The extensive RUS process has already yielded a long shopping list of potential projects, including some big ticket items such as Crossrail 2. We are more likely, however, to see a package of more modest investments in CP5 (Control Period 5, 2014-2019) which will pave the way for more ambitious projects in CP6.

Following the government’s recent High Level Output Statement (HLOS), the “rail industry” will need to prioritise the key problem areas around the London network that need to be resolved in order to release capacity, and to identify where infrastructure can be better used.

This analysis will be challenging, because resolving one problem tends to push the stress down the line to the next pinch-point. An integrated assessment needs to look at the network as a whole rather than looking at each area in isolation, and analyse alternate portfolios of investments in order to define which package has greatest merit. Here we explore one key bottleneck: at Herne Hill, where the Wimbledon-Blackfriars route crosses the busy Kent Mainline on the flat.

The 2008 South London RUS identifies Herne Hill as one of a small number of “key localised capacity constraints which restrict the overall capacity of the whole wider network”, but no solution is presented in the 2011 London & South East RUS. Resolving Herne Hill will unlock capacity on a number of routes, but it is clearly a thorny problem.

We explore some options below, and find that major investment here needs to be driven by a clear vision of what we want the south London network to look like. It should also be determined by what TfL expects of its “strategic interchanges” such as Herne Hill, and what this entails in terms of service provision. These will dictate the extent of fundamental restructuring we are prepared to tackle, and the level of investment required. There are four broad options:

  • Do nothing or, at most, modest investment to relieve station overcrowding
  • Reconfigure the track layout, potentially alongside rebuilding to expand station capacity
  • Reconfigure the track layout and the service pattern, with significant knock-on effects across the network and probably also requiring grade-separation at Tulse Hill
  • Invest in Herne Hill alongside new infrastructure at Lewisham, Brixton and elsewhere as an integrated program to relieve other bottlenecks and maximise the potential of the underutilised City route to Blackfriars.

Which of these is tenable, and what about grade-separation at Herne Hill itself? Read on…

Herne Hill, an attractive Grade II listed station

Herne Hill, an attractive Grade II listed station. Photo courtesy of Darkroom Daze on Flickr

Nowhere to run

In our post on safeguarding to expand the Blackfriars terminal bays, we noted how the ex-London Chatham & Dover Railway (LCDR) route from Herne Hill to Blackfriars is probably the most under-utilised stretch of mainline in central London. In 2018 the four-track viaduct from Loughborough Junction to Blackfriars will carry just 10tph each way off-peak and 14tph in the peaks. Arguably this is an inexcusable waste of infrastructure. More intensive use of the LCDR mainline through Elephant & Castle, however, is limited by bottlenecks north, south, east and west.

Herne Hill and the LCDR route to Blackfriars

Herne Hill and the LCDR route to Blackfriars. Edited from carto.metro, courtesy of Franklin Jarrier

Heading north, only so many trains can go through the Thameslink core and the 2018 service pattern favours the London Bridge route rather than Elephant & Castle. For the rest there are but two terminal bays, and no prospect of any more unless land is safeguarded as part of the Ludgate House redevelopment. Failure to achieve this will relegate the route to a has-been ― all for the sake of a small triangle of land on the South Bank.

Looking east from Loughborough Jn, there may be potential to run a metro service on the Catford Loop through Peckham Rye, say to Bellingham or Bromley South. This is hard-fought territory, as attested by the efforts of London Travelwatch and TfL to develop alternatives to the doomed South London Line service between London Bridge and Victoria. The options studied by TfL highlighted the lack of capacity on the Kent Mainline, and the under-utilised section from Nunhead to Lewisham is limited to a meagre 3tph due to the complex flat junctions at Lewisham.

Looking west from Loughborough Jn, the chord around to Canterbury Road Jn and Brixton is not used by scheduled services. The complex Kent Mainline service pattern through Brixton effectively shuts out any other service options, and it will need a major rebuilding of Brixton Jn to open up the route to Blackfriars. However, rebuilding at Brixton should be explored further as it could offer multiple benefits, not least platforms on the Denmark Hill lines. The area has development potential and this may help offset the costs.

So east and west are limited largely by the bottlenecks at Lewisham and Brixton. But what of the route south through Herne Hill?

A crossing point

Back in the early LCDR days most trains had separate City and West End portions, which joined/divided at Herne Hill. As well as being an important junction for passenger trains, Herne Hill was also a sorting point for freight and extensive sidings were provided either side of the line to Loughborough Jn. A link was also added to the London Brighton & South Coast Railway’s London Bridge route at Tulse Hill, which now carries the Blackfriars-Wimbledon Loop service.

1908 Railway Clearing House map showing Herne Hill amidst the South London tangle

1908 Railway Clearing House map showing Herne Hill amidst the South London tangle

The station building is attractive and Grade II listed, shown in the old photos below with the original Up platform alongside the upper level of the building. The station was rebuilt in 1925 to provide the layout we have today, with two island platforms providing cross-platform interchange. Herne Hill has a very detailed Wikipedia page, which we have gratefully plundered, including a useful animation which shows the evolution of the station layout.

Herne Hill station C19th

Herne Hill station C19th, photo courtesy of johnmightycat1 on Flickr

The south junctions looking north, circa 1900

The south junctions looking north, circa 1900

The post-1925 layout, taken from a similar point in 1983 with the Down loop on the right

The post-1925 layout, taken from a similar point in 1983 with the Down loop on the right. Photo courtesy of johnmightycat1 on Flickr

Nowadays, Herne Hill is a thorn in the side of railway planners. Capacity is significantly limited by the established service pattern of two routes crossing, hence the perennial interest in grade-separating the two routes, options for which we explore below.

The station is hemmed in by flat junctions at either end, and by a road underbridge at the southern end. Being on a viaduct from the station southwards, it will be very hard for it to be anything other than four-platforms with four running lines.

The flat junctions limit the platforms to 8-car trains ― a trait shared with Tulse Hill a mile away. The platforms could be extended at the north end, but this would require substantial track layout changes.

The 2008 South London RUS recommended that land was safeguarded for grade-separation (Option 17.3 p145), and word on the grapevine is that land has indeed been set aside. But what land is that, if any? The fact that it is not public knowledge suggests that Network Rail may have safeguarded on its own land, which lies to the north and is shown on the map below, but is this is even technically possible?

Herne Hill

Herne Hill

Hemmed in at the north end

South Junction is built on a viaduct and is very close to the station. An underpass is unworkable and a flyover would require a high-level platform on the east side, which will be obtrusive in a Conservation Area, technically challenging, and expensive. It is a highly unlikely prospect.

So, to the north end we look. The railway lands here are fairly generous, a vestige of the extensive Herne Hill Sorting Sidings. These lay either side of the main line to Loughborough Junction, extending westwards to Shakespeare Road. Most is now lost to housing, but a rump lies in the cleft of the Herne Hill North Jn where there is a Network Rail depot and a waste transfer station.
Grade-separation might be possible here, but alas it is hard to see how. The photo below is looking north from the Up Kent platform, with the signal box in the distance on the left and beyond that the rail depot marking the divergence of the two routes. It is clear from this and the map above that grade-separation would be an engineering challenge, if it is even possible.

Herne Hill North Junction

Herne Hill North Jn, photo courtesy of Mike Faherty on Geograph

Two example alignments for the Up Elephant & Castle line are shown on the map. It is likely that the Kent Mainline tracks would have to be realigned eastwards, and even then there would probably be a need to demolish the signal box and compulsorily purchase property in Mayall Road. If the Kent Mainline was raised then this might reduce the distance required for the Elephant & Castle tracks to descend, but the track would still require a steep gradient north from the platforms to clear the Kent lines and then a sharp curve north-east. Indeed, the curvature required may preclude a flyover and entail burrowing beneath the depot and then the new housing along Shakespeare Rd, to arise somewhere south of Loughborough Jn.

These works would preclude the potential for platform lengthening on the Kent lines. Platform extensions would be out of the question on the Elephant & Castle route platforms, although this is less of a concern as platform lengths at Tulse Hill and Elephant & Castle are also limited to 8-car.

This, of course, only provides grade-separation on the Up line. Providing grade-separation for Up and Down tracks will require more land, and the platforms tracks would then need to be reconfigured so that Tulse Hill trains used the westernmost island platform. The easternmost island platform would become Kent Mainline, and you’d lose cross-platform interchange.

Grade-separation at the south end

Back in 1989 the Central London Rail Study proposed an enhanced ‘Thameslink Metro’ via Elephant & Castle on the newly-opened cross-city route. However the service would require grade-separation at Herne Hill, not least because the Kent Mainline was also hosting Eurostar services into Waterloo. British Rail considered four options, and the preferred option in engineering and cost terms was to provide a new viaduct south-east of the station with a flyover to Knights Hill Tunnel on the Tulse Hill-London Bridge line.

Proposed flyover south of Herne Hill

Proposed flyover south of Herne Hill. Source: Thameslink 2000 Environmental Statement: Alternatives Report (June 2004) p.10

It would be interesting to know what the other three options were. Perhaps TfL should review these given the capacity issues across the network ― a very different situation now compared to 1989.

The proposed viaduct and flyover at Herne Hill would have been built through a residential area, requiring the demolition of four houses and a number of commercial premises including a petrol filling station, and significant land-grab from the gardens of around thirty houses. The environmental impacts were considered worse than at Borough Market and this was a key driver to focus the Thameslink core route on London Bridge. A reappraisal during the preparation of the Thameslink 2004 Environmental Statement found that the works required for grade-separation essentially remain unchanged, but that some newer buildings would now require demolition and therefore the environmental and community impacts would be worse than identified previously.

There are also specific local issues arising from land ownership and planning. Aside from being in a Conservation Area, where buildings and trees are protected, the Dulwich Estate retains significant planning powers and is probably the freeholder of the rail lines alongside the estate. Network Rail will be cognisant of the potential level of opposition from local residents in this affluent part of south London, as well as the likely difficulties in negotiating with the Estate, including any legal wrangling which may necessitate revisiting the 1870 Act of Parliament curtailing the Estate’s powers. This probably explains why the default position is to keep this project firmly in the pending tray ― something needs to be done, but not right now.

Herne Hill options, view facing west

Herne Hill options, view facing west. Aerial photo courtesy Bing maps

Are there other options for grade-separation at the south end? Given that a flyover will be an unacceptable eyesore that enrages residents for generations, how about an underpass or tunnelling?

The Kent Mainline rises at a gradient of 1 in 120 south of Herne Hill, which would reduce the distance needed for lines to rise up from tunnels. So far so good, but the problem lies in getting the lines down into tunnel from the Tulse Hill end. Emerging north from Knights Hill tunnel, the cutting quickly becomes embankment and then crosses two roads, so there is not sufficient distance to descend.

Tunnelling would therefore have to start back at Tulse Hill, which is feasible in engineering terms but the business case is unlikely to be favourable. This scale of works may only make sense if part of a new strategic route to, say, relieve the Brighton Mainline. In this case the outcome may be a tunnelled route all the way through underground platforms at Herne Hill.

So, surreptitiously relinquishing grade-separation, as indeed Network Rail appears to have done, let’s look at other options.

Reconfiguring the tracks, or a new service pattern?

The more you look at Herne Hill the more intractable the problem appears to become. We’ve few options left. One is to rethink the pattern of services through Herne Hill, and another is to reconfigure the track layout.

Changing the service pattern will of course mean that some passengers would lose their direct trains, and therefore this option is utterly untenable, nay heresy. So we’ll tentatively park this for now and look at the track layout.
The layout at Herne Hill is designed to allow two separate routes to cross, yet still allow traffic movement between any of the branches. It is very flexible and able to accommodate the diversity of services, plus diversions or empty stock movements that don’t fit the normal pattern.

As always we are grateful to the LR commentariat for boldly exploring the options, entirely unprovoked – in this case buried in the fray of comments on a recent post on Finsbury Park no less… such is our penchant for perambulation down the side-track. One suggestion was to reconfigure the running lines so that the Kent Mainline services run through the outside platforms and the Tulse Hill route take the centre platforms. The advantage with this is that Tulse Hill route trains don’t need to cross both the Up and Down Kent tracks in one move, but can ‘hop’ the first track and await a path away while at the platforms.

This is an intriguing proposition. As the map above shows, there is space at the north end to accommodate a realigned Down line into the westernmost platform. At South Junc, although the current layout narrows to three tracks, the viaduct is built for four tracks, so there is space to expand.

In the photo below the relocated Down Kent line could slot in where the speed limit signs are on the left side. The photo also shows how this arrangement would straighten the Up Kent line by returning to the original LCDR alignment onto the track on the right.

Herne Hill South Jn looking south

Herne Hill South Jn looking south, photo courtesy of Tommy20000 on Wikipedia

The diagrams below show the current arrangement alongside the potential new layout. This new configuration still allows Kent Mainline tracks to use all four tracks, which provides an opportunity to regulate Slow services and allow Fast services to pass. A further benefit of this new layout also becomes clear: it will allow platform extensions. Given that there are significant problems in extending the platforms at Tulse Hill and Elephant & Castle, this may not be such a priority on the current Blackfriars route, but it will be beneficial on the Kent Mainline.

The current arrangement alongside the potential new layout

The current arrangement alongside the potential new layout

The siding on the east side used to be connected at the south end but was relaid in 2008 as a Thameslink reversing siding connected at the north end. There have been suggestions to bring this siding into use as a platform line, though it’s not clear what service would use it. A new platform here would be expensive to provide: a new access would need to be dug from the subway, the platform would need to cantilever out over Milkwood Road for over half its length, and it would not provide the benefit of cross-platform interchange.
As noted above, the alignment towards Loughborough Junc is generous and a new reversing siding could be provided here, sitting between Up and Down tracks to avoid crossing movements. This would release precious space on the Herne Hill viaduct to widen the easternmost platform ― an important factor as the interchange becomes busier.

Perhaps this alternative layout should be explored by Network Rail or TfL, to see whether it provides more capacity and/or operational resilience. It may only yield a small number of additional train paths, if any, and the extensive works required will need to demonstrate significant benefits for it to pass muster. We include it here, though, to illustrate how constrained the Herne Hill site is and how few options there are, hence the need to consider more radical alternatives such as changing the service pattern.


Perhaps we are expecting too much of this diminutive station caught in the cross-traffic. Given that the fundamental problem is that of two conflicting service patterns, is there a case to reconfigure the pattern to minimise crossing movements?

The myriad route options across the south London network are almost unfathomable. This author is still recovering from the mind-numbing task of teasing out the Herne Hill train movements from the various diagrams in the 2008 South London RUS and other sources.

The diagram below presents a snapshot of this small nub of the rail network, showing indicative services in 2015. Immediately it is clear that the service pattern is about as far removed from the typical London Underground pattern of lines and interchanges as it is possible to be. No wonder casual passengers prefer to look for the nearest ‘tube’.

Indicative 2015 service pattern

Indicative 2015 service pattern

The throughput of the station is 18tph in the morning peak on two running lines, a relatively modest utilisation because of the crossing pattern. If trains did not cross, what could the throughput of the station be?

Our attempt to untangle the service pattern is shown below. This option would require a simpler track layout, shown in the diagram above. Tulse Hill services would use the eastern island platform and go on towards Brixton and Victoria. Kent mainline services would use both platforms depending on whether they are destined for Victoria or Blackfriars. You’d lose cross-platform interchange, but the service pattern would no longer cross, which in theory should allow a more intensive service, particularly on the Blackfriars route.

The 2011 London and SE RUS is actually projecting a 16% drop in peak demand between Victoria and Kent by 2031, in the expectation that there will be a substantial shift to HS1 services into St Pancras (Table 6.2, p94). It also expects an increase of 15% on the Blackfriars route through Elephant & Castle. The pattern below therefore sends more Kent services to Blackfriars, which reduces crossing movements at Herne Hill. Thameslink services continue to run via Peckham Rye, onto the easternmost pair of tracks on the long viaduct through Elephant & Castle.

Indicative simplified service pattern

Indicative simplified service pattern

The service frequency on the Kent Mainline will still be limited by the two-track sections sharing Fast and Slow services. Although this simplified service pattern and track layout will help resolve the Herne Hill bottleneck, it pushes the pressure down the line, in particular Brixton Junc and the two-track section from Shortlands.

There may be potential to provide crossovers at Herne Hill North Jn to allow Fast trains to pass Slow, but in practice the crossing movements may actually reduce capacity, and the junction will also limit platform extensions. Plus, it is not apparent whether the crossovers should be arranged to provide layover for the Victoria route or the Elephant & Castle route. It is likely that careful timetabling is the most efficient option.

The problem with uncrossing the pattern at Herne Hill is that the knock-on effects through other routes may be widespread and unwelcome. Beleaguered Wimbledon Loop passengers now find themselves heading to Victoria on a circuitous route, although the trade-off is an increase in service frequency and improved interchange.

There is a better option: trains also cross at Tulse Hill and here there is potential for grade-separation at the SW end which would allow the service pattern to cross. This would allow Wimbledon Loop services to run to London Bridge, and a Croydon-West Norwood-Herne Hill service to Victoria, which could help provide relief to the Brighton Mainline.

There will be other permutations. The aim with this flight of fancy is not to find a magical perfect solution, but merely to illustrate some of the options – and we stress that it is merely a sketch, rather than a detailed look at service paths and capacity.

An improved TfL “strategic interchange”?

