In The Beeching Report: 50 Years On we looked at the report itself and its relevance to London as far as passenger traffic was concerned. This was followed up with a look at its impact on London passenger services. It is very easy to forget though that the Beeching Report was also about freight. Indeed when it comes to the analysis of costs in the report, it is freight that covers far more pages than passenger traffic. So let us finish our look at Beeching (on the anniversary of the report’s release, no less) by taking a brief look at what it ushered in for freight in relation to London. We’ll then look at both freight and passenger traffic and make an assessment of the actual  impact on the Capital.

The Freight Situation

Dr Beeching found the lack of identified costs in passenger traffic truly appalling, but it was probably nothing compared to the situation as regards freight. The “big four” railway companies before World War II probably had all the figures and did their best to ensure they were profitable. The trouble was the world had changed since then and new figures were not available to take into account the new reality.

Amongst the changes were:

  • A misguided attempt at modernisation by building large marshalling yards.
  • An extremely damaging ASLEF strike in 1955 which meant that a lot of freight that could be carried by other means disappeared from the railway, never to return.
  • Competition from a denationalised road freight haulage industry.
  • The recent removal of the damaging “common carrier” obligation which had meant that the railways were obliged to transport all freight offered at fixed rate tariffs whether profitable or not (as opposed to the private hauliers who could pick and choose or even provide the long haul and then leave final distribution to the railways at fixed mileage rate tariffs). Now they were free to pick and choose.

It was soon clear to Beeching that wagon-load freight was highly unprofitable and there was basically no way it could be otherwise. On the plus side, train-load point-to-point freight was ideal for the railways and could be very lucrative if organised properly. Gerry Fiennes, a senior railway manager at the time, in his famous book (now sadly out of print and very expensive second-hand) gives full credit to “the good doctor” for his positive promotion of this and points out, extremely ruefully, that “we” (meaning the existing BR management), could have developed that but that they utterly failed to spot the opportunity that was there.

If Beeching had been able to get his way then freight would be transformed with modern air-braked wagons operating a commercially viable services that customers would want. Of course all this required investment and this was something the government were loathe to do. Having recently sunk a lot of money into various white elephant marshalling yards this is at least partially understandable. Temple Mills marshalling yard, for example, was rebuilt as recently as 1959.

The Loss of Freight Traffic

Once the hopelessness of wagon-load freight and the inefficiency of marshalling yards and sorting sidings was identified it was obvious that these had to go. It seems incredible today but St Pancras had a large goods yard (now the site occupied by the British Library) as did King’s Cross. Even places like Norwood Junction had a marshalling yard. With the coming of the Beeching report it was inevitable that they would disappear. Some were sold off and redeveloped and others found other railway uses, whilst Feltham is now a de facto wildlife sanctuary. The large goods depot at Bricklayers Arms by the Old Kent Road was replaced by housing and the inevitable industrial estate.

It was not just the loss of the large yards. Many stations still had a small goods yard or coal yard in the early 1960s. It would be periodically visited by a steam engine, generally in the middle of the night, to attach or detach the limited traffic around. It must have been obvious to anyone with open eyes that this was hopelessly uneconomic. One wonders how many signalboxes were manned 24 hours a day just so that a tiny tank engine with a couple of wagons could “run as required”.

It is difficult to see how these goods yards would have been missed in London except by those with a nostalgic bent. The trip workings would have in all probability been operated by a dirty old unloved steam shunting engine discharging its smoke and soot into an atmosphere recently transformed by the Clean Air Act. They were noisy and the clanking of wagons could be heard from quite a distance. These were generally nocturnal trips so one wonders how many people had a disturbed nights sleep.

Surprisingly these nocturnal goods train visits were not limited to the main railways. Some of the Underground branches that were originally “proper” railways retained their freight service and a British Railways steam engine would visit. This notably happened on the High Barnet branch and the Central Line to Epping. Even Newbury Park retained its goods yard until 1965 despite the fact that it could only be reached by going around the northern part of the Hainault loop for the last ten years of its existence. More surprisingly still this happened at places that were always part of the Underground system, such as Rayners Lane and stations towards Amersham. The recent resignalling and track quadrupling on the Metropolitan included continued provision for freight and most of the Metropolitan line goods yards stayed in operational use until 1966 or 1967 to be visited by an occasional British Railways goods train.

There was in fact a dramatic change on the freight side but the reality was that no-one cared. After all St Pancras Goods Depot does not quite invoke the same nostalgia as Broad Street. If people in London had thought rationally about the impact of Dr Beeching’s Report a more honest answer might be that they could now get a good night’s sleep and there was also a new car park at the station (the former goods yard) so they could now park there.

A History of Passenger Railway Closures in London

An intuitive approach to looking at the impact of the Beeching Report in London might be to look at railway closures occurring in the immediate years after the report was published. Such an approach would be flawed for a number of reasons. First of all, there has always been a trickle of closures as misguided schemes are shown up for what they are, competition makes stations or lines redundant or the reason for a line or service being there no longer exists. Secondly the closure of a line may just be a coincidence that would have happened anyway. Thirdly, its closure may have even have been proposed prior to the arrival of Dr Beeching at the British Railways Board but taken place after the report’s publication. Is it reasonable to blame Dr Beeching for such closures?

Railway closures in London are nothing new

The world is not in a steady state. In a relatively stable situation one would expect railway closures but one would also expect a corresponding number of railway openings. In fact railway closures are nothing new.

Commercial Dock station on the South Eastern Railway line south of London Bridge closed as long ago as 1866. There was even at least one line closure in what is now part of London in the 19th century. Central Croydon, located on its own short branch off the Brighton main line, closed for the second and final time in 1890 – having previously closed in 1871 but reopened again in 1886.

There were many “temporary” closures due to the First World War. Some stations and lines took over a decade to re-open and others did not re-open at all. New Underground services sometimes killed off demand at nearby railway station but it was generally only many years later that the inevitable coup de grace was executed. Uxbridge eventually lost two branch lines that served it and Stanmore lost its original station. This even happened south of the river where the opening of Colliers Wood on the Northern Line soon led to the closure of Merton Abbey station in 1929.

Closing Individual Stations

The Beeching report makes much of the expense of running stopping services which are a poor utilisation of stock and require the expensive cost of running a station. Apart from line closures a prominent feature was the proposal to close many stations on through routes but keep the line open. Probably the best example near to London was the Oxford-Cambridge route on which Beeching proposed to close all the minor countryside stations. It is surprising therefore that there does not appear to be a single case of a proposed closure of a station in London that did not also involve closing the line to passenger services entirely. Sudbury & Harrow Road seems to have defied all the odds and still exists despite being reputedly the least used station in Greater London, and there being a good service from nearby Sudbury Town Piccadilly Line station about 300 metres away.

The total lack of proposals to close any stations on a line where the passenger services would continue run is all the more remarkable when one considers the number that were closed in the hundred years prior to the report and in the decades afterwards. Westbourne Park, East Brixton and Lea Bridge are examples that never got mentioned in the Beeching Report yet subsequently closed. Westbourne Park cannot be reopened because it has been obliterated by track remodelling but the two others could be rebuilt – and maybe sooner rather than later.

Impact for Journeys within London

The closure of only two lines within London seem to be indisputably as a direct result of the Beeching Report. One, Harrow & Wealdstone to Belmont, affected just one station and another, West Drayton to Staines West, was already extremely run down and probably served a more rural population than some rural areas. Undoubtedly these would not have lasted long – Beeching or no Beeching.

We can never know how much Beeching influenced closures that took place a short time prior to his report. Again it is doubtful if these few lines would have had any prospect of long term survival. We also cannot know exactly what damage was done simply by proposing a line for closure. If It subsequently closed would that be partly attributable to Dr Beeching? What is really interesting is to see what happened to the lines that he proposed for closure but initially remained open, only to close subsequently.

We have already mentioned the potential takeover of part of the Croxley Green branch to provide an extended Metropolitan service. It could be argued that closure when it came did no great long term harm. As most readers know, the bulk of Woodside-Selsdon was used for Tramlink and usage here is quite remarkable. Addiscombe Tram Stop was built on the other side of the road to Bingham Road Station. It is one of the busiest tram stops outside central Croydon (and Wimbledon of course) with passenger journeys nudging towards the million per annum figure. Equally remarkable is the high usage of the trackbed to Broad Street which is now part of London Overground and one does wonder if that would ever have been proposed if Broad Street was still operational.

A longer (distance) view

Could it really be that the Beeching Report had an arguably beneficial effect when it came to freight and virtually no effect on passengers in London? Well no. Because London is part of Great Britain and the Beeching Report had a big effect on Britain.

The Beeching Report resulted in a lot of rural closures. It therefore has to follow that there were a lot of places in Britain that were accessible by train but were no longer. If your family didn’t have a car it may well be that your holiday destinations became a lot more limited within Britain. And if for some reason you wanted to travel to Kirby Muxloe or one of the other villages or towns that lost their station and you didn’t have a car then it would have been difficult.

One of Beeching’s obsessions was to remove what he saw as duplication. St Pancras was once a potential starting point for a journey to Scotland. Indeed the great music hall gag was “St George for England” to be followed by “St Pancras for Scotland”. So Londoners lost their choice and they may have had a good valid reason for preferring one station over another. It was not just St Pancras. Marylebone became little more than a commuter terminus having previously had services to places like Nottingham. In truth the long distance service from Marylebone had been seriously reduced before Beeching arrived on the scene but it was he who saw no point in the services continuing and axed them altogether and it is that finality that probably helped his name become associated with the demise of the railways.

So as far as London is concerned what was the impact of Beeching?

It’s a contentious question to ask, but in a departure from LR tradition we feel that in this instance we will offer a rare opinion:- For the Capital at least, Beeching was actually mostly harmless.

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There are 164 comments on this article
  1. Anonymous says:

    “Central Croydon, located on its own short branch off the Brighton main line, closed for the second and final time in 1890 – having previously closed in 1871 but reopened again in 1866” needs a bit of clarification.

    St Pancras still served Scotland until over a decade after Beeching, when the last remnant of the Thames-Clyde Express (lovely train) disappeared.

    And Weadstone is a typo…

  2. JN says:

    Nice Read… On The Point Of Branches Closing During The Advent of WW1 My Personal Favorite Is The Greenwich Park Branch Which Stretched From Nunhead To The Park Via An Alternate Lewisham Station And With A Terminus Right Next To The North-West Corner Of The Park… Was Closed In 1917 And Was Proposed To Re-Open Electrified; Now Lost Completely…

  3. timbeau says:

    Something wrong with the chronology here
    “Central Croydon, ………………closed in 1871 but reopened again in 1866”

    Your list of closed stations on lines still open to passenger traffic erroneously includes Primrose Hill.

  4. timbeau says:

    Only part of the Greenwich Park branch is lost – the section from Nunhead to Lewisham is quite busy.

  5. 1866 should of course have read 1886 and the Weadstone typo is corrected. Yes timbeau I got it wrong about Primrose Hill. My North London geography is a bit weak. I was misled by knowing there had been campaigns to reopen the station. I wouldn’t have thought there was really much point if there are no trains passing through it. I have removed Primrose Hill from the list.

    I think Anonymous’s comment just goes to show that even with Beeching’s desire to close things that needed to be closed as soon as possible the actual process could have been quite a lingering one. It is very much a consequence of the report that St Pancras lost its service to Scotland. It also goes to show how a closure of a line as far away as north of the border could impact on London.

    And with that last sentence in mind Beeching got a mention on BBC Breakfast and the Borders Railway was featured. Depending on your point of view, there was an excellent report by Richard Westcott. The article is here but the video piece shown is not yet up on the BBC site.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Didn’t there used to be a North London railway line down to the London docks. Think it was under the present dual carriageway, formerly motorway down to the blackwall tunnel.
    Was this a victim of the Beeching cuts, or did it predate them ?

  7. mr_jrt says:

    @JN and timbeau
    RE: The Greenwich Park branch

    Quite. Such a wasted opportunity…had it survived we could have had a great LO route from Victoria Park via Poplar to Island Gardens, a tunnel under the river to Greenwich, then via Brockley to Clapham Junction via Peckham. Imagine how much relief the Jubilee would have if you could get to Canary Wharf direct from Dalston, Brockley and Clapham Junction!

  8. Mikey C says:

    Yes, Beeching nationally did some damage and some errors were made

    However, if all these unprofitable branch lines and stations had been kept open, then the money has to come from somewhere, and unless the government was prepared to put in more money, then this would have come out of the overall BR budget, meaning less money for new rolling stock, electrification and other improvements. Longer carriages for the commuters from Norwood Junction or Romford benefit a lot more people than keeping open a beautiful branch line in the countryside carrying 6 people a day…

    While a service from St Pancras to Scotland would have been romantic for the enthusiast, it’s hard to see many choosing to go all the way when the parallel routes from Euston and Kings Cross were being electrified and sped up.

  9. Anonymous says:

    What about the impact of Beeching’s cross-country closures on London? One of the reasons that the Overground is so crowded is that the North London Line can only take eight passenger trains an hour due to the need for paths to accommodate freight services from Harwich and Felixstowe to the West, Midlands and North. If there were more diversionary routes remaining these services would not need to go through London. The current system is madness, and causes inconvenience to many thousands daily. Beeching’s removal of ‘duplicate routes’ played an enormous part in this.

  10. Pedantic of Purley says:

    @Anonymous 10:44

    So could you please give at least a single example? I think this is just one of the myths that has built up but am willing to be convinced otherwise with some evidence. And you can’t have Oxford – Cambridge as your example as we have already established that closure of the line was not in the report and never it the was intention of the good doctor to close this line which would have been ideal for his liner trains.

    I am not disputing that the current system is madness. I just want to know why everyone always seems to assume Beeching is to blame.

  11. Anonymous says:

    The duplicate route view of Beeching was one of the downsides, as it ignored all the stations between London and the other City which lost their links, as Chiltern have demonstrated by reviving the duplicate link between London and Birmingham – it has been suggested that part of the increase in house prices when an area has a good rail link (I think it adds about 3-4% to the value of a property) should be taxed and used to retro-fund rail investment – St. Pancras – Manchester would be a money spinner now with London & Manchester commuters driving up house prices, but long distance commuting didn’t exist then – but it could be applied to Cambridge – Norwich or Ely – Perterborough. There were signs of Beeching thinking in the (I think) McNulty report when he was going on about replacing the x15 minute Liverpool Street – Stanstead service with an hourly service as all the passengers would fit on one train off peak, the fact that operating a train (which is already paid for) along track (which already exists) is now deemed to be expensive, and that the train should sit in a siding all day saving money shows the lack of imagination nowadays (it also assumes that there will be no reaction from the passengers not wanting to use an hourly service) – back in the 1960’s London Transport replaced single deck buses with double deck buses at a lower frequency – but it didn’t matter as they still offered the ‘same number of seats per hour’.

  12. DW down under says:

    @ PoP re yr response to Anon 10:44

    Surely the madness today is:

    1) ongoing use of the NLL for traffic from east coast ports – what’s stopping it being routed via lines leading to Peterborough and across country in the East Midlands?

    2) Planning permission given for Thamesport Gateway (or whatever it’s called today) without an agreed strategic plan for rail transport on to inland “ports” or intermodal depots/”nodes”.

    3) in conjunction with 2), no plan to link the port traffic via the GOBLIN (by electrification) and/or to move it via Stratford freight connections up the Lea Valley with suitable relief lines where practicable and economic.

    Neither of these has anything to do with Dr Beeching per se.

    Oh, BTW – good article. Tend to agree that on the face of it, Beeching did little harm to London, other than to reduce the overall catchment of the railway network writ large. Parkway stations and good sized car parks have to a considerable degree neutralised that effect anyway.

    DW down under

  13. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Part of Richard Westcott’s excellent report mentioned in an earlier comment is now up on the BBC website. Unfortunately not all of it is there and the bit I really wanted to publicise is the missing bit.

  14. The Other Paul says:

    @PoP 11:10
    Surely the Great Central with its connection to the Oxford to Cambridge was a Beeching cut that pushed freight into London?

    There are three things that strike me from these excellent articles –
    1) Whilst many closures were inevitable and necessary, many others were not. A different viewpoint/methodology may not have saved barely used branch lines, but it might have saved some strategic routes, the ones we bemoan the loss of today – Great Central, Okehampton-Plymouth, Lewes-Uckfield.

    2) The poor decisions – or lack of strategy – within the 1950s Modernisation Plan had a large impact. In many ways it allowed Beeching and his successors to say “we tried investing money, it didn’t work”

    3) Most poignantly and politically, the cuts and the way they were handled were also a direct result of nationalisation. Ironic isn’t it that Beeching loathed the duplication whilst today we’d call it “competition” – as it was in the first place of course.

    Perhaps there’s also a warning in there to those who would like to see full re-nationalisation?

  15. Petras409 says:

    “Addiscombe Tram Stop was built on the other side of the road to Bingham Road Station. It is one of the busiest tram stops ….”.

    We can’t really let that comment pass without a bit more thought. Bingham Road Station and Addicombe BR were both poor performers.

    But the massive rise in usage of Addiscombe Tram Stop has much more to do with where it’s linked up with. The railway didn’t serve the regional centre of Croydon – the Tram does. Similarly, the frequency has increased out of all proportion to the former branch lines.

    So, just as we have seen with the East London Line, it’s much more to do with frequency and where the link goes to, than the location of the station in question.

  16. Philip Wylie says:

    @Anonymous @Mikey C – bit of whimsy here, but BR in the early 70s (late 60s?) diverted the overnight Midland sleeper to Glasgow Central from St P to Euston.
    It departed at 21.00 and ran via Northampton/Market Harborough. Don’t know when it ceased, but wasn’t aware of the significance when I travelled on it.

  17. Fandroid says:

    London to Birmingham is not a good example when talking about lack of duplication. Until fairly recently there were Birmingham services from Paddington. They served New Street, not the original GW Snow Hill, but the former is more central and offers better connections anyway. Once Chiltern got going, the need for direct Paddington services ie triplication, lapsed. Beeching left cross-country freight routes both north and south of London. North was Oxford-Cambridge, south was Tonbridge-Reading. It’s his successors who are to blame for the overcrowding of the North London line.

    It’s just not true to say that he hated duplication. He certainly thought that more than two routes connecting two cities was nonsense. There are two routes to Scotland.There are two routes to Manchester if you are prepared to change at Reading. Journey planners are always offering me two routes to Nottingham (one via Grantham). I would love for there still to be a Midland route to Manchester, but that’s only so I could get off in the middle of the Peaks (but it makes a great walking route!).

  18. Fandroid says:

    Back to freight. It’s amazing how much rail freight gets to London now via what seem to be tiny facilities compared with the vast acreage of yards previously. London would have been unable to develop in the way it has without all that space freed up. It’s directly comparable with the docks. I don’t know the London figures, but I am aware that more tonnage goes through Liverpool’s relatively small modest container dock at Seaforth than ever went through the vast mileage of waterfront docks that lined the Mersey.

  19. Alastair Palmer says:

    Apologies if this has been previously posted anywhere, but Lea Bridge station has moved a step closer towards re-opening:

    ’29 January 2013 in Waltham Forest News

    After being out of commission for over a quarter of a century, Lea Bridge Station now looks set to reopen.
    The outcome of an extremely positive meeting between Waltham Forest Council and Network Rail was a firm undertaking to work together to deliver the reopening of Lea Bridge Station as soon as possible.

    “I was delighted with the result of the meeting,” said Council Leader Chris Robbins. “Network Rail is extremely positive about reopening this station and we’ve set in play a good relationship to be able to go forward together to see the station built.”

    The news of the meeting comes off the back of the Council securing £6.5million funding for the project at the end of last year, making a long-sought ambition for the borough a step closer to becoming a reality.

    “It’s very exciting,” said Cllr Robbins. “The level of commitment from Network Rail was very encouraging and with the funding in place we can now forge ahead with our plan to reopen the station.”

    The Council has commissioned detailed designs and worked with Transport for London on the business case. It also engaged consultants to demonstrate the viability of the station reopening and the numbers of people who would use the line.

    “We’ve worked very hard to make sure we have scoped out this project properly and have the hard and fast plans required to take the project forward. Our job now is to get the station built and open for local people to use.

    “We know that a significant transport link like this can provide a real boost to an area – particularly one that has already had expressions of interest from developers looking to regenerate this part of the borough.”

    Lea Bridge Station is just one element of the Council’s ambitious regeneration plans for the borough that forms part of its ‘Creating a better place to live’ campaign.​’

  20. Alan Griffiths says:

    Alastair Palmer04:59PM, 27th March 2013
    “Lea Bridge station has moved a step closer towards re-opening”

    Also one of three stations mentioned in the Secreytary of State’s announcement; the one that was reported as being about franchising

  21. mr_jrt says:

    My concern about Lea Bridge is that the decision to build the new station buildings on the side precludes a four-track section. Old photographs show this was quite viable as the bridge and station thankfully originally had an additional pair of lines running behind it.

  22. timbeau says:

    The campaign to re-open Primrose Hill station was connected with proposals to reinstate services on the original direct route from Willesden Junction to Camden Road (the loop via West Hampstead is a later addition).

    @Anon 0943
    Indeed there was – it was , like the Primrose Hill link, another part of the original East and West India Docks and Birmingham Junction Railway (E&WID&BJR – soon shortened to North London Railway – maybe because the original name wouldn’t fit on the side of their rolling stock). The spur to Stratford now traversed by the Overground left it a little to the west of Hackney Wick station, and it ran along a fairly straight line all the way to the Isle of Dogs. Until fairly recently the bridge carrying it over the East Cross motorway could still be seen, the motorway (now the A12) then running parallel with it to the east. The course can still be traced on Google Earth quite easily, although it has been built on in places. Further on, the trackbed is now used by the DLR between Bow Church and Poplar.

  23. Walthamstow Writer says:

    Interesting articles on Beeching. I think we need to increase the categories of “villians” so more people stand alongside Lord “I was only doing my job” Beeching. We need to throw in politicians, the road lobby and the electorate. We voted for the crooks and lying politicians who inflicted the damage and then we moan for decades afterwards but will not endorse pro rail policies nor force politicians to adopt them. London is a tiny exception here given that the Mayoral post holder has had no option but to do something about some rail services or to “dangle carrots” suggesting they might. Despite the London exceptions there is little actual pressure to really shift transport policy from private to public transport.

    We have a policy stance that is slowly but surely inflicting a second Beeching on the bus network. The loss of BSOG funding and the shambles of concessionary fare reimbursement is stripping away bus services in the same way the 50s and 60s saw the stripping away of rail services. We have not learnt the lessons about isolating people and communities. On the railways we have endless complaints about fare levels but no cogent argument or discussion beyond this about what we want railways to do or what opportunities there are if we are at a point where fuel prices are causing motorists to reassess their transport needs. Despite concerns about the cost of running the railways the government seems happy to have extra industry bureaucracy (e.g. RDG and ORR setting themselves up to monitor the RDG!) but is slowly ignoring the unpalatable bits relating of McNulty about cost cutting. There is little coherence to transport policy at a national or London level (IMO).

