Yesterday saw final confirmation of the contents of the High Level Output Specification (HLOS) 2012, the DfT’s outline of work to be carried out on the railways between April 2014 and March 2019 (Control Period 5).

The HLOS is not a line-by-line plan. It does not provide in-depth details on everything that Network Rail will carry out between 2014 and 2019. What it does is set out the key objectives and projects which the Government wishes to see completed, and where it would like to see money spent, with Network Rail being tasked with seeing those objectives and projects planned and completed. It’s thus a good – but not necessarily definitive – indicator of what will happen between 2014 and 2019.

The HLOS features plenty of projects that will already be familiar. The completion of Thameslink and Crossrail both feature as does Great Western Electrification. Indeed it is perhaps fair to say that the press and PR associated with the announcement has been somewhat overenthusiastic. Of the “£9bn of new spending” it boasts, approximately £5bn is simply funds needed to complete existing work such as Crossrail and Thameslink.

The overall themes of the HLOS are, however, promising and both these and the areas of genuine new spend country wide show a welcome acceptance of something that many in the railway industry have argued for for some time – a mass programme of electrification and a genuine effort to improve the rail freight network within the UK. There is also an eye to the need to rework various major terminals (both within London and without) to deal with ever-increasing peak time passenger numbers.

Before looking at what was in the HLOS announcement, however, its worth beginning by looking at something that categorically isn’telectrification of the Gospel Oak to Barking Line (GOBLIN).

The Odd Line Out

The quest (and reasons) to electrify the GOBLIN have been well covered here on LR. The line represents one of the last major diesel gaps in the electric suburban map, and as passenger numbers on the Overground have demonstrated (and which the ELL extension to Clapham Junction will likely prove again) there is lot of repressed demand out on the orbitals. Indeed the timeframe in which the GOBLIN’s relatively new two-car Diesel 172’s have been overwhelmed, and TfL’s passenger forecast numbers between now and 2016, indicate that the GOBLIN has a similar potential for explosive growth. Yet without electrification there is little chance of seeing much capacity expansion on the line, as small, relatively isolated, diesel fleets do not make sense in operational, fleet or financial management terms.

Similarly the freight case for electrifying the GOBLIN would seem to be even stronger today than it has been in a considerable amount of time. Sources also suggest that discussions with lead tenants on the new London Gateway estate are also going well.

Given the overriding themes of the HLOS, with its emphasis on electrification and freight, it has therefore puzzled some as to why the GOBLIN has been left out in the cold – particularly as TfL themselves pushed for its inclusion when they submitted their own HLOS recommendations last year.

Its absence however, is perhaps as not as much of a surprise as some might think.

Back in May, we highlighted that there were warning signs that GOBLIN Electrification would not make it into the HLOS. TfL had published a request for tender for longer diesel trains to run on the line, and whilst this in itself was certainly no firm guarantee that the scheme was off the table, more troubling was confirmation from sources that Network Rail’s assessed cost for electrifying the line was far higher than either TfL or the DfT had expected – £90 – £100m. Taken together, TfL’s tender notice and talk of a high upgrade cost seemed to suggest that the skies above Gospel Oak were not entirely cloud free.

Paying The Piper

The cost in itself should not be an insurmountable problem – the business case is still strong, just as it has always been, but the GOBLIN’s money problems have arguably never really been about how much the work would cost, they have been – and it appears still are in HLOS terms – about who pays.

That this is still the issue appears to have been confirmed during Transport Secretary Justine Greening’s comments on the HLOS in Parliament yesterday, when challenged on the subject of the GOBLIN by Islington North MP Jeremy Corbyn (bolding ours):

Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab): Does the electrification programme include the electrification of the Barking to Gospel Oak section of London Overground? I had a meeting with one of her colleagues about this some months ago. It would make freight transportation from the east of England easier, improve passenger services, save a lot of money, and be environmentally sensible. Will she go for it?

Justine Greening: I take the hon. Gentleman’s point. That is not part of the electrification plans that we have announced today. Ultimately it is for Transport for London to fund it if it wants to do so, but I am sure that it will take on board the points that the hon. Gentleman has made and, if the business case stacks up, might consider it.

In contrast to Greening’s statement – and thanks to some well timed questioning from Caroline Pidgeon at Mayor’s Question Time – we do not need to look much further back than two weeks to find that the Mayor, and by definition TfL, seem to believe that the opposite is the case (the answer also helpfully gives us Network Rail’s BCR, presumably even with the increased cost). Again, bolding is ours:

Caroline Pidgeon: In the last Mayor’s Question Time you stated that the socio-economic business case for the electrification of this line has been made. Will you share the cost-benefit ratio that your team has produced to support the electrification?

Mayor Johnson (Written Answer): The economic appraisal of Gospel Oak to Barking electrification has been undertaken by Network Rail. The “Network Route Utilisation Strategy, Electrification” published by Network Rail in October 2009 showed a benefit:cost ratio for the scheme of 2.4:1, which is high value for money under DfT appraisal rules.

Funding for the electrification is a matter for the DfT but I have lobbied, and will continue to actively lobby for this.

As mentioned above, this dispute over funding is not a new problem, but it is one that still does not appear to have been resolved. Indeed sources seem to confirm that this was indeed the major issue that prevented GOBLIN Electrification appearing in the HLOS.

According to sources, late on in the HLOS negotiations, the DfT informed various devolved local transport authorities – including TfL – that it considered a number of local rail projects (including orbital services in London) to be the responsibility of those bodies to finance and project manage. Despite protest from those bodies that this had not appeared to be the case in the initial HLOS development process, this was the line ultimately taken with regards to the final HLOS and the grounds on which GOBLIN Electrification was rejected.

This account of events seems to match with that related on Jennette Arnold’s website. Thus confirming again that it is the “who” rather than the “how much” that continues to be the issue.

Looking Forward

Ultimately, the omission of the GOBLIN from the electrification plan does not mean that it definitely won’t happen. Whilst the project appears to have become something of a financial and political football, the business case is strong and – almost perversely – various elements of electrification within the HLOS do appear to make the case even stronger.

It is tempting (but perhaps unfair) to think that the DfT’s rejection of the electrification was in part a response to TfL’s own rejection, back in 2009, of the DfT’s offer to part fund the project. If that is the case, then it is to be hoped that both parties have now made their point and that sense will prevail. Ultimately there is still scope for the work to be carried out under the HLOS, thanks to the presence of funds earmarked for strategic freight works (which we will look at in part 2) or similar projects.

With this in mind, those looking for movement on the GOBLIN front would do well to mark January 2013 in their diaries. It is then that Network Rail themselves will publish their more detailed Strategic Business Plan for Control Period 5 – if the funding debate is finally to be ended, then it will most likely be in here.

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There are 102 comments on this article
  1. mr_jrt says:

    The other major diesel island of course being the Chiltern lines.

    I still can’t see why more of a focus isn’t being put on these lines as part of Crossrail. The “Electric Spine” surprise of wires from Oxford to Leamington (and of course, EWR), helpfully bisects the Chiltern route by covering the most problematic section of it – the intercity middle. The route north of Leamington is essentially Birmingham commuter territory, and the line south of Banbury is London commuter territory.

    Connecting and wiring up OOC to at least High Wycombe, (if not Bicester) would enable all the suburban services (including the new Oxford ones) to operate electrically as part of Crossrail, removing them from Marylebone (a station desperate for relief – the BNP Parabas building isn’t going anywhere to enable more platforms). A short bit of infill from Bicester to Kings Sutton then just leaves the northern end of the route – a prime candidate for wiring as part of investment in Birmingham’s metro infrastructure. Importantly though, either project can stand on it’s own.

    Resolving the Met main line issue is another matter though, but one I suspect will be solved by handing over the fast lines to NR and them getting upgraded and OHLE installed with the Met just running to Watford. The capacity released at Marylebone by the Crossrail option above would go a long way towards enabling this.

  2. Anonymous says:

    The GOBLIN episode is a shambles. The DfT and the Mayor should be locked in a room, ideally with a great big real orange elephant, and not be allowed out until they have sorted this mess out. It is pathetic that “grown ups” can keep such a mess going for so long. It’s doubly pathetic that a Tory Mayor and a Tory led government are unable to agree on something as simple as this. Here’s hoping GLA members make the Mayor’s life a complete misery with questions on this topic for every Mayor’s Question Time until there is a successful resolution.

    The devolution argument doesn’t really wash either. DfT paid the majority share of ELLX Phase 2 funding despite it being a TfL scheme. Many of the other electrification announcements for Manchester and Yorkshire in the HLOS directly benefit PTE areas and passengers but there is nothing saying that the PTEs are funding that electrification work. Ditto for Walsall – Rugely electrification benefitting Centro passengers. Can someone ask the DfT how much extra money is coming to TfL for their rightful share of DfT funding that should now be devolved following their change of policy midway through the HLOS process?

  3. Si says:

    The lack of Greenford electricification, while all the other branches (Windsor, Marlow, Henley) are getting done, looks like a similar “who’s line is it to fund?” question, though strangely there’s Acton – Willesden in the HLOS.

  4. StephenC says:

    It looks at first glance like a very negative HLOS for London.

    But, perhaps the key paragraph in the main document could be read differently?:
    “London will benefit from major rail investment in CP5, with Thameslink and Crossrail providing high capacity north-south and east-west passenger routes across London. 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. She recognises that major works are likely to be required at London Waterloo and has made provision for this.”
    We could interpret this positively as “we agree on Waterloo and the rest is up to NR/TfL”.

    The “Illustrative schemes” is more interesting, however these are specifically NOT guaranteed (they are possible options):
    “London Waterloo platform lengthening and station throat expansion,
    * Virginia Water – Reading line platform lengthening for 10-car operation,
    * Gordon Hill turnback,
    * West Anglia Lower Lea Valley capacity enhancement (turnback facilities),
    * Bow Junction capacity enhancement (potentially CP6),
    * East Kent capacity enhancement including relocation of Rochester Station,
    * Uckfield line platform lengthening for 10-car operation,
    * Norwood Junction capacity enhancement (turnback facilities),
    * Paddington station passenger capacity improvements,
    * Victoria station passenger capacity improvements,
    * Clapham Junction station congestion relief,
    * Wimbledon station congestion relief,
    * Traction power upgrade – Kent, Sussex, Wessex, Anglia, LNE,
    * South London HV traction power upgrade, and
    * Depot and stabling enhancement for extra trains”
    All links from

    Nothing big though. And definitely nothing on GOBLIN or LO in general.