The 2011 Stations RUS identifies eight stations where:

there is some uncertainty whether current improvement plans will fully address congestion issues in the future, and it is therefore recommended that the situation at these locations be kept under review.

Seven out of these eight are in London and five are on the Kent/Southeast Mainline, including Herne Hill.

The Mayor’s 2011 submission on the HLOS notes that Herne Hill is one of the key stations with significant congestion problems projected in 2014-19, and recommends specific improvement works: new entrance doors, removal of an interior wall, wider stairs to the platforms and a second station entrance. These improvements may not be that straightforward given the cramped nature of the station.

There may be benefits in a more fundamental rebuilding, which could be combined with track reconfiguration and associated works. This could include new subways, and relinquishing the Thameslink siding in order to widen the easternmost island platform.

The options outlined above aim to provide at least 6 tph on all routes, which could be regarded as a minimum requirement for a TfL “strategic interchange” with turn-up-and-go services. But for Herne Hill to realise its value as an interchange, should Fast services stop here? We have included this in our indicative service pattern above, but it is a thorny question which also applies to interchanges such as Finsbury Park, Wimbledon and Lewisham, and to potential new interchanges such as Old Oak Common.

Creating an additional stop at Herne Hill will need to demonstrate significant benefits to passengers in the form of useful route options with good frequency. Herne Hill does not currently have that, not least because it is not served by the Underground.

But what of the putative extension of the Victoria Line? This would extend the 1200’ overrun tunnels at Brixton into a long loop with Herne Hill at the south-eastern end as a one-way station. The key benefit is to provide faster turnaround at the southern end of the line. The distance is modest and building works could use land at the Network Rail depot at North Jn. It would benefit passengers on local journeys, and become useful as more Kent Mainline trains are routed to Blackfriars.
The downside is that a Victoria Line extension may exacerbate overcrowding on the line, and it also duplicates the surface route to Victoria. In 2005 TfL confirmed that the extension was not a priority as it had a weaker business case than other infrastructure projects.

This may, however, be worth revisiting in the light of new demand forecasts, improved service frequencies and the opportunities presented by the Blackfriars route. Not least, TfL needs to ask whether Herne Hill is indeed a strategic interchange, and the base level of investment required for this to be tenable.

Next stop Herne Hill? Looking along one of the Brixton overrun tunnels on the Victoria Line

Next stop Herne Hill? Looking along one of the Brixton overrun tunnels on the Victoria Line, photo courtesy of Matthew Baxter on Flickr

So to conclude, it is clear that Herne Hill will always a problematic node in the south London network. Grade-separation appears to be illusory, unless tunnelled all the way from Tulse Hill to Loughborough Jn as part of a grander scheme. But there are other options.

The task now is to weigh those options alongside other potential investments nearby, such as Brixton and Lewisham, and assess alternative portfolios of investments for CP5 and beyond – and, of course, to safeguard an alignment for further bay platforms at Blackfriars, so the additional trains have somewhere to go.

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There are 173 comments on this article
  1. StephenC says:

    In your discussion of flyovers, I agree that there is space for one at the north end. However, one option you didn’t list was a two track flyover/under rather than a one track one. This would completely separate the Tulse Hill – Blackfriars route from the Kent main line. The downsides are that it wouldn’t deal with Kent main line to Blackfriars route, and that it takes away the valuable cross-platform interchange.

    Going for the full double flyover solution, I believe the only viable option on the south side is a single track tunnel in a wide curve from Tulse Hill below and then up next to the Kent main line, with the northern portal in the grounds of the sports club just east of the London Bridge line.

    However, I concur that overall, flyover options are unlikely to pay their way. Service changes are the right way to go, but they will have to be bold and part of a vision that the public can understand and with frequent 12tph+ services to key interchanges, like the tube.

  2. Anonymous says:

    As a commuter on the Southeastern metro service to Victoria I can imagine the uproar if services were diverted to Blackfriars, as often happens during weekend engineering works. I guess it just goes to show how comfortable passengers get in their terminus. Perhaps it would be a sweeter pill to swallow if the interchange with the tube at Elephant and Castle was better. The journey time from Herne Hill to Elephant and Castle is just seven minutes. The walk to the tube station is a pain in the backside but at least offers good onward connections on to the West End on the Bakerloo and Northern (City). It’s not so convenient for those who head west on the District/Circle at Victoria. Of course adding an influx of passenger to the Bakerloo wouldn’t help the case of extending Bakerloo to Hayes with a spur at Beckenham Junction – a station where the majority of trains currently run via Herne Hill – if more disembark from the SE metro than current FCC services.

  3. Roger the Cabin Boy says:

    Other relevant points:

    (i) land protection at the ex-Catford Stadium to allow a Hayes-Nunhead-Blackfriars/Victoria service to free up paths into Charing Cross
    (ii) such paths could be taken up by fast Kent services currently heading to Victoria. Why perpetuate the SER/LCDR multiple London terminal situation so much?
    (iii) that would reduce the flow of trains through Herne Hill

    In any event, the best Herne Hill solution is a NW-SE tunnel for non stopping fast trains. The rest of the station can stay as it is with some limited trackwork to allow platform lengthening.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I’m not sure if it’s relevant but the new December timetable sees some Kent mainline services routed through Herne Hill to shave off three minutes from the existing Catford route. I assume they are fast services – until a few years ago some of these fasts stopped at Beckenham Junction and Herne Hill.

  5. StephenC says:

    And a more radical option for people to chew over. Build a new junction on the garage site referred to in the article (where the Tulse Hill to Peckham line crosses the Kent main line at right angles), and close/sell-off/mothball the route from Tulse Hill to Herne Hill.

    Potentially, Herne Hill itself would close, or alternatively move north onto one/both of the London routes. If necessary, the northern flyover could be built, however with less conflicting movements it may not be necessary. If the Victoria line were extended to this new junction, all the better.

    This solution works so long as there are at least 8tph from the junction to Blackfriars, Victoria and London Bridge as people can easily change to get where they want. Note that this means 16tph to Kent House, which is excessive for the stopping service and blocks the fast service – ideally you’d route some to one of Hayes, Streatham or Crystal Palace via a new tunnel, but that obviously ups the cost.

  6. Ted says:

    If the junctions of Herne Hill is bad you should take a look at Lewisham where there should be a complete rebuild. Even though all of the fast trains have no other option to bypass this station it would be ideal for there to be a few more services from Victoria.

  7. Richard Elliot says:

    Thinking about the bay platforms at Blackfriars, surely the rail extension would not need to take up a full corner of Ludgate House.

    Any platform extension would need to utilise a space three or four stories high. There would be plenty of engineering solutions to allow a building to be developed above, and potentially below, the tracks. This would significantly reduce the amount of office space lost to the additional tracks.

  8. Jonno says:

    While not being a regular commuter on the Victoria Line from Stockwell northbound, I have been travelling on this route recently around 8.15 to 8.30am and compared to virtually every other underground line I would not consider it overcrowded in the peak at all. Victoria station is of course congested but that is a function of the cramped station design. A short extension to Herne Hill with decent interchange may actually help Victoria out a bit. This could mean that theoretically you could close Brixton NR station to speed up trains through there as well?

    Regarding people wanting to go to Victoria, I’m not sure it is the most popular of London termini for people from South East London or Kent – if you speak to the people of Bromley/Maidstone etc they would much rather more of their peak trains went to the City eg Thameslink route or London Bridge than Victoria.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Jonno, I guess it depends where people work and I’m certainly not contesting your view. Certainly Beckenham Junction in the morning peak is busier than New Beckenham but that’s my un-scientific comparison of two nearby stations. I’d also speculate most commuters into Victoria take the tube or bus onwards, whereas many on the Hayes line will walk to their workplaces from London Bridge, Cannon Street or Charing Cross. The Jubilee extension and the movement of offices from the City to Canary Wharf may also contradict my own argument there!

    I’d love to see figured on the changes in commuter flows at Victoria before and after the Victoria line opened. As someone who has spent much of their working and social life in the West End I can’t imagine what it was like commuting to Victoria when it only had a east-west District/Circle interchange.

    In my ideal world the metro services south of the river would continue in a tunnel to under the West End leaving Victoria and Charing Cross as termini for mainline services but that’s another story…

    Brixton has certainly become a much busier interchange in recent years between northbound SE metro services and the Victoria line, with passengers on this route realising the time saved by staying on the train is often cancelled out by the horrendous queues to enter the Tube at Victoria. Whether this will revert back in 2014 when the new ticket hall opens remains to be seen. Certainly you never see as many people boarding SE metro services at Brixton in the evening peak as you do alighting in the morning.

  10. Anonymous says:

    And just to contradict myself even more, there’s also a good chance that BJ and NB are poor comparisons because many BJ commuters work in the West End and start at 9:30am – 10am, whereas NB commuters work in the City/Canary Wharf and are at their desks by 7am – 8am.

  11. anonymouse says:

    The proposed new layout may actually be a noticeable boost in capacity. Blackfriars-Wimbledon trains crossing the Kent lines one at a time is a part of that, as well as the fact that the Blackfriars-Wimbledon trains would be always be able to cross behind a stopped Kent Line train, which doesn’t use up any Kent Line capacity at all, because any following train would have to wait until the stopped train clears the platform anyway. This would take some careful timetabling, possibly a little bit of added dwell time at Herne Hill, and maybe some simplification of services, but a 6 tph Wimbledon-Blackfriars service could mesh nicely with a 6 tph stopping service on the Kent Line, leaving the rest of the Kent Line capacity free for whatever else needs to run. And in this case, having more trains stop at Herne Hill would only help things.

  12. StephenC says:

    @Ted, I would suggest that the solution to Lewisham is to build a new Lewisham Junction station on the mainline, allowing more services to skip the current station.

  13. Lemmo says:

    @ StephenC, I do talk about double-track grade-separation at the north end above, and note that it would “require more land, and the platforms tracks would then need to be reconfigured so that Tulse Hill trains used the westernmost island platform [and that] you’d lose cross-platform interchange.

    Anyway, I’m not convinced that there is sufficient space at the north end, and once you start looking at long tunnelled options you’re into the territory of tunnelling a new relief Brighton Line all the way from Croydon. Anything involving the Dulwich lands appears to be a no-go, but of course if you built a completely new route then you could probably ‘retire’ the existing tightly-curved slow Tulse Hill-Herne Hill section.

    However, your proposal to rebuild Lewisham should be explored, which is why I mention this route above. It would allow more services on the ex-South London Line via Nunhead, which could become a busy new Overground route, e.g. from Clapham Jn or the West London Line to Blackheath and beyond

    @ Roger the Cabin Boy, yes Catford/Catford Bridge is identified by TfL as one of their “strategic interchanges”, but I’ve no idea what their plans are… and I’m not convinced there is much value in switching services between the two routes. The Kent Mainline via Peckham Rye is busy with mixed Slow/Fast services and there are no lay-by points for Fast trains to overtake à la Kent House, although these could conceivably be provided if Catford was rebuilt.

    @ Anonymous 12.59, this is exactly why changing the service pattern is avoided by the planners, despite observations by Jonno and others. Nevertheless the south London network would benefit hugely if it also yielded turn-up-and-go service frequencies. The timetable rehash in 2015 to reroute London Bridge services may provide that opportunity.

    Yes, Elephant & Castle is a huge wasted opportunity: the major redevelopment here appears to do practically nothing to improve the interchanges. In fact, the whole route into Blackfriars should be much much better used.

    @ Richard Elliot, we sketched out the modest area that Blackfriars bay platforms would require and it appears easily achievable, as long as the planners move on it quickly.

  14. peezedtee says:

    “Yes, Elephant & Castle is a huge wasted opportunity: the major redevelopment here appears to do practically nothing to improve the interchanges. In fact, the whole route into Blackfriars should be much much better used.”

    — There have been numerous versions of the Elephant redevelopment scheme. In a previous one, it was stated that the NR station would be completely rebuilt. At that point I tried to find out from Southwark Council whether the opportunity would be taken to lengthen the platforms and/or provide lifts. I did not get a straight answer. The latest version of the revelopment scheme seems much less ambitious and it is not clear how much it would affect the station, if indeed anything ever happens at all (the weary and cynical locals say they have heard so many grandiose plans over so many years, they will believe it when they see it).

    At the moment one has to walk up a lot of steps to reach any of the 4 platforms. Also the Northern line Tube station is grossly inadequate, with chaos in the peak when one of the 2 lifts break down as happens frequently. All told, it is indeed a very poor interchange.

    There is a lot of new construction in the area so demand is likely to increase even further. At the moment I have the impression that a lot of local people don’t even realise they can use the NR station to get to the City (Blackfriars, City Thameslink, Farringdon) and St Pancras with a very frequent service in the peak and 6 tph in the off-peak. If this were better promoted it might take some pressure off the Northern line. My previous comments in another thread about the Thameslink core not being included on the Tube map are again relevant here.

  15. Anonymous says:

    What about diverting all fast trains via the Catford loop to avoid Herne Hill, despite the longer journey time. Or is that line also at maximum capacity?

  16. Al__S says:

    I sometimes wonder if Bedford-Brighton was one of the biggest mistakes made with Thameslink. I reckon it is impossible to unwind now, but would much of this be easier if Thameslink was a “super tube”, much like Crossrail will be, rather than a long distance line with, especially on the south, a multitude of remote destinations. Not quite sure where I’d set the terminues though- where would be the TL equivalents of Maidenhead etc?

  17. Anonymous says:


    West/East Croydon and Bedford would seem logical, maybe even Sutton via West Croydon

  18. Chris Richmond says:

    I wonder what the people of the Wimbledon Loop would think of a 6tph Overground service through the ELL rather than through E&C, and then the closure of the Tulse Hill – Herne Hill chord? Probably not a lot, but it would solve most of the problems at Herne Hill. Passengers could change at Peckham Rye for Thameslink and Victoria services and would gain a metro frequency through-route at minimal cost.

    I agree with Al_S re Thameslink. A tunnel through the heart of London is valuable asset and should offer more benefit to those in London. A Luton – Gatwick service should be the longest route, with stops on the southern side of the route to include New Cross Gate and Norwood Junction, amongst others, allowing more local use and better interchanges outside of the central section. You could then add Stevenage to Sevenoaks say (through Herne Hill), and more importantly, a lot more local services within the M25.

    It may be too late to change now, but I think a stop at NXG could benefit the existing service in any case.

  19. DW54 says:

    @ Al__S08:59PM, 9th November 2012 and @ Chris Richmond11:07PM, 9th November 2012

    I agree the Thameslink service core should be Luton – Gatwick. But that then raises the question: “what to do with the Bedford Services?” Now that Moorgate has been taken out, the only available terminus is St Pancras. It’s my understanding the MML platforms will be at capacity within the planning horizon being considered here: no room for Bedford terminators. Another possibility is to terminate Bedford trains just south of the City: Blackfriars, London Bridge, etc. Unfortunately, City Thameslink can’t be used unless significant further investment to make use of space around Snow Hill was made. This goes back to our series of articles about Farringdon and the Widened Lines.

    On the GN, Stevenage would not be a good choice due to track layout and conflicts with Intercity services. A possibility to alleviate that problem would be a link from the Down Hertford North line around to the Up Slow using the flyunder. Thameslink terminators would then use the Down Slow platform. Feasibility and Cost-benefit??

    That said, services via Hertford North could be terminated at Stevenage, at the Up Slow platform at much less cost by adding a crossover SE of the flying junction from the Hertford N. line. There was plenty of space for layover sidings just north of Stevenage (both Up and Down sides) when I lived there. Locals could bring us up to date.

    Otherwise, services via Welwyn Garden City probably should terminate at Letchworth. This can be achieved with no further civil engineering costs.

    My 2c worth.

    DW in Oz.

  20. Fandroid says:

    Is a DLR style conversion of the Wimbledon loop (the line via Tooting at least) a way of getting lighter and cheaper grade separation at Streatham, Tulse Hill and Herne Hill? In previous discussion about Tramlink, there was a lot of speculation re conversion for trams, but a DLR version might be better as there is no street running needed. (See also the massive previous debate about ATO). Before the incoming fire hits me, I admit that this is most definitely a bit of idle speculation designed to extract a few facts from those whose knowledge far outweighs mine.

  21. Fandroid says:

    I forgot to add. All power to those who keep banging on about Elephant & Castle. It should be TfL putting pressure on Southwark Council, not just leaving the future of a ‘Strategic Interchange’ to the parish pump politicos. I commend all LR commenters to put time aside one day to stay on the Bakerloo past Waterloo and then to try and find the NR station once out of the Tube lifts. The tramp in the other direction is surreal too, but is slightly better signposted.

  22. Alan Griffiths says:

    DW5405:31AM, 10th November 2012

    I agree the Thameslink service core should be Luton – Gatwick. But that then raises the question: “what to do with the Bedford Services?”

    Merging them with the Corby service would reduce the number of train paths and take up fewer St. Pancras platforms.

  23. mr_jrt says:

    LutonGatwick…or DunstableGatwick 😉

    Seriously though, there’s nothing inherently wrong with BedfordBrighton other than it’s not the metro service the London core needs on that axis. Likewise for Crossrail – I’d be quite happy to see Didcott/NewburyColchester as long as SloughOOC and StratfordShenfield were 6-tracked somehow and linked sensibly into the core.

