-line services that will have to be diverted from Cannon Street in the future. It is intended that the connection ‘around the corner’ at Metropolitan Junction from Cannon Street to Blackfriars is to be removed, at present used by those 8-9 peak services running empty to clear (am) and feed (pm) Cannon Street as there is no room to run them through London Bridge. Accordingly, they may have to be diverted via Denmark Hill to/from Kent. Being non-dual-voltage, they won’t be able run through the core and thus will have to terminate at Blackfriars.

  99. Graham Feakins says:

    Just a comment on the idea for trams to Streatham – remember that Croydon-style trams require low platforms for level boarding and therefore could not use the present railway platforms. The Pforzheim/Karlsruhe trams are purpose-built, dual-voltage vehicles (and very fine they are, too, Greg) but it’s not a simple case of running similar on Network Rail. Not impossible, of course.

  100. StephenW says:

    I think there is another alternative service pattern that enables an improved Catford loop service as well as 4 trains to Streatham and beyond. It just requires some infrastructure. Build a grade-separated junction (from both the fast and slow lines) where the Catford loop crosses the Southern route between Brockley and Honor Oak Park and trains to Bromley South and beyond (which could include Tunbridge Wells) could be diverted via London Bridge. Clearly, Denmark Hill, Peckham Rye and Nunhead would not benefit from this, but the existing 2 per hour service could be maintained.

    (A further option would be to add a grade-separated junction at Catford from the loop onto the Hayes line. Hayes services would then operate from either London Bridge, Thameslink or the East London line via New Cross Gate and Crofton Park. The DLR would be extended to Catford, replacing the national rail route and removing several junction conflicts in the Lewisham area.)

  101. ChrisMitch says:

    I don’t think additional grade-separated junctions are really an option at this stage of the thameslink programme.
    The trick will be to please everyone, all the time. This is obviously impossible.

    The consultation seems to have come rather late in the proposals. Blackfriars station has already been rebuilt with a particular service pattern in mind.
    I think the promise to keep Wimbledon through-services will probably be reneged on in a couple of years. The Wimbledon loop trains are limited to 8 carriages, and presumably all trains through the Thameslink core will need to be 12 carriage at peak times.
    So Wimbledon could have through services, but not at peak times.

  102. Greg Tingey says:

    Real dog’s breakfast isn’t it?
    Remember thatT’link re-development was started back about 1990, when railways were still hated.
    The updated programme was still “designed” down to a cost, not up to a specification, & there certainly appears to have been no strategic vision or joined-up thinking at all, anywhere.
    So we have inadequate junctions between Balckfriars & LB, still 2 tracks (1 track?) too few between CX & LB, a bottleneck @ Herne Hill (solveable with a floyover we think), trains all over the place, inadequate either terminating or through (take your pick) @ Blackfriars itself (Should have had 6 platforms) a horrible lost opportunity for a flexible (3-track) layout @ St P T’link.
    The mismatch & obvious gaps Streatham / Wimbledon / S Morden / Sutton, where a complete service change is obviously really needed, but requires an overall vision & money coming form different boxes, so you can forget that ….
    Bodge, bodge, bodge – & every bodge-step still costs money!

    Which reminds me, several posts back, I commented on a short piece from “London Railway Record”, where I could find no attributed source…
    I quote – – BEGIN[
    The following are the more significant of the works advertised for 2013 (The wording is as given by LOROL):
    Redevelopment of Hackney Wick
    Interchange between Hackney Central & Hackney Downs
    Installation of ramped second entrance at Walthamstow Queens Road
    Platform extensions on West London Line
    Lifts at Brockley & Honor Oak Park ….
    ] END quote

    Anyone else been able to source or attribute these, other than the “LRR” mention?

    Googling for it got me nothing – very peculiar.

  103. Anonymous says:

    I do not see how connecting the Catford line to the News Cross Gate one would help anyone? As far as I am aware the outer slow lines into London Bridge will not have access to the Thameslink ones, at least not other than via flat junctions which would undermine the works going on and reduce capacity. So having to terminate Catford services at London Bridge would offer no more opportunity to increase the frequency than by doing so at Blackfriars, which will be able to terminate 8tph. It could also use up the capacity at London Bridge that was intended to be used to increase loop services, so they would be stuck at 2tph when both lines could see increases.

    Again though, to ChrisMitch, the layout at Blackfriars was not designed with any service in mind, beyond removing the conflict between the terminating platforms and London Bridge through services. The Network Rail proposals in the RUS was in response to the design, not the other way around. And having Catford and Herne Hill trains cross over is something that can be done on the approach to Blackfriars so the design there makes no difference anyway.

    As for the train lengths, the RUS proposals were only for 8-carriage trains on Elephant routes anyway, including the fast services from Kent, as whether they go via Streatham, Kent House, or Catford that is all any of the the stations north of Bromley South or Sutton can accommodate. Even with an extension programme, which NR did not recommend for any of those routes, Elephant will require major layout changes.

  104. Stu says:

    @ Greg Tingey

    “In Germany, around Pforzheim, tram & “heavy” rail use the same tracks & have done for over 10 years, now.
    the ONLY obstacle to this happening here is DafT.”

    Not quite that simple – heavy rail platforms on the Continent are far low than those in the UK – more akin to the height of tram platforms. I guess the real issue is why we didn’t sync with Europe back in the early days of rail. It’s a bit late to do much about that now ….

  105. Anon in NZ says:

    Another factor is that all existing elecric tram-trains use overhead wires – it’s hard to see how low tram platforms would mix with a third rail at roughly the same level.

  106. The other Paul says:

    Re: The underused 4 track via the Elephant

    – New stations at Camberwell and Walworth. Yes they’d be fairly close together but there’s plenty of pent-up demand down the Walworth road for new transport.
    – Capacity issues via Herne Hill, not sure about Peckham, but there must be capacity via Brixton, if nothing else because of the number of services running up to Blackfriars from Denmark Hill
    – May be feasible to crossover west of Brixton and serve Clapham High Street and Wandsworth Road.
    – Certainly feasible to route into Clapham Junction and possibly beyond somewhere.
    – Also could head for Battersea Park/Victoria, given that it was feasible to run a certain Bellingham service that way.

    Which just leaves the other end. And let’s get to the nitty gritty here, if we can turn around 32tph in two platforms at Brixton, it’s hard to believe that it’s not possible to stretch to at least 12tph in two platforms at Blackfriars.

  107. Graham Feakins says:

    “The other Paul” neatly reminds me that my 1928 book of “Handling London’s Underground Traffic” explains that not only were there “at least 32 tph” already being turned back on the 2-track layout at the Bakerloo Line Elephant & Castle terminus by 1928 but also no fewer than 40 (forty!) trains per hour were reversed at Morden on the Northern Line and therefore 40 tph ran between Morden and Kennington in each direction!

    It was also a fact that a simple flat junction could cope with 42 tph in each direction, such as at Minories Junction (the junction between District and Circle Lines outside Aldgate) with a theoretical maximum of 44 tph.

    Some may have seen my comment questioning the need for Automatic Train Operation through the Thameslink core simply to cope with 24 tph – and that on what is effectively a comparatively slow UndergrounD route. Even bearing in mind that the Thameslink trains are longer than Underground trains, there seems to be an extraordinary (retrograde) difference between what was achieved in 1928 and what is planned for the future.

    Finally, in case folk think that suburban trains cannot accelerate fast, here is a short clip showing normal practice in Germany:

  108. timbeau says:

    Morden has three platforms, I think, and throughput can be expedited if neceesary by using the depot for turnrounds (they are effectively through platforms)

    Here we can see two trains every 3m30s (equivalent to 34 tph) reversing at a simple two platform terminus

  109. stock quotes says:

    there seems to be an extraordinary (retrograde) difference between what was achieved in 1928 and what is planned for the logic in including this construction work in the project if it were not to include an element of taking over some services running via Lewisham.

  110. Savoy Circus says:

    In Rail Magazine 07 Jan 2015 it is suggested that when the Midland Main Line is electrified trains from Corby may be diverted to Thameslink to free up capacity in St Pancras for more longer diatance trains. However there are some obvious issues eg what rolling stock would be used, what destination south of the river

    Anyone know anything about this?

  111. straphan says:

    @Savoy Circus: I can assure you the above is not going to happen. Extending Thameslink trains to Corby mean people from Wellingborough and Kettering would have to travel on trains that would also call in the off-peak at places like Flitwick, Harlington or St Albans. Not to mention you would have to find extra Class 700s ‘from somewhere’ to make this work. This will just not fly.

    The proposals are somewhat different and much more limited in scope. I wish I could elaborate further but I quite like my job and would hate to lose it (if you see what I mean)…

  112. timbeau says:

    “Extending Thameslink trains to Corby mean people from Wellingborough and Kettering would have to travel on trains that would also call in the off-peak at places like Flitwick, ”
    Not necessarily – are the trains from Cambridge into Thameslink going to stop at Brookmans Park and New Southgate?

  113. straphan says:

    @timbeau: Necessarily so. The Thameslink timetable in the off-peak specifies 4tph to Bedford calling at all stations between St Albans and Bedford. There would hardly be any Class 700s available to extend these to Corby, let alone to take over an additional 2tph service to Corby. There is also the question of where these additional trains would run to South of the Thames in the off-peak – there are no free slots through the core anyway.

    Let’s not forget that the Class 700 is a commuter EMU with not-so-comfy 2+2 seating that is only capable of 100mph. In order for the MML timetable not to fall apart, you would need a unit capable of at least 110mph to run to Corby, and it would have to be one with slightly more comfortable interiors compared with what is proposed for the Class 700.

    Hence: extension of Bedford trains to Corby is feasible, but barmy. Takeover of Pancras – Corby trains by Thameslink is unfeasible altogether.

    In any case that is most likely not what is going to happen…

  114. timbeau says:

    “The Thameslink timetable in the off-peak specifies 4tph to Bedford calling at all stations between St Albans and Bedford. ”

    “……CURRENTLY specifies 4tph”.
    The proposed Thameslink timetable has been changed several times before, and we still have three years to go.

    Anyway, Corby only has 1tph to London – which seems generous compared with similarly-sized places off the main lines: indeed I’m surprised a business case can be made for its electrification – so there would be no need for more than one Kettering-London service per hour to call at Flitwick, even if the 4tph is sacrosanct

  115. straphan says:

    @timbeau: We have ONLY three years to go. We already have a franchisee that has signed a contract with the DfT to deliver that precise level of service from Bedford; and any changes would have to go through a rather onerous franchise change process. I don’t see it happening.