    I can’t point to the evidence that PoP demands to justify an argument about why Beeching was “wrong” in some parts of the country. What I do struggle with is the way in which we see continued spend on road links / bypasses / car parks in cities, towns and the shires where there were railways in the past. We now have towns and cities and main roads all creaking under a ridiculous level of car and lorry traffic when retaining railways would have provided relief and viable capacity.

    I accept Beeching could no more predict 1 day into the future than do so for 50 years. However we have had to spend billions on roads and, in recent years, on rail & station reinstatement in areas where Beeching and his political masters took stupid decisions. Further we have had to suffer billions of pounds of time and environmental disbenefits because there is insufficient transport capacity and no policy to put rails back. I see the Campaign for Better Transport has published a list of 10 line reopenings – many of these look straightforward enough given the rails are still in place. Given the clamour for “infrastructure investment” you have to wonder why the Government won’t be even braver and reopen some of them. I will give the government due credit for supporting electrification and the London mega rail projects.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Damaging ASLEF strike – nothing new there then.

    Motor transport is the future – railways do not pay – close them down and solve two problems at once.

  25. DW down under says:

    Industrial action usually leads to citizen reaction! If a Crow builds a mountain, Joe (Citizen) finds a way around it!!

    DW down under

  26. Ian J says:

    Thanks for a fascinating article. It’s a good point that railway closures have been happening for a long time in London – perhaps there were more services withdrawn and stations closed before say 1920 in London than in any other part of the country. As well as the effect of the Underground, I would also suggest that the building of electric tramways destroyed the market for short distance inner-suburban rail travel – the trams were cheaper and more frequent and went closer to where people wanted to go. So the need for space for freight traffic during the First World War gave a convenient excuse to withdraw services that weren’t paying their way.

    @The other Paul: Beeching as a consequence of nationalisation: but do you really think private companies and their shareholders would have tolerated loss-making services longer than BR did? If they had then they would have gone bankrupt, whereas BR’s losses were (grudgingly) covered by the government.

    The lines through Primrose Hill station do sometimes see use as a diversionary route when the DC Lines service gets diverted from Euston, which could well happen again for an extended period when Euston station gets rebuilt for HS2. Although what remains of the station itself might get obliterated by the works for the HS2 tunnel portal or the link to HS1.

  27. 0775john says:

    Re Anon 08.05pm

    Motor transport is the future – railways do not pay – close them down……Etc.

    Good joke! By the way does your masterplan include London Underground? Presumably so. Central London roads move slowly enough already without all those annoying passengers just below the surface needing a car or bus to get on.

    The NHS does not pay nor does state education let alone the armed forces! We pay for these – for better or for worse – because most people see them as a mark of a civilised society.

  28. Greg Tingey says:

    Look at March’ sissue of “Modern Railways” where the qustion is asked: “Have we passed Peak car use?

    The answer seems to be: – yes.
    Needless to say DafT are still predicting another 30 years of road growth.
    Which reminds me – the April edition of “MR” – the monthly piece by Alan Williams is a must-read.
    [ He also mentions “Holding the Line” which I referred to in an earlier post…. ]

  29. Anonymous says:

    “because most people see them as a mark of a civilised society.”

    How on earth do the railways fit in with that ?, they are just one system amongst many (foot, bike, car, plane, boat) to get people around as they wish. The balance between them being up for argument based entirely on absolute and relative costs and benefits. Railways have no automatic right to exist at all. If there were better alternatives then closing them and reusing bits of them would be entirely the right approach.

    Railways are certainly hardly in the same category as saving peoples lives or defending the existence of the country.

    Your conflation of the railways and what are actually core public services says more than the original posters (presumably tongue in cheek) comment does.

    Ref car use, with 70% of the marginal cost of ownership (fuel) is tax (including a tax on a tax) – the car is quite heavily discriminated against as is, yet usage does seem to keep increasing, and so does the population, so such a forecast seems sensible.

    At least (thanks to VED and fuel tax/VAT) the roads do actually pay for themselves. If only the railway did.

  30. DW down under says:

    Ian J @
    11:40PM, 27th March 2013

    Re: Diversion of Watford DC service

    An element of the Crossrail forward Planning is Crossrail 3, whose core is Euston – Waterloo.

    Also, there is a current atmosphere of expectation that the Bakerloo will take over the whole DC line through to WJ.

    I’ve proposed a Phase 1, Crossrail 3 based on tube technology and as a subset/subroute of the Bakerloo Line, as follows:

    1) In essence, the DC lines are moved into tunnel at a point sufficiently north for the purposes of HS2 (and funded by that project). Ideally, a Primrose Hill station is able to be incorporated either above ground (by slewing the existing tracks) or below (HS2 pays).

    2) The tunnels run below the current route until the north end of Euston where they divert to the eastern side and reach an alignment under Eversholt St. There, a 3- or 4- platform station suitable for terminal or through operation is provided. All new construction is to main line gauge and suitable for AC OHLE. The line proceeds south under Woburn Pl and Southampton Row until it reaches Kingsway Station (I propose dropping the “H” word!!). This north-south route I propose to call the Kingsway Line.

    3) Between Covent Garden and Kingsway stations, the eastbound Piccadilly line branches onto a new tunnel which ramps down to the lower level of Kingsway Platform 3 and parallel to it. In this tunnel, a new Platform 6 is provided. Serving the new Platform 6 and Platform 3 would be a new low level circulating passageway to assist in managing congestion on the platforms.

    The relocation of eastbound trains to platform 6 and the station tunnel would be a charge to the Crossrail 3 project. The extra passageway would be a charge to Underground congestion management capital works.

    North of Kingsway, the new eastbound Piccadilly tunnel would remain below the old eastbound track until the Piccadilly route diverges away from Southampton Row. After that, it would rise on an incline to a junction with the old tunnel.

    Platform 4 would be extended into the station tunnel of the former Platform 6 (where the track would need to be positioned on the western side, opposite to the original installation). Platform 4 would become the Kingsway Line northbound platform. Just north of Kingsway station, the northbound Kingsway line would branch from the old eastbound Piccadilly under Southampton Row, then drop to a lower level to the east of the new Piccadilly eastbound tunnel.

    From the north, approaching Kingsway Station, the southbound Kingsway Line tunnel would run parallel to and alongside the westbound Piccadilly. Where the westbound tunnel drops downgrade to reach the level of Platform 3, the southbound Kingsway line crosses to a junction with the existing Aldwych Branch tunnel just north of Platform 5.

    I’m hoping that Mark Townend can rustle up a picture to explain this.

    4 ) At Aldwych, the lifts are replaced with modern, safe-to-maintain units. In addition, the cross-passages will be served by short lifts to platform level to make it an accessible station. Escalators are provided off new passages, to connect to a second ticket hall under the grounds of Kings College, with surface access into the College (and with their agreement, from the public streets) plus a passageway leading to steps and lifts onto Temple Station platforms.

    5 ) At Waterloo, Crossrail 3 (which I dub the “Kingsway Line”) enters the station area of the Waterloo & City railway by 2 new tracks on the north side. The “cascading” element of this plan is that, by providing connections (initially to the Piccadilly Line, later to the DC lines and Bakerloo depots) by which W&C trains can be moved to maintenance depots, the cramped depot at Waterloo becomes redundant. This space is then adapted to provide 2 island platforms serving 4 terminal (or through) roads. Crossovers will be at the very northern end, where the short platforms are presently located (which means the platforms start further south than at present).

    6 ) By “tweaking” the platforms and signals at Bank, it has been suggested that 5-car trains could be run.

    7 ) The Crossrail 3 project envisages nine 5-car trains in traffic for the W&C (with spares from the Bakerloo/Northern fleet). The W&C trains would be made up of DM+T+NDM+T+DM to maximise passenger accommodation. Compared to the 1992 stock, an increase of roughly 180% in line capacity could be achieved.

    If each 5 car train carries 750 passengers in the busiest hour, and the line has a signalled throughput capacity of 20 tph, then each run, start-to-start must take 13.5 minutes at a 3 minutes headway and the line can carry 15000 passengers per hour. I think (BICBW) that the 1972 stock in a 3M/2T formation can achieve that. This assumes relay/step-back driver arrangements. The suggestion is that the W&C 1992 stock be placed in the main 1992 stock pool after overhaul and updating of all systems. An unknown is whether there are sufficient traffic spares in the 1967/72 stock pool to make up these nine trains given that TfL have not ordered any new tube stock. With the lead times involved, one can only hope that there is a convergence of project timing such that Northern and Bakerloo stock replacement is under way when the first phase of the Crossrail 3 project comes on stream.

    8 ) The Kingsway line would use standard 7-car trains of 1972 (+ some 67) stock, if the new platforms within the old W&C depot can be made long enough. Otherwise, 6-car trains of 1992 stock could be used in Stage 1 of Phase 1 (before the connection through to Euston is made). There being 20 cars in the W&C fleet, 3 trains could be made up, and rely on the Central Line pool for any more than 2 spare cars that may be needed.

    9 ) Bakerloo Line. Most trains would run only to Queens Park. Some peak services would run through to Willesden Junction. Services from there north would be entirely on the Kingsway Line. All stations on the line would have the tracks raised to permit level access into the trains. But the lines would not be slewed closer to the platforms. This requirement is to retain the diversionary function of the DC lines for main line size trains.

    10 ) Extensions:

    a) To the south? The W&C depot at Waterloo seems (well from Joe Brown’s 3rd Edition London Railway Atlas, at least) to be oriented towards the Bakerloo line to the north of Elephant & Castle. Other than that, extensions would only be viable to the SW by diverting both sets of tunnels to run under the Waterloo International terminal then extend along the Thames south bank towards Battersea Park ( … and beyond!). Certainly, if the depot space is not sufficient for 112m trains, then some tunelling to provide both longer platforms and overrun tunnels would be needed. In that case, platforms would be around 135m long.

    b) Beyond Bank? Following the DLR study into prospective extensions showing a very high BCR for a Bank – Liverpool St – Bishopsgate/Shoreditch High St extension, and the work of the Network South East team (of which Graham Hewitt over at DD’s forum was a member), it is proposed that the W&C be extended via Liverpool St to Bishopsgate. Once this is done, then longer trains (8 x 16m, 7 x 17.77m) could be run. With the curvature on the W&C in particular, ISTM that this line will continue with the shorter 16m cars until replacements can be obtained.

    As for configuration at Bank, it is suggested that new eastbound platforms be built north of Bank, after the “Mind the Gap” platform curve. The pair of platforms with a substantial central circulation passageway would serve the Central Line and the W&C. The Central Line would have access to both platforms to improve service resilience. This is not a problem because both Lines go to Liverpool St, where it is proposed that they share a pair of eastbound platforms, the existing platforms becoming the westbound. The W&C would then diverge to Bishopsgate, where Central Line trains also could terminate. A four road terminal station is suggested at Bishopsgate, which would be escalatior connected to Shoreditch High St. Just a reminder, all NEW tunnels are built to main line gauge with clearance for 25kV OHLE. This includes the W&C extension tunnels. So, while we might be leveraging existing infrastructure, we are not binding future generations to the standards of that infrastructure.

    c) A Blackfriars station? As part of a project to make the W&C compatible with longer tube cars, and improve connectivity with Thameslink, a station at Blackfriars would be a consideration.

    Now, it has been strongly suggested here (at LR) that existing DC lines users are in the main wishing to get to Euston or points in the central area beyond. Yes, some may wish to go to Highbury, Hackney or Stratford – but the argument that was put was that it was a modest minority. Someone with access to TfL O-D data may wish to elaborate on this in more detail. Please post links if you can. This plan addresses that desire, it ensures that the Bakerloo isn’t jammed before it gets to Paddington and Marylebone, and it provides additional capacity to handle increased traffic through Euston to meet HS2 and organic growth.

    From the other side, this project substantially increases the ability of rail to shift Waterloo traffic into the City, complements those lines providing access to the central area and West End, and reduces the congestion affecting both tube services and bus services.

    I personally think this would be heaps better.


    DW down under

  31. DW down under says:

    @ Greg

    Peak Car use: was that within London only, or within what geographic boundary?

    I for one seriously doubt that Britain, or the UK as a whole has yet seen peak car. Why, because the motor industry has more tricks up its sleeve. You’ve already seen Smart for 2 upright shorties, and other micros. Batteries are all the buzz. Hydrogen is still “out there” on the horizon. People like their independence, and unless they’re Jeremy Clarkson et als, are generally happy to trade off looks and sexiness for freedom and mobility. When the authorities decide that “miniroads” are better than standard roads, that is roads which limit vehicle widths to say 1.4m, and provide licensing concessions for such vehicles, especially electric powered or hybrid with a clean gas “genset”, then there’s a whole new future for independent mobility. There might even be an under-road induction battery charging system.

    Such roads would not be accessible to large vehicles, Mercs, Jags, Beemers, lorries, buses, delivery vans and so on – but a wheelchair accessible vehicle could be built within 1400mm width. Of course, bicycles and motor cycles would get through. The miniroad probably will be the next generation, replacing dedicated but underutilised cycleways and being woven through the urban fabric.

    There are many issues to resolve, but I perceive a new potential market for rail, and that is to provide the equivalent of the motorway for such microcars. A smaller scale (to suit loading gauge of course!!) version of the EuroShuttle.

    So, I see at least one more generation of personal mobility technologies before Britain reaches saturation. Good road design, priority to miniroads, limited but sufficient delivery access roads to keep commerce supplied and the like give scope for the future.

    Also, car parks will change. The microcars will be easy to provide automated car-parking systems. Their size and weight means more customers and lighter infrastructure within a given footprint. I can see more and more “microParkway” stations appearing where the passenger can have their car parked in the auto-system, while they enjoy/endure a train ride to their main destination. Cross-country: AngloShuttle; Radial to London or major metropolis: microParkway. A quantum shift – one in which rail plays a larger part, but individual mobility and convenience is respected.

    My take. Am I a dreamer?

    DW down under

  32. DW down under says:

    @ Anonymous

    I think you were trying to say:

    The fixed costs of operating a car in Britain are so high, that the marginal cost to use it once you have the car available is modest and not sufficient to affect a modal shift.

    To affect a shift away from private car use, it becomes necessary to lower the fixed cost (licensing, insurance, purchase tax) and raise the variable costs (mainly fuel, lubricants, tyres, brake pads, light globes) by differential taxation.

    The current set up has the opposite effect if the desired outcome is a shift away from use of private vehicles. The present set-up is also a “class” thing, inasmuch as making the fixed cost high, low income groups become more disadvantaged in that they have lower mobility to seek and access work. The present situation is a result of how many years of Labour government in Britain? Or did the Tory/Lib coalition change it all when they got in?

    Who said the lunatics were in control of the asylum? 🙂

    DW down under

  33. Anonymous says:

    That is not what I was trying to say at all. Although it is true, that having bought a car then you should use it as much as possible to amortise the purchase and fixed costs.

    However, fuel is now so expensive (and 70% tax), that the marginal costs are now as expensive as the fixed (roughly).

    Imagine, a £5000 second hand car, from which you expect to get 5 years service before it goes to the scrap (that has been my motoring plan for 2 decades now !).

    Fixed Costs: £1950
    £1000 per year capital + £350 insurance + £500 total servicing and parts etc. + £100 breakdown cover

    Variable Costs: £1885
    10,000miles per year at 35mpg = 1300litres, diesel being £1.45 = £1885

    Now this is my circumstance, I suspect many will be spending much more on the fixed costs for more expensive cars. But that is a choice they make. Equally many people might not keep buying pups like I do and get more years out of them…

    DW down under, your comment of hitting low income people seems entirely misplaced – those fixed costs are not mandated by government but by the cost of producing the car, the cost of accidents (which should fall on those causing them) and the cost of labour and parts for repairs.

    All the government have done is raise the amount and proportion of variable costs in the overall balance, Hitting everyone. Short of subsidising car sales/insurance/garages how could they “make” the fixed cost low (or indeed, high).

    By raising the variable costs through taxation (one might say, excessive taxation, and taxation that is used for other spending purposes) low income people are hit worse than high income as their jobs will not remunerate them in the same proportion to cover travel costs.

  34. Slugabed says:

    My experience is that,once you have committed to paying the fixed costs of keeping a motor vehicle on the roads,the marginal costs of each journey are similar for rail for one person,but for two or more,rail does not stand a chance,even given the high cost of petrol these days.
    These calculations certainly affect my choice of mode.

  35. Slugabed says:

    ….oh,and the current bizarre and chaotic ticket-pricing system is,for me and I suspect many others,an active disincentive to travel by train outside London.

  36. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Also, there is a current atmosphere of expectation that the Bakerloo will take over the whole DC line through to WJ.

    I really don’t think so. I think that idea died the moment TfL took over the running of the DC service from Silverlink. I have not heard or read about it since then. Why on earth go to the expensive of reinstating the fourth rail to run trains that do not have decent comfort for such a long journey let alone capacity? Also you reintroduce the complications of compromise platform heights and stepping down into the carriage and because this would be classified as a “new” service you probably wouldn’t be allowed to do it.

  37. mr_jrt says:

    Indeed. I seems such a waste to send little tube trains where you can viably send big “real” trains. Send the Bakerloo somewhere where it’s size would be useful – like North Acton for example, and leave the DC lines to LO.

    My personal preference is for the ELL to be extended from H&I to Camden Road, where with a tiny bit of bridge widening, you can then have a segregated 3rd rail line from Watford to Surrey Quays. The NLL would use AC over a reinstated northern pair of lines, and the masses of freight would be routed via the Goblin.

  38. Mikey C says:

    As the population of the UK is still growing, then if the same percentage of people drive, then car use will increase. This increase won’t be in inner London, where having a car is pretty optional, but in the home counties M25 belt where life without a car is pretty inconvenient, especially if you don’t work in Central London.

  39. mr_jrt says:

    @DW Down Under
    My preference from CR3 is also Euston to Waterloo, but using the AC slow lines rather than the DC lines. Probably something like: Milton Keynes-Willesden Junction & Aylesbury (or MK via EWR)-Neasden, then tunnelled via Euston LL, TCR, Waterloo LL, Clapham Junction LL, then out to Guildford via Woking & Horsham via Leatherhead. Basically, two branches either side to justify the core frequencies without short turns.

  40. MikeP says:


    You missed one component out of your calculation – the cost of finance. Or, alternatively, the loss of interest if you buy for cash – the “you could be doing something else with that lump sum” bit. I wish……

  41. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Camden Road, where with a tiny bit of bridge widening…

    Ho, ho. The trouble is once a person has an idea they want to work the challenges don’t seem immense. Look at all the obstacles that BML2 manages to brush aside. On the same basis thirty years ago one could have proposed the Thameslink scheme where with a tiny section of viaduct widening… . On the same basis one could describe the substantial work still continuing on the Tanners Hill flydown as a tiny bit of embankment widening with a little bit of bridge reconstruction.

    I’m sure the railway planners would love to be able to segregate those tracks over that junction. I am equally sure that they have looked at it and costed it out very roughly. But I suspect that they have also realised that they would have a really big battle on their hands to do it in a location where the opposition and protests are bound to be enormous.

    It is noticeable that at the time when the single track tunnel from HS2 to HS1 was being proposed there was no proposal to increase the number of tracks through here. There was however considerable reconstruction proposed just because space at this point is so tight it would not accommodate HSn trains without what probably was truly a tiny bit of bridge widening. I suspect even that would not have gone down well.

    Finding a use for a widened Camden Road junction is the least of the challenges. It wouldn’t surprise me if one could largely fill up the extra capacity with freight. The trouble with that is that it makes it even more difficult to “sell” to the locals. More freight trains, more noise, the disruption of construction, land take and absolutely no local benefit.

  42. Greg Tingey says:

    DW du
    All of Britain (without looking it up again) …
    Peak car use, if for no other reason that THERE ISN’T ROOM FOR ANY MORE CARS!
    Being “d.u”. you won’t have seen the current state of traffic, especially in the suburbs & London periphery, out to 20 or 30 miles from the GLA area.
    Your mioni-cars idea won’t fly.
    No-one wants anything smaller than a “Smart” & they are probably too small (as well as being inherently dangerous)

    How about a £10 000 car, bought ten years ago & still worth £10 000 – I have one – it is called … An LWB Land-Rover! And I do not intend, EVER to buy another car – I will keep this one until I can’t drive, or I drop dead – how’s that for economy?

  43. 0775john says:

    Sorry for following up the provocative statement, no doubt meant sincerely, by Anonymous. It was late and I was tired!!!

    But the idea that railways simply should be closed down as motor transport is the future seems slightly over the top.

    A reasoned case road v rail is fine and I was equating the NHS/state schools and armed forces with them simply as most people would find it hard to consider a life without those things. It obviously would not be impossible to live without any of them – other countries do in part. But however much people complain, they also rely on the railways and the prospect of driving the journeys that they now make by rail would be impossible for many, and be economically disastrous for some.

    I may be mistaken, but I don’t see any pressure from any political party to take such action….

    Beeching was wrong in some instances because of wholly unforeseen factors. Right in others for economic reasons. Absolute closure and reliance on motor transport did not even cross his mind!

  44. Anonymous says:

    “Westbourne Park cannot be reopened because it has been obliterated by track remodelling”

    If Sir Terry Farrell’s light-rail at Old Oak Common’s new “city” ever takes off, then he would run light-rail along the GWML as far as Ladbroke Grove. That could be extended, at least with a single track, to Westbourne Park, for interchange with the H&C Line.

    He has a video on the LB of Hammersmith & Fulham web site.

  45. Anonymous says:

    Motor transport is the future – railways do not pay – close them down.

    I was not joking, or being provocative just pragmatic about how we got to the state we are in.

    My comments reflect my perceived mood of the day (1963) when the Beeching report was published, how it seems to continue to colour the thinking of the men at the ministry and influences general attitudes to spending on railways.

    A couple of other reports worth mentioning:

    The Highway Development Survey, 1937
    The Buchanan Report: Traffic In Towns, 1963.

    In 1963 The government espoused Road transport – the plan was for four (reduced from five) ringways around and in London, with elevated highways into the centre. I remember the ones proposed to go along Tottenham Court Road to a roundabout at Centre Point (that’s why the GLC let Harry build it) and the Brompton Road to the Knightsbridge Underpass at Harrods.

    Public opinion supported this view, we all wanted the independence and freedom private motors gave us.

    The Buchanan report was concerned with predict and provide and ways to keep an increasing traffic volume moving.

    It is nearly 50 years since I read the Buchanan report. I recall that the view taken of the contribution railways could make was dismissed with the observation that anything that railways transport can go by road. A picture of a steam locomotive on a low loader was exhibited to prove the point, whilst making passing comment to the value of commuter railways.
    Public transport outside conurbations was seen as a “bus problem”.