    For Thameslink, extend the freight lines from Hendon to St. Albans and hook the West Hampstead end to either the Met, the Jubilee, or LO and you can serve the northern half of the route properly. The southern half needs those flat junctions we’re discussing sorted out, then you’re golden with the Sutton loop/Epsom/etc.

    Alternatively, bore a new, faster, straighter tunnel from West Hampstead to Elephant & Castle or points south via Euston/St. Pancras, TCR/Farringdon & Waterloo/Blackfriars, and hand over the existing tracks to the metro service.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Newbury – Colchester ? C’mon let’s have some ambition. Bristol – Norwich at least!

  25. mr_jrt says:


    I know you’re playing around there, but it’s the fundamental aspect of what offers the most relief that has to be considered.

    There are fundamentally three types of service pattern: Metro, Suburban/Regional, and Intercity/National. In London’s case, the first is clearly the Underground/DLR/Southern NR Metro services, the second is Thameslink/LM’s servcies out to Milton Keynes et al. etc., and the last is stuff like Virgin and East Coast.

    Imagine for a start how many terminal platforms each terminal would need for an Underground-style 24-odd tph if there was no Underground! So we accept that the Metro services should run through. Accordingly, as commuter belt has spread the need for suburban trains to operate at metro frequencies has arisen, but is constrained by both the platform requirements and pressure on the onward Underground Metro services at the terminals. Thameslink and Crossrail are attempts to rectify these problems.

    The problem comes from the fact they are trying to be two different things at once, so fail to succeed at either. You wouldn’t ride a high-density 60mph toilet-less class 378 to Reading, and a 110mph class 350 suburban EMU is going to be inappropriate running to Shenfield with it’s lower-density seating, lower acceleration and multiple space-consuming toilets per train…but a rubbish compromise between the two is what’s being proposed for Crossrail. Either run all-stations Slough to Shenfield with toilet-less 60mph trains with amazing acceleration or run semi-fast Newbury/Reading to Colchester at 110mph with suitable trains (with toilets!) and leave the all-stations service to a separate metro line. At least Thameslink is suburban on both sides so has stock suitable for those service patterns rather than running Bedford to Redhill or St Albans to Brighton with metro stock a-la Crossrail.

  26. JN says:

    Great Article! Very interesting and this is the 2nd time reading it =]

    Had a read of the TfL/London Travelwatch report about dealing with service patterns for CHS and WWR into Victoria and IMO surely option 3 is best; a reintroduction of 2tph between Bellingham and Victoria.

    The report details how this would avoid a bottleneck at Lewisham and the figures appear ‘pretty’ favourable for the scheme. Sadly it appears to be dismissed from the report as the scheme would require a much wider SouthEastern Timetable alteration, yet then concludes with “In the longer term, when a full recast of the timetable takes place in 2016 a solution which addresses the gaps more fully may be achievable”.

    Now with the Olympics out of the way and the ongoing debate of the lost Victoria service on the Catford loop, surely it is now another time for ‘Option 3’ to be re-looked at.

  27. Anonymous says:

    It is only a matter of time before another extension of the East London Line is required to relieve pressure on the soon to be opened 4tph Clapham Junction ELL branch.

    An extension to Wimbledon via Peckham Rye and Streatham would allow interchange with SWT services further out thereby relieving Clapham Junction, but terminal space at Wimbledon would be problematic unless all Thameslink trains were withdrawn, but then the 4 car trains on the ELL would hardly cater for the displaced and new demand.

    Alternatively a shorter extension to Streatham Hill via Peckham Rye would intercept some of the potential custom from Streatham and Brixton that would have been served if there was a station at on the High Level Lines at Brixton. It should not be too difficult to provide a bay platform or reversing siding given the amount of railway land around the station. The 4tph service to Victoria hardly exploits the full potential of commuter traffic from such a heavily built up area.

  28. timbeau says:

    There is a little-used east-facing bay at Wimbledon platform 10 – the other end having been taken by Tramlink. In the long term this is planned to be used by the “fifth track” between CJ and Surbiton, but in the meantime it seems an ideal location for an ELL termination. But I don’t see how diverting part of the ELL service would help relieve pressue on the CJ branch – the core of the ELL is surely full at 16tph?.

  29. Vince says:


    Are you sure about platform 10 at Wimbledon? TfL think that NR have agreed in principle to give it up so they can make a second Tramlink platform (presumably with some variation on the Cambridge layout) – July 2012 Rail and Underground Panel Papers Paras 3.12-13

  30. Anonymous says:

    Timbeau – In response to a previous question on here it was revealed that the ELL core is apparently signalled at 24tph. If so, then the 4tph service to Clapham Junction could be supplemented with another 4tph service to either Streatham Hill or Wimbledon, giving 8tph through Peckham Rye to the ELL. In the 1990s the original plan for the ELL extension was to extend the line to East Dulwich,

  31. mr_jrt says:


    AFAIK, NR are planning for TfL to give up their half and move Tramlink outside the station (as per the 5th track documentation), and TfL are planning for NR to give up their half so they can have a second platform.

    Personally, I’m rooting for NR on that one. Having Tramlink taking up both valuable platform space as well as valuable track space under the raft is madness, especially as it also causes so much havoc with the gatelines.

    Routing Tramlink off the rail alignment and onto the road at the Hartfield Road crossing, then a one way loop around the one-way system would work fine instead. Additionally, you could then extend from there down Queen’s Road until you could regain the loop trackbed and run to Tooting, leaving platform 10 free for NR use. Rather than the 5th track project (which is likely to be superseded by Crossrail 2 anyway), my preference for it is for LO from Sutton and/or LO from Clapham Junction via East Putney with a flyover north of the station.

    One wonders that if Tramlink continues to become so overcrowded to Wimbledon (hence the need for more platforms) then there’s only so far you can increase the tram frequencies before you have to have longer trams…and at what point do you resign yourself to reintroducing heavy rail? Longer trams are a no-go as they would foul the road junctions, so you could only operate them on the segregated section of the route between Wimbledon and West Croydon….at which point you may as well run heavy rail trains.

  32. Lemmo says:

    Thanks peezedtee, Fandroid and others, on the yawning planning gap with the Elephant & Castle interchange. It mirrors previous comments on the Blackfriars post.

    In terms of a “strategic interchange”, TfL can’t focus on every point where lines cross. But it’s still unclear what a strategic interchange is and how TfL defines them. Whatever, E&C seems a no-brainer given that the whole site is up for redevelopment. As with Blackfriars, it raises questions about fulfilling the basic role around safeguarding and maximising development opportunities.

    A step-change in service on the Herne-Hill to Blackfriars route will make the E&C interchange more useful, and a metro service say from Bromley South or Kent House starts to make more sense, even more so if you reopen Camberwell (and perhaps also Walworth Road).

    In 2015 the works at London Bridge will require a major timetable rehash, which provides an opportunity both to simplify the service pattern and also revisit existing services, such as Thameslink. There is a strong case for Thameslink to focus on metro services but, as Pedantic of Purley explored, there is the tricky business of meshing timetables.

    Among other ideas, I’d still like Thameslink to take in GOBLIN from Kentish Town to Tottenham Hale and beyond.

    And for a South London Metro, expanding capacity at Brixton Junction (which could be combined with redevelopment) would open up the Canterbury Road curve, which would allow a WLL-Blackfriars service. This would give a much better frequency and service options on the Elephant & Castle stretch.

    “It is only a matter of time before another extension of the East London Line is required to relieve pressure on the soon to be opened 4tph Clapham Junction ELL branch.”

    I assume you mean another orbital route like the ELL, rather than another extension of the ELL? The ELL as a whole needs relieving, it doesn’t need more branches. But yes, there is a major gap in the rail network: to get to Canary Wharf easily from the south, and a new route from Bermondsey through Canary Wharf to Stratford would relieve the ELL, and also the Jubilee, Waterloo and London Bridge. The routes could come from the South London Line, the Brighton Line at New Cross Gate, and also from the SWML at Wimbledon via Tulse Hill.

  33. jamesup says:

    Great post.

    The E&C situation is sad, there seems to be no interest from TfL at using the opportunity of redevelopment to realise the potential here. Current plans for Northern Line escalators are a good step, but they won’t resolve the Bakerloo Line – National Rail interchange – a journey few are going to consider practical. Even the escalators are not a certainty, there’s a ‘five lift’ solution doing the rounds as well.

    The shopping centre owner, if they had the brains, would be embracing the opportunity to make a quick interchange possible here – free footfall.

    As I understand there’s not much expectation that NR will do anything to the station as part of the redevelopment, currently the developers are trying to negotiate permissions to open access through the arches.

  34. answer=42 says:

    Question. Would it be possible to have a passenger transfer link (e.g. travolator) between New Cross and New Cross Gate? I seem to remember this being discussed many years ago. If so, it would allow the New Cross trains to be re-routed through to Clapham Junction.

  35. Slugabed says:

    I have been having thoughts along similar lines to you re:Thameslink and airports.
    It seems to me that it would not be too difficult to link the four major London airports with one another through the Thameslink core.
    Luton and Gatwick are already served.
    Stanstead could be linked via an electrified Goblin and re-instated curves at Kentish Town/Junction Rd and at Tottenham Hale/South Tottenham as you imply.
    Heathrow via the Dudding Hill line,and the Poplar lines at Acton Wells.Both of these would need to be wired up,but the distances are not huge…

  36. Al__S says:

    my thoughts on Thameslink being Luton-Gatwick would have meant doing it from day one- in which case Bedford traffic would have been easily accommodated in St Pancras, which would never have become International- as ever, you solve one problem and several more pop up.

  37. HowardGWR says:

    The problem here discussed, seen from afar, is that the former southern railway companies strove to compete by criss-crossing their routes into central London. They all wanted equal access to either the West End or the City.

    If Waterloo is acceptable in landing travellers short of their destination, then why not plan for other commuters to do the same?

    Aside from the value of interchange with tube or other local lines, surely the strategic view of travel to the centre from afar is to ensure that routes, for example from Kent, do not physically cross those from Sussex. They do not do so from Berkshire or Buckinghamshire or from other areas to the north and east of London. People from these areas are just as likely to wish to access the West End as they are the City. To the west, north and east of the centre they are almost always faced with a further local journey to the end destination, probably by tube. The eastern travellers are just fortunate with their City termini for the City trips (their termini are on the north bank) but they are no use to access the West End.

    The apparent solution is to provide termini for travellers from south west, southern and south east locations that may not necessarily be actual termini. Thus Waterloo has got it right, the rest haven’t.

    So London Bridge should be the terminus for Kent and Blackfriars for E. Surrey and Sussex. Plenty of room there to spread over the Thames or spread out at Elephant. Victoria is OK for Sussex, still, as it has a flyover north of Clapham Junction.

    If origin /destination studies shew that the suggested terminals can’t cope, then indeed have more or larger, but don’t have criss-cross movements other than by grade separation. Whatever the cost of this in CPOs, this is the only solution for Herne Hill, assuming a foregoing analysis of O / D movements shewed it to be needed.

    I know the foregoing will be seen as naive but it is offered for provocation of thought, no more.

  38. Fandroid says:


    Why all that extra wiring and distance to connect Heathrow when Farringdon will be a perfect Thameslink interchange point with Crossrail which will provide a direct service to that airport from 2018? (and to London City Airport too)

  39. timbeau says:

    “Howard” The LSWR paid dearly for not having direct access to either the West End or the City – interchange at Clapham Junction for Victoria and at Waterloo east for Charing Cross helped a bit, but it built its own deep tube railway (the second in the world!) in an attempt to get better access to the City.

    The gross overcrowding on the Drain, the huge number of buses crossing Waterloo Bridge, and the serried ranks of Boris Bike docking points, suggest that Waterloo has not got it right. Nor did the LBSCR, to judge by the big bus stations required at Victoria and London Bridge (neither of which are really central) and the number of people switching to the South Eastern at the latter.

    The northern and western lines never had such a big commuter operation – coal and long distance passengers were their bread and butter, and short distance commuting was more of a nuisance than a moneyspinner – but the southern lines (and the Great Eastern) had to rely on commuters to pay the bills as they served no coalfields and no major conurbations.

  40. Fandroid says:

    Going back to Herne Hill. Lemmo, it’s a great summary of all the options and problems, and the mad legacy of two competing companies trying to serve two London destinations.

    Looking hard at the options, the only grade-separation one that would seem to be practical is the Tulse Hill to Loughborough Junction tunnel, but that’s a mighty investment if you include underground platforms at Herne Hill and could possibly only be worthwhile if linked with other schemes to relieve either Waterloo or Croydon -London Bridge. Splitting the services satisfies my personal dream of high frequencies plus good interchanges, but it would require some serious investment on improving facilities at the station itself, and (as we keep saying!) turning Elephant & Castle into an attractive interchange for the Bakerloo Line and the west end. I don’t see much point in extending the Victoria line from Brixton, better to try to squeeze some Overground platforms in there and use any (?) spare capacity for interchange off the SLL.

    Stopping fast services at Herne Hill? That would only really be justified if it were designed to take pressure off Victoria or London Bridge. It would be great to have fast services feed into destinations into outer London (also as at Wimbledon, Finsbury Park or even West Hampstead), but that requires a bold vision to shift jobs away from central London towards the suburbs, and any vision, bold or otherwise, is conspicuous by its absence.

  41. HowardGWR says:

    I don’t see why, if it is acceptable to land travellers a distance from their end destination at Paddington, Marylebone , Euston, St Pancras, Kings X, and the two eastern stations (if travellers want the West End) is so different from Waterloo and I don’t see why tax payers of UK should pay for access for people who live in Sussex and Kent to land in the centre as a special privilege.

    The Drain could be made to have more capacity. The tube can be extended, as suggested, from Brixton to Herne Hill.

    Actually I was only, as we all were, looking at the need to avoid at level crossings, but the social equity argument does raise its head.

    It seems to me that local journeys from suburban London need to be looked at separately with a view to achieving the north of the river ‘tube’ solutions rather than surface ones that cause interference with long distance access..

  42. Anonymous says:

    I seem to have arrived a little late, but to bring it back to topic a bit:

    The siding at Herne Hill can go anywhere south of Elephant and Castle. I arrived on the project too late to be able to drag it north to just south of Loughborough Junction. It begs to widen the tracks there and insert a centre siding rather than cram it in next to the station at Herne Hill. It would also help with the gradient issues too. As an aside, see if you can spot the issue with the cable routes next to the siding next time you’re there. Alternatively turn one of the Brixton spurs into a siding and make the other line bidirectional?

    I think a north end flyover is feasible by doing the following: Victoria lines would go through the station via P3 and 4 only. (I haven’t been looped at Herne Hill since Eurostars stopped running.) Blackfriars and Tulse Hill would be via platforms 1 and 2. West Dulwich would be via any platform. You may be able to put a connection in from P3/4 to Blackfriars, but it would be tight – may only work in the down direction. There would be back to back double junctions at the south end, in a very similar arrangement to the south end of Tulse Hill. You would also need to move platforms 3 and 4 onto the alignment of the siding and introduce a retaining wall between the down Holborn and up Chatham as you would have to introduce the grade through the station, hopefully not lowering the Chathams too much. Target linespeeds should be 40mph+ on the Blackfriars route, 60+ on the Victoria route which should easily be achievable given the extra segregation between lines now. All platforms should be built 12 cars long, even if some of the length is not commissioned a la Shoreditch High Street as the extra length will arrive eventually, it’s a case of when. Some could easily go to the south as the crossover between the station and double junction could be made redundant pretty easily.

    What I have proposed above gives two flat junctions but the core service is relatively well split, and the bulk of the timetabling constraints are now removed.

    In fact, the phasing of the project gives me more of a headache than the underlying design. There would be large amounts of time with no Tulse Hill to Blackfriars services. Victoria services would last longer but there may be weeks without platforms available. All the more reason to extend the Victoria Line from Brixton to Denmark Hill and Herne Hill in a big loop first…

  43. timbeau says:

    whether or not delivering southern commuters to near their places of work is more acceptable than their counterparts to the north, that was the motivation which drove the SER and LCDR to do it. Long distance travellers only travel occasionally, and they and their luggage are less likely to object to taking a taxi to their central London destinations – out of the question for a daily commuter.

    In any case, the Northern companies were at it too – the Metropolitan Railway was originally bult to give the GWR and GNR (and later the Midland) access to the City, and the NLR served the same function for the LNWR.

    anon 0827 – observation at Herne Hill suggests there is a lot of cross platform interchange – pairing by use rather than direction would make that less convenient.

  44. Ian J says:


    Social equity doesn’t come into it. Taxpayers subsidise London commuters because allowing people to get to their workplace is vital to the economy. Commuters who arrive at terminuses beyond walking distance from their workplace need to catch the tube or buses (both publically subsidised) to get to work, at a total cost to the taxpayer greater than if they were able to get a train to a closer station then walk. And the tube network in central London is at full capacity and increasing that capacity involves huge expense.

    In fact, the trend is towards relieving congestion on the tube by giving commuters from the North, East and West the chance to get closer to their central London destination by running main line trains right through the centre – hence the Thameslink Programme and Crossrail. Commuters on the Great Western line and from Essex will soon have through trains to both the West End and the City, just like Kent and Sussex commuters do.

  45. Rogmi says:

    I can never remember what sections of track different names refer to, so I’ve been making up some rough notes for myself for reference. One thing I have done are the names for the Herne Hill area (Loughborough Junction – Tulse Hill). I’ve coloured in the relevant sections on the Carto Metro map and added labels. I’ve temporarilly posted it for download on:
    if it’s of any use to anyone.

