The subject of safeguarding has cropped up in several of our recent posts, and here we explore a current example: at Blackfriars.

As the Thameslink work at Blackfriars progresses apace, the opening of the South Bank entrance drew our eyes towards the station throat – most particularly to those naked piers that used to support the old west bridge, also known as the ‘409’.

These piers raise a number of questions. Could the ‘409’ piers be used again for an extension of the station west, to provide additional bay platforms for an intensive metro service on the Elephant & Castle route? If this is possible, what routes would this intensive metro service serve, and how might it relieve congestion elsewhere? More generally, whose responsibility is it to identify rail infrastructure of strategic importance, and then safeguard it?

Without clarity and leadership on safeguarding, strategic alignments will continue to be lost. As we have explored in the routes around Farringdon, it only needs one new building at a key point for an alignment to be lost. Sadly the route north to Farringdon is now hemmed in to two tracks, but what of the route south from Blackfriars?

We’d like to be proved wrong, but it appears that another opportunity is about to be lost.

View south from Blackfriars station on the north bank

View south from Blackfriars station on the north bank

View south from Blackfriars station on the north bank.

A recap

LR readers unfamiliar with the Blackfriars rebuilding are welcome to peruse our earlier coverage. The diagram below represents the basic concept of shifting the core route to the easternmost tracks, so that the westernmost tracks become two terminal bays.

The New Blackfriars Layout

The New Blackfriars Layout

The photo below is taken from Ludgate House, an office block that sits close to the alignment at the south end of the new station and built on the site of the old Blackfriars Bridge station. The building can be seen in the photo at the top of this article and lies across the old alignment over the bridge and restricts the expansion of the station throat. Its days, however, are numbered: it is due to be redeveloped. So what potential is there for this to facilitate an expansion of the station and provide much-needed terminal capacity in the city?

The old Blackfriars western bridge in 1980, photo courtesy of beareye2010

The old Blackfriars western bridge in 1980, photo courtesy of beareye2010

View from Ludgate House over Blackfriars at the early stage of works in 2009, with the through lines still on the west side.  Courtesy adele.turner

View from Ludgate House over Blackfriars at the early stage of works in 2009, with the through lines still on the west side. Courtesy adele.turner

Construction in early 2012, showing how the new bay platforms use some of the ‘409’ piers for support

Construction in early 2012, showing how the new bay platforms use some of the ‘409’ piers for support

A smidgeon of history

It is hard to imagine now that the western bridge carried a four-track mainline, continuing north through to Holborn Viaduct, a route now reduced to two tracks through City Thameslink. The extract below from Joe Brown’s invaluable London Railway Atlas shows the layout and the location of the stations in this short stretch.

The route north from Blackfriars was four tracks, with eight tracks over Blackfriars Bridge.  Extract from London Rail Atlas 2nd Edition, courtesy of Joe Brown

The route north from Blackfriars was four tracks, with eight tracks over Blackfriars Bridge. Extract from London Rail Atlas 2nd Edition, courtesy of Joe Brown

It’s a strange quirk of history that such a glut of stations nestled in a stretch less than a mile: Blackfriars Bridge, Blackfriars, Ludgate Hill, Holborn Viaduct (and the Low Level station at Snow Hill) through to Farringdon, a story well told on Nick Catford’s Disused Stations website and also on Abandoned Stations. The photo below shows just how close these stations were, and the four-tracks over the old west bridge can be seen stretching south towards Elephant & Castle.

Looking south from the Ludgate Hill platform to Blackfriars a stone’s throw away on the left. Photo courtesy of Ben Brooksbank at Geograph

Looking south from the Ludgate Hill platform to Blackfriars a stone’s throw away on the left. Photo courtesy of Ben Brooksbank at Geograph

Thameslink 2000 – revisiting an early option

A six-platform Blackfriars station was proposed by the Corporation of London following the 1997 submission of the Thameslink programme. The Corporation’s proposal was outlined in 2004 in the Network Rail Alternatives report, which summarised the main options considered in the Thameslink development stages, including further proposals that were examined after the 1999 Transport and Works Act (TWA). The Corporation had concerns that the existing level of service to Blackfriars could not be maintained with two terminating platforms, and proposed two options with four terminal bays, both options using the redundant piers of the west bridge.

The two Corporation options were assessed by Railtrack but were rejected because of the lack of operational need, cost and because of environmental impact. Railtrack concluded that the proposed four-track arrangement, with two through platforms serving up to 24 trains per hour in each direction, together with two terminating platforms, could provide for the anticipated future level of services to Blackfriars, and the estimated cost of both six-track options would be substantially greater than that of the proposed four-track scheme. Also, a six-track station would be closer to the Blackfriars road bridge, so the new station roof would result in a greater degree of obstruction to views of St Paul’s Cathedral than that of the scheme that we now have.

Addressing these points in turn:

  • The environmental impact of the station was anyway addressed in the new low-profile design, so this is now unlikely to be an issue
  • A six-track station would clearly cost more, but how much more? The original bridge was removed because the lattice-girder superstructure had deteriorated, but the supporting piers were still sound. If the footings of the piers were found to be unsound then that would provide a major expense, but there is no mention of this. Most importantly, costs need to be weighed against the benefits of a new metro service… which we explore further below
  • On “the anticipated future level of services to Blackfriars”, the 2018 Thameslink service will indeed provide a step-change in service provision, but according to the London & South East RUS there will still be a shortfall. But the south-London network as a whole is at capacity partly because there is insufficient terminal space. Could Blackfriars provide some breathing space, as well as new metro routes through the congested inner-suburbs?

We’d like to know more about this Railtrack assessment, and whether Network Rail or TfL have revisited it in the light of the severe capacity problems in London which the RUS now identifies.

Threading the maze ? Thameslink south of the city

Back in March 2011 we analysed the complex service patterns south of the river and speculated on what the eventual Thameslink service would look like in 2018. Then in July 2011 the London & South East RUS included an indicative service pattern for the core route through the city.

London & SE RUS, July 2011, p72

London & SE RUS, July 2011, p72

Six Kent services per hour will take the easternmost lines on the long viaduct down through Elephant & Castle. The other four Kent services will run via London Bridge and access the South East mainline (SEML) via the new Bermondsey Dive-under.

The Blackfriars bays will serve four services per hour all day to Tulse Hill and the Wimbledon Loop, taking the westernmost tracks on the viaduct through Elephant & Castle. These will be joined in the peaks by a further two stopping services per hour via Kent House and two per hour from the Medway Towns.

So the ex-London Chatham & Dover Railway (LCDR) mainline from Blackfriars down to Loughborough Junction and Herne Hill will become a shadow of its former self. Four tracks between them will carry ten services per hour off-peak and fourteen in the peak. Is this the least intensively used stretch of route so close to the city centre? Arguably this is a woeful waste of infrastructure. It is certainly perplexing when viewed alongside the traffic gridlocked along the nearby Walworth Road, and the calls for Bakerloo or Northern extensions through Camberwell.

Granted, the main limitation on the route is currently the flat junctions at Herne Hill, but grade-separation here is identified as a potential future project in the London & South East RUS. Indeed, the 2008 South London RUS recommended that the necessary land is safeguarded, although we are not aware that Network Rail or TfL have followed this up.

It seems prudent to prepare for the outcome that the Herne Hill problem will be resolved, at which point eyes will focus on the next bottleneck up the line: Blackfriars, with its two terminal platforms. Surely it is now worth safeguarding the space for terminating capacity, which would allow a more intensive metro service?

The developers, the architects and a grand vision for the South Bank

This is where big money steps in, but will this be viewed by TfL as an opportunity?

The south end of Blackfriars station is hemmed in by two large office blocks: the brutalist Sampson House to the east, and the more benign yet deeply unremarkable Ludgate House to the west. These are shown clearly in the aerial view below, which we brought you back in 2010. It highlights the ‘409’ bridge piers on the west side and the constricted station throat between the two buildings. The lower photo looks north from track level on the south side, and shows how Ludgate House cuts into the old alignment to the west bridge.

Blackfriars in 2010 looking south-east

Blackfriars in 2010 looking south-east

Looking north towards Ludgate House from the top of the old Blackfriars Bridge Station ramp.  Photo courtesy of Nick Catford at Disused Stations

Looking north towards Ludgate House from the top of the old Blackfriars Bridge Station ramp. Photo courtesy of Nick Catford at Disused Stations

View today from the south end of the platforms towards the point where the photo above was taken

View today from the south end of the platforms towards the point where the photo above was taken

In July 2010 Carlyle Group bought Ludgate House and Sampson House for £671 million, as part of a portfolio of six London offices, and appointed PLP Architects to draw up plans for a mixed-use scheme. Back in November 2011, the architecture website bdonline noted that:

The sites are separated by a railway line but it is believed they will be treated as a single development which would include around 30,000sq m of office space and nearly 20,000sq m of retail.

Then in May this year, PLP revealed early-stage images of a 93,000 sq m scheme comprising eight new buildings, and held a public exhibition.

The Bankside Scheme

The Bankside Scheme

The Bankside Scheme

The Bankside Scheme

A project of this scale and nature is designated an “Environmental Impact Assessement (EIA) development” under the planning regulations. So duly, in May, Carlyle Group started the EIA process by submitting a Scoping Report, from which the plan below is taken. If this is indeed a “single development” separated by a railway line, has there been any analysis by TfL or NR on the opportunities this might provide?

Ground level plan with the proposed development boundary marked in red (EIA Scoping Report p3)

Ground level plan with the proposed development boundary marked in red (EIA Scoping Report p3)

The footprint of Ludgate House butts up against the end of the new Thameslink station platforms, therefore any expansion of the station westwards will require that the alignment within the new development is safeguarded. In order to expand the station westwards, the proposed development would have to be redesigned to provide a wider station throat.

Blackfriars PP Plan

Blackfriars PP Plan

The plan above is derived from the Network Rail planning permission documents, and indicates the approximate alignment that would be required for two additional 12-car terminal bays. If the additional bays were for 8 or 10-car trains then less width may be required, but some land will still need to be clawed back.

Compare this to the Thameslink 2000 plan above of the Corporation of London’s two options for a six-platform station. It is clear that the new Thameslink station extends further south, therefore the Corporation options would no longer work as specified. More land is required.

There might be potential for a trade, however: once the building works at Blackfriars are complete then the space on the west side of the viaduct between Ludgate House and Southwark Street may be surplus to requirements. The extent of this area is clearly shown in the EIA plan above.

So, there is a challenge ahead. Negotiating at this stage in the development process will not be easy, and will require a high-level intervention from a strategic body such as TfL, backed by strong political support. But given the costs and the likelihood of protracted and challenging negotiations, why might this scheme be attractive?

Comparing with Fenchurch Street, and some route options

Before we look at why TfL should look at this as a viable proposition, let’s consider a comparable terminus in London: the diminutive Fenchurch Street. Two tracks feed into just four platforms, yet the station turns around 19 trains in the morning peak hour. If the Blackfriars bays could provide such an intensive service then theoretically fifteen additional trains per hour could become available on south London’s overcrowded routes.

The 2011 London & Southeast RUS included a brief analysis of terminal capacities and turnarounds and found that there was significant variation, which indicates that some may be operating more efficiently than others.

Extract from London & SE RUS see Table 4.1, p49

Measured in terms of trains per platform per hour or trains per approach track per hour, Fenchurch St performs well. With more platforms, however, Cannon Street and Charing Cross manage 25 and 29 trains per approach track per hour respectively. Given that Blackfriars effectively has four tracks approaching from the south, and has exits at both ends of the platforms which will reduce turnaround times, four bay platforms at Blackfriars could conceivably take 20+ tph and still maintain operational resilience.

Perhaps we need to look more broadly than at the Sutton-Wimbledon Loop and regard Blackfriars as a potential solution to insufficient terminal capacity for the south London network as a whole, including Underground lines such as the Northern. Developing the routes into Blackfriars might have a stronger business case and be more achievable than, say, Crossrail 2, tube extensions or widening the South West Mainline (SWML).

For instance, an intensive suburban metro service into Blackfriars could spread demand and free up paths into London Bridge and Victoria. If you brought the under-utilised Nunhead-Lewisham route into play then relief could also be provided for the beleaguered Kent services.

The poorly-used route through Tooting could offer relief to the Northern Line, and may have a stronger business case than twisting the Crossrail 2 alignment via Tooting Broadway. The photos below are of Tooting and Haydons Road stations, served by 2tph in each direction yet each around a kilometre from Colliers Wood and Tooting Broadway stations on the overcrowded Northern Line.

A typical scene at Tooting... devoid of trains

A typical scene at Tooting… devoid of trains. Photo courtesy Sunil060902

Haydons Road, looking east

Haydons Road, looking east. Photo courtesy Sunil060902

And rather than looking purely at the Wimbledon Loop, there may also be potential to take services from the SWML. The London & SE RUS provided some options for relieving the SWML, but did not come up with any recommendations, acknowledging that this was a problem unresolved. Compared to the estimated £1 billion to provide a reversible fifth track from Hampton Court Junction to Clapham Junction, a far more modest 6-tracking from New Malden to Wimbledon and a new Up underpass onto the Wimbledon Loop would allow the Blackfriars route to provide the additional tracks to the city.

A metro service on the route through Elephant & Castle would also improve the business case to reopen Camberwell station and perhaps also Walworth Rd.

Much depends, however, on resolving the vexed problem of grade-separation at Herne Hill. The capacity of the Blackfriars route will always be limited while trains have to cross the busy SEML here. So much so that the London & SE RUS projects a capacity gap on the Herne Hill-Blackfriars corridor of some 900 passengers in the peak hour in 2031, primarily on inner suburban services. Platform lengthening at Herne Hill, Tulse Hill and Elephant & Castle is extremely problematic; hence the RUS suggests the use of higher density rolling stock, similar to the Class 378 units used by London Overground.

Herne Hill is a subject we return to in a future post, and also the potential to relieve the other bottleneck identified in the South London RUS: that of Lewisham. And we will also explore the potential to increase the throughput on the routes through Brixton, and at the same time create much-needed new layover capacity for freight on the South London line.

Blackfriars, and the opportunity for TfL

So, given the problems, why might TfL regard safeguarding bay platforms at Blackfriars as a priority?

One reason is that safeguarding strategic routes is a defined role in TfL policy. This is one of the things TfL is meant to do.

Plus, the projected travel demand and lack of route capacity, alongside the woeful underutilisation of the Elephant & Castle route, will at some stage put Blackfriars into focus. Given the opportunity presented by the Ludgate House redevelopment, it may be a higher risk for TfL not to take action on safeguarding.

A second reason is that TfL may seek to take over the new combined combined Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise in 2013, and perhaps also the South Eastern in 2014. Additional terminal capacity at Blackfriars will improve their proposition to DfT and boost revenue-earning potential on their services. TfL are uniquely placed for this, with the powers to set planning policy and regulation, which their rail operations could then directly benefit from.

A third reason is that TfL have made no secret of their ambitions to take a more direct role in running London’s rail network, and back in September 2011 we reported on the options analysed in the NERA report for TfL: The Costs and Benefits of Devolving Responsibility for Rail Services in London. The outlier option is for TfL to take some responsibility for infrastructure investment, and arguably this is what the recent HLOS is pushing TfL towards. With little new investment proposed in the London area, the HLOS puts the ball back into the combined courts of TfL, Network Rail and the TOCs:

The Secretary of State expects the majority of further CP5 enhancement to be identified by the rail industry in response to her requirements to provide for additional peak demand. She wants these enhancements to include efficient provision for likely demand growth beyond CP5.

This, however, provides the opportunity for TfL to develop an integrated and coherent portfolio of investments for London that will meet the Secretary of State’s requirements. In a sense it is the natural next step on from the February 2012 Mayor’s Rail Vision. Although this made very clear that the franchise model is not fit for purpose and that rail provision in London should be devolved to TfL, the Mayor’s Vision was short on detail of the investment required.

TfL now needs to develop the investment case, drawing on the recommendations in the RUS and identifying where costs and benefits can be shared between TOCs. The routes into Blackfriars should be part of this, not least because the business case is likely to be stronger if presented as a package of investments that together maximise the potential of the Blackfriars route and relieve overcrowding elsewhere.

But first someone needs to safeguard the bays at Blackfriars to allow this. Let’s hope TfL are prepared to.

Have your say! Consultation on the combined Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise closes on 14th September.

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There are 197 comments on this article
  1. Anonymous says:

    Interesting, however as the riverside land is very valuable, the landowner will resist this very strongly. Also, the focus is on TfL safeguarding land, however as the Thameslink services through Blackfriars serve a much greater area than London, it has to be right that Network Rail as the national operator, drive this process and not TfL.

  2. timbeau says:

    Although, as I have mentioned on several occasions before, connections between Waterloo and the Blackfriars area are very poor, there will be little demand for SWML to Blackfriars services via Tooting unless the route is speeded up – the conflicts at Herne Hill are only part of the story – there are conflicts at Streatham and Tulse Hill as well, not to mention the single track section through Wimbledon station itself.
    The current journey time for the 10 miles from Blackfriars to Wimbledon is 32 minutes (with eight stops) – twice the time taken to cover the 7 miles from Waterloo (with four stops).

    I can see little prospect of speeding the line up, as none of the eight stations would be easy to skip. Indeed, there would be better use of the capacity by re-opening Walworth and Camberwell stations and running an intensive metro service as far as Herne Hill – possibly extending via Tulse Hill and Crystal Palace as an extension of the Overground route? The Haydons Road route would be better off going via Peckham Rye and connecting to the East London Line (or to Lewisham if the ELL is full – the North Kent – Lewisham – Blackfriars services are also too slow to attract much traffic from the SEML).