    The nationalised railways were a financial and political disaster with the unions squabbling over how many men it took to drive a train (or sit in the cab) and the managers fighting turf wars.

    Spending on roads was investment and on railways a subsidy.

    Closing what could be demonstrated to be uneconomic and limiting subsidy to render the remainder unpopular as a precursor to closure was the obvious strategy. This was implemented by successive governments. Was it fate or fortune the government did not implement plan A of the Serpell Report, 1985.

    Does no one remember how the introduction of “Red Ways” solved London’s traffic problems? and the transport minister who did not travel by train (underground) as he did not want to risk sitting next to horrid smelly people?

    A hostile press and even the BBC agreed railways were obsolete – at least the BBC seems to be a bit more objective, even supportive in recent years.

    Two generations on from Beeching, just one tenth of journeys in Britain are made by rail. There are people who have not, and are not likely to, travel by any form of public transport. I am one of the people who do not even have the option of using public transport. How does a civilised society justify investing in something with such limited benefit?

    If you do not want to travel by train, the last thing you want is a high speed railway appearing in your back yard.

    If you do not have the option of train travel, seeing your taxes being poured into badly managed, cost overrunning railway investments a bit frustrating – you may even vote for someone who promises to cancel the waste.

    I waited 40 years to see a proper resolution of the Borough Market Bottleneck (1974 was a partial solution). I will no longer be commuting when Thameslink (2000) opens. It would be nice to see civilisation return to Ilfracombe, but I can not see it happening in my lifetime.

  46. 0775john says:

    Anonymous 09.20pm

    “Two generations on from Beeching, just one tenth of journeys in Britain are made by rail. There are people who have not, and are not likely to, travel by any form of public transport. I am one of the people who do not even have the option of using public transport. How does a civilised society justify investing in something with such limited benefit?”

    I ask again, Do you include the LU? I assume you do as they are ASLEF drivers…..

    Is the London underground included in that one-tenth?

    A very large number of the trips that make up that one-tenth of all journeys is significant in the value of it to the individual. Commuting by any other means would be impossible. 1.1billion journeys on the tube cannot easily be replaced by motor transport, nor the heavy rail

    Just for balance I quote from

    “If just 2% of road traffic transferred to rail, rail capacity would have to increase by 25%. Since the railways can barely cope with the traffic they have now, huge amounts of investment would have to be put into the railway network to achieve this level of change.”

    Incidentally this site reckons it is only 8% of journeys.

    So whilst I am in favour of retaining our railways I don’t see that they are the answer to everything…but a lot of lives would be worse if motor transport took those journeys. The justification for investing in the railways:

    The House of Commons Transport Select Committee report 2009/10 stated:

    There are differing views on the economic and environmental benefits of investing to enhance the railway network. It is clear, however, that enhancements to the railway network provide good value-for-money in many cases and are a worthwhile investment of public funds. Rail network enhancements can have important economic benefits and help to regenerate, and connect, local communities. If extra transport capacity is needed, rail is also more environmentally friendly than road or air. The UK’s challenging climate change targets increase the attractiveness of investing in the network, to encourage modal shift in terms of both passenger and freight transport and to make the railway network itself greener.

    Eddington’s Transport Study concluded that transport improvements could provide direct economic benefits to both passengers and freight users, through reduced journey times and reduced congestion. These benefits are what is usually measured in conventional cost-benefit analyses of transport projects. Eddington calculated that a 5% reduction in travel time for all road business travel, for example, could generate around £2.5 billion of cost savings—some 0.2% of GDP. Congestion and delays on the transport network, on theother hand, directly impacted on economic growth. If left unchecked, Eddington argued that the rising cost of congestion would waste an extra £22 billion worth of time in England alone by 2025. He warned that commuter rail lines, in particular, were forecast to see further increases in overcrowding, and intercity rail services would see many trains at or beyond seating capacity on the approaches to cities.

    And returning to Ilfracombe (and Lyme Regis!) would be great but ain’t going to happen!

  47. Mikey C says:

    Figures giving the % of journeys made by public transport are interesting, but misleading as there are massive variances depending on where people live. In inner London there will be people with 100% public transport usage, whereas in more rural areas, with few local buses, few local train routes, and little congestion the figure may be nearer 0%.

    Many local lines outside London have massive scope for expansion, getting on 2 car Sprinters and Pacers in Manchester Victoria recently was a massive eye opener for me. Providing longer trains here would be easy, if the demand was there, whereas with packed 12 car trains running into Waterloo at a high frequency, there are no easy ways of expanding capacity.

  48. Ian J says:

    On trends in car usage: all the statistics you could ever want on transport share in London are in the Travel in London report here: which shows that the peak for road usage in London was at the beginning of the century, with road traffic down about 10 per cent since then, 8.4 per cent down in outer London and much more in inner London. At the same time the population has grown by even more than was expected and every other mode has shown big increases. The big challenge for London transport in the medium term is going to be coping with the consequences of this growth without falling apart. I find it surprising that people still seem to assume that their personal preference for car use has much relevance – this seems to be at least partly a generational shift whereby young people are less likely to learn to drive or buy a car than they used to. Car ownership may be essential in rural areas but most people live in cities.

    On Camden Road: didn’t TfL originally plan for four tracks through here and then de scoped the work? As covered on this very blog:

    My recollection is that the then government offered to pay for the works anyway as an economic stimulus measure, but that TfL (stupidly, IMO) turned them down.

  49. DW Down Under says:

    Re: Marginal vs Fixed. Thanks @ Anon for clarifying what you meant.

    So the issue is that the marginal cost has now risen so much that there’s a positive disincentive to make marginal journeys using a car, a strong incentive to get the most economic, nippiest car you can afford, a strong incentive to use the car to fill the gaps in public transport coverage, by accessing the nearest convenient point of “quality” public transport for the “trunk” component of your journey. That seems consistent with broader social policy objectives of a mildly left-leaning, “green aware” regime. The best thing that can be said about this change is that at least the fixed costs haven’t inflated as much as the variable. So the barriers to entry to personal mobility remain modest, especially if looking at the small scooter, small motorbike, moped end – and the secondhand mini-car end.

    DW down under

  50. mr_jrt says:

    As you mention yourself they did indeed propose widening the viaduct to accommodate additional tracks as the NLL needs to remain at the very least two track at that point irrespective of the lines through Primrose Hill. It’s all quite viable. Without any current concrete proposal to operate normal services via Primrose Hill though obviously no-one’s going to fund.anything. TfL wants to operate services over the link (abet an extension of the proposed Stratford-Camden Road shuttle to Queens Park or Willesden), but as we see with the Goblin, everybody’s waiting for everyone else to blink first and fund the investment.

    You can be as dismissive as you want, but to me it’s potentially ~70m of viaduct, 5m at it’s widest and triangular in shape (option1 on that map), and one, at worst two properties needing demolition. In the context of railway projects that’s nothing at all, let alone projects in London.

    Also, given the changes further down the line for things like Crossrail, freight is going to be increasingly difficult to path between Barking and Stratford, and if it isn’t running via Stratford it isn’t joining the NLL until Gospel Oak as it’ll be running over the Goblin, leaving the section of railway between Camden Road and Stratford much freer for more passenger services. That’s the sort of local benefit that gets locals onside, especially if you can then offer them high intensity services continued up the DC lines as well.

  51. DW down under says:

    Re: Crossrail 3

    While I agree that in the longer term, diversion of the outer suburbans would also be desirable, as would use of larger rollingstock, the capital cost to even start a usable service such as jrt has described is going to be in the £4-6bn range just to reach Waterloo. I also addressed the issue of destination. Unless someone has convincing data to show that DC lines pax have a strong O-D preference which could be addressed by diversion along the NLL and/or the ELL, let us stay with the Euston route.

    The Phase 1 I have outlined is something that could be impemented in operable stages by 2018/9, is future-proofed, makes provision for both AC and DC operation. If a 4-platform station is provided under Eversholt St, then 2 can be tube platform height and two suit main line stock.

    It aims to address the congestion problem on the W&C at the soonest point possible, and as it evolves, the more substantially it addresses those issues.

    It aims to address the platform level congestion challenges at Kingsway Piccadilly platforms.

    It will allow a higher service frequency to WJ. It will ensure that there is capacity on Bakerloo trains at Paddington and Marylebone for passengers transferring from longer distance trains.

    Platform height, electrification, comfort and administration
    PoP: I also addressed the platform height issue, in which the DC lines’ tracks are raised (by ballast depth, a reversible change) to suit tube stock, but the track horizontal alignment remains as it is to accommodate diversions by full gauge trains. Having had another look, there will be NO compromise height platforms that I can foresee.

    In addition, higher frequency has been shown consistently to be preferred over “comfort” factors in revealed customer preference. NLL, ELL, WLL stand as evidence.

    One other small matter: when the Croxley link is established, there will be 3 different electrification standards at WJ: 25kV main line; nominal 750v third rail; and 3rd/4th rail LUL. The Crossrail 3 proposal also reduces this complexity and means that TfL will have only one operator at WJ: LUL – simplifying management and the complexity of out-of-GLA area administrative relationships.

    Staging of Crossrail 3:
    As soon as the first tunnel connection from Aldwych to Waterloo is made, W&C maintenance can be transferred to a more substantial LUL depot, releasing the Waterloo depot space for redevelopment as the longer-platformed terminus of both W&C and Kingsway Line. As soon as the new Waterloo platforms (I envisage 2 islands) are operational, an interim Kingsway line service can begin between Waterloo – Aldwych – Kingsway. Should the project stall at this point, significant benefits will have been obtained. So, it’s not an all or nothing concept, but one that can release benefits at each progress point.

    As a complement to Crossrail 3, I have proposed that Crossrail 1 be reconfigured west of Paddington, with 2 arms:

    a) the North-Western, via OOC and the WCML to service the outer suburbans to Milton Keynes.
    b) the Western, via Heathrow T1/3 and T5, and the proposed western access via West Drayton thence to Maidenhead and Reading (with a possible branch loop link via Staines, Feltham and T4 – but this could also be served by a T1/3 – T4 – Feltham – Staines shuttle connecting with Crossrail @ T1/3).

    If this variation is implemented around 2019, then traffic formerly to/from Euston on both the DC lines and the Slow Lines is diverted out of the main station in preparation for HS2. This should adequately address the issue of an appropriate onwards connection for WCML slows. My guess is that these would run through to Shenfield, while the via Heathrow services would run via Canary Wharf.

    In the Crossrail 3 Phase 1 timeframes, the GOBLIN should finally have been electrified. The LO 378s cascaded from WJ DC lines would certainly help equip that line.

    Finally, I have left open the question of what happens south of Waterloo. That question could be addressed in conjunction with project(s) to enlarge the heritage tube tunnels to main line gauge, being a later Phase of Crossrail 3.

    Unfortunately, to minimise interruptions to service, tunnel enlargement is a very expensive labour-intensive activity. If it’s done using an adapted TBM working in conjunction with a dismantling crew, this will frequire a series of blockades. It’s the Aldwych branch section, which could be worked single line for the period concerned, with reduced service. Clearly, one could argue for undertaking this before the line opens – but I’m proposing a maximum re-use, earliest opening scenario for Phase 1 to get relief to the W&C and keep initial costs contained.

    DW down under

  52. Anonymous says:


    It’s hard to see why (or how) LU 4-rail and NR 3-rail will co-exist at Watford Jc after the Croxley link is complete: surely 4-rail will replace 3-rail over the common LO/LU section, operating in the same way as the southern bit of the DC lines and the Wimbledon and Richmond branches do now.

  53. DW down under says:

    @ jrt

    Widening of NLL around Camden Rd and Primrose Hill

    I suspect the complexities and costs revolve around the need to segregate the passenger services running via Gospel Oak and West Hampstead (with connections) and freight flows running directly onto the WCML slows. So, it’s not just a simple matter of there’s 4 tracks approaching Camden Rd: let’s make 2 NLL and 2 Primrose Hill. The northern tracks connect to the ELL (according to Carto.Metro) unless that’s been changed. So quite a bit of sorting out making the maximum use of Westbourne Rd Junction and the island platform at Caledonian Rd & Barnesbury (or rebuilding the outside platforms there) would be needed as well as extensions to the viaduct and new construction of a ticket hall and concourse at Primrose Hill.

    Having done all that, the proposal for extending beyond an interchange at Primrose Hill with my proposed Crossrail 3 would introduce the need for compromise platform heights at intermediate stations to Queens Park or Willesden Junction. The WCML AC slow lines, while they offer platforms at Queens Park look to me to be difficult to use for terminating services. Perhaps the Up slow can be diverted into some adjoining industrial yardage and allow a resersing siding between the running tracks? This would require the LO trains running on AC supply from Primrose Hill direct to/from Queens Park.

    Otherwise, I’d propose therefore a 2-stage evolution, where stage 1 provides a Primrose Hill – Stratford shuttle. Stage 2 occurs when the rollingtsock on Crossrail 3 changes from tube stock to full gauge stock (Crossrail 3 Phase 2), and the tracks through the platforms are lowered to accommodate full size trains again.


    DW down under

  54. Anonymous says:

    Just found the good Doctor himself at

  55. DW down under says:

    Anonymous @
    01:27AM, 29th March 2013 wrote:


    It’s hard to see why (or how) LU 4-rail and NR 3-rail will co-exist at Watford Jc after the Croxley link is complete: surely 4-rail will replace 3-rail over the common LO/LU section, operating in the same way as the southern bit of the DC lines and the Wimbledon and Richmond branches do now.”

    Exactly – I’m arguing for one standard of electrification and rolling stock for the entire Watford DC route. To allow through operation by Bakerloo Line trains and comform to the aims of the DDA, the whole route must be a tube line. Alternatively, there needs to be separate platforms for tube and full-gauge stock – which looks to me to be a bigger ask than standardising on tube stock. The 378s of course would be able to operate over sections of dual equipped 4th rail trackage where the negative (4th) rail is at -0v and bonded to a running rail.

    The other point I was making was organisational. It would be better for TfL if it only had one organisation operating services at a major interchange OUTSIDE of the GLA area. It would reduce duplication of administrative interfaces with both other operators and local authorities. I proposed LUL to be the sole TfL organisation (or company) represented at Watford Junction.

    There is a spanner in my works, as it happens. That spanner is called Watford High St, where there is a 2-track line through an island platform. Here, I propose an inelegant solution. Tube height side platforms would be provided. The Down platform could be directly opposite the existing Down, but the Up platform would need to be on the eastern side of the Lower High St overbridge. This has the disadvantage of needing to know from which platform the next train to WJ will run.

    DW down under

  56. Pedantic of Purley says:


    I was not being dismissive as to the proposal. I was being dismissive about the way you made it sound trivial to do. Indeed, sad to say and admit, I have wandered around the area considering if/how it can be done. I know other people do this with Google Streetview but that really does not give you a “feel” for the place. What I am saying is:

    i) It is much more major than you would suggest. The idea that at worst two properties needing demolition seems fantasy to me. Where do you propose the construction site is located? The overall land-take after reinstatement may just possibly amount to two properties but I challenge you to devise a construction plan involving demolition of at worst two properties.

    ii) Enthusiasts of railway ideas never seem to take into account local sensitives. I am sure we could devise a way of extending from Charing Cross to Euston. No doubt this would include the phrase demolition would mainly consist of a local church near Trafalgar Square where the tunnel mouths would be situated  and not expand on the matter.

    iii) As with Thameslink these things inevitable amount to much more work that really needs to be done. So you would have to reinstate four tracks as far as the junction which is known to be problematic. I believe you would have to rebuild at least one bridge in consequence because it is no longer structurally sound. There would be some major resignalling involved. There is no point in doing the job in a half-baked manner. It is well known it costs much more to sort out issues once the extra traffic is running. So Camden Road station, or at least the platforms, would need substantial reconstruction and improvement. Then, assuming your proposal would generate more traffic, one would have to investigate whether the rest of the route would have new pinch points and it might be that extra entrances, or wider steps need to be built. Such things sounds simple and not expensive but it doesn’t work out like that on the railway.

    iv) Back to my other original comment. Let us assume for the moment that it is practical and realistic to do. The question then has to be put: Given that we have this new infrastructure what is the best use that can be put to it? I raised the possibility that this may be freight use. This is important as well as passenger services but if so then this scheme may not improve passenger services in the way that you would hope. And if it does one would need to do some proper traffic analysis to decide for example whether it was feasible and desirable to use the increase in capacity to run more trains to Stratford.

    @DW down under
    DC lines’ tracks are raised (by ballast depth, a reversible change)
    Oh, I see you are proposing that the Euston DC serve disappears in which case what possible benefit is there to your idea? And how does this work at Watford High Street which, assuming the Croxley Rail Link goes ahead, will be served by Metropolitan Line trains as well?

    In addition, higher frequency has been shown consistently to be preferred over “comfort” factors
    Er, not quite. To a large extent yes but there comes a point where this is not true. Would you prefer 7-car tube stock every two minutes or a proper 12-car train every four minutes? Maybe for a very short journey but for a longer one? The London Underground modelling used which is based on user feedback uses a weighted journey time and, based on the this feedback, standing during a journey is weighted at around two and half times the same journey in comfortable condition. I forget the exact details.

    I think the danger is that people equate Underground with frequent service and overground (small ‘o’) with not frequent enough service but the the are a lot of occasions where this is not true. Overground (big ‘O’) is working towards challenging that so that you get at worst a quarter hour service. For the outer suburbs that is not to bad but can be improved on over time. We have to stop thinking about small frequent trains v large infrequent trains and more towards large frequent trains. The latter may be able to be reconfigured with fewer carriages off-peak to not waste resources if traffic is relatively light.

    Replacing the Euston DC service with an extended Bakerloo service is only going to constrain capacity in the future. By keeping the Overground you are going to have a service that has potential to be “ramped up” if there is sufficient traffic to justify it. I don’t know how this ramping up would be done. Maybe it is by doubling Camden Road Junction and sending the extra trains via Primrose Hill if the circumstances were right and it were viable. That would be a big job but possibly one day it would be worthwhile doing.

  57. Greg Tingey says:

    Two generations on from Beeching, just one tenth of journeys in Britain are made by rail. There are people who have not, and are not likely to, travel by any form of public transport. I am one of the people who do not even have the option of using public transport. How does a civilised society justify investing in something with such limited benefit?
    ONE] How is that “one-tenth” measured?
    By number of journeys, or by passenger-miles?
    I think it’s the first – the second will give you a VERY different picture.
    TWO] Where do all the people live? In the cities.
    Can you run a big city without rail-borne public transport? NO, not at all.
    THREE] Even without proper high-speed rail .. London – Leeds: 2hrs, car 4 hrs + wear & tear on drivers. 2hrs is as far a you can drive a car without a break, anyway.
    So stop talking utter twaddling rubbish, unless you are chanelling Alfred Sherman.

    Look, I live in outer London, I have a car … do I use it inside London, unless I absolutely have to? No. I still need that car to get to places where there are no rail/bus services, but I only do about 3000 miles a year!

    your taxes being poured into badly managed, cost overrunning railway investments
    Then may I suggest you get on to your MP & tell him/her to get DafT OUT of running the railways – read Modern Railways for last month & this, or the saga of the IEP…. Arrrgh!

    Oh yes ….
    How many people DIE ON THE ROADS each year?
    How many people (excluding suicides) die on the railways? Especially if you count level-crossing casualties as road deaths – because at least 99.99% of them are, caused by stupidity & arrogance.

    Ian J Camden Rd
    Problem is, they were ging to re-open 4 tracks to the station … but do NOTHING AT ALL about the 2-track bottleneck, extending for less than 100 meters, just to the West of that station. Stupid.
    See also Mr JRT _ go for option (1) immediately!

    Euston / Queens Pk / Watford.
    Answer is obvious, actually.
    Euston – Willesdan Jn (Bays – you’ll have to put the second one back) OvergrounD stock
    Watford – Camden Rd – Stratford also OvergrounD stock
    Dual-use Queens Pk – Harrow & Wealdstone with UndergounD & OvergrounD stock, as at present. (Again, you’d have to put the second Harrow bay/turnaround track back.)
    Service pattern: Euston – Willesden & Watford – Stratford every 15 minutes
    Harrow-Queens Pk also every 15 minutes, with other QP Bakerloo trains reversing there, also as at present.
    Simples, job done – cheap too!

  58. Anonymous says:


    You say of the DC lines that for DDA compliance “the whole route must be a tube line”. Not so – making them all-LO would have the same effect, avoiding your “spanner” and other negative consequences of “tubification”.

    Meeting the needs of disabled people is very important, and there are many ways of doing it without the cure being worse than the disease!

    And as for spending lots of money to change services, rolling stock and infrastructure on a complete line so that they conform with a particular form of organisation structure at one out-of-area station…

  59. timbeau says:


    “demolition would mainly consist of a local church ……………..where the tunnel mouths would be situated”
    Why demolish the church? There’s a big open space just to the west of it which would be ideal!

    Similar arguments apply to any proposal to connect Cannon Street and Moorgate – a municipal building and a commercial premises are all that stand in the way…………………

  60. Fandroid says:

    The entry level costs for taking to the car are no longer trivial. One of the reasons given for the decline in car use in London is said to be the cost of insurance for young male drivers. This is well over £1000 pa and is probably closer to £2000. London offers very good public transport, so the choice is a simple one to make.

    Buses as rail replacements seem to be dismissed here without a thought. I have already posted on how the bus service at Axminster provided a superior service to Lyme Regis (and connecting with trains) in that it served the whole town not just the high bit on the Uplyme side.

    The great missed opportunity after Beeching was Integrated Transport. Timetabled connections, through ticketing, good publicity and good passenger information would have improved public transport throughout the UK. More communities would have been better served.

    Newport Isle of Wight is an example. The Cowes-Newport line was closed by Beeching. The geography meant that the station in Cowes was not adjacent to the ferry terminal, so dragging cases uphill must have been a regular occurrence. Now, if you want to travel there from London, it’s better than it ever was in 1962. Electric train to Southampton, free connecting transfer bus to Town Quay, connecting fast Redjet ferry to Cowes, then buses every 8 minutes from the Redjet terminal to Newport, incidentally serving a far greater population along the way than the railway ever did. Almost a Swiss example of integrated transport, but the sad thing is that through ticketing only gets you to Cowes.

    If that sort of thing were replicated throughout the UK, then Beeching might have been universally praised!

  61. Greg Tingey says:

    Ah, but the Bus services must COMPETE – as in the two operators using the St Ives Pus-way won’t accept each others tickets …
    And having the bus meet the train?
    Couldn’t possibly have that!
    Might be collusion to get more passengers….

  62. Anonymous says:


    reminds me of a conversation I had after my wife was stranded at an unfamiliar station when SWT let her down, and the station staff had no idea what local bus services were available. “why should the staff be trained about competing services”
    To me they are complementary to the rail element of an integrated journey. To them they are the competition.