    The business case for the electrification to Corby ties in with the electrification of the entire MML: it would be more expensive to carry on operating 1tph diesel under the wires, or to procure bi-mode rolling stock just for that particular service.

    I have no idea what you meant by that part of the sentence after the hyphen. The franchise spec has 4tph Bedford-Thameslink calling all stations between Bedford and St Albans. There is no stock or capacity to extend the 1tph to Corby through the Thameslink core, so any ‘Thameslink service to Corby’ would have to be an extension of one of those 4tph. This would lead to a serious increase in journey time and decrease in comfort. It just doesn’t make sense and it is not what has been proposed for this route.

  116. Snowy says:

    @ Timbeau

    I think you may be missing the point Straphan is trying to out accross. Yes you could get to Corby but its not felt to be feasable with the current rolling stock or worth it & so is not in the current plans. What I think he is saying however is that there is a plan for the route that he can’t/isn’t allowed to tell us about.

    So here’s a brain tease, if Corby isn’t the answer for the route, where is? East west rail phase 2 maybe? Anyone else got any suggestions for Straphan to presumably neither confirm nor deny?

  117. timbeau says:

    “We already have a franchisee that has signed a contract with the DfT to deliver that precise level of service”

    There’s many a slip……
    There was a franchisee all signed up to run an alternate-hours service to another city in the East Midlands, twice the size of Corby. Dropped less than a year before it should have started, and four years later seemingly no closer to getting it.

    And there’s a General Election in four months time: anything could happen after that. So I wouldn’t count your chickens quite yet!

    “it would be more expensive to carry on operating 1tph diesel under the wires, or to procure bi-mode rolling stock just for that particular service”
    Diesel under the wires is quite normal elsewhere on NR (and bimode is proposed for various ECML routes which would be just as easy to wire up) , and EMT will be needing diesels on other services for the forseeable future.

  118. Anonymous says:

    Its seems to me that the most cost effective option is to extend a number of Bedford trains to run to Corby. St Pancreas International already suffers from a lack of platform space, by extending certain Thames link diagrams through the core tunnel, you would solve those issues, the new class 700s could probably do over 100mph, but it is likely that they would to be modified similar to the class 350s on the West Coast main line.

  119. timbeau says:

    Would anyone want to ride a class 700 all the way from Northants to London? Calling at all stations to St Albans?

    Why isn’t a Corby-Kettering shuttle adequate? Much larger places have no, or only a token, regular direct London service.

  120. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Timbeau – isn’t Corby a marginal seat (not withstanding the behaviour of the last Tory MP for the seat)? I think that probably explains its “disproportionate” level of train service. Neither of the main parties will wish to see it not well connected regardless of the actual or perceived need.

  121. timbeau says:


    The MP for Corby has a majority of 7,791

    The MP for Lincoln has a majority of 1,058. His predecessor was parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport. One month after she lost her seat, the direct train service to the city was scrapped.

  122. Ian Sergeant says:


    Lies, damned lies and statistics. You really shouldn’t use Andy Sawford’s by-election majority for comparison. The real figure is Louise Mensch’s majority of 1,951 from 2010. And, on the same topic, the new East Coast operator is proposing extra trains to Lincoln. Coincidence?

  123. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Ian S – thanks. I did go back and check election results back over 20 years or so before commenting as I was aware the by-election result in Corby saw something of a reaction to the 2010 MP deciding to quit.

    @ Timbeau – I am sure we could trade contrary examples all day. If you don’t agree with my suggestion re Corby then that’s fine. Let’s leave it there before we veer off too far.

  124. straphan says:

    @timbeau: According to the current electrification plans for the MML, the route should be fully wired to Corby, Nottingham and Sheffield by about 2020. Even if that slips by a year, it is only 6 years to go. And whatever government comes next, I doubt they will want to back out of that promise.

    Diesel under the wires is indeed commonplace elsewhere TODAY. The DfT, however, does not like it one bit – that is the whole reason why there will be IEP bi-modes in service on the East Coast and Great Western. And why there is a lot of groaning to be heard in Teesside as they are in danger of losing their through Manchester services when the wires are finally strung across the Pennines.

    Regarding service levels: There is a specific number of Class 700s getting built (60 8-car, 55 12-car) as we speak, with no scope to increase that order. These units are all ‘spoken for’: a timetable exists that assumes their full utilisation, and this timetable has been agreed in principle between the DfT and Govia, and it cannot be substantially altered without some serious and financially painful renegotiation.

    @Snowy: I have checked the DfT website and there is still no publication of any sort covering what I know, so I am still unable to give much away. Also, timbeau is right that not everything is set in stone. Nonetheless, let me say what I think will happen:

    – I doubt Thameslink will be extended all the way to Corby as there is no stock available to do that. Not to mention this would be a reduction in both comfort and speed.

    – I also doubt there will be a service from Corby through Thameslink, running fast from Bedford or Wellingborough. There is no additional capacity through the core in the peaks, and the service would pose a serious performance risk. There isn’t also anywhere you could send that train to south of Blackfriars – the BML and East Croydon are full. The best you could hope for is a reversal at Herne Hill siding…

    – The most likely scenario is that Corby will remain with the East Mids franchise, and will be served by direct trains from St Pancras High Level (1 or 2 per hour depending on the business case). Most likely using EMUs with an intercity-type layout with 110mph (or even 125mph) capability.

  125. timbeau says:

    “According to the current electrification plans for the MML, the route should be fully wired to ……. Sheffield by 2020”
    Actually 2017 for Corby.

    @Ian S et al
    I had overlooked it was a byelection: but nevertheless at the last General Election Mensch’s majority was nearly double that of McCartney

    “the new East Coast operator is proposing extra trains to Lincoln. ”
    …………………in 2019. Jam tomorrow

    I think extending Thameslink’s Bedford service to Corby is almost as unlikely as extending Thameslink’s Peterborough service to Lincoln! Class 700s are not designed for such distances.

    I’ll shut up now

  126. Moosealot says:

    Electrifying to Corby is a no-brainer, especially if all the equipment to do it is already on the MML. It’s about 5 miles of single track with 3 overbridges, all of which are agricultural or footpath and could be easily/cheaply replaced side-by-side with the existing bridge if extra clearance is required for the wires.

    Lincoln is another matter as it’s twice the distance, double track and the A46 overbridge doesn’t have a huge amount of clearance…

  127. timbeau says:

    I said I’d shut up, so I’ll stick to just correcting a few facts

    1. Corby is about to be double tracked –

    2. Unlike the Corby branch, there are no overbridges that should need modification on the Newark-Lincoln line – the oldest is the A1 Newark bypass, built in 1964. The A46 bridge you mention was built in 1985. The B1273 Brayford Way bridge is less than twenty years old, and so is the bridge carrying the access road to Langford Quarry near Collingham. All four will therefore have been built to modern clearance standards, as will, one would assume, the two proposed footbridges in the city itself.

    3. There are well-advanced plans to electrify to Hull, which is also double track, and twice the distance again. (indeed the populations of the three destinations are very closely proportional to the respective distances that would need electrification, and therefore the likely cost in all three cases is likely to be proportionate to the population served)

    Goodness, they are planning to electrify 14 miles to Windermere, a population that barely scrapes 10,000!

  128. straphan says:

    @timbeau: What you are not taking into account is what the benefits of each scheme would be:

    – Corby: no need to procure/maintain long-distance passenger diesel rolling stock for EMT franchisee; plus more 222s released to run where they will be needed more (Berks & Hants for example?)
    – Hull: electrification there will allow Hull Trains to operate an all-electric fleet, with subsequent maintenance/operating cost benefits. Hull Trains is looking to finance this privately, so there is no need to discuss the overall benefits of the scheme – if they want to cough up, it’s their issue.
    – Lincoln: unless you electrify to Nottingham as well the offsetting of the costs must be borne only by the London trains. And unless you run something to the tune of 1000 pax/hour all day in both directions, you will not generate enough wonga to cover that cost.

  129. Alan Griffiths says:

    Broadly, the Midland mail line key dates are
    1) 2017 December: Derby station & junctions remodelling
    2) 2017 December: Bedford to Corby electrification
    3) 2019 December: Kettering to Nottingham & Derby electrification
    4) 2020 December: Derby to Sheffield electrification
    5) still thinking about further electrification: Erewash valley line, gaps to ECML towards Doncaster & Leeds.

  130. Greg Tingey says:

    Diesel under the wires is indeed commonplace elsewhere TODAY. The DfT, however, does not like it one bit – that is the whole reason why there will be IEP bi-modes in service on the East Coast and Great Western.
    Which is one of the reasons for trains like this – which should go a long way to allieviating this problem – especially if live overhead “rails” are installed at terminal stations for recharging…..
    (Lincoln) – but, um, err …IF you have elctrified Newark – Lincoln, & Nottingham is electrifies already (MML), then you have a n other “diesel gap” approx Arkwright St – Newark. WHich can be “closed” either by stringing the knotting & saving on operational costs, or using the hybrid-electric units mentioned above…..

    Minor correction: Corby is about to be re-double (tracked) & of course, it’s double most if not all of the way onwards to Melton …..

    I’m given to understand, very unofficially, that Sheffield – Moorthorpe + Doncaster “knitting” is a no-brainer in terms of operating costs, with simpler workings & emus….

  131. Rational Plan says:

    Direct commuter trains are needed to London if it is take off as a London Commuter town. It’s a core part of the regional regeneration strategy. The town has been running radio adds for years on London Radio stations advertising four bedroom houses for the prices of a two bedroom flat in zone 5 with reasonable commute times. Just Like Roy Kinnear used to advertise on TV for Peterbrough dressed a Roman Centurian gabbling on about great times travel times to Regus Crux.

    The South, East Midlands and Northern Home Counties are to bear the brunt of housing expansion for the South East of England.

  132. Castlebar says:

    Corby Constituency

    The bookies tend to be more accurate forecasters than ‘planners’, economists and civil servants.

    They are keen to take your money and offer generous odds if you really believe the conservatives will win back the seat from Labour in May. You won’t get very attractive odds at all on a “Labour hold’. This will be relevant to Corby’s rail service, after the next general election results are known in May.

  133. timbeau says:

    – Lincoln: no need to procure/maintain long-distance passenger diesel/hybrid rolling stock for East Coast franchisee; plus dmu released from Northgate shuttle to run where they it is needed more

    Does Windermere see 1000pax/hr?