  3. Anonymous says:

    Couln’t the air rights above all lines be given in exchange for a railway route through at the relevant level.

  4. StephenC says:

    Firstly, timbeau is right about the Wimbledon timings. Having experience of journeys on Northern and SWML locals, I can say that the Blackfriars route really isn’t interesting unless you want to take your time. As such, I’m unexcited about putting many more services into terminus platforms here.

    The mistake was made when City Thameslink was built. Extra tracks through there linking to Barbican and the terminus platforms at Moorgate via a new dive-under would have made the route much more interesting. As it stands, the 4 tracks are always likely to be underused, as Blackfriars is never going to be enough of a destination to really draw in the trains (not enough jobs/shops/sights are easily walkable from there compared to other stations).

    Thus, I think the article has got the safeguarding that is needed upside-down. The real safeguarding need in London is for through tunnelling routes. One of these I identified in Swanlink was a Waterloo to Liverpool Street option, which would have an underground station at Blackfriars (for Thameslink integration).

    If this development goes ahead, there will be deep piled foundations on both sides of Blackfriars Road, making any new station here practically impossible. As such, I’d encourage TfL to work with the developer to plan for (and ideally build) a station box entrance in the sub-basement.

    And the Wimbledon loop? Well, much as I didn’t expect to say this a while back, I reckon conversion to tram from Streatham to Sutton via Wimbledon would probably be the best option. After all, most southern loopians change at Wimbledon already!

  5. timbeau says:

    There is indeed a mass exodus from loop trains arriving at Wimbledon in the mornings – whether they are haeding for the Tube or the SWML I don’t know.

    Don’t forget that there is another route from Wimbledon to Blackfriars (and several other City destinations) – journey time is slightly longer at 39 minutes but much more frequent. It goes via Earls Court.

    I do sometimes use the FCC service to City TL, but only if 1. I haven’t got a seat on the SWT train – 2. there is an FCC train due when i get to Wimbledon – and 3. it’s raining or I’ve got a heavy bag and don’t fancy the trek from Waterloo.

    And I would probably use the Underground instead, but my “London Terminals” season ticket isn’t valid on LU.

  6. Dr. Beeching says:

    There are other better options for using Blackfriars and improving connections in South London.
    The basic premise of your plan – safeguarding for four terminal platforms at Blackfriars is a good one.
    Relief on the Lewisham route could be acheived by:-
    (i) building a link at Catford so that Hayes trains proceed via Nunhead, and into Blackfriars/Victoria
    (ii) put in a Blackfriars/Victoria stopper to Catford via Nunhead and Lewisham to serve Ladywell. It would be nice to extend the DLR, but that’s too expensive. Maybe this train could go to Beckenham Junction.
    (iii) route more Thameslink trains onto the South Eastern Main Line (via or avoiding Lewisham) using the Hayes paths now freed up. So all Thameslink trains via Blackfriars go via London Bridge. That’s six potentially extra fast trains into central London from Kent in the peak.
    (iv) Two of the terminal platforms at Blackfriars are dedicated to the eastern pair of tracks via Elephant & Castle, serving routes via Denmark Hill
    (v) Two of the terminal platforms at Blackfriars are dedicated to the western pair of tracks via Elephant & Castle, serving routes via Herne Hill.
    (vi) put stopping services via Kent House into Blackfriars, not Victoria. That means that a Kent House route train can be in the platforms at Herne Hill at the same time as a Tulse Hill route train if that Tulse Hill route train now goes to Victoria. That might mean a bit of jiggery pokery with platforms at Herne Hill, but it’s do-able, particularly if ECS trains in the morning peak from Victoria exit to their daytime stabling via Denmark Hill, and not via Herne Hill. Not all Tulse Hill trains will go to Victoria of course, but extra capacity can be made available by doing this for some trains. No flyover needed.
    (vii) put more of the Gipsy Hill and Selhurst trains (but not all) via Streatham and into Blackfriars. That means that those slow line slots via Balham can be used for extra trains from Mitcham Junction / Tooting. There’s your extra capacity via Tooting for peak relief of the Northern Line.

    Of course, there’s a lot of playing around there, but it’s relatively low cost and do-able.

  7. Lemmo says:

    @ anonymous 8.06pm, it is precisely this vague delineation of responsibility that results in safeguarding opportunities being lost. It should be crystal clear who has the responsibility. If it isn’t, what needs to change?

    @ anonymous 9.34pm, I can’t see why the air rights could not be sold, and I didn’t uncover any reason why the development should be regarded as two separate buildings. My question is whether TfL or Network Rail has even started to explore options and the issue of safeguarding with the developers.

    @ timbeau and stephenc, the Wimbledon-Blackfriars route could be much faster, given some work on the junctions around Streatham and Tulse Hill. With only seven intermediate stations, it is unbelievable it takes nearly as long as the District through the centre with sixteen intermediate stations.

    However, as Dr Beeching points out, there are a number of options to reconfigure services to make use of the valuable terminal capacity at Blackfriars… but only if you have the platforms. Herne Hill remains a problem, which we explore next, but they will address this at some point. And grade-separating and reconfiguring the service pattern through Tulse Hill will also unlock the tangle, and is perhaps more achievable.

    @ stephenc, safeguarding future cross-London tunnel alignments is important of course, and Crossrail has a person whose sole role is the planning/development issues around Crossrail 2 safeguarding. What is required is an analysis of future cross-city options, including perhaps Swanlink, and prioritising them. This will then guide investment in the surface lines around, as well as safeguarding.

  8. Greg Tingey says:

    The obvious answer is to co-operate with the developers, and allow an “encircling” building, with a 6-track box through the middle.
    Everyone gets what they want!

    As for the other bottlenecks and services, well ….
    Herne Hill is the first problem, but we already know that a dive-under could just be built in the N direction & a fly-over in the S (using the “long siding” space ….
    Wombeldon Loop needs more trains, yes, but need they be Blackfriars terminators?
    Indeed, should the new W Pfs @ Blackfriars be terminals at all? Would not another through on the W side be a good idea, giving greater flexibility still.
    No significant extra cost?
    Lewisham – let’s not go there today, as the differing possibilities make everyone’s heads hurt.

  9. timbeau says:

    Greg – another pair of through platforms at Blackfriars would pre-suppose we could get four tracks north of there, and modern development around the track (without which the Thameslink connection would probably never have been built at all) seems to rule that out. You might just squeeze four tracks in by closing City Thameslink station and using the space vacated by the platforms for two extra tracks, but where would they go next?

    Dr Beeching – – your point vi suggests diverting Tulse Hill – Blackfrairs services to be diverted at Herne Hill to run to Victoria instead. I’m not sure which services you have in mind, but most services through Tulse Hill originate from the Crystal Palace, Norbury, or Mitcham/Sutton lines, which already have more direct services to Victoria via Balham.

    And then your point vii suggests running these Norbury/Crystal Palace to Victoria via Balham services to Blackfrairs via Tulse Hill instead thereby reinstating the conflicting moves at Herne Hill that you have removed in step vi, (and you will lose the convenient cross platform interchanges at Herne Hill)

    The circuitous route between Tooting and Balham via the Streatham Junction complex is not going to attract many people away from the Northern Line, which is less than half the distance, with no intermediate junctions to cause delays, and much more frequent.

    Steps 1 and 2 – where does this leave the stations between Catford and Shortlands via Ravensbourne?

  10. m_jrt says:

    In brief, I’d drop the Sutton loop completely. there are too many conflicts on the existing route to give it the service it requires. Next, evict Tramlink from the station – it doesn’t need to inside the gate line there when it can run on the street outside. Then, have it join the trackbed of the loop north east of Wimbledon and take over the line through Tooting and Haydons Road on to an interchange…be it Mitcham Junction or Mitcham Eastfields. The tram would offer greatly increased frequencies over the northern side of the loop, and more paths on the line through Mitcham for non-loop services means better connections at either end to NR services are possible.

    At Wimbledon, ideally Waitrose and the LUL station could be redeveloped and the District line platforms could punch through southwards, but failing that we now have platforms 9 & 10 to work with as we have removed both the loop and Tramlink. A flyover north of the station to the line from East Putney would connect these routes nicely.

    We can now extend the District down to the vicinity of Sutton, where the next problem rears it’s head – Sutton’s mainline platforms are on a two-track section that would be difficult to widen enough to accommodate 4 platforms.

    There are two factors here that could save the situation though – by moving the platforms east of the road bridge, the cutting could feasibly be widened to 4 tracks – though thankfully the only building on the raft is the station itself, so widening the cutting south and replacing the bridge is feasible if required.

    Extending LO from West Croydon to Sutton and down to Epsom Downs to replace the service via Mitcham removes the conflicting movements at the junction east of the station, leaving just a simple two-track route from Mitcham Junction to Cheam. Existing travel patterns would be maintained by changing at Sutton.

    Going a step further, there is ample room to build a flyover or diveunder east of Sutton, so extending the loop service from the current Sutton platforms (with the new ones to the south) to West Croydon should be quite simple. You then have the dual options of extending the District to West Croydon or LO to Wimbledon. When you then consider the option of extending LO from Clapham Junction to Wimbledon via East Putney (a major project in itself), a coherent system of simple non-conflicting routes emerge that can offer high-frequency services – something the southern urban network solely lacks.

  11. mr_jrt says:


    I think Greg means having two through routes converge into a single pair north of the station, surrounding a pair of bay platforms.

  12. Greg Tingey says:

    Possible reversals in through platforms.
    Overlapping through trains, because you have TWO platforms for each through line.
    Bays now in middle, so can go anywhere …..

  13. Anonymous says:

    m_jrt: “Extending LO from West Croydon to Sutton and down to Epsom Downs to replace the service via Mitcham removes the conflicting movements at the junction east of the station, leaving just a simple two-track route from Mitcham Junction to Cheam. Existing travel patterns would be maintained by changing at Sutton.”

    There are no services to Epson Downs via Mitcham. All services from Mitcham either continue via Cheam or the loop.

  14. mr_jrt says:

    @Anon, thanks for that correction. I swear I was told that some of the metro services from Epsom Downs headed that way. Seems it would be a straight like-for-like replacement of the Southern services then, except instead of heading to Victoria it would free up paths through Crystal Palace to Clapham Junction which could then be used to enhance the Southern service between those two (or replace it with an extension of LO from Crystal Palace to Willesden Junction).

  15. Fandroid says:

    Without the idea of a future expanded Blackfriars being raised within a published RUS or any other strategy document, it seems unlikely that a proposal to safeguard the southern approach to the old bridge piers would be upheld anywhere. Safeguarding is an issue that should exist as a sort of shadow strategy beyond the scope of RUSs and other medium-term plans. After all, it doesn’t cost much to safeguard land and structures. It’s just that red-in-tooth-and-claw developers would have to forego some of the immense profits that sustain their ambitions. However, it would need a responsible body to actually survey all the land and assets and to say what has to remain available for railway use. In London that should be the responsibility of a combination of Network Rail and TfL.

    Network Rail seems to be slightly overwhelmed by the findings of its London & SE RUS in that it has two very busy main lines (SW and Brighton) that it forecasts will run out of capacity in the medium term. An expanded Blackfriars must be some sort of potential solution to one or both of these.

  16. Anonymous says:

    My own pet project is to use the western pair of tracks from just south of Elephant & Castle for a Bakerloo line extension to Brixton, with stops at Walworth, Camberwell and Loughborough Junction, which would improve access to several deprived areas and relieve the Victoria line at relatively modest cost. This seems to me the best use of the spare capacity on this 4 track route and so Blackfriars would not be expanded. I realise that bringing the Bakerloo from underground to viaduct level would require several road closures, which may be quite impractical, but it looks like a good idea on paper!

  17. Another anonymous says:

    I like Anonymous’ idea. It would actually be quite possible as there’s already a route into the open air between Lambeth North and London Road depot. It would just need a ramp through the depot sidings. Some demolition required beyond there, but the area is ripe for redevelopment. The benefits are very high for a poor and congested area of south London, and the scheme vastly cheaper than existing proposals for the Bakerloo as no tunnelling required. A possible Stage 2 would be extending south of Loughborough Junction (there’s space as there used to be sidings there), and either tunnelling into the high ground towards Peckham and beyond, or, if resignalling the South London Line could double capacity, taking over the Kent Lines to Peckham via a flyover at Loughborough Jn.

  18. Sam says:

    Another anonymous: “Some demolition required beyond there, but the area is ripe for redevelopment.”

    I think it has been redeveloped already – looks to me like London South Bank University’s brand new HQ is right in the way!

    On the original article, I agree entirely – and even if the exact services/lines mentioned don’t need the capacity now, one line or another will in the future. That little corner of land should definitely be safeguarded, or it’ll impose enormous costs down the line. Easier said than done, of course – I’d hazard a guess that the developers’ attitude would be that they were parting with a single square centimetre of Central London riverfront land only over their cold dead bodies. I think *if* Network Rail and TfL were to work together effectively, they could overcome that, though…

  19. Ali says:

    This might sound stupid, but maybe the 409 can be used for bridge to carry the cross river tram? There doesn’t seem to be space on one side to convert it to a railway, but a tram network would be able to curve away to the main road?

  20. timbeau says:

    An interesting idea, but Blackfriars (Road) Bridge is at least as wide as the roads approaching it from the south and north, so I can’t quite see why it would be worth diverting trams over the rail bridge just for that short section.

  21. Metrication says:

    @ m_jrt

    While I support any attempt to extend any tube line to Sutton, I think it would be a challenge to move trams on Wimbledon’s tight streets. As I understand it the single platform for Tramlink is holding back expansion of the service from Wimbledon, particularly to Sutton. Better to cut the Wimbledon side of the loop from Streatham to Sutton and integrate it into the tramlink network perhaps.

    Talking of tube line depots near existing rail infrastructure, the Morden Depot is (as mentioned many times before) just metres from the track and there would be no need for any demolition, plus there is a spur pretty much correctly placed (presumably dating back to the days when the Northern Line was to be extended to Sutton). Here’s an image to help visualise the current situation:

    Extending the Northern line to Merton South would provide the kind of connectivity many people crave in the area. Obviously a full extension to sutton is desirable but presumably that would mean the end of national rail services between Sutton and Wimbledon (and beyond), leaving Wimbledon Chase and South Merton to be without a service. In that case you would need some replacement of service, perhaps in the form of the District line as suggested. Besides the obvious questions of expense I assume that if Sutton would be the terminus for both lines it would have to be completely rebuilt. As an altenative you could run the Tramlink from Streatham to Sutton (or another southern destination) via Wimbledon Chase, South Merton and Morden South or Morden Station and then divert it onto the spacious avenues of the St. Helier estate. This would allow it to fulfil the ambitions previously set of reaching St. Helier hospital, while keeping a route to Wimbledon in tact.

  22. Whiff says:

    Thanks Metrification, that’s a very useful photo. It even looks like there is room south of the current Morden South station to create an expanded interchange station on the car park and what is presumably school playing fields.

    I always like the idea of joining the dots on the railway maps and I have often wondered if any serious thought has been given to righting this historical error and joining up the Northern Line to the Wimbledon loop. My own dream vision would be too to run half the tube trains through to Wimbledon and the other half down to Sutton. The Streatham to Wimbledon line could then somehow be connected to the SWT lines. This plan would,though, make the Northern Line even more complex than it already is. I’m guessing that while the initial connecting stretch of track would be relatively cheap attempting to create terminating space at Wimbeldon and/or Sutton would be practically difficult and thus much more expensive. Schemes like these look good on paper and would undoubtedly improve connectivity. The biggest reason this one won’t be happening any time soon is that one aim of improving services on the Wimbledon loop is to provide relief to the Northern line whereas unfortunately this would do the opposite.

  23. Whiff says:

    And with apologies for taking this thread even further off topic, Wikipedia has a link to a fantastic photo of Morden in 1926. I don’t think it shows exactly the same area as the one in Metrification’s link but still provides an interesting contrast.

  24. Lemmo says:

    Just noticed that the ‘409’ bridge makes it onto the list of notable transport heritage locations as being the first rail bridge across the Thames.

    Regarding comments on extending the Bakerloo onto the viaduct, if this was remotely a possibility then it would have been taken forward years ago.

    And what to do with the Wimbledon Loop is a recurring discussion with several viable options. Meanwhile the line through Tooting remains empty while the Northern Line nearby is rammed. Gotta be a solution there…

    My main point is that while NR and TfL have reams of analysis in the RUS but no solutions for the SWML, SEML and Brighton Line, the option to better use an existing line into central London is about to be lost, all for a small triangle of land that no-one is safeguarding. And we are still no clearer whose responsibility it is.

  25. Metrication says:

    Here is a comparison:
    Click on the thumbnails for bigger images.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Lemmo: “Meanwhile the line through Tooting remains empty while the Northern Line nearby is rammed. Gotta be a solution there…”

    As someone who once commuted from Tooting and used both services, the single biggest problem with the Thameslink service was the frequency. Only being half-hourly meant that most of the time one train was too early but the next too late.

    I preferred using the train over the tube and for my journey to north London, it was more comfortable and overall no slower than the Northern (and change to Victoria) lines.

    When you have one train at 7:16am then the next not until at 7:46am (as I recall it being at that time) then you are not going to encourage people off the tube.

  27. timbeau says:

    Hardly the first railway bridge across the Thames – indeed a quick check reveals that only five railway bridges over the Thames are younger – Bourne End (the second bridge on that site), the two carrying the District Line at Kew and Putney, the second Blackfriars Bridge, and the Alexandra Bridge that feeds Cannon Street. These last two are the only other bridges that cross the Thames into the City of London, so Blackfriars Bridge was the first (of only three) to enter the City.

    The next one upstream, Hungerford Bridge, predates Blackfriars by six months, but isn’t in the City.

