Crossrail have announced that Howard Smith, currently Chief Operating Officer at TfL London Rail, will join Crossrail in March as Operations Director:

Howard Smith is currently Chief Operating Officer for Rail at Transport for London and has successfully led the £1bn East London Line extension project as well as the development, launch and operation of London Overground and management of its operating concession.

Howard Smith will be responsible for leading the development of Crossrail’s operational and customer service strategy, defining the structure of the new railway’s operating and maintenance organisations as well as leading on the arrangements for the future Crossrail operating concession.

The key words in the above announcement (and the reason why Smith is an excellent choice) are, of course, “Crossrail operating concession.” Smith has been instrumental in making London Overground the success it is, both from a passenger and a franchise perspective.

Indeed his name will be familiar to anyone who has followed our coverage of the Overground over the years, as he has consistently proven to be a figure who gets the importance of both urban and suburban rail, and has been a vocal proponent of taking the concession model forward. He’s also continually demonstrated a thorough knowledge of the practicalities and possibilities of rail work both north and south of the river. In that regard, Crossrail’s gain is very much TfL’s loss.

As a final thought, we will leave you with the (anonymous) words of one of Smith’s colleagues at TfL:

Howard brings together in one package, several key attributes that made him absolutely the right person in the right place when it came to the creation of London Overground and these will be equally crucial and valuable to Crossrail. Firstly, he is a Londoner through and through, he is also a Railwayman through and through and he is passionate about both of those “causes”.

Secondly, while he gained the invaluable experience of learning the railway business from the ground up as a Station Master at Richmond and London Bridge, he is acutely tuned to the bigger picture of the complexities of providing integrated transport services to Europe’s largest and fastest growing city. He understands the private sector politics of big business as well as the everyday public sector politics swirling around the running of London’s transport system which make it a three dimensional game.

Thirdly, he has the straightforward skill of mastering the changing day to day knowledge required to run a large transport organisation and that is a huge task which should never be underestimated. If you want your pub quiz team to be the unbeatable champion year in year out, get Howard on your side; if you see him on the opposition team, withdraw from the competition.

Finally, he is a genuinely helpful, cooperative and good person to work with.

Smith is thus an excellent choice for the Ops role at Crossrail, although it will be interesting to see who steps into his shoes at TfL.

jump to the end
There are 53 comments on this article
  1. John Bull says:

    Smith, of course, is the man who once uttered my all time favourite quote about London rail:

    “Opening new railways is London is less a case of building new ones and more a case of finding old bits you can reopen.”

    It was entirely off the cuff (we were strap-hanging on an ELL train at the time), but I still think it sums up the current rail situation in London perfectly.

  2. Anonymous says:

    “Opening new railways is London is less a case of building new ones and more a case of finding old bits you can reopen.”

    Passenger trains of the Dudding Hill line then. Closed in 1902.

    (Which may be better than evens, given the fact Old Oak Common is on its door-step.)

  3. Arkady says:

    JB – of course that’s why the name ‘London Reconnections’ resonates on multiple levels.

  4. DW down under says:

    Oh Heavens, Anonymous @ 04:37PM, 18th February 2013 … that has potential to open the floodgates. Hmmm, let me see …. 🙂

  5. Greg T says:

    operating concession … err, and according to all the reports, there is NOTHING WRONG AT ALL with the “Franchising” model?
    Well, now.
    Expect every single step of the way to be onstructed by DafT, then, I suppose?

    “old bits you can re-open” – presumably, bits that have since been bult on don’t count?
    Which doesn’t leave much, now.
    However, a study of “Klapper” might be profitable.

  6. The other Paul says:

    Other “old bits” that could be on the list –
    – Tracks 3+4 through Tottenham Hale to Cheshunt
    – Northern Heights, at least to Highgate
    – East Putney connection
    – Dudding Hill combined with the connections from South Acton to the Brentford Loop
    – Lloyd Park to Sanderstead/Purley
    – The line to Crystal Palace high level
    – Camden Road to South Hamsptead
    – Blackfriars west side
    – Chiltern line into Uxbridge

    And some “make better use of” bits –
    – Line via Nunhead
    – Bromley North branch
    – Elephant and Castle route
    – Wimbledon/Sutton loop
    – Finsbury Park to Moorgate
    – Stratford to Tottenham Hale and/or Chingford

  7. Malcolm says:

    “old bits you can reopen”

    OK as far as it goes. But don’t forget that there’s a little bit more to it than just finding them. (a) you’ve got to find the right old bits. (b) There’s got to be a point to reopening them, and (c) the service you run on the reopened old bits has got to tick all the boxes – as indeed Overground does, but (say) BondStreet to CharingCross probably wouldn’t.