  134. alan blue mountains says:

    straphan 13.1
    I may have missed something but if class 700 are currently being manufactured why is there no way to increase the number if money and requirement are indentifed now or very near future while production line is set up.

  135. ngh says:

    If the MML follows the predicted ECML performance change when new rolling stock is introduced (in the ECML case the IEPs replace the 125s and 225s then some extra paths might magically appear as they will on the ECML (largely due to better acceleration and braking (regenerative)) then it doesn’t become a case of extending Thameslink to Corby.
    If the stock on the MML post electrification has electronic seat reservations it should reduce the time spent in St Pancras (or Nottingham, Derby, Sheffield…)

  136. Melvyn says:

    The choice between diesel and electric is about to get more complicated with the current trials of a battery powered train on the Harwich branch see Modern Railways –

    If sucessful this will provide a way of extending electric trains beyond the wires and even covering branches where the cost of electrification can’t be easily justified.

    As for Thameslink to Corby well Bedford is only 50 miles from St Pancras and is therefore closer than destinations Thameslink trains via ECML will reach via the tunnelled route .

    In any case any change is unlikely until the next control period after completion of both Thameslink and MML electrification but the fact MML only has 4 platforms at St Pancras is a long term constraint on future growth of long distance services .

  137. Melvyn says:

    Please also see a more more informative video of the battery train –

    wonder if anyone is brave enough to announce pacer replacements will have to wait for development of battery powered trains !

  138. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Alan B M – the Thameslink class 700 fleet is being procured by Government using a PFI contract. The contract took an extraordinarily long time, even by PFI standards, to negotiate and conclude and finance. Part of this is down to the fragile state of the money markets post 2008 and some, no doubt, to the “flexible” nature of Thameslink service patterns. Having finally constructed and financed a deal the last thing the DfT and Treasury will want is to go back and unpick any of it because it will throw all sorts of things back onto the negotiating table even before a single train has turned up. I am interpreting Straphan’s comments as showing that there is no scope for any variation to the fleet size because of the contractual knock on issues. I am also assuming that the DfT did not include any form of contract options for more class 700s because they’re viewed as being a special fleet for the Thameslink franchise and not for use elsewhere. It’s a “one off” purchase.

    I’m also assuming that the TSGN franchise is highly dependent on the class 700s arriving on time and working to spec. Again, given the DfT takes much of the risk on the TSGN franchise, they will not want to start unpicking all of the carefully crafted assumptions about service levels, timetables, phasing into service of trains and cascading away of old stock. There are a load of contingent fleet changes related to class 700s turning up and getting into service. The DfT are already pretty embarrassed about the delay in cascading EMUs out of London to run under new wires in the North West and, regardless of which party wins in May 2015, there will be massive continuing political pressure to get more trains out of London and on to newly electrified routes.

    There is simply too much risk linked to the class 700 contract and its achievement for any “tinkering” to be sanctioned.

  139. Graham Feakins says:

    @WW – “There is simply too much risk linked to the class 700 contract and its achievement for any “tinkering” to be sanctioned.”

    So when might one expect the seat comfort specification to be improved/replaced on the Class 700, bearing in mind the complaints already from observers including Govia and those who will have to use the trains from the South Coast &c.?

  140. alan blue mountains says:

    walthamstow writer
    thank you for your considered answer but still not convinced that if there was a new requirement and funds available that a separate order and maintenance contract not possible at the same price while production still underway, subject to supplier agreeing. If this is a further requirement any additional stock may be delivered slightly later and service enhancements then introduced. Sorry if I am being dense

  141. Graham H says:

    @WW- having actually read (as part of the professional team advising one of the bidder’s bankers) the procurement documentation for the 700s, I’m with you. The way in which risk and liability is allocated is very carefully calibrated on the actual number of vehicles entering service and the rate at which they do so. Any run on order would,if delivered immediately afterwards, alter those profiles; if delivered sometime later,would have a radically different balance. So, there would have to be a repeat of the negotiations all over again. Given the difficulty of reaching agreement first time round, I cannot imagine any of the parties would be keen to repeat that experience – particularly as,knowing what they now knowabout TLK and its stock,the out come might be embarrassingly different. TLK dogs sleep on!

  142. straphan says:

    Regarding the Class 700 conundrum:

    Any additional build would certainly have to be sanctioned as a new contract. As WW points out, there is no way the DfT would risk tinkering with the contract at this stage.

    However, I still haven’t figured out WHY anyone would want to run Thameslink trains to Corby?

    @ngh: IEPs are most certainly a contender in the MML rolling stock lottery. Why they would generate MORE capacity, though, I do not understand… It is already very difficult to squeeze all Thameslink and EMT services south of Bedford, and we are now looking at a service level increase in the peaks, from 13tph to 16tph Thameslink and from 5tph to 6tph EMT. Having a bigger speed differential between the two types of rolling stock won’t generate any additional capacity – only additional pathing time in the timetable… If the Class 700s were capable of 110mph we would have a different story though…

    With regard to electrification: every scheme requires a business case that is subject to an appraisal. Of course every bean counter will count their beans differently depending on their objectives, etc. Especially with only ‘ball park’ costs we can argue till we are blue in the mouth about why ‘our’ line did or did not get the wires and ‘theirs’ did.

    I shall stray one last time to the North of England and say that Windermere is quite logical. It is literally tens of miles away from any DMU depot or fuelling point (Manchester and Carlisle respectively), which means the empty running figures would be pretty high (even if diagrams were combined with the Cumbrian Coast or Leeds-Morecambe services). Also, keeping the route as diesel would mean no more through running from anywhere: anybody going to Windermere would need to change at Oxenholme. Given the travelling public’s aversion to changing trains (and that segment of the travelling public tends to have plenty of luggage with them!), people would opt to drive all the way rather than take the train. This in turn would not only make traffic on the A591 worse than it already is, it would also mean a significant revenue loss. Finally, I do not know what the power supply looks like on the WCML, but I guess the electrification of the branch could be done on the cheap (i.e. by using existing WCML power supply).

    All these things made it ‘sensible’ to electrify the Windermere branch and ensure there are still direct trains between Windermere and Manchester (and possibly elsewhere).

  143. Moosealot says:

    If the IEP’s acceleration profile matches the 700s more closely than (say) a 222, a more frequent service can be run.

  144. ngh says:

    Re Moosealot

    My thinking exactly (and far better than an HST!)
    Is there the option to upgrade the freight lines to do something clever in the peaks when the freight doesn’t run?

    Re Alan Blue Mountains
    SWT have an order for Desiro Cities (Cl 707?) for providing more 10 car metro stock following the 700s on the production line so it would have be a new follow on order a bit later. Remember Siemens dropped out of the Crossrail rolling stock bid because they didn’t have the capability to build the stock in the time frame.

    Re Staphan
    Windemere, agreed my understanding is that the branch would be powered off the WCML with no additional power supply hence the relatively low cost.

  145. timbeau says:

    “However, I still haven’t figured out WHY anyone would want to run Thameslink trains to Corby?………………… It is already very difficult to squeeze all Thameslink and EMT services south of Bedford,”

    Isn’t that why?

    Corby is about the same distance from London as Peterborough, which will be getting Thameslink services. Sauce for the goose……

    On which note, re Windermere:
    “I shall stray one last time to the East of England and say that Lincoln is quite logical. It is literally tens of miles away from any DMU depot or fuelling point which means the empty running figures would be pretty high (the daily HST that sets off at the crack of dawn has to run ecs from Leeds). ……….. anybody going to Lincoln has to change at Newark. Given the travelling public’s aversion to changing trains (and that segment of the travelling public tends to have plenty of luggage with them!), people would opt to drive all the way rather than take the train. This in turn makes traffic on the A46 worse than it already is, and also means a significant revenue loss”

    “Finally, I do not know what the power supply looks like on the WCML, but I guess the electrification of the branch could be done on the cheap (i.e. by using existing WCML power supply)”
    I doubt a branch that long could be fed by a single feed from one end without modification (especially since the neaest subsation to Oxenholme also has to power trains ascending Shap).
    But again, what’s sauce for the goose………

    On a related but slightly more London and SE topic, the testing of the battery-powered class 379 “IPEMU” on the Harwich branch: not until we see it used on the Felixstowe or Sudbury branches will we know they are confident it works!

  146. straphan says:

    @timbeau: But Corby will be getting better (or similar) journey times compared to Peterborough: albeit with trains terminating at St Pancras HL. Is the issue of going through to Blackfriars really such a make-it-or-break-it issue for potential Corby commuters?

    Regarding electrification: we will agree to disagree…

    @ngh/Moosealot: I think what would help much, much more on the Midland are:
    – revving the 700s to 110mph so they can mix much easier with whatever long-distance trains come along.
    – upgrading the slow lines to be closer to 100mph, particularly North of Luton. They are underutilised in that area in the peaks, with too many trains on the fasts.

    Oh and what do you mean ‘no freights in the peaks’? There is indeed a ban on freights in the am peak (nothing South of Bedford between 05:50 and 08:40 as per planning rules), but there are certainly plenty of freights in the pm peak at present. Whether that will still be the case in 2018 when the pm peak Thameslink timetable goes from 13 to 16tph is a different matter: in the peaks the freights from the GOBLIN cross over to the Hendon lines at Carlton Road/West Hampstead and recess there as necessary. With 4 more trains getting spat out of the core that may no longer be possible.

  147. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Alan BM – I don’t disagree that a conventional procurement would allow you to buy extra trains if you wanted to. However we do not have a conventional arrangement for Thameslink as confirmed by Graham H. I assume the extra 700s would be for the Thameslink route which immediately brings in issues about who would maintain them, where would they be maintained, would extra sidings / depot spare be needed for them etc. All the costs of the depots and maintenance / overhaul etc will be wrapped up into the PFI contract and payment structure for the main fleet. As soon as you want more trains maintained and stabled you have to start tampering with the original PFI contract.

    As someone who’s helped write and run PFI / PPP contracts take it from me that it’s not an easy task to start varying or unravelling all or parts of a PFI contract because of the impacts on the financial models, assumed income and costs and the level of risk held by the parties to the contract and the funders. In short those nasty evil bankers always want a cast iron guarantee they will get their money. They come out in sweats if you start to do anything that might affect their ability to be paid as expected.