    The first of all was Maidenhead on the Great Western Main Line on July 1st 1839, 25 years (less exactly one month) before Blackfriars Bridge.

  28. Rogmi says:

    Britain from above
    (either type something into the search box, or just click on Browse to bring up the map (preferred) and keep zooming in – click on Download for a larger version)
    has quite a few aerial photos of Morden and Morden depot around 1926, at different scales and angles.

    There wasn’t an actual spur in the depot. What looks like a spur on the left are 1 – 5 stabling roads (seen better on one of the larger scale photos). 6 – 17 back roads were added later. Of course, the main line track is missing at this time 🙂

  29. mr_jrt says:

    Fair points. I don’t think the streets are to great an issue though. Heading up Hartfield Road to the station would remove the need to run along the narrow domestic streets past the houses and car park entrance on Hartfield Crescent. A one-way loop around the Broadway (where there are mostly already bus lanes) then up and along Queens Road, then down Ashcombe Road and back onto the existing alignment to Haydons Road. Alternatively, purchase one of the homes on Queens Road for demolition and you can rejoin the formation much earlier.

  30. Long Branch Mike says:

    My understanding was that the 409 piers are not strong enough to take modern railway stock, hence their exclusion from use. Can’t recall now where I read this…

  31. StephenC says:

    Bakerloo to the Elephant viaduct? I suspect this fails mainly because of getting from the viaduct to the tunnel. And also the limited distance a tube train could get before hitting a main line junction (which would need separation as tube trains and main line trains don’t really mix). Now, if the District or Metropolitan could get there, that might be a different matter, as they do interoperate with main line trains.

    District line to Sutton? No, because its full already from Wimbledon (people cannot board the trains up at Fulham).

    Northern extended to the loop or beyond? No, because its full already (people cannot board the trains up at Clapham).

    Better use of Tooting? Yes, but its unlikely to really impact the Northern without a much faster journey time.

    Removing the tram from Wimbledon station is a challenge. Hartfield Road feels unlikely as it is also fairly residential (although a better choice than Hartfield Crescent). However, I suspect the better option may be punching a hole through the office building/car park on the slab. The slab should be strong enough, and taking out a couple of floors of a building ought to be feasible without knocking it all down. Remember though that lots of people change from the tram to the main line, so the tram needs to get right up to the station.

    @Lemmo, 2 extra platforms in a non-ideal location won’t make a difference to the scale of the problem in London (SWML, SEML or BML). Its tunnels we need.

  32. solar penguin says:

    @StephenC “tube trains and main line trains don’t really mix”

    Queens Park to Harrow and Wealdstone?

  33. Greg Tingey says:

    Long Branch Mike
    Nothing at all wrong with the “empty” piers – it was the viaduct on top that wa rotting!
    Provided there is no base-scour, they are quite capable of carrying a bridge, with trains on it ….

  34. Lemmo says:

    @ Greg, yes that’s my understanding, and if there was a problem with the piers then I expect this would have been identified in the Railtrack assessment of the Corporation of London’s proposal which I noted above. It would be good to see this assessment but it doesn’t appear to be on-line.

    2 extra platforms in a non-ideal location won’t make a difference to the scale of the problem in London (SWML, SEML or BML). Its tunnels we need.

    I disagree, and this is not an alternative to tunnels, it’s a matter of making the best use of infrastructure that already exists. And we may be about to lose this opportunity, which is why someone needs to intervene.

    Blackfriars is one of the few terminals with capacity, and has connections onward. No terminus location will suit everyone, but Blackfriars is well-located for some, with a broader market now with the South Bank. It could be used intensively, and will help spread demand. There is no single solution to SWML, SEML and BML, tunnel or otherwise. What is required is a package of investments, some relatively modest, as an integrated program. And some of the more modest investments may be more achievable than new Crossrails.

    On Wimbledon, the RUS proposal for a new fifth reversible line on the SWML included a track diagram (Fig 7.5) which shows Tramlink moving to a new platform alongside the mainline station, so presumably this is possible.

  35. mr_jrt says:

    I think the solution to relieving the District at Wimbledon is probably CR2 or completing the grade separation of the Wimbledon branch at Earls Court so you can run more services, though that would just move the congestion to Earl’s Court, but hopefully you could run more “mainline” District services from there, even if only to South Ken. The problem is, as always, that Waterloo is on the wrong side of the river so the District journey times work out quicker when you factor in the transfer across the river.

  36. Pedantic of Purley says:

    @StephenC “tube trains and main line trains don’t really mix”

    Queens Park to Harrow and Wealdstone?

    I am sure there are some who would argue that this would seem to prove the point rather than be a counterexample.

  37. mr_jrt says:


    ^^^ I’m intrigued. Whatever do you mean? – In my experience they work perfectly fine together?

  38. timbeau says:

    There are certainly problems with running tube and surface (or NR) stock on the same line – signal sightings from different cab heights, impossibility of coupling up in an emergency, platform heights, etc. I’m sure that introduction of mixed operation would not be permitted on lines which didn’t have existing “grandfather” rights.

  39. StephenC says:

    Timbeau and pedantic have made the tube/mainline stock points for me. Its not that its impossible, just that its unlikely to be approved now. Whereas if the tube can entirely take over a branch its fine (which is why Hayes is being considered).

    @mr_jrt, if you assume a world where a CR2 runs from Wimbledon fast to the west end, very few at Wimbledon will take the District to get there. Thus, any District extension beyond Wimbledon would simply result in a large number of people changing there. Feasible, certainly, but I think its questionable whether the loadings would justify 6tph of tube stock on the route. Certainly, no-one from Sutton itself would take that route to London – they have much better options.

    BTW, one of the reasons the tram would work well for the loop is because it could stop more often. There are a number of roads crossed that would benefit from better access to decent public transport.

    @Lemmo, I agree on the integrated set of projects to solve SWML/SEML/BML, but just don’t believe 2 platforms to be worth expending effort on, especially at this point, when politicians see Blackfriars as a finished item. BTW, I’m a strong advocate for making the most of existing infrastructure, and the 4 tracks south of Blackfriars are indeed underused. I just struggle to see what use they can be when compared to alternative ways to spend the money.

  40. mr_jrt says:

    Passengers changing isn’t a bad thing as long as it’s cross platform, and it wouldn’t have to run fast, just faster. CR2 serving Wimbledon, Earlsfield, Clapham Junction, Battersea and Victoria is still going to be quicker than the District.

    …and besides, the District is just an option for Wimbledon to Sutton/West Croydon…my personal preference is LO from West Croydon thence up to Clapham Junction (and along the inner SLL) via East Putney.

  41. timbeau says:

    One of the puropses of CR2 is to releive the District Line, so there would be some capacity to take up any increased demand, but it seems, judging by the number of people piling off the loop trains at Wimbledon in the morning rush, there is significant demand for onward travel off the Sutton line anyway (although probably not from Sutton itself).

    What to do with the Haydons Road line? A service to Victoria, Blackfrairs or London Bridge is always going to be slower than the parallel Tube routes, but running it over the ELL would open up useful conections between SW and east London (Wimbledon to Whitechapel would be significantly quicker than via the District).

    Blackfriars can then operate a metro service (say 6tph) to Herne Hill, with additional stops at Camberwell and Walworth, terminating in the down bay.

    A shuttle from Beckenham Junction via Tulse Hill to Herne Hill, terminating in the up bay.

    If 20tph can’t be done on the ELL, the London Bridge slots vacated by the Beckenham Junction service can be used by a service to Crystal palace via Forest Hill, replacing the ELL service to Crystal Palace.

    I would also like to see South Eastern services via Brixton call at Clapham High Street, to provide easy interchange to the Overground from the Chatham main line and in particular for Brixton – pending construction of an overground station in Brixton.

  42. Ian Sergeant says:


    While I can see the benefits of running the Wimbledon trains currently destined for Blackfriars along the ELL (handing over to TfL would undoubtedly increase patronage), there will come a time when Canada Water – which has to be the main morning peak destination – will not cope with more passengers without a rebuild of its 3-coach platforms. This does not seem to be addressed by the RUS, or by any serious proposals I’ve seen. If this means building north to keep a level and abandoning Rotherhithe, then so be it in my opinion.

  43. Lemmo says:

    @ Ian, you are right, and perhaps it’s worth dusting off your proposal for a new line from south London through Docklands . This is the missing link in the orbital network but, given that Docklands is now a major destination, should be regarded as a new core radial route. The ELL at Canada Water (4-car platform) is already overwhelmed.

    This didn’t crop up in the RUS, and there are other gaps too, including Blackfriars bays and the E&C route. A link from the Bermondsey area through, say, the new Wood Wharf redevelopment could open up the Wimbledon-Tulse Hill route. Significant numbers of SWML passengers pack onto the Jubilee to get to Docklands, but the interchange could be made at Wimbledon, and help reduce the concentration of demand on the city core. It would revitalise this route, and the capacity is there.

    @ StephenC, the reason it isn’t clear how the E&C route could be better used is that we don’t know the details of the analysis and, as I’ve pointed out above, some of the assumptions are no longer tenable. Demand is now greater and there is no other terminal capacity. Plus there are route options other than via Herne Hill, which requires a more whole-of-network analysis, which would consider alternative packages of investments on different pinch-points, e.g. Lewisham, Brixton, Docklands.

    And we are talking about a tiny area of land here, and now is about the only time in a half-century when we can safeguard it. It’s really not a big ask, especially given that it could be traded for parts of the viaduct just south. To me it’s a no-brainer, it may require a fight, but it is winnable and sets a precedent, and it and makes a lot of sense for TfL to lead.

  44. Mackenzie says:

    My thoughts….

    * Tramlink is getting a new platform. The current platform 10 will see a ‘Clapham Junction (SLL)’ soluation applied to give Tramlink a second platform in the station.

    * I’d close platform 9 completely and build new 8 car terminating platforms at the north end.

    * I’d then build a underpass for fast SWML trains on the site of the old Platform 9 with the current down fast used to ‘turn right’ towards and the new underpass for trains from Waterloo. Current up line could have a flat junction.

    Easy way to connect the SWML to a ‘Blackfriars’ direction. Only problem is these services will be 12 car, that means the next stop will be…. Blackfriars. Hardly useful especially as they will get caught up behide stoppers on the two track from there.

    As a result I’d extend the platforms at Streatham, maybe Tooting as well, to 12 car then next stop Blackfriars. This would give a good spread of services to give more alternative routes. For this service I’d like to see it use a metro variant of the Desiro City rolling stock. Not sure where to origibate but but perhaps take some current Metro route and turn it into a 12 car route with less stations and replace its original working with a shortened 8 car service.

    So for some short term thinking, divert some 12 car Chatman Mainline services at Herne Hill to the bays at Blackfriars to release capacity at Victoria for more services into there.

    Note as well that Thameslink services via New Cross are now out as the consulation clearly states than any Thameslink service via New Cross will require a reduction in service to Cannon Street meaning that its now impossable operation/poltically to run services this way (ie over the new double tracked Tanner Hill that is being done as part of the TLP). However peak Dartfords via Lewisham and Nunhead are possible. Prehaps an all day 12 car service towards that way to free up paths else where?

  45. mr_jrt says:

    ^ I’m inclined to disagree about Tramlink. When you have a station and buildings on a raft over a busy railway, then space through that raft is at a premium. wasting it on terminating services is criminal! By all means build new Tramlink platforms south of the raft and your new terminating platforms on the car park north of it, and have good pedestrian routes to the NR station from both, but the capacity for 2 through lines needs to be maintained!

    …if anything, depending on the supports under said raft, you could argue for removing some platforms to squeeze in more non-stop lines.

  46. Pedantic of Purley says:

    @Mackenzie re Thameslink via New Cross.

    You are correct but I think there is also another reason the implications of which I don’t think were really fully appreciated at the time. Thameslink operates on a 15 minute cycle timetable. South Eastern’s peak hour timetable is based on a 20 minute cycle. I just do not think slotting Thameslink trains into the SE network was ever going to be possible technically and politically. And politically it was never going to be realistic to change South Eastern to run on a 15 minute peak hour cycle. 6 tph today – do you increase to 8 or reduce to 4 ? And if the former what services get cut to accommodate the extra slots?

    I think this also tipped the balance between having more desirable routes than slots available for Thameslink south of the river to an unexpected lack of really suitable routes. Hence the rather surprising decision to include, of all things, the sleepy rural Tattenham Corner branch in the suggested possible services that may run when Thameslink fully opens.

  47. Fandroid says:

    It would be interesting to have an analysis of the traffic through Wimbledon, and possible opportunities to make more of this station. It’s one of the top ten busiest stations in the UK but few mainline trains (via Woking) stop there in the peak. No off-peak trains at all from the Basingstoke direction stop there. On the face of it, Wimbledon would seem to be an ideal place for longer-distance trains to offload and pick-up passengers heading for or leaving from most of south and west London. Understanding where all those current passengers come from would help in contemplating what would need to be done in the future.

  48. timbeau says:


    Surbiton and Clapham Junction serve as the outer London pickup on the SWML – Surbiton has the advantage that fast trains can overtake the semifasts which do stop there because the slow line service has thinned out enough by then to allow the semis to switch to the slow lines. Also both Surbiton and Clapham Junction have a fifth track (up at Clapham Junction, down at Surbiton) allowin fasttrains to overtake trains stopped in the station.

    I can’t see more fast trains calling at Wimbledon until capacity on the District is improved, for example post-Chelney. Indeed, the pedestrian overbridge at Wimbledon is desperately congested – a second bridge at the country end would help a lot, but SWT seem to have put it in the “too difficult” file, despite the recent overnight appearances of new, albeit temporary, bridges at Earlsfield, Kingston, etc whilst work was done on their subways.

  49. Fandroid says:

    @timbeau I highlighted Wimbledon because it has good potential connections eastwards into outer south London, whereas Surbiton doesn’t connect to anywhere except Hampton Court, Claygate and stations further up the main line (such as Wimbledon) As I have pointed out before, no trains from the Basingstoke direction stop at Clapham during the peak (as I have discovered once or twice to my personal discomfort!). I realise that currently there are massive constraints at Wimbledon, and capacity problems on the District. I would just like to know more about its current traffic flows, as, with enhanced services on its connecting lines, it looks like a station that is well positioned to share the burden of shifting passengers into outer south London in tandem with Clapham Junction.

  50. Slugabed says:

    Nothing new under the sun….in the 70s,Wimbledon was the first stop of many SW Mainline semi-fast services.
    Prior to this,to get from Clapham Jct to ANYWHERE on the SWML past Hampton Court Jct required a change at Wimbledon or Surbiton and/or Woking (or Basingstoke for the Exeter trains,I seem to recall).
    Or an expensive trip into Town to catch the train from Waterloo,sailing back through Clapham Jct at speed a few minutes later.
    This was changed because it was felt that a stop at Clapham Jct provided better connections to more destinations,particularly those emanating from Victoria.
    It was felt that this was more compelling than Wimbledon’s connection with the District Line,etc.
    Stopping at both was (and is still) not really an option.
    Of the two,Clapham Jct,despite its problems,is still clearly the better choice in my opinion.

  51. Fandroid says:

    It’s interesting to hear that in the old days Wimbledon was the stop of choice for many SWML semi-fasts, because that’s the way my mum used to take me on visits to the West End from Guildford!

    I was really thinking of the two stations (Wimbledon and Clapham) sharing the honours. Currently only about half the SWML offpeak trains stop at Clapham (and no peak stops at all). If Wimbledon were seen as worthy of very serious investment, then the other half could stop there. It would certainly require an underpass as already suggested, but if the Mayor wants to see London becoming much more of a multi-centre city then that’s the sort of investment he needs to be pushing for. Clapham Junction is a great station. It could do with having an ‘iconic’ rebuild so that its facilities match its importance. I was just thinking that Wimbledon is obviously used by a huge number of people, so could be a worthy compatriot for its famous brother a few miles up the line.

  52. Lemmo says:

    I agree, and really this shouldn’t be an either/or discussion, but rather what does TfL want the London rail network to look like, and in particular the role of its “strategic interchanges” in creating a multi-centre city. Clarity on this then provides the focus for new investment, and it’s likely to pay off more handsomely than trying to squeeze yet more people through the city core.

    Clapham Jn is crying out for an iconic rebuild, and has the space, which Wimbledon doesn’t. However, Wimbledon can offer new route options which provide relief to the SWML, and probably with a more beneficial BCR than a £1 billion new reversible line.

    The question around the strategic interchanges which TfL does not elaborate on is whether you make them a stop for mainline services, at a cost to the journey time to the termini. This is equally relevant to places like Stratford, Finsbury Park, Herne Hill and, perhaps, Old Oak Common/Willesden Jn. Paradoxically, rushing services through creates more pressure on the termini and the city core.

  53. TSM says:

    Agree with StephenC – Blackfriars is not very much of a destination in itself.

    Additional terminating platforms are not what is needed – they will simply overload the Circle/District lines. Commuters primarily want to reach City Thameslink and Bank – the latter of which is reachable from Waterloo and London Bridge.

  54. StephenC says:

    What we know is that a new pair of tracks are needed to fix the SWML capacity issue (the RUS “5th track” is pretty much nonsense as getting trains back out after they have emptied is just as much of a problem).

    Wimbledon’s problem is the large slab that restricts the current platform layout to a large degree. Now that isn’t necessarily a huge issue – Wimbledon does have the platforms, it just needs train paths to be free to be able to stop some trains and not others (or a willingness to stop all trains).

    So, assuming there will always be Wimbledon non-stoppers, surely its best to get those out of the precious platform space if possible? ie. a tunnel. But, this isn’t the current CR2 plans, which put the commuters in the tunnel and wastes the expensive ground level station platforms for non-stoppers. This concept is putting the non-stoppers in the tunnel, leaving the platforms free to be platforms.