  8. DW down under says:

    The other Paul. Let’s not forget the York Way platform and link down to the Widened lines (now Thameslink). Could help overcome the restrictions the new flat junction at Belle Isle will impose.

    And then there’s the freight line towards Heathrow 5 …. and maybe Crossrail to Uxbridge instead of just reversing west of Paddington.

    DW down under

  9. Taz says:

    Crossrail’s gain is NOT TfL’s loss, since Crossrail is part of the TfL empire, but perhaps London Rail’s loss.

  10. Rog T says:

    Old bits you can reopen. Mill Hill East to the newly opened rugby ground at Copthall

  11. stimarco says:

    Another problem with reopening old bits is finding ways to overcome the reason they were closed in the first place.

    The Crystal Palace High Level branch from Nunhead was closed for a very good reason: it passed almost exclusively through very low density housing for much of its route and lost a lot of money. The route itself is now mostly lost around Nunhead as the line has been built on. Only the two tunnels and a short stretch through a linear park (near Honor Oak) remain. And even those two tunnels have had blocks of flats plonked between their entrances where Upper Sydenham station used to be. I do feel that the future of those two tunnels – the only substantial part of that route still extant – might be best suited to a future Tramlink extension to, say, Denmark Hill or Peckham Rye. The tunnels would remove the need for long stretches of on-street running.

    When it comes to the likes of the Bromley North and Hayes branches, they are primarily a problem due to the capacity constraints they cause on the mainline route they connect to. These aren’t causes, they’re symptoms of a larger problem: the cut-rate design and construction of the SER and LC&DR networks, particularly in the south-eastern suburbs. (The L&SWR’s network is an unusual example of a well-designed mainline railway south of the Thames. Even the LB&SCR’s network has a lot of flat junctions and terminates on the wrong side of the Thames.)

    The only “solutions” that tend to be explored tend to be short-term ones due to the equally short-term nature of politics. They treat the symptoms rather than the underlying causes, and thus do little more than kick the urgently needed major surgery into the long grass time after time. The upshot of which is that we end up seeing ever more expensive sticking plasters slapped over the cracks, rather than holistic solutions that actually solve the problems once and for all.

    What the network needs is *complete* segregation of urban, outer-urban, and fast services. This isn’t going to be cheap and, yes, it will require more cross-city tunnels. I’ve said this before: we should have been discussing CR4 and CR5 by now, not CR2. This is what we get for letting central government micromanage a capital city’s infrastructure expenditure. It’s embarrassing that London has to go cap in hand to a roomful of MPs of places like Plymouth and Leeds for permission to build a new line under its own soil. We already spend a risible proportion of our GDP on transport as it is, hence the “either/or” debates over which city gets a turn at the tiny pot of money available each year.

    Until we solve this political congestion, there’s little point in worrying about anything else. Our MPs are part of the problem, not the solution.

  12. Fandroid says:

    I guess Howard Smith was thinking about the Outer Circle that has just been completed in the Overground. The concept always made sense as the connections across central London have always been poor . It also has the spinoff of making rail a viable means of travelling around in the suburbs, rather than just on radial routes.

    on the Outer Circle: the WLL was under-used but always looked like a vital link, even if mostly for freight. The NLL was similar, but was already coming back to life in terms of passenger numbers before TfL was invented. The key bit of vision was to see that the ELL and the old Broad Street line were not very far apart and if linked, would complete the circle.

    Perhaps if he likes re-using old lines, he could focus on the West Drayton to Colnbrook freight branch as a way of creating a one-way loop for Crossrail, rather than the currently proposed terminus in T5 (or the much bigger challenge of a western link from the GWML to Heathrow).

  13. John Bull says:

    Crossrail’s gain is NOT TfL’s loss, since Crossrail is part of the TfL empire, but perhaps London Rail’s loss.

    Yes, strictly speaking you’re right – Crossrail is TfL, but I meant in an operational/management sense. The two are (and will be) very clearly ringfinced from each other on a day-to-day operational basis.

    But yes, being very specific, it is indeed London Rail’s loss in particular.

  14. Steven Taylor says:


    Re joining up bits of `old railways`. In particular, as it applies to London Overground. I have always been amazed that the vital 1.3 kilometer link between Silwood Junction and Old Kent Road junction was still available after nearly 100 years – track lifted 1913-Last ELL passenger train 1911.

    I guess it is not often that a bit of old railway in an inner city environemnt would still be there after 100 years.