    Although it might seem illogical I don’t think anyone will be varying the Class 700 contract for many years to come even with all the service and timetable rigidity that implies. Blame the DfT and Treasury for this – they insisted on using PFI for this fleet. Note that TfL insisted and got approval and funding for a conventional procurement for Crossrail and note how quickly that process went from expressions of interest to a signed and sealed contract. It may yet all go pear shaped – any contract can – but the procurement process effectively zoomed its way through in comparison to Thameslink. TfL also have contract options for 18 more trains which they can draw upon if they need to.

  148. timbeau says:

    “Is the issue of going through to Blackfriars really such a make-it-or-break-it issue for potential Corby commuters?”
    No, the issue is, as you said, track capacity between St P and Bedford. Running separate trains Thameslink to Bedford and St Panc to Corby uses two paths: running Thameslink to Corby only uses one, and frees up a platform at St Pancras North

    (nearest Tube: Mornington Crescent!)

  149. ngh says:

    With further electrification of the MML may be the thing is to have a complete service pattern rejig with new stopping patterns (i.e. Corby all EMT stops and fewer stops on the longer distance EMT services that do stop at Kettering etc?) and may be some upgrades of the secondary route north of Corby (via Oakham and Melton) for more freight use given the “Electric Spine” concept if it is still alive?

  150. straphan says:

    @ngh: If one of the objectives is for the MML to carry electric freight trains, then there must indeed be an electric route provided through Corby (and presumably then to Syston) and between Sheffield and Doncaster.* In any case, however, electric freight trains won’t become very popular unless electric locomotives with at least limited capability for running away from the wires (battery or diesel generator) are made available in UK-gauge.

    The MML will indeed be in dire need of a full timetable recast once the plans for EMT service patterns and rolling stock are finalised. The ‘end-state’ Thameslink and ‘6th path add-on’ EMT timetables do not sit alongside each other very comfortably…

    *(Electrification to Moorthorpe is of no benefit to freight, as freight trains then usually run via Hare Park Jn – Wakefield Kirkgate – Woodlesford – Leeds West Jn as there is no space for them on the line via Wakefield Westgate)

  151. timbeau says:

    “In any case, however, electric freight trains won’t become very popular unless electric locomotives with at least limited capability for running away from the wires (battery or diesel generator) are made available in UK-gauge.”

    You won’t have to wait very long for such a thing.

    Of course, English Electric got there fifty years ago

  152. straphan says:

    @timbeau: Hmmm – 4MW in electric mode, 700 kW in diesel mode. Useful for shunting and running round yards, but not for – say – a 20 mile unelectrified diversion…

  153. Anonymous says:

    The name of the game is to get as much for your buck, it would prohibitively expensive to add additional platforms to St Pancreas International, and thus an alternative might be to better utilise the existing rolling stock. Some folk on here are complying about the suitability of the class 700s, in my humble opinion they might have a mute point, but we have to live in the real world, where after spending a little fortune on electrifying additional routes, the treasury will try to make sure that it is getting value for money.

    This would probably mean running additional services through the core Thames link tunnels. Where these additional services end up, who knows, but if it is cheaper than having a micro fleet of either class 377s or 787s which could be better used elsewhere, or expensive building works at a terminus then extending 700s past Bedford makes more sense.

    As for the performance characteristics of the class 700s, I am quite sure that the engineers at Siemens would had a contingency for additional speed of their UK products, especially with their experience on the WCML with the class 350s.

  154. Malcolm says:

    Anonymous says “As for the performance characteristics of the class 700s, I am quite sure that the engineers at Siemens would had a contingency for additional speed of their UK products,…”.

    So they might. And indeed they may also be able to devise a method to increase the numbers manufactured and maintained, compared to that in the contract.

    But, as Graham H and WW, and maybe others, have made abundantly clear above, it ain’t going to happen. The way the contract has been designed is pretty sure to make any such changes, to specs or to numbers, financially out of the question, however physically possible and however desirable they might be. We are landed with the agreed number of trains, to the agreed spec. Live with it.

  155. Greg Tingey says:

    And, if/when ( & it will be “when”) traffic on the MML picks up even more – then adding two extra platforms on the west side will be do-able.
    Where could the trains go, otherwise, since Thameslink is going to be full?

  156. Malcolm says:

    straphan says “4MW in electric mode, 700 kW in diesel mode. Useful for shunting and running round yards, but not for – say – a 20 mile unelectrified diversion…”

    Not so sure about that. If it’s a lively electric performer, then in diesel mode, it could be that all you lose is acceleration and top speed uphill, both of which might be tolerable for occasional diversions – after all the very fact that it’s a diversion means you have to expect some delay minutes, so maybe you only have to add in a few more.

  157. Graham Feakins says:

    Some Class 73’s are being rebuilt with 1,600hp diesel engines (replacing the original ones designed to develop 6oohp), whilst retaining the 2,400hp capability on the electric side:

  158. Anonymous says:

    @timbeau: “No, the issue is, as you said, track capacity between St P and Bedford. Running separate trains Thameslink to Bedford and St Panc to Corby uses two paths: running Thameslink to Corby only uses one, and frees up a platform at St Pancras North”

    The advantage with using two paths is that you have twice the number of passenger spaces available. Peak Thameslink services from Bedford are already full at St. Albans, so trying to add any significant load from Corby to the same trains would not work out so well. There’s a reason the Thameslink programme is happening, and it’s not to enable the trains to go any further away from London!

  159. Ian J says:

    @Greg T: And, if/when ( & it will be “when”) traffic on the MML picks up even more – then adding two extra platforms on the west side will be do-able.

    Over Sir John Soane’s dead body… He must be turning in his (Grade I listed) grave.

    It would be better to take over one or two of the under-used international platforms.

  160. answer=42 says:

    @Ian, Greg
    I estimate that each international departure requires a minimum 50 minute platform section occupancy with current working methods. The current peak timetable is for three departures an hour, so I suppose four platforms would be adequate. But Eurostar has significant expansion plans and DB still intends to come to St P. eventually, so retaining the current six international platforms would seem to be necessary.

    In any case, no-one is talking about extending / defacing the original trainshed, just the flat-roofed extension. This has its own problems but is probably feasible.

  161. straphan says:


    What ADDITIONAL services through the Thameslink Core? The signalling system to be installed through the core and the infrastructure around the core can only support 24tph – barely. Also: what ‘contingency’ are you talking about? Either the key components of a train are geared for 100mph or 110: it took a fair bit of tinkering to upgrade the 350s to run at 110.

    As for capacity at St Pancras high level: have a look at the current planning rules. These require a 20 minute minimum turnround for Class 222s and 30 minutes for HSTs. This is down to various things like reservation systems, restocking of the shop and sorting out the catering in 1st class. Plus a generous dollop of contingency, as a lot of things can happen on the way down from Sheffield. Now let’s have a look across the road at King’s Cross: there, suburban EMUs require a turnround of just 6 minutes. This includes trains from such London ‘suburbs’ as Cambridge, King’s Lynn or Peterborough. Thameslink EMUs on the Midland require between 8 and 10 minutes of turnround time. It is therefore likely that – once Corby (and possibly semi-fasts to Leicester) are served by EMUs, there will be less pressure on the platforms at Pancras, even with an extra train per hour. It is also likely that the HST replacements will be able to turn round in 20 rather than 30 minutes.

    Thus, I doubt that by 2020 we will have that much more pressure on platforms 1-4 at Pancras.

    (PS: In case you didn’t know, the Network Rail Operational Rules are freely available for your ‘enjoyment’ here: )

  162. Pedantic of Purley says:


    Unfortunately not via that link which just gives the front page. I am fairly sure they are freely available but very hard to find.

  163. straphan says:

    @PoP: It takes a while to get used to, but as long as you have a Quail you should be OK…

  164. Edgepedia says:

    @PoP, straphan,

    For some reason the url only gives a flat image in chrome. Just opened in explorer and the links are clickable.

  165. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Absolutely Brilliant. Thanks both straphan and Edgepedia.

  166. straphan says:

    This is going way off-topic, but for the record the three most valuable sources of information on the NR website are:

    – Operational Rules: rules of constructing timetables, containing junction margins, headways, minimum turnrounds, etc. (link to website rather than PDF):

    – Sectional Appendix: shows linespeeds and directionality of all tracks, as well as distances between points on the network and locations of level crossings. The tables in the appendix also contain the loading gauge and route availability index (i.e. maximum axle-load):

    – Working Timetable: shows all train paths in the timetable (incl. empty trains, freight, departmental, charter, etc.):\Timetables\Working timetable (WTT)&root=

    (Note: the current timetable does not have a guide explaining the coverage of each WTT sheet – if you open the previous one though, that one will have a guide)

    Since we mostly discuss rail topics on this site, it may be worthwhile to put these links up in a prominent location…

    [The last of those options can be more simply accessed by linking here. PoP]

  167. timbeau says:

    @Anon 2305
    “The advantage with using two paths is that you have twice the number of passenger spaces available”
    But that’s where we came in (Straphan 0900 yesterday): there are no spare paths between St Pancras and Bedford – that’s precisely why people are suggesting combining overlapping services (Brighton-Bedford and St Pancras- Corby).
    The problem is that the configuration of the trains becomes an unhappy compromise between the needs of short-hop commuters (lots of doors, lots of standing space) and longer-distance travellers (somewhere to sit down, somewhere to put luggage). The sheer variety of internal configurations on the 319s, and the disquiet of longer-distance District Line and Thameslink commuters at the layouts of the rains that they are imminently going to get, shows that this is impossible to get right for everyone.

    “Peak Thameslink services from Bedford are already full at St. Albans, so trying to add any significant load from Corby to the same trains would not work out so well. ”
    If you can’t squeeze everyone who wants to travel on the stretch between London and Bedford into the paths available, you either have to build more track (e.g HS2 phase 2) or make the trains longer (and the upgrading of Thameslink to 12 cars is already going ahead so should help there)

  168. straphan says:

    Just to reinforce Timbeau’s point:

    There are 24tph scheduled to operate through Thameslink Core in December 2018. This has been determined as the limit of the capability of the signalling system due to be installed in the tunnel. The destinations of these 24 paths, both North and South of the Thames, have been agreed between the DfT and Govia. Also, owing to the complex structure of the financing contract for the new Thameslink trains, there is no scope to procure additional stock probably over the next 3-5 years.

    The planning headway on the Midland Mainline between Carlton Road Junction (where the routes to St Pancras Low Level and High Level split) and Bedford is 4 minutes* on both fast and slow lines. By December 2018 when Thameslink is fully upgraded, we will have 16tph coming out of Thameslink in the peak (roughly half destined for the fast lines), as well as 6tph EMT. This gives us a total of 14tph using the fast lines in the peak. Given there is a speed differential between Thameslink and EMT trains (100mph vs 110/125mph), and given there will be different stopping patterns (Thameslinks will call St Albans, some EMT trains will call Luton Airport and Luton), we can effectively assume the railway will be FULL.