    However… The curve ball is Kingston, which is a much larger centre in South West London than Wimbledon, yet has no fast train connections, especially to Surrey, despite being the home of Surrey County Council. One option would be to build a new tunnelled line from the Hersham/Esher area, to Clapham Junction via an underground station at Kingston, which would allow frequent services from Guildford/Woking to Kingston. Of course, having a station in the “non-stop” tunnel is rather an oxymoron, and would reduce the capacity. Which is why I suspect that if the new tunnel went via Kingston, then Wimbledon wouldn’t get any extra fast line stops!

  55. timbeau says:

    Why is Blackfriars not a destination in itself? It is no less central than City TL, and now that it has a south bank entrance its catchment area has expanded hugely.

    The five-track idea is not quite as much nonsense as it might seem – you can run more non-stop trains through a section than stoppers in the same time, and empty stock trains tend to run non-stop! Therefore you need less capacity in the contrapeak flow than in the with-peak flow.

    Kingston does of course have a station on the SWML – although it was renamed Surbiton when the town centre station was opened, it is still the railhead for a large part of the town.

  56. Anonymous says:

    I’m not sure London can ever – and perhaps should never – be a proper ‘multi-centre’ city. It’s not just about the radial nature of transport but the simple amount of space available plus the desire of many firms and sectors to cluster together with restrictions beyond zone 2. Despite clear identities, districts of Central London make a continuous commercial hub of activities which is more than the sum of its parts and which cannot be rivalled elsewhere. CW is a special case due to historical events. However, and as we’re on the subject, considering it is roughly the same distance from Blackfriars station as South Ken tube, it could be argued the IoD is a long-term project of stretching central London 2 miles eastwards rather than a separate hub.

  57. Taz says:

    The suggestion of a new Canary Wharf tunnel station to provide additional reversing capacity and relieve central termini made me think of the Crossrail station currently under construction there. Crossrail services are to split at Whitechapel with half via Canary Wharf and half to Shenfield. This is inadequate for the Great Eastern line and will be supplemented with trains direct to the current Liverpool Street terminus. There is safeguarding to Gravesend in current plans so through trains could operate 24tph providing half terminated at Canary Wharf. Much of the trunk service is currently planned to terminate at Paddington, so the service interval is not a barrier to this. Canary Wharf was to have an emergency crossover, which might be sufficient reversing capacity with computer controlled signalling, else a reversing siding would be needed at much lower cost than a complete new station. Diversion of some Kent trains would free up central London paths.

  58. Lemmo says:

    @ Taz, this is a proposal for a new N-S route through Docklands, which could extend to the Lea Valley platforms at Stratford and then onto the WAML. It could provide a direct route from the SWML, Brighton Line and south London which will relieve the termini, the Jubilee and Canada Water.

    Given the scale and the cost of the new Crossrail station at Canary Wharf, it is a shame that it is limited to 12 tph due to the line split. I am not aware of any provision for reversing capacity, or junctions for other routes to join, which could maximise the capacity of the station. And I assume it is very hard to put this sort of facility in afterwards.

    An interesting discussion about the multi-centre city, and one that TfL needs to develop as part of its concept of strategic interchanges. Places like Croydon are already hubs in their own right. I am not aware that the concept behind Canary Wharf was to stretch London eastwards; wasn’t it to create a new business centre away from the congestion of the City? Arguably you could do the same at places with development potential, such as Old Oak Common / Willesden Jn.

    And one of the reasons that businesses cluster in the core is that this is where the trains go: the pattern of supply creates the demand. If you created a service pattern through a ring of well-connected hubs just outside the city core, then arguably the city core would grow outwards. Plus, just how many people do you want to squeeze into central London?

  59. Greg Tingey says:

    Yes … “Kingston-upon-railway” a.k.a. Surbiton (sometimes cruelly called Suburb-iton)

    BUT …
    London has always been a “Multi-centre City”, that’s it’s strength & tension.
    It has had “the City” & Westminster – commerce & politics, been that way since at least 1100!
    Now it has two-&-a-half, with a second commercial (& retail) centre @ “Canary Wharf” – see the posts on “DLR @ 25”

    We all know that the proposal to terminate a lot of X-rail services just beyond Padders is completely insane, don’t we?
    What’s one of (the most?) crowded set of services in Britain?
    Why the PaddReadings & vice versa.
    Loadings are incredibly high. I’ve watched the AM & PM rushes @ Ealing Broadway, and the numbers crowding into 3 / 5 / 6 coach sets is ridiculous.
    Both ways, too, as a lot of people hop off the Central line there, to go OUT to Slough / Maidenhead / Reading in the morning.
    Wonder how long it will be before those sidings fall into disuse, or, even if they are ever used at all, except for emergencies …..

  60. Fandroid says:

    Back to Blackfriars. Although safeguarding implies no firm plan, it’s difficult to see how Blackfriars could cope with increased numbers of people getting off there. With no realistic notion of creating a W&C line station (complete with line extension and total stations rebuild at the current ends) everybody gets dumped onto the Circle or onto through Thameslink trains. I imagine the latter will be crammed already at that point.

  61. Anonymous says:

    RE the original topic, I have directly asked the developer this question and there is no thought of safeguarding this triangle. I personally feel that the red line wedge shown in the “Blackfriars PP” diagram is insufficient to get over to the new platforms and get the right functionality in. I got the impression the answer is no, unless serious political pressure is brought to bear.

    On the topic of Herne Hill, has no one looked at the area that the East Dulwich line crosses the West Dulwich line? The type of land available would allow a flydown from the Sussex line to land north of the Kent line, then run 4-track into HH. There would be enough space for crossovers, and the Tulse Hill chord could either be retained with a double junction onto the Kent line or scrapped completely. 12 car at HH would be easy, and much simplified (bar the bridge) at Tulse Hill.

  62. timbeau says:

    @ anonymous

    The flydown at Dulwich certainly looks physically feasible, but you may be swapping one pinch point for another. At present the Herne Hill- Streatham and Gipsy Hill – Peckham routes do not conflict, but if the junction is to be moved further north, all trains would have to use the double-track bottleneck through Knights Hill tunnel and over the new (flat?) junction to the new flydown. The present peak hour service has about ten tph each way through Tulse Hill.

  63. ngh says:

    Re: Anonymous 02:21PM, 4th September 2012
    “On the topic of Herne Hill, has no one looked at the area that the East Dulwich line crosses the West Dulwich line? The type of land available would allow a flydown from the Sussex line to land north of the Kent line, then run 4-track into HH. There would be enough space for crossovers, and the Tulse Hill chord could either be retained with a double junction onto the Kent line or scrapped completely. 12 car at HH would be easy, and much simplified (bar the bridge) at Tulse Hill.”

    The land is on the Dulwich Estate (they effectively have their own planning powers), council conservation area and I think NR lease not own the land the existing railway is on from the estate and the houses sell for 7 digits at which point building a flyover at Herne Hill looks far cheaper and easier! (Particularly as the land North of Herne Hill is NR and council owned (some being a former goods yard) making life easier.)
    Both lines are substantially above ground level at that point as they have to go over roads so it is not as easy as it looks.
    As they cross almost perpendicularly lots of land would be need unless you want very low line speed round the curves.

  64. Ig says:

    Perhaps we should be lobbying Southwark Council, who are apparently in negotiations with the developers….

  65. Anonymous says:

    Tangentially related, given all the discussion is of south London, but it seems Streatham Common is being extended to accommodate 12-car trains.

    From Lambeth Council’s major road works schedule:

    AT RAIL OVER ROAD BRIDGE NR VTB1No.40 Located between the JCTS of Ellison rd and Eardley Rd

    Lane closures required to divert utilities onto temporary footbridge adjacent to Greyhound Lane bridge over railway. Works are part of the Streatham Common station platform extensions. [9/17/2012 – 10/29/2012]

    Full closure of Greyhound Lane required to demolish and rebuild bridge over railway at Streatham Common station. Works are part of the station platform extensions. [10/29/2012 – 4/29/2013]

    Originally spotted by @streathamaction, a local community action group, on Twitter, who in turn noted “Alarmingly, we are only aware of this because someone updated Streatham Common station Wikipedia page, not because of official consultation!”

    In response, local councillor @rogergeiss (whose ward contains a quarter of the bridge) replied “Startling proposal! We are told Network Rail will hold public meeting in next few weeks and TfL are already making plans”

    I had noticed passing through recently that the relatively large space between the tracks and Homebase, immediately south of the bridge, had been cleared. I guess this explains why.

  66. Anonymous says:

    I am also guessing the US date format it due to how my copy of Excel is configured.

  67. Anonymous says:


    And at Ealing Broadway in the evening peak note the peak time, peak fare HSTs rushing through with hardly a sole on them!

  68. Lemmo says:

    I’d like to see the analysis which says that Blackfriars is not a destination that will generate demand, and also that the Circle will become overloaded. Blackfriars now has a far larger catchment area, and from what I have heard it is one of the few places in central London that has some capacity. Plus it is just as likely that flows will balance, i.e. people leave and join Thameslink core trains, and similarly Underground.

    @ lg, do you have any more info on Southwark’s negotiations with the developers? Perhaps too the councillors and officers in Lambeth and Merton should be talking to Southwark, because additional Blackfriars terminal bays significantly increase the prospect of a Metro service through their areas.

    @ ngh, timbeau and others, thanks for this, we are following this up with a piece on Herne Hill, which will draw on your comments.

  69. Littlejohn says:

    Lemmo 05:58AM, 5th September 2012

    ‘Perhaps too the councillors and officers in Lambeth and Merton should be talking to Southwark, because additional Blackfriars terminal bays significantly increase the prospect of a Metro service through their areas’.

    While I cannot find the reference at the moment I am sure that under the Localism Act, planning authorities now have a statutory duty to consult those adjacent when developments have a cross-boundary impact.

  70. Anonymous says:

    Lemmo: “Perhaps too the councillors and officers in Lambeth and Merton should be talking to Southwark, because additional Blackfriars terminal bays significantly increase the prospect of a Metro service through their areas.”

    That is highly unlikely. Politicians of all persuasions in both boroughs are currently petitioning and campaigning to ensure loop services continue as part of the core Thameslink network.

    Given how strongly they have argued that having to change as Blackfriars is an unacceptable inconvenience, regardless of any benefits it may bring, it would be impossible for them to argue the opposite at the same time.

  71. Ian Sergeant says:

    @Anonymous 08:56 05/09/12

    I don’t see why this is so unlikely. We are talking about a six tph service here – that’s four extra trains an hour which would terminate in one of the bays, which I would have thought would be attractive to councillors in Lambeth and Merton. Whether the current two tph terminate or go through the Thameslink core is not relevant to the argument being put forward here.

  72. Anonymous says:

    Ian Sergeant: “I don’t see why this is so unlikely. We are talking about a six tph service here – that’s four extra trains an hour which would terminate in one of the bays, which I would have thought would be attractive to councillors in Lambeth and Merton. Whether the current two tph terminate or go through the Thameslink core is not relevant to the argument being put forward here.”

    Because, as I said, the focus of the opposition is on the act of having to change. Not simply that a reduction in the service the various communities along the line receive is unfair, or that having had to suffer through the works (such as the long-term weekend closures) residents deserve the benefit of the new service.

    They have been citing complaints from people who moved to the area specifically because of the direct service to City Thameslink and beyond, and casting it as though they would have to move or change jobs as a result of the change.

    As absurd as that may sound, that is the contention being pushed, so they cannot argue at the same time for services where you would have to change. Because if changing is such a perfectly reasonable and simple thing to do on those new 4tph services, it would contradict their position it is completely unreasonable on the other 2tph.

    Given no one is even promising these extra services, just the safeguarding the possibility of extra platforms, which would still then require the complete rebuilding of Herne Hill to be of local benefit, the likelihood of these services materializing is at least a decade away. Not to mention work required on all the other flat junctions along the route. Based on current services, a 6tph loop service would see a peak of 18tph at the flat junction to Tooting. (4tph to Victoria and 2tph to London Bridge from Sutton/Horsham via Mitcham, and the 6tph to Blackfriars from both Mitcham and Tooting).

    Politically no one is going to compromise fighting against changes that will be made during their current terms in office for something that may possibly happen sometime, but which no one is committed to wanting to do. Even if those platforms were built, there will be certainly those arguing they would be better used diverting Kent services from Victoria. Safeguarding at Blackfriars does not guarantee it will benefit the boroughs of Lambeth and Merton, even with a rebuild of Herne Hill.

    Meanwhile, it is worth remembering the South London RUS proposes that of the options for the spare capacity at London Bridge following the Thameslink works, the Tulse Hill route would be one of the best candidates. It suggests a 4pth service between London Bridge and Blackfriars via the loop, giving a 4tph on both sides. This would also allow a same platform change at Streatham to switch between the termini. There would be no reason that could not operate all day to provide a reasonable minimum metro frequency on the line.

  73. Metrication says:

    I would like to echo some of the points made about loop services terminating at Blackfriars. I went to a meeting held by the London Borough of Sutton Council and it’s MPs in July, attended by local train ‘enthusiasts’, angry commuters and councillors from the other South London boroughs affected. People were demanding a more frequent service but were unable to see past the issue of trains terminating, or see any kind of bigger picture. No one from either Network Rail or the DfT bothered to turn up and justify or offer any explanation of why services north of Blackfriars were ending. Considering the frequency of trains going through the Thameslink core after 2016, changing should be pretty effortless. Nevertheless someone from the council managed express pride that you can get to the continent via two trains from the borough, which is great if you commute to Paris every day but really not relevant for the rest of us.

    It is worth noting that the council had asked the train operating companies bidding for the new southern super franchise to give presentations, apparently without realising that they couldn’t reveal the full details of their bids. The two incumbents, First and Southern gave dreadful pitches, and were followed by the private divisions of the Dutch and Hong Kong national operators, who both gave excellent and coherent reasons why they should be running the franchise.

  74. Anonymous says:

    Metrication: “No one from either Network Rail or the DfT bothered to turn up”

    There was a similar meeting organized last month by Streatham Action and a Streatham LibDem councillor, but that was attended by Roger Jones, a director of rail franchising policy at the DfT. I did not attend, so do not know if he tried to defend the plans, but all the reports were that was complete opposition to them. If he did he was unsuccessful.

    Reports coming out of the meeting suggested that he said this was by far the biggest issue being raised in the current consultation. And there was a lot of pressure from those local politicians and groups to extended it to allow more people to respond, which did happen so presumably it is being taken seriously.

    Apparently Jones did also stress that the final decision will be made by the minister and not Network Rail.

  75. Metrication says:

    Anon: “Apparently Jones did also stress that the final decision will be made by the minister and not Network Rail.”

    We were told this repeatedly by one of the council representatives. He did say however that he had been to the construction site at Blackfriars and was told by engineers that the decision had been made by default basically because of the way that the station has been rebuilt.

  76. Lemmo says:

    Interesting discussion, and several threads that could be followed here, and perhaps some clarifications too.

    The focus of this article is safeguarding, and the need to maximise the potential of existing infrastructure, in this case the four-track route up through E&C. If the alignment for additional bay platforms is not safeguarded then the business case becomes weaker for a series of investments down the line, such as at Herne Hill, Brixton, Clapham Jn and Lewisham. We are talking about a small triangle of land, and failure here will have repercussions.

    On the furore on the Wimbledon Loop, and the involvement of the local authorities down the line, it is entirely possible that people will argue two positions at the same time. In their reality it is not about these positions, but about the fact that they feel they weren’t consulted and that this is the first they know about it, and that the rail service is pitiful and now it’s about to get worse.

    Now that the infrastructure us in place and it’s all a done deal, people are being consulted. Perhaps someone needs to brush up on their PR and participation 101. Whatever, it’s good old-fashioned outrage, and it can go any way it wants.

    Yes the Sth London RUS outlines some of the options, but that was in 2008. Now in 2012 we have the embarrassing position of an HLOS which tasks “the rail industry” (what is that exactly?) to come up with a plan for London and the SE (and how will they do that?), alongside a series of DfT public consultations on new franchises which give the distinct impression that no-one knows what the London rail network should look like to meet the growing demand. Especially south of the river.

    London needs a detailed strategic plan and an assessment of the various packages of infrastructure investments. Once this is presented in a coherent way, and people can see benefits of a more streamlined system and improved services, then you start to win them over.

    The discussion keeps coming back to Herne Hill, and we’ll look at this in a forthcoming post. But suffice to say that safeguarding at Blackfriars is not dependent on Herne Hill… if anything it is the other way round.

  77. Fandroid says:

    As the Evening Standard now seems to be mostly a property paper, it provided a new (very predictable) slant on the issue of no future through trains from the Loop to the central Thameslink stations in today’s edition. Clive Moon of Savills is quoted as saying “But for properties a kilometre or more away from these stations (I think he meant those on the Loop in south London) we could see prices fall by two to three percent” Bad news for some but good news for many others? ‘Savills estimate that each extra minute spent travelling into London knocks £1300 off the price of an average property’

  78. Anonymous says:

    Metrication: “We were told this repeatedly by one of the council representatives. He did say however that he had been to the construction site at Blackfriars and was told by engineers that the decision had been made by default basically because of the way that the station has been rebuilt.”

    In which case he clearly is saying contradictory things to different people.

    Lemmo: “On the furore on the Wimbledon Loop, and the involvement of the local authorities down the line, it is entirely possible that people will argue two positions at the same time. In their reality it is not about these positions, but about the fact that they feel they weren’t consulted and that this is the first they know about it, and that the rail service is pitiful and now it’s about to get worse.”