    But SWT aren’t interested in providing a service – they run trains. As a favour, they will let people ride on them if they like, but perish the thought that that should interfere with the smooth operation of the railway. (The MD, apparently channelling Basil Fawlty, recently told me that they couldn’t hold a train long enough for everyone who had been waiting for it to board, because it would upset the schedule)

  63. Fandroid says:

    Station staff probably knew nothing about bus services because just about no-one, except regular bus users, knew about them. That’s partly my point. The information available about buses is far better than it used to be (only thanks to the Internet) but it’s still like extracting blood out of a stone. And the main blame is down to the bus companies. They mostly couldn’t market their services if their lives depended on it.

    Another exception I know about is at Reading, where there is a bus departures board in the railway concourse, for the local buses, plus several posters guiding passengers to the right bus stops. But that’s down to a municipally-owned bus company. Reading apparently has the highest use of ‘Plusbus’ in the country. Not surprising. All again shows that buses could provide efficient linkages to rail services, but the great god ‘competition’ means that only a minority benefits.

    Let’s hope that departures board survives the dramatic rebuilding going on this weekend!

  64. Castlebar says:

    Going back to bus operation and competition, people today would find it extaordinary just how narrow minded the apparatchiks in our post war nationalised transport operations were

    1) LT REFUSED to allow their own trolleybus routes onto their own bus maps until about the mid ’50s. Trams & Trolleybuses were “a separate division” to motor buses, so, there was no direct bus service shown on their maps along the Uxbridge Road around Hillingdon. Instead, there was a big gap on their maps although their own 607 Trolleybus went all along the Uxbridge Road from Shepherds Bush to Uxbridge. But the bus maps of the time didn’t show it.

    2) This isolation from other “sectors” permeated BR too, and hence the inter regional rivalries. The West Drayton to Staines branch never had any chance of passenger services to Staines ex-LSWR station. Passengers did not matter, if they want to go to Colnbrook, they must get to Staines West station.

    3) That isolation and ‘negative competition’ even extended to BR Southern Region particularly with the central division (the Brighton Line) not wishing to co-operate with the divisions either side. I feel certain that this lived on and is a factor in the lines in East Sussex, Tunbridge Wells West etc being closed rather than developed. Ditto, at Midhurst.

    4) In situations such as those above, passengers always took second place to these rivalries. Through ticketing was rare, and where it existed, on LT it was rarely advertised even when available. An example was in the late 50s when travellers to Heathrow had to travel to Hounslow West, then get an 81B bus. Through tickets (green and white card ones), were available from most tube stations, but l never saw them advertised. If you asked, some clerks didn’t even know where they were, but passengers saved 1d, (one old penny), and travel on the 81B bus (only) was included.

    Co-operation is a relatively new thing. It has taken two generations for it to happen as the stubborn, concrete thinking old-guard has passed on. Never expect any miracles overnight with any initiatives concerning the public transport industry. Except of course now, when any extra money can be generated for the benefit of TOCs. There was never any incentive before Fares Fair and some heads got banged together.

  65. mr_jrt says:

    Sorry for the accusatory tine of my reply, your original post did come across as dismissive to me though. I appreciate your points, but in the typical hand-waving notions of a online proposal I really can’t imagine the proposal is that troublesome. Modern bridges are a lot more versatile than the options available to the Victorian engineers. Demolish the building that would impinge on the alignment, build a pedestal or two, then prepare the existing sections of viaduct for use as abutments. Manoeuvre the new bridge decks in, potentially launched from the disused side of Camden Road station. Usual caveats apply of course – any structural changes to the existing viaduct are dependant on their suitability to act as an abutment (so you may have to build a new one alongside the viaduct at the northern end and replace the southern section of dead-end viaduct to maintain the pavement clearances). Given that you’ll end up with a lot of available space you could even rebuild the lost building under the bridges if so desired.

    As for the works elsewhere, agreed, but given they are all proposed independently, I don’t’ feel it’s fair to lump them into this proposal (see: Reading rebuild and Crossrail).

    @DW Down Under
    I’m still not convinced about the requirement of the DC lines to go to Euston. Given that I propose an interchange at Willesden Junction, passengers from north of there on the DCs would be able to interchange to my suburban CR3 services there, and the projection of the ELL would give further interchange opportunities for Euston (without having to double back to Willesden Junction) at Primrose Hill (via a subway link to Chalk Farm on the Northern line) and H&I for the Victoria line. I honestly can’t imagine the additional LO passengers from 4 DC stations (Kensal Green, Queens Park, Kilburn High Street, and South Hampstead) would overwhelm the Northern line at all, and the time difference to Euston would be marginal at best, especially if they potentially get something like a fourfold increase of frequency from an ELL connection, decimating their waiting times.

    Also, essentially being a Watford native, I’ve given a lot of thought over the years to the WCML and Croxley link et al., and much as PoP points out in the general sense, there are indeed things that aren’t apparent until you’re on the ground. In Watford High Street’s case, it’s that the station is in a deep cutting, but…there is a large expanse of green space to the north between it and the ring road. Sacrificing this green space by widening the cutting and rebuilding the weak bridge over the DC lines (which is going to have to happen eventually anyway – it’s not going to improve!), gives you room for your four platforms (and they can indeed be different heights if you so desire – I actually spoke to TfL about this, though they assured me that compromise height was a non-issue). If space is still insufficient for the platforms, then putting the outer lane of the ring road on a bridge is quite viable.

    I originally considered it in the context of keeping the Met segregated to Watford Junction’s platforms 1-4, and the DC lines diving down as soon as possible to run under the WCML before rising up on the northern side to run up to the Abbey line. A major rebuild also affords the opportunity to fix the awful passenger interchange of the station being isolated from the town centre by the ring road. Moving the ticket hall under the ring road and converting the pyramid into a distinctive entrance would enable the station to both be easy to access from the town centre as well as have the bus stops directly outside the entrance, as opposed to being over 3(!) pedestrian crossings over the ring road and its junctions with the High Street. I suspect the line would need to be lowered to have much more than a subway under the ring road though. Fixing this would transform the station’s usage dramatically.

    Even better would be a continuation of the subway to a secondary entrance inside the Harlequin directly… 😉

  66. Pedantic Of Purley says:

    @Anonymous 11:44

    Reminds me of a railway talk I once went to. The question from the floor related to axle loads from the multiple units that were plying down some branch or other. He challenged the speaker on the assertion that there was a maintenance saving as a result of the introduction of the current due to the axle loading being reduced. He suggested a higher figure. The speaker, a rolling stock engineer, thought about it for a while and said that the suggestion from the floor concerning the heavier axle weights simply wasn’t true. He thought a bit more and then said “well I suppose it could be true if the train was full of passengers”.

  67. Mark Townend says:

    @DW down under, 11:32AM, 28th March 2013

    I’m very much in favour of the existing Bakerloo line services extending no further west than a terminal ‘somewhere around Willesden’, in part to limit overcrowding before entering the central area, but also to avoid the reconstruction of all the DC line stations beyond to achieve level boarding for tube profile stock, not to mention the difficulties managing the varying boarding heights around Watford itself.

    Changing the platform height by track raising or otherwise could be very disruptive; as each station is converted progressively (perhaps starting with the least significant and easiest to bustitute), it would become unavailable to the high platform trains, and all stations would need to be tube height before the smaller stock could take over and run throughout, so passengers could be faced with a growing list of station closures leading up to ‘big bang’ major line closure to tidy up the remainder and hand back a finished tube line.

    I like the XR3 Kingsway tube line proposal though, with its clever reuse of the Aldwych tunnels and its interface with an improved W&C terminal at Waterloo. Nevertheless, due to the platform height conversion issues I would also not advocate extending such a line out to Watford.

    Instead, I think integration of the Watford DC lines into Crossrail, a project already in construction and under TfL control, is the most compelling way to provide better access to and across central London, whilst also absorbing some of those contentious Crossrail Paddington terminators from the east and releasing capacity on approach to Euston ready for reconstruction and for NLL freight. Watford is IMO a very good candidate for an additional western branch as it is an almost entirely self contained passenger service (apart from the final approaches to Watford on completion of the Croxley link), and the line carries no freight.

    I think the best option for a Bakerloo line terminal ‘around Willesden’ would be as part of the Old Oak Common super-hub, where interchange would be available with the diverted Watford Crossrail line along with the many other routes that could serve this station (I hope also including North London and West London services with a small diversion)

    With the DC services removed from Euston, I would connect the former DC tracks to the slow lines via a grade separated junction just west of Queens Park. This would maintain the cross platform interchange with the Bakerloo line, which would continue westward independently on the former DC lines, thence via new construction to Old Oak. I would convert Queens Park to Euston from DC 3rd rail to AC overhead electrification and transfer the stations inbetween to the mainline suburban operator. Useful additional flexibility is offered by the 2 additional AC tracks on approach to Camden, for instance helping to maintain freight capacity by allowing AC suburbans to use the former DCs to bypass freights waiting on the slows for paths through the Camden Road bottleneck.

    I’ll have a go at a diagram for the Kingsway tube, but that may take a little while as I’m rather busy at the moment!

  68. Fandroid says:

    Back to Beeching in London:

    It’s intriguing how those lines which Beeching proposed to close: St Pancras-Barking and Richmond-Broad Street, plus the ‘modified’ Broad Street to Watford service, plus a line which had no passengers (Stratford to Dalston) survived, albeit with a period of further decline, then gradually coalesced into the North London Line which now is such a strong feature that it seems as if it has always existed. Perhaps they only did survive because his dreamed-of increase in ‘more efficient’ freight never materialised to any real degree in London until after the passenger revolution that was Network Southeast. Containerisation and the massive developments of the East Coast ports came too slowly to fill those lines up. It has been a long gradual process to build up rail-hauled container services to and from the ports. Perhaps the North London line survived due to the road-building epidemic of the 1970s and 1980s which took so much freight onto heavy lorries?

    Also, would Stratford-Dalston have got electrification and restoration of passenger services if there was no money to be made out of selling Broad Street?

    Last: should the link between the Goblin and Kentish Town have been retained?

  69. Slugabed says:

    6:06 29/03
    In answer to your final question …yes of course,for two reasons….
    Firstly,it is always a good idea to retain connections wherever possible,because the cost of retaining them is usually less than the cost of re-instating them after removal (see the debate about mothballing the Beeching-era closures in general)
    Secondly because only 7 years after its removal,Thameslink dramatically altered the nature of usage of the Midland Main Line,and potentially this link could have proved useful….perhaps the GOBLIN would be all-electric by now?

  70. Karl, Dover says:

    Pedantic Of Purely
    05:05PM, 29th March 2013

    “Purely” ? [Doh. Corrected. Too embarrassing to leave as it is. PoP]

  71. Ian J says:

    @Fandroid: should the link between Kentish Town and the GOBLIN have been retained? Which

  72. Mwmbwls says:



    Could I refer you to Geoff Goslin’s book, “The London Extension of the Midland Railway”, Irwell Press 1994, ISBN 1-871608-47-3 showing the links from the Midland Main Line to the Tottenham and Hampstead Junction. There were six tracks running through Kentish Town – from east to west: Up and Down Slow, Up and Down Fast and Up and Down Goods – the latter running into Somers Town Goods Depot. There were four platform faces on the passenger lines only. For trains coming on or off the fast lines there was a connection between the fast lines and the goods lines and on to a two track chord that rose over the Midland main line and joined the the GOBLIN at Highgate Road Junction next to Mitchell and Sons Coal depot just east of Gospel Oak. This was closed in 1964 and has been completely obliterated. There was a second connection which ran from the MML slow lines just north of the slow platforms 3 & 4 by a flat junction that curved behind the city carriage sidings and Kentish Town MPD. This linked into the still extant Carlton Road Junction to Junction Road Junction joining at Mortimer Street Junction. This was lifted in 1981 at the same time Barking trains were diverted to Gospel Oak and IIRC the MPD site IIRC sold. There is IIRC a builders merchants’ on the site hidden from view by Thameslink trains by a Leylandii sort of hedge. With regard to restoration of the two routes, it would probably be necessary to allow for the rejigging of Saint Pancras to accommodate Eurostar but subsequent building on or close to the route at Kentish Town and the absence of platform space at Saint Pancras and the anathema of short trains through the Thameslink core would make this highly unlikely. As ever Joe Brown’s Atlas is invaluable.

  73. Ian J says:

    @Fandroid: should the link between Kentish Town and the GOBLIN have been retained? Which one – there were two, a higher level one which passed over the MML and connected with the goods lines into St Pancras goods station, and a lower one which ran through what is now a builder’s yard and connected to the East of the formation. The higher level one has been demolished. If this was done to provide clearance for electrification it was probably worth it as it no longer had much purpose once St Pancras goods station closed. The formation of the lower level one is still unobstructed and it would be worth keeping it that way even though there is unlikely to be spare capacity for through services into Thameslink any time soon. The north facing link to the MML still exists and will be a useful route for freight from Thames Haven to the north. If GOBLIN is electrified this link should be included as it would then link to the “electric spine”.

  74. Mark Townend says:

    @DW down under, 01:29AM, 29th March 2013

    I’m not in favour of additional frequent Willesden to Stratford passenger services running via Primrose Hill and Camden, as I think the useful flexibilty for regulating freight between radial routes across this important cross London artery would be lost thereby, and this would risk performance not just for the freight trains themselves but also for any passenger trains who share tracks with them further afield. I also between the DC lines Euston traffic would be much better diverted to Crossrail via Old Oak Common rather than to the NLL. However, 4-tracking through Camden Road is still likely to be necessary in future to segregate HS1-2 transfer traffic, various freight flows and Overground service via Gospel Oak, especially if the latter increases any further. Any extra traffic justifying such an enhancement would likely be run by a number of different businesses, including TfL, in this scenario, so backing for a sensible new scheme here will be needed from a range of stakeholders. It’s not surprising TfL could not fund the work unilaterally previously.

    Here is my layout proposal for Camden showing how different traffic flows would use it . . .

  75. The other Paul says:

    All this talk of Primrose Hill and Camden West junction seems to be completely ignoring the HS2 plan for the Camden Road area

    Aside from saying there will be a new bridge there, the note says “Remodelling of Camden West Junction may be required”, which is an understatement given that the busy NLL has to be accommodated alongside the GC gauge HS2-HS1 link.

    Still, this stuff is at a stage where it is quite likely to happen. Which should really be putting paid to any talk of reopening Primrose Hill or running any trains that way, appealing as such schemes are. Personally I would say the link tunnel should “go the extra mile” (it is roughly that distance) but I suspect an issue may be finding a suitable location for a portal that would allow an HS1 connection North of St Pancras.

  76. mr_jrt says:

    @The other Paul
    Indeed. I ignore them because they are hand waving of much the same calibre as my own!

    HS1 and HS2 should be linked, this is common sense, but to do so properly requires a double track connection, and obliterating the NLL link at Primrose Hill is not viable as that link is requires for the Nr network. The only viable location is a proper double track link that joins either at St. Pancras or Stratford International, neither of which is what is proposed.

  77. DW down under says:

    Thanks to those who have posted responses to my XR3 concept. It seems that the Kingsway line from Euston to Waterloo has some support, but the consolidation of the WJ DC electrics onto this line does not.
    Can I bring together elements of my posts here:
    1) The tube stock proposal is a Phase 1. All new construction is to mainline gauge.

    .. 1a) Phase 2 involves enlargement of the heritage tube tunnels (probably using a TBM designed for purpose, so that dismantling of the cast iron linings can take place concurrently with the shield and drilling head excavating the material around them) to accommodate main line gauge stock.

    .. 1b) At that point, the line ceases to be served by Tube trains, but by LO type trains. This may or may not also include appropriate extensions beyond Waterloo.
    .. 1c) The only Kingsway Line platforms tunnelled in Phase 1 are those at Euston Kingsway (+ Primrose Hill if that goes underground). In order to future proof, and to provide operational flexibility, I propose that each platform face be divided by a signal into two 135m platforms, ie the platform length is 270m. This is sufficient for a 10-car IEP, a 13-car (eg 8+5) suburban electric of 20m cars, a 12-car suburban electric of 23m cars, two 8-car (16m)/7-car (17.77m) tube trains or two six-car suburban electrics. This is active future-proofing, and does load up some cost to the front-end of the project. For Euston Kingsway, the intention is that HS2 would make the largest part of the financial contribution, the balance from the XR3 project funding.

    .. 1d) For this purpose, dual voltage between Primrose Hill and Euston Kingsway platforms is likely.
    .. 1e) You can see my thinking here of how useful Euston Kingsway could be during the HS2 construction period. For other sections of line, I suggest it would be wise to be able to accommodate 12 x 23m suburban electric cars as a minimum.

    .. 1c) Elsewhere on XR3 Phase 2, this does not become an issue until a new W&C and Kingsway station is built at Waterloo.

    .. 1d) The 12 x 23m standard would apply to Bishopsgate and to the new platforms at Liverpool St. Liverpool St and Bank would only be fitted out to 135m until more was needed (similar to the Crossrail approach of 250m platform tunnels, with only 200m fitted out).

    .. 1e) Bishopsgate could be fitted out with perhaps one or two platforms (out of 4) of full gauge height to enable suburban trains to be terminated there in lieu of Liverpool St. In that case, Bishopsgate might be fitted out for 165m or 205m trains, and extended later when required.

    .. 1f) Bank (shared Central & W&C) would require careful site analysis, as would Blackfriars (W&C).

    .. 1g) This 12 x 23m platform accommodation standard I also propose for Primrose Hill, but perhaps fitted out only to 165m in Phase 1.
    2) The Watford line is to be the last (excluding GOBLIN for now) to receive 5th car 378s. There was talk of frequent tubes vs frequent 12-car full sized trains. I’m not sure where the concept of 12-car trains running the local service from Watford Jct comes from. It would be good if someone could elaborate its source.
    .. 2a) Furthermore, the 378s have perimeter seating, and can’t be described as being significantly more comfortable than tube trains. They are designed for the majority of passengers to be standing. They have barely any more seats per metre of train length than a tube train (tube cars have more door opening space per xxx passengers than 378s). They are about 150mm (6″) wider than tube stock, is all.
    3) OOC and Crossrail 1: I have suggested that the Outer Suburban services (Tring, Milton Keynes) be diverted to Crossrail 1 via OOC.
    4) If the DC lines are NOT to be connected to the Kingsway line, where would the DC lines trains go?
    .. 4a) Crossrail has carefully isolated any voltage changeover from the system design. All part of designing out risk. Stock needing to undergo a voltage changeover to take up a Crossrail path is unlikely to be a welcome addition to the Crossrail timetable. Same applies at the South-east end, at Abbey Wood.
    .. 4b) Of course, one could argue for conversion of the Watford DC lines to 25kV, which would introduce dual voltage between Watford Jct and Watford High St Jct, and possibly between Harrow and Wealdstone and Queens Park. IIUC, 4th rail electrification, with the DC supply completely isolated from the running rails can more easily co-exist with 25kV OHLE. Maybe Greg T’s friend could either cry in his beer or smile sickly to let us know.
    .. 4c) Because the Kingsway plan has at least 2 Phases, the latter being main line gauge compatible, at least the DC line trains would have a Central destination. I have also stated that the Euston Kingsway station could have 2 full gauge height platforms and 2 tube stock height. In which case, Phase 1 involves change of train @ Euston Kingsway.
    .. 4d) The suggestion that the DC lines go east via Camden Rd has been made, but I have asked for OD data to support such a diversion. It has been suggested that change of train could be achieved at Willesden Jct or OOC. It would be interesting to see the views of passengers using the line as to options involving change of train prior to Euston, vs a direct service south across the central area. There is one weakness with the Kingsway line concept, which is lack of connection with Crossrail 1 in the Central area.
    5) The platforms on the Watford DC lines that are not currently “compromise height” would be adjusted initially to that specification. Under my Phase 1 plan, once Tube trains begin running exclusively on the section, the ballasting up of the track to allow level access to tube stock would commence. I see no need for ANY possessions or blockades, other than midnight – 5.00am, for this work to progress. There may be some adjustments to lengths of cabling where there is insufficient slack, but I would imagine these locations to be few.
    .. 5a) While LU might not have a problem with compromise platform heights, the DDA clearly shows that they are not desirable. No more so than is the usual 915mm platform, 1100mm car floor issue with most routes and passenger rolling stock in Britain. I prefer design for level entrance, BTW, not to use the latter to justify the former.
    6 ) In theory, there should be enough 1972/67 stock left in the system (especially if LU make allowance NOW) to provide sufficient stock to start the service, pending arrival of LU’s new generation universal tube stock.
    .. 6a) By making a change to tube stock, 378s can then be cascaded to provide the means to enhance service frequencies on other LO lines and to equip GOBLIN. While this might seem a backward step to many, when the new generation tube stock comes on stream, a different view might well be taken.
    .. 6b) Again, as part of Phase 2, full-size stock would be needed for the line, and a rolling stock strategy would therefore be needed, taking account of the likely through routeing south of Waterloo.
    .. 6c) The electrification I propose for the Kingsway line is +630 -0v throughout, with provision to change to +750 -0v. This is consistent with the arrangement on the DC lines, and would only be a problem at Waterloo with the W&C, and Kingsway with the Piccadilly. Stage 1 would therefore use +415 -215v. The W&C would be switched over along with the initial Kingsway Line as part of Stage 2 (where work on connection to Euston is undertaken). Also at Stage 2, voltage step changes built into the retained connections at Kingsway would be commissioned. At Stage 3, where the W&C is extended alongside the Central Line, the W&C will have voltage step changes to match the LU standard.
    .. 6d) In Phase 2, standard DC and dual voltage stock will be able to opertate on the Kingsway line.