  5. swirlythingy says:

    An = sign has gone AWOL in the “HLOS recommendations” link.

  6. Anonymous says:

    @ Stephen C – yes it is down to the TOCs, NR and TfL to work out the London and South East scope. However this does not make a great deal of sense in relation to the SofS saying devolution now rules for TfL. The government are not due to respond with their view on the devolution proposals until the Autumn so it is rather rich for them to say the funding responsibility has moved when their view on franchises and any related investment is not clear. It is noticeable that Gordon Hill and Brimsdown turnbacks are mentioned when they relate to potential (current) FCC and Greater Anglia improvements that align with TfL aspirations and possible devolution proposals. Much of the rest of the list is well away from TfL’s area and I can’t see TfL being able to exercise much influence on Rochester station moving or the Uckfield line.

    The station capacity improvements are welcome and there are “funds” which can be drawn upon which may benefit Overground routes such as Access for All. In fact we may end up with the odd situation of more NR / Overground stations being accessible than LU stations given Boris’s decision to axe most of the LU funding for such works. Only Crossrail sites will provide enhanced MIP access at LU stations in Central London as things currently stand.

  7. Drew says:

    StephenC – “It looks at first glance like a very negative HLOS for London.”

    Yes, you could see it that way, and probably from a Londoner’s point of view it probably is. I’d rather see this as “the rest of the country getting a chance to catch up on the vast strides of modernisation & updates that rail in London have received”.

    The Transpennine route of Liverpool – Manchester – Huddersfield – Leeds is *extremely* busy, and if the line was situated anywhere near the south east would of probably been electrified years ago. Likewise the electrification of the MML is sorely needed, and the GWML will hugely benefit from it as well.

    The biggest benefit that is proposed in London is the western chord for Heathrow; ironically something that won’t benefit London. However, Heathrow is very frustrating to get to on public transport from outside of London.

  8. Charlie says:

    One thing I noticed that will benefit London Overground is the proposal for 8 car Southern services up the West London line.

  9. Fandroid says:

    Si. I suspect Acton-Willesden electrification is for freight, as it will link an electric GWML + the Electric Spine with the NLL and WCML. It could also be seen as a way for passenger trains to link Heathrow with the WCML ahead of HS2 stage 2. If more WCML trains stopped at Watford, then that link could make getting to Heathrow from Brum and Manchester by train a lot easier than it is now. Even if pre-HS2 line capacity limits Virgin Train stops at Watford, such a link would open up opportunities for passengers from Watford, Milton Keynes and Northampton to reach Heathrow via London Midland services.

  10. Anonymous says:

    This episode highlights when of the problems with British devolution – the lack of real independence from Westminster. Tfl have the power to manage much of the infrastructure, but they don’t have financial power. Beyond the CC the only external source of finance (i.e. excluding revenue from the network) they have is debt, which is capped anyway by central government. There are no taxes or variety of tolls bringing in cash for Tfl like happens with other transport authorities. The Mayor’s situation is even worse, the overwhelming majority of funding is from grants. If Tfl are expected to fund projects like this they should at least be given more of the means to do so.

  11. Anonymous says:

    *much, not when

  12. Trying to get this discussion back on topic (the rest can wait for part 2) …

    The side-effect not mentioned is that once you start electrifying diesel lines you potentially have a surfeit of diesel trains. This means that no-one is going to want to buy diesel trains to lease because they will either end up being unused or at best commanding a price that doesn’t give a decent profit.

    This means that it is going to be difficult for TfL to lease diesel trains so if they want more diesels for GOBLIN they will have to buy them outright. And TfL doesn’t even benefit from buying existing diesel trains because there is currently a shortage (because no-one wants to commit) and it is unlikely there will be any available before 2016 at the earliest.

    To my mind the only hope is that there is a market for second hand diesels on the continent and that British DMUs are suitable but I don’t know of a single case of a second-hand DMU being sold abroad.

    Yes. TfL have been well and truly shafted. Normally given the choice of a cock-up theory and a conspiracy theory I go for the former but in this case I go for the latter.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I agree with Drew. Long overdue and much needed investment nationally is only a negative for London in the same way that every single project here has been a negative for the rest of the country. Sadly it is not an unsurprising attitude.

  14. Whiff says:

    Yes, it is good to see lots of investment in the rest of the country but having grown up in Devon it’s disappointing but not surprising that there is nothing being spent in the south-west, (though we may benefit in the long-term from getting direct trains to Heathrow but can’t see that happening any time soon.)

    Any apologies, Pedantic, for taking it back off topic. I am also looking forward to seeing how the turf war between TFL and DFT resolves itself over the GOBLIN. It could prove to be very significant for how the railways are managed in the future.

  15. Lemmo says:

    I agree. On GOBLIN and Overground it’s all classic wedge politics, and I suspect DfT feel they have a win-win.

    There is clearly not much love lost between TfL and DfT. Following on from the 2011 NERA report for TfL, The Costs and Benefits of Devolving Responsibility for Rail Services in London, the battle lines were laid out in the February 2012 Mayor’s Rail Vision. This makes very clear that the franchise model is not fit for purpose and that rail provision in London should be devolved to TfL, and the NERA report provides some options for this. The outlier option is for TfL to take some responsibility for infrastructure investment.

    The HLOS is forcing TfL towards this latter option: to take responsibility for infrastructure investment, but without the funds to do it. If TfL goes for it and fails, TfL strengthens their hand and the entrenched franchise model is vindicated. If TfL succeeds then the new HLOS strategy takes the claim to fame. Win-win.

    Having said that, the HLOS is intended as a strategic document and it leaves the detail to be sorted out by the industry. And there are ring-fenced funds which TfL could try to access for GOBLIN, such as the £200 million for the Strategic Rail Freight Network, of which TfL is a member. This could be pivotal, but assuming a business case could be presented which shares freight and passenger benefits/costs, it will still come down the DfT giving the thumbs up, which given this HLOS looks highly unlikely.

    Nope, I think Anonymous (07:38pm 17th July) got it right: it will come down to the Mayor and the PM thrashing it out.

  16. C says:

    Yep I think there’s a fair bit of horse trading to come – this isn’t done by any means. And if Boris is as proud as I think he is, I’d imagine he will take this on as a cause even if he doesn’t care that much. It’s all a game of thrones for him!

    Surely TfL do have the money – could there be a mechanism whereby they then can charge freight users electric access?

  17. Kit Green says:

    As with most of the potential electrification schemes in CP5 I believe that the GOBLIN will end up being wired due to pressure from the freight sector. Are TflL and DfT trying to force open the wallets of the freight carriers and port developers?

  18. Glenn Wallis BGOLUG Ass Sec says:

    Only Network Rail can levy Track Access Charges. TfL would have to pay them to do the work, as it did for much of the North London Line upgrade.

    Network Rail could use the “Network Rail credit card”, which is to be used for a large chunk of the HLOS proposals. NR borrow to finance the work, the value of which is then added to the Regulatory Asset Base (subject to ORR approval) and reflected in subsequent Track Access Charges.

    We would love to see the NR GRIP 3 report that has allegedly quoted such a high cost. We can only assume that it incudes the Thames Haven branch as well as the connections to MML and ECML. Of couse NR is not subject to FOI.

    BGOLUG’s initial response to the HLOS announcement was posted on our news page on our website on 17 July –

  19. RogerB says:

    If Acton-Willesden is electrified an Overground service could be provided from Stratford to Heathrow. This would surely prove attractive? I’ve not seen the option discussed anywhere.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Acton-Willesden gives access to the North London Line, but not to the WCML – that would require electrification of the southern part of the Dudding Hill Line.

    (There is a short reversal siding on the NLL, between Willesden Junction and Kensal Rise, orginally built for Royal Mail trains and now used as a secondary siding by London Overground , but that would be of no use here.)

  21. ngh says:


    Isn’t the BCR changed (i.e. improved) by the electrification of the northern end of the MML in the same way as other infill electrification projects (i.e. the BCR for Sheffield to both Leeds and Doncaster electrification must be pretty brain dead now too? – SoS make that point in the HLOS for those schemes) as there would be more freight services that could be run all electrically all the way?

    With the amount of electrification now planned might any further schemes in the short term might be difficult due to lack of trained personnel and key plant items?

    If TfL receives a high quote for the extra DMUs for Goblin this will improve the justification for cost saving by electrification (the MML electrification is expected to pay for itself in ~9 years so the BCR was actually slightly academic)?

    Part of the DMU shortage will have been down to the ROSCOs not wanting to commit as they didn’t know what the pace of electrification was going to be and what level of service improvement was going to be proposed for non electrified lines. As there are now better answers to those questions there is possibility of another DMU order (Probably Bombardier as Siemens appear to have decided diesel is not big enough market to play in any more) as there will not be enough in several other parts of the country in either. There are also DDA accessibility rules that should force the retirement of some of the more decrepid DMUs (142/143/144 and possibly others (15x) without major overhauls post 2019) which means even with the current electrification plans there will be a need for more DMUs…
    But the government (DfT and CCC) have the aim of de-carbonising surface transport by 2050* so if a 35 year life span is assumed for DMUs that means you would want them in revenue earning service by 2015 to squeeze the value out of them if you are ROSCO.
    Ultimately the logical thing would be for the rate of electrification to match the retirement profile of the existing DMU fleet (the lines least worth electrifying would continually receive cascaded DMUs approaching the ends of their useful lives as other more worthwhile lines are electrified until they too were finally electrified). The rate of electrification is currently not high enough to avoid further DMU orders unless further schemes are added that release DMUs for use elsewhere, there are several additional schemes (where electrification would decrease the overall cost of rolling stock renewal) that stand out in this respect in the South East (based on NR, ATOC, Atkins figures):
    1. Goblin – may be £9m saved in remaining leasing cost differential if it is electrified and new cheaper electric rolling stock can be used allowing for diesel stock to be used elsewhere instead of purchasing new DMUs for use on the lines.
    2. Chiltern – may be £51m (health depreciation applied to older DMUs) saved if it is electrified and new cheaper electric rolling stock can be used allowing for diesel stock to be used elsewhere instead of purchasing new DMUs. Chiltern are also seeming short of diesel stock so electrifying would help make capacity improvements easier.
    3. Southern – very interesting 10 car platform lengthening suggested for DMU operated line in the HLOS when train lengthening with DMUs might be tricky – is this a hint for an industry proposed solution to electrify (25KV AC?) there will be spare dual voltage 377/5 available when the new TL stock is delivered with future leasing costs for southern reduced by £17m over the remain life of the DMUs by electrifying. This would also allow longer trains to be used into London Bridge and make more effective use of a limited number of paths.
    [these figure exclude lower track access charges, fuel and maintenance cost with electrics]

    The will also be a need for an order for new suburban EMUs so additional schemes might bring the cost of this down as any order size would be larger. (combined with overground lengthening to 5 cars for 378s?)