    Good article, by the way, and an interesting one. Herne Hill features in my occasional FCC trips and so I can relate to the area.

  46. Lemmo says:

    @ jamesup, thank you, and yes I can’t understand why TfL are not pushing for an improved interchange at E&C. There is no driver for NR to do this, but it perfectly fits TfL’s concept of strategic interchanges, and it will be useful if Overground takes over metro services from Blackfriars south.

    Stopping fast services at Herne Hill? That would only really be justified if it were designed to take pressure off Victoria or London Bridge. It would be great to have fast services feed into destinations into outer London (also as at Wimbledon, Finsbury Park or even West Hampstead), but that requires a bold vision to shift jobs away from central London towards the suburbs, and any vision, bold or otherwise, is conspicuous by its absence.

    @ timbeau, thanks, and this is exactly what TfL strategic interchanges should be about: to fan out demand onto alternative radial lines as well as orbital, in order to relieve the termini and expand the city core. Herne Hill is well-placed to do this if service frequency became turn-up-and-go, the Victoria Line was extended, and passenger capacity at the station was increased.

    @ anonymous 8.27pm, to clarify, are you saying the Holborn route uses the westermost island platform and drops beneath the Victoria route, which uses the easternmost island platform which is realigned eastwards? I still think that is tight and you’d lose cross-platform interchange, and can you build platforms on a gradient? Nevertheless, another option.

    Back to anonymouse 5.49pm 9th Nov, who agrees that the reconfigured track layout would allow a metro service of 6tph on both the Victoria and Blackfriars routes. Is anyone able to confirm this?

  47. Greg Tingey says:

    Anon @ 20.27
    Agree about re-build of HH.
    A Southbound flyover utilising the “long siding” is clearly practicable, admiitedly with a “high level” platform, Northbound is a lot trickier – but … looking at ariel view, & assuming all-electric traction, it should JUST be possible to put a diveunder on the NW end, dropping at a grade of 1:30 or 35, & submernging by the far end of the old signalbox position. THe “garages” to the N of the Holborn lines would have to go, but that’s railway-owned land, anyway.

    Howard GWR
    “The drain could be made to have more capacity”
    Err, HOW, please?
    This has been discussed to death on this blog, & it is a non-starter.
    Please explain your reasoning, taking inot account the present tunnel positions & directions underneath Waterloo & most importantly, Bank, coupled with the other pre-existing tunnels?

    There was the GN&City Rly (FP-Moorgate) as well ….
    As for HH – yes, having professionally onserved @ HH, there is a lot of x-platform changing, it makes counting the “J&A’s” a lot of fun!

  48. DeepThought says:

    Forgive the ignorance of someone who’s only been South of Loughborough Junction three times, but doesn’t a large amount of platform interchange suggest a large number of people who’d quite like the destination of the trains to be swapped?

    And yes, I am also of the opinion that E&C should be far, far higher on TfL/NR’s list of priorities. Can’t see it happening until someone stumps up cash for the Bakerloo extension though.

  49. mr_jrt says:


    I think you’ll find extending the drain is quite easy, just expensive. The main problem being that you’d have to sever the existing depot, so would need a new one. Extending the current bank platforms back to enable 7-8 cars would enable a decent exit to Mansion House as the far ends would be quite close, and cutting off the curve at Waterloo to continue under York Road would enable new 8 car platforms to be constructed without any problems.

    Depot-wise, I think continuing south from Waterloo and commandeering London Road is quite viable as long as the Bakerloo gets a new suitable larger depot on it’s own southern extension. Thus you would at the minimal case end up with LambethWaterloo(Blackfriairs?)Bank-Mansion House, but I think there’d be a good case for continuing south to Clapham Junction via Vauxhall, Nine Elms, Battersea & Battersea High Street. Northwards is anyone’s guess.

  50. timbeau says:

    Mr JRT – very expensive, indeed: as the only bit it keeps intact is the running tunnels, which are the cheapest bit. Incidentally, the western end of the platforms at Bank are already in roughly the right place for an escalator connection to the ticket hall at Mansion House.

    Deep Thought – yes, there is a lot of cross platform interchange, but a lot of people stay on board too. And it’s a bit one way (Holborn to the Penge line) – you don’t get many people travelling on the Victoria – Brixton – Tulse Hill – Mitcham axis – for most such journeys there are more direct possibilities via Balham. (Note also that for stations beyond Shortlands there is a more direct servce from Blackfriars via Catford). So the current arrangments suit the majority, but a significant minority travelling from the City to stations between Wesat Dulwich and Beckenham Junction use the cross platform interchange.

  51. Anonymous says:

    Taking City Thameslink station as an example I think platforms on a gradient are an option which thereby makes the dive under/over options to the North more achievable as the slopes up and down start further to the South. So two platforms descend slightly while two rise slightly. May give the illusion of a coaster at Alton Towers, but rather fun too! Tricky to build without major disruption, but I think that full grade separation is the best option.

  52. StephenC says:

    @Anonymous @ 08:27PM, thanks for your opinion from inside. I think that the option you outline may well work, but loses the cross-platform interchange*.

    Can you comment on whether any more radical options have been considered (suggestions made here for threading Thameslink through the middle platforms, separation of routes Crystal to Victoria and Kent House to Blackfriars, forcing interchange at Peckham Rye, or a new station south of Herne Hill where the lines cross) ? I’d encourage boldness and good CPI junctions (Tulse Hill, Peckham Rye, Catford) in plans to simplify the south London route network.

    * CPI is incredibly valuable to passengers, and I wonder if there has ever been any quantitive research to place a value on it (so future schemes can justify the extra cost). For example, the Victoria has CPI with the Northern and Picadilly at key locations (plus other CPIs). Those locations greatly increase the ability of commuters to access their jobs with a pleasant journey. I suspect there are those that only live south of Stockwell or north of Finsbury Park on the “wrong line” because the change to the “right line” for their job is so easy. That CPI should therefore have a value.

    @Lemmo, E&C improvements would have really required the knocking down of the shopping centre and the rebuilding of the station a little west closer to the tube. New buildings have already gone up that prevent that. Even keeping the station where it is, there could be improvements if the shopping centre went. However, Southwark (under different political masters) decided to proceed with the developments there without requiring a totally new shopping centre, just a tart up. Yes its a big opportunity missed, but the focus there seems to be on social housing and getting *any* development going, rather than on transport.

  53. Fandroid says:

    CPI is great, but I doubt that for commuters it is significantly better than a good interchange (all under cover, relatively short distance, not involving huge level changes, with comprehensive ‘next train’ information and capacious passageways).

    To add a bit to what I said on stopping fast services at Herne Hill. When I talked of vision, I meant that someone would have to be thinking of investing serious money into improving the capacity of main lines into London. As can be seen from Clapham Junction, where no main line trains stop during morning and evening peaks, it would take a monster investment to allow even a significant part of those services to stop there (especially given the RUS prediction of the future capacity gap on those mainline services).

    On Radio 4 this morning there was ‘The Long View’. They were comparing port expansion in the 19th century with the current airport capacity hoo-ha. Liverpool won vs Bristol but eventually lost out on liner traffic to Southampton, which had much easier rail access from London. The gathered pundits also thought that rail access was absolutely key to any airport’s future. Heathrow’s noise problem was put down basically to prevailing winds and the ideal was stated to be ‘any site north or south of London’. That made me think of Gatwick (where there is room for a second runway) If it won the airport battle, then any new high speed link to central London could be combined with a relief route for the Brighton Main Line. Then perhaps with a reshuffle of services at London Bridge and Victoria, the Herne Hill problem might be solvable.

  54. DeepThought says:

    @Anon, 10.8PM
    I believe that current Health & Safety laws forbid the building of any new platforms on a gradient. This is apparently why an interchange between the Central and Picadilly can’t be built at Park Royal.

  55. Long Branch Mike says:

    @StephenC “CPI is incredibly valuable to passengers”

    Whilst not a direct example of commuter train Cross Platform Interchange (CPI), the Montréal Métro interchange station at Lionel-Groulx was designed to have Ligne 1 (Verte) go out of it’s way to turn, underground, 180 degrees to give a CPI with Ligne 2 (Orange). Both Lignes 1 & 2 serve downtown Montreal, and the CPI is extremely convenient. From Lionel-Groulx Ligne 1 proceeds south then west. Thus the Lionel-Groulx interchange is a kink in the east-west orientation of Ligne 1.

    Voici le lien :

  56. Anonymous says:

    Would it really be impossible to build a flyover at Herne Hill for trains not stopping there? Using the thinking that they have in Japan to solve such problems, why not construct a flyover that effectively roofs over the two centre tracks? This can be supported by columns built into the platforms and so can be put in with minimum disruption to stopping services. Yes, I know that it would be higher than the existing profile and result in a double-deck bridge over Herne Hill/Norwood Road, but would separate out the services and provide more capacity through the station.

  57. timbeau says:

    Look at the lengths they went to at Finsbury Park, H&I, Euston, Oxford Circus and Stockwell to provide X-platform interchange in the 1960s. A pity so much money spent on the Jubilee went on spectacular architecture instead of practical matters.

  58. Jeanpierre says:

    I have long thought that Herne Hill could be dealt with, in simplistic terms, as follows:

    Wimbledon Loop lines could use platforms 1 (up) and 2 (down);
    Kent Main lines could use platforms 3 (up) and 4 (down).

    Town End: Wimbledon Loop lines to/from Blackfriars burrow beneath realigned (to the north) Kent Main lines – the former dropping 50% of the way, the latter rising 50%; spur from the down from Blackfriars to the down Kent Main to facilitate any Blackfriars-Kent Main services.

    Country End: realignment of tracks to separate the Wimbledon Loop and Kent Main lines, with a flat crossing from the up Kent Main to the up Wimbledon Loop to facilitate any Kent Main-Blackfriars services.

    As far as I can see (I live one station down from Herne Hill) there is plenty of space to achieve this. With regard to the loss of cross-platform interchange, there is usually plenty of time in the current timetable (for example) to allow crossing between the two island platforms via the subway.

    Apart from cost, the only obstacle I can see is a logistical one, i.e., how do you maintain services during the construction phase?

  59. Lemmo says:

    The more I looked into the options at Herne Hill the more I came to appreciate a solution that retained cross-platform interchange. If the track reconfiguration outlined above, along with some canny timetabling, would allow 6tph on all routes then I’d be happy. Is this feasible?

    I’m still not convinced that there’s room to grade-separate at the north end, but I’d be interested to see what the NR options are. If you can’t extend platforms onto the gradient then you’re likely to be limited to 8-car ― not a problem on the E&C route but a limitation on the Kent Mainline.

    Flyovers in the station area and south are probably not a goer because of the Conservation Area status and the likely opposition from local residents and the Dulwich Estate. I’d like to be proved wrong, but if it was considered worthwhile then I think we’d have seen a more detailed proposal by now.

  60. Fandroid says:


    You need to swop your ‘s’ and ‘v’ around in ‘Conversation Area’ !

    Concerning Jeanpierre’s dive-under proposal, I imagine that it would be best for the Blackfriars Line tracks to descend more than 50%, as trains on/off the Wimbledon Loop can be assumed to always be stopping, therefore can negotiate steeper inclines at slower speeds than would be appropriate for fast trains on the Victoria tracks. The curves could be sharper too, so allowing the dive-under to be more easily squeezed in. Although there could probably be a connection at the north side to allow up Tulse Hill-Brixton movements, any in the Brixton-Tulse Hill direction would require a flat crossing at the south end. That would probably mean no peak moves in those directions, but that’s the same as the potential 2015 timetable anyway.

  61. Lemmo says:

    oops, thanks 🙂

  62. Pedantic Of Purley says:

    timbeau, regarding cross platform interchange and the Jubilee line:

    First, lets not get sucked into marketing boys speak. There is true cross platform interchange. A good example is Mile End on the District\Central lines. Ironically probably the best example is on the Jubilee line at Finchley Road to interchange with the Metropolitan (yes I do know the history). The Victoria line has same level interchange (a more accurate term).

    The reason we get same level interchange on the Victoria line is simply that the alignment of the general route makes this possible. OK it is true that the route was partially chosen to make this possible but I cannot see where any such possibilities would have existed on the Jubilee line. Bond Street, Green Park (where not even the Victoria line could manage that feat), the former Charing Cross platforms, London Bridge and probably Canada Wharf were all next to impossible due to alignment relative to existing lines. At Stratford one just got in where one could. That leaves Westminster which would have been an ideal place to do it if it were not for the clock tower generally but strictly not correctly known as Big Ben and the small matter of the River Thames. In a way this is one of the strengths of the Jubilee line. It provided new connections on a totally different alignment to provide journey possibilities where none existed before. Ther Victoria line only really did this north of Finsbury Park where there are no good examples of interchange. Indeed the one example there would have been (Wood St Walthamstow) with the Eastern Region Chingford branch was abandoned in the late stages of planning and an inferior interchange provided at Walthamstow (Hoe St) as it was then called.

    Ironically again, arguably the most ridiculous same level interchange imaginable is on the Jubilee line with the Bakerloo line at Baker Street. If one saw the actual route the Jubilee line takes one would realise that it goes through a minor contortion to approach Baker Street from the north on an E-W alignment when a N-S alignment would be logical. It then makes an incredible detour in a NE direction to head for Regents Park. The route then looks like a question mark as it then heads south to Bond Street station. Outside mountainous regions of the world I can think of no journey between two adjacent stations that is proportionally so much longer than the route “as the crow flies”. Again I do know the history of why this came about but there surely must have been an arguable case that the advantage of this convenient interchange to users must be more than offset by the extra minute or two that every passenger on the Jubilee line travelling through Baker Street has to put up with in order to achieve it.

  63. timbeau says:

    Whilst I agree same level interchange would not have been easy to engineer on the Jubilee, the extra work and disruption in diverting four lines at five stations to do it, instead of just putting a new two track station underneath each one must have seemed worth it to the designesr of the Victoria Line, since that’s what they chose to do.

    As for the situation at Baker Street, the opportunity to use a ready-made platform is not something to turn down lightly.

    And I’m not sure there’s a hard-and-fast distinction between same-level and cross platform interchanges – the pillars at Mile End are pretty substantial for example, so where do you draw the line?

  64. Anonymous 8:27 again says:

    I’ve split this as it got a bit long! Firstly, the caveat and wishlist:

    Just to be clear, I’m using the skills and knowledge I have, not speaking on behalf of anyone else but me. I do the speculation and design the end product, but not the parliamentary/money bit in between so this is a practical take on speculation. To that end I have no idea if anything has been specifically considered, but on my brain dump list would be:

    Chatham lines (Victoria to Swanley etc):
    – Extending Kent House loops to Penge and Beckenham Junction inclusive, with the fasts going outside the slows to allow central turnback;
    – Making Beckenham Junction (inclusive) to Shortlands four track all the way (probably either/or with the first suggestion, and not as hard as it sounds);
    – High level platforms at Brixton;
    – Rebuilding the existing Brixton station generally;
    – Making Brixton to Denmark Hill faster than 20mph;
    – Amalgamating Clapham High Street and Wandsworth Road into a single centralised station;
    – Sorting out all of the speed restrictions on the Catford Loop so it’s 60mph all the way;
    – Freight and/or platform loops between Peckham (exclusive) and Nunhead (inclusive)
    – High level platforms at Brockley (see below);

    Southeastern mainline (London Bridge to Orpington/Dartford etc):
    – Two additional platforms at Lewisham serving Hayes only, with a rebuilt four track bridge from Lewisham Vale to Lewisham;
    – Two additional tracks from Courthill Junction to Hither Green;
    – Additional station at Lewisham Vale (the “other half” of St Johns since Thameslink diverts some trains to Lewisham onto the fast lines);
    – Or just scrapping St Johns completely as it really chokes the service, and grade separating all four lines to Lewisham using the extra space;
    – Grade separation at Charlton and ELL New Cross trains onto the viaduct at Deptford, terminating at Plumstead with an additional Crossrail station there (and think about scrapping North Kent East junction, but don’t tell anyone from Greenwich!)

    Brighton mainline routes
    – Grade separating Old Kent Road or Peckham Rye junctions;
    – Some Thameslink trains stopping at New Cross Gate (4tph should be doable);
    – Sixth line into East Croydon from the north;
    – Seventh platform at East Croydon;
    – Getting ELL to East Croydon rather than West Croydon;
    – Full grade separation of all lines between Selhurst/Norwood Junction and East Croydon;
    – Grade separation at South Croydon and/or Purley;
    – Grade separation at Falcon Junction (the down Brighton goes south of the down West London, with the West London lines moving down a platform number);
    – Grade separation at Balham;

    Signalling changes:
    – ERTMS everywhere, with a low density classic signalling system at junctions only;
    – Removal of all signalling tunnel controls (come on, the 21st century has been here for nearly 13 years now, why can we not allow two trains in some tunnels at once?!? It’s only a relay away);

    TfL-type things
    – Sensible length ELL etc trains (six car soon, aim for eight);
    – Oyster to Sevenoaks and Dartford (i.e. metro trains = metro ticketing system);

    Obviously these aren’t in any order and some are pretty wild. There’s a mix of practicality and reducing journey time as well as interchange improvements.