    I am obviously missing something, but how do you consult anyone on something that never happened?

    And while you can certainly argue for contradictory things, and politicians have no problem doing so, you cannot do it where the argument for one argues against the other. The position everyone has chosen to take puts them in that situation. One of the leading councillors in this battle has been so melodramatic as to call terminating at Blackfriars going back to before the Victorians opened the route, obviously ignoring that the line was closed to passengers for most of the last century anyway. When you refer to terminating trains as being “the dark ages” it is difficult to campaign for them.

    Lemmo: “But suffice to say that safeguarding at Blackfriars is not dependent on Herne Hill… if anything it is the other way round.”

    To be clear, I did only say that for safeguarding to be relevant to Merton and Lambeth it is dependent on Herne Hill. There are overall benefits to be gained from an expanded Blackfriars which can then take services from Kent via Catford without any need to upgrade Herne Hill (if anything it could alleviate some of the urgency there) or benefit to those communities on the loop. So why would a local politician want to argue against themselves to back a potential future idea that does not yet exist which even then may offer no local benefit.

    Whatever the overall, regional, and railway interests may be, there is no local political benefit in trying to pressure Network Rail into safeguarding Blackfriars. If anything it is more in their interest to back redevelopment on the route that can create jobs directly connected to their communities. Especially when facing a situation where they are about to lose that direct connection to many more jobs.

    This is not my argument though (either way), I am just expressing the local position from one part of the loop.

  79. timbeau says:

    They are not arguing contrary positions, as they are not mutiually exclusive, but if they were to be presented with a choice of 4tph each way round the loop terminating at Blackfriars, or 2tph through to St Pancras and beyond (as at present), which would the locals prefer?

    The problem is that they are getting the worst of both worlds – termination at Blackfriars but no improvement in frequency.

  80. Fandroid says:

    Although it’s not the same as a direct connection to the Thameslink stations in the City, the Loop does have a potentially excellent connection to both the City and the West End, at Elephant & Castle. The downside is that it must be one of the worst ‘strategic interchanges’ in London. The Tube is only accessible by lift. Accessing the Bakerloo requires a long march underground including a trip along a Northern Line platform. Then, just to get to the Tube station entrance from the NR station requires a trip through one of London’s grottiest shopping centres. A total rebuild of the two stations, with direct escalator access would improve connectivity dramatically.

    I like the idea of extending the Bakerloo to Brixton. With the Victoria Line relieved at its southern terminus it could be extended eastwards. There could be at least one new Bakerloo line station in the railway desert between the Northern Line and the arc of the SLL. The Bakerloo could go beyond Brixton to join the Northern somewhere in Clapham, so helping that line too. Then it could finally go on to Clapham Junction (and be overwhelmed!). Tongue in cheekily, it could join the Victoria end on at Brixton, so reducing four terminus stops on two lines, to two on one line (the Victorloo?).

  81. jamesup says:

    And a full strategic rebuild of elephant and castle is exactly what was proposed on various watercolour artistic impression, and yet absolutely not part of the redevelopment plan as it stands. Instead the shopping centre sitting above the station will be retained and expanded and our best case scenario is some escalators to the northern line, but nothing done about interchanges. Another massive wasted opertunity that we won’t see again.

  82. ChrisMitch says:

    As a user of Tooting and Mitcham Eastfields stations, I thought that the trade-off for terminating at Blackfriars was an improved frequency. But if we are not getting more trains, then it really does seem like a bum deal. I can now see why the good burghers of Streatham and Sutton are pissed off!

  83. Anonymous says:

    timbeau: “They are not arguing contrary positions, as they are not mutiually exclusive, but if they were to be presented with a choice of 4tph each way round the loop terminating at Blackfriars, or 2tph through to St Pancras and beyond (as at present), which would the locals prefer?”

    But what is the point of extra trains if they are only going to terminate somewhere no one wants to go? No one would catch them.

  84. Chris Richmond says:

    ^Until recently most terminals were ‘where no one wanted to go’, with some exceptions. But it’s the connections that mattered, and Blackfriars is not THAT bad, and as a destination itself it is one of the fastest growing areas for commercial development (on the south side) and is comparable to Waterloo and London Bridge for direct walking access to W/end and City respectively, and has the added bonus of being equidistant between the two. So it’s not the end of world if you had a 4tph or more service terminating there to start with…

    BUT of course It would be good to see through services – there should have been more planned down the E&C route in my opinion. A tunnel through the centre of a city is such a valuable asset that it should benefit the inhabitants of that city before those outside of it, but that has never been the case with Thameslink. No offence to those in Brighton and Bedford (and could you imagine – Kings Lynn!) but there are far more people in South London who need through routes than you do!

    I would love to see Thameslink fasts terminate at Luton, Stevenage and (wait for it…) Stansted in the North, then Gatwick, Guildford, Tonbridge in the South (or any suitable destinations within 30 miles or so of the centre). 4tph to each of these would give you half of all services on a 24tph core, and these ‘fasts’ could actually stop at more points within the M25 than currently. Then run 12tph locally – with the potential to split into 6/6 or 4/8 carriage formations at E&C and Kentish Town and run on to NLL, SLL, Wimbledon loop etc etc. Lots of engineering to do to achieve this I know, and a whole other problem with freight but the land is there, the cords are close and what a great London Overground network that would create! (Brighton and Bedford folk could get new faster 4tph services to lovely shiny new terminals at St P and LB where their through options are vast, including changing to Thameslink….

    So the point in this thread… Safeguard enough land south of Blackfriars to provide a flying or diving link to grade separate LB bound and E&C bound trains and create a new link that benefits those who live in this city, not those who live 50+ miles away…

    I propose a “Thameslink Rethink” and I reckon Boris might be up for it too…

  85. Lemmo says:

    @ jamesup, what a wasted opportunity at Elephant & Castle 🙁

    Any more info on TfL’s position, and what might still be possible at this stage?

  86. Anonymous says:

    @Chris Richmond. Isn’t it terrible that all these outsiders come in and overwhelm your facilities and infrastructure and how ironic that the same stance was being expoused by many King’s Lynners during the London housing overspill developments not that many years ago?

  87. Chris Richmond says:

    ^ I think, Anon, you miss my point. I am all in favour of improved services from anywhere in and out of London, including the mighty Lynn, but why should a town nigh on 100 miles from London have a metro style service through the core while many South Londoners struggle with 2tph terminators. I welcome all outsiders, even from Norfolk, they have all made our city great. And my apologies for the post war migration policies that probably did blight many towns for a while 50 years ago, but I’m sure that there were some benefits too.

    Anyway, I think KL is off the official TL map now so perhaps I should have said Peterborough…

  88. Anon again says:

    ^ Back at yah. To be honest I appreciate the point you are making and I am quite relieved that KL does not seem likely to be included in the final TL service. ( Metro service 1tph rising to 2tph peak? ) I feel resilence of the service would suffer markedly with every tiny delay south of KX especially due constraints of the single line sections north of Ely.

  89. MiaM says:

    How could a politician argue for getting Thameslink core services back to the Elephant&Castle route when the implied withdrawal has been known for atleast 4 years?

    They could anyway argue for the safeguarding and at the same time argue that Blackfriars terminators is bad. It’s just a matter of seeing the safeguarding as a part of a future four tracking north of Blackfriars! (Not something that will happend anytime soon, but it gives the politicians a logically acceptable way to argue both ways at the same time).

    Combine this articles safeguarding proposal with a safeguarding at the currently lost route Blackfriars-Moorgate and somewehere in a more distant future trains from the south could terminate at Moorgate instead of at Blackfriars.

    If Blackfriars terminators would overwhelm the district and Thameslink through trains then let the terminating platforms at Blackfriars be a dual zone 1-2 area, so anyone who don’t go further by rail only have to pay for zone 2. That would probably be a good incetive for commuters to walk or go by bus the last bit into the city. Perhaps combine this with better bus services (preferable through rotes that run “termini 1” – “the city” – “termini 2” (e.g. for example Blackfriars – the city – Liverpool street).


    Re thameslink semi-long distance services – if the trains are full then they surely it’s not a waste to run them.

    London should have enough through tracks so that no service have to terminate before crossing the central section! (Only acceptable restriction would be diesel hauled services where a loco change or dual mode diesel+electric locos would be too expensive. We don’t want diesel traction in long tunnels, toxic and another unneccesary fire hazard).

  90. timbeau says:

    The “lost” Blackfrairs – Moorgate curve at Smithfield had curvature far too tight for modern bogie stock, so some very heavy engineering would be needed to open up that axis.

    There are buses between Blackfriars and Liverpoool Street – 100 and 388 (and the 35, 100, 155 and 344 from Elephant to Liverpool St as well). There are no bus connections between Waterloo and Blackfriars though – and those to Ludgate Circus are very indirect.

  91. Anonymous says:

    MiaM: “How could a politician argue for getting Thameslink core services back to the Elephant&Castle route when the implied withdrawal has been known for atleast 4 years?”

    Presumably because the DfT are still saying that no definite decisions have been made, and are now consulting on the issue as though it is just an option. And to misquote Lemmo from above “Yes the Sth London RUS outlines some of the options, but that was in 2008.”

    I believe only 10tph will approach from Elephant & Castle, 6tph via Catford and 4tph via Herne Hill, so while the ability to keep them segregated has obvious benefits, it is not impossible to keep the loop as part of the core network if the political will is high enough. The infrastructure does not make it impossible, only less optimal.

    Which is one of the obvious advantages of having terminating Wimbledon loop trains, they are saved from constant disruption on the other sections of the network. Right now a problem in deepest Sussex can, and does, cause trains to be cancelled in St Helier leaving an hour wait or longer between trains.

    MiaM: “They could anyway argue for the safeguarding and at the same time argue that Blackfriars terminators is bad. It’s just a matter of seeing the safeguarding as a part of a future four tracking north of Blackfriars!”

    But if you are going to extend the core to four tracks then you would not need to safeguard being able to add terminating platforms. If anything, doing that is as good as saying you have no intention of expanding the through network.

  92. stimarco says:

    I’m going to go out on a verbose limb here and say that safeguarding the old Blackfriars approaches is probably a non-starter. It’s all very well opening up the possibility of more terminating platforms, but as a means to provide for a future quadrupling of the Thameslink core route, it’s just not viable.

    My reasons are two-fold:

    1. It’s a very expensive way to squeeze more trains into Kent and Surrey, but it’s only of benefit to people during the peaks. Outside the peaks, most people aren’t interested in travelling to the City. It’s the West End they want.

    2. Putting all your eggs in one basket is never a good idea. If anything were to happen the that Thameslink core route, where would everybody go? There’s an urgent need for a diversionary route. And one such route has already been suggested many times before:

    Build a new, four-track, Thameslink 2, connecting Charing Cross with Euston, with a triangle junction at Waterloo / Waterloo East.

    Charing X becomes a second cross-river station, like Blackfriars. (The remaining section of original station frontage and concourse could be converted into retail use.) The land rises here, so diving under the existing concourses isn’t an issue. Once underground, the two tracks can either run together all the way to Euston with a stop at TCR for interchange with Crossrail, or split, with one pair running via Covent Garden (which would be linked to TCR, like the Bank-Monument complex) before converging again at Euston.

    From here, they take over WCML domestic services, Watford DC services, and anything else you can think of to fill up the core capacity. If money permits, build a tunnelled connection to the original Thameslink routes north of Kings-Pancras to provide some redundancy if one route needs to be closed for maintenance.

    The Waterloo connection would require opening up the undercroft there to provide the main concourse. We’ve already seen this done at St. Pancras, so it’s definitely possible technically. Four tracks would be extended across the present concourse level, with one pair curving towards Charing Cross, while the other pair provides the southern half of the triangle, connecting Waterloo directly with London Bridge. (The remaining side is the existing Charing Cross route from LB. With no need to worry about terminating trains at CX, two should be fine.)

    The disused western chord into Cannon Street could therefore be recycled as part of a flying junction, connecting Waterloo directly with Cannon Street itself and permitting closure of the W&C and its recycling for other uses.

    This also gives you a brand new “South Bank Crossrail” effectively for free, too. Guildford-Gravesend would be possible without changing train. Similarly, Chessington passengers could go via the City during the peaks, with some services running via the Thameslink 2 (West End) route off-peak, relieving the LU tube lines.

    Waterloo East would close (obviously), so journey times would be a reduced by that too. Replacing W&C with a new link with Cannon Street would also reduce travel times as the connection would be much quicker. (Bank / Monument station will have an entrance very close to Cannon Street soon, but in any case, it’s called “The Square Mile” for a reason: Bank is only a few hundred yards from Cannon Street.)

    An alternative to the Cannon Street link might be to four-track the present Thameslink route by building a new tunnel accessed from a new ramp that dives down somewhere near Blackfriars Road, then curves north to a new station beneath Blackfriars’ LU platforms, another set of platforms way down beneath City Thameslink and the Thameslink platforms at Farringdon. These last two stations are the reason for starting the tunnel south of the Thames: neither has room for any more more platforms at the same level without serious demolition, and Crossrail’s station would be slap bang in the middle of a same-grade quadrupling.


    The above is why safeguarding the surface route over Blackfriars station doesn’t make much sense to me: Yes, it’d be nice if passive provision for quadrupling the route north of Blackfriars had been provided, but it wasn’t. The new tracks would have to dive down sharp-ish over an LU station and into a brand new cut-and-cover tunnel that would require *wiping out all the buildings built over the existing tunnel over the intervening years*. This simply isn’t going to make financial sense: it’d be cheaper to just tunnel below them. But that means you can’t use Blackfriars’ railway bridge to access it: the gradient would be far too steep. So you have to start the tunnel south of the river.

    However, once you’ve gotten past Farringdon, quadrupling would permit a rebuilt Kings Cross Thameslink station (the original station) to provide Mile End-style cross-platform interchange, with the Metropolitan tracks dropped beneath the new station into a new, very wide, island linking directly with the new (twin island) platforms above. It’d be a challenge to build without closing any of the lines for any major length of time, but it is doable, I think. This would also remove the need to build a similar cross-platform interchange at St. Pancras International, so the new station there could be built wherever is most convenient.

  93. Fandroid says:

    @stimarco adding two flat junctions onto the Charing X approach lines will be fun (capacity-wise), even assuming that the current four tracks is reduced to two in your Thameslink 2 plan.

    I am fairly sure that single routes with very good interchanges are the way to make the most of line capacity, not all-singing-all-dancing routes from everywhere to everywhere else.

    What south London really needs is a series of underpasses, flyovers and interchange stations so that frequencies can be upped and changing trains made easy.

  94. timbeau says:

    Fandroid – I don’t see any flat junctions in Stimarco’s plan – The two downstream tracks over Hungerfrod Bridge and through Waterloo east platforms A and B continue as at preesent to London Bridge. The four tracks proosoed across the concourse at Waterloo – roughly on the line of the old connection – two go left and take over the upstream pair of tracks on Hungerford Bridge, the otherv two go right and take over platforms C and D at Waterloo East, before taking a flying junction over the other two tracks and on to the Alexandra Bridge into Cannon Street.

    BUT – is there room to get a flyover in between the overbridge carrying the Blackriars approaches and the northern corner of the Borough Market triangle?

  95. StephenC says:

    ” is there room to get a flyover in between the overbridge carrying the Blackriars approaches and the northern corner of the Borough Market triangle?”

    Maybe, although you’d impinge on some expensive real estate in America Street and find it difficult to build with a running railway. BTW, there is another way (I’ve walked and examined the area a fair bit). 6 tracking the Southwark Street bridge is probably possible now, however the land on the South side has been earmarked for development (a tower). The section from Southwark Bridge Road to the Blackfriars junction is already 6 track. Thus the alternate way is to keep the Cannon Street to Waterloo line on the north side. At the curve up to Blackfriars, Network Rail has an office on the North side of the Charing Cross lines. This is accessed by a bridge over Great Suffolk Street which may have been an old railway bridge (certainly could be converted). So the line from Cannon Street can reach the north side of the Charing Cross lines west of the Elephant route without conflicts. From there it would require a steep climb to flyover the Charing Cross line, using the width of Waterloo East station, and meaning that the line would enter Waterloo above the concourse.

    My view is thus that either flyover location is just about feasible. But both are tight and in busy expensive locations. Since all this effort only succeeding in getting 2 tracks of Waterloo trains to Cannon Street (already a well used station), I considered that the Swanlink tunnel through the city to Stratford or Finsbury Park was the better option all round.

  96. MiaM says:

    Could the old curve Blackfriars-Moorgate curve had taken modern purpose-built stock (for example half-length cars with S-stock like walk-through sections) if the cure were still around?

    How about a “remix” of stimarco’s idéa:

    At stage one a tunnel connects Charing X with for example Euston, and the Waterloo area is changed so four Waterloo tracks are connected to Charing X, and the tracks from London Bridge via Waterloo East (closed in this proposal) is connected to another set of tracks at Waterloo. The missing full set of tracks west of London Bridge could perhaps be added at this stage. This would give SW through services A) through the west and and B) to London Bridge and then onto the SE network (or Southern network, depending on how the configuration at London Bridge is done). SE would unfortunitely lose their trains to Charing X but atleast get through trains to Waterloo.

    The second stage would be another tunnel through central london from “around Canon Street” to for example Liverpool Street.

    With clever engineering of flyovers e.t.c. this could give a service pattern where many morning peak trains run both from SW and SE to “around Canon Street” via a “around Bank” station onto Liverpool Street and vice versa. In the evening many trains from SW, SE and perhaps Southern (via some kind of flyovers east of Clapham Junction) can go through Charing X via some intermediate station(s) to Euston. Many of the trains that don’t fit in any of the tunnels can atleast be through trains SW – SE instead of Waterloo / London Bridge terminators.