    DfT is also probably a bit miffed the TfL didn’t manage to extract the cost of Goblin electrification from the Haven Port development under s106 and spend lots of the cable cars that could have been spend on rail instead.

    Goblin should also be eligible for the passenger improvement fund as well as the strategic freight fund. With some freight being removed from the NLL and WLL by the electric spine to WCML or MML via Reading and Oxford, it might all more passenger paths on the western NLL and thus improve the BCR of Goblin electrification as it makes improving passenger services on the eastern side NLL to match the potential on the west easier?

    Have the Ely line and Peterborough flyover proposed improvements possibly decreased the BCR for Goblin?

    As noted in previous LR articles schemes (hundreds of) miles away can effect what happens in London.
    There are also many project that listed elsewhere in the HLOS that will increase options for better services in the south east:
    Just using the East Coast main Line (and branches)as an example:
    Cambridge – Kings Lynn power supply improvements
    Huntingdon to Peterboro 4 tracking
    Additional (bay) platform at stevenage

    And finally (for this post) the HLOS states:
    “The Government has a longer-term aim to provide high-capacity electrified routes from all major ports to the long-distance electric rail network.”

    So as Anonymous 07:38PM, 17th July 2012 says “The GOBLIN episode is a shambles. The DfT and the Mayor should be locked in a room, ideally with a great big real orange elephant, and not be allowed out until they have sorted this mess out.” it feels like this is the start of negotiations between many parties to thrash this out.

  22. Greg Tingey says:

    Why cant TfL get together with the freight operators, and jointly fund/supply/twist Twowork Fail’s Arm to get the job done?
    Or am I missing something?
    Especially since DafT/the Minister/HLOS all say “we want to electrify for through freight” with a thundering stupid gap in London, of all places ……

  23. Anonymous says:

    @ C – well TfL have a huge potential budget but it also has huge demands on that budget. TfL have to prepare a new Business Plan that reflects the Mayor’s manifesto. That manifesto requires 600 New Buses to be bought and brought into service in 4 years – rough cost circa £200m including extra crew costs. There is extra road investment totalling £450m. Tube and Crossrail upgrades are safeguarded but where is the money for any “driverless tubes” going to come from? Further we have Tramlink apparently going to get to Crystal Palace – £70m or so and that’s not in the budget. DLR to Bromley and a new tram to Bromley are also not budgeted and that will cost many millions just to develop and design never mind stick a spade in the ground. On the face of it we have roundly £700m of unfunded Mayoral commitments that TfL must deliver set against a cost reduction target that remains in the billions. We also do not know if HMG will require further cuts to TfL’s budget nor what TfL will be required to do to play its part in delivering a 10% cut in the Mayoral precept.

    Something has to give and in the absence of HMG devolving further funds, which it agreed to do for other UK regions 2 weeks ago when it also devolved responsibility for matters like transport and training, I do not see that TfL can find £100m from its own resources to pay for GOBLIN electrification. I also do not see that £100m could be taken by TfL from a £200m 5 year fund for freight improvements. DfT would block that I am sure saying it was disproportionate. This is stupid politics being played in the nastiest, most vindictive manner.

    I do not for one second begrudge any rail investment going to the UK regions – it is much needed and long overdue and London has had a good run. However the demand for further expansion and improvement in London has not gone away and this has all the hallmarks, as others have said in this thread, of TfL and DfT clashing over who can “play trains” the best. We do not have to go back very far to recall the “car crash” of letters, claims and counter claims over ELLX2, South London Line trains to Bellingham and Surrey Canal Road station. You could perhaps understand Boris and a Labour Govt clashing but it seems awkward behaviours remain entrenched despite a theoretically more favourable political climate. I wonder if Crossrail rolling stock procurement is the next “TfL vs DfT” disaster looming given the different views about PFI style rolling stock deals??

  24. ngh says:

    Re Anonymous 11:51AM, 18th July 2012

    I suspect the cost of Goblin electrification now in reality includes some infill electrification work elsewhere to get the most out of goblin electrification for freight. Has the cost of potential resignalling, platform extension and may be some junction changes also been included?

    I suspect the situation is similar to the proposed Heathrow Western access but in this case the port builder and users will be leaned upon onto make a contribution.

    It will be the case that everyone (and there are lots of potential others) will need to contribute and which point the last little bit can often be found.

    By swapping to EMUs upon electrification TfL could expect to save ~£15m on operating costs over the remaining life of the DMUs (assuming like for like 2 car units), however as TfL are looking to extent the existing DMU services to 3 or 4 car, that saving could potentially be more than slightly doubled.

    So if TfL contribute a potential £30m saving, Tesco or Stobart as potential Thames Gateway logistics park tenants who are also existing rail container users stump up some cash (they can save quite a bit in reduced truck usage), other logistic firms do so via DBS or Freightliner etc, DP world does even though it got of on rail funding for s106, HS1 (and eurotunnel) does as it means more potential freight via channel tunnel as it has route passed London. Hutchison (Felixstow owners) make a contribution as it provides more electrified paths for them etc. At that point asking for say a £10m contribution from the strategic freight fund and £10m from the passenger journey improvement fund (EMUs would enhance the journey for Goblin users and almost new DMUs cascaded elsewhere would also improve the journeys on other lines too.) doesn’t sound too outrageous. NR would also benefit from greater future revenue via more and longer trains running.

  25. C says:

    What is the status with the TL depot electrification up to Hornsey which would cover about 15-20% of GOBLIN – with about the same again already covered past Forest Gate.

  26. Anonymous says:

    @ RGH – you may very well be correct that those sources of potential funding / cost savings exist. However the government have not said “we think this scheme is a good idea but we need a confirmed cost, business case and agreement from parties who benefit”. In essence this is what has been said in respect of the Heathrow western access so why is there the difference in approach? The difference is, I am convinced, politics of the worst kind. DfT feel challenged by the different approach to rail contracting that TfL brings and culturally the Executive does not like opposition or challenge to its authority. While officials and politicians play power games the public are deprived of improved train services and business has a sub optimal rail freight network. It makes you wish that Yes Minister really was a fiction rather than a spotlight on the reality of government power plays.

    What we really need to see published and opened to critical examination is the Network Rail costing and scope for the work. The numbers quoted over the years resemble a yoyo – up, down, up, down. Perhaps all those potential private sector contributors can bring their commercial, procurement and engineering knowledge to bare and get the cost reduced to sensible levels? A new form of “Alliance” to get railway projects delivered rather than bogged down?

    I’m sure you don’t need telling but the GOBLIN had £18m (?) spent on it to ease clearances under bridges for freight *and* electrification. DfT obviously don’t mind wasting money on future proofing for a future they then decide to cancel or obstruct. I see that Jeremy Corbin (MP) is off to see Justine Greening about the lack of electrification. Let’s hope he is able to extract some sense from the SofS and get some progress.

  27. Anonymous says:

    @ C – I raised this point on another group and was told in no uncertain terms that I was incorrect and that stock transfers / ECS to Hornsey would be via the new tunnels at Kings Cross and that the ECML – GOBLIN – MML link would not be electrified. I would, though, like to know for certain what has happened to this.

  28. David S says:

    I see the problem being that this isn’t just a case of electrifying the 12 miles of track which currently makes up the gap. It also then comes down to the reality of customer expected benefits. These are ones which once electrification is done, will be for 4 car electric units and a more frequent service. So it isn’t just a cost of putting up the overhead , you end up with new rolling stock, longer platforms , maybe even new stations and possible junction remodelling. I am wondering if there is a little bit of worry from the DfT they are going to get stuffed for the full bill trains and all, hence why they are back pedalling. The truth of the matter is though, this is a very overcrowded service (made more so with the cancellation of the crowd buster extra during the Olympics) and something seriously needs to be done to sort it out.

  29. Mwmbwls says:

    ngh 18th July 2012

    You refer to the DfT being dissatisfied about TfL not negotiating a s106 contribution in respect of the Haven Port.
    The term haven ports is usually used to describe ports on the Stour or Orwell in Essex (Harwich,Ipswich Felixstowe)- recent delopments at both Harwich and Felixstowe have produced S106 investment funds for rail projects but these have focussed mainly on the upgrading of the Felixstowe to Nuneaton route via Cambridge, Ely,Peterborough and Leicester. The Thames Gateway which is at Thameshaven has also made and is making s106 contributions – however the local authority with which thety have to negotiate with is Thurrock – which is not part of London and hence not part of TfL’s domain. We have drawn attention to this in previous postings. This is part of a generic problem in that the Mayor has little influence on local authority decisions outside of London’s boundaries – I remember many happy hours kicking my filing cabinet because I could not get anybody in TfL excited enough to object to Tesco’s plan for Redhill. The fact that the DfT have prayed in aide the fortcoming devolution settlement for Passenger Transport Executives is an interesting twist – in that one of the contentious areas still to be resolved is how TfL and the other PTE’s formally collaborate with their contiguous shire and unitary authority colleagues in managing local investment programmes. It is/ was one of the reasons that the eminently sensible extension of the Met to Watford Junction hung in the balance or possibly swung in the noose for so long. The political boundaries in this country do not align with the economic and transport system operating boundaries.