    .. 6e) A later stage of Phase 2 would see 25kV AC extended throughout the Kingsway Line – and either onto the extensions south of Waterloo, or a voltage changeover at a suitable point.
    7) @ Mark T: just to clarify, it is not my intention that Bakerloo line services will operate through Queens Park, other than selected Peak Period trains. Perhaps the odd two or three might operate the full WJ-QP-Paddington-Baker St-Waterloo-E&C and vv runs each peak period, but no more. Enough would operate either to Willesden Jct or onto a spur serving OOC to provide connections.
    .. 7a) Pretty well all the services are proposed to be Kingsway line, run with tube stock. Initially operating to compromise height platforms, until all 378 operations cease, then the track through those platforms ballasted up for level entry to tube cars for the duration of Phase 1.
    .. 7b) For Phase 2, the ballast is progressively removed in two stages, first back to compromise height, then once all tube operations cease, to car floor height which by then I hope will have been standardised at 915mm, but if not then the platforms tracks would be lowered (using the vaccuum device; plus any drainage improvements that are necessary) to match the standard vestibule floor height (say 1100mm).
    8 ) I addressed the Watford High St platform problem above (07:01AM, 29th March 2013). To recap, I propose tube height side platforms to complement the full-gauge island. The Down platform opposite the island, but the Up side on the far side of the Lower High St bridge, taking account of retaining walls, proximity of structures, etc.
    Will there be a need for 4 tracks through there? I don’t know, but how it is all rebuilt when the bridge is replaced is another project for another post.
    9) @ PoP: At no point do I propose removing a Euston-WJ service, at all. I propose consolidating it with 2 Phases of Crossrail 3. The first Phase involves Tube gauge stock; the second involves full-gauge stock.
    10) One of the main drivers for XR3 and the Kingsway Line is to clear local traffic out of Euston Main Line in readiness for the HS2 works. That’s why I suggested that HS2 might need to pay for XR3 to go underground W of Primrose Hill, have an underground station there and continue by tunnel into the Euston Kingsway Line platforms. So, far from ignoring HS2, my proposals fully accommodate it and seeks its financial contribution to clearing the way for its services.
    .. 10a) Of course, the other main driver is the severe congestion around Wateroo, and latent demand for increased capacity on the W&C. The Kingsway line Stage 1 is a vital step in a cascade of engineering events leading to major increases in W&C capacity.
    I know I go on a bit, but please read afore ye post. (Note to self: do likewise!! 🙂 )

    DW down under

  78. DW down under says:

    @ ToP and jrt

    The HS1 – HS2 link has all the hallmarks of a “too hard basket” approach. Did you guys notice there’s even a 50km/h restriction turnout, for a 400km/m railway? C’mon HS2, leave it out!!#%!

    Of course, last time anyone had a go at regional international, ….. well ’nuff said. No wonder caution is the byword for the day.

    The link appears to be for freight only, in reality, and that will mainly run overnight (on HS1 and if engineering possessions allow, on HS2). The conflicts with commuter and day passenger services are thus minimised.

    I suspect the plan is to make passive provision near the HS2 portals for a double-track passenger service link. Actual implementation would be subject to a different BCA and a different project. Perhaps it’s a case of setting managable boundaries for your core project (vast as it is), than a case of designing a sub-optimal solution to something that’s in essence outside of the scope.

    Joined up thinking requires joined up projects requires joined up financial provision – too hard for DfT and the Exchequer, I should have thought.

    DW down under

  79. Regarding Camden Road Junction: That well and truly opened the floodgates didn’t it?

    Regarding the HS2 plans: That set up off on quite a bit of internal LR discussion when they came out and it was proposed to do an article on this critical junction. By the way, that was the reason why I visited the place and looked at, amongst other things, how practical it would be to double the whole junction. From memory, TfL did not like the HS2-HS1 plans because they foresaw it having considerably impact on the reliability of London Overground and I believe the plans were dropped and no alternative has yet been proposed. One of the reasons the article never got completed was that the whole HS2-HS1 scheme seemed to end up in a state of limbo with no clear conclusion as to what, if anything, was supposedly going on. Also, I now recall, both we and Modern Railways had covered issues on the North London Line quite a few times in the recent past.

    Thanks for the link, Ian J. I had totally forgotten about that and it helped jog my memory. There is even a link within that article to an earlier article but unfortunately the archives don’t seem to go back that far.

    Again from memory, the original plan was to reinstate all four tracks right up to the junction but not widen the junction. This was considered to be quite expensive to do so the plan was cut back. Then Geoff Hoon, the transport minister, reinstated the scheme which would have enabled 8tph on London Overground between Stratford and Camden Road. TfL then came along and said that with £25 million they could carry out other improvements of were of more benefit to them. They said that after reappraisal of situation they had devised an alternative plan which would also allow 8tph from Stratford to Camden Road and no longer require the trains to terminate there – so it was actually better as far as they were concerned. I never got to learn the exact details of this.

    So not only do I believe that “a tiny bit of bridge widening” is a bigger job and, from a construction point of view, more challenging than the wording suggests, the issues involved at this location make any proposal much more complex than initially implied. Personally I think until the whole HS2-HS1 link issue is sorted out it would be folly for anyone (NR included) to make any proposals regarding this junction.

  80. Greg Tingey says:

    The current issue of “Modern Railways shows !the railway lords” proposals – MUCH more sensibe than the current official ones, with a proper underground station, one end unde Euston, the other under KX StP …
    Interesting point is that not only is this scheme more practical than the current idiot proposals … it’s cheaper, too!

  81. DW down under says:

    @ Fandroid

    1) Should Low Level Curve be re-instated?

    A combination of Harringey Curve and Low Level Curve (Camden Rd) has some potential as a deviation for northbound Thameslink trains if there are problems in the Canal Tunnels to Finsbury Park section. Much better than dealing with a backlog of northbound trains into St Pan TL station.

    I don’t think Thameslink are in the market for new routes that might be reached by connections from the GOBLIN, such as Stratford via Tottenham South Curve and past Temple Mills, or points beyond Barking and Upminster on the LTS.

    But one never knows!! 🙂

    But in the interim, it raises the challenge of where are the benefits to offset the cost?

    2) What to do with GOBLIN?

    Looking at the Goblin, possibly the three prospective alternative termini with better connections than GO are West Hampstead (no reversing facilities, and subject to NLL service provision needs), Willesden Jct or Kentish Town.

    Now with the MML being limited to 4 platforms @ St Pancras, ISTM that more than 2 fast tracks into those 4 platforms is unnecessary.

    .. 2a) Kentish Town, option 1: Restoration of Highgate Rd Low level platforms (linked to Gospel Oak NLL by a footpath and footbridge) and the curve, together with a short section of double track before converging onto the eastern (side) platform at Kentish Town would provide a suitable terminus for the Barking Service. Vale GOBLIN, hail Kentishbar??

    TL local stopping trains would be re/located at the island platform, The other platform road would allow outer suburbans to pass Down trains stopping at Kentish Town. The platform would no longer be needed in normal operation, but best retained for out-of-course workings.

    If the turnaround @ Kentish Town involves a train standing for more than say 5 minutes, the suggestion is that a holding siding be built to the north of KT, and the train backed in there until scheduled. (AFAICS, there is no suitable site for a holding siding SOUTH of KT.) The side platform road can then be available as a outer suburban TL avoiding track.

    The new track configuration would be, with ==============] being a platform face and —————–> being a track:

    Up TL outer suburban/Barking terminator
    Up stopping TL suburban
    Down stopping TL suburban

    Down Fast from St P main line.

    .. 2b) Kentish Town, option 2:

    As above, except that a dedicated terminal platform, probably 125m long is provided immediately north of the Highgate Rd overbridge. ISTM that there's insufficient space for this to be connected by a passageway to either the side or island platforms by passing alongside tracks under the overbridge. Could someone who uses or knows that station please confirm or correct.

    If correct, then 'el cheapo' stage 1 solution: simply have a separate ticket "hall" and gateline on the bridge, leading to a lift and stairs to the platform. Stage 2 might involve a footbridge connecting the little ticket hall to the south side of the bridge, with a ramp and stairs down to a new passageway mined underneath Kentish Town Rd (subject to the usual diversion of utilities) connecting with existing passageways at Kentish Town interchange station.

    If either of these duplicate earlier suggestions on LR, I do apologise. Now I have Joe Brown's 3rd edition Atlas, I have a better appreciation of the concepts proposed here.

    St Pancras
    I am aware that some have commented that allocating 5 platforms to Euro* and other International services is excessive in the light of actual traffic, and that perhaps one or two should be returned to domestic use. This may colour the plans above to a degree. But until that becomes a firm idea in the planning processes, it's a moving target.

    So I've assumed the "status quo" on platforms for now. I also am aware that Greg T and others have mentioned that putting extra platforms "on stilts" isn't unachieveable.

    DW down under

  82. DW down under says:

    Greg T

    “Railway Lords’ proposal” Que? Please elaborate.

    From the recent discussion, it seems that a political intervention prevented the Euro* terminal being in much the same place. So we would have had HS1 and HS2 terminating at a common location. And a double-ended underground station … what will they think of next? Of course, HM Customs and Immigration/Border Protection would do their utmost to screw it up for HS1.

    And, if you’re going to build a main line terminal across KX and Euston, and it’s approach is from the west, then one would accommodate Great Western main line trains, wouldn’t one?

    That’s far too sensible!!

    DW down under

  83. Fandroid says:


    The ‘railway lords’ proposal is described in the April edition of Modern Railways. They call it ‘Euston Cross’. The lords are Lord Bradshaw and Lord Berkeley. The latter is a big feature in the Rail Freight Group (a rail freight lobby). The proposal is an alternative for the London end of HS2. It comprises twin tunnels from Old Oak reaching Euston at 90 degrees to the existing platforms. There would be a station under the country end of Euston station with four or more through platforms spanning between Euston and St Pancras. The tunnels would continue to a below ground junction with HS1. There would be a connection between tunnels and surface lines at Queens Park.

    The proposal was submitted to the Secretary of State in early March. The silence since then has been deafening.

  84. DW down under says:

    What’s the best way forward for HS1 and HS2

    The discussion above about the complications of connecting HS1 and HS2, and the original plans for HS1’s terminus and discussion about HS2’s terminus leads me to ask a dumb question:

    Could HS1 passenger traffic be diverted from the NLL into a doubled ended Euston – KX underground station which could also be the HS2 terminus? What through services would be relevant? How would International be segragated from domestic?

    1) The deviation from the NLL could be quite modest, actually. An alignment under Essex Rd, Upper St and Pentonville Rd brings the line onto Kings Cross. That’s about 3.8km @ £100m per mile = £240m

    2) What’s needed at HS London Central?

    .. a) About 3 terminating International tracks, plus

    .. b) 1 for through services to/from Europe. These would all have 760mm high platforms.

    .. c) The HS2 service would probably use 3 underground platforms and all trains would continue to Stratford for catering and related re-servicing and reversal. This assumes that they make more efficient use of underground platforms where reversal occurs further out. Platforms again 760mm.

    .. d) That’s 7 tracks with 760mm high platforms, probably constituting the lower level of the station. HS2 might consider running the odd train through to Ashford International. Each platform would need to be around 3m wide, plus 3.3m for the train, that’s 44.1m (135′) wide. How this gets built underground across KX, St Pan, the British Library and Euston, I don’t know!

    .. e) At the upper level, provision would be needed for Kent HS1 regional services. These could be consolidated with through fast services to key commuter regional centres – posible examples include WCML and GWML fast services which are consolidated at OOC and fed to “HS London Central” via HS2. Two platforms for that purpose.

    .. f) Then there’s HS2 “Classic Compatible” trains. These would require probably 3 platforms of British standard height, assuming they too ran through to Stratford, Ebbsfleet or Ashford International to reverse or divert onto Classic lines to complete their journey. Liverpool-Dover could be one example.

    .. g) In addition, accommodation could be provided to terminate IEPs from the West and from Chiltern Lines. Again, these would work through to Stratford or beyond to reverse. Allow 2 extra platforms for those.

    .. h) The upper level then has 7 platforms. In this case, allow platforms of 3.3m and train space of 3.0m, so we have 44.1m wide, again.

    3) Will 2 tracks be enough to feed 7 platforms each? The theoretical line capacity between OOC and Stratford International, where speeds would be the same for all the services nominated, would be of the order of 32tph on open track, and through 4 usable platforms at Stratford (allowing separation of services, and bifurcation). I’m assuming something like 6 platforms at OOC for trains feeding into/out of HS2’s city end.

    .. 3a) The Euro International terminating platforms are assumed to service 2tph each (that’s 12tph counting both ways), the through international platform also services 2tph, and the commuter platforms service 8tph each, then the remaining 8 platforms need to service the remaining 34tph (both ways). That’s 4.25tph or about 1 train every 14 minutes. For IEPs, Classic Compatible expresses and similar, this should be quite adequate.

    .. 3b) With 32tph running, the new tunnels from “Mildmay Grove Jct” (nr Dalston) would certainly show a good BCR. The original tunnels would service freight and provide a passenger service deviation.

    .. 3c) The five platforms at StP previously assigned to International Traffic would be re-assigned to MML long IEPs, while the 4 Kent service platforms become available for mid-distance fast EMU services on the MML (eg Ltd Stop to Leicester). One former MML platform would become availabe to terminate the Barking service (woo hoo!!).

    .. 3d) The HS2 tunnels from OOC to “HS London Central” would need to accommodate 28tph with no intermediate stations on the section. With signalling capable of 32tph, this should allow sufficient timetable flexibility to cope with trains approaching from possibly three or four directions.

    4) How does HS2 get from OOC to HS London Central? Fairly simple, in one sense. As planned up to about Primrose Hill, but stay in tunnel there and continue UNDER the WCML until a curve approaching Polygon Rd, where it meets the direct east-west alignment of HS London Central. Of course, tunnelling under London is far from simple, but the concept offered here is in outline.

    .. 4a) This approach (and I don’t know how it compares to the good Lords’) avoids the need to touch Euston, saving megaquids. That balances (but to what extent I don’t know) the cost of building underground.

    .. 4b) If a standard underground 2-platform station without complex interchange passageways costs £500m, then this is basically 7 of ’em. Being extremely crude with Geoff Hewitt’s numbers, I get £3.5b for the station plus maybe £500m for interchange passageways and Border Protection facilities. Add to that the extra tunnelling from Primrose Hill: 2.4km, 1.5m @ £100m/mile = £150m …. total £3.9bn, less the amount previously allowed for Euston redevelopment.

    5) Of course, aerial rights projects at Euston are not precluded, rerouting the DC electrics is not precluded and diversion of the WCML suburbans from CMK and Tring via OOC onto/from Crossrail is not precluded.

    Well, the comments got me thinking. Anyone else?

    DW down under

  85. Windsorian says:

    It seems Greenguage 21 are in the process of commission a review of HS1 – HS2 link with consultants to be appointed early April and report available 4 weeks later i.e. end April 2013

  86. stimarco says:

    @Anonymous (0920 – 28-MAR-2013):

    “Motor transport is the future – railways do not pay – close them down.”

    1. Railways are “motor transport” too. Or do diesel and electric motors not count?

    2. Railways DO pay. That was, if you read the Beeching Reports, one of the few points people seem to have missed.

    Railways do one thing very well indeed: they shift bulk goods very efficiently from A to B, as long as both A and B have rail access and are a fair distance apart. The “InterCity” services under BR days was actually starting to turn a profit prior to privatisation. That’s why the most popular franchises are the likes of the ex-GWR and ex-GNER, where you have a lot of options for shifting lots of ‘bulk goods’ in the form of passengers over rather long distances. Neither Southern nor Southeastern have that opportunity available to them: Canterbury, Hastings and Brighton barely count.

    The Stockton & Darlington Railway was built for coal, not people. The stations barely even had platforms. The Liverpool & Manchester may have been the first to _officially_ carry passengers, but even that line was built primarily for freight transport.

    The problem with the UK, which has an unusual population spread, is that 25% of its entire population lives in that south-eastern corner, wedged in and around the black hole that is Greater London: The City That Ate All The Pies.

    Commuter services might seem like they should make tons of money – and they do – but they cover such short distances that the actual fares per passenger don’t cover much of their costs. Back when the earlier lines were built, labour was dirt cheap; today, labour is *expensive*, so anything that was designed to be labour-intensive to keep running is going to cost a fortune. Tunnelling is one such example: you don’t just build ’em and forget ’em: you have to keep them drained, maintained and, in many cases, pumped dry. Stations are even worse, and the Tube network – especially the older lines – have *far* more stations than any modern metro system would have bothered with. All of that is an ongoing cost: – it never ends.

    The reason for all those stations is that the Tube / SSL lines do double duty as both a metro and a tram network in the city core. Note how few stations the Jubilee Line has compared to, say, the Piccadilly and the Metropolitan District Railway. The latter was built at a time when nobody really understood what effect electric trams would have. Had they known, it’s unlikely so many stations would have been built in the core sections. Worse still, destroying that tram network means LU cannot simply close those stations down without a massive public and political outcry. London urgently needs that “middle tier” transport infrastructure back again, although traditional on-street trams may not be the right tool for that job.

    You can shift a hell of a lot more coal, aggregates and other train-load freight by rail than you could sensibly shift by road. Even container trains remove hundreds, if not thousands, of HGVs from the roads, freeing capacity on said roads for *other* traffic. And, of course, you only need to pay one driver for all those containers.

    So it’s a myth that “railways do not pay”. The trick is to use the right tool for the job. And *that* is where the biggest problems like in the UK’s rail and roads infrastructure. Rail and road are not separate: they’re all part of one big transport network.

  87. Greg Tingey says:

    I wonder if the ignorant Anon has ever heard of “Ship Money”?
    He (or she) seems to be advocating that all taxes should be hypothecated, which is anaethama to almost any administration, anywhere, at all.
    His (or her) argument is identical to: “I live at the top of an inland hill, so why should any of my tax monies be spent on the Coast Guard & Lighthouse services, since I get no benefit”
    Err, um …..

  88. Fandroid says:


    Your notion that the SSL lines were built with stations at tram-stop spacings has some merit. However, the Metropolitan and District never had tram competition in central London because the ‘posher’ boroughs vetoed them. The electric trams never managed to do any more than send short feeders into the likes of Westminster, Kensington, Paddington, Chelsea and the City. The LCC probably only succeeded in getting their Kingsway route through due to a slum clearance project allowing the trams to go underground.

    Trams can almost certainly be blamed for the closure of Walworth Road and Camberwell stations, but their success is also likely to be responsible for the rapid electrification of the railways in south London. The District and Metropolitan had to be electrified because the deep tubes were offering some real competition.

  89. stimarco says:

    Returning the urban metro problem…

    It’s not the case that no urban metro ever pays its way. There are monorail-based urban metro networks (yes, “network”, not just simple A-B lines) in Japan that have been making a tidy profit for years. Why? Because of that “ongoing costs” problem: by building through thin air, you greatly reduce the up-front capital costs as well as ongoing maintenance costs. Stations are often built right inside buildings, or designed to integrate with neighbouring structures, so the costs are often split between the service provider and the beneficiaries of all that passing trade.

    The choice of technology used can make a big difference: a traditional two-rail metro system requires separate ongoing maintenance processes for power supplies, signalling, track maintenance, etc. Different teams are typically required for each, increasing labour costs and time required for full coverage. Compare with a suspended or straddle-beam monorail, which is a much more modular design built from prefabricated components. Renewing the guideway also renews everything else at the same time, including power supply and signalling.

    I have tended to advocate in favour of modular suspended guideway technologies as a better fit for London than embedded tram tracks. (I’m interested in holistic infrastructure design and development, so I’m technology-neutral. Whatever technology best fits the requirements should be used.)

  90. stimarco says:


    I’m well aware of (central) London’s surprisingly rail-averse history, but then, electric trams were often replacing their horse-drawn predecessors rather than blazing new trails. Given that the road congestion in London has always been chronic, it’s doubtful whether electric trams were noticeably faster once they got to the city proper.

    My point was that the “Tube” effectively does double duty as both an urban metro and a short-range, albeit underground, tram network. If London had retained its trams and expanded them, as other cities have done, there’s a good chance rather more stations would have been closed in the city centre.

    Of course, the ridiculous notion that each transport mode should compete with every other mode, rather than actually working *with* their counterparts as part of an integrated whole, is also very much to blame for the UK’s current transport woes. It’s hard to understand why the civil service mandarins don’t understand this given the massive savings that could be brought about if this was managed properly. London, unusually, fares better than most in this regard as its bus routes really are concessions, but this is not the case in many other cities.


    Most of the UK’s infrastructure challenges are political and ideological, not technical. It will require a massive change of attitude in both the politics industry and on the part of the electorate to sort out the current problems. We have to fix a number of blunders made by our Victorian ancestors; we have to decide exactly what each mode should be *for*, and we need to remodel the infrastructure (and society) to meet 21st Century needs.

    Anonymous does raise some valid points regarding changes in car usage, but he misses an even more obvious opportunity: as private vehicles tend towards ever lower emissions (eventually reaching zero at the point of use), it will become much, much easier to justify building new road tunnels. London’s infamous standing joke, the A205 “South Circular”, is an obvious candidate for tunnelling: with far less ventilation needed for ZEVs, and the option of fitting inductive power supplies for the vehicles (not to mention *self-driving* vehicles, which is a technology that’s likely to appear sooner rather than later), the construction costs of building such a tunnel for private vehicles will be much reduced. The smaller vehicles also mean the tunnel itself can be smaller too, with knock-on advantages to the costs of building connections to the surface.

    But it’s that self-driving aspect which is likely to create a major sea change in how our transport infrastructure operates. A self-driving car the first step towards the ideal of an efficient ‘road train’, with multiple such vehicles running one behind the other in very close proximity – far closer than any human driver could handle safely. And, of course, if you’re not driving the machine, there’s often less desire to *own* it either: you could just call up a vehicle on an as-needed basis and have it go driving itself off to its next job when you’re done with it. (Cabbies aren’t going to be too pleased, but mini-cab companies and cooperatives could well band together to manage entire fleets of such vehicles. Someone’s going to have to clean and maintain them, after all!)

    I can very well imagine that *some* railways may be torn up to allow such self-driving road trains to get into town more easily. Perhaps not in London, but some branch lines would certainly be a good fit for such conversions. And that will also make rural living cheaper too: if you don’t have to insure, pay taxes on, and maintain, the car yourself, you can save a lot of money, while still benefiting from hiring one when required. This will help level the urban / rural playing field.

  91. Fandroid says:

    The really odd thing about the veto on trams in central London was that horse buses were there in unrestrained numbers. They didn’t pay any rates (except for their stables) and weren’t responsible for any road maintenance, unlike the trams. Horse-drawn trams were also faster and carried more passengers. So the resistance to trams was possibly based on some inherent distaste for allowing the masses to move around cheaply and rapidly (a bit like the Duke of Wellington).

    Sorry, this is supposed to be a thread on Beeching! (did anyone hear the ex-railwayman Beeching contemporary talk about Beeching on R4’s Saturday Live this morning?)

  92. Castlebar says:

    @ Fandroid

    Which was perpetuated with the ban on trolleybuses not being allowed into the West End

  93. Greg Tingey says:

    “Self-driving” & zero emission cars.
    All very well, but, even with an ideally-designed control system, so that the vehicles move bioth closer to each other & more smoothly … it still is NOT going to replace a metro system, of any sort, in a big city. (NOTE* )
    There simply is not enough road-space for them.
    This is why, in London at least we have passed peak car use, RTA/Civil Service/RHA propaganda notwithstanding.
    The same applies in any sizeable city or on busy commuter routes even outside the official built-up areas [ I am thinking here of my own local horror the A104/B1393 parallel to the M11 & the Central Line & (to some extent) the ex-GER line to Harlow & Stortford… ] Those routes are wedged to the point of ridiculous slowness, & no amount of maximally-efficient operation of individual vehicles will change that. Come to that, has anyone seen Tooting Broadway at a weekend?
    No, rai-borne systems are still going to be very much needed in the years to come, unless someone come up with cheap anti-gravity!
    For quite some time, buses, ANY buses were not allowed into either Hampstead or Highgate, IIRC.