    On a side note, I’m really torn with converting the Southeastern and part of the Chatham mainlines to up-up, down-down running. There’s an awful lot to do, but it would work so well if sorted out.

  65. Anonymous 8:27 again says:

    But now back to Herne Hill:

    Firstly on the practicalities of the flyover. The whole station falls towards London at ~1 in 125. The Holborn route must go over the top for two reasons: Shakespeare Road (next bridge towards Brixton) and the surrounding streets are residential. The bridge is relatively close to the intersection point of the two routes and already has a height restriction on it, so track lowers are likely to be out (as the bridge can’t go down) and track lifts >500mm are probably out as the earthworks would be significant and residents would be spectacularly unhappy with less sky and more train. However, looking towards Loughborough Junction, the next bridge is miles away (almost literally) and the residents somewhat removed from the railway. The land boundary is also wider, meaning earthworks are easier and, more importantly, so is staging a temporary alignment out of the way to try and keep some sort of train service running during construction.

    Now on gradients: you need about 6m difference in level to grade separate properly. With one track falling at 1 in 30 and one rising at 1 in 30, you’d need need 6m x (1 in) 15, 90m. Add vertical curves in (necessary to get onto gradients that severe) and you’re looking at 120m. This is a minimum and 1 in 30 is pretty impractical for a lot of reasons. Given I said above about Shakespeare Road, we need to take it that the Brixton to Penge route remains roughly as is. A full station rebuild (drains up) would be able to lower the Brixton-Penge route slightly through the station but is likely to be unnecessary, while being expensive and impractical. Therefore, if Railton Road bridge is kept at existing level, the Brixton to Penge lines stay at 1 in 125 and the intersection is 350m away as current, on the lines to Loughborough Junction we need to rise at a constant 1 in 109, or stay level for ~250m then rise at 1 in 31, or somewhere in between. The existing viaduct structure may force the rise to be limited for the first 100m due to extra weight of track, impacting on the gradients for the rest of the station.

    On platforms on gradients: platforms should always be built level where possible, but with the right mix of industry/political benefits I would think 1 in 100 is a sensible limit that could be sold to the industry safety bodies, particularly if trains don’t stop and reverse there. Actually, segregating the routes at Herne Hill would improve safety from today as there are currently theoretical sideswipe collisions if a train ran away while another was passing, and this would do away with that. Platforms should also sag along their length if possible (improves visibility) rather than hog, though a constant gradient is preferable for maintenance. Both ends of City TL fall at about 1 in 29, while the station as a whole falls at about 1 in 220 to the north.

    Finally, CPI is very useful if there is a poor service on one route, or a destination is badly served. Therefore, boost the service and the benefits reduce somewhat. I believe that 4tph metro is pretty much the limit on the Penge route short of making a longish Kent House layover (or terminating there) essential, or an infrastructure intervention as in my list above. I wouldn’t think many more than 6tph could be contained with a decent service spread unless you start skipping stops, and starting to flight the fasts and slows chokes up all stations, but particularly Bromley South. I don’t believe much (i.e. 2tph fasts, maybe 4tph if you flight) can be put onto the Catford Loop line as it’s longer and slower to Shortlands, meaning the fasts catch up with the slows virtually every trip. There’s loads of space between Peckham Rye and Nunhead for some passing loops though.

  66. Anonymous 8:27 again! says:

    Whoops, missed:
    – the essential 5th platform (and second exit!) at Bromley South, and
    – flipping the slows to the inside at Kent House.

    I don’t think Kent House is practical as a terminus at the moment, but it does have potential. I live further out though so would rather see trains come further! Same goes for Bellingham unless a centre siding is built. 16tph to Bromley/Orpington/Swanley/Sevenoaks please! 4tph slow and 2tph fast to Thameslink, 6tph slow and 4tph fast to Victoria, that’ll do nicely thankyou.

  67. Anonymous says:

    When the Jubilee line opened in 1979 the press was full of stories about passengers from the former Stanmore branch abandoning the new line at Baker Street to switch back to the Bakerloo line and their normal travel habits, thereby defeating the objective of relieving congestion south of Baker Street. Imagine how much worse the fuss would have been if same level interchange had not been available! Baker Street station would also have been much more complicated to rebuild if the Jubilee Line platforms had been on a north-south axis.
    Travel patterns have changed over the years and many more passengers from the Stanmore line remain on the Jubilee line at Baker Street now, not least since the Jubilee Line extension has opened up new travel opportunities to Westminster, the South Bank and Canary Wharf.

  68. Chris Richmond says:

    Am I right in thinking that Same Level or Cross Platform Interchange on the Victoria Line was largely achieved by utilising the existing tunnels of the line that it was interchanging with, and then building two new tunnels for the reverse direction? This was impossible/impractical with the JLE (and any new lines) due to new tunnel regulations…

  69. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Anon 8:27

    I don’t feel competent to comment on most of your ideas but have to agree on second entrance to Bromley South. This is presumably from the relief road. I thought it was a real opportunity missed when the road was built without at least passive provision for a new entrance and footbridge with possibly a further side entrance to the north to provide a more direct route to the Glades shopping centre.

    Chris Richmond. I had forgotten about that further complication but since they would have been existing tunnels they may have got away with it After all they didn’t have to rebore the existing part of the Jubilee line.

  70. Lemmo says:

    @ Anonymous 8:27 again and again, thanks for this, it’s good to get some detail on the engineering challenges at Herne Hill…plus your impressive package of infrastructure investments: will you be sending these to the Secretary of State to help fill in the HLOS gaps?

    On Herne Hill, I’m still unconvinced, although your analysis suggests that it is feasible though tightly-graded and curved. You’d have to raise the Brixton route so that the Holborn route can drop beneath, or the other way around. Either is going to be unsightly, although the environmental considerations here are less sensitive than at the southern end around leafy Dulwich. Aside from the gradient, the sharp curve is needed to avoid the new housing along the Shakespear Road, not the NR depot and council depot. I’d be grateful if someone could take the map in the article above and sketch the viable alignment with gradients.

    On the service pattern, I assume that 6tph metro service on the Kent Mainline is possible if they layover at Herne Hill for fast services to overtake and/or at Kent House. Four-tracking from Penge East through Kent House to Beckenham Jn will surely help, and extending this to Shortlands likewise.

  71. HowardGWR says:

    Thanks very much for the thread Lemmo. As I explained, I write in from afar (somewhat ignorant thus). As a discussion product for my own knowledge, I gather there is no certainty that the Drain cannot be enlarged so I don’t feel too foolish about suggesting that as part of an improvement to handle City -bound crowds.. The other thing is that all the junction changes suggested here (fascinating) somewhat avoid the strategic issue of where pax are coming from and to where they are going. It seems to me that a RUS must engage with those issues before it starts building viaducts and burrowing tunnels, let alone deciding where we need further Cross London rail schemes. One assumes Lord Adonis, for example, is studying these issues carefully.

    This last was not the subject of your article, so do forgive my intervention on the strategic stuff, but a fundamental issue with transport planning is the O/D Study and linked strategic planning at Regional level. In the case of London, the Region is too small an area for this activity as cross regional boundary flows (SE / E to London and further) are involved.

    Back to dear little Herne Hill, I suppose at tactical decision level, a GSJ is clearly needed in any event. Hopefully, there is enough suggested above by correspondents for further study.

  72. Rogmi says:

    North of Baker St, the Jubilee runs over what was the Bakerloo line. There was probably less new tunnel needed to start the Jubilee line from the existing Bakerloo platform than to branch off and run a more direct line from somewhere in the Lords area. Also, although they had to build platform 10, it was probably still cheaper doing that than building new platforms at right angles elsewhere. If the Bakerloo hadn’t been there, then I think they would have gone north west from Bond St, effectively following under the Met line.
    A more direct line would certainly have made a shorter journey time, but perhaps it was decided that potential cost and passenger inconvenience wasn’t worth it.

    Slightly off topic, and on a smaller scale, when you look at a geographical layout of a line, there are many places where you think “why did they do that?”. Most of it is historical where old tubes followed the line of the roads above. One obvious example is the ‘South Kensington bends’ on the Piccadilly line where the line does a few squiggles between Brompton Road and South Kensington.

    Leaving Bromton Road station, the line follows the south curve of Brompton Road, turns west along Alexander Place, then south west to the corner of Thurloe Sq, then curves west to run parallel under the District line station.
    If they were to build the line without following the road, it could presumably be made in a more sweeping curve by going east from South Kensington and then curving to Brompton Road, cutting out the kinks in the middle.

  73. ngh says:

    @ Lemmo 07:40AM, 14th November 2012

    If there is a higher definition version of the map (I presume you mean image 7) readily available then I’ll have a go, the above one is a bit pixelated to do any more with.

    I have working solution on paper at the moment that gets 6m (plus a sensible margin given the data we are working with). Assuming max gradient 1:60 and mostly 1:75. Twin track Flyover with P1 to Loughborough Junction line following roughly the green dotted one (your radius of curvature on that is 400m? not sure what line speed that would give)

    Key points to make it work:
    Platform lengthening done to the country end.
    Lose flexibility in the junctions that currently allow virtually any manoeuvre north or south of the station.
    Platforms set by destination:
    P1: Loughborough Junction direction
    P2: Tulse Hill direction
    P3: Brixton direction
    P4: West Dulwich direction

    Services from Tulse Hill can go to Blackfriars etc. only
    Services from West Dulwich can go to either Blackfrairs or Victoria

    A Blackfriars service from West Dulwich would go to platform 1 (Crossing the line from P2 to Tulse hill)
    A West Dulwich etc. service from Blackfriars would NOT go over the flyover but effectively follow the current path into platform 4. (the south bound destination split is done before the flyover

    i.e. only 1 flat crossing manoeuvre compared to 9 potential manoeuvres with the current track layout and identical service patterns (i.e. assuming some Southeastern services to Blackfriars)

    Rebuild the current P1/2 island on the level instead of slightly down towards London (this gets you just over 1/3 of the height gain). The simpler track layout (2 points 1 crossing) to the country end then allows the platforms to be extended at the country end. P1/2 should make at least 11car and P3/4 at least 13 car. The ability to shuffle the station slightly towards the country end would make grade separation at the city end easier…

  74. timbeau says:

    Here’s a radical thought – if the proposed extension of the Victoria Line were built to Herne Hill, there would be no need for a stopping service between there and Victoria on the main line so all stopping trains off the West Dulwich line could be sent to Blackfriars instead. With no need to accomodate platforms at Herne Hill on the lines to and from Brixton, there would be much more room for a flyover.

    Passengers from the West Dulwich line for Victoria would either change to the Victoria Line at Herne Hill or use existing services with a last stop at West Dulwich. (Although I would like these to call at Clapham High Street to provide a connection witrh the Overground)

    I envisage tracks from east to west as follows
    – down Holborn to Bromley – diverges from Tulse Hill line north of the station and converges with through line south of it
    – down through
    – up through
    – down Holborn to Tulse Hill
    – up Holborn – routes converge south of the station)

    There would still be a crossing move at the south end, between up trains from West Dulwich towards Holborn and down trains towards Tulse Hill, but the latter would be waiting in a platform. If possible, the connection off the through line for stopping trains from WD should be far enough south to allow a train to wait clear of the through line.

  75. Jeanpierre says:

    I forgot to mention that it would be possible to provide flat crossings between down Kent Main – down Wimbledon Loop, and up Wimbledon Loop – up Kent Main at the country end to facilitate stock movement, etc. Maps and photos are very useful, but you can’t beat going and having a look. I regularly pass through or change trains at Herne Hill and, indeed, hang about to watch the odd steam special drift through between Victoria/Kensington Olympia and Tulse Hill, which is when I started thinking about possible alterations. Whether the Kent Main crosses above the Blackfriars route or vice versa (hadn’t thought of the latter), I am certain a solution based upon what I set out earlier could be achieved within the confines of existing NR land and without disturbing the signal box at the London end.

  76. Fandroid says:

    For those scratching their heads concerning same level interchange on the Jubilee line extension, it’s worth noting that the station construction methods from Westminster to Canary Wharf were dramatically different from those used in previous tubes, including the original Jubilee line. They used (for the first-ish time in the UK) the NATM (New Austrian Tunnelling Method? -dont’ ask!) which basically meant sending a digger or two down, scraping away in all directions and spraying concrete onto the excavated faces. That explains the unique cavern-style stations, as they carved out the internal shape they wanted, rather than being restricted to just doing bigger diameter tunnels, as had previously been the standard. I assume it was thought to be cheaper. After the Heathrow Express station at Heathrow Central collapsed, NATM no longer looked such a good idea. I’m assuming that it would have provided some really serious structural challenges to have supported the existing station tubes and to provide same level platforms at Waterloo and London Bridge. If it was ever thought of for those stations, then same level interchange was probably ignored in favour of the more fashionable construction technique. Westminster station was an absolute pig to construct, what with the Big Ben clocktower AND the District/Circle to support, but then we all know that the JLE came in just a weeny bit over budget!

  77. Anonymous says:

    Rebuilding the Piccadilly Line at South Kensington to eliminate the bends would really speed up the trains.

  78. Philip Wylie says:

    Fascinating discussion. I live in Beckenham and one of the drawbacks is easy access to Clapham Junction (and from Bromley and Southeastern Mainline). You can take the tram to East Croydon and change there but it’s two sides of a triangle and, for some, one zone too many. Some years ago, there was a direct service to Victoria via Birkbeck and Balham which gradually became three up peak trains only. Now, the service is half-hourly to London Bridge via Tulse Hill.

    These Southern trains, generally, have very poor connections each way at West Norwood for transfer to/from Clapham Junction – 13 minutes is not unknown, possibly because they follow a Victoria service each way. Some in the peaks are better. And most Southern Metro trains are very slow (why?) which adds to the dismay.

    Might it be feasible as part of a Herne Hill area upgrade, to really do the business at Brixton and reinstate ‘East Brixton’ as part of a ‘Brixton Interchange? This, combined with 4 or more trains per hour via Kent House and a similar frequency to
    from Brixton to Clapham Junction would make for a much pleasanter journey and require no timetable reference.

    Might the Beckenham Junction/Crystal Palace line have a wider part to play or does its future lie in total tram conversion?

    Bellingham seems an unlikely terminating point for trains to/from Victoria unless to reinstate a service for which demand I am unaware. With a spur at Catford, there would be a possibility of running to Hayes or even Beckenham Junction and further. I believe many years ago there was a service from Orpington to Blackfriars via Beckenham and the Mid-Kent
    via Lewisham and Denmark Hill.

    I know Boris is keen to extend the Bakerloo from Elephant to Hayes (what happens to BML2?) but with full use of existing infrastructure and a few tweaks here and there, that possibility already exists with connections to/from Thameslink, talking of which, is pretty pedestrian from Blackfriars through to St Pancras so I hope new stock can really shift.

    Finally, is ‘The Drain’ really worthwhile keeping as is? I don’t know below-ground depths, but have always thought it could be ‘bored out’ and connect the SW metro services with the Great Northern via Moorgate.

    PS: can’t see the sense of the Northern Line terminating at Battersea Park unless for the exclusive use of the American Embassy. To have a Battersea Park interchange replacing the two existing stations plus a Northern Line extension to Battersea (Latchmere) and Clapham Junction would be the ultimate.

    Just a few thoughts!

  79. Jonno says:

    An idea (expensive) to solve herne hill and improve part of Wimbledon loop as well as making a more affordable bakerloo line extension south of elephant and castle…

    Bakerloo line extension ideas to date involve lots of expensive tunnelling and underground stations potentially taking over services (eg Hayes) which people will moan endlessly about.

    Alternative idea involves following route:
    Bakerloo line takes over the western pair of tracks 1-2km south of elephant and castle. Would involve some tunnelling to get to surface and join viaduct – not sure about the engineering feasibility of this and where precisely you would do it but then would have the following stations:

    Camberwell – potential thameslink (denmark hill route) station as well for better interchange than at E&C
    Loughborough Junction (potential interchange with london overground)
    Herne Hill – tunnelled section with underground station (potential Victoria line interchange). Keep 4 platform surface station to allow fast trains to pass slow. All Kent trains go to Victoria. Rejoin surface near knights hill tunnel.
    Tulse hill – western most tracks (all trains from north dulwich go to west Norwood). Loss of lightly used curve to streatham hill (and access to streatham hill depot), but alignment could provide turn back facilities.
    Streatham common – tunnelled section with underground station for interchange with Croydon-balham services. Consider surface platforms for Mitcham-balham services (south of the junction) with subway/travel actor link to maintain access between Mitcham and streatham for local journeys.
    Return to surface c500 m west on the tooting branch alignment then stops at tooting, consider one at tooting high street where the line runs above northern line, Haydons road then Wimbledon.
    Wimbledon to Sutton section either becomes tramlink, heavy rail shuttle or a branch of crossrail 2.

    Of course still involves lots of funding but considerably less than other bakerloo line extensions. Perhaps regeneration in streatham, development on old alignments north of herne hill, around streatham common could provide some limited funds. Also requires strategic plan rather than looking at schemes in isolation.

    Other negatives – loss of southern suburban flexibility and rationalisation of destinations.

    But improved interchange and higher frequencies should be possible.

  80. peezedtee says:

    @Philip Wylie
    I think the only reason Bellingham was suggested as a terminating point is that there happens to be a turnback and sidings there already.