    We have yet to see the Government’s proposals which will have to offer a national model if investment funds are to accessed on a fair and equitable basis. There is an element of cussed “becausewesaysoness” in the posture of the DfT – the local passenger electrification of the GOBLIN is undoubtedly something that TfL should fund and control the franchise. I would argue that the freight issue is a national matter that the DfT should stand up for. After all they are prepared to electrify from the newly expanded port of Southampton to Birmingham because there is no adequate motorway system to carry the traffic that will be generated. The case from Felixstowe was identical. In the case of the Thames Gateway it is not that the motorway, the m25 does not exist – it does but I and many others doubt that it will have the headroom capacity to carry all the traffic generated by the Thames Gateway Port. So in effect it is the same story – lack of road capacity resulting from port expansion has to compensated for by increased rail capacity
    It is almost as if the DfTs rail, road and port sections live in silos – out of touch with reality. Can this be the dirty secret or am I falling prey to conspiracy theory syndrome.
    Arghh – I’m changing from Doctor Mwmbwls into Mr Tingey

  30. Anonymous says:

    @ David S – well clearly there is the capital cost plus possibly some ongoing cost or impact on future longer term renewals from different or more complex assets as you suggest. There are some serious asset condition issues with bridges on the route and these need a resolution but that is not for TfL or DfT to pay for. That should be an issue for Network Rail as they are the asset steward and they are required under their licence to ensure adequate asset condition and performance. Funding for this should be within the ORR limit plus efficiency gains. Getting a more modern form of traction on the route should, though, bring in modern power infrastructure – one has to hope the signalling and track is still in decent condition after the years of possessions and work. In other words a lot of the route should be in decent enough condition and if it isn’t what on earth have Network Rail been doing for three years with millions of quid?

    If DfT were worried about bearing all the costs then they could have said exactly that – that they would contribute given the national importance of the link but that they expected TfL (and third parties) to contribute. Instead they changed the rules mid way through the process but with no funding devolution. I wonder if the greater fear is that they cannot see an end to TfL’s demands for rail expansion. Overground has been hugely successful but within a few years we face the need for 5 car trains and more frequent services. At some point key stations will require attention because of overcrowding. If you electrify the GOBLIN how long will it be before yet more trains are needed or longer trains? I do wonder if the DfT are actually worried about what the success of the Overground represents in wider terms for many parts of the national network. If devolved administrations and PTEs start copying the concept then the demands for money will never end which rather goes against the government objective to get the cost of the railway down and taxpayers’ contribution down.

  31. ngh says:

    Re Mwmbwls 03:24PM, 18th July 2012

    My mistake corrected in a later post re the former (Shell) Haven and Thames gateway, no way to edit posts afterwards for typing faster than thinking.

    Thurrock have indeed got their local road improvements paid for but are just dumping the problems elsewhere. (National planing framework anyone?)

    Could chronic M25 congestion after the Thames gateway opens in late 2013 indeed be the spur to fund Goblin electrification – I suspect the current addition of a lane to the M25 may not be enough. The current widening scheme costs £87m per mile on average widening from 6-8 lanes overall. Also makes Goblin electrification look cheap by comparison.

    I deal with DfT on certain road transport matters and can therefore confirm your thinking re silos.

  32. Snowy says:

    I suspect the absence of chiltern line electrification is due to the fact that Chiltern pays for infrastructure improvements to extend its franchise. Should the Evergreen 3 Oxford extension be approved (re-opened public enquiry closed recently) then I would expect Evergreen 4 to be funding the electrification of the line.

    In 15yrs time you’d also hope that Network Rail would have become efficient enough at electrifying lines that the costs might decrease (excluding inflation naturally).

  33. ngh says:

    Hopefully some sense can be found to do the evergreen 3 work at the same time as EWR work on the Oxford – Bicester stretch so that some money is saved and there is less disruption overall (both to rail users and the locals residents).

  34. Anonymous says:

    I have written to my MP suggesting that GOBLIN should be electrified instead of wasting money changing Basingstoke to Southampton from DC to AC. I have also suggested that it would be substantially cheaper to fund the power supply and signalling changes necessary to allow dual voltage electric freight locomotives (like the criminally under used Class 92s) to reach Southampton for the electric spine freight services. They will of course take no notice whatsoever as usual.

  35. Pedantic of Purley says:

    I have written to my MP suggesting that GOBLIN should be electrified instead of wasting money changing Basingstoke to Southampton from DC to AC

    But is it wasted ? Without the facts and figures how can you possibly know ? One could equally argure one is wasting money sticking with 750V dc which is known to waste a lot of energy compared to ac – around 10% I believe. And if it means you can run electric freight trains to Southampton there are further savings to me made.

    The HLOS makes it clear that this is a pilot project to help establish the viability of changing from 750dc to 25kV ac (or otherwise) over a long period of time. If it turns out not to be worth in general doing you have probably not lost out because of the exceptional freight benefits in this particular case. If it turns out to be viable then it is a worthwhile strategic investment with considerable long term benefits.

  36. Anonymous says:

    Regarding Thurrock and Redhill planning issues mentioned above, local authorities now have a “Duty to Co-operate”, because of the Localism Act, introduced a few months ago. That will allow them to object more easily, when their interests are not taken into account.

    I think even members of the public can ask for evidence that this has been done, when planning applications are considered.

    At least one Planning Inspector has stopped an inquiry, because of this new rule – boroughs in north London wanted to dump their domestic rubbish in the home counties, but didn’t ask nicely enough.

  37. Anonymous says:

    For those asking “why don’t Network rail and all the operators sit in a room and have their heads knocked together to find a funding solution”. In a previous job I did just that. Unfortunately all the operators just shrugged their shoulders, looked at each other and said “there must be a great case; unfortunately we get very little of the benefit and can’t contribute much, but everyone else must be able to”. TfL said that.

    The trouble is it is a very difficult, and thus expensive, stretch of railway to electrify. The previous gauge clearance project cleared the bridges needed for higher containers to electrification clearances, but there are many other bridges that didn’t need gauge clearance but do need work for the wires.

  38. Tim Burns says:

    @Pedantic the class 141 pacer rail us units were sold to Iran. Not sure they were are roaring success out there. Also several class 66 locos have been exported by both EWS and Freightliner to France and Poland respectively. Not to mention the class 58’s, and 37’s that work on High speed line construction in France and Spain.

  39. Tim Burns says:

    PS still agree with your point though

  40. smitham43 says:

    I am surprised that there has not been more comment on the proposal to convert Basingstoke – Southampton to 25kVOH. Whilst 25kV may well be more economic than 750V, I would not be surprised if any savings were outweighed by the cost of supplying/running dual voltage stock for the Waterloo-S’ton-Weymouth line.

    Even if we want to have trial of the conversion process, I would have thought that it would make more sense to look at conversion of something more self contained rather than the middle of a busy mainline. The HLOS clearly refers to conversion, but why not make the line dual system? It may be inconvenient, but it’s not impossible ( Farringdon – City TL and Ashford to name but two)

  41. Mark Townend says:


    The SWT Desiro fleet was designed with easy 25kV/dual voltage conversion in mind. Similar units are used on the WCML and manage 110MPH on 25kV, so perhaps that speed could also be achieved on the South Western. New modern electric locos on the Freights could improve freight timings significantly, the capacity for which simply cannot be provided economically using the DC system. There will still have to be complex dual voltage capabilities at the changeover sites, but long sections of dual voltage are frowned on due to the different design philosophies employed in the traction return and earthing arrangements. In addition, the cost savings of fewer supply substations would be lost if DC was retained alongside the AC.

  42. Paul says:

    I get the feeling that neither Boris nor his chums in the government are particularly interested in funding a substantial transport improvement that predominantly runs through a number of staunch labour-voting wards and constituencies, and that will likely not get completed until they’re all out of office. They’ll happily make a political song and dance of blaming each other, but they want to find any excuse to delay it as it won’t really help them politically.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, for all his faults a third term Ken would have wrapped this deal up in 2009, along with the Bellingham service and Surrey Quays to Clapham with SCR in time for the Olympics. But we wouldn’t have an expensive frankenstein bus nor a pointless cable car.

  43. ngh says:

    re Anonymous 05:58PM, 18th July 2012

    “I have written to my MP suggesting that GOBLIN should be electrified instead of wasting money changing Basingstoke to Southampton from DC to AC. I have also suggested that it would be substantially cheaper to fund the power supply and signalling changes necessary to allow dual voltage electric freight locomotives (like the criminally under used Class 92s) to reach Southampton for the electric spine freight services.”

    My understanding is that the DC power supply on that section of line needs COMPLETE renewal in 2017. The cost of total replacement and substantially upgrading the DC supply (originally done to the cheapest lowest spec possible by BR) to be capable of supplying Class 92s (they are very hungry beasts on DC, drawing ~6000A) in addition to other traffic (for which the available current is also limited), along with higher resistive losses in operation was more than the cost of AC electrification. If the addition of pantograph / transformer cars to cross-country’s voyager units goes ahead to make them bi-mode, it will allow them to use electric power on this part of the route. It has also been suggested that some services from Basingstoke be diverted to Paddington post crossrail to ease capacity constrains at Waterloo.

    re smitham43 09:53PM, 18th July 2012

    I am surprised that there has not been more comment on the proposal to convert Basingstoke – Southampton to 25kVOH. Whilst 25kV may well be more economic than 750V, I would not be surprised if any savings were outweighed by the cost of supplying/running dual voltage stock for the Waterloo-S’ton-Weymouth line.

    All recent (post ~2000 ish) 3rd rail EMUs were spec’d to be capable of easy conversion to dual voltage or overhead AC (note the pantograph wells and the space left to bolt a transformer under the floor etc). On SWT this includes the Siemens 444s and 450s currently used on the route as well as the Alstom 458s used on the Windsor line so not much of a problem. The only units on SWT that aren’t capable of easy conversion are the 455s (and 456 soon to be transferred from southern) with the 455s effectively reaching the end of their design working lives in ~2024.

    3rd rail routes outside London are most likely to be electrified first as there is less pressure at the changeover points, and greater availability of stock that is dual voltage or easily convertible to DV: SWT 444, 450, 458; Southern 377; Southeastern 375, (376). All the non convertible stock is concentrated in the metro units 455, 456, 465, 466 which are all between half and three quarters through design life. (Assuming Southern 313 and 442 will be retired on the return of the 377s post new Thameslink stock).