    NOTE* “Big” city …
    London, Birmingham-Wolverhampton etc, Manchester, Liverpool, Nottingham, Sheffield, Leeds/Bradford, Glasgow, Cardiff. Note the omissions – Bristol, Leicester etc – why not them? Though, of course Bristol is now desperate for a decent metro, again. Edinburgh has a bus system which is minicipal & which works, unlike many other places.

  94. Windsorian says:

    With reference to the old West Drayton – Staines West line there is a proposal to use the northern part for a surface rail connection to the Goodman’s Slough International freight Exchange (SIFE) site at Colnbrook; although rejected by Slough Borough Council (SBC) it is awaiting an appeal date.

    However neither of the two proposed Heathrow T5 connections are planning to use this route, most probably because of the constricted single path under the M4 / M25 junction.

    Instead SBC are promoting their (£500+Million) Western Rail Access to Heathrow (WRAtH) route which would see Crossrail type deep bored tunnels extended from T5 to join the GWML between Iver and West Drayton. This route passes directly under the Goodman’s SIFE site and may see Crossrail extended to Reading.

    Meanwhile the 11 possible HS2 routes to LHR T5 have been removed from the HS2 Phase 2 consultation and passed over to the (Davies) Airports Commission for their consideration; one of the routes was on an embankment through the middle of the Goodmans SIFE site; though the preferred route is mainly on an viaduct / embankment just to the East of the M25.

  95. stimarco says:

    @Greg Tingey:

    If you read my post, you’ll note that I’m clearly not mandating ripping up tracks in London, where the efficiency gains (and social bias) already favour rail-based technologies. However, building new tunnels has to be balanced against alternative options. I’m technology-neutral: if a better tool exists for a job, I’m all in favour of using it rather than the lesser option.

    Building *above* ground level should not be dismissed as an alternative given how much a traditional urban metro costs to build. TBMs can only make the actual tunnels cheaper: they do nothing for the costs of building a modern underground metro station. I’ve yet to be convinced that a labour-intensive, high-maintenance Victorian solution is forever going to be the answer to shifting lots of people about a city, whether that city is London, Birmingham or Rome.

    Self-driving, zero-emissions (at point of use) vehicles do help with the problems of fumes and inner-city pollution and also help with orbital trips in the suburbs. However, I can see a lot of that technology proving more popular with LGV users, who make up the biggest proportion of private road users in the centre of London. Passenger vehicles will always need space to pick up / drop off passengers, so there’s an inherent limitation right there for that mode. But self-driving LGVs allow for some decoupling of freight movements within the city. In effect, you’d have a physical ‘internet’, capable of sending anything, anywhere in the city; couriers would also lose their jobs.

    Now… consider the shopper, visiting a supermarket for the weekly family shop. Normally, you’d have to take the car as carrying all those bags of shopping home on foot, or by bus, would be painful. But self-driving LGVs make it a breeze: you can travel to the supermarket by bus or tram, do your shopping, shove it all into a standard-sized crate and let a robot and a self-driving LGV take care of getting it to your home around the same time you get there. No need for a car. At all.

    One of the biggest issues I have with many a proposal for “improving” infrastructure is that so many suggestions invariably try to find ways of moving *people* around, when much of the reason for owning a private vehicle is *freight*. Parents picking up kids from school is a cliché, but if you can just send a self-driving car instead, you no longer need a car for that. Similarly for shopping trips (as illustrated above). If you can eliminate the *need* for owning a private vehicle, you’ll do wonders for decongesting the roads and releasing capacity for other, more useful, journeys.

  96. Windsorian says:


    The Slough (SBC) WRAtH proposal is for a T5 spur off the GWML between Langley and Iver stations.

    The Heathrow Hub proposal was for a new station on the GWML between West Dayton and Iver.

  97. Walthamstow Writer says:

    Interesting debate about potentially diverting the GOBLIN at its western end. I have to say that I am not in favour of messing around with the existing service pattern. For all the faults with the GOBLIN service, as things currently stand, one plus point is the connection into the North London Line. It provides a relatively easy interchange between the lines and it is noticeable now, with better frequencies, that people now board w/b trains at Upper Holloway in order to connect with the NLL. You also see the reverse. Hardly ever happened with Silverlink or BR operations. There is also the wider aspect of the GOBLIN being part of a very popular set of “orbital” (please no arguments about definitions!) services run by LOROL. I think it would be wrong to decouple the GOBLIN from the rest of the network.

    I do not see what purpose would be served by dumping GOBLIN passengers at Kentish Town. All of the stations on the western end of the GOBLIN, barring Gospel Oak, are within striking distance of a tube station so why would they want a connection to the Northern Line at Kentish Town? I am also unclear as to whether there is any great clamour for links to Thameslink services from the GOBLIN corridor – especially heading south to St Pancras. As has already been said why would short trains be allowed to gobble up paths on the main Thameslink route?

    If I was to go into “crayon and track plan” scribbling mode then I would perhaps do a supplemental service over part of the GOBLIN, MML, Dudden Hill Line and GWML. My starting position for this “loony idea” is that GOBLIN, the link to the MML & Dudden Hill Line & line to GWML are all electrified. I am also assuming that some signalling tweaks are made on the GOBLIN to bolster the permitted frequency of trains (including freight).

    I know we have touched on these concepts before but a service possibly from Stratford via Lea Bridge, South Tottenham then to Upper Holloway and on to the MML and up to the new Brent Cross South station (assuming the proposed development does happen). I know there is an issue here about the relative position of fast and slow lines which makes a move from the new BCS stn on to the DH Line difficult. It may be more prudent to split services here with trains terminating on the western and eastern sides of a new station. New stations would be needed on the DHL and there seem to be several sites with potential for serving residential and industrial areas. The service would then continue round to Ealing Broadway (skillfully dodging out of the way of the Crossrail services 😉 ). The ideal would obviously be to continue on to an electrified Greenford branch but we wait to see if sanity breaks out about removing “diesel islands” located off the electrified GWML.

    I am not saying there will be substantial through traffic on such a service. What it is about is trying to restore links long gone and, with some judicious adding of new stations, opening up access to rail services. It’s proven that big shopping developments will attract rail patronage so an expanded Brent Cross is a sensible place to serve. My preference would be to start with a 30 minute headway so as not to overload certain junctions but the design of the scheme would allow for frequency enhancement although there are obvious pinchpoints. I shall now pack away my crayons and track map and await the inevitable comment 🙂

  98. Greg Tingey says:

    Which is one of the many reasons my car is a LWB Land-Rover, but I only do about 3000 miles a year – what is this thing called “packing” or “squuezing it in” then?

    Apparently, there is a temporary trial of the one-off PiXC-buster GOBLIN service running forward to Willesden Jn …..

  99. The other Paul says:

    I like the sound of the railway lords proposal; perhaps they saw my 2009 post on District Dave’s forum which suggested something along those lines (but rather grander).

    Maybe I’ll fork out for a copy of Modern Railways this month and read about it…

  100. Fandroid says:

    I heard somewhere that there are so many ‘driverless’ cars in Silicon Valley Ca that they are becoming a problem in themselves. (Driving round and round pointlessly? Sounds like my dad ‘going out for a drive’). Cynicism aside, it’s possible to imagine them becoming quite popular. Go to where you want to then send car off to find itself a parking spot. Whistle it up when they call time in the pub.

    However, Greg’s scenario is easy to imagine too. City streets crammed with driverless vehicles, suffering exactly the same problems that those with drivers do.

    The only monorail that I am familiar with is the one at Dusseldorf airport. It has points that allow it to select from two ‘platforms’ at the mainline rail station. It weaves around over fences, roads and low buildings. It’s exactly as stimarco describes. The support structures are reasonably modest, with one pylon supporting two tracks. It has two carriages per ‘train’ each carrying about 35 people plus bags (mostly standing). I don’t know what the speed is but it’s about the same as a street tram. Bigger loadings and/or higher speeds might cause trouble for the support structures.

    I can imagine that it was fairly easy to implement, without the route giving the planners much in the way of headaches, because it flies over most of the normal obstacles that cause trouble for conventional ground-based transport and construction is that much easier above ground than below it.

    I suggest Waterloo to Blackfriars, if a dangleway is out of the question.

  101. DW down under says:

    @ Stimarco

    Interesting that Sydney has put its monorail up for sale.

    If you’re interested, that is.

    I hear that Hobart City Council was investigating the purchase thereof, so be quick!

    DW down under

  102. DW down under says:

    stimarco @ 03:40PM, 30th March 2013

    I like your automated miniroad with induction charging and self-steering. I also envisaged an identical system.

    When I suggested that mini-roads and micro-cars would be a way of the future, I was somewhat poo-poohed by the other commentators here at LR.

    But I had gone further and identified that such vehicles weren’t the ideal for long trips, so I suggested that rail could tap into a new “shuttle” market, basically a scaled down Euroshuttle serving microcars on major trunk routes. Now this could be an alternative or a complement to your hire and ride system.

    But as I envisage probably 85-90% of miniroad route mileage would be driver-operated, and only about 10-15% automated, ownership is still likely to be high. Of course, insurance would be a heap cheaper (driven by both public policy and by actuarial statistics) and fuel costs much lower.

    Still, press on with the concept … it’s a good one.

    DW down under

  103. DW down under says:

    The other Paul @ 02:06AM, 31st March 2013 wrote: “I like the sound of the railway lords proposal; perhaps they saw my 2009 post on District Dave’s forum which suggested something along those lines (but rather grander).

    Maybe I’ll fork out for a copy of Modern Railways this month and read about it…”

    It took a bit of digging, but you can get an online subscription cheaper than the printed, if that suits you. Needless to say, it’s ideal for me. I’ve read up the article on the Lords’ ideas, and next I’m going to read your ideas.

    Meanwhile, have you read mine at:

    DW down under

  104. peezedtee says:

    People keep saying things like “Rail accounts for only 10% (or 7% or whatever it is) of all journeys”.

    What constitutes “a journey”? Does it include someone jumping in the car to drive two blocks to buy a bottle of milk (which is the kind of thing people do once they own a car, because it makes them too lazy to walk)? If so, the statistic is meaningless because rail is not and never was in that market. Even buses are scarcely in that market.

    It is not meaningful to consider all of travel as being one single market. It only makes sense to break it down into niche markets. I believe rail has a majority share of the London-Manchester market, and 80% (or some such huge figure) of the “commuting into central London” market. It is horses for courses.

    Another point not made often enough is that even people who never use public transport still benefit from its existence in various ways, e.g. for the motorist the roads would be even more congested if some people were not going by train instead.

    And something often said by rail campaigners at the time of Beeching is still as true as ever — why should railways “pay”, but not roads? Nobody ever talks of roads being “subsidised”. Their total costs are not nearly covered by the taxes that motorists pay.

  105. DW down under says:

    Walthamstow Writer @ 09:37PM, 30th March 2013 wrote:

    “I do not see what purpose would be served by dumping GOBLIN passengers at Kentish Town. … why would they want a connection to the Northern Line at Kentish Town? I am also unclear as to whether there is any great clamour for links to Thameslink services from the GOBLIN corridor – especially heading south to St Pancras. As has already been said why would short trains be allowed to gobble up paths on the main Thameslink route?”

    1) The discussion arose out of the question about restoration of the south curve.

    2) GOBLIN has no connection to TL northbound on MML

    3) The proposal acknowledges that GOBLIN trains would be incompatible with the role and purpose of the TL “core”.

    4) The proposal retains connection with the NLL at GO, but does add a walk shorter than many tube station connections.

    5) Two scenarios for termination at KT were put:
    … i. use the side platform, and back the train out to a holding siding, to clear the path; or
    …ii. instead of constructing a siding, construct a bay platform north of the bridge

    5 i. is untidy operationally
    5 ii. is untidy for connections, until the footbridge and passenger subway are added. The bay platform initially does have an access stairway and lift, but uses a separate small ticket hall and gateline.

    6) Why would passengers on any route want connections to another route that goes elsewhere and could simplify accessibility to opportunities, etc? Why indeed?

    7) The bay platform at GO is short, and would need investment to bring up to the 6-car standard to which TfL aspire for LO. This plan redirects that investment into improved connectivity and adds one station to the range of accessible opportunities for current or future pax on the GOBLIN route.

    I hope you see now. Your wording was noticeably emotive (“dumping pax”, “gobbling paths”) angry and dismissive. What exactly is your problem?

    Oh, and happy All Fools Day 🙂

    DW down under

  106. Anonymous says:

    peezedtee, I thought exactly the same thing! Furthermore, is there any point using the “10% stat” to demonstrate anything at all? I live in a London street with access to 3 railway stations on 3 different lines and at least half a dozen bus routes within ten minutes walk, and even that rarest of beasts, a tram stop within four minutes. Yet none of them truly offer an option to travel to the nearest shops, post office, cinema, etc. It’s car or foot or bike. How many other journeys across the UK are similarly placed, especially in urban areas? A more meaningful stat would be the proportions of journeys made by different modes in comparable journeys eg you might compare how people travel from London to Manchester – then you’ve got train, air, coach and car actually available to you.

  107. DW down under says:

    @ Walthamstow W wrote:

    “The service would then continue round to Ealing Broadway (skillfully dodging out of the way of the Crossrail services ). The ideal would obviously be to continue on to an electrified Greenford branch but we wait to see if sanity breaks out about removing “diesel islands” located off the electrified GWML. ”

    Whether sanity breaks out or not, there is a slight bottleneck. There is only (AFAICS) room at Ealing Broadway under two road overbridges and a multi-storey car park, for 4 railway tracks.

    ISTM that nothing not already allowed for could continue from one side of Ealing Broadway to the other, unless XR1 (Crossrail 1) and/or the GWML fasts were put in tunnel through the bottleneck. A business case will eventually arise for this, but for now, I think you’d have to be looking at CP7 or CP8, and we’re in CP4.

    BTW, your effort with track map and crayon leads to the same outcome at GO as my proposal (and I suspect it’s the latest in a long string) to divert via Highgate Rd (low level) to Kentish Town, with a pedestrian link and footbridge to GO. Your route likewise would be via Highgate Rd LL and would need the same pedestrian connection.

    AFAICS, your best bet with that is a service to Brent Cross TL, if there’s paths to spare on the MML, and the conflicts arising at Carlton Rd Jct are manageable. It may have to be an off-peak only service. The whole viability in many ways would ride on being able to provision a 125m platform at Highgate Rd LL and relocate the crossover that currently sits in the middle of the former station site. This also applies to the Kentish Town extension.

    There is some doubt whether the Dudding Hill (note railway spelling) line could generate much passenger traffic, but an orbital route from Brent Cross TL to a terminal bay at Ealing Broadway might have merit. A new station where the Dudding Hill line crosses the Jubilee/Met at Neasden (involves a 200m footbridge link) and another at Harlesden (about 75m footbridge link) to connect with the Watford DC/Bakerloo. Acton Main line might need a supplementary platform.

    To accommodate a service off the GWML tracks terminating at Ealing Broadway would require quite a bit of slewing of tracks and possibly building an extra bay platform at the London end. It would be disruptive, but not impractical.

    To be viable, an 18/7 4tph service would be needed on both legs.

    DW down under

  108. Anonymous says:

    The lack of a direct Clapham Junction to Ealing Broadway service via the WLL is very unfortunate and would make a good route for London Overground. Again I suspect that a lack of capacity on the GWML at Ealing would prevent it from happening. A new stretch of line from the Dudding Hill line to the Central or District line terminal platforms might help though.

  109. Fandroid says:

    Clapham Junction to Ealing Broadway.

    The big missing ‘strategic interchange’ is that between London Overground’s WLL and Crossrail. A CJ to EB Overground route would fill that gap. Especially as everyone in positions of power seems to be deliberately studiously ignoring the Old Oak Crossrail station proposal.

    I know why they are ignoring it, they are just trying to get Crossrail finished to time and budget, but it’s still aggravating that no-one has said ‘it’s a good idea – just let us finish the Crossrail we are authorised to build first’. It’s also a challenge as an interchange!

  110. Greg Tingey says:

    What constitutes “a journey”? Does it include someone jumping in the car to drive two blocks to buy a bottle of milk (which is the kind of thing people do once they own a car, because it makes them too lazy to walk)?
    YES, it does!
    Hence my suggestion of passenger-miles, which gives you a VERY different picture.
    Private motorists pay about the correct amount, when fuel duty is taken into account – amybe a little more than their share. The heavy lorry operators, however (the road haulage lobby) are heavily subsudised, in terms of infrastructure costs.

  111. DW down under says:

    Anonymous @ 08:52AM, 1st April 2013

    From the aerials of the GWML near Ealing Broadway, ISTM that a 5th track was either already there, or with some slewing and re-arrangement, could be accommodated such that it served a bay platform between the GWML platforms and the LU platforms.

  112. Moosealot says:

    The loss of freight traffic 4th paragraph:
    Surprisingly these nocturnal goods train visits were not limited [to?] the main railways. [Yep. Corrected. Thanks. PoP]

  113. mr_jrt says:

    There would probably be room under the raft at Ealing Broadway for 5 or 6 tracks if the platforms were moved east, so only the actual tracks needed to pass under the raft. Obviously depends heavily on where the support pillars are, but still. You have to also question if the fast lines actually need platforms at Ealing Broadway at all.

    Given the magnitude of the rebuild the station is going to get, not fixing this bottleneck is one of the worst bits of the Crossrail scheme…but understandable, given the budget constraints.

  114. Ian Sergeant says:


    You have to also question if the fast lines actually need platforms at Ealing Broadway at all.

    The only logic I’m aware of relates to contingency planning when there is a security alert at Paddington. I have seen trains terminate (and start) from Ealing Broadway under these circumstances. I suspect that the same logic applies to Finsbury Park.

    Hopefully HS2 will create a decent interchange at Old Oak Common, and you then wouldn’t need the fast line platforms.

  115. Mark Townend says:

    On the subject of Robocars etc. . .

    A common misconception about the future automated driving experience is that users will drive manually over their local road network until they reach a fast road intersection where automation will take over fully and they will be able to take a nap or do some work on the long haul, as you can on a train or plane, only taking over manually again when you exit onto the local road network near your destination.

    The opposite is in fact more likely, as low speed automation is actually much easier to accomplish safely than high speed cruising . We assume automated high speed ‘motorway’ driving should be easier to accomplish than the typically much slower movement in city traffic because the environment is supposedly more controlled, free of cyclists and pedestrians etc. Whilst intelligent cruise control can help to maintain normal safe vehicle spacing and lane following on fast roads just as well as on urban streets or country lanes, the problem with relinquishing human supervision at speed is when the road changes unexpectedly. That could be weather related, down to cargo spillage, or just because navigation map data is out of date. The last ditch intervention of an emergency stop triggered by short distance proximity sensors can be very effective mitigation at 20 or 30 MPH, but an unexpected hazard encountered at 70 or 80 can lead to significant loss of control with unknown consequences for all road users nearby, At least with a human driver responsible for control, the liability is clearer, and a human may consider the kind of evasive actions a robot is not be programmed to consider, such as driving OFF the road onto a grassy bank to avoid a collision. So don’t expect to be able to sleep at 70 MPH legally any time soon, except on a train!

    I don’t think anyone here has mentioned Ultra and other similar PRT or GRT systems, as in use now at Heathrow for a parking shuttle. These are often dismissed by advocates of traditional public transport solutions as vociferously as petrol-heads, often because they are seen as being needlessly complex and requiring expensive dedicated infrastructure. In reality we are approaching a kind of convergence point where autonomous capabilities will soon become affordable and reliable enough for widespread use, on guideway and even on (some) public roads. The economics of these small lightweight mass produced driverless vehicles, with on demand 24/7 service could have huge implications for public transport at the local level. Properly integrated, such technology could be the ideal feeder for interurban rail or bus networks, which could then be optimised for the longer haul with fewer stops, thus achieving higher average speed.

  116. stimarco says:

    @Mark Townend:

    I disagree with your views on the future of self-driving vehicles. If a vehicle is driving itself at *any* speed, there will always be an inherent time penalty in waking up the fleshy amateur sitting behind the wheel and getting him to focus on the need to make a very, very rapid decision in the face of a very large obstacle / situation looming at speed. Whether it’s at 20 mph. or 80 mph., it’s far more likely that the computer will be able to react far more quickly and safely than any human.

    Modern A and M roads are very explicitly designed to *reduce* the amount of data the driver has to absorb per second. This makes them inherently safer (if correctly designed), but there’s no reason why an AI cannot be designed to pick a nice, soft, grass verge instead of ploughing into a ladder that’s just dropped off the back of an LGV travelling down the M1. However, even in that situation, the obstacle will initially be travelling at the same speed as said LGV. It’s large differences in *relative* speeds that kills, not speed on its own.

    Consider, too, that such autonomous vehicles will also be communicating with *each other*. There’s no need to guess what’s going on ahead: the AI will *know*, because one or more other AIs up ahead will either be telling their neighbours that they’ve had to slam on the brakes, or they’ll be broadcasting an actual “CRASH!” message.


    I’ve been following PRT technologies with interest. However, I don’t think the ULTra system used at Heathrow is a viable model for rolling out across a city: its guideways are incompatible with anything else and simply won’t work in the centre of a medieval horse-and-cart city like London. I firmly believe any PRT-derived solution must use an overhead guideway, with the vehicles suspended beneath. This makes it easy to install above existing roads without blotting out the sun. All you’d need to build is the foundations for the support pylons. Furthermore, it makes it possible to roll out such a system without having to close major arterial roads first in order to build it.

    PRT doesn’t go far enough either: you still have to change to another vehicle when you reach the station in most suggested designs. Why? The only difference between a modern rail signalling system as used on the DLR and the system used for ULTra is the software. The physical bits aren’t really relevant to the problem. If you can design infrastructure that can handle *both*, people wouldn’t have to change mode at all.

    Software could intelligently decide at what point a ‘pod’ could switch to “PRT” mode, and when it should be switched to “train” mode instead. You could then have ‘trains’ that divide en route, on the fly, without even having to stop, offering much more flexibility than is currently possible using traditional rail. And I mean literally having a “train” divide while on the move, not while sitting at a station. With traditional rail, such splits require human intervention to perform, but a PRT-derived system can simply define a ‘train’ entirely in software, with none of the pods being physically coupled at all.

    And then, of course, there’s my previous post that points out that we need to step back and work out whether it’s people that are the problem, or *things*. Many people drive to supermarkets for their weekly family shop because it’s a hell of a lot more convenient than dragging umpteen bags of shopping home on foot (or the bus). What if we had a “physical internet”: a network we could use to transfer goods from A to B as easily as we send an email? What if, instead of focussing on giving people an excuse to be even lazier, we gave them a reason to take the bus to the supermarket for their shopping, because they’ll be able to send their shopping home via that physical internet, rather than carry it themselves?