  81. James GB says:

    I tend to think that the advantages of eliminating conflicting moves at Herne Hill must outweigh the disadvantages from the loss of cross platform interchange. Increases in frequency and train length will benefit all users, whether they change at HH or not. You can mitigate the loss of cross platform interchange by going to town on the number of lifts, escalators and flights of stairs.

    The most obvious scheme to me is to raise the Thameslink route above the Kent lines.

  82. StephenC says:

    @Anonymous 8:27, Thanks for a good long list of suggestions. Most look good. I don’t like merging Clapham High Street and Wandsworth Road though. Not sure removing North Kent East Junction would be acceptable. And not sure why ELL to East Croydon is better. Brockley and Brixton just need to get done. And I’d spotted the same way to do Falcon Junction. More broadly, I’d say the list is a great list for improving the current layout, but is perhaps not bold enough in a few places.

    The Herne Hill flyover does look feasible from your description and my travels, but I hate losing a good CPI. Thats why its worth evaluating if fixing the immediate “in your face” problem (Herne Hill) is really the right problem to tackle. Where do we really want to get people to and from?

    One final note, I travelled from Blackfriars to Wimbledon via Herne Hill in the late peak. The train was full and standing. A large number got off at Herne Hill. Of those, perhaps 10% were CPI and 90% exiting. The total numbers would be interesting. Perhaps if all Kent House went to Blackfriars and all Tulse Hill to Victoria it wouldn’t be that bad…

  83. Anonymous says:

    If the Victoria Line was extended to Herne Hill, it probably would not be that bad. An easier interchange to the Victoria line than at congested Victoria and as the first stop on the line everyone would get a seat.

  84. Greg Tingey says:

    IF you are going to extend the Vic line, then it should be to TULSE HILL, with a 3-platform turnaround loop station.
    Station @ HH as well, of course.

  85. MiaM says:

    The cost of all tunneling and other major reconstruction ideas should be weighted against tunneling through central London. If it were possible to run 24 TPH across central london on “the Elephant lines” then surely the Kent mainline trains, both fast and slow, could go through that central London “Thameslink 2” tunnel and the trains from Tulse Hill could go to Victoria.

    Generally I think there should be a major calculation of costs of doing different improvements on existing infrastructure and the cost of buildong more thameslink/crossrail style links, and perhaps even what money could be raised by selling or longterm renting existing terminis (which would ultimately be made redundant by enough crossrail/thameslink tunnels).
    A future major rework could probably lessen the cognestion on the underground lines, making it more realistic to extend those lines.

    Re the drain: If it could somehow be acceptable to run tube trains on some of Waterloos current NR lines and for example Fenchurch street NR line or some NR line at Liverpool Street, then some rework of the connections on each end of the drain could perhaps be a good idea.
    Another idea is to connect the drain at Waterloo to one pair of the Elephant NR tracks north of the Elephant. The direction of the tunnels at Waterloo seems to be pointing in the right direction for such connection, and with no safeguarding for two more tracks the last few meters at Blackfriars there is no real use for more than two NR tracks anyway. Perhaps not a really great idea but on the other side perhaps good use of money?

    Re overground to Croydon: IMHO East Croydon would be better simply because the interchanges are better there. It’s only a few bus services that goes to West Croydon but not East Croydon, and of course the through trains at West Croydon. The through trains do however stop at other stations where you can transfer to/from Overground, so West Croydon in itself is of no major benefit in that way either.

    (Sorry if I have written most of this several times before…)

  86. Littlejohn says:

    For a reporat on the new East Croyden footbridge, see:

  87. Greg Tingey says:

    [ For about the 20th time! ]
    The problem(s) with the drain are:
    1: Short platforms, which means extending the stations – hideously expensive, compared to plain tunnelling.
    2: The tunnel/platforms @ Waterloo point in entirely the wrong direction slightly East of South, NOT S-W or West!
    3: The Tunnels at Bank could be extended – Liverpool Street – turning loop @ Spitalfields, ( see proposal of 1934-5 ) but …….

    And, finally, the money would be better spent elsewhere ..

  88. Lemmo says:

    @ timbeau, your point above about the reduced need for Victoria Slows if the Victoria Line was extended is very apt. It shows how projects need to be assessed as part of an integrated approach network-wide. These two projects might each have a a better BCR if they both progressed.

    As I mentioned on another thread, Herne Hill has vexed the planners too, otherwise we’d have a solution by now! Part of the reason it always remains in the pending tray is that there are problems too at Tulse Hill, Elephant & Castle and Blackfriars. Even more reason for a more holistic network approach, whereby alternative packages of infrastructure investments are assessed, rather than individually.

    I look forward to seeing grade separation mapped out, gradients and all, and see how this compares cost-wise to a reconfigured track layout. If a new track layout, plus a service rehash to route more trains to Blackfriars, can give you metro service 6tph on each route then that’s probably enough. This track layout would also allow Victoria Fasts to overtake Slows, so I don’t see a problem with the service intensity on this route, especially if they also rebuild Brixton Jn.

    Then, and if TfL are sufficiently committed to HH as a “strategic interchange”, an extension of the Victoria Line becomes tenable.

  89. Anonymous says:

    MiaML: Re overground to Croydon: IMHO East Croydon would be better simply because the interchanges are better there. It’s only a few bus services that goes to West Croydon but not East Croydon, and of course the through trains at West Croydon. The through trains do however stop at other stations where you can transfer to/from Overground, so West Croydon in itself is of no major benefit in that way either.

    There are 17 daytime bus routes that serve West Croydon but not East Croydon. There are 7 routes which serve both, and 4 that only serve East Croydon.

    The 24 bus routes at West Croydon is significantly more than the 11 at East Croydon.

    From Norwood Junction there is a daytime service of 8 tph to East Croydon and 6 tph to West Croydon.

    From Selhurst there is a daytime service of 6 tph to West Croydon and 3 tph to East Croydon.

    Passengers on the Sydenham line have good services to both stations by changing at Norwood Junction where necessary for services to Purley or Sutton. There is no benefit of switching the Overground to East Croydon if it also requires diverting London Bridge services into West Croydon.

    If the plan is to switch the Overground while leaving Southern Metro services as they are then this will reduce the number of services to West Croydon from Norwood Junction to West Croydon to just the 2 tph service from Victoria to Sutton via Crystal Palace. This will then also require switching services from Selhurst into West Croydon.

    Even in the peak there is only a 2 tph Southern service between West Croydon and Norwood Junction, which is then fast to London Bridge from Epsom.

    So Sydenham line passengers for journeys towards Sutton will greatly lose out by switching the Overground to East Croydon, as will those on the Norbury line who want access to travel towards Purley. And while there are buses and trams between the two central Croydon stations, it will require additional changes, on different transport modes, which are not included in through rail tickets.

    I fail to see the passenger benefit.

  90. timbeau says:

    Exactly beacuse East Croydon is so busy, there is no room to terminate trains there. If the problem is poor connections between Overground and destinations south of EC, the answer is to have more trains call at Norwood Junction.

  91. mr_jrt says:

    Before it’s lost to redevelopment, there is a HUGEswathe of land west of the platforms crying out to be used for some terminating platforms.

    I’d also argue that rebuilding Mondial House with provision for tracks to run underneath would enable an additional island platform with the associated pair of lines to be put in place. 8 through platforms would enable every line from both routes north to have their own platforms at the very least, with all the benefits to capacity it would entail. The alignment will never manage 8, but if a 6th track could be managed to South Croydon then conceivably you could segregate the Oxted line, and if you could get a third pair to Purley, then you could segregate them as metro services to Tattenham/Caterham, Thameslink on the “slow” lines (though it’d have to start serving East Croydon to Redhill), & Southern on the “fast” lines.

  92. Phil says:

    The East Croydon Master Plan does indeed include aspirations for the addition of an extra island platoform.

    “…the potential to integrate a 4th island (7th and 8th platform) fully explored.”…/pdf/…/eastcroydonmasterplan2011

  93. Pedantic of Purley says:

    That link got mangled. Try

    The bit about eight platforms can easily be found by searching on EC6. Basically the fast reversible (currently platform 2) would be replaced by two platforms leaving an extra platform to be given to the stopping services. The fasts would then not be delayed by platform occupation since both the up and the down lines would have the benefit of an island platform each with two platform faces. An good idea and something that is realistic to implement.

    There would also be advantages in being able to have two dedicated “up” and “down” slow platforms which could of course have limited use for terminating trains. Certainly platform changes, especially in the down direction at platform 6, are a common occurrence at East Croydon.

    Personally I cannot see much point in putting platforms on the huge swathe of land to the west of the station since all terminating trains would have to cross the fast tracks unless by some miracle the tracks to the north could be redesigned to avoid this. But if you had complete freedom to totally re-organise the tracks to the north then you could probably use them to better effect than to add terminating platforms. I suspect that one of the reasons for the demise of Croydon Central station was the need to cross the fast tracks to get to it.

    Again I make the point that I personally believe which is that you don’t want to turn East Croydon into a station where trains terminate as it it is an inefficient use of platform occupation at a very busy station. Send them through and if necessary provide new or use existing terminating facilities at Sanderstead, Purley and Coulsdon Town.

    Finally, I cannot see that extra platforms would do much to increase capacity. What it would do though is improve reliability and cut delays as trains currently wait outside the station for a platform to be available.

  94. mr_jrt says:

    Great link! Cheers…it’s reassuring to know they’re sorting out an additional island. I’m surprised the additional lines will fit under the bridge though (or that they’re just going to shift the platforms north to maintain the need for only 6 under the raft).

    As for terminal platforms, obviously it wouldn’t be a flat crossing…I kinda felt that went without saying. I’d imagine if the land was available (I think it is though as it’s all mostly light industrial), then using Gloucester Road Junction towards West Croydon as present then branching off once it had passed under the fast lines with an additional pair running down to the terminal platforms would solve the problem easily. I also always kinda viewed it as a natural terminus of the Victoria Line once all the other capacity issues were resolved, in which case you’d just be rising up out of tube on said land anyway.

  95. Lemmo says:

    mr_jrt, yes that would work, and the new terminal lines could branch south just before the Selhurst-West Croydon lines swung in, which would reduce conflicting movements. In fact, this was where the Slow lines used to go until rebuilding in, I think, 1983.

    But there really needs to be a complete rebuild of Windmill Bridge Junctions, to grade-separate the Victoria and London Bridge routes, on both Slow and Fast lines. This will take some space, and rebuilding the A222 bridge, and there will be houses lost as well as light industrial buildings. It won’t come cheap, but adding space for terminal tracks would take even more. I’d suggest that rebuilding Windmil Br Jns is a higher priority.

    Plus, as Pedantic says, it would be better to add a sixth track through to Sth Croydon and run through, to turn services around somewhere south like Purley, where there is also space for stabling.

    I still think West Croydon is overlooked as a route and a potential terminal destination for metro services. It is well-positioned for shopping and I’d like to see a tram route linking it to East Croydon via the new Dingwall Rd entrance. But the West Croydon Development Plan will build over the space for additional terminal platform…

    But all this is pie in the sky until they sort out capacity issues on the routes closer to the city… like at Herne Hill. Until then there’s nowhere for your extra trains to run.

  96. Anonymous says:

    On the subject of Elephant and Castle, this from tonight’s Evening Standard.

    “Elephant & Castle

    The biggest recipient of the growth fund with a contribution towards the £150-£200 million scheme from developers Lend Lease and Southwark council. The Tube station will be rebuilt with a plan to build 5,000 homes and create 4,000 jobs. Improvements to the gyratory system are under way.”

    >> No mention of there being any improvement to the interchange with Thameslink.

  97. Anonymous says:

    There does seem to be a good case for extending the Victoria line to Herne Hill.

    There are increasing numbers of people interchanging between NR and Underground at Brixton in the morning rush –as advised on the TfL journey planner. Many people board the NR train at Herne Hill to travel the one stop to Brixton.


    The narrow stairs from the NR platform are horrendously overloaded.

    Train departure is delayed due to overcrowding on the platform at the exit.

    There is no convenient provision for pedestrians to cross Atlantic Road.

    There will be tears before 2014.

  98. Nathanael says:

    OK, here’s a radical proposal. First, safeguard as much westside terminating platform space at Blackfriars as possible. Second, run *ALL* the Kent services which go through West Dulwich to Blackfriars rather than Victoria (14 tph); run all the Wimbledon Loop services to Victoria. Brixton-Herne Hill-Tulse Hill-Wimbledon Loop on the southwest side of the station; Loughborough Jcn – Herne Hill – West Dulwich on the north side. No flat crossings anywhere. The east side of the four-track viaduct through Elephant & Castle would be used strictly for Denmark Hill services, avoiding flat crossings there too. The demolished Camberwell Road and Walworth Road stations could also be reinstated on the Thameslink lines while leaving the western pair of lines as the “fast lines” from Kent. Loughborough Junction would need platforms on the Denmark Hill lines for transferring passengers. There is certainly room.

    There’s probably all kinds of problems with this idea. Lots of transfers and lack of “direct trains”, particularly for Wimbledon Loop passengers currently headed to the north side of London. I suppose if a relief line for the Victoria line were built (Crossrail 2?) one could just attach the whole Wimbledon loop to the Victoria Line, much like the suburban extensions of the Central Line…

    Thinking along the same lines, the track maps shows that Beckenham Jcn – Birkbeck – Crystal Palace – Gipsy Hill – West Norwood – Tulse Hill – North Dulwich – East Dulwich – Peckham Rye – Queens Road Peckham – South Bermondsey – London Bridge – Waterloo East – Charing Cross should be viable as an Overground-style route.

    Still thinking along the lines of service rearrangement, the Thameslink Blackfriars-Peckham Rye route
    could run down the Hayes Line and take over its services as an Overground -type line, improving the frequency, reaching new destinations north of London, eliminating a lot more crossover moves.

    I guess I’m thinking in terms of providing metro-style lines (S-Bahn style?) which are high-frequency, simple on maps, and separated completely from the long-distance and express lines. Though still available for freight movements.

    But, of course, eliminating the “traditional terminal”. Is it just me or is a lot of planning based around getting commuters to their “traditional terminals”? An old-fashioned place, London. 🙂

    Is there something terribly inferior about Blackfriars as a terminal? Would it simply overload the District Line too much? Looking at the crowding maps, it looks like it wouldn’t, but what do I know, I don’t live there.

  99. Greg Tingey says:

    The new Blackfrairs is Pneumonia Central
    Open at the sides over an E – W facing river, with no sunshine inside …..

  100. timbeau says:

    Discussion on various threads led me to realise where a solution to HH might be found, using a bit of joined up thinking – the origin of this train of thought was how to get enough capacity on the Elephant route to allow re-opening of Walworth and Camberwell stations, as a cheap and cheerful solution to the rail desert in that area.

    Firstly, thinking of the flat junction at Herne Hill, we should remeber that the Tulse Hill connectionm was a latecomer – originally all trains on the Chatham Main Line had separate Blackfrairs and Victoria portions which joined/divided at HH.

    It is also notable that there have been no less than four different routes used by the Chatham and its predecessor the East Kent – in order of age they are:
    via Beckenham Junction and the mid-Kent Line,
    via Crystal Palace,
    the current main line,
    the Catford Loop.
    All of these have grade-separated crossings of the Blackfriars – Streatham route except the main line. All these routes are still extant, and in theory at least long-distance traffic should still be able to use any of the, – certainly some of them use the Catford loop, and traffic levels on that route do not make it look overloaded.

    Here’s my idea: it will be recalled that there have been proposals to extend the Victoria Line to Herne Hill, largely to allow a more extensive terminal to improve throughput on the line as a whole. Why not extend that to a point near West Dulwich, and take over the line to Beckenham Junction or even take over two of the tracks beyond Shortlands to Bromley South and Orpington/ St Mary Cray. (Or, a tunnel from Shortlands to Bromley North?)
    Grade separation at Herne Hill, allowing more traffic to use the Elephant route. Connection with the existing route could be made without taking any extra land by lowering the existing trackbed where it is at ground level running parallel to Croxted Road.

    The Catford Loop would then have to take all longer distance traffic through Bromley South, (unless some can be routed via the mid- Kent or Crystal palace routes as extensions of existing services, but this would preclude the Vic going beyond Beck Junc) but with most local services now running on the extended Vic, there is still probably room for a stopping service to serve the local Catford loop stations.

  101. Mark Townend says:

    @timbeau, 02:33PM, 16th February 2013

    Catford Loop is a little longer, slower, and is the main continental freight route, so squeezing all the fast traffic that way would be a problem, and extended journey time wouldn’t be popular. I remember some years ago travelling back from Brussels on an early morning Eurostar, that arrived at Waterloo via Catford and it seemed painfully slow. I suspect that was diagrammed on the loop to avoid crossing the extra Brighton line Thameslink trains routed via Crystal Palace/Streatham and Herne Hill in the morning peak.

  102. timbeau says:

    The Tonbridge-Redhill route was electrified specifically for continental freight – but it would then has to use the Brighton Main Line to reach the West London Line, which has itself become quite busy now. The proposed Redhill bypass (giving access to the Guildford line without reversal) would allow such traffic to avoid London altogether. Would that free up the capacity needed?

  103. HowardGWR says:

    We westerners have never understood why there is not an east west chord at Redhill for continental traffic from the west and not to forget a chord off that one to the Gatwick line either.