    Going slight further of the goblin electrification topic, the HLOS suggests 10 car platform extensions on the Uckfield (non electrified line), now assuming new DMUs are a little unlikely is this a hint to NR and Southern to develop a proposal to 25kv AC electrify as southern have lots of dual voltage or easily convertible to dual voltage 377s. This would make more effective use of East Croydon paths into London Bridge in the rush hour as the trains could be longer.

    I suspect we will see more conversions from DC to AC before large parts of the country are electrified, who knows we might even see overhead electrification back into Victoria before the centenary of its removal…

  44. MikeP says:

    There’s another elephant in the room when it comes to London passenger capacity (or the lack of it) in the recently published census figures. London population increased by just shy of 11% 2001-2011, after 7% 1991-2001. Now, “past performance is no indicator of future returns” and we’re in (arguably) uncharted territory economically – but if the rate of increase continues to accelerate (nearly 0.5% per annum) – DfT and TfL will be running faster and faster in order to fall further and further behind. Even if the rate stands still it’ll be a problem.

    I’d better not ask how this increase in population is (not) leading to a commensurate increase in revenue to the public purse, and how it feeds into the populist complaint that increased population puts unmet demands on public infrastructure.

  45. Greg Tingey says:

    Other serious problem with two voltages in same place – sinalling MUST be isolated from the traction currents and signalas.
    Usually, it was that on DC lines the signalling was AC, and vice versa.

    I assume the realistic way forward, as hinted above is a joint contribution from the freight operators (see HLOS statement re ports & “Shell Haven”) and others, including TfL.
    With the “Business case” for GOBLIN being one of the highest returns seen, it is just crazy that it isn’t being done.
    The difficult bit is going to be rebuilding the N side of Gospel Oak (with a platform on the North side, the complete reconstruction of the loop (curent baY) platform (rebuild the bridge outside the station for 3 tracks?
    And – where do the services go to at each end, since, if electrified, acontinued GOBLIN shuttle would be pointless.
    My intial suggestion is Grays – Barking – GO – Willesden LL – (Harrow?)

    I suspect that enough bullying of DafT from MP’s and, hopefully TfL will shift’em.

  46. Anonymous says:

    @ Anonymous 0823 – would you care to add some detail about why the GOBLIN is so difficult to electrify? Thanks for confirming that the £18m didn’t really solve very much and that we were “almost” misled as to what it would achieve. Ditto in respect of three years worth of blockades and engineering work. This is what happens when you have no strategy, no direction and no agreement – work having to be done three or four times over to achieve a sensible result. Oh and a plague on all the houses of those who did sit in that room (yourself excluded) and got precisely nowhere. It bodes very badly for the future progress of the electrification work as based on your words the relevant stakeholders don’t really think it is that beneficial and they’re certainly not prepared to put money on the table.

  47. D-Notice says:


    I’m sure I’ve read somewhere that there are plans for a Clapham Jn -> Gospel Oak -> Barking service

  48. Yokel says:

    @ ngh (33)
    If I remember correctly, Chiltern are on record as saying that all the work they intend to do on Bicester to Oxford will fit nicely into the East-West restoration without having to be redone.

  49. Martin S says:

    @D-Notice – see:

    Short answer is no – GOBLIN trains are so short they’d get crush-loaded on the NLL/WLL and it makes poor economic sense to run DMUs in slots cheaper-per-km EMUs could work.

    What would be useful (though doubtless would cost a fortune and introduce operational issues with the reversal) would be to convert the GOBLIN platform at Gospel Oak from bay to through and run trains one more stop to Hampstead Heath, hence giving same-platform changes to the NLL in both directions (eastbound at Gospel Oak, westbound at Hampstead Heath).

  50. D-Notice says:

    I meant I’m sure I’ve seen that service planned if/when they electrify it 🙂

  51. Greg Tingey says:

    Goblin W-extension needs to go somewhere different, surely?
    And, of course, there is still one reall weak bridge, 20mph limit, over the original Lea on the Wlathamstow / Tottenham border, which they haven’t fixed.

  52. UPPER EDMONTON Park Road says:

    BGOLUG have been campaigning for years for a Barking-Clapham service. As discussed previously, it can take longer trains as most of the station platforms were one much longer and would probalby be fine with a resurface (should it get OHLE).

  53. Anonymous at 0823pm says:

    To answer Anonymous at 0839am…

    The £18m achieved exactly what it was supposed to – gauge clearance for W10 containers. Which has been very useful. Indeed without it,and the diverions it enabled, it would not have been possible to upgrade the NLL. There was no work done in this project that has to be redone for electrification.

    The reason electrification is relatively difficult, compared to, say, Reading – Southampton is:
    a) many bridges and a couple of tunnels need clearing for electrical clearance, particularly the covered way at Junction Road where to go up means demolishing what is above it and dropping the track means undermining the foundations;
    b) much of the route is on viaduct above dense residential areas, so there will be working time restrictions, access issues, and the small matter of Network Rail not owning the land that some of the masts / distribution equipment has to go on;
    c) some of the viaducts are not in the best of condition (having been neglected by the railway for several decades being on what was pretty much a branch line) and so can’t physically support the masts;
    d) it will need a new grid connection as all of the existing ones in north London are at capacity (although hopefully the new one at Pudding Mill lane for Crossrail will help resolve)
    d) because it would connect electrically with the NLL, ECML, MML, Seven Sisters line, WAML, and GEML it needs some complex electrical sectioning in short distances.

    The NLL electrification in the mid 90s faced many, but not all of these problems. All solvable with cash ….

    Hope this helps.

  54. jp says:

    Regards converting Basingstoke/Southhampton line to AC how knackered is the DC equipment? Could it not be cascaded to lighter used lines Uckfield branch line, Wokingham-Redhill or Asford Ore.

  55. Barking - Gospel Oak Line Users Group says:

    The idea of a Barking – Clapham Junction service first saw the light of day in the 1974 London Rail Study. Ken Kivingstone adopted the ‘Outer Circle’ or ‘Orbirail’ concept of the RDS (now Railfuture) and T2000 (now Better Transport Campaign) in 2000 and TFL’s original plans were 8TPH Stratford – Camden Road; 2TPH Camden Road – Queens’ Park; 6 TPH Camden Road – Gospel Oak; 4TPH Barking – Gospel Oak; 8TPH Gospel Oak – Willesden Junction; 4TPH Willesden – Clapham Junction & 4THP Willesden Junction – Richmond. By 2006 the the Queen’s Park service had quietly disappeared and the Barking – Clapham service was put on the back burner due to the cost of reconstructing Gospel Oak with 4 platforms, also the West London Line stakeholders were not very keen on diesel trains, and MTR/Laing were offering 8×2-car Turbostars as part of their LRC bid and thus we got the services we have today.

    The DfT awarded a grant of £18.5m from its Transport Innovation Fund, match funded by the Network Rail Descretionary Investment Fund in 2007 for W10 gauge clearance between Willesden and Woodgrange Park and enhanced signalling to handle freight traffic diverted during the North London Line blockade and a later LO 15-min frequency pax service.

    How much came to be spent on each element of the scheme was never clear and further confused when Signalling Solutions lost the signalling contract, due, allegedly, to being over budget. This meant the the W10 cleaance work took place in 2008 and involved the renewal of two bridges while another was modified as it was not possible to move a high voltage power cable embedded in the bridge beneath the roadway. The resignalling, between Wanstead Park and Upper Holloway in the Tottenham & Hampstead Line, was subsequently awarded to Invensys Rail and Carrillion (who were already engaged in the TfL funded North London Line resginalling) was finally commissioned late in 2009. It is not clear if any TfL funding got allocated toward the resignalling of the T&H Line. While the resignalling greatly increased line capacity, there are still several long signal sections on the line.

    Both the River Lea and Lea Navigation bridges have had work done on them but the adjacent Lea Valley Viaduct, which runs through the Thames Water site has not and this must be the main reason for the retention of the 20mph PSR. Railtrack promised to raise this limit in 1996 but nothing was done. Major work was seen in a Network Rail work schedule a few years ago but nothing happened. BR raised the limit over the bridges and viaduct to 30mph in 1988 and within a few months there was a major derailment of a Stanlow to Thames Haven oil train on the viaduct. The 20mph PSR was reinstated when the line reopened.

    In 1993, BR Civil Engineers at Watford reported that all the steel bridges on the line were life expired and proposed that South Tottenham – Woodrange Park section be permanently closed when the first bridge became unsafe. They proposed electrifying from Gospel Oak to a reinstated Tottenham West Junction and diverting part of the NLL service from Gospel Oak to Stratford platforms 11 & 12 via a reversal at Tottenham Hale!

    Luckily, the first bridge to become unsafe was in 1996 and it was the River Lea bridge (35) and not the predicted bridge 34 over Bream Close. It would have been politically unacceptable for Railtrack to permanently close the line at that time and so they bit the bullet, repaired the bridge and started a programme to catch up with years of neglected infrastructure maintenance and renewals which Network Rail is still carrying out.

    Here endeth the history lesson!

    Glenn Wallis
    Assistant Secretary

  56. Anonymous says:

    RE: jp 08:22PM, 19th July 2012

    “Regards converting Basingstoke/Southampton line to AC how knackered is the DC equipment? Could it not be cascaded to lighter used lines Uckfield branch line, Wokingham-Redhill or Ashford Ore.”

    Most of it is coming up to 50 years old, the point at which electrical engineers start to get a little nervous about continuing to sign it off. (A conversation I once had with the now deceased engineer who did the job indicated that it was done to the absolute cheapest spec possible.) Some of it is around 10 years old and was added to enable the new Siemens units to run as they are more power hungry (Air-con and faster acceleration etc).

    Significant chunks of the 3rd rail network need their power supply increased to enable more and longer trains to run so the newer equipment from the Basingstoke/Southampton would be likely to end up replacing or augmenting equipment on existing 3rd rail electrified lines. Thus the logical thing to do with new electrifications is go straight to AC. It is also far easier and cheaper to enable regenerative braking with AC which also reduces the electricity bill and the size of power supply required.