    Extend that further: with such infrastructure in place, the local High Street could see a renaissance. Suddenly, every shop has access to the same distribution network as, say, Amazon. Want home delivery? No problem! Without the worry of having to carry bags of shopping around from shop to shop while you bought stuff from each one, then take it all home, shopping locally becomes much more attractive again.

    I’ve said it before: we need to view infrastructure and transport planning holistically. That doesn’t mean looking for something that can be dropped-in as a like-for-like replacement for the automobile, because no matter what shape it is or what it runs on, there are only so many vehicles of *any* sort you can ram down Oxford Street.

    A holistic approach starts with working out *what the problems are*. People use cars because they solve one or more *problems* they are faced with. The car itself is not a cause, but a *symptom* of these underlying problems.

    Oh yes: a self-driving vehicle *is* PRT.

  117. Mark Townend says:

    @stimarco, 08:33PM, 1st April 2013

    What I was trying to get across was I think high speed automation needs a much greater degree of segregation from meat driven mixed traffic than can be provided on existing fast roads, no matter how carefully designed, not that such automation is inherently impossible. There are a number of advanced transit advocates who promote ‘dual mode’ systems which have dedicated guideways for the fast leg (usually electrified hence also providing a handy way to recharge on board batteries) whilst usually assuming manual driving on conventional roads for the local legs. I think using such guideways, supplemented by low speed street automation ‘Google car’ style, could enable full door to door automation, although there is still the problem of standardisation to overcome before everything (vehicles and infrastructure) can be equipped to enable it. As you said whatever the technological solutions available for such ‘guideway’ or ‘street’ modes, the way we choose to use them for public transport service, private carriage or freight will be the important factors in how transport develops and affects our society in the future. However, don’t expect the motor industry to quickly give up their historic marketing of more bigger faster newer private cars as the solution to all our personal problems.

  118. DW down under says:

    @ Stimarco, Mark

    I started looking at PRT back in 1977, but realising that the issues were mainly ones of software, not concept or application, changed my thesis topic.

    In my thoughts on the subject of miniroads, I have always maintained that local streets would be shared domains as we know them. The concept was that there would be a network of automated miniroutes providing a charging mechanism (both volts and dollars) for microcars and microcommercials that had a current compliance certificate. They would be identified on approach and the compliance and registations database checked, before admittance to the guideway. The miniroute guideways would be fully segragated.

    Now, the German researchers working on the next generation of HS trains are designing around an “optical” coupling. There would be NO mechanical, electrical or pneumatic coupling at all between units. Instead, basically a light beam would carry the MU data between vehicles which would run touching but not otherwise physically connected.

    This same technology, along with the guidance system used in the Channel Tunnel service tunnel and many other applications (a Dutch port being another), would enable vehicle management within the guideways.

    I envisage compliant microcars having a maximum speed of 50km/h (30mph) under manual operation, and perhaps 80km/h (50mph) on guideway. As I said earlier at LR, I do not see compliant microcars running on motorways and having to dodge ladders @ 70mph. The whole point is building fit for purpose, which is urban mobility. The vehicles will not have the strength or mass needed to be “safe” on higher speed roads.

    What I do see is an opportunity, as I expressed elsewhere on LR, for rail to get into the MiniShuttle business, providing a counterpart to the Euroshuttle. The MiniShuttles would convey microcars from one regional node to another (e.g. NW London – Nottingham) and the guidance system would manage the process of embarkation and disembarkation automatically. The customer would select their local exit node, prior to entering the Miniroute system, and would resume control at the exit.

    The passengers stay in their vehicle for MiniShuttle runs up to about 60 mins. Longer runs would involve a facilities car accessible to passengers.

    These trains could operate at 400km/h on the HS network, and up to 225/250km/h on the “Classic” network.

    The extent to which guideway assisted driving is available to conventional cars (whoever powered) and larger vehicles is beyond the scope of this discussion, and LR topic. My aim is to conceive and promote a system which is compatible with sustainability principles while recognising the revealed preference of the electorate/population at large, which is for independent AB 24/7 weather-proofed (motorcyclists and pushbikers excepted) mobility.

    DW down under

  119. DW down under says:

    mr_jrt @ 03:43PM, 1st April 2013 wrote: “There would probably be room under the raft at Ealing Broadway for 5 or 6 tracks if the platforms were moved east”

    When I looked from the west using Google Earth and Bing Birds Eye, it didn’t look too hopeful for 3 tracks under each span.

    Can anyone who actually goes through there or uses the station let us know, please?

    DW down under

  120. Anonymous says:

    DW, Stimarco, etc

    For those interested in the exciting field of automation and other new transport paradigms may I suggest a look at Professor Emeritus Jerry Schneiders Innovative Transportation Technologies website, conceived 17 years ago as a source of information for his students at the University of Washington, Seattle, and now possibly the best source of information about the subject available on the internet . . .

  121. Mark Townend says:

    That was me being all anonymous about the Jerry Schneider website – just noticed I’d missed my name!

    Anyway DM, your system would be classified ‘dual mode’ there. Nothing listed in his 100+ system descriptions there under ‘miniroads’. Perhaps he’d be interested in a paper?

  122. Greg Tingey says:

    Ealing Bdy
    Is a real pain …
    just about everywhere else from Padders out to Slough, you could put another two tracks in (yes, I know, an extra (new) 2-track Hanwell viaduct, but there IS space …. exept EB.- to – West Ealing
    There, you’d have to do either major demolition &/or build a tunnel (on the North side) or build a flyover ….
    All very expensive & complicated.
    I susect some time about 2035-45, someone will have to bite the bullet & do it, though.

  123. DW down under says:

    Anonymous @ 12:40AM, 2nd April 2013 aka Mark Townend @ 01:46AM, 2nd April 2013

    Thanks for that, Mark. It’s a lot of reading and a lot of typical website waffle in the linked websites.

    You’re right that “dual-mode” describes what I have in mind. And yes, I’m sure I can throw together a paper for them.

    It does seem odd that no-one so far has identified that the “AoR” (As of Right) vehicle DIMENSIONS for which the road system is designed, themselves are an issue. If we specified a more appropriate standard for congested urban areas, we might get a whole lot more out of the community asset that is our streets. By so doing, we preclude larger vehicles, so we need to provide reasonably close access points for larger delivery vehicles, removalist pantechnicons and local minibuses and full size buses. Other than buses, these would NOT be through routes, and turning space must be available. Also, parking space must be hirable for larger vehicle, trailers, caravans etc – with access to the standard AoR road network. Ideally, these would be within 400m of the owners’ homes. Stevenage had/s such a system of garages.

    It’s also notable that the Americans are more about decongesting freeways using pallets or sleds running on new built monorails in median strip easements at high speed, than about decongesting urban areas. There’s room for that in their context, but in Europe, there is already a good generally fast guideway system covering most of the ground: the railways. In places like Australia, there isn’t the traffic on most routes to warrant any infrastructure. So, I’ll pick up on one of the American ideas to cover that (using trucks to piggyback microcars and microcommercials between town nodes).

    I’ll make contact to see where they’re at and whether they’re interested.


    DW down under

  124. DW down under says:

    @ GT

    Flyover @ EB, eh? Would have to go OVER the multi-storey car park – or be built into an extension thereof. Tunnel would likely involve shorter approach ramps.

    I don’t write it off, and I don’t knock plans that go out to 2035. As much as I’m able, in my 80s, I’ll try to keep up.

    But the question was, if the platforms were relocated further east, could 3 tracks fit under the covered way/bridges? AFAICS from the mapping resources: no. But someone who actually knows the site (and can look at angles my “mohocam” can’t) might be able to correct or qualify that.

    Cheers All

    DW down under

  125. Milton Clevedon says:

    I can confirm that there is only space for 2 tracks under each bridge section. A separate 2-track railway would need to be roughly as Greg Tingey describes, which is very costly. Benefits to match costs will not be found via the Greenford branch – anything would be driven by a combination of London suburban/Heathrow/further commuting/freight requirements.

    The July 2011 London & South East Route Utilisation Strategy (see Network Rail’s website) makes it clear that until the 2030s the existing railway is expected to work harder, eg by extending Crossrail further, and integrating its service with Heathrow Express at least in peak periods. The fast tracks would be reserved for trains that are express between London, Reading and beyond, and the relief lines would have to do everything else. Not perfect, but affordable and do-able.

    BTW, the Crossrail timetable is being reviewed by its sponsors. An “interation 4” version is now under review, in connection with the large scale proposals for the HS2 interchange and possible Overground station at Old Oak Common. Don’t expect many Crossrail trains to terminate east of OOC, and some might eventually end up on the West Coast slow tracks. Intensification of Crossrail services west of Paddington means that there may not be much room for anything else on the GW relief lines.

    The GLA has just circulated a consultation draft on the regeneration of Old Oak Common to stakeholders for comments (a “Draft Opportunity Area Planning Framework” is the technical parlance), and it has significant transport implications including for rail. Up to 19,000 homes, 100,000 jobs, over ca. 40 years. This really needs a separate topic and thread rather than be stuck at the back of a Beeching article! Lemmo’s intended article on OOC thinking and planning should be revealing if/when it sees the light of day.

  126. DW down under says:

    @ Milton

    Thank you for being my eyes on the ground. It is as I suspected. No amount of platform fiddling will get extra tracks through the bottleneck. Tunnel or flyover – or bring in the ‘dozers.

    Hope Lemmo’s almost ready to launch his OOC article. There’s a lot hangs on what happens at OOC. Getting WCML trains over to Crosslink will be a topic of some interest – are the extensive cemetaries there affected?

    As for the GWML slow lines, I fully expect that Crossrail will dominate the non-freight traffic – and the Greenford branch becomes a shuttle. The MS car park structure even makes providing a bay platform west of Ealing Broadway for the branch shuttle very difficult to provision and operate. So it’s West Ealing, or become a Central line western loop to balance the Hainault Loop in the east.

  127. Pedantic of Purley says:

    I thought I would do something novel and make a comment that is completely on topic.

    Mike Horne (have I mentioned him once or twice before?) has written what I regard as an excellent summary of Beeching. You can find it here.

    If you can’t be bothered to read it all just skip to the conclusion.

    It roughly says what I was trying to say so it is not surprising I recommend it. To paraphrase Mandy Rice-Davies and her famous phrase of the time: well I would, wouldn’t I ?

  128. DW down under says:

    @ Stimarco

    RE: PRT/self-driving vehicles

    I’ve had a brief look at some of the references at the site Mike T gave. There’s a lot been going on since I was doing my MSc, but little actual results on the ground. I haven’t yet seen a reference yet on their site to the system at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, which was operational in 1977. That moved people, luggage and goods around and was on a much larger scale than Ultra’s PODs @ Heathrow T5.

    For a PRT system which allows private ownership, and provides dual-mode (manually driven on the road, guided or carried or suspended on the guideway), I can’t see the overhead system with suspended cars really ever taking off (pun intended). Reason: HSE will require emergency exit pathway, and reasonably too, I might add. And, I can’t see the public having the confidence to use it, frankly. You’d have to interlock the private cars’ doors, and then there’d be the fear of being stuck and not being able to get out. All in all, having a “road” underneath would sit well with most people, and whatever’s done HAS to be marketed if it’s going to be used.

    So, we’re left with cars that support themselves on a suspension and steer themselves – so any guideway that they use would have to incorporate a guidance mechanism that is compatible with manual steer, a means of charging both the batteries and the fare, an emergency escape walkway and structural support for the wheels. Most of what I saw would fail on many of these counts. Which probably explains why we haven’t seen too many of them.

    To go overhead would require the actual track, safety kerbs and guard rail, and emergency walkway. Now, see if this can pass muster (ie planning permission) on any of London’s Highways or byways. Up the median of the M1, M11, M4, M25 maybe. Anywhere else … hmmm? I suspect we’ll see a lot of use of shallow tunnels with walkways, fenced-in or enclosed surface running and some flyovers.

    I must say that almost every one of the proponents has some sort of proprietary track and drive mechanism that they want to sell. I think the key is a public track system that is standardised and for which annual certificates of compliance are required (MoT anyone?). A lot of the proponents seem to be about carting full size “automobiles”, SUVs, trucks on pallets at high speed. These are then moved along dedicated newly built guideways along the median strips of major roads. Britain and Europe already have an excellent and in most cases quite fast system of guideways, built, ready and in place. They’re called railways. It’s those I seek to leverage for the intertown and intercity applications of Miniroads.

    After spending some more time reading their stuff, I’ll be in contact with them and offer to write a paper on my concept of Miniroads. If it gets put on their site, I’ll post the link on LR.

  129. Timmy! says:

    Thanks for the link to Mike Horne’s summary, PoP. The section titled ‘Network Size’ is interesting reading (although short) around the impact of single-tracking for LR contributors who enjoy reinventing a scheme or two.

    Mike Horne says that some local stations were often closed and were not close to their customers (e.g the actual village etc. I can vouch for that! My Grandfather’s station survived the axe but closed in the 70s and is now part of the guided busway in Cambridge). No great lost if a decent bus service replaced it (cue deregulation!) but how common was that?

    One thing that I think can be said about Beeching is that for all future road, rail, air, light rail developments, they are costed and forecast by experts (even if LR readers disagree). For every busway, I suspect we’ll more improved rail services (or bus lanes which seem to be just as effective). It’s a pity Beeching and co didn’t have a crystal ball for the impact of road transport and some closures.

    Back off-topic, I’d take a De Lorean fuelled by food scraps over the Overground anytime! It would certainly help avoid the Blackwall tunnel and south circular.

  130. DW down under says:

    PoP. Likewise, thanks for the Mike Horne summary. A good one, I think. He didn’t address the issues of the perceived duplications, and their relationship to major route reconstruction. That would have made interesting reading given his perspective, but would have added quite a few more pages no doubt.

  131. Anonymous says:

    The Horne article is a good read. It did not offer any thoughts on the mainlines to be ‘intensively developed’. It’s interesting that Midland mainline, east coast to Edinburgh and London to Exeter via Westbury were not in the first list. Note that London to Norwich was not apparently in any list (unless Horne forgot that one). Note that Nottingham via Grantham was on the first list. That original plan left the Midland mainline as a secondary route next to a closed GC mainline.

    Some commentators elsewhere have commented that Beeching was not responsible for introducing Merry-go-Round and Liner (container) trains. That they were invented already by railwaymen. That idea ignores reality in that Beeching was a chemist/businessman put in as chairman. Chairmen should be accountable for gross errors made by their organisations, but in every review of what to chuck and what to expand, they would have entirely relied on their teams for good ideas, as Beeching must have. What Beeching did was see them as the future for freight and give them his backing.

    Horne’s most interesting comment was that Beeching was basically on honest man who did not shirk the issues or cover them in business double-speak. (Read a DfT press release for comparison!).

  132. DW down under says:

    @ Timmy

    What did: “… I’d take a De Lorean fuelled by food scraps over the Overground anytime! It would certainly help avoid the Blackwall tunnel and south circular …. ” actually mean. It somehow doesn’t read quite right.

  133. Windsorian says:

    @ Milton Clevedon

    ….. Crossrail timetable is being reviewed …… An “interation 4″ version is now under review, …. Don’t expect many Crossrail trains to terminate east of OOC, …. Intensification of Crossrail services west of Paddington means that there may not be much room for anything else on the GW relief lines…

    Under the initial proposals, Crossrail was due to replace the existing 2tph Heathrow Connect service with a 4tph Crossrail service to CTA and T4 from Paddington (mainline platforms) in May 2018. Meanwhile Heathrow Express would continue to CTA and T5; the 25 year HEx contract for mainline useage (Paddington Platforms 6&7) does not expire until June 2023.

    Also a separate 4tph peak hour (2tph off-peak) Crossrail service (solely on the GWML) was due to terminate at Maidenhead from December 2019.

    However, since then the government has indicated support for the £500M WRAtH proposal which in 2021 may provide a northern T5 link to Reading, a station at present undergoing a £895M upgrade including new platfroms suitable for Crossrail.

    The real question appears to be who (HEx or Crossrail) will provide the proposed service from T5 to Reading ?

    ….. and how will this impact on the initial proposal for GWML Crossrail services to Slough & Maidenhead ?

  134. Anonymous says:


    “What did: “… I’d take a De Lorean fuelled by food scraps over the Overground anytime! It would certainly help avoid the Blackwall tunnel and south circular …. ” actually mean”

    Watch the last scene in “Back to the Future”, and all will become clear.

  135. Milton Clevedon says:

    @ Windsorian

    Yes there may need to be a deal between ex-BAA (Heathrow Airport Holdings Ltd) and TfL/Crossrail and DfT and Network Rail and FGW/successor and the regulator on line capacity allocation and also be kind to freight. Pause to take breath…

    Deals can be done in this mixed economy world.

    For example, if you were HAHL would you be happy with a revenue capitalisation deal and WiFi, some 1st Class and limited-stop Heathrow trains in the peaks if they took you through Central London? [BTW, First Class existed on the Met & District until Autumn 1939, and passengers in the know still benefited from it until the 1970s – wider seat spacing – when the last of the old trains was withdrawn.]

    Looking ahead, the London & SE RUS is clear that GW line capacity use has to be max-ed, there is no alternative. Subtract possibly up to 8tph heading eventually from the Central London tunnels towards Watford/Tring/MK via Old Oak interchange, that leaves you with 16-22 tph footloose and fancy-free on the GW relief line in peaks, when you include the long-term Crossrail design for 30 tph frequency. Lots of scope for optioneering, then, though you won’t want to run too much 10- or 12-coach fresh air beyond some point in commuter land.

  136. Fandroid says:

    Somehow I suspect that WRAtH will not be ready in time for Crossrail commissioning!

    So it’s extremely unlikely that anyone is doing more than looking at what spec is needed for WRAtH to enable the whole project to be costed. My prediction is that Crossrail trains will be serving Reading long before there is a western connection to T5.

    More likely there is going to be a deal struck with Hex reaching Canary Wharf and Crossrail reaching T5, all before 2021.

  137. Greg Tingey says:

    Milton Clevedon & Fandroid
    The current commuter trains to/from Reading are unbelievably rammed in the peaks. There is undoubted demand suppression there, so the whole original idea of terminating half the Xr-1 trains at OOC or Theifrow is just a load of foetid dingoes kidneys even before you’ve started.
    SO: 4 tph stoppers to theifrow, some/all running through to elsewhere on Xr-1, at least 4tph running out to Maidenhead & Reading, 4 tph semi-fasts, carefully grouped, running beyond Reading to Oxford/Newbury etc.
    Stopping patterns will be such that Hex-equivalents are running fast lines, anyway – but don’t go beyond Padders.
    That’s still only 16tph on the slow lines, isn’t it?
    Whereas the two northenmost tracks out of Liverpool Street are currently handling, by way of comparison …
    4 tph to Chingford, 4 tph to Enfield Town/Chesunt, 4 tph Stansted, 6 tph Cambridge/Hertford E off-peak.

  138. Milton Clevedon says:

    As various parties will know, the West Anglia lines out of Liverpool Street are handling 22 tph with-flow in peaks, and also you need to count in the invisible 2 tph Broxbourne empties which are now the contra-flow balancing trains to the Hertford East via Seven Sisters service group.

  139. DW down under says:

    Anonymous@ 01:10PM, 4th April 2013

    I see: “I’d take a De Lorean fuelled by food scraps over the Overground anytime” means you’d prefer to drive around in a silly cape in a car with wings anytime, in preference to riding the LO (with or without cape and/or food scraps).

    I was just wondering how you were planning to get the De Lorean onto the LO in the first place? “Take XXX over YYY” doesn’t mean “carry XXX using YYY ” but means “use XXX in preference to using YYY”

    All becomes clear now. Another thing that becomes clear = I’m no movie buff! 🙂

  140. DW down under says:

    @ Greg

    Don’t forget Staines, and the truncated Air Track.

    I’d allow 6tph for that, being 4tph all stops, and 2tph fast to OOC (replacing HeXs). (Plus any trains running through from the SW and terminating in the Air Track platforms)

    That leaves 8 tph for the WCML and maybe Chiltern; and 10 for the western services:

    I suggest 4tph all stops to Maidenhead direct; 2tph express OOC – T1/2/3 and T5 then express to Reading, continuing to Oxford and Central Milton Keynes (replaces HeXs).; 4tph ltd stop from OOC via T1/2/3 and T5, then ltd stops to Maidenhead, then all on to Reading.

    That gives 6tph OOC-Reading to which Paddo terminators can be added. It gives 8tph to Maidenhead, and 12tph serving Heathrow. The T4 shuttle might need its own platform at T1/2/3 – or some other “fix” (or replace both the Picc and HConn with Pods running through the tunnels???) 🙂

  141. Windsorian says:

    From WRAtH Grip 2 Appraisal study May 2012 :-

    The Western Access services could in practice be operated in a number of ways:
    1. as extensions of the Heathrow Express service, thus serving the Heathrow Central Terminal Area (CTA i.e.T1,T2&T3) directly from Reading (this is assumed in the demand modelling for the appraisal).
    2. as a standalone shuttle, although this would be likely to require passengers to interchange at Terminal 5 for onward connections to other terminals.
    3. as an extension of Crossrail services, although this would generate substantial additional operating costs given the 10-car fixed formation planned for Crossrail trains.
    There may also be potential to extend the Western Access services beyond Reading, for example to Oxford. However, this would need to be considered as part of the development of the wider GWML timetable, taking into account not only IEP, Electrification and Crossrail but also other schemes such as East-West Rail (if this is progressed).
    In terms of operating costs, the key appraisal assumption is that the Western Access services would be 4 or 5 vehicles in length. This would be adequate to accommodate expected demand, while not generating excessive operating costs.

    The proposed “Western Access” train service is 4 trains per hour (tph) between Reading to Heathrow, with all trains calling at Slough, and alternate services calling at Maidenhead and Twyford (but not both). The service is assumed to start in 2020. Journey time from Reading to Heathrow Terminal 5 is expected to be 25 – 26 minutes.

    Train length. The operating cost increases significantly if longer trains are operated. For example, if 10-car trains were used (as would be the case if the Western Access service were an extension of Crossrail), the BCR would drop to 1.07

  142. DW down under says:


    Thanks for those quotes.

    I would like to know about the T5 station box, in particular whether it is long enough for 250m trains?

    The assumptions for analysis don’t necessarily translate into a working timetable. The guys have to do their level best to get the project over all the hurdles. Hence the limited perspective – KISS principle and maximise the BCA.

    I think we can all expect Heathrow Connect to go where the traffic is, once it becomes part of Crossrail, and that is T5. The indivisible 10-car trains will be operated at all times Crossrail is providing passenger service. The marginal cost of extending to Slough or Maidenhead to reverse would be negligible compared to the overall operating cost – but would provide greatly improved connectivity.

    One can expect the 3rd timetable to include more through working, much as I described.