    The “problem” here is what to do on the north side with a south-side service pattern that changes at different time of day. It’s not like people on the Watford DC line mostly party in the West End and people on the Shenfield line mostly work in the City and not vice versa 🙂

    That is however a general problem with any north-south rail link in London, it must diverge east-west to cover both the West End and the City. It’s not specific for my proposal.

    IMHO many parts of Londons rail network should be up for a possible major rethink before any major project starts. How about doing a change on the northern side – join the Watford DC line to the eastern part of the NLL, connect Euston to GOBLIN and make the line from Gospel Oak to Willesden Junction a stub/shuttle? (crazy idea – it looks god on the map…)

  97. timbeau says:

    Given that their approaches are on bridges over the river, precluding a lower approach, it would be very diifficult to extend from either CX or CSt in tunnel without demolishing major landmarks like St Martin in the Fields, the National Gallery, the Mansion House and the Bank of England, most of which have deep crypts or vaults.

  98. Lemmo says:

    I’d still like to know more about the redevelopment at Elephant & Castle and whether there is still potential to create a credible interchange here. Any more info, and what’s TfL’s position?

    Safeguarding this small triangle of land at Blackfriars could be seen as a component in four-tracking north, but our article on Farringdon shows how this route has been progressively eroded because there has been no strategic safeguarding. This erosion continues, with the new Crossrail station at Farringdon and the recent planning permission for redevelopment over the old Snow Hill station, which cements in a two-track bottleneck.

    Our companion piece on Smithfield bins any notion of reusing the East Curve to Moorgate, or even of replicating it somehow. By the time you’ve resolved the complexity of the alignment and junction arrangements, you might just as well bore a complete new N-S Crossrail, and the route that would take is unlikely to duplicate Thameslink.

    But we are still devaluing the four-track route south through Elephant & Castle. Additional terminal capacity in the city core is a no-brainer, and it is likely that the nascent CP5-CP6 investment strategy for London will have to include capacity enhancements at Herne Hill, Lewisham and Brixton, in which case the additional platforms at Blackfriars will be invaluable.

    I don’t agree that this will only be useful in the peaks, for the City. Blackfriars now serves a much larger catchment area, north and south of the river. The routes south can be developed as a metro service, which Overground shows can generate a healthy demand all-day.

    Pedantic of Purley has been looking into the history of Hungerford Bridge at Charing Cross, and quite rightly points out that it will be very hard converting this into a cross-river station as Blackfriars without rebuilding the whole bridge. The bridge girders will get in the way of the platforms.

    I’m with Fandroid:

    I am fairly sure that single routes with very good interchanges are the way to make the most of line capacity, not all-singing-all-dancing routes from everywhere to everywhere else.

    What south London really needs is a series of underpasses, flyovers and interchange stations so that frequencies can be upped and changing trains made easy.

  99. Malcolm says:

    The details might – will – vary. But stimarco’s basic idea – pushing across Waterloo concourse to somewhere – is, I reckon – just about brilliant. We now know (see Thameslink, Crossrail, RER, many other examples) that turning local trains in a big city is highly sub-optimal. If there is somewhere they can go through to, then many benefits come from sending them through. And these benefits are typically cheaper than building brand new lines. (Which doesn’t, of course, mean that they are cheap in any absolute sense). And a clever scheme like this /should/ be cheaper than a new crossrail-1 length cross-city tunnel.

    This does not of course make Fandroid wrong about simple routes with good interchanges. But cross-city schemes form an important way to make such interchanges work.

    As for going through Charing Cross, I would estimate that as long as the platforms can be on a steepish slope, you’d get below St Martin’s crypt ok. Any estimates for the value of “steepish”?

  100. Slugabed says:

    With respect to tunelling under Charing X….never mind St.Martin’s etc….Wouldn’t the Underground station complex be in the way?

  101. Long Branch Mike says:


    Yes, with three (3) tube lines down there, the Northern, Bakerloo, & disused Jubilee.

  102. Whiff says:

    @Slugabed and Long Branch Mike
    but there is a large gap between the Northern and the Bakerloo as anyone who has ever walked the subway between the two will know all too well. And my memory is that the Jubilee was significantly lower than the other two lines so you might be able to squeeze another tunnel in above the Jubilee platforms.

  103. RG says:

    RE: extending from Waterloo – to my mind the Swanlink proposal clearly makes the most sense: relief for the SWML slow lines and Waterloo itself, relief for W&C line, a direct rail service to the west and north of the City, interchange with Thameslink & tube at Blackfriars (on north or south bank depending which route option is preferred), a direct connection between Waterloo and Liverpool St, relief for Liv St, cross-platform interchange with crossrail (improved journeys from SWML to Canary Wharf), and maximising capacity of the existing lines by running 24tph (up from 16 on SWML, and 12 each on crossrail’s two eastern branches).

    The cheaper alternative of pushing through the waterloo concourse to take over 2 of the lines out of charing x would instantly hit a bottleneck through borough market, dramatically cutting its capacity – and since the line would not cross the river it offeres none of the benefits listed above, leaving the w&c overcrowded, no connection to liverpool street, and both eastern crossrail branches under-powered at 12tph. on balance this is a false economy as it fails to maximise capacity of what’s already there. By contrast, the tunnel through to Liverpool Street and beyond to take the Crossrail Shenfield branch would be transformative, relieve overcrowding and maximise the investment already being made in Crossrail.

  104. MiaM says:

    Charing Cross tube station diagram:

    As borough market is a bottleneck anyway, those two tracks can’t be of any importance for todays SE Charing X services?
    The borough market bottleneck should of course be solved in a waterloo – LB through services scenario.
    If the bottleneck isn’t solved then atleast some of todays Waterloo terminators might aswell terminate at some new budget-buildt station west of Borough Market. Not an ideal solution but it could have a good cost-benefit-level because there isn’t much infrastructure to build.

    A resolved Borough Market bottleneck would of course be ideal. Two tracks with 24 TPH connecting some metro services at Waterloo to some metro services at LB would surely relieve other services.

  105. Rogmi says:

    The Bakerloo line runs in almost a straight line from Embankment via Northumberland St and Cockspur St. The Northern line curves slightly west from Embankment and then under the east side of Charing Cross NR station, parallel with Villiers St. This effectively gives a “V” shape with a small opening at the bottom of the V. Ignoring the Jubilee line, a new tunnel could probably fit in if it followed below the NR tracks into Charing Cross.

    However, whilst it’s possible that a tunnel may be able to pass over the Jubilee line if the Jubilee is deep enough, I suspect that the various Underground staion tunnels, such as walkways, access tunnels, escalator shafts etc. in that area may be in the way.

  106. mr_jrt says:


    In my thoughts a new station with platforms below the river and surface entrances on either side worked out the best (kinda like a version of Blackfriairs, but with the river on the roof and it’s catchment area lengthened by the escalators). The existing bridges can be given over to either intra-city services or converted for pedestrian use (the Charing Cross bridge (or it’s alignment, if nothing else) could alternatively be used to extend Northumberland Road to the Imax roundabout, for example.

  107. Taz says:

    Why does Overground stop at New Cross when the New Cross Gate line extends south? Overground provides a route for another four trains an hour through New Cross, relieving presure on London termini.

  108. mr_jrt says:

    …because the track layout doesn’t really lend itself to running through trains, and fixing that would be quite difficult.

    Personally, I’d be tempted to divert the branch to the line through Deptford and terminate at Charlton, or perhaps Woolwich/Abbey wood and leave beyond there to Crossrail. Would need to be upped to at least 6tph to maintain the current service levels though.

  109. Taz says:

    @mr_jrt the track layout didn’t suit at New Cross Gate, but it was fixed. Long time ago this was the proposed route for the Fleet Line to Lewisham and beyond (Barnehurst, Slade Green and Hayes at various times). Current Overground 4-car, proposed 5-car, is a restriction. ELL was 6-car but Canada Water is only 4-car.

  110. mr_jrt says:

    Well yes, but the track usage at New Cross Gate (slow lines on the outside) made it quite easy to do so, and only a flyover was required, so it barely disrupted the existing lines at all.

    To do the same at New Cross, you would have to either introduce a horrific flat crossing across 2 lines (the down and reversible slow) to get to the up slow, and there simply isn’t the room to go over or under them and come up in the right place. When the former connection used to be in place there were fewer lines – all of the platforms except the LO bay have been demolished twice over since then, and rebuilt without platforms on the fast lines to make room for the slow reversible line. The line via Deptford is a good match for LO…4-6 tph and sending 5-6 car trains via Lewisham would be madness given the capacity constraints on the flat junction there.

    Ideally…what I’d like to see is a large interchange station (a-la Clapham Junction) built on the incinerator site at Surrey Quays with platforms on all the lines to London Bridge as well the the LO line underneath, removing the need to travel via London Bridge to interchange (as the orbital LO can never get there), spreading the load before the terminals should relieve them greatly. I’d imagine South Bermondsey would also probably close with everything being sent via the LO route instead.

  111. evergreenlondon says:

    What is the maximum capacity of the core ELL in trains per hour? Will it be reached when the Clapham Junction service is introduced?

  112. mr_jrt says:

    My understanding is that the signalling is designed to handle up to 24tph, the same as Thameslink, hence the need for the bay platforms at Dalston Junction…as without them there there would be no way to operate 24tph as you simply couldn’t turn them back anywhere fast enough.

    4tph – New Cross
    8tph – New Cross Gate ( 4tph Crystal Palace, 4tph West Croydon)
    4tph – Clapham Junction

    …that’s 16tph, with another 8tph up for grabs before the signalling needs improving to the level planned for Crossrail (30tph, IIRC).

    I’d probably spend them as 6tph to Willesden Junction via Crystal Palace (replacing the outer SLL and turning 2tph at Crystal Palace), upping New Cross to 6tph but diverting it to terminate at Abbey Wood via Greenwich, and extending West Croydon to Epsom Downs, perhaps turning 2tph at West Croydon.

  113. Fandroid says:


    Although I’m a massive advocate of interchanges, I doubt that your Surrey Quays version of Clapham Junction would ‘relieve the terminals greatly’. One thing the terminals are currently good at is dealing with huge crowds of people. All your proposal would do is pile more people on to the ELL, and they would then totally overload Canada Water. Anyway, the ‘great relief’ that the terminals need is relief from terminating trains, and unfortunately your idea would not reduce those at all.

  114. mr_jrt says:


    Well..the other addendum is a new north-south tunnel from south of this interchange to Finsbury Park via The City & Liverpool St…but that’s going even further off the topic than even I usually go.

    I concede the point about Canada Water though. In an ideal world the Jubilee would have been routed via Surrey Quays and that station designed to handle the interchanges, but failing that, a massive upgrade of Canada Water to handle the crowds is an option no more fanciful than the super-station. 🙂

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – it’s a real shame the Poplar/Mudchute branch of the NLR was lost to the DLR, along with the Greenwich Park branch to disuse. Given modern tunnelling capabilities LO’s Clapham Junction service could have run via Brockley and Greenwich instead of (or in addition to) Peckham and up through the heart of the Docklands instead. We would then have had two north-south axes to work with rather than having to cram everything via Surrey Quays and would be discussing the problems with so many interchanging at Brockley and a new Lewisham station created from the merging of Lewisham and St Johns.

  115. Anonymous says:

    There is a public consultation on the plans being held tomorrow (Tuesday 25th Sept).

  116. Lemmo says:

    Thanks, and you can also provide your views directly on the developers’ website:

  117. evergreenlondn says:

    The Clapham Junction branch will be overloaded as soon as it opens especially as the South London Line service is to be withdrawn at the same time. It is likely that some of the spare paths through the core will have to be used to add extra services to Clapham Junction.

  118. Anonymous says:

    not sure if this is new – but proposed scheme will rule out expansion – quite unecessary aswell, it could easily alow for it without reducing ft/2.

  119. Lemmo says:

    Thanks anonymous 31/12, and it’s unbelievably short-sighted.

    I have no idea whether the authorities (TfL, Southwark) are working with the developers to ensure that this small piece of land is safeguarded, but this is still possible as the designs are early-stage and there are plenty of options.

    Anyone have more info?

  120. anon says:

    Off thread but interesting piece re similar lack of foresight at Earl’s Court at Mike Horne’s blogspot

  121. APB says:

    Wouldn’t it be possible to do a deal with the developer : they make passive provision on the west side for the space for the additional new tracks in return for air rights over the entire station throat to link their West side and East side development into one building with the tracks running through it ? Or , alas, is it too late?

  122. timbeau says:

    Far too sensible, and probably too late.

    I do also wonder if the railway would be happy to close the line to allow a raft to be built in order to exercise those “air rights”

  123. Anonymous says:

    How about reopening Borough Road, Walworth Road & Camberwell stations,
    re-organising the line so that between the Dolben Street & Loughborough junctions, stopping trains use the inner two tracks stopping at the island platforms & express trains use the outer two tracks by-passing the stations & running a stopping service to Wimbledon perhaps.

  124. lemmo says:

    @ anonymous, the options to reopen these stations are discussed above. A reopened Camberwell would probably provide the most value, and might strengthen the case to opt for an Old Kent Road route for the Bakerloo extension.

    Rebuilding the central platforms as island platforms may appear easier, but the original platforms were not very long; whether they could even take eight-car trains now is debatable.

    Also, segregating by Fast/Slow makes for complex junction working at Loughborough Jn and Blackfriars. Much more straightforward to segregate by route, and preferably keep them separate, so that Herne Hill services use the western pair of tracks into the Blackfriars terminal platforms.

    Sadly this is not the case: political pressure resulted in the Wimbledon Loop retaining through services to Thameslink, which has created timetabling repercussions far afield and ultimately will reduce the capacity of the system as a whole.

  125. ngh says:

    Re Lemmo,

    Camberwell – Pressumably re-opening is what is required to buy off Southwark council completely in favour of the Old Kent Road route for the Bakerloo.

  126. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ NGH – a possible scenario but the Mayor was asked about reopening Camberwell recently and it was dismissed on cost and practicality grounds. That merely ups the ante for Southwark Council with its “two routes” demand for the Bakerloo Line. Of course the complete unwillingness to contemplate station reopenings (barring Lea Bridge) is a fundamental problem in London. I am not saying such reopenings are cheap in and of themselves but you could do loads of them and cover the operational impact for rather less than the hundreds and hundreds of millions of pounds a divergent Bakerloo line route would cost.

  127. Greg Tingey says:

    the complete unwillingness to contemplate station reopenings (barring Lea Bridge) is a fundamental problem in London.
    Incomplete list ….
    Dalston (junction as was) Hackney Wick, Homerton, Hoxton, Haggeston, Spitalfields, stations on WLL (various), Turkey St, Theobalds Grove, Southbury.
    All the ex-railway stations on Tramlink.
    I’m sure there are more?

  128. Fandroid says:

    The October Modern Railways has a network diagram for the new Thameslink services from 2018. It shows nothing terminating at Blackfriars at all ! However, this might just be a badging issue, as GTR are insisting on keeping the ‘brands’ separate and it could be that the trains that terminate there will be carrying Southern or Southeastern badges.

  129. timbeau says:

    “stations on WLL (various), ” well, two – Shepherds Bush and West Brompton. Imperial Wharf is new, as is Mitcham Eastfields

    With the exception of Bingham Road (now renamed Addiscombe) and arguably Coombe Road (replaced by Lloyd Park), both closed in 1983, all the ex-NR stations on Tramlink were operational right up until the start of tram conversion work in 1997, and were indeed served by “Schienenersatzverkehrn” (replacement bus services) during the interregnum.

  130. Paul says:

    Fandroid @ 1041.

    AFAICT the diagram in Modern Railways is solely concerned with the weekday peak Thameslink service in 2018 , in which case there wouldn’t be any Thameslink services into Blackfriars bays.

    Southern are not intended to run to Blackfriars (as now), just Southeastern. That is as per the TSGN ITT.

  131. Fandroid says:

    @Paul. The Thameslink diagram is concerned with weekday (both peak and non-peak) services in the Dec 2018 timetable. They carefully indicate peak-only services with broken lines. All Wimbledon Loop services are shown as continuing north to St Albans, with peak direction services from/to Luton. Off-peak Sevenoaks services are shown as turning round at Kentish Town, but also with peak direction services from/to Luton. That leaves only Southeastern services using the bay platforms at Blackfriars. However, all Sevenoaks services are due to be transferred to GTR at the end of this year. Maidstone East services will be using the bay platforms, but only until January 2018. So what will be there in Dec 2018?

  132. @timbeau

    “served by “Schienenersatzverkehrn” (replacement bus services) during the interregnum.”

    Also known as bustitution 🙂

  133. Greg Tingey says:

    You are emphasising, again, the scandalous under-use of the 4 tracks Blackfriars – Loughborough Jn. What is to be done?
    The difficulty is that any trains using those tracks will then either have to go around the Catford loop (which means crossing-over on the flat at the S end, or through the bottleneck of Herne Hill.
    Which suggests another repeat theme, that the layout of Blackfriars is wrong.

  134. Fandroid says:

    @Greg. The Elephant in the network?

  135. Ian Sergeant says:

    I think if we are going to sort out Blackfriars it would be horrifically expensive. At least one more platform across the river, Herne Hill grade separation, demolition of buildings to allow running as far as City Thameslink. But here is a map. It’s a 4-5 minute walk from Blackfriars to City Thameslink. It can’t have a good BCR – unless you quadruple the Snow Hill Tunnel and terminate at Farringdon to give the connectivity. I can’t see this being high on anyone’s wish list.