  104. Greg Tingey says:

    Inertia & cowardice.
    Tesco have, apparently now agreed that a chord could be built through the basement of their proposed new store, only for twotwonk fail to say that we don “Need” it any more (!)
    They calim that Shalford Jn – Guildford N is a bottleneck – igonring that this would still be better than sending frieghts through the CJ complex & everywhere else in c & SW London. Idiots.
    Of course, there is now also the “fashion” argument against this, as it would, presumably have to be electrified at 25kV AC …..

    Which reminds me of another thread (GOBLIN) what are the prospects for electrifying (DC, presumably) …
    to -Uckfield-Lewes & Ashford – Ore??

  105. Pedantic of Purley says:

    DC, presumably

    I am sure Uckfield – Lewes will get re-opened. Not in ten years time like Railfuture want. Maybe twenty, possibly fifty. Meanwhile one could electrify to Uckfield which would stop each Uckfield – London Bridge service occupying two train paths between Norwood Junction and London Bridge. It would also be an ideal candidate for Thameslink services at a future date if the off-peak service were half-hourly and not dependent on single sections of track which would screw up service recovery if a train was a few minutes late.

    I suspect one reason not to electrify is one doesn’t want to electrify single track sections then get them doubled and have to re-do the electrification – especially if AC overhead. I suspect that another reason is that the jury is still out on DC or AC for electrification. Is DC a dead end and AC the way to go ? If the service were part of Thameslink at some distant future date then the rolling stock would have to be dual voltage stock anyway.

    Also, what would one do with the redundant self-propelledpowered multiple units no longer required? [ runs away and hides].

  106. Mark Townend says:

    @Greg Tingey, 08:54AM, 17th February 2013

    Here’s an idea for a Guildford freight bypass:

    This could also include a link from Tonbridge to the Portsmouth Direct and enable passenger trains from the Effingham Junction line to continue on to Aldershot without reversing, via a new station at the the Park and Ride near Shalford Junction. With GW and solent ports electric spine sparking, 25kV all the way from Reading to Ashford would make sense for freight performance.

  107. HowardGWR says:

    Clearly Mark you have given this some attention, congratulations. Of course, outside of the two tunnels one is still crossing the AONB, but with a sight less footprint than the A31 and A3!

    I wonder if the Shalford chord could not optionally fly over (under) the Portsmouth line, to begin with. For pax services, I also wonder why Guildford is to be bypassed – do they not wish to connect with Eurostar at Ashford, or do they have to get themselves out to this Park and ride station?

    Of course, as Greg pointed out somewhat graphically, it will be no use if NR do not end the nonsense at Redhill.

    This site is called LR but in fact moves likes these are intimately bound up with giving more capacity within the GLA.i

  108. Mark Townend says:

    @HowardGWR, 05:54PM, 17th February 2013

    I would assume existing Reading – Gatwick passenger service could continue to use the old line serving Guildford ‘Central’ station. Of course if they were powered by 25kV on the North Downs the units would need DC gear as well to pass through, or Guildford would have to be dual equipped, assuming the rest of the outer SW division has not already been converted to OHLE.

    As you say cross London freight, whether routed through the city itself or diverted many miles around it, is an increasingly important consideration when closer orbital routes are being dominated by new urban passenger services.

  109. Mark Townend says:

    @HowardGWR, 05:54PM, 17th February 2013

    Yes absolutely; grade separation between the bypass and the Portsmouth Direct with connecting chords linking them.

  110. Greg Tingey says:

    Sooner or later, & in this country MUCH later …
    the freight around the outside of London problem is going to have to be addressed.
    It already is, in part, of course.
    New curve @ Ipswich, flyover @ Nuneaton ….
    But still missing … 3rd side @ Redhill
    Proper (completely NEW connection(s) from Shell-Haven to Northward-facing link on GE main
    Doubling of entire Felixstowe branch
    Re-opening of March-Spalding direct.

    All of the above will/would have effects on rail traffic, passenger & freight in the London area.

  111. Mwmbwls says:

    @ Greg
    Do you have an attributable source for a change of heart by Tesco regarding the development at Redhill?

  112. Mark Townend says:

    Going back to the original article topic, I made a simple animation illustrating how my centre Thameslink platforms idea might work, See:

    Note I also included a bidirectional bypass line on the Down side where the siding is now for non-passenger traffic.

  113. HowardGWR says:

    Eyeballing the northern end of March to Spalding, the connection is well and truly severed but I noticed one could avoid Cowbit and join to the west of Spalding without too much damage other than to a few spuds.

    There was a hefty viaduct (surprised to see one of those) in danger of being bulldozed, about halfway, I forget the location name now. Easy to get around the Whitemoor prison though.

    Lincoln’s rail bypass of course is no more. I don’t know whether that is a bottleneck now. It must have been once.

    Now to watch Mark Townend’s film show.

  114. timbeau says:

    Lincoln is most definitely a bottleneck – the local residents are already seeing far too many trains running through the level ctrossings which bisect the city, whilst suffering one of the worst passenger services of any conurbation of similar size.

    Because of the city’s topography, the main built up area is hourglass shaped, with only four road crossings of the river and remaining railway from north to south, all within less than a mile of each other. The two middle crossings of the railway are both level crossings, and a breakdown of a freight train can block both of them, and has done so several times. The most easterly crossing, once a 3-way road/rail/rail level crossing, was replaced by a flyover in the 1950s. The most westerly was a new floyover built about twenty years ago, but is remote from the most direct routes through the city.

    Originally there were five railways approaching the Lincoln gap from the west, and three from the east, and four lines running through the gap. Two of each remain.

    The “rationalistaion” in the mid 1980s not only removed the bypass line (the only one to cross all roads by bridges) but increased the amount of rail traffic across the High Street level crossing, as it closed the former Midland Railway station on the west side of the High Street, leaving only the GNR station on the east side. (Lincoln’s situation on the east side of the country means that more trains come from and leave for the west than the east).

    The railway’s latest snub to the city is the East Coast “Eureka” timetable – originally promising seven trains each way to London, but then National Express handed back the keys. As soon as state-owned DOR took over, they promptly scrapped the services they couldn’t be bothered to operate (an action which would have had the SRA down on them like a ton of bricks if they had been anyone else, or which, had NEx been allowed to do it, might have kept them the franchise. All but one of the intended London-Lincoln services now terminate at Newark, with no connecting service (they layover in the only platform that could be used for such connections). the remaining one is not timed to suit visiting tourists or other optional travellers – like my octogenarian dad – as it arrives in the city in the late evening and returns at the crack of dawn. Indeed connections from London are now so poor that the NR Journey Planner offers several “fastest journeys” via Retford or even Doncaster – and have the temerity to charge a premium for this not very scenic tour of the lower Trent valley marshes.

    Services to regional centres (Nottingham and Sheffield) or connections to the north, are a joke – Nottingham (33 miles) is an hour and nine intermedisate stops away). Sheffield (47 miles is a 90-minute trial-by-Pacer, also with nine intermediate stops.

    So no more freight trains fed onto the Joint Line at Spalding, if you would be so kind, until Railtrack deals with the legacy of the 1980s.

    (rant over)

  115. Greg Tingey says:

    Can’t remember – saw a comment in (?) Modern Railways/Rail (?) to that effect – either that or TEsco aren’t building the store at all – can’t remeber which – sorry.

    The viaduct is/was for crossing the river (Nene I think) again this was one of the essential links that should never have been closed, or at the worst just mothballed, for strategic reasons, but rail was SO UNFASHIONABLE 1965-2005, wasn’t it?
    & “we don;’t need the loop” @ LIncoln was also a terminally stupid idea, wasn’t it?

  116. Mark Townend says:

    To be fair Lincoln needs to examine whether it objects to a frankly fairly high capacity rail corridor through the city being used at capacity in principle, or whether there can be a better relationship all round once the grade separation problems in the centre have been resolved to all parties’ satisfaction.

  117. Anonymous says:

    Re Redhill Tesco. I think they have abandoned the idea. Asda are planning a big store about 100 metres away and Sainsburys are extending 200 metres further than that. Try the Surrey Mirror for a source.

  118. Greg Tingey says:

    Re-opening the Lincoln South loop would be .. problematic.
    About 2/3 of it is still unbuilt on, but, of coure, the bits nearest to the junction with the ex-Midland line has new structure on it.
    How much cost to say:
    “Oops, wee boo-boohed, here’s compenstaion for our compulsory purchase”????

  119. timbeau says:

    Mark Townend

    I don’t recall Lincoln had much objection to a much higher level of freight traffic when it had grade separation using the old avoiding line in the 1970s. Passenger traffic using the level crossings is seen as the price of still having a passenger service at all – after all, compared to thirty wagons, it doesn’t take long for a 153 or Pacer to cross the High Street! The increase in level crossing traffic, and its concentration nearer the city, caused by the closure of the Midland station was not popular, though the rather run-down and seedy station itself was no great loss.

    But the level crossings have been a problem ever since the GNR came to town in 1846 – the fens route from Peterborough to Doncaster via Boston and Lincoln was always favoured for freight, because of its lack of gradients compared with the relatively mountainous and shorter “Towns route” via Grantham and Newark used by ECML expresses – (despite its reputation for flatness, Lincolnshire has the summit of the ECML, at Stoke, near Grantham).

    Partial resolution has been acheived by the flyover at the east end of the station (1958), but the road network to the south of there is cramped and does not lead readily to the main roads out of town to the south and west. There have been other proposals to lower the whole rail formation, making a subterranean station, or building new underpasses under it – all hugely expensive, especially as the existing line is only three feet or so above the level of the river that passes under the station, and no-one wants to pay. NR wouldn’t see any benefit from such changes, as they have priority over the crossings anyway. Lincoln City Council don’t see why they should pay when it is NR’s proposals to increase the traffic which is causing the problems.

    Electrification from Newark to Lincoln would be a very cheap job – there are only four bridges spanning the line, all of them built since 1960 so to modern standards, but no-one wants to know.

  120. Mwmbwls says:

    With regard to Tesco’s at Redhill we reported at the time that the the local council had turned down Tesco’s application because of the damage that they feared would be sustained by the existing shops in the town centre. They subsequently approved an application to extend the local Sainsburys closer to the town centre. The proposed link from the Tonbridge to the Guilford line no longer forms part of Network Rails plans for a South of London circular freight link. Recent trials of possible freight trains have taken place on HS1 to Ripple Lane which might now indicate the way ahead.

  121. Fandroid says:

    If anyone were looking for a ‘Guildford Bypass’, wouldn’t an E-N chord at Dorking plus a viaduct across the norh side of Guildford do the trick a lot more cheaply? That would provide a route via Leatherhead and Effingham. IIRC that part of Guildford is mostly commercial/industrial. Compared with Guildford, both Dorking-Leatherhead and Leatherhead-Guildford must have paths to spare.

  122. Greg Tingey says:

    Mumbles …
    One SLIGHT problem with freights to Ripple Lane…
    Where do they go AFTER that, if they aren’t for London directly or solely?
    Which brings us back to Southabout again, or to a new connection LTSR – GER near Brentwood, assuming reversal @ Ripple Lane is easy (?)

    Err …. you’d have to put a third side in @ Leatherhead, as well!
    Looks do-able – across a public park …..

  123. timbeau says:

    You’d need to provide a chord at Leatherhead as well

  124. Fandroid says:

    Whoops! So I would. The direction of that junction was obscured by the ‘L’ of Leatherhead on my map.

  125. Fandroid says:

    There’s a pair of great big tunnels handily connecting Ripple Lane to the NLL north of St Pancras.

  126. Mwmbwls says:

    Just where cross channel containers and indeed other imported containers go to is an integral part of my next piece on the SFRI saga.

  127. Lemmo says:

    Look forward to your next instalment Mwmbwls! Yes, as our freight articles showed , there is no coherent strategy for rail freight in London, and this could hinder TfL’s expansion plans for Overground on the orbital lines.

    More freight could go via HS1 but interleaving it with high speed passenger will be a challenge, and the high access charges currently deter all but the higher-value express consignments. And from HS1 at St Pancras there is only one route: up onto the NLL and through the 2-track bottleneck at Camden Road Jn, which will also be shared with HS1-HS2 trains.

    The newly-electrified Midland Mainline could become a new W12-gauge route north, but they’d have to tunnel from HS1 north to the freight lines at West Hampstead. However I’ve not seen anything from NR or TfL on this option. Shame, as it could also provide a new Overground passenger route.

    Back to the Herne Hill article and the option of simplifying the service pattern south of the Thames, we had it on good authority from TfL that this is such a political minefield that’s it’s simply off-limits. The furore over the Wimbledon Loop demonstrates this, so sadly the south London tangle will remain.

    Although more services could be sent via Elephant & Castle from the Kent route, which would reduce crossing movements at Herne Hill, an infrastructure-based solution is probably the best option. I’m still not convinced that grade-separation is possible, but I’d still be interested to see modelling from NR on how many additional paths (if any) are created by track layout remodelling.

  128. Littlejohn says:

    The online April 2012 Edition of Underground News, journal of LURS (here, top of page 8: includes an article on the 1967 Victoria Line stock. It includes the comment that ‘There was also a serious suggestion in the early 2000s that the line should be extended in a single track loop towards Herne Hill but this was after an analysis found that it would require two additional trains and that the additional traffic would be more than the already overcrowded line could cope with’.

  129. timbeau says:

    very strange comment on the Herne Hill loop – I thought the idea was to have been that a loop could turn trains round (so to speak) faster than the layout at Brixton, allowing a greater throughput of trains (which would indeed require extra trains), more than enough to comenaste for the extra traffic that HH would generate. (Bear in mind that many people who would join the Victoria Line at HH if the could are already be doing so at Brixton or, particularly, Victoria instead, so the loop would not add these to the numbers on the most congested stretch beyond Victoria, and would indeed reduce congestion at that station.

  130. Lemmo says:

    The issue here is that a potential extension of the Victoria Line needs to be assessed in combination with other other schemes, not as a standalone. It requires modelling of the London network as a whole, and between alternative combinations of schemes.

  131. @Littlejohn

    I think the suggestion about the Herne Hill loop is much older than that. I also think we can forget it. The only grounds for building it was the idea that terminating trains at Brixton was the critical factor that was stopping more trains being run. It is generally accepted that the dwell time at the northbound platform at Victoria is currently the critical factor.

    One reason this is less of an issue is that the 09 stock has much better acceleration and deceleration than 67 stock and this makes a considerable difference at Brixton. Another must be the fact that the train operator no longer needs to enter or exit the cab via the saloon on 09 stock.

    Currently TfL claim that Victoria line runs 33 tph in the peaks. In fact it doesn’t, quite. It runs 6 trains every 11 minutes (approx 32.73 tph). The timetable only goes to the nearest quarter minute so, according to the timetable at any rate, they can run a trains only 1¾ minutes – 105 seconds – apart. There is currently a mix of 2 minute and 1¾ minute gaps.

    If they could run a train every 105 seconds (1¾ minutes) then that would be approx 34.3 tph. The ultimate aim is 36 tph. In the last few months various people at LU have openly talked about this without prompting but warn it will take time as they want to proceed cautiously. They have sufficient trains for this. Currently they use a maximum of 39 trains in service out of a total of 47. Normally one would would expect a fleet utilisation greater than 90%.

    This is purely personal speculation but I reckon we will next see the high peak of approx 33 tph extended over the whole peak period in the next timetable as things have gone well with 33 tph in this one. Then they will go to a train every 1¾ minutes in the high peak and then in the full peak in subsequent timetables. Finally when the are confident they can do so they will go to 36 tph but it will be probably four or five years away and involve a change of procedure and practices so that the timetable works in 10 second units as at this intensity a quarter of a minute is completely inadequate for planning purposes.

    Do that and who needs the Herne Hill loop?

  132. Littlejohn says:

    I make no judgement on the value or otherwise of the Herne Hill loop – it just seemed worthwhile drawing attention to the article. I do recall though that there have been various suggestions in LR to the effect that current overcrowding is a disincentive to extensions/interchanges, as they would just make the overcrowding worse.

  133. Greg T says:

    Pedantic – well the answer to the Vic-line congestion is a new double N-bound Vic-line platform then isn’t it?
    Hideously expensive, but the overcrowding & waits there are very unpleasant.
    Problem, even if you found the money, is there room for it?

    Of course, if this could be done, then extending to HH or even Tulse Hill, wouild be a realy good idea.
    In fact an “Integrated” project of that sort might actually be better value for money, might it not?

    And an HH (or TH) loop or 3-pf terminus would be very much needed, taking loads off the N/W-bound services at those places. I’m suggesting TH rather than HH as the terminus/loop, because that would take the main load off @ HH – trains would be *running* into that UgD station, rather than sitting there, if you see what I mean?

  134. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Pedantic – well the answer to the Vic-line congestion is a new double N-bound Vic-line platform then isn’t it?

    It was looked into but the curves were unacceptably tight. IIRC, there was a large section in the statement of case for the Victoria Station Upgrade and why it was not realistically feasible. Besides if these things start getting silly expensive the money is often better spend on going towards a new line that will help reduce loading.

    And I really want to emphasise, if anyone comes up with a half-decent idea you can be pretty sure it is not original and it will have already been examined.

  135. Jeanpierre says:

    Re: Herne Hill loop.

    Wishful thinking, I know, but you could create a nice big loop via Loughborough Junction, Denmark Hill, East and/or North Dulwich and Herne Hill, connecting with First Capital Connect (Thameslink), Southeastern, London Overground and Southern services in on fell swoop!