    RE: Yokel 12:43PM, 19th July 2012

    @ ngh (33)
    If I remember correctly, Chiltern are on record as saying that all the work they intend to do on Bicester to Oxford will fit nicely into the East-West restoration without having to be redone.

    They have indeed, but my point was how about doing all the work for both Evergreen 3 and EWR on the Oxford Bicester stretch in 1 go to reduce costs and disruption, rather than in 2 goes even if done holistically?

    RE: Mwmbwls 03:24PM, 18th July 2012

    I many have spoken too soon in my previous post about DfT being completely silo-ised, they have just announced they want come up with an A14 toll to pay for the improvements, so the freight industry as the future option of paying for road or rail improvements…

  57. Anonymous says:

    @ Anonymous 0823 – thank you for the insight into some of the issues related to electrification. I suspect those issues have translated into both cost and risk elements in the latest estimated project cost. This is probably why DfT have taken flight in addition to their ridiculous game playing and rule changing. I still think it would be instructive to get Network Rail’s scope and costs reviewed and subject to challenge from potential funders.

    @ G Wallis – thanks for the history lesson and explaining the debacle over the long winded signalling renewal. Shame none of that was made public in all the glowing progress reports from TfL and Network Rail where everything was delivered to time and scope (ho ho ho). Do you know what work Network Rail are doing to continue the infrastructure renewal / replacement?

    On the subject of the Junction Road tunnel – how well used is that link by freight? Would it be an essential element of the electrification programme given passenger trains don’t use it? If freight operators want it then they can pay for it if the new rules of the game is that beneficiaries pay for their fair share of the cost.

  58. Greg Tingey says:

    Carlton Rd Jn – Jun Rd Jn is 64 chains [*] & yes, quite a lot of freight uses it, at least some of the track at the top end has been recently renewed, the rails are well-polished.
    Silly boy! This sort of penny-pinching stupidity, saving the cost of approximately a single run-out is the sort of idiocy that led to the gap in the juice between the GWML & the NLL at Acton.
    It will be well worth it, especially since the knittng is expected to reach Sheffiled!

    [ * Source: Railway Junction Diagrams. For an on-line copy, see …,_Highgate_Road,_Junction_Road,_South_Tottenham,_Tottenham_%26_Tufnell_Park_RJD_112.jpg

  59. MIKE 52 FROM WATFORD says:

    Iread with interest you marvellous article “orange elephants in the room” Regarding Goblin electrification In latest issue of Rail magazine electrification of the goblin line is listed as a short term aspiration of the new Essex Thameside Franchise Im not an expert in franchises but doesnt this line comee under tfl – anyway it seems to be in hand for electrification by new franchisee so this is good news

  60. Anonymous says:

    @ Greg – thanks for the freight comment but less of the “silly boy” remarks thank you. I was simply reflecting the mood of stupidity that clearly haunts this project whereby people say they want it but won’t pay for it. Also based on earlier comments this element of the scheme does look to be complex, involved and therefore expensive.

    You cite the strategic connection to an electrified MML – yes that’s all well and good but TfL have no responsibility whatsoever for trains to Nottingham and Sheffield so why on earth should they be funding this aspect of the scheme? The government cannot shove the cost and responsibility to TfL and then write glowing words in their HLOS document about “strategic freight links” and “wanting port access to be electrified” and then provide no money or support for precisely such a link. If I was TfL I would simply refuse to fund that aspect of the scheme – anyone can play awkward if they are forced to be even if it is a somewhat immature stance to take.

  61. Snowy says:

    @ anonymous The silly boy remarks are classic Greg sarcasm in regard to the situation rather than yourself, you get used to it after reading enough of the forum posts so don’t take too much offence.

    DfT etc has to be careful in how much they expect freight to pay. They only use the railway if it’s economically beneficial for them. If they charge too much then the freight company’s will just switch to road. I suspect it’s pretty hard to strike the right balance.

    I still think that the idea posted previously regarding a London reconnections cloud sourced fund for GOBLIN electrification would be the easiest solution…

  62. ngh says:

    Re snowy 10:11AM, 20th July 2012

    DfT etc has to be careful in how much they expect freight to pay. hey only use the railway if it’s economically beneficial for them. If they charge too much then the freight company’s will just switch to road. I suspect it’s pretty hard to strike the right balance.

    DfT announced on Tuesday that they want to introduce an A14 toll to pay for improvements.
    The cost of the works are £1.5bn.

    Might this encourage more freight from Felixstowe to use the rail?

  63. JP says:

    Re Anonymous 11:53PM, 19th July 2012

    50 years sounds a lot but I’m not an electrical engineer.
    The Victoria line trains were retired not because they were becoming unreliable but because their 40 years were up, the new trains are better but the old ones weren’t knackered.

    Also even if the electrical boxes are finished there are still the rails and insulators which could be reused although again not as good as the modern ones.

    If your dealing with the lines I mentioned previously which no one is going to mark as a priority you could get them electrified on the cheap (say to the govt. give us money for new boxes and we’ll electrify line X). The alternative is a bit of scrap money as if govt. says we want line X electrified the chief engineer will say we need aluminium rails were not going to use those old ones.

  64. Greg Tingey says:

    Ageing electric stock, generally.
    No reciprocating parts – so no shaking apart (or not nearly as much as diesel)
    Bodies can last almost for eve, if properly maintained and stabled – look at the original clockwork orange stock!
    Internal refurbs can be caostly, but still not as expensive as new kit.
    The thing that tends to “wear out” is, suprisingly, the wiring itself – it does shake & vibrate & chafe & the insulation MAY degarde over time 0 this is not as bad as it once was.

    As for electrification caosts, ahs anyone noticed the sudden go-ahead for the Paisley Canal juicing – because Twotwank Fail & ScotRail & others actually sat down, discussed it, realised that they didn’t have to spend quite so much (jut make very sure your trains never cme to a stand under a lowish bridge …) and off you go!

  65. RicP says:

    This is an interesting dialogue, many contributors make very relevant points, a few of you good people have got shunted up the wrong siding. I too have done a lot of work for BG-O Line Users Group. Over I5 years, despite feeling sometimes you are bashing your head against a brick wall, we have achieved a lot.
    I drafted a pamphlet for Railway Development Society and Transport 2000 (now Railfuture and CBT) back in 1997, and produced a series of 4-side briefings for the Outer Circle, as we called it then. The concept, based on certain principles of the 1974 Rail Study, were enshrined in proposals to set up a network of overlapping stopping services that ran at least every 15 minutes. Then waiting for, or changing trains would be convenient, quick and simply hassle-free. London Overground has eventually got close to that objective, but it took until 2011, 14 years from our first pamphlet!
    But it also proves what careful lobbying can do, and making sure you convice the right people this was a sensible idea. It used existing resources more effectively, but a little penny-pinching care of Da-f-T, means that what we have got isn’t quite right. Why has it taken so long to get the last bit done to Clapham Jct. And why are we waiting for GO-B line electrification.
    Both are down to rather childish spats between DfT and TfL. And who kept moving the goalposts, the DfT of course!
    This is about Civil Servants who are less than competent in their jobs, who have little professional understanding of how a railway should work, and are taken in by grandiose schemes which cost lots of money. Freight infills are just not sexy.
    To add insult to injury, no one will give a realistic cost of the scheme which is now relatively straightforward. Most of the clearances are now OK, and at only two locations track lowering or bridge alterations are required. The kind of economies proposed for Paisley Canal will work here. Also Balfour Beatty want to do a low cost trial of a new slab track qhich can be applied to both tunnels and viaducts!
    Seriously such issues as clearances under the school covered way at Junction Road Tufnell

  66. RicP says:

    This is an interesting dialogue, many contributors make very relevant points, but a few of you good people have got shunted up the wrong siding. I too have done a lot of work for BG-O Line Users Group. Over I5 years, despite feeling sometimes we were bashing heads against a brick wall, we have achieved a lot.
    I drafted a pamphlet for Railway Development Society and Transport 2000 (now Railfuture and CBT) back in 1997, and produced a series of 4-side briefings for the Outer Circle, as we called it then. The concept, based on certain principles of the 1974 Rail Study, (The Barren Report) were enshrined in proposals to set up a network of overlapping stopping services that ran at least every 15 minutes. Then waiting for, or changing trains would be convenient, quick and simply hassle-free. London Overground has eventually got close to that objective, but it took until 2011, 14 years from our first pamphlet!
    But it also proves what careful lobbying can do, and making sure you convice the right people this was a sensible idea. It used existing resources more effectively, but a little penny-pinching care of Da-f-T, means that what we have got isn’t quite right. Why has it taken so long to get the last bit done to Clapham Jct. And why are we waiting for GO-B line electrification?
    Both are down to rather childish spats between DfT and TfL. And who kept moving the goalposts; the DfT of course!
    This is about Civil Servants who are less than competent in their jobs, who have little professional understanding of how a railway should work, and are taken in by grandiose schemes which cost lots of money. Freight infills are just not sexy. My concern is that Civil Servants appear to have briefed Justine Greening incorrectly.
    To add insult to injury, no one will give a realistic cost of the scheme which is now relatively straightforward. Most of the clearances are now OK, and at only two locations track lowering or bridge alterations are required. The kind of economies proposed for Paisley Canal will also work here. Also Balfour Beatty want to do a low cost trial of a new slab track which can be applied to both tunnels and viaducts!
    Seriously such issues as clearances under the school covered way at Junction Road Tufnell Park are not a problem, a couple of bridges and a sewer pipe near Walthamstow might be a bit tight, so make the lowest a neutral section.
    As far as stock is concerned, our suggestion is to return 10 313s to Willesden as the OAPs at Eastbourne do not appreciate their new LooLess trains. TfL chips in for some suburban 376/377-5 clones for Southern so the 377-3s can go back to Coastway.
    Lastly as regards Basingstoke – Southampton, there are 92s and Brecknell Willis Aluminium Composite conductor rails. Much cheaper than 25kv wires, along with £100m+ for transformers and pantographs on at least 300 emus. Now who would pay for that? If I were a TOC I would make sure DafT coughed up. Not for years that one!
    Incidentally, Barren also propsed Crossrail, but we are still waiting for that one. Overground was good value for money and a sensible idea – it works!