    Unless readers significantly disagree with either of the above statements, I would appreciate if people stopped entertaining the notion that you can ‘squeeze an extra Corby train through Thameslink’.

    *3 minutes is allowed between no more than two consecutive non-stop paths.

  169. Graham H says:

    Just to reinforce what timbeau and straphan have said,the case for accommodating commuter traffic from Corby is very weak. Unlike virtually every other new town, Corby has always had a very high degree of autarchy, mainly because of the onetime overwhelming dominance of the steel works as a source of employment (and the population of the town being drawn from Scotland to a surprising degree – as witness the very curious former NatEx coach services from Corby to Scottish destinations). This is changing slowly but the lack of through services will damp down the latent demand,so to some extent, the problem is self solving…

  170. Jonathan Roberts says:

    Corby and more general Northants rail planners might be interested in the following current RFQ issued by Northants LEP. Link here and text below: . Let’s hope the proposed EMT/EWR/WCML/Chiltern commuter service [planners and the relevant Route Studies will have this topic on board in their planning.

    “Assessment of Rail Capacity in Northamptonshire
    Awarding body Northamptonshire Enterprise Partnership
    Est. Start Date: 16/02/2015
    Est. End Date: 31/03/2015

    “Description: Northamptonshire has one of the fastest growing populations in the country, and as such needs to provide sufficient housing and jobs to meet this need. Our Strategic Economic Plan outlines our ambition to create an additional 37,000 new homes and 32,500 new jobs by 2021. This growth in both housing and jobs needs to be sustainable with supporting infrastructure to accommodate growth.

    “NEP is therefore commissioning an assessment of both passenger and freight connectivity and capacity against projected growth, and in particular an assessment of the forthcoming East Midlands, West Midlands & Chilterns and West Coast Route Strategies and identify any potential opportunities, constraints or gaps.

    “This study will need to sit within the context of the existing and agreed plans for transport identified within the Northamptonshire Arc and the Northamptonshire Transport Plan. The main objective and desired outcome of the study is that will help to inform local partners of any rail connectivity and capacity issues to feed into emerging rail investment programmes.”

  171. Miles says:

    If the Thameslink core is completely full, how will the extra services be accommodated from Bedford/Hertfordshire in the years up to 2050?

  172. straphan says:

    @Miles: What extra services from Bedfordshire/Hertfordshire are you talking about?

  173. Anonymous says:

    A problem is that the Emperor is only wearing economy size 700 clothes, while as stated or implied above the Thameslink core is deemed only fit for 24 tph with the combination of train design (only 2 doors per car side), station logistics, current signalling proposals, inflexible approach track layouts either side of Central London, and no doubt other reasons as well.

    straphan also makes a solid argument about a full MML shortly (and he should know), though perhaps Mark Carne hopes that a digital railway will unlock new capacity in due course.

    Seems to me that, just as Crossrail 1 may beget Crossrail 3, so Thameslink 1 may beget T……..k 3 in due course. Know any handy Home Counties railways with spare capacity from late 2026?

  174. Miles says:

    @Straphan, I’m talking about the massive increase in passenger numbers that the London 2050 parts 3 and 4 mention. Such as an extra 14,700 using Thameslink off the MML.

  175. LEP – Local Enterprise Partnership, a voluntary partnership between local authorities and businesses formed in 2011 by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to help determine local economic priorities and lead economic growth and job creation within its local area.

    NEP – Northamptonshire Enterprise Partnership

  176. AlisonW says:

    There are currently two services per hour through the TL core which only just come out of it on the north side, ie only reach Kentish Town. If they were, for example, to not travel through the core but be terminated in the bays at Blackfriars, then there _would_ be two spare paths.

    I’ll get my coat …

  177. timbeau says:

    @Graham H
    “Unlike virtually every other new town, Corby has always had a very high degree of autarchy”
    I think you mean autonomy, unless you think it’s a dictatorship.

    @Jonathan Roberts
    “Northamptonshire has one of the fastest growing populations in the country, and as such needs to provide sufficient housing and jobs to meet this need.”
    The presence of housing AND jobs reinforces the point I think Graham H was trying to make.

    Someone mentioned the tourist traffic justifies electrifying Windermere (and probably Lincoln). Somehow I can’t see Corby (or Hull for that matter) attracting quite as many tourists.

  178. Ian J says:

    @answer=42: I estimate that each international departure requires a minimum 50 minute platform section occupancy with current working methods.

    The key words there are “with current working methods”. And ultimately the number of international trains into St Pancras is constrained by the availability of paths through the Channel Tunnel, where there is ever-growing demand for lorry shuttles. I suspect that DB and Eurostar’s respective expansion plans are mutually exclusive anyway – Eurostar only ever seem to talk about launching new services when DB threatens to enter the market.

    In any case, no-one is talking about extending / defacing the original trainshed, just the flat-roofed extension

    I still don’t see how you could add platforms (and their approaches) to the west of St Pancras without building over St Pancras Churchyard. There are only two Grade I listed tombs in London – Karl Marx’s in Highgate, and John Soane’s in St Pancras.

  179. Whiff says:

    Timbeau –
    autonomy: freedom from political interference and ability to make one’s own decisions
    autocracy: rule by one person
    autarchy: economically self-sufficent

  180. Greg Tingey says:

    Ian J
    There is (I think) no need to build over more than a very thin sliver of the cemetery land.
    I tried posting an aerial view via Bing maps, but I don’t think it loaded – please look for your self….
    Also, it should be possible to translocate/move the tomb if absolutely necessary, a la Temple of Abu Simbel, f’rinstance (!)
    An entirely different London journey to the ones we normally discuss, indeed.

    Oh, on your other point – can someone please remind me:
    What is the current state of play for proposed extra international services from StP?
    Are we likely to see either Eurostar or DB operating to any of (never mind all of!) Amsterdam / Köln / Frankfurt any time soon – or even before 1/1/2017?

  181. Jonathan Roberts says:

    20 January 2015 at 23:33
    I agree with Graham H that Corby’s current population mix and propensity to travel is iconoclastic because of the town’s past history.

    Northants as a whole doesn’t share that precise history, though it has always been sufficiently far removed from London to avoid commuteritis on even a middling scale. However shorter train journey times have now put the county within the reach of London and the West and East Midlands growth points, while area commuting by car is a normal event.

    Graham H has been consistent in these pages in arguing that however ideal a new town or garden city may be in nurturing a ‘self-contained’ ambition for population and jobs, it often ends up as just another commuting town, from his analysis done in NSE days. I recall a recent comment of his that population growth along East West Rail may still lead to more London commuting pressures, or words to that effect – I think in relation to London 2050 Part 3 or 4. (And apologies to GH if I’ve got that wrong.)

    It is clear that the Northants LEP is also anticipating the potential for significant changes in rail demand, from the wording of the notice. Whether than turns out to be intra-Northants (not the past historical trend, nor with much current rail connectivity to enable that), or includes commuting elsewhere, remains to be seen. I anticipate at least some of the latter, and so do Network Rail’s LTPP forecasts.

  182. Graham H says:

    @Whiff – autarchy was certainly what I had in mind (Autarky as a variant spelling!). Indeed,on the autonomy front.Corbyhad a lotless than most comparable settlements as the elected local authority had an appointed development corporation sitting beside it.

    On the tourism question, there was a shortlived proposal to build a theme park on the former steelworks site, to be known as Wonderworld. The attractions were supposed to be based mainly on nursery rhymes – presumably because no copyright was payable (cf Jasper Fforde?) – although one ride was a trip through the human digestive system,inspired by a then current Jonathan Miller TV series. The trippers set off on a carrot through a giant mouth; quite what they were sitting on when the trip terminated was never explained.

    At the time, Corby had an experimental shuttle service -not very frequent – and the Board was anxious to encourage the Department to accept the service into the PSO, so I and my team were invited to visit the deveopers and their site. Join us at StP at 0900,Cyril Bleasdale said. Unfortunately,what we had expected to be a quiet factfinding trip began, at 0900, with a large display on the StP indicator “BR welcomes the DTp mission to Corby Wonderworld”, and there at a middle platform was the saloon and a 47. We progressed down the MML with Cyril sitting in the bay of saloon waving regally at “his” track workers and station staff and duly arrived at Corby being fed and watered at a time calculated to displace the shuttle by 20 minutes. The audience awaiting the shuttle on the platform at Corby was unsympathetic as the special drew in to reveal a collection of managers troughing it… After that the developers’presentation was something of an anticlimax.

  183. timbeau says:

    You must be using a different dictionary to mine, which all define autarchy as either rule by an autocrat, or as self-rule – which is not the same as self-sufficiency.

  184. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Or maybe Whiff is relying on the wikipedia entry for autarky.

    Or maybe, in this case, there is a major difference between autarky and autarchy but again the Wikipedia entry for Autarchism suggests not.

    Seeing as, like it or not, Wikipedia is becoming the de facto accepted source for the definition of words like this it is probably time not to rely on that dictionary.

  185. Graham H says:

    @timbeau – suggest consulting OED. The confusion lies in the fact that for the sense of self-rule, autarchy is the only recorded useage, but for the sense of self-contained, both autarchy and autarky are recorded as valid. One spelling, two meanings. One meaning,two spellings! GBS would have been delighted.

  186. Graham H says:

    @PoP – the trouble with Wikipaedia is that for any subject where one has reasonable knowledge oneself, it usually turns out to be wrong – as here. It isn’t subject to peer review and any old “expert” can sign up and opine – a bit like a typical internet forum, I suppose.

  187. Steven Taylor says:

    @Graham H

    I can vouch for your comments re Wiki. I have just written an article on Wandsworth Common station, published in London Railway Record (OCT 14 and JAN 15 issues). Not only did I discover errors in `standard histories` such as Howard Turner`s LBSCR 3 volume history, but the respective Wiki article has several errors of fact as well. I will update this within the next few days.

    What does astound me is when persons update Wiki without checking `easily checkable` facts, especially apropos Railway Stations. Most entries contain errors. So, whilst Wiki is a valuable resource, be wary of re-quoting Wiki without checking.