  136. Savoy Circus says:

    Herne Hill

    Just catching up on some threads that pre-date my discovery of LR

    The most radical treatment for Herne Hill would be diversion of all Kent House line trains to Blackfriars and all Tulse Hill line trains to Victoria

    There would be no conflicting moves

    Fast trains from Bromley South would go via Catford

    When the squeals of pain have died down i would point out there could be a much more frequent service than now – perhaps 12tph from Beckenham Junction with 4 of those starting at Orpington and 2 at Sevenoaks (via Swanley)

    As many as possible would go through Thaneslink with the remainder terminating at Blackfriars

    New station Camberwell

    On the Tulse Hill lines 4 tph in each direction via the Wimbledon Loop providing new journey opportunities from Streatham and Tulse Hill to Victoria plus 4 tph to Croydon via Norbury

    Good interchange at Herne Hill frequency wise but not cross platform any more

    Crayons down

  137. GTR Driver says:

    Diverting loop trains from Tulse Hill to Vic mostly duplicates Vic-Epsom/Dorking/Horsham via Mitcham so little gain there.

    Passengers from Tulse Hill and Streatham can change at Streatham Common for a very frequent service to Victoria. Or Mitcham Eastfields for a less frequent one.

    Catford loop is very much the secondary route in terms of speed, junctions etc, and carries a lot of freight which is why fast trains go via Herne Hill.

  138. Greg Tingey says:

    “Fast” of course is a relative term
    17 minutes for 11 miles = 38.8 mph

  139. Ian Sergeant says:

    Assuming it was even possible due to stopping trains and freight trains, how long would a fast train from Bromley South to Victoria via Catford take?

  140. Sad Fat Dad says:

    @Ian Sergeant.
    21 minutes – it happens hourly today with a Gillingham – Victoria service.

  141. timbeau says:

    @ian Sergeant

    They do – I have been on a Eurostar routed that way.

    The time penalty is about four minutes. Most non-stop services between Victoria and Bromley South take 16 minutes, but the xx:18/xx:48 Gillingham services take 20 – overtaking a stopping service going via Herne Hill, so it would be logical to assume these take the Catford route.

  142. Savoy Circus says:

    Here are the passenger trains that used the Victoria to Denmark Hill via Brixton Junction route on 06 January 2015 ie not the Atlantic Lines that go over Brixton at high level. The source is Real Time Trains filtering by Canterbury Road Junction

    0658 Victoria Gillingham
    0743 Victoria Dartford
    0758 Victoria Rochester
    0750 Gillingham Victoria
    0859 Victoria Gillingham
    0958 and every hour to 1458 Victoria Gillingham
    1559 Victoria Gillingham
    1628 Victoria Rochester
    1704 Victoria Rochester
    1734 Victoria Dartford
    1754 Victoria Rochester
    1803 Victoria Ashford
    1818 Victoria Ashford
    1808 Dartford Victoria
    1907 Victoria Ashford
    1845 Sevenoaks Victoria
    1928 Victoria Gillingham
    1958 Victoria Gillingham
    2058 Victoria Gillingham

    Interestingly they are nearly all down trains probably because there is no conflict at Brixton Junction in that direction

    Normally the Victoria Dartford trains take the Atlantic Lines

  143. Savoy Circus says:

    A modest proposal

    Given the very light use of the up Cambria line at Brixton Junction (see previous post) i propose the following

    Brixton Overground
    Every 10 minutes

    Brixton platform 3
    Canterbury Road Junction
    Brixton spur
    Loughborough Junction (new platform)
    Camberwell Road (new station)
    Walworth Road (new station)
    Elephant and Castle
    Blackfriars (bay platform)

  144. Graham Feakins says:

    @Savoy Circus – From the timetable change on 11th January, many of those non-Dartford services, e.g. to Rochester, Gillingham and Canterbury East, will stop at Denmark Hill (fast to/from Bromley South) in both directions throughout the day, every day, mainly at hourly intervals with a few extras during the peaks. I expect that they will take the same routing.

  145. Greg Tingey says:

    Of course, “via Catford” is 1 mile longer than via Penge …..

  146. @Savoy Cirus

    It’s not clear what problem you are trying to solve with your ‘modest proposal’. Are there paths available to E&C and Blackfriars?

  147. Lemmo says:

    An interesting discussion about the potential for fundamental changes to the route pattern. In the article I suggested that this would be politically challenging but, now that the capacity issues on the network are becoming clearer, are wholescale route changes now more palatable?

    @ Savoy Circus, I agree that the route via Brixton through the west curve at Loughborough Jn offers good potential for a metro service.

    However, as we explored in the article on Blackfriars, the strategic planners have failed to safeguard capacity on the approaches to the bay platforms. If you were to introduce a metro service on the westernmost pair of tracks from Loughborough Jn into Blackfriars then you’d need more platforms using the western bridge piers. But the opportunity was lost to safeguard land as part of the redevelopment at Ludgate House, so new platforms will now require the existing bay platforms to be cut back at the southern end to provide the junctions. This means they would probably not be 12-car, and it will make access from the south bank complex to engineer.

    Finally, I’ve copied below a comment from timbeau from the London Bridge thread, which raises some interesting points about the route pattern overall:

    Of all the ex-Southern routes converging on SE1 that could have been extended through the Snow Hill tunnel, they seem to have chosen the most disruptive to engineer.

    Running through services off the LCDR lines via Herne Hill or Catford would have involved no work at all, connecting Petts Wood with Cricklewood, Kent House with Kentish Town, (and Canterbury with Cambridge – assuming Canal Tunnel/Wilberforce Junction to still be part of the project).

    The ex-SER lines would have been a doddle, with a simple re-doubling of the connectoin at Metropolitan Junction and possibly the quadding across Borough Market (allowing Ashford-Bedford, or Folkestone to Foxton)…

  148. Savoy Circus says:

    Long Branch Mike

    More an opportunity than a problem. The opportunity being to provide a service to Camberwell and Walworth at attractive frequency plus some eastward connectivity from Brixton which is completely lacking today

    I may have got this wrong but i don’t see the Blackfriars bays being needed from 2018 off-peak and i would have thought one platform could be freed up in the peak leaving the other for odd services to Rochester etc

  149. Anonymous says:

    What about a junction to the north that is part dive under and part flyover that is the Victoria lines rise half the distance and the black fryer lines dive half the distance ( or perhaps visa versa) to a point that they could cross each other
    The entire structure could be built on the large triangle of land between the tracks then be connected up over a long Christmas period

  150. Graham H says:

    @Anonymous – “black fryer” is a chippie, alas.

  151. ngh says:

    Re anonymous,

    See my post of 4 years ago for what you would have to do:

    The key bit is that 1 platform island would have to be rebuilt on the level instead of an incline (or rather decline towards Brixton) to get it to work and that Blackfriars would still have to be easily accessible to/ from the West Dulwich direction so would be a grade separated junction on the route to Loughborough Jn.

    Hence not a just an over Christmas job…

  152. Anomnibus says:


    Herne Hill poses similar problems to Lewisham: there are bridges, junctions, viaducts, and whatnot that are all fairly close to each end of the present station. They absolutely require the tracks be at specific heights, gradients, etc., on their respective approaches, otherwise you start having to rebuild one or more of those other junctions as well, which massively inflates the costs.

    This greatly limits the range of cheap, “quick win” solutions.

    On top of all that, there are a number of trunk roads that pass under the railway viaducts that effectively make dive-unders difficult, if not impossible, to build as they’d block the said roads. This leaves flyovers, which would not be popular with the locals.

    This isn’t to say nothing can be done, but it depends entirely on how much you can justify spending on the project. A full-fat solution would cost a small fortune, while a much simpler route-split – all services via Tulse Hill go to Victoria; all services via West Dulwich go to Blackfriars – would provoke the ire of thousands of commuters used to their services doing the exact opposite. Anything in between will inevitably be a compromise.

  153. ngh says:

    Re Anonmnibus,

    Except there isn’t enough space at Blackfriars to do a simplification swap…

    There are more Victoria services than Blackfriars: 9 vs 6

    And then you have to sort out the resulting Catford loop issues.

  154. timbeau says:

    The proposed Battersea – West Dulwich tunnel is probably the simplest and cheapest way of alleviating the problems at Herne Hill. Even that would not achieve total grade separation, as any trains actually calling there would not be able to use the tunnel.

  155. Ian Sergeant says:


    The tunnel would indeed sort out the congestion at Herne Hill, but looking ahead beyond Crossrail 2, there is an opportunity to use Herne Hill as a means to reduce congestion at Victoria by extending the Victoria Line. This may mean that an underground platform on the tunnel may make sense at some point, and should influence the path of the tunnel to allow this to happen.

  156. Graham H says:

    @Ian Sergeant – “there is an opportunity to use Herne Hill as a means to reduce congestion at Victoria by extending the Victoria Line”. Yes, in physical terms, but no in terms of its ability to carry any additional traffic…

  157. Ian Sergeant says:

    @Graham H

    Indeed. Maybe I wasn’t clear that I was talking in terms of the ease of changing trains. It would make life so much easier for all travellers if the majority of the commuters changed at Herne Hill and the majority of the tourists used Victoria. Commuters and tourists move at completely different speeds.

  158. Graham H says:

    Wouldn’t you also pick up completely new Victoria Line traffic south of Brixton, then?

  159. James Bunting says:

    @ Graham H 1412

    Currently an increasing number of passengers on the Orpington/Victoria service bale out at Brixton for the Victoria Line. This is despite the connection requiring the negotiation of an exposed steel staircase from platform to street level and then a walk up to the main road and around the corner. If their connection was to be “on site” at Herne Hill then even more would do it, and possibly in the reverse direction too. At present there are currently fewer as the empty seats are back at Victoria for going south.

    Yes, there would also be completely new traffic too as it would then provide a connection for those on the Sutton Loop.

  160. Anonymously says:

    @James Bunting…As someone who has recently used this interchange, yes it is exposed, but I would hardly characterise it as a lengthy walk. It doesn’t feel any longer than the walk between the surface platforms at CX and the Bakerloo line platforms there, in my opinion.

    If the Atlantic line (which passes right next to the Tube station surface building, albeit high above!) ever gets platforms at Brixton for the LO, then one could incorporate them into an enlarged Tube station with improved access (probably subterranean) to the existing NR station, but until then there is probably little value in improving the current situation. Having said that, better signage from the NR station would definitely help….

  161. Anonymously says:

    @Graham H…..Yes, a Herne Hill loop would attract a *lot* more interchange traffic. Not so much from the Orpington line (most of whom would stay on it to Victoria…..I only used the interchange at Brixton for the very first time this week in order to access the SB Northern line at Stockwell, thereby avoiding Zone 1 and the chaos at London Bridge!) but from the Wimbledon loop, since those passengers could now easily access a convenient, frequent service to the West End without travelling into the central area first. Which is why it is unlikely to ever happen……no one would be able to board from Stockwell onwards!

  162. Ian Sergeant says:


    Which is why it is unlikely to ever happen……no one would be able to board from Stockwell onwards!

    Which is why I started the conversation with but looking ahead beyond Crossrail 2, there is an opportunity to use Herne Hill as a means to reduce congestion at Victoria by extending the Victoria Line. Clearly, it’s crazy before then.

  163. Anonymously says:

    @Ian Sargeant…..The problem though is that CR2 in its current incarnation is unlikely to provide as much relief to the Victoria line as the Chelney tube might have done, since it is likely to be used heavily by commuters from the outer suburbs instead of for local journeys. Combined with the inevitable long-term rise in passenger numbers, finding capacity for a loop extension to Herne Hill is going to be very difficult, going forward.

    What might work is a loop to a area that doesn’t have an interchange with a NR station (e.g. Brockwell Park), since then you gain the benefits of a loop and a new station while at the same time lessening the risks of maxing out the southern half of the line from day one.

  164. timbeau says:

    “a area that doesn’t have an interchange with a NR station (e.g. Brockwell Park),”

    Not sure what you are suggesting here. Herne Hill station is right outside the main entrance to the park, and Tulse Hill and Brixton are not far from the other corners. You could, I suppose, put a Tube station in the middle of the park, but it would be a long way from where anyone lives, have to be closed at sunset as the park is closed after dark, and would also require quite deep escalators (the park is on a hill).
    Even a station half way along the main road passing the west side of the park would have to be quite deep, as the road (Tulse Hill), as the name implies, goes over a hill – the eponymous station being at the bottom of the said hill.

  165. Anomnibus says:


    I think the outcry from the commuters would stop that option dead in its tracks long before anyone even considered the effects it would have on Blackfriars itself.

    That said, a double-decker station might be financially feasible. It wouldn’t be particularly pretty, granted, but the advantage is that you have a pair of tracks up on a flyover at the station site itself, so all you need is the space for the ramps at each end.

  166. Greg Tingey says:

    We’ve discussed this before.
    Cost is the “only” real problem with a pair of high-level through platforms for Tulse Hill – Loughboro’ Jn through trains …
    There’s space for the approach/descent ramps on the N side – the space previously occupied by the “long siding” & ditto on the up side. On the Tulse Hill side you need enough space, over commercial premises’ for the ramps to start by swinging “Out” from the current alignment – basically, they remain level, whilst the existing lines drop towards HH.
    “Easily” do-able.
    Actual cost?
    Political will?

  167. ngh says:

    Re Anomnibus,

    Indeed but I was just pointing out it wouldn’t work in practice either!
    Everyone also needs to remember that in 2018 SE get full use of the Blackfriars bays go to SE (8tph) with more services by via both Herne Hill and the Catford Loop (via Nunhead). The Orpington Thameslink services that were temporarily transferred to Thameslink also return to SE in 2018 so there will be even less space at Blackfriars in the future.

  168. Pedantic of Purley says:


    That said, a double-decker station might be financially feasible.

    Even if it was financially feasible (highly unlikely) and technically feasible (I can’t believe it) it would be a non-starter because the sight lines of St Pauls (from Blackfriars Bridge I believe) must be respected.

    The average person would not comprehend how sight lines are absolutely fundamental to planning in London and why a lot of buildings are the shape they are (e.g. cheesegrater) or are simply not built because of the view they would obstruct. And breaching them is an absolute no-no.

    As it is the roof of the current station had to take these sight lines into consideration and is one of the reasons why overhead electrification at Blackfriars would only just fit.

  169. ngh says:

    Re PoP,

    I think anomnibus may be talking about a double deck Herne Hill!

    Blackfriars – Shame the Corporation of London suggestion of 2 additional bay platforms (so 4 total) to the west of 1997 was rejected because there wouldn’t be enough passenger demand to pay for it… (No technical issues such as sight lines, once again the corporation seeming way ahead of the curve, railtrack’s assessment of the BCR for “empty” platforms wasn’t good.)

    Re Greg,

    Far easier to do the flyover to the north on NR and Lambeth (ex BR) land particularly as you have to cater for Tulse Hill – Blackfriars, West Dulwich – Victoria and West Dulwich – Blackfriars.

    [The more southerly Knights Hill flyover options last looked at seriously 19 years ago were predicated on Eurostar services still running through Herne Hill and without those there isn’t that much point if you have far more services stopping at Herne Hill in comparison]
    The 2 southern viaducts at Herne Hill are both in the Dulwich Estate so in harder political territory.

  170. Anomnibus says:


    I was looking at Herne Hill, not Blackfriars.

    That said, the complexity of any major engineering project in the Herne Hill area would not be far off that needed to untangle the maze of junctions at Lewisham, St. John’s, Blackheath, Hither Green and Ladywell. (They’re all junctions as well as stations.)

    Herne Hill has fewer junctions to contend with, and there’s arguably more wiggle room for site accesses, viaduct reconstruction/relocations, new flying junctions, etc., but there are other complexities, such as its proximity to the Dulwich College Estate’s lands. Said entity is known to be very ornery and almost excessively conservative. It’s also very rich and powerful.

    Another, rather important, issue is that Herne Hill’s station is Grade II Listed.

    The key problems with the site are therefore primarily political. There are any number of technical solutions for the station and its junctions, but rather fewer political answers.

  171. Mattto484 says:

    @Lemmo you could modify the revised route layout at herne hill, meaning that you could shift the eastern platform over and add a central road reached from the north west for fast southbounds on the kent mainline which would link to the lines heading south east. You could have the northbound fast line diverted through what is currently the fast line, but would be bi directional as you would be using that line as a slow line. To avoid the risk of a crash, you then replace the point that you used to divert services from the north west with a 3 way so stoppers can reach the current northbound stopping service which would also be bi directional to cater for this. Then you would need to have (trailing in normal cases) crossover which would allow trains to cross back to the original track.
    At Loughborough junction to herne hill, the line is 2 track which could be boosted to 4 track on land which is now warehouses which used to be part of a set of sidings. This could allow the line to start functioning like a mainline, with the potential of a tunnel to a part of the network with not enough termini?

  172. Graham H says:

    @Matto – I suspect that the engineers would have something to say about the use of a 3-way point on a main line and the operators about whatever was done to mesh a further 4 track section into the existing layout. “Avoiding the risk of a crash” is something that is the whole raison d’etre of signalling and track layouts…

  173. Malcolm says:

    The original article here was published some time ago, and there have been extensive comments on it. Could anyone who feels moved to add further suggestions please be sure to familiarise themselves with (particularly) the original article, and (within reason) the comments already made.

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