  67. Drew says:

    London has been the recipient of a vast amount of money and projects over the last 10 years in relation to it’s rail infrastructure. London Overground has been a hit; it’s refurbished stations, bought new rolling stock, built the new East London Line, now working on the South London Line. On top of all the work & modernisation works going into London Underground. TfL is in an enviable position.

    Just to reiterate my previous thought (despite being a frequent London commuter). London does not have an automatic right to funds. The rest of the country is in *dire* need of railway works as well, and I feel it’s only fair that “the provinces” get an opportunity to be updated as well. GWML, Transpennine & MML electrification, East-West Line, freight schemes are all things that others have been crying out for, for years just like London. Funds only stretch so far in this present climate, and all these schemes rank just as highly in merit, if not higher.

    Some of the previous commentators: this perceived sense of entitlement for London is what drives the rest of the country nuts.

  68. Pedantic of Purley says:


    A valid point that, by the nature of the geographic coverage of this site, tends to get overlooked. However, as a general rule, transport investment in London, or at least beneficially affecting London, tends to get well used and therefore tends to produce a better benefit:cost ratio than provincial-only schemes. In fact there is a whole branch of economics (agglomeration theory) which basically shows that the best place to invest is where you have already invested in the past.

    It is ironic that the alternative schemes you suggest should be a priority for investment are all schemes that have a substantial London element and are ones that London, too, is crying out for. You don’t mention Trans-Pennine electrification or the Northern Hub for example so unwittingly you seem to be encouraging the very course of action you appear to be condemning.

    It is not just in London that this resentment surfaces. Go to the South Wales Valleys and listen to the frustration that all the investment until recently was directed towards Cardiff Bay or go to the Highlands and Islands where the inhabitants fear that an Edinburgh-based Scottish Parliament concentrates investment in Glasgow and Edinburgh. Or indeed within London, as has been discussed here, the Hackney Wick question. Why does Hackney lose out whilst stations further out are given priority? Or go to the other side of the world and listen to the moans of any Queenslander who doesn’t live in Brisbane.

    The question is “do you want our politicians to spend the money in the most cost effective manner or in a manner that is the most equitable?” At the end of the day I would argue that this a political or moral issue beyond the scope of this site.

  69. Drew says:


    Oh don’t get me wrong. I know this is *London* Reconnections. I expect disappointment from anybody who doesn’t get funds they believe they deserve, and disappointment over the Goblin line losing out is natural for this site (and only natural). My main frustration is with some of the commentators who seem to believe DfT have been daft/stupid/incredibly bonkers in not awarding London better with this HLOS.

    PS. I did mentioned Transpennine electrification, although I overlooked Northern Hub as a Yorkshireman. We don’t talk about that side of the Pennines 😉 . The rest of my bias is because I now live outside London, hence those are the things that matter most to me nowadays!

  70. Drew says:

    PS. I enjoyed reading the article itself!

  71. Pedantic of Purley says:


    Oops. You did mention Trans Pennine. As lots of people have pointed out on many occasions, investment many miles away from London can have a significant beneficial impact here and I know the writers here at any rate aren’t looking for favouritism for London. I think a lot of the problem is explaining how expensive investment in London is justified. £100m for a few miles of GOBLIN electrification does not look like good value for money when compared with £500m being talked about to go all the way from Bedford to Sheffield. Worse still from our perspective it gets reported as “the Midland Main Line from St Pancras to Sheffield” so it appears that you are getting even more for your paltry half billion pounds.

    But it gets worse. How can one possibly get across the message that Victoria Station Upgrade at c. £750m is more important and more beneficial than complete electrification of an entire main line route? If you don’t live in London and don’t appreciate the sheer numbers of people affected or how the if the tube can’t function properly then the city can’t function properly then how can you understand ?

  72. Drew says:


    I agree, that London does need continued investment to cope with always-increasing passengers, and I think the article itself hit the nail on the head. I’m not against London receiving funds (while I think the rest of the country deserves it) – it’s a philosophical point which is beyond the remit of the blog as you say to debate whether London deserves it or not (best BCR or best return for all taxpayers?).

    I agree with the article itself. Goblin needs electrifying at some point – the switch to rail from road for freight demands it, let alone the passenger benefits, as with other little infills. Other London infrastructure needs further modernising. My gripe is with commentators who act as if DfT have done something immeasurably wrong in leaving London largely out of the HLOS this time, and the the DfT must always trump up cash for London. Money can only go so far 🙂

    And on the rough subject of “investment outside of London benefiting London”, I sent an email in to [email protected] asking about an article last weekend – hopefully it didn’t get marked as spam 🙂


  73. Greg Tingey says:

    But, of course GOBLIN electification, with the highest CBR of any scheme (AFAIK) would not benefit “London only”
    You would have through services from outside the GLA (almost certainly fron Grays / Tilbury / Pitsea via T) and across to Willesden & then either Clapham or Watford. (Personally I think a Tilbury – Watford service would be a really good move)
    And the other elephant – big, long-distance electric-hauled frieght from any of Tilbury Docks, Ripple Yard (Can you spell “Transmanche”?) or Shell Haven through to the LNW /Midland /GW main lines.
    Obvioulsy not of any use to anyone is it?
    Or so (some of) DafT would have you believe.
    This has got to be sorted.
    I think heavy political pressure on & by London MP’s will shift it …..

    Oh, & in the meantime, will someone PLEASE take an angle-grinder to the fences between Walthamstow Central & Midland stations?

  74. BGOLUG says:

    Mr. Tingey

    I actually thought of Clapham Junction – Rainham – Grays some time ago, but my learned friend, RicP diagrees, I think he’s worried about importing delays onto the main London Overground NLL/WLL lines. There is enough scope for that with the freight currently using the NLL.

    There is no doubt that the lack of Barking – Gospel Oak electrification, along with other infill schemes has already caused the main FOCs to start to abandon electric traction. DBS shifted a lot of traffic (mostly automotive) out of Wembley to a new hub at Didcot last year and Freightliner are said to be going to withdraw their Class 86 fleet at the end of this year. Also most of the long term stored Class 92s are said to only worth scrapping as they have been stripped to provide spares for those that are working.

    Regarding the Hoe Street – Walthamstow pedestrian link, progress (lack of) has been reported in BGOLUG’s e-bulletins. The first stage, the new Edison Close entrance to Walthamstow station was originally expected to open at the turn of the year. Unfortunately, Network Rail is playing a marathon game of ping-pong with the Housing Association the High Court ruled has to pay for it, by forever demanding alterations to each successive revision of the drawings. It is now hoped that it it might be open “by the autumn”.

    Stage two, the footpath from Hoe Street station car park is being provided by the developers of the car park site. It was originally said that it would be open “before the Olympics”, but now too is being said to be ready “by the autumn”.

    Glenn Wallis
    Assistant Secretary

  75. Alan Griffiths says:

    Greg Tingey @ 07:35AM, 21st July 2012

    “Oh, & in the meantime, will someone PLEASE take an angle-grinder to the fences between Walthamstow Central & Midland stations?”

    Sorely tempted, Greg, but I think I’ll continue to put up with waiting until it opens.

  76. Greg Tingey says:

    IF it opens, you mean?

    Remember that connection was a condition of the Edison CLose development going ahead – how long ago ???????

  77. Long Branch Mike says:

    In relation to London vs provinces rail (or any) investment, I would’ve thought the CBR values for each proposal would allow a measure of comparing investments in vastly different realms, from station improvement to line electrification. I realize of course that such CBR values can be manipulated & distorted, but it does give some method of comparison.

  78. Lemmo says:

    Isn’t one of the issues here that the investment decisions in HLOS appear to ignore the CBR assessments? Otherwise projects like GOBLIN would have the thumbs up…

    Having said that, one of the problems with assessing each project on an individual basis is that it doesn’t take an integrated view of the network as a system. There is a strong case to be made for assessing a portfolio of investments, and comparing this to alternative portfolios. This is something TfL could do for London: it would fit its strategic remit, reframe the debate about funding, and put it back on the front foot.

    The other issue highlighted above is the need for someone to take the role of funding matchmaker, i.e. to put the stakeholders in a room to forge joint investments. This is particularly the case where passenger and freight will derive benefit from new infrastructure, but it’s unclear who should take the lead and assess the costs/benefits. DfT don’t see themselves getting into this sort of detail, and don’t appear to have the capability anyway, therefore someone else needs to fulfil this role. Despite being a stakeholder, TfL are the best placed to lead this in London.

  79. Fandroid says:

    @RicP comes up with some clever uses of resources and knowledgeable observations on GOBLIN, but as a BSK resident, I feel I must support the AC conversion of Basingstoke to Southampton. It forms part of what we have all been waiting for for years ‘A Strategy’ !!!That mysterious beast has been missing ever since privatisation, even during during the existence of the misnamed SRA. We may not agree the detail, but don’t discourage DfT from any strategic thinking. Once they see the advantages of thinking ahead, they may do it again! With AC we may be able to whistle over the summit to Southampton even faster than we currently do. It should also create a few more paths on one of the most congested parts of the freight route to the north.

    At present, Network Rail is busy spending loadsamoney on the diversionary freight route between Southampton and Basingstoke via Salisbury. It would be utterly bizarre to have an AC electrified route from the port to northern England, with presumably the FOCs investing in nice modern electric freight locos, and then having a diversionary route which is only usable by all the class 66s that they had sold off to Poland ! I expect Basingstoke-Salisbury & Southampton-Salisbury
    to get wires as soon as the FOCs show serious intent to invest in electric locos.

  80. Anonymous says:

    Wires to Salisbury would then lead to wires to Exeter, possibly before wires arrive via Taunton.

    Then perhaps the LSWR will have won the race to the West with GWR relegated to runner up!

  81. David says:

    Can I gently question why, at the start of the thread, it seems to have been accepted there is a viable business case to electrify Gospel Oak – Barking?

    Electrification costs for GOBLIN are now quoted by NR as at £60-£90m – the latter with optimism bias given the limited extent to which the scheme has been appraised. It is a route much on viaduct or in cutting and hence way above the electrification ‘norm’ of £1.6m per single track mile (or £3.2m per double track mile).