  188. answer=42 says:

    @Ian, Greg

    From memory, the current state of play is that Eurostar have announced Amsterdam and Avignon as the next destinations. Avignon will probably be a once-daily service. Amsterdam will extend the Brussels service but require additional capacity.
    Eurostar have bought ICE-based trains for these and additional as yet unannounced services (one might guess Dusseldorf / Köln); the first new trains will enter service December 2015.

    DB have had problems with acceptance of their tunnel-compatible version of the ICE, which is linked with other acceptance problems. A DB service to London is not expected before 2020. Serving London remains a DB plan but this is not sure.

    The new trains from both operators are longer and have higher capacity than the existing trains, so the potential for reduction of terminal section times, for example by joining Schengen, could be limited.

    On the basis of the services actually announced, we are talking about four trains per hour at peak periods, compared with three today. On the basis of full deployment of Eurostar’s new trains, plus the arrival of DB, we are talking around 6 tph at peak times, absolute bounds of possibility 7 tph. Certainly, the tunnel could cope with that number of additional paths.

  189. Greg Tingey says:

    Steven Taylor
    Yes, well, I’m 3/4 of the way through writing an article on the Ex+GER lines that are being taken over by Overground …
    Sources disagree – frequently – I think Wiki give an erroneous date for the opening of the Victoria Line at one point ….
    At some point, the writer has to make a decision as to which date (or other piece of information) to trust & use

  190. Graham H says:

    @answer=42 – except that service announced to Amsterdam so far has been given as about two,maybe three trains a day, and nothing at all has been heard of DB’s intentions for over a year. All the signs are that the usual unhelpfulness of UKBA will deter any serious service development. Even for the Amsterdam service, it appears that people will have to detrain at Lille for clearance.

    If (as you remark) the Amsterdam services are simply extensions of the |Brussels service, the total number of extra paths requiredwill rise by 1 per day (Avignon) – hardly a heavy demand on line capacity. Back in the day when DB were actively considering running to London, their talk was of no more than four per day – again,hardly a heavy demand on line capacity – goodness knows how many they now think they might run in 2020.

  191. answer=42 says:

    The service to Amsterdam will be via Brussels but will require extra capacity, hence at least one additional peak-period train, hence the move from three to four peak tph.

    Much of the rationale for this service in the short term will be for the Brussels – Amsterdam leg, as there is currently no high-speed service on the new high speed line. It is worth reading about the almighty mess-up of the Netherlands’ purchase of high-speed trains and the cancellation of the FYRA service.

    Given the various delays that DB have had to face and the certainty that Eurostar will be first to the London market from Amsterdam and probably Köln, DB are going to have to recalculate and will keep quiet while doing so. The order for trains has not been cancelled but there is no certainty that they will be used on the London route. Even if there are only a handful of London trains, at least one will arrive / depart StP at peak times.

    Plus the fact that Eurostar’s order for new trains is just too big to be aimed at Amsterdam / Köln only. I have no clue what the target would be but, unless all this capacity is aimed at the leisure market (unlikely), we are talking about another peak-period service.

  192. answer=42 says:

    Sorry to go on about this, but the whole point was to demonstrate that, while the international platforms are underused today, they could well not be in 2020. So, if plans were made now for reallocating say two platforms to Midland services, the necessary engineering / resignalling would be complete just when the international platforms were needed.

    Of course, the obvious solution would be to join Schengen so that the platforms could be used by both domestic and international trains but I doubt that this will happen by 2020.

  193. Castlebar says:


    “joining Schengen” is far more than creating the ability for both national and international trains to use the same platform at St Pancras

    Surely, recent events have provided more reason not to join it?

  194. answer=42 says:

    We are off-track [regarding Schengen and recent events.]. I will probably not be permitted to comment on any reply you may have. [Indeed. LBM]

  195. Graham H says:

    @answer+42 – sorry but I don’t understand why extending a service from Brussels to Amsterdam requires an extra path at the London end. certainly it will require an extra train set or two but the number of departures and arrivals at London is the same (see the discussion about Uckfield-Lewes, for example, in these columns). None of the extension to Amsterdam has anything to do with the FYRA cockup – the Dutch have already made alternative arrangements and the Eurostar extension is some years away anyway; it would in any case only provide a small portion of what is supposed to be an hourly service between Brussels and Amsterdam. No, the Eurostar extension to Amsterdam has been under serious consideration since the construction of the tunnel -remember PKBA? – whereas FYRA,although it seems to have dragged on for years, is a much more recent problem;Eurostar was never at any stage intended to be complementary to FYRA. Maybe in competition with it?

    Eurostar still have not announced any plans to go to Koeln.

    There is no way that (a) UK is going to join Schengen by 2020, or (b) that UKBA are going to cave in on their public refusal to add further immigration sites to the current list. DB know this now even if they didn’t do their homework properly when they ordered the trains.

    Possibly at some remote time in the future, neither the Schengen constraint, nor the UKBA “Britannia insula est” philosophy will apply and we shall at last see through trains to Italy, Switzerland and Germany but not by 2020. As Castlebar implies, recent events have pushed the likely date of any Euro rapture even further away. St P will remain moderately full until that happy day.

  196. straphan says:

    @Alison W: There are two things that indeed blight Thameslink, but which are unfixable due to politics:

    – The fact that the Wimbledon Loop services were reinstated to run through Thameslink rather than terminate at Blackfriars bays (thanks to a Stephen Hammond, MP for Wimbledon and Under-Secretary of State for Transport at the time)
    – The fact that the Class 700 trains were specified with a top speed of 100mph rather than 110 – which would have helped greatly with capacity utilisation both on the MML and on the ECML fast lines.

    Sadly, if I were to advocate altering these two issues to people who make these types of decisions rather than online; and in person rather than under a pseudonym, the least punishment I could expect is a firm slap on the wrists…

  197. answer=42 says:


    Very simply, the Brussels services are, at least to my occasional observation, often nearly full and additional peak-time (and possibly off-peak) London-Amsterdam services will be required. The number of departures and arrivals at London will increase in consequence, but possibly by less than the number of Eurostar services that serve Amsterdam.

    BA’s first Heathrow -Amsterdam flight in the morning is a 767. You should have a look at the ticket prices. There is a market to be served.

    I know that Köln was planned at one time (linked to PKBA as you say). I do not know what Eurostar now has in mind after having served Amsterdam but there is a funded strategy. Whether Schengen or no, Eurostar have invested in considerable additional capacity that comes on-stream before 2020.

    I wrote about FYRA for fun but it is entirely possible that, in the short term, the new Eurostar trains will be used Brussels – Amsterdam and not come anywhere near London.

  198. answer=42 says:


    Sorry, I missed a couple of your points. The first new Eurostar train has been delivered; fleet availability is from December 2015. Yes, Eurostar was to be in competition with FYRA. Now the only hi-speed Brussels-Amsterdam is Thalys (which I forgot before). Since there are Eurostar trains in existence and no permanent FYRA replacement yet, the situation is potentially cooperative in the short term.

  199. Steven Taylor says:

    @Greg Tingey

    I was `lucky` with my research as there was a lot of records at Kew National Archives, L.M.A. , House of Lords Record Office etc. What I did discover the hard way is that original research takes a lot of effort, and had I not recently retired, I would not have had the time to complete the article in a reasonable timeframe.

    By the way, your article sounds interesting; looking forward to reading it. Where will it be published?

  200. Graham H says:

    @answer=42 – I’m sure there’s a market (and not just to Amsterdam – southern Germany and Switzerland*, for example) to be served! Am I sure that Eurostar will do anything about it ? Well, it’s taken them 20 years to think about Amsterdam – so, I remain a sceptic!

    *For example, we had a family holiday in Scuol in canton Graubuenden last week; my son, using his FIP facilities, and my wife and I travelling by air, left the house at more or less the same time (0600) and arrived within 3 hours of each other despite Nicholas having to cross Paris by metro – a through service not via Paris would beat the air times. Alright, Scuol is not a big market (!) but Zuerich, Bern and Geneva are larger collectively than Amsterdam. The big difficulty commercially is the way in which through fares onto the classic network are accumulated; the airlines would quote a single price not build one up.

  201. answer=42 says:

    “The big difficulty commercially is the way in which through fares onto the classic network are accumulated; the airlines would quote a single price not build one up.”
    That is the key commercial issue. Railteam have made a start in addressing it but there is a long way to go.

    In effect, only with the new trains can Eurostar head off the TGV plus French network. So Germany and Switzerland become possibilities but …

    The limitations of Eurostar are 4 hours travel time for business routes, around 6 hours for leisure routes. Amsterdam is only just within the 4 hour limit. Plus the ticketing issue means that Eurostar will not go outside the Railteam network.

    Also, I was wrong and you were right about the Netherlands replacement for FYRA.

  202. Fyra was an international high-speed rail service between the Netherlands and Belgium, but it was eventually permanently halted due to reliability and safety concerns.

    Not sure what PKBA is. Googles has been shutout on relevant searches.

  203. timbeau says:

    Joining Schengen would not remove the perceived* need for airline-style security checks on Eurostar, (they are, after all required on domestic air flights, never mind those in Schengen) so I doubt we will see shared platforms, or cross platform interchanges, between Eurostar and domestic services, on either side of the Channel any time soon.
    (*yes – I know the Gotthard Base Tunnel will be longer, and will also carry lorry shuttles just like the Channel Tunnel)

  204. Milton Clevedon says:

    PBKA = Paris Brussels Köln Amsterdam high speed rail network (not PKBA as used above).

  205. Anonymous says:

    The known perpetrators of ‘recent events’ would have been allowed into England without Schwengen.

  206. Graham H says:

    @MC – sorry,I mistyped PBKA
    @timbeau -yes,if they insist on believing that international trains from the UK are like aircraft – a curious belief that doesn’t seem to apply elsewhere. (Just another example of the way in which the railway industry assumes that the air industry is the correct paradigm for commercial success -so ’50s;haven’t rail managers experienced the squalor and inconvenience of air travel these days?)

  207. Ian J says:

    @answer=42: A DB service to London is not expected before 2020

    DB originally announced in 2010 that they hoped to start services in 2015, so they have now equalled the APT’s record of the

    the Brussels services are, at least to my occasional observation, often nearly full

    “Often nearly full” is not really good enough to justify the current allocation of (hugely expensive) central London land for these trains to occupy a platform for nearly an hour each, when trains on the Midland Main Line are actually really full.

    Meanwhile SNCF seems to be about to scrap some of its original Eurostar sets.

    believing that international trains from the UK are like aircraft – a curious belief that doesn’t seem to apply elsewhere.