  136. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Greg – I really should learn my lesson and be completely precise in what I write for fear of invoking the pedantic response. What I meant was “station reopening is not a current preferred policy for TfL or Network Rail or the TOCs”. I agree stations have reopened in the past but I do wish station reopening was more openly considered as a constant element of transport policy *in London*. I know it may bring issues about more overloading of services, possible signalling alterations, slowing down of some services but we really should be improving access to rail services where we sensibly can. And please no lecture about running speeds by way of response!! Done that one.

  137. Graham Feakins says:

    @Ian Sargent – Your walking time seems to ignore the significant number of users of City Thameslink who use the Newgate Street/Holborn Viaduct end of the station. Apart from anything else, it’s an uphill climb to there from Blackfriars (requiring two sets of escalators at the station). I never did it in the time you quote and that’s when I was young and fit.

  138. Anonymous says:

    It boggles my mind that the possibility of a 10 minute walk from Blackfriars has people frothing at the mouth. In the rest of the country we’re happy if we have a station within 10 miles, and anything less than a 10 minute walk counts as next door!

  139. timbeau says:

    @Graham F
    “Your walking time seems to ignore the significant number of users of City Thameslink who use the Newgate Street/Holborn Viaduct end of the station.”

    Me included – but if a ten minute walk is the price of a a 15 minute frequency, so be it. In any case, even if you do catch a Wimbledon train from the Holborn Viaduct entrance of CTL, you have to walk halfway to the other entrance anyway (eight car train (or sometimes only four!), twelve car platform!)

  140. Ian Sergeant says:

    @Graham Feekins

    Google’s time, not mine, presumably from the entrance to the station. The point is still valid – is it really worth the huge investment for the removal of a ten minute walk?

  141. Anomnibus says:

    @Walthamstow Writer:

    The problem with reopening disused inner-London stations is that peak services will already be packed before they get there, so nobody will be able to get on. So why bother going to all that effort?

    Furthermore, these stations were closed for good reasons: other transport modes took over and proved better and more efficient at transporting people from those areas into and out of London’s centre. While the trams may be gone, motor buses are still available and shift far more people about than the railways do. Improving bus lanes, junctions and traffic flows to speed up bus services would be a far better investment.

  142. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Anomnibus – while I understand the point you make I fear you’re a bit out of date. London will soon lose a load of road space including bus priority because of cycle highway plans. This is going to slow down buses enormously – especially in parts of inner East and South London / zone 1 boundary areas. Lots of recent highway changes have resulted in narrower traffic lanes, awkward junction designs etc which do nothing to speed buses up. There is no bus priority on the revised T Hale gyratory at all, buses now have to limp through more junctions than ever and one junction has an 8 second cycle time. It can take minutes to make one right turn move. That is one example of the idiotic highway changes that are being applied across London and there are many, many more planned. Look at the detailed plans for places like Aldgate, Mile End, Vauxhall, Oval and Elephant and Castle.

    Some of the estimated impacts, in TfL’s recently released documents, make for depressing reading even if you accept the highly selective way in which they have only revealed partial data on a tiny number of bus routes. When you look across the results and then consider routes that would run across several of the “slowed down” areas you have to wonder what planet people are on. In the light of this nonsense people still have to travel and therefore the clamour for effective rail transport in places like Camberwell are not going to go away. They will simply get louder. Given most transport modes are “full” in London in the rush hour a full train is little different to a full bus. You are also forgetting that TfL have been removing peak hour bus capacity on routes in Zone 1 and that the budget assumes that mileage increases will lag a long way behind predicted demand increases. The only two modes that seem to have some money available to them are rail and cycles. All I am saying is that there are places that would benefit from a policy of reopening or adding new stations.

    I don’t expect to see a mass transfer to bicycles for commuting purposes just because there are cycle lanes. As we’ve said before you need a load of other measures too which are not necessarily in the gift of TfL or the Mayor.

  143. Anomnibus says:

    @Walthamstow Writer:

    I’d act all shocked and surprised, but I’m not. This is exactly what I was worried about: the cycling lobby has basically shouted down all their opponents and Londoners will suffer as a result.

  144. Castlebar (wishing to save Wormwood Scrubs) says:

    I never used to be anti cyclist. In fact I once was one of them.

    Two incidents over the weekend have cause me to change my mind

    There is obviously a percentage of cyclist who consider themselves above the law to the extent that they feel red lights at pedestrian crossings do no apply to them. I saw a cyclist cause a minor injury to a pedestrian who had waited for the green man to show by cycling into him.

    There is obviously a percentage of cyclist who consider themselves above the law to the extent that they feel red lights at road junctions do not apply to them. I witness a cyclist dismount having gone through a red light and kick a passenger door panel on a car crossing the junction at right-angles to himself, then re-mount and cycle away on the pavement.

    It seems that we are breeding a very nasty set of people in this country, and unfortunately some of them are also cyclists.

  145. @Anomnibus

    “Furthermore, these stations were closed for good reasons: other transport modes took over and proved better and more efficient at transporting people from those areas into and out of London’s centre. While the trams may be gone, motor buses are still available and shift far more people about than the railways do. Improving bus lanes, junctions and traffic flows to speed up bus services would be a far better investment.”

    The way buses are being slowed down my TfL’s road ‘improvements’ (commented on on another thread), additional tube stations in Z1 may well be necessary.

    Furthermore there are considerable new developments, such as the Mount Pleasant Post Office building redevelopment, that are increasing density and will drive(!) more public transport demand. Hopefully with a new Mayor the priority, as you say, will be on improving bus lanes, junctions, & traffic flows.

    But all options should be looked at, including re-opened Tube stations, to serve new high density developments. For example, when CR1 opens, many cross-town Central line journeys will migrate to it, so adding a station on the Central, say to interchange with the ELL Overground line, would not be as much a time penalty for as many passengers as it would be nowadays.

  146. Graham Feakins says:

    @Ian Sargent & others – the Holborn Viaduct end of City Thameslink fills a lengthy gap between Central Line’s St. Paul’s and Chancery Lane (and avoids TfL fares). It’s not just that extra 10 minute walk but the fact that one must add to that the time needed to reach the Holborn office area – a major source of patronage for that end of City Thameslink. Blackfriars is down on the Embankment and not the natural choice for Holborn area commuters; even Temple is closer to walk to should one include TfL tickets. Of course, many others walk even further away from Blackfriars (from City Thameslink) to the Farringdon area.

    History bit: according to G.T. Moody 4th edition 1968, Holborn Viaduct’s three terminating platforms (8 cars each) handled 20-22 service trains between them each peak hour, e.g. 1700 – 17.59. I’ll not say more because I know PoP’s riposte.

  147. Anomnibus says:

    @Graham Feakins:

    I know it’s fashionable to get all nostalgic and rose-tinted about past throughput, but a mere count of trains-per-hour doesn’t tell us anything about the trains themselves.

    The fact is that most trains were simply much shorter back in the day, and shorter trains clear junctions more quickly than longer ones do.

    Station dwell times were also kept down by having multiple, permanent, members of staff at each and almost every station. (Labour was much, much cheaper back then.) We don’t have armies of porters and guards now.

  148. Greg Tingey says:

    Anomibus & Castlebar
    RE: “The cycling lobby” (Declaration – I still cycle a bit …
    But it is a wonderful excuse for Local Authorities < -- to impose chaos.!-->
    LBWF have done just that, usng TfL “min-holland” monies to close off streets in the name of improving cycling.
    Except one LBWF employee forgot his script speaking to me on Saturday & told me it was “To stop rat-running” – in which case, why are you using “minio-holland” money, eh?

    Local Authorities are also responsible for road-humps on main bus routes, slowing everything down & damaging the spines of said bus passengers, too!

    Now, how long before the penny drops?
    Or do we have to have another 2-5years of pandering to the cycle-lobby, before it all goes into reverse?

    Thanks – that’s the same as my info.
    But, of course, all those 22-24 trains were also passing through Blackfriars.
    And the peak loading for Thameslink 3000 is how many tph?
    [Then all too familiar rant about ‘progress’ snipped LBM]

  149. Graham Feakins says:

    Unfortunately, Anomnibus, you are incorrect. The fact was that all trains were of full 8-car length back then in the peaks at Holborn Viaduct. Only if there was a rolling stock shortage caused by seasonal problems could a few trains be short-formed. I didn’t mention the platform length at Holborn Viaduct for nothing.

  150. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Greg – I wouldn’t say the LBWF employee lost their script. Clearly if you wish to encourage local cycling then you want to reduce the risk of cars dashing through local side roads and colliding with cyclists, especially children who may be riding to school or to a friend’s house. Therefore removal of “rat running” is entirely compatible with a Mini Holland. In reference to your earlier post about not knowing about the scheme then I can only recommend keeping an eye on the LBWF website even if it pains you to do so 😉 . I found the info and was aware of broadly what was happening. I was interested to see if the W12 bus was affected and it isn’t for the trial. We’ll see if that changes later when the main scheme is developed.

    One thing that was interesting late last week and in to Saturday were reports of chronic traffic problems in Hoe St and at the Bus Station. Some buses were removed from the bus station temporarily and there were horrible delays. I did wonder if that was an odd side effect of traffic being displaced and Hoe St being unable to cope.

  151. timbeau says:

    @Graham F
    “the Holborn Viaduct end of City Thameslink fills a lengthy gap between Central Line’s St. Paul’s and Chancery Lane ”
    However, since City TL only serves a north south line and St Pauls and Chancery Lane only an east west line, many people have to walk past one to get to the other. One of the reasons that stretch of the Central is so busy is that you have to go several stops east or west before you can change for the south (there is no southbound interchange between Bank and Tottenham Court Road – (the Piccy turns west at Holborn)

    As I a daily commuter to HV in the early 80s, I can confirm that eight car trains were the norm (even though they only just fit – no room for hydraulic buffers even!)
    It was notable though that on the Tulse Hill line the staple fare was 4x2SAP (class 418) units – to the SR pattern: downgraded first class compartments, side corridors, and no less than eight driving cabs and four guards vans in the formation. (We also got the prototype refurbished 4EPB, 5401). I suspect the allocation of trains with such a lot of wasted space was indicative of relatively low patronage.

  152. Graham Feakins says:

    @timbeau – Going even further back to when I used Holborn Viaduct daily, 2×4-SUB’s on the Tulse Hill route were the norm (and 2×4-EPB on South Eastern Division services).

    Coming from the south/south-east, HV was a useful station when otherwise one would change at London Bridge for the Northern Line to Bank and then Central Line to Chancery Lane.

    I fell to wondering why the Central London Railway didn’t construct a station at Holborn Viaduct and the conclusion I came to is that the tracks are too deep-level there – well below Farringdon Street and the Fleet River, itself below Holborn Viaduct (the road) and thus the lift technology of the time might have been a depth too far.

  153. Greg Tingey says:

    The road that runs down to the clock-tower (Church Hill) was backed-up almost to the top (by the girl’s school & past my road-end) @ 10.02 yesterday morning …
    The traffic has gone elsewhere & is now thoroughly jammed.
    Of course, I suspect LBWF won’t notice, because it’s “out of area”.
    You may be correct about watching their web-site, but you’d expect people 20 metres away from a proposed road-closure to be told, wouldn’t you?
    What it’s like at Raglan Rd, I don’t know …

    General question:
    I know other boroughs are supposed to be doing the “mini-holland” thing …
    And the way these affect road transport, (& especially buses in this case) should be of more general interest to readers of this blog.
    Might it be possible to have a list-type blog-entry on these, so that, from our various London viewpoints, we can keep track, compare & contrast the effectiveness, or otherwise of these schemes?
    IIRC, & according to Tfl: –
    The boroughs getting funding for “Mini-Hollands” are: Enfield, Kingston & LBWF.

    So, WW & I can keep watch on the LBWF one … anyone near to the Kingston & Enfield ones?

  154. timbeau says:

    Nothing much happening in Kingston yet, except that there are reports of costs increasing so some of it may not happen. The inadequte signing of the cycle route through the market place (not a sensible place to have one in the first place, as pedestrians are going every which way, but heigh ho, that’s the official north-south route across town) has gone, to be replaced by no signs at all, so pedestrians have no warning that cyclists might be about – to the hazard of all concerned.

  155. Greg Tingey says:

    LBWF Map
    HERE My house is about a millimetre off the map to the north (right).
    I was not even told in advance.

    Here, too, And about as non-informative as LBWF’s original proposal, I’m afraid – no real details.

    Which is Even vaguer as to practical details …..

  156. timbeau says:

    Both your Enfield and Kingstoin links are broken
    This is Kingston’s bid

    and this is what it actually got

    (the picture of the area outside the station is completely unrealistic – the two lanes road (reduced from three) will, as now, be full of traffic. I note it also seems that the bus only cut-though has gone, adding up to ten minutes to bus journey times to and from the bus station)

    six months later and costs have gone up by somewhere between 13% and 37%

  157. Anomnibus says:

    @Graham Feakins and others:

    I appreciate your point, and I should probably have expanded on mine.

    The fact is: eight carriages is “short-formed” by today’s standards. But there’s a lot more to it than that…

    4-CIGs, 4-EPBs, 2-HAPs, etc. were typically around 19-ish metres in length and crammed full of seating, with relatively little space for standees. Now consider the space taken up by multiple baggage / guard’s compartments on services that used multiple EMUs coupled together, which was most of them in the peaks.

    Once the Thameslink upgrade is finished, most of the trains running through London Bridge and the Thameslink core will be up to twelve carriages in length, using brand new trains that have carriages about a metre longer than those slam-door models. A metre doesn’t sound like much, but it adds up over a full 12 carriages to more than 36 feet of extra space to pack humans into.

    These are also fixed-formation trains with no space wasted by unneeded cab ends, or baggage and guard compartments. You can therefore pack a lot more people on a modern train than was the case in the past. (Yes, disabled toilets are huge, but we no longer provide buffet cars on our commuter services, so it cancels out.)

    Modern trains have some cons: fewer, though automated, entrances than older slam-door urban commuter stock, such as the 4-EPBs. This affects dwell times as passengers have to make their way to the doors, rather than just stepping through the one next to their seat. The lack of permanent platform staff today also affects that figure as it means there are fewer eyes to keep an eye on the train and passengers.

    The roundabout to that particular swing is that modern trains usually have CCTV platform monitors to help with the platform management, as well as better acceleration and braking characteristics, so they can make up for slightly longer dwell times by simply getting up to line speed more quickly and can delay braking a little longer too.

    But improved performance is great is less useful when trying to squeeze as many trains into a terminus as possible, as the line speeds around such stations are rarely high enough for the better train performance to make much difference. Hence the increasing pressure for more cross-London rail projects. The alternative is expanding our termini.

    Finally, there’s the simple fact that regulations are tighter, thanks to incidents like these. We have better systems in place to prevent such accidents, but at the expense of bay platform throughput: trains have to creep into dead-end platforms and sidings now. (Which is fair enough as we live in a far more litigious age. Contrast with the days when people thought nothing of disembarking a train like this.)

    In summary: It’s complicated, but the takeaway is that comparing modern train operation practices with those of 50+ years ago is comparing apples with oranges. Not only do we not run railways the way we used to, for safety reasons alone, we cannot run railways that way.

  158. Slugabed says:

    Anomnibus et al
    Having commuted in the 70s (to school,yes,but it WAS commute) in the slam-door stock,I would hesitate to describe the baggage compartments as “wasted space” in terms of passenger capacity….this might lead younger readers to form the impression that they were locked,empty and out of use.
    On the contrary,many was the time I saw them crammed-full of passengers,their pale faces pressed against the glass of the little window…

  159. Melvyn says:

    TFL have launched a consultation on the extension of the Bakerloo Line which covers some of this route or from another perspective builds a new line instead of upgrading existing route in similar fashion to how Overground upgraded and added new stations on existing lines act a fraction of then cost ,- see link

    I remember a number of years ago when THAMESLINK was being developed proposals to re open stations on the route from Elephant and Castle were made but nothing came of it most likely because by then Thatcher has abolished the GLC and thus plans Ken Livingstone had been developing when Thameslink 2000 was still way in the future !

    As for cycling in Walthamstow local london TV news mentioned chaos that temporary trial has created with a minibus on TFL route having to mount the pavement !

    As for re-opening stations on lines like Camberwell well doing this on the Overground between Shoreditch High Street and Dalston Junction has proved successful and can be done at far less cost and in far less time than extending a tube line which will end up having less capacity and make Driverless operation of Bakerloo line even less possible !

    For information the fleet river runs north to south beneath Farringdon road and given how a river passes through Slone Square station is not a great hinderence to a central line station at Holborn Viaduct.

    In fact a Central Line Station could be built at Farringdon Road level with interchange to both Thameslink and Crossrail at nearby Farringdon Station vis subways .

  160. Greg Tingey says:

    Probably opposite the Queens Arms & the bakers shop … or just up the road. LBWF strike again!
    Do you have a link for that TV “spot”?

  161. Steven Taylor says:


    Your comments re baggage compartments brings back memories as a commuter. On a busy service, often the Guard would let passengers travel with him in the `Guards Van` at the ends of a EPB or SUB.
    I remember looking at gauges, such as `train pipe`, and a red notice `Test the Brake`.
    Plus the order to use `track circuit operating clips first`.
    For a few years with the new sliding door stock you could use the rear drivers cab – I often did from Clapham J. to Waterloo. There was a notice stating that you had to vacate area if requested by train crew. Unfortunately, this stopped because some late night revellers were using the area as a urinal.
    In those days, I have seen the unit reach 65 mph on the Up Local to Vauxhall. Happy days.

  162. Slugabed says:

    Steven Taylor
    I was going the other way (a contra-flow commuter avant la lettre) from Clapham Jct to school in Putney,so never had the experience myself,but saw it most days looking across from Platform 5 to Waterloo-bound trains on Platform 4 in the morning peak.
    But yes,I DID ride a couple of times in the rear cab of a 508 in their early days…I’d forgotten about that!