    SWRAtH would be another project that will need to be analysed on a KISS basis, but would likely end up operationally as I have described.

  143. Nathanael says:

    Ian J: Indeed we know that the cuts were not in any sense the result of nationalization.

    We know this by comparing to the US, which DIDN’T nationalize and had BIGGER cuts, much bigger.

    The key point was societal belief that “roads are the future!” combined with governmental agreement on this. The government support for railways was actually larger in the UK than in the US, so you had fewer cuts.

  144. Greg Tingey says:

    Just in case people have not seen them yet …
    Two valuable links on this subject.
    First, a general survey of Dr.B:

    Secondly, an account of the horrible nature of a real, actual, illegal civil service conspiracy [ Yes, really! ] which was thwarted by careful work by a few people.

    It is a pity that the corruption & crooked dealing of the (as it turned out) temporary head of the GPO in 2003 was not also stopped in time ….

  145. Mark Townend says:

    @Greg Tingey, 06:53AM, 8th April 2013

    GPO in 2003 – Was that when rail haulage contacts were ended suddenly, immediately after massive investment in terminals and rolling stock?

  146. Mark Townend says:

    @Nathanael, 01:55AM, 8th April 2013

    Passenger service withdrawal in the US was accompanied by massive urban freeway development often forced through poorer, ‘ethnic’ areas and along former rail corridors. The higher density of European cities couldn’t easily provide space for such massive road construction even after the destruction of WW2, and even where railways were removed entirely, their corridors were generally not wide enough to accommodate major roads. There were various post war proposals to destroy much of historic central London to establish urban motorways, but apart from a few examples around the fringes, most came to nothing.

  147. Pedantic of Purley says:

    And of course in Los Angeles the motor car and tyre companies got together with the petrol companies to buy up the tramcar system and run it down. You may have seen the film “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” and thought the whole thing a ridiculous fantasy but that bit of the story wasn’t.

    The companies involved got massive fines when this was all discovered but by then it was too late – the damage was done. Compared to them Marples was a slightly naughty boy.

  148. answer=42 says:

    An excellent summary of Beeching can be found at:
    For a number of reasons I find this to be a much better account than Mike Horne’s. In particular, it points out the misleading accounting employed by the Report.

    I think that all accounts miss some of the background in that the 1953 Act abolished the Railway Executive and instituted semi-independent regional executives. With no central view, the regional executives were able to push their own agendas, hence the appalling conception of the Modernisation Plan and its disasterous implementation.

    My conclusions are that Beeching has been too much credit for the positive elements of the reports. Had phase 2 on this report been implemented, the ECML north of Newcastle and much of the Midland main line would not have received investment. Inter-City would not have been a fast national network. I also think (perhaps with hindsight) that his view of the freight network was too static).

    Beeching’s remit was to make the railways profitable. The second Beeching report notes that the reduced network might not have been profitable. He was right in that. If the conclusions of a study contradict the study objectives, the author must highlight this. Beeching did not and this makes him complicit in a political act.

    Moreover, as Greg’s articles point out, Beeching was a member of the Stedeford Committee, the report of which was not published. This committee rehearsed the pro- and anti-closures arguments. Beeching was well aware prior to the report that the closures would not yield a better financial performance. And – this I did not know – Beeching was selected for the job of Chairman of BTC then BRB by Serpell himself.

    I’m not sure that Greg’s fascinating second article actually establishes illegal acts by the anti-rail civil servants but they would be illegal now and were certainly immoral.

    What drove this incredible anti-rail drive over the approximate period 1960-1985 that certainly included corrupt activity at some levels? I should start by saying that I believe (without much evidence) that there was also political corruption involved in the 1955 Modernisation Plan. (An article about the Modernisation Plan in London would be much welcomed). I certainly don’t think that there was a conspiracy by the car manufacturers, as in the USA.

    I think that you have to look at construction and development for the clues. Motorway and trunk road construction enriched more than Marples Ridgeway. Railways stations and (often redundant) goods yards were prime urban development sites.

    The end of the anti-rail bias in government came about after Margaret Thatcher ordered that British Rail should end its policy of selling unused rail lands at a pace that maximised BR’s financial receipts and required instead that they should be sold immediately. After that, there was no need to close railways to obtain development land.

    There are lessons for today. Have a look at the projects supported by CP5 and the ones that are not supported. Perhaps this is for another discussion.

    Back to Beeching for one final conclusion: the top ten lines identified for reopening by the Campaign for Better Transport can be found here:
    They are largely not those discussed in this forum. Interesting

  149. Anonymous says:

    ” the top ten lines identified for reopening by the Campaign for Better Transport can be found here: They are largely not those discussed in this forum. Interesting”

    Since only one of them is in the south east, never mind London, I don’t find this surprising on a forum with “London” in its name!

  150. Anonymous says:

    The ‘London’ in the title has been rather flexible at times. St Albans, Lincoln, the East-West line have all been colonised at various times.

  151. Fandroid says:

    Here I go again.

    I’m not convinced by many of the arguments put forward here. Yes politicians and civil servants were plotting and scheming and they always have done and always will do. The main theme behind the ‘Reshaping’ was that Beeching proposed and government disposed. Government failed utterly to have a cohesive policy on socially vital rail lines until about a decade later. However, not many really vital ones were lost. Those services that couldn’t even provide a reasonable living for a replacement bus service were always going to be basket cases.

    People wail on about the Waverley line. It’s true that the social need of the northern half was missed, but only probably because no-one was willing to invest in decent roads. I travelled on the southern bit from Newcastleton (a real one-horse town) in 1967. It was a bit like some far-flung Spanish stations that I travelled through a decade later. The surprise was the absence of tumbleweed. Ditto re the GC mainline (as in Greg’s Englishrail link) In the absolute heyday of the railways, the early 1900s, there were only 14 trains a day into Marylebone. A disastrously uneconomic investment. The GC wasn’t properly linked to the other routes, so why spend scarce cash in the 1960s trying to make a line work when it never had in the previous 70 years? It still wouldn’t work now and won’t be much help for a least another decade into the future.

    Yes Marples took personal advantage, but is anyone saying we would be a better country without the (fairly modest) motorway network that we currently have? They were all riding a tide of enthusiasm for the motor car, and it really was what ordinary people wanted. Trains were dirty, smelly and unreliable, the horrible reminders of all the industrial grime and pollution of the Victorian age. Even Beeching seemed to underestimate the power of that social revolution. The car got us all mobile, and the new era only seized up once the car had become a victim of its own success. Then, having got used to the freedom to travel, a significant minority of us looked to the railways to get us past the frustrations of modern motoring.

    Beeching naively thought that he could bring the railways back to at least breaking even, because a fairly short time earlier, they actually had been. It was freight that made the money that covered the overall costs, but it was shifting to road at a rate that no-one had really noticed. That even caused his liner trains to fail until de-industrialisation meant that container traffic and coal from the ports became a significant business at the same time as road transport had used up all the new capacity in the road system.

    It’s worth reading Rail magazine edition 719. There are several articles under the heading of ‘Beeching: 50 years on’, all covering the subject in some depth and putting it into the context of the time.

  152. Greg Tingey says:

    The real failiures of the Marples closures were the strategic ones – the missing links that held, you know,a SYSTEM together.
    Exeter-Plymouth LSWR + Padstow (but via Bodmin)
    The Watercress line (like the “Withered Arm” an essential by-pass)
    Spalding-Boston + Firsby-Louth-Grimsby
    ONE of the N-S Welsh lines ….
    The Waverley Route as far as Hawick
    Uckfield – Lewes
    The CK&P
    Woodhead (& the Monsal dale route)

    And some others, that, given sunsequent developments, epsecially in housing, which would be welcome, had they survived.
    3 Bridges – Tun Wells
    Sudbury – Haverhill – Cambridge
    Bedford – Hitchin
    Bideford / Iflfracombe (?)
    Fraserburgh & the GNo|S loop
    York – Hull
    Cheltenham – Stratford?

    The GC was odd, but it was built to UIC gauge … um.

  153. stimarco says:


    I think you’re mostly right, but it’s a bit more complex than crooked politicians and naïve businessmen. Dr. Beeching’s background was very much in the classic vein of management. He had his System and, by God, it should apply to every large organisation! That’s what he did with BR.

    He may well have been aware of Marples’ chicanery at some level, but anyone who’s made a career out of running large corporations isn’t just doing it for the money. As with everything in life that’s worth doing, Beeching was given a challenge. A puzzle. And it was his job to work out how best to fix it.

    This may sound like heresy to some, but I believe it’s worth looking at Apple’s previous CEO, the late Steve Jobs, who turned an utter basket-case of a company that was mere months from collapsing into bankruptcy, into one of the most successful businesses in US history in roughly ten years. We hear about his design obsessions and character flaws, but the fact is that you simply cannot be a successful businessman without an element of ruthlessness: He found a vast, and utterly confusing range of products. Product specs overlapped to such an extent that nobody – not even Apple’s own managers – could explain to him who each model was aimed at and what they were for. They were all axed practically overnight. He pruned Apple’s entire product line to just four: one laptop and desktop (the iMac) computer for consumers, and a laptop and desktop computer for professionals. And that’s it.

    Jobs did to Apple what Beeching was trying to do to BR: restore sanity in the asylum. Jobs had the advantage that Apple was a commercial hardware manufacturer, not a nationalised service provider. Beeching had to cope with a gargantuan, labour-intensive, Victorian-era anachronism and somehow drag it kicking and screaming into the 20th century. All things considered, it wasn’t too bad a job. The tools he had available to him were primitive compared to modern BI and performance metrics. He had no spreadsheets. Everything was done by hand, the hard way, at a time when “computers” was defined in the dictionary as “a person who computes”.

    That last point is very easy to forget. Every manager of a non-trivial organisation relies on a regular and timely flow of information about what their particular part of it is doing. How far behind is that production line retooling process? How much has the supplies budget overrun? How is the R&D going for that new cleaning compound? Can we produce a product for Client X that complies with the new national safety standards? This is all information that needs to be obtained, filtered, digested, summarised, and sent up the management chain.

    And BR was doing damned near none of it.

    Beeching worked in the top tier of management of ICI, and did the same at BR. At that level, you’re not concerned with the tiny details, (that’s what the lower management tiers are for) but the high-level data, labour costs (which were skyrocketing at the time), inflation and the basic costs of doing business. As the original piece pointed out, nobody at BR even knew how much anything cost! They were basically making prices up for their customers based on guesswork and archaic traditions. That’s no way to run anything. For all the complaints we make today about the Major administration’s botched privatisation of BR, it’s a shame nobody mentions the equally messed-up nationalisation of the network in 1948. We need to stop pretending that BR was some kind of golden age, because it was clearly as much a gibbering wreck then as it is now.

    Beeching’s legacy isn’t the closed lines. It was the imposition of a level of sanity, of hard-nosed business practices, that the organisation clearly lacked in spades when he joined it.

    As the London Reconnections writers have pointed out, Beeching wasn’t against railways on principle. He understood the key selling points of rail: that it works best and most efficiently when each train is carrying lots of the same thing to the same place, ideally over relatively long distances. Hence his treatment of bulk freight was quite sensible given the prevailing views of the day.

    It’s also easy to forget that the Victorians benefited hugely from very cheap labour too. Steam locomotives were (and still are) extremely labour-intensive moving kettles. You need two people just to keep one moving, and you have to pay even more to help with maintenance and firing them up. Apprentices helped as they were the equivalent of today’s interns, but even so, you still had to manage all those people. Both drivers and firemen had to be in the right place at the right time for each service they were rostered for. And there were no computers to help with the logistics: it was all done by hand, by yet more people!

    When the Labour Party became a major force by the 1920s, the writing was on the wall for labour-intensive infrastructure and methods of working. WW2 interrupted the transition, but the increasing number of strikes (general and otherwise) meant the railways had to change.

    Beeching wasn’t a cause of anything. He was, at worst, a symptom of the car-obsessed generations of the time – remember, there were big plans to “roadify” our environments, with Croydon an example of what the rest of London might well look like today if sanity hadn’t prevailed. But there were also the Garden City movements, which designed towns and cities primarily with personal transport, not public transport, at the fore.

    In short: Beeching was very much a product of his time. He cannot be blamed for seeing the railways as best suited to freight and inter-city transport, rather than local and regional travel.

    I’d go so far as to suggest that we should be pushing harder for serious innovations and improvements in public commuter transport technologies. It’s becoming increasingly clear that traditional commuter rail cannot make a profit: the traditional approaches to this problem are fundamentally flawed at best.

    Sometime in the next 40 years, I think we’ll see another Beeching. And this time, he’ll suggest pruning the London Underground network.

  154. Mark Townend says:

    @Greg Tingey, 04:46PM, 8th April 2013

    The GC may, like original ex broad gauge GWR, have had a larger structure gauge than some other routes, but it
    definitely wasn’t ‘UIC’ as I’m sure you know, having uk high level platforms which would foul any continental stock whether in the early 20th century or today.

    @stimarco, 07:03PM, 8th April 2013

    I had the privilege of growing up in the worlds first Garden City, Letchworth in Hertfordshire and I concur that personal transportation was a major design consideration there . . of the human powered sort. The entire original town was within 20 minutes walk of the town centre and the centrally located railway station. I never caught a bus within the town during the 18 years I lived there, although they existed, primarily to access more distant residential estates added from the 1970s onwards and to connect surrounding villages and towns. Raymond Unwin’s original street plans left room for a local interurban tram system, which was never built.

    ‘Profitability’ is always a difficult concept to pin down in transportation generally. Private rail franchise
    operators clearly (intend to) make a profit now or they wouldn’t be in the business, but that is only possible due to the subsidy they are paid in most cases (Intercity apart generally). A lift in a high rise building, or an
    escalator in a shopping centre could equally be seen as a subsidised transit system so wider economic concerns other than the costs of operating the service clearly come into play in both cases.

    I think (as I believe you do) that automation WILL bring down costs and change land transport significantly, but I think there’s a lot of scope in automating the existing networks before entirely new modes are necessary on any wide scale. However, isolated low speed automated pod networks, similar to Heathrow’s Ultra, could be added progressively to help plug new developments into existing transit nodes, being particularly attractive in the modern trading estate where the visual intrusion of lightweight overhead guideways would be much less contentious than in residential or traditional high street environments. The robo-car technology discussed previously may allow these pod networks to penetrate residential estates and town centres under full automation, perhaps not together with HGVs and other large vehicles on general mixed traffic lanes, but rather on low speed partially segregated paths through pedestrian areas and along residential streets, also perhaps sharing cycle paths where they’re of suitable width and quality. Adjacent pod networks could thus expand over time and, if technically standardised might meet and connect up to create broader coverage. Once this happens to any large extent then the existing parallel rail transit corridors could start to take on a subtly different role as more of an interurban express onto which pod passengers may wish to change to speed up their journey. The central London tube network in particular is seen as attempting to fulfil the dual roles of longer distance suburban service together with last-mile distributor, neither of which it can accomplish to the greatest efficiency. Notwithstanding that the bus network and taxi service already take on much of the local work now, albeit sometimes with long waits, traffic congestion and diesel fumes, an automated taxi-pod service could allow a number of stations, especially on the older lines, to be closed, speeding up the tube express links even further. Anyone for shiny black electric Ultra robo-cabs on the streets at the same price as buses? They might even go south of the river after midnight!

    So urban rail closures in the future may be acceptable, but only if replacement systems are put in place that offer similar or better utility, which means that existing users will not be required to make a significant capital
    investment to acquire a personal vehicle, pay more than before at point of use, spend more time travelling or waiting, be entirely sober at all times or hold some kind of permit or license they didn’t need before to drive, or to supervise the robot. If the new system can also offer 24/7 service as well then no problem!

  155. Greg Tingey says:

    Sometime in the next 40 years, I think we’ll see another Beeching. And this time, he’ll suggest pruning the London Underground network.
    Because we have passed peak car use, idiot!
    Because, even with automated cars, you can only get so many of them on the roads – there isn’t space.
    Because, as already demostrated, several Marples closures could now be “profitable”/useful with proper (cheaper/efficient) operation – see top of list above….
    And, uinless we get flying cars (i.e. antigravity) it will remain so.
    You simply CANNOT HAVE a civilised city of more than 750 000 people withut a significant proportion of its’ transport on rails – try looking around the planet.

  156. Fandroid says:

    We seem to accept that robot cars will play a part in the future, and the researchers seem to be steadily making them safe on hugely variable and relatively anarchic road systems. The big question is: why does the rail system, a far more controlled environment, look as if it might be overtaken by this technology? Well before we have automated black pods taking us south of the river after midnight, we should expect the whole train system to be robotic in nature.

    Greg is right about road space making a robocar dream into a nightmare. It’ll be exactly the same in London as has happened with the car. All those other robocar users will get in the way! Road junctions are very crude devices and will clog up the brave new world just as they have the scruffy old one (including its buses).

    It would take a bold vision (and a lot of cash) but I feel that street trams might have a future, even in central London. However, it would cars of all types (and many buses) to be cleared out of their way. Personal transport based on a hierarchy: Tube, street tram (supported by feeder buses), cycle routes and pedestrianisation. There might just be scope for robocars out in the far suburbs.

  157. Greg Tingey says:

    Sarf o’ river arter midnight?
    Isn’t that when they start eating children dahn ther?

  158. Mark Townend says:

    @Fandroid, 08:23AM, 9th April 2013

    I’ve often thought that rail technology trams, whether on streets or reserved track, should be easier to automate than free ranging rubber wheeled vehicles, as the difficulty of guidance would be avoided. If self powered vehicles were kept ultra light and a passive switch technology employed to allow trams to switch themselves at junctions without any moving parts in the infrastructure, then a fairly cheap track system might be used without significant excavation of the road surface, moving of utilities and stringing of catenary. Selected segregated ‘mainline’ sections and station bays could nevertheless be equipped with power rails or overhead wire in order to recharge the vehicles or they could be hybrid with small clean engines and generators incorporated. Automation would change the optimum vehicle size and very frequent service might be operated, as well as longer service hours, including a level of ‘on-demand’ provision in the wee hours.

    @Greg Tingey, 10:25AM, 9th April 2013

    I sometimes wonder what’s in kebabs . . .

  159. Mark Townend says:

    @Mark Townend, 03:12PM, 9th April 2013

    Further to my previous post, here is a passive rail switch with on board vehicle switch device . . .

  160. stimarco says:

    @Greg Tingey:

    Steady on old chap. Re-read my post: traditional rail-based technologies have *some* place in public transport, but the deep-level Tube is not one of them: dinky little noddy trains running through custom infrastructure that’s too small for mainline trains and has, in some places, stations barely 300 metres apart – a station frequency that would be far better suited to trams, not urban metros.

    Supposing we needed a Crossrail 5 sometime around 2053. Where would it go? If there are sufficient alternative routes (even if not always direct), closing an existing, older, Tube line and replacing it wholesale might very well be viable.

    But there’s another issue here: why should all the guided mass transit infrastructure be built underground in the first place? It made sense during the Victorian era because of that cheap labour I mentioned, but tunnelled metros are very expensive today, and the more crud there is below ground, the higher the costs of building the tunnel–surface interfaces we call “stations”.

    On-street trams require both the embedded tracks and the overhead power supply. Why not just suspended the vehicles from the latter and save yourself the bother of laying and maintaining those tracks?

    If you’ve ever travelled on a system like the Wuppertal Schwebebahn, it’s not a huge stretch to imagine how a modern take on suspended guideway technology could solve many of London’s guided mass transit problems at a stroke. (And the same applies to other cities too.) You’re building through thin air, instead of clay, waterlogged sand, or gravel. In pedestrianised areas, you could bring the overhead guideway down so that trains ran at grade, making stations dirt cheap too.

    In historic cities like Rome, where the archeology forms a geological strata all by itself and makes building a traditional underground metro painfully slow and expensive as a result, switching to overground solutions makes a lot of sense.

    Finally, telepresence and telecommuting technologies and infrastructure, for example, are likely to improve dramatically over the next few decades.

    So I stand by my original throwaway line: In the future, we may well see existing LU lines closed. Not because nobody needs to travel any more, but because that old infrastructure may very well have been overtaken by new technologies, or even social and cultural changes that reduce the demand for other reasons.

  161. timbeau says:


    “On-street trams require both the embedded tracks and the overhead power supply. Why not just suspend the vehicles from the latter and save yourself the bother of laying and maintaining those tracks?”

    An elevated railway, whether the trains are running on top or underneath, requires far more substantial and intrusive infrastructure than a tramwire. Can you really imagine that Croydon Tramlink would ever have got off the ground (sorry!) if something like the Schwebebahn had been proposed through the town centre? Would we accept substantial gantries obstructing the views along Fleet Street, Whitehall, Piccadilly etc?

    Paris, with its much wider Boulevardes, almost gets away with it – much of lines 2 and 6 (their Circle Lne) is elevated –,2.351246&spn=0.000113,0.104628&hnear=Paris,+%C3%8Ele-de-France,+France&t=m&z=14&layer=c&cbll=48.883742,2.35119&panoid=_9Rr0kAaaXr8NqWpCIYLig&cbp=12,60.84,,0,-6.26, but London’s medieval street pattern is a different matter.

    Quite apart from the visual intrusion, it is far cheaper to build, and maintain, railways if we use the ground to support them directly.

  162. DW down under says:

    WRT to elevated structures for rail, London is already blessed with many miles of them – known generally as viaducts.

    What Stimarco is suggesting is the tram/DLR equivalent of a viaduct, requiring a slimmer reinforced concrete structure. That’s OK on plain line, but here’s a challenge:

    What would a 3 line interchange of overhead guideway systems look like? How much chance is there that the appearance of such a structure would be acceptable in a urban streetscape planning context?

    Of course, hanging cars from an overhead wire gives us: ……… a dangleway!! Imagine the tangle of dangleways for a 3 (through-) line interchange!

    Now, back to some tube lines becoming obsolete. Here’s what can be done with the infrastructure: convert to travelators. Candidate (if my XR3 doesn’t get up): Aldwych Branch, with a break about half-way. TfL would still be responsible, but would have powers to levy a rate on businesses in the area served.

    And a final thought: if the overhead structures are to provide a tram-like service, then why not just build a series of elevated travelators with good glazing. Interchanges are basically just a pedestrian precinct, elevated or ground level. Methinks these might get through planning easier than any vehicular transport system. Basically an overhead turbo-footpath. 🙂

  163. Anonymous says:

    How about extending the travelator at bank all the way to waterloo? How would average end to end journey times compare with the existing arrangements

  164. Nathanael says:

    “I think that you have to look at construction and development for the clues. Motorway and trunk road construction enriched more than Marples Ridgeway. Railways stations and (often redundant) goods yards were prime urban development sites. ”

    This was done in the US too. Actually, it’s still being done in the US *and* the UK. At least some attention is taken not to sever strategic lines, nowadays; in both countries, however, many strategic lines *were* severed for urban development.

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