    Except for the world’s two largest high speed rail networks (China and Spain)

    (Not saying the security screening is particularly justified, but it is not unique to the UK)

  208. Graham Feakins says:

    @Graham H – “The big difficulty commercially is the way in which through fares onto the classic network are accumulated; the airlines would quote a single price not build one up.”

    I have to say that just before Christmas, I booked inter alia a 1st Class from Munich to London St. Pancras via Brussels through Deutsche Bahn. It cost just £83 (109 Euros) which I thought good in anyone’s books. Just a single ticket, too: Munich – “London Special”.

    The journey was convenient, too, leaving Munich at 10.50 and arriving at St. Pancras 19.57, with all trains providing meals and nice views (apart from tunnels and dark evening). Just two changes – Frankfurt (same platform) and Brussels.

    P.S. Loved your Corby carrot journey tale!

  209. Graham Feakins says:

    @Graham H – Actually, the reality of that weekday Munich-London trip (booked online and with paper ticket and posted to South London), I need to explain that the Munich-Frankfurt section was delayed because of a person dying on the incoming service at Munich, so we left late, missed the timed connection at Frankfurt so carried on to Koeln on the same train but somehow, using the next Thalys service at Koeln, managed to connect with the booked Eurostar with less than 10 minutes to spare, including passport and security checks. Reminded me of the early days of Eurostar, especially when Belgian Railways were running late from Aachen. But 1st Class seats (unreserved or not taken up) were still to be found on Thalys and the DB ticket was not questioned.

    The point of this postscript is to demonstrate the ease on the Continent whereby a delayed journey still enables one to use trains of other companies readily and without question.

  210. Graham H says:

    @Graham F – Yes – shows what the railways could do if they tried harder. It makes the non-appearance of DB in London even more regrettable; and the irony of the tale you relate is that it took a service disruption to produce a standard of service and flexibility that wouldn’t have been delivered had things run normally. The contrast between DB’s booking arrangements and those, of say, SNCF, are staggering; SNCF’s are slowly killing their domestic market – it’s our bad luck that we built the tunnel to the wrong country. Another 10m to the east would have made so much difference…

    @Ian J -by an obsession with the airline paradigm,I had in mind a slavish devotion to advance booking, yield management, tacky catering, petty security, and operator-focussed customer handling. None of these things is necessaryin the rail industry to the extent practised in aviation, whose cost structures, and more importantly, commercial offering, is wholly different. The punters have always used the railways differently to the airlines and it is wrong (and counterproductive) to force them to change without good reason.

  211. Jonathan Roberts says:

    @Graham H
    An interesting thought that “we built the tunnel to the wrong country”. Eurotunnel is of course now largely a French shareholding (plus bankers). They even have the right during their concession period (? now 99 years) to build a further tunnel if that was found worthwhile – presumably commercially worthwhile.

    Should UK ‘do a Midland on the LNWR’ and set up a bi-lateral treaty with the Belgians, ‘pour encourager les autres’? Of course, like the Midland route to Scotland, there might then be no going back! Or is the real blockage just the UKBA?

    Alternatively could we take back Calais, for example by setting up a garden city there for London commuters. It’s only an hour from Calais Fréthun to St Pancras, so competitive timings with Corby (to bring us back on theme). Boris suggested something like that about 10 months ago… (link here from London First conference:

  212. straphan says:

    @Graham Feakins: I have been on a fair few delayed trains and not once have I had problems with ticket acceptance.

    On one occasion my East Coast train to King’s Cross was stopped at Grantham due to the wires going down further up the line. I had an advance-purchase ticket, so I asked the conductor for an endorsement. He just wrote ‘Please pass to London’ on the back and stamped it with his ‘clipper’. I then caught an East Midlands train to Nottingham and changed there for a service to St Pancras. The conductors on both trains didn’t even say a word when they checked that ticket.

  213. Greg Tingey says:

    Steven Taylor
    Hopefully, …. here (!)
    I’m up to 6500 words already & just starting on “timetables & services”, which will be the last major chunk, but also is likely to be the most difficult to put together in a sensible format.

    Graham H
    I don’t think it’s taken Eurostar “20 years to think about it” – I think it’s taken them that time to consider getting past UKBA – who, for all their many faults are not actually to blame in this case …
    IIRC the only-too-true phrase that applies here is: Ich war nur meinem Befehlen zu folgen!” ( If I’ve got my Deutsch korrekt ) It’s the politician’s fault, if anyones … which means that further discussion here is probably off-limits, for now, anyway.
    SEE ALSO timbeau’s comment about Gotthard Base, which says it all, really.

    “Fyra” was one of the greatest complete cock-ups in rail procurement ever, wasn’t it? The trains were, apparently, utterly unfit for purpose.
    IIRC didn’t either the Belgians or the Dutch “hand the keys back” & demand EuroBillions & the other demanded huge compensation sums. It’s gone all ‘orribly quiet recently, though.

    re 21/01/15: 17.47
    Should the word “perceived” have been replaced with “manufactured” ???

    Graham H
    Your latest comment says it all – & better – than I.
    But the solution to this is political, not commercial, unfortunately.

  214. Graham H says:

    @GregT – back in the day (1993) UKBA didn’t exist and it did look briefly as if common sense would prevail (with on train checks, and cells in the trains to store would be illegals so that they could be returned whence they came). The main source of delay in the KA bit of PBKA was, we were told in the Department, the lack of suitable high speed lines to those particualr destinations – an omission that would, we were equally assured by the FCO*, be remedied soonliest…

    *Not that the FCO put their sharpest knives on the bilateral treaty – we would sit and receive their latest effusions with total scorn. A typical FCO communication on the progress of the Channel Tunnel negotiations would read something like this:

    “I had the honour of calling on M le Vicomte de Sassigny du Pres de la whatsit, and congratulated him on receiving the Croix d’obfuscation with laurels. He asked after the health of my family. We discussed the prospects for a further meeting of the Rhine Commission and he mentioned en passant that there had been a demarche by SNCF on cross-channel negotiations. ” END At which point, my more impatient colleagues would start hurling things across the room.

  215. Southern Heights says:

    The Fyra was indeed a major cock-up, they were delivered and were found to be of shocking quality, with bits falling off at speed (especially if there was a hint of snow).

    The Belgians never got theirs and the Dutch ones have or are being towed back to Italy…

    Cause? Same old culprits: Politicians… NS Hi-Speed were forced to buy the out and out cheapest trains they could get as those in charge decided to cut the budget for the rolling stock…

    Shameful saga…

    @Graham H: Unlikely to ever see an HST in Scuol, unless it can change gauge on the fly around Landquart…

    @Answer=42: Saw a new Eurostar in Temple Mills depot last weekend, so too late! They are already here…

  216. Quinlet says:

    I certainly wouldn’t absolve the UKBA from culpability on Eurostar services. At the time of the original Channel Tunnel Bill, the Home Office’ initial view (supported by the relevent trade unions) was that passport checking on trains was impossible and, moreover, that passengers would not want this becasue it might be an invasion of their privacy. Passengers, it was said (with a straight face) would far prefer to queue up for a passport control desk at the terminal station (Waterloo, as was).

    Not withstanding this, Parliamentarians didn’t believe or accept this and insisted on on-board train checks. Home Office then started by insisting that they would need a whole carriage on Eurostar for their purposes. This was later negotiated down to a single compartment with reinforced seats to handcuff people to.

    So attitudes have not changed and this is likely to fatally undermine the Amsterdam – London service by adding an extra hour to the journey time to allow for detraining all the passengers and then reboarding them.

    If, as suggested, the Amsterdam service is an extension of the Bruxelles service, this could bring down the Bruxelles service too as all passengers would need to be detrained and reboarded at Lille, not just those from Amsterdam and an hour would be added to the journey time from Bruxelles.

    Furthermore, all the security screening at Bruxelles Midi is tied in to platforms 1 and 2, which are bay platforms facing south. Through trains to the north would need to use platforms 3 and 4 (northbound) or 5 and 6 (southbound). These platforms are also used by all the Thalys etc trains to France and Germany. Unless security screening is now introduced for all those trains (which will be fierecly resisted and probably pointless as it would only happen in Bruxelles) there is a further barrier to simply extending London to Bruxelles Eurostars to Amsterdam.

    UKBA need to change their attitude both to on-train immigration clearance and to allowing Eurostars to take intermediate traffic before this service can really work.

  217. Southern Heights (Light Railway) says:

    Of course you could also have a separate area at St. P for the Amsterdam trains where you have border checks. The trains from Paris and Brussels could then operate as now…

  218. Mark Townend says:

    NMBS (Belgian Rail) presentation on Fyra design and build quality problems – Flemish with many pictures:

    And a rather poorly reproduced copy of the full Mott MacDonald report the above is based on:

    Railway Gazzette article covering the same issues:

  219. Southern Heights (Light Railway) says:

    On page 2: Vaststelling (Conclusion):

    6 year delay and still no moving train

  220. Pedantic of Purley says:

    @Southern Heights 12:40

    The problem with a further check at Amsterdam is that I believe it is intended that the train will make quite a few stops before/after then. The logic being that by stopping a few times on a service which won’t be high speed by that time you are serve an awful lot of the Netherlands. Amsterdam isn’t really the specific goal – the Netherlands is what the trains are intended to serve. This really is a major factor in this problem which most people don’t seem to have grasped. Basically the nature of the train will change from a London to Brussels train to a London, Brussels and principal cities in the Netherlands train.

    My understanding is that border checks will take place at Brussels on the journey to London only. Frustrating but if checks on the train are a non-starter then it does seem the only sensible option in order to stop people reaching the United Kingdom who have no right to be here. That is not to venture an opinion on immigration – just to say if that is the current policy then border checks at Brussels seem to the the only way to achieve this given the intended calling pattern of the train.

    Haven’t we been through all this before? And it does seem very remote from Thameslink.

  221. Southern Heights says:

    I could translate the first but it really doesn’t really have anything that is not elsewhere, but does have some good photo’s showing the problems…

    Anyway none of the three main parties in this sad and sorry saga come off very well:

    – The interference by politicos (who should have known better after the Betuwelijn debacle)
    – Ansaldo Breda for the build quality
    – NS: they should have known the problems the DSB had with their AB trains, which required a massive rebuilding program to get them to work properly. Why didn’t they just buy some older TGV’s and get them refurbished?

  222. Graham H says:

    @Southern heights – not necessary to have through services by HST (did you really mean that?) to Switzerland – the Swiss know a thing or two about excellent connexions .