  163. Anomnibus says:


    The Overground’s Shoreditch High Street station is on a completely different location to the one it replaced and is a completely new build: they literally razed the old viaduct to the ground before building it. Dalston Junction was a complete rebuild that just happens to be on the same site as the original station, but little of the original fabric remains. LOROL also had the huge advantage of recycling the long-disused Kingsland Viaduct route into Broad Street. They didn’t have to worry about maintaining an existing service while doing the work.

    Re-opening Camberwell station would involve performing major surgery on an old Victorian viaduct while trains are still running over all four of its tracks. That’s a very different kettle of boiling frogs, and a hell of a lot more expensive to do.

    The disused stations on the route via Elephant & Castle were closed nearly a century ago and are unlikely to meet modern standards for stations. Specifically: the platforms were quite a bit shorter back then, so it’s not as simple as restoring those. Furthermore, Network Rail would be obliged to meet modern “Step Free” access requirements as ‘grandfather rights’ would not apply. That means lifts at the very least, plus stairs wide enough to cope with peak passenger flows, so you’ll need quite a lot of width for the platform too.

    Basically, you’re not saving any money by reopening the station just because there used to be one there before. It’d be a new-build in all but name. If you’re going to go to all that effort, there’s no real need to pick the same site as the original station either.

  164. timbeau says:

    How many tph are planned to run via Elephant when this is all over? Could two tracks handle it? (there will be only two through City TL, after all, and that has to handle the trains through LBR as well)

    If so, the viaduct is plenty wide enough to take a platform of any length you want.

  165. Melvyn says:

    @Greg T I checked local news sites but report is not shown .

    @ Anonmibus I know as original Shoreditch Station on corner of Old Street is now a posh bar !

    As to cost of reinstating old stations one surely needs to look at cost of building new running tunnels and stations to compare costs and not just cost of new station ?

    I agree extension of Bakerloo Line beyond E&C would be good but would it be better on a new routeing going eastwards towards docklands serving places like Surrey Quays and Harmondsworth Quay and linked to Jubilee Line at Canada Water or even to Thamesmead ?

  166. timbeau says:

    Docklands already has the Jubilee, DLR and soon Crossrail – surely it doesn’t need the Bakerloo as well?

  167. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Greg – it was on the BBC London News

    It was on Orford Road in the Village, as you say, and featured everyone’s favourite LBWF councillor – Mr Loakes. The general reaction was negative but I saw a tweet this morning from Sustrans who were full of praise (mild understatement there!) for LBWF blocking off Shernhall St at Lea Bridge Road (there was a photo of this location). One of the people commenting on the telly cited the fact that the traffic generally, and buses in particular, in Walthamstow (not just the trial area) had been reduced to a crawl which is true.

  168. Graham Feakins says:

    @Anomnibus 30 Sept 17:23 – “…most of the trains running through London Bridge and the Thameslink core will be up to twelve carriages in length, using brand new trains that have carriages about a metre longer than those slam-door models.”

    The Siemens Desiro Class 700 trains for Thameslink will be supplied as 55 12-car sets, each seating up to 666 passengers, and 60 eight-car trains, which will seat 427, so not “most of the trains” at all (unless you only mean via London Bridge – and even them I’m not confident) – and certainly not as many seats!

    The 8 car sets are reported by Siemens as 162m (so twice 81m), so marginally shorter than an 8 car Class 465 (Networker). An 8-car Networker train has 696 seats – more, you might care to note, than a 12-car Desiro…. A Thameslink Class 319 has somewhat fewer but still substantially more than 600 seats in an 8-car train.

    Since the new Thameslink will serve inter alia long-distance, traditionally ‘always a seat’ from the South Coast destinations and now e.g. Cambridge on the other side of the River, do those passengers now expect to be “packed in” as you describe and standing at that?

  169. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Graham F – the passengers may not expect to be crammed in but these days it happens more and more. I’ve read many reports of Cambridge trains being horrendously oversubscribed in the peaks and not exactly under used off peak. Cambridge station seems to be a nightmare all on its own in terms of congestion and ticket queues. I am a tad surprised that such long trains for Thameslink will have so few seats but today’s railway is more about crush them in than travel in comfort.

  170. timbeau says:

    The seating capacity of an “open” 4EPB was 102 in the trailers and 82 in the motor coaches – so an eight car formation took 736. That’s 10% than a TWELVE car class 700!

    Pre-refurbishment most of the EPBs, and their 4SUB predecessors, had a compartment trailer (or two semi-compartment trailers in the BR-design EPBs) giving an extra 18 seats – 772 in an eight car train.

    The original all-compartment “Queen of Shebas” managed 936 in an eight car train – more than double an eight car class 700

    (nine twelve seat compartments in the motor coaches, eleven in one trailer and ten in the other – the difference being the second one had six 1st class compartments, although 1st class was abolished on inner suburban lines before they entered service in 1941 – the cognoscenti knew where to find these slightly more spacious compartments)

    Incidentally, Bulleid’s double deck system got 552 into each four car set, but with only one door for every 22 seats, and eleven of them only accessible by a narrow staircase, this proved an impractical arrangement. (Compare an eight car class 700 will only have sixteen pairs of doors – 427/16 = 27 seats per pair of doors, compared to 10 or 12 per single door in an EPB or SUB.)

  171. Graham Feakins says:

    @timbeau – Hurrah for all of us with those rose tinted spectacles (and presumably books to hand)! Thanks.

  172. timbeau says:

    @Graham H
    No books required except to check on the DDs!

  173. Greg Tingey says:

    Thank you.
    And – what a surprise – not.
    [ For outsiders, Clyde Loakes is, shall we say, not very popular with a lot of people – he has definite “form” for pandering to the lowest common denominator. Look up the disgraceful history of the attempts to close the William Morris Gallery & Vestry House Museum – both award-winners. ]
    If I say any more, I will be “snipped”, but let’s try avoiding mentioning Mr “L” except as such, shall we?

    Actually the buses have not been so much reduced to a crawl – “standstill” would be a better description.
    I wonder how LBWF will try to “spin” this trial as as “success”??

    I might repeat myself, regarding train/seating/service capacity, by asking: “I wonder how DafT/NR?TSGN will try to “spin” these trains as as “success”??
    Or even “improvement”?

  174. Anomnibus says:

    I confess, it’s been shockingly difficult to track down hard numbers for total passenger carrying capacity of those older slam-door trains. They seem to have only bothered counting seats, which isn’t ideal as it means standees aren’t included. Not that there would have been that many.

    The best benchmark I can find is also the most unusual: Bulleid’s ill-fated double-deckers had a capacity of 1100 passengers, in an 8-coach formation. Standees would have been minimal given the cramped design, but this was still described as adding “50% more capacity” over standard stock, which suggests a typical 8-coach formation of 4-EPBs could have carried about 750-ish passengers.

    Sounds like a lot, until you realise that the five-car 378s used on the London Overground can also carry about 750 passengers. [Source: TfL.] That’s pretty good going.

  175. Kit Green says:

    Anomnibus at 11:50 ….it means standees aren’t included. Not that there would have been that many.

    What on Earth makes you have that assumption? I remember more than a few squashed in journeys from CHX in EPBs despite not being a regular on those routes.

  176. Kit Green says:

    ….but my regular route did involve VEPs, CEPs etc. with many standees, including in the luggage / parcels area.

  177. timbeau says:

    That figure of 50% in a 4DD over a standard formation (which would be a 4SUB in 1949) implies 736 in an eight car standard train (which is exactly correct for a fully-open layout) In fact, both figures are undserestimates: as most 4SUBs had at least one compartment trailer, adding another eighteen seats, and the 4DD had two sideways-facing tip up seats in each upper compartment, although I understand these to have been next to useless because the occupants of the adjacent seats had nowhere to put their legs).
    In my experience, the open cars of a 4SUB would probably take about thirty people standing in the centre gangway of each car, and a maybe a couple more between each facing set of seats each side of the gangway. In compartment stock possibly five or six standing in each compartment (unless it was a “Queen of Sheba” (she, we are told “had a very great train” (2 Chronicles 9:1) – the 11-compartment trailers had the seats so close together the seated passengers were sitting with their knees touching, with no room left for standees at all: only ten units were built like that). The guards vans were also often pressed into service as well.

  178. Alfie1014 says:

    Travelling on the LTS in the 1980s in the unrefurbished class 302s and 308s, they had 50% compartment coaches and 50% open with access to toilets. The compartments seated 12, 6 a side, but under crush loading could and did carry another 12 standing. That said being crammed in a signle compartment, espeically in a seat away from the windows with up to 2o odd others was not a plesent experience. Fortunately in the main it was over short distances, such as Fenchurch Street to Barking (12 mins). Guards vans would also be used if unlocked or the guard permitted, frequently giving up their seat to someone more in need. Also if the crush loaded train happened to have a 308/2 (one of the sets with a motor luggage car) and the passengers could access this car they would use the newspaper tables as seats, though there was little else inside to hold on to except the window bars!

  179. Walthamstow Writer says:

    So do I conclude that we have gone backwards with our nice modern air conditioned trains as they carry far, far fewer people than the rickety old slam door trains into which people crushed themselves? Oh and our nice modern trains take far longer to disgorge people at stations meaning the efficiency of the railway has gone down overall. The possible saving grace is that the new stock would probably cope with a crash rather better (depending on circumstances of course). Odd to spend so much money to achieve a “worse” result.

  180. Malcolm says:

    @WW. Backwards is a bit of an emotive way to put it. Decreased capacity per train can, in principle, be made up by increased frequency, and, if it comes to that, building new lines – and yes we have done a bit of that, though perhaps not enough.

    Whereas there’s no way to adequately compensate the family of a passenger or worker killed in an accident. Money spent on making things safer is not wasted.

    Which is not to say that safety is beyond price. Some risk will always remain, but fewer deaths and injuries is, quite correctly in my view, part of the progress that society has made in the last 50 years.

  181. timbeau says:

    Is there any evidence either way regarding the relative safety of seated and standing passengers in an accident? A seated passenger can’t fall down, but a standing passenger will be less relaxed and therefore more prepared to resist any sudden forces.

    (safest of all is to be tucked up in a sleeper!)

  182. Slugabed says:

    My uncle,a fireman in Birmingham,who spent a sizeable proportion of his working time cutting people out of wrecked cars on the M6 told me that drunk drivers walked away from crashes which would have hospitalised a sober driver.His conclusion was that being relaxed is an enormous factor in REDUCING injury,however counter-intuitive that may sound.

  183. Castlebar (Ruislip Chord & FCUK LU) says:

    @ Slugabed

    I confirm that I have heard similar from a County Coroner

  184. Graham Feakins says:

    On standing capacity, I sought a comment in my records from a Southern (Electric) Railway historian, who says: “The capacity of any commuter train is like the length of the proverbial piece of string; but direct observation shows the feasible load of a 4-car Networker class 465 as about 640 with little prospect of going above that (because of the lack of things to hold on to), whilst 40 years of operation and observation of the slam door 4-car class 415 (4 EPB) showed that it could take about 680 on board – and still give every passenger a handhold.”

    So, subtract the number of seats quoted variously above and the remainder is the standing capacity, then. Remember that these figures are for a 4-car train, not 8-car as would be found in the peaks.

  185. Anomnibus says:

    @Graham Feakins:

    The Networkers don’t have any longitudinal seating, if memory serves. (It’s been a few years now since I was on one, but my brain is telling me that all the seats were transverse. With painfully little legroom at that.)

    My earlier point about the 5-car Class 378s is that they have an official capacity of around 150 passengers per car. Compare with the 4-VEP. Even allowing for a generous 30-40% per carriage for standees on top, the Class 378 is clearly much better at packing ’em in. If you want to shift lots of passengers along a basic two-track route, you’d get more of them per carriage on a modern, high-capacity metro train than with an older slam-door one.

    (My experiences of slam-door trains back in the ’70s and ’80s align with @timbeau’s: 2-3 between the facing seats, with about 20-30 along the aisle / corridor. So about 30-40% on top of seating capacity.)

    However, the biggest change over the years is an increasing reliance in technology to improve safety and reduce labour costs. These have reduced throughput at termini as drivers no longer have any discretion about how quickly they approach the buffers: drivers are obliged to crawl in, or the train’s computer will trigger a panic-stricken scream.

    Hence projects like Crossrail: at the far ends of the line, the train frequencies are inevitably lower than through the central core, so the speed at which they crawl into the bay platform is much less of an issue.

    I don’t think anyone wants to see a return to the days when there was no interlocking, no telegraph, and ‘signalling’ involved a chap standing by the side of the track waving flags.

  186. Graham Feakins says:

    @Anomnibus – I detect a tad of your repeat comments but to answer e.g. “However, the biggest change over the years is an increasing reliance in technology to improve safety and reduce labour costs…&c.”

    So? How does that affect equipping a modern train meeting those standards equipped mainly with transverse seats, such as the Desiro Class 700? Moreover, Thameslink core stations still retain train despatch staff on each platform and will continue to do so. Indeed, my understanding is that even more will be employed. A couple of the staff still at City Thameslink used to work at Holborn Viaduct in a past life.

    Again, “…drivers no longer have any discretion about how quickly they approach the buffers…” – but there won’t be any buffers on the core route itself.

    Thankfully, Class 378’s are not intended to work on Thameslink routes (Blackfriars is the topic) and thus I do not understand the relevance of your comments. All I stressed was that there will be fewer seats on the Class 700 for those longer-distance commuters but, contrarywise, seemingly less able to accommodate a similar number of standing passengers as in the past. Remember that significant luggage/floor space is provided for that airport traffic, as well as two, spacious 1st Class compartments on every train, including the 8-car ones to serve the Wimbledon Loop. It’s all a bit of an unsatisfactory compromise in train design, which is admitted by the authorities.

  187. Evergreenadam says:


    I have copies of the annual passenger census on the Southern Region from the mid 1980s which list the seating capacities and actual loadings of the peak arrivals and departures from London termini or the point of maximum loading eg. Elephant & Castle, Clapham Junction, Vauxhall etc. I will have a look at the maximum actual loadings to see how many could be carried in crush loaded conditions. Of course some account for human error needs to be taken, as it is very difficult to accurately manually count a very crowded carriage.

  188. Graham Feakins says:

    @Evergreenadam – I look forwards to reading the figures. One hint then was to count just the ‘contents’ of half a carriage from one end and double it, since the interiors could be considered symmetrical.

  189. Tiger Tanaka says:

    I’d like to draw attention to Graham Feakins’s comment at 30 September 2014 at 23:32, where he notes that Thameslink class 700 has less seats than a 8 car Networker. if this is the case, then why purchase stock that has less seats than current trains? Especially in such rigid formations meaning, unless a four carriage unit is coupled on to form 16 carriages, which I have a feeling is going to be impossible. Were there no other stock that could have been purchased instead?

    And yet, NSE planned the “Universal Networker” for Thameslink in 1990..

  190. Paul says:

    It’s all about the total standing capacity. That’s also the way Networkers would be laid out if ordered new today. 2+2 seating with increased standing space around doorways is the new normal on metro services, assuming they don’t go for all longitudinal as in LO 378s.

  191. Philip says:

    Tiger Tanaka – because the Networkers were constructed with 3+2 seating that is now hugely unpopular with passengers since most people nowadays are just too broad for three people to be able to fit into the space comfortably, and impinge into the space that’s meant to be for people to stand in and move down the train. By losing some, now, very uncomfortable seats you can increase the amount of space for people to stand and hence the total capacity of the train.

  192. ngh says:

    Re Phillip Paul and Tiger,

    I’d expect ripping out the 3rd seats, more grab handles (2 or 3 hands per handle as seen on new stock 377/6 or / 7 and 387 and 700 family and 710s) and enlargement of the vestibles to be specified in some form for the next franchise (or the alternative of new fleet of stock as one potential bidder as already placed an OJEU notice for! Probably just to help focus the 2 ROCs minds a bit…).

    The 313 replacements (also Siemens) for Moorgate services will be getting a Thameslink style interior as presumably will the 707s for SWT, Ditto Bombardiers 710 for London Overground. Thameslink is not the outlier…

    3+2 is effectively dead for new installations on suburban routes.

    If you apply SWT crush loading passenger metrics to a 12 car 700 would could get about 2150 passengers on the train (1754 officially) which would be about 500 more passengers per train than a 12 car networker could take. This suggests a minimum of 1 seat = 2 standing before other arguments like dwell time even come into it.

    (Some users may see something in a 12 car 700 having 666 seats…)

    Passengers from St Albans will care far more about getting on the train than if the train has any seats.

  193. Anonymous says:

    As we are now 4 years down the line from this article being published. has anything actually happened with regards to Blackfriars?

  194. Pedantic of Purley says:


    No: in the sense of no plan or provision for extra terminating facilities as far as we know.

    Also No: in the sense that the building that would need to have a corner lopped off for good access to a future upstream platform still has not been demolished and presumably existing planning permission will eventually lapse.

    Yes: in the sense that GTR have produced a plan (of which there are varying opinions but mine is not complimentary) which will mean fewer available terminating platforms at London Bridge for future enhanced services so the future benefit of having extra terminating facilities at Blackfriars has increased.

  195. Southern Heights (Light Railway) says:

    @PoP: Link to said plan?


    So, amongst other things, Cats and Tats have to terminate at London Bridge whereas they were going to be through Thameslink trains. Therefore around 4tph extra in the peak already taken up with more terminating trains at London Bridge leaving fewer slots for potential timetable enhancement.

    An extra platform at Blackfriars would help safeguard those proposed post-Thameslink improvements which, as things stand, appear to be incompatible with GTR’s plan.

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