    The TfL benefit from using 4-car EMUs against 3-car diesel 172s over a 30 year appraisal period is probably less than £1/2m per year. This gets less if TfL moves to a 5-car EMU fleet for the NLL and WLL as it would like to. Either it has a non-standard GOBLIN EMU fleet (marginal extra cost; not quite the same as a small DMU fleet but extra, all the same) or it runs longer standard 5-car EMUs on GOBLIN where the capacity outside the peaks simply isn’t used (marginal extra cost) . Against this the cost of leasing or buying and operating an extra centre car for a DMU is quite moderate, especially as traffic can fill a 3-car for the peak. And modern 3-car DMUs have a ready market in future years if funding for electrification is agreed.

    Freight benefits from electric GOBLIN are unlikely to get anywhere near £1/2 m a year. There’s little that will convert just through GOBLIN alone being under the wires -look at the ports and the inland terminals that have yet to be wired and identify the flows that convert unaided. The marginal difference between diesel and electric at present is around a 10% cost saving and against this you have to offset the cost and delay of any traction change.

    The freight operating companies have £200m in the HLOS to allocate to the Strategic Freight Network. If GOBLIN electrification is such a valuable business case, TfL should be working with the FOCs to agree the funding with them and announce electrification as part of the January 2013 Strategic Business Plan that sets out how the rail industry proposes to provide the most efficient delivery of the CP5 network. This will be evaluated by the independent ORR so if it is the most efficient solution it trumps DfT.

    The plans by TfL to buy centre cars for the GOBLIN DMUs might offer a clue as to how TfL has evaluated the GOBLIN electrification business case behind the scenes, despite what the politicians say.

  82. Mwmbwls says:

    David 24th July 2012
    You make an interesting point that if you and other readers do not mind I will attempt to address in a forthcoming article. You are quite correct to challenge a conventional wisdom that I and others champion. The situation regarding FOCs and track access charges is quite fluid at the moment. The key driver behind the development of the Thames Gateway – a global economic recovery is also a moving target. Ah the joys and hazards of making irrevocable decisions from inadequate information.

  83. Greg Tingey says:

    Except that it is supected that the TfL “request” for centre-cars is a ploy to prod certain people (like DafT) inot moving.
    Which they have, by dumping the whole thing back onto TfL, by the simple expediant of moving the goal-posts!

  84. John Bull says:

    From what I understand, the main issue is that Bombardier HAVEN’T provided a reasonable quote for 3-car 172 conversions – because from a strategy/management perspective they’re not interested in the job.

  85. Anonymous says:

    @ JB – colour me not surprised that Bombardier are seemingly not interested. This is par for the course with them – they piddled about with the pricing and T&Cs for providing more class 377s for Southern preferring to try to flog the more expensive 379s instead. Of course there is another danger in all this – if TfL can find the money for 5 car 378s will Bombardier try to screw TfL over the pricing for those too? They clearly don’t care about their UK manufacturing capacity so why don’t they come clean, stop trying to milk the local political pressure and close Derby down. At least then the UK would know where they stand in respect of train manufacturing and their loyalties (or not) to supplying the UK market.

  86. timbeau says:

    @Tim Burns (18th July)

    As well as the class 141s to Iran, the Leyland experinmental railbuses which preceded them nearly all went abroad, mainly to Canada and the USA. Their history is confusing, and their numbering inconsistent, but as far as I can work out only LEV1 and possibly RB003 operated commercially on BR before export. It is now preserved in the UK. RB004 has also returned to the UK for preservation

    RB003 was tested on BR, and then regauged for use with Northern Ireland Railways, but is now preserved. As far as I can tell, it is the only one never to have left the UK.

    In the 1970s, two class 109 twin units were sent to Trinidad, five class 126 power cars to a mining company in Liberia.

  87. Littlejohn says:

    @Anonymous 09:34AM, 26th July 2012

    According to an article today on the new Newton Aycliffe factory which will build the newly-ordered IEPs (including bi-modes) will potentially have the capacity to build the Crossrail trains as well. Unless the pricings have a huge profit-margin built-in to allow for the future closure of the plant I think we must assume it will be a long-term player in the rail industry – particularly as Hitachi will also locate its European rail research and development capabilities at the site. goes on to say that the plant ‘will provide Hitachi with ample opportunity to pursue other contracts such as possible new trains for Merseyrail and other mainland European orders’.

    Where does this leave Bombardier? With no more newspaper headlines about the death of British train-building will it just close down its British operations or will we see some UK competition for home railway orders?

  88. Tim Burns says:

    @Timbeau thanks for the info

  89. Fandroid says:


    Bombardier will hang on until the successful Crossrail train bidder is announced. If they win, then Derby gets a life extension. If they lose, then they will happily pack up and clear off. They have enough assembly capacity elsewhere in Europe, and even the e-Voyagers won’t keep them in Derby as the body panels for those need their Brugge factory not the Derby one. The nonsense about keeping UK design capability is just that – nonsense. Designers can live in Timbuctu (or Bangalore). They don’t need a factory next door to keep their brains alive.

  90. Ig says:

    It seems the Goblin is causing houses to shake and subside anyway – Maybe another reason to go for the full upgrade to solve this issue at the same time!

  91. bena gyerek says:

    a general observation: the govt is currently undergoing a major rethink on its austerity priorities. capex does not count towards the structural budget deficit that the govt is trying to close, and well-spent capex should ultimately pay for itself via higher economic growth and therefore higher tax revenues. what with the elections potentially coming up sooner than planned, and the economy flatlining again (and the eurozone and even china threatening to wreak even further havoc), i would not be surprised if over the next 12 months we see more and more announcements about major new (genuinely new) infrastructure spending, in order to stimulate a rebound in the economy. the govt’s long-term cost of borrowing is at an all time low (after adjusting for inflation, it is paying negative interest rates). meanwhile the construction industry is suffering badly, meaning the cost of projects is probably cheaper than usual. what’s more, if major capex stimulates growth, that of itself would actually help to close the hole in the current budget deficit by generating more tax revenues and taking unemployed builders off the dole (and, if you believe in unemployment hysteresis and capital scrapping, it could also help close the long-term structural deficit). in other words, spending on things like the goblin electrification is beginning to look like a bit of a policy no-brainer.

  92. Anonymous says:

    bena gyerek: No, but it contributes towards the non-structural deficit that the government also “intends” to close. A significant U-turn would be the end of George Osborne,

  93. Mackenzie says:

    Just a couple of points I’d like to clear up.

    * There are pretty much no spare 377/5 once the new Class 700 Desiro Cities arrive. Reason? because the Croydon to Milton Keynes service will increase from 2tph four car service to 4tph of 8 car lengths. Ths going to require around 22 dual voltage units leaving not many spare as the current 377/2 fleet has only 8 units needed for dual voltage (5 for WLL services and 3 for FCC). The reason are pretty much in use on other services already.

    * It was mentioned lengthing trains through East Croydon. Not going to happen. Current services are already fairly at their limit of either 8 or 12 cars. To increase everything to 12 car will require lots and lots of expensive platform and bridge works (Ie Tulse Hill). Moving from 12 cars to 16 cars was looked into by Network Rail as an idea. They think it will cost about £1bn due to platform lengthing and redesigning ALL signalling and track layouts to accomidate the longer services.

  94. Marc M says:

    Notwithstanding the government’s minimum expectations set out in the HLOS has the Rail engineer uncovered something about Network Rails future intentions re Goblin electrification. NR’s new lead on electrification is twice reported to have included Gospel Oak to barking in his future plans . There is even dates of a start of work an expected cost (£50 million), which is less than half of some of the figures I have seen bandied about

    If true Im sure it would have been reported elsewhere, not least from politicians wanting to claim success for something most of us regard as a no brainer. Thought I would share nonetheless

  95. Littlejohn says:

    @Marc M 12:05PM, 9th October 2012

    Food for thought. However, you should not believe everything you read. The same article refers to ‘EMUs due to run between Newbury and Oxford in December 2016’. It is unclear if this interesting routing will require a reversal at Reading, or if it is planned to reinstate the northern half of the Didcot, Newbury and Southampton line.

  96. Mikey C says:


    I’m presuming he meant “EMUs due to run TO Newbury and Oxford n December 2016’”

    The GOBLIN is an interesting one, I’m sure it wouldn’t happen without an announcement by Boris though!

  97. Littlejohn says:

    Yes, I’m sure that’s what he meant.

  98. Anonymous says:

    Newbury to Oxford wouldn’t require a reversal, just use of the Reading West curve. Of course it would miss a major traffic objective…

  99. mr_jrt says:

    Out of curiosity, does anyone know how line capacity is between Newbury and Reading, and Reading and Didcot?

    …I have a soft spot for the DN&S, but realistically the only chance it has is if the existing radial lines via Reading are full, in which case it makes perfect sense for linking he two, especially in light of the electric spine concept.

  100. Littlejohn says:

    @mr_jrt 09:53AM, 11th October 2012.

    I’m afraid this is another ‘if only’. The formation north of Newbury is built over for about 3 miles with a mixture of light industry and housing. After that the route manages to void any settlement of size until it reaches Didcot, which is no doubt why so much of it remains, although now largely given back to agriculture. Reinstating the DN&S is just not realistic, although if it was still there it would make an attractive freight route.

    As an aside for those interested, the definitive work ‘The Didcot Newbury and Southampton Railway’ by Karau, Parsons and Robertson (Wild Swan Publications, ISBN 0 906867 04 5) is highly recommended, if you can find a copy.

  101. Littlejohn says:

    mr_jrt 09:53AM, 11th October 2012.

    It is better to check before you write things, not after. I must try to remember this. Three copies of ‘The Didcot Newbury and Southampton Railway’ are currently on eBay

  102. mr_jrt says:

    I don’t think it’s quite so terminal as you make out. Those buildings could never be built because there was a railway there…but the railway was removed. The opposite is just as possible. That said, there’s no reason the old formation has to be used in it’s entirety for any reinstated route. It’s so far gone by now it would really just provide a rough idea of the best alignment from the surveying performed when it was built, not to mention the odd surviving earthwork or two. 🙂

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