    BTW – you would (I hope) love the RhB – still runs mixed trains: midday departure from Scuol has a postal attachment and where else could you see a locomotive sandwiched between a rake of passenger cars + driving trailer, and a rake of goods vans?

  223. Mark Townend says:

    @Pedantic of Purley, 22 January 2015 at 14:48

    “Basically the nature of the train will change from a London to Brussels train to a London, Brussels and principal cities in the Netherlands train.”

    Same goes for a German train. Your terminus may be Frankfurt HBf, but you’d want to stop at Liege, Aachen, Koeln, and Frankfurt Airport en route too.

  224. Greg Tingey says:


    Particularly if it brings the Brussels service down, where custom is picking up well, I understand.
    Could it cause Eurostar just chuck the towel in & actually, you know, blame the politicians?

    Also PoP ..
    On-train, as originally proposed is the way to go – now – how to get it?

  225. Southern Heights says:

    @ Graham H: I love the RHB! And I have some experience of connections on the Swiss network. SBB to RhB at Landquart, and the half hourly train ballet at Interlaken Ost.

    I spent 12 days in Switzerland over the summer, mostly on the meter gauge or less, including both the Bernina and Glacier Expresses. I have some Bemo models at home and I’m currently thinking of linking an RhB layout to my Austrian Pinzgauer/Zillertal Bahn layout… Hello Brusio Spiral and Landwasser viaduct! Maybe a hint of the Albula linie just for fun…

    BTW: The Albula Linie is on Google Streetview.

  226. Graham H says:

    @Southern Heights – we shall get shouted at if we continue this RhB fest, no doubt, but can I recommend the driving simulator installed in the Crocodile at the Bergun museum? BTW, do not visit the RhB with timetable experts; they will all have differing views on the merits or otherwise of a timetable which involves, on at least three stretches, two trains with slightly differing stopping patterns following each other for miles. [There is a scale II model of the RhB in the garden of Casa Hewett…]

  227. Herned says:

    The whole RhB network now seems to be!

    Which is very interesting obviously… but I was also struck at how much infrastructure there is, every station seems to have at least one siding and all of it looks immaculately maintained. I would love to know about the economics of it especially with all the points to maintain, which NR here claim are too expensive to keep for redundancy etc.

  228. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ S Heights – oh dear there goes hour of my life watching Google Streetview. Great idea though for such a scenic railway – instant scenic publicity for the railway.

  229. Southern Heights (Light Railway) says:

    @Herned: it is relevant! Switzerland has a fragmented railway network, like ours, however they do seem to be able to get it right.

    As far as I can tell they must have some kind of gauranteed connection scheme, which must be built around the normal passenger flows. So this means that a train will be held for a period of time such that it can it meet it’s subsequent connection gaurantees. This is a certain amount of elasticity built into the timetable.
    Of course this can get really hairy as on the RhB you can have request stops! So you have to take into account the nightmare scenario where an SBB train from Zurich is pushing the limit for the connection at Landquart for the train to Davos, which then has to stop at almost every stop along the way to Klosters, where there should be a connection to Scuol (@Graham H: Old timetable)…

    All of this requires communication, and lots of it!

    I guess it just depends on your priorities, if you start with “saving money” you’re starting at the wrong point…

    Now back to the fun bit: every station is also a passing loop, by preference the points are kept in such a condition that a train about to stop would be able to run through them in a diverging position at the likely speed they would as if preparing to stop. For straight points they should be taken at normal line speed.

    The amount of wobble that is acceptable on passing through points is also much less, I’m sure that NR would be sacked (if not shot!) given the ride quality here…

  230. Southern Heights (Light Railway) says:

    @WW: The glacier Express is 8 hours for 250km! 2014 was 125 years of the RhB, so they went all out for publicity…

    May the entire railways division of the DfT be sentenced to a year’s apprentiship on the Swiss Railways…

    [The Swiss railway and RhB discussion has now passed the point of no return, and we Mods will consider deleting any further such comments outright without warning (allowing for the time lag of those that were in the process of composing and posting comments). LBM]

  231. Steven Taylor says:

    @Graham H

    Your comment re Bergun reminded me of a superb holiday I had when I stayed for 2 weeks in Bergun in June 1984. In those days, Switzerland was almost affordable!!

  232. Graham H says:

    The RhB is very much a professionals’ railway. They do love to keep old traction in store on any account – see today’s Filisur webcam at 10.29, where one of the surviving rod driven boxcabs (reserved for specials) is hauling a regular freight.

    Given the generally low line speeds around stations, there is probably relatively little time lost from taking the loop, and dwell times at request stops (I halted trains at Guarda and Ardez this visit ) are very short – as little as 15 sec.

    More generally, even the Swiss have been subject to Schlankeinfrastuktur initiatives, and the general resilement from Domino station-based signalling has left the RhB somewhat vulnerable to flexible displacement of crossings. The price for centralising signalling thus has been more dynamic loops.

    @WW – sorry if we shorten your life further…

    Meanwhile, back to the Engiadiner Nuesstorte

  233. Southern Heights (Light Railway) says:

    @steven Taylor: it’s not so bad, I was quite surprised at how little I spent on food and drink.

    The Swiss Travel Centre have some pretty good deals, just don’t expect a week for £400 half board! It’s not Ibiza!

  234. The Swiss railway and RhB discussion has now passed the point of no return, and we Mods will consider deleting any further such comments outright without warning (allowing for the time lag of those that were in the process of composing and posting comments). LBM

  235. Greg Tingey says:

    One maybe relevant comment, though – picking up from CH(LR)’s comment.
    Or railway system is much fragmented., but so is the Swiss.
    Theirs works, ours doesn’t (though not quite as badly as say 10 years back)
    To quote Vladimir Ilyich: “What is to be done?”

    They seem to be able to co-ordinate connections, communications & inter-operation.
    Ours produce fiascos like that described in the current issue of Modern Railways, where doors are slammed/locked in desperate passengers faces.

    Where does one start this process, & with whom?

  236. timbeau says:

    “And [Eurostar security] does seem very remote from Thameslink.”
    It affects Thameslink because it restricts the use of platforms at St Pancras (long turn rounds, segregation of arriving and departing passengers, ES platforms cannot be used by other services to clear congestion), and that limits the total number of MML services (St P and Thameslink) are limited. More destinations can only be served by extending existing services or putting extra stops in them. (e.g having Corby services call at Flitwick / extending Bedford services to Leicester)

    “fiascos like that described in the current issue of Modern Railways, where doors are slammed/locked in desperate passengers faces.”
    This policy of not honouring connections not only protects the culprit’s revenue, but hits the other operator’s bottom line as it has to pay compensation for the whole ticket price, (which may be many times its share of the revenue from the original fare) a five-minute delay having ballooned to an hour or more. Of course hitting another company’s bottom line makes you look better in comparison.
    The fine words of the CEO of East Coast about looking after the passenger, in her interview with Christian Wolmar in a recent edition of RAIL, will ring very hollow to anyone who has had doors slammed in their faces by her staff: the example in Modern Railways at Peterborough was particularly egregious, but Alan Williams (also in Modern Railways) reported similar experiences at York several years ago, and I have experienced it myself at Newark.

  237. Ian J says:

    @timbeau: It affects Thameslink because it restricts the use of platforms at St Pancras (long turn rounds, segregation of arriving and departing passengers, ES platforms cannot be used by other services to clear congestion)

    But do the long turn rounds, for example, really result from the security/immigration restrictions? Or is it just slack operating by Eurostar “because they can”? For that matter, would more platforms at St Pancras really be useful, or is the constraint capacity in the 4-track stretch between West Hampstead and Kentish Town? (bearing in mind Thameslink trains from the fast lines have a flat junction north of Kentish Town to get across to the St Pancras tunnels). The fact that some trains from the south terminate at Kentish Town suggests the pinch-point is north of there.

  238. Greg Tingey says:

    I am quite aware of the perverse financial incentives behind the lack of “joined-up-railway”
    The question I asked was: “What is to be done?”
    Simply playing an ongoing game of pass-the-parcel simply won’t do – will it?

    Ian J
    Getting on or off a Eurostar takes time – & sometimes there are exit checks at StP & the harassed passengers back up.

    [usual snip PoP]
    As for pinch-point near Kentish Town, I think not, if only because the “slow” lines are on the E/N side of the MML & the fast are on the W/S side – which is correctly aligned for splitting at the approaches.

  239. timbeau says:

    I understand the turnback at Kentish Town is because
    a – there is not enough rolling stock to run any more trains any further north
    b- the paths through the core currently used by the Kentish Town terminators will eventually be used by trains for the GNML. Running these trains further north up the MML until the Canal Tunnel aka Wilberforce Junction connection is ready for them will only result in an outcry when they have to be taken off again.
    As has been said before, providing extra services using newly-spare capacity is all very well, until demand picks up from the original users of that capacity.

    Hence the Southern services over the WLL to the WCML – which now limits the number of Overground services from Willesden to CJct
    Hence the conversion of platform 10 at Wimbledon for Tramlink in the 1990s, the resulting single track section making expansion of the Thameslink loop services beyond 2tph difficult (and also limiting capacity on Tramlink!)
    Hence the extension in the 1980s of more Met services to Aldgate, meaning that now there is no room for the extra demand from the west, and the Circle services have to terminate at Edgware Road.
    Hence (and back on topic) the extension, again in the 1980s, of BML – London Bridge services through the Thameslink core, crossing the SEML on the flat – and the huge cost of sorting that out, now that the SEML needs the extra capacity.

  240. Greg Tingey says:

    You overdid the “snip” … the back-up of passengers means that the platforms can’t be cleared completely, before fresh (departing) passengers can be admitted – hence the very long turn-around times.
    It’s an unavoidable by-product of the present “security” arrangements.
    [Snark is unnecessary and will be deleted, no matter how relevant the point. LBM]

  241. Savoy Circus says:

    I will be very impressed if Thameslink manages to deliver a reliable service with 24 trains per hour 8 of which involve crossing a flat junction (at Blackfriars) and the rest going to probably the least robust route on the network for performance (BML)

  242. straphan says:

    @Ian J: First of, there is not enough demand on the MML to warrant such an intensive service in the off-peak.

    There is also a capacity issue: By 2018 we will have (in the off-peak) 6 long-distance, 8 Thameslink (4 fast, 4 stoppers) and 2 freights (of which one is over 2000t!) North of Carlton Road Jn. That is already a fair few trains that you need to get through, even with a four-track railway.

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