  15. Greg T says:

    London’s transport problem was very nearly solved, back in the 1980’s, after/during the time the madwoman from Grantham abolished the GLC.
    The planning of transport (& transport itself) in London was obviously going nowhere at all [ I remember a fight shortly after. where, instead of dealing with ONE authority, people wanting to take waste down the Thames in barges had to negotiate separately with each Local Authority between Wandsworth & Dartford on both banks of the river! ]
    The Corporation offered, very quietly (but it leaked out) to buy LUL/Buses/LPTB-equivalent, the works, for £1, provided they got to run it, without any interference, & central guvmint couild eff right off!
    It was actually considered, but turned down, because it would be too embarrassing, I believe.

  16. Fandroid says:

    Steven Taylor.

    As usual, my memory failed me in terms of another vital link. Yes, it’s very lucky that that last link had survived in its undeveloped state for so long.

  17. Slugabed says:

    Steven Taylor
    I seem to recall that the Old Kent Rd- Surrey Docks link (along with the other links connecting the East London Line to BR both North and South of the river) remained available for freight until the ELL was generally disconnected from BR in c.1966.
    You are right,however,in saying that passenger services were axed much earlier.

  18. Steven Taylor says:


    I was simplifying this somewhat. I am at work so I am going from memory. The line that was lifted in 1913 was from Old Kent Road Junction to where the new Surrey Canal Road station will be. These 2 lines were joined by a single line connection from New Cross Gate to Surrey Quays ( strictly Deptford Road Junction-now Silwood Junction) – at where the Surrey Canal Road is now. The formation north from this point was 3 tracks and only one track was down between 1913 to 1964. This enables the footpath to still be there – it used the formation of one of the 3 tracks.

    Of interest is the fact that part of the closed 1913 formation had a grandstand built upon it for speedway etc which I think closed in 1960`s.

    The other direct link from Old Kent Road Junction to New Cross Gate and Deptford Wharf? on the Thames closed around 1964-ish as well, and Old Kent Road junction was taken out. Joe Brown`s Atlas has excellent large scale diagrams of all the lines. It is an interesting area.

  19. Slugabed says:

    Steven Taylor
    My mistake….working from memory again…you are absolutely right.
    It IS a very interesting area which has seen great change wrought upon it only in the last ten years or so….
    Apropos to another thread,travelling up from New X the other day,I couldn’t help noticing how easy it would be to re-instate the old “Up” connection onto the ELL…

  20. stimarco says:

    A few traces of the old Deptford Wharf branch can still be found if you look closely. There’s a pedestrian subway near Coldblow Lane that originally took the branch under the railway viaduct. And if you ever visit the SELCHP plant, you’ll notice the road goes under the nearby (ex-SER) viaduct where the footings appear to have been given concrete boots. This is the point where the branch line crossed under said viaduct before rising over the ELL branch to get at Deptford over a bridge. (I suspect the branch was already on a rising gradient at this point, so they had to give the later parts of the viaduct deeper foundations when they put the road in at a lower level.)

    (There’s also a short stretch of embankment between the Cannon’s Wharf trading estate and Rainsborough Avenue, just off Evelyn Street.)

    And now, for my next trick, I’ll stop typing and keep this post mercifully short.

  21. Steven Taylor says:

    I have just travelled over the new Old Kent Road – Silwood link at 1.30. Bridgehouse Meadows looks very nice in the sunshine and someone was exercising a horse on the meadows, Unexpected to say the least.

  22. Steven Taylor says:

    @ stimarco

    Thanks for your post re the old Deptford Wharf goods branch. I have made a note of your observations re traces of the branch and will pay them a visit. Take care.

  23. Anonymous says:

    But why is crossrail part of TfL? Why do they need to be involved?

    Surely (looking at the wider picture), the suburban trains that run from Reading to Paddington can just run into this new route one way, and the suburban trains that run into Liverpool Street – or from Abbey Wood can run the other way? Why do we need new rolling stock? Why isn’t this whole thing more joined up – linking services from one part of England to another? If normal commuter services into Liverpool Street and Paddington formed the bulk of the new service then surely millions need not be wasted building new trains?

    And why is the whole main line NOT being diverted (along with crossrail) via ALL the Heathrow terminals? Its not rocket science is it – I mean routing all the main line services into Heathrow (from Penzance, Plymouth, Exeter, Cardiff, Oxford etc) via Heathrow and then into the new “Crossrail tunnels” and onto Stansted (via Stratford), Colchester, Harwich, Ipswich, Norwich, Cambridge. Surely that would result in more than enough services using the route. We would have a more joined up system – without a separate Crossrail (presumably charging premium fares).

    But. it would be the end of Europes most expensive train service (Heathrow Express), a more joined up system would lead to a (massive ?) drop in revenue for TfL – as less people would need the tube, and rather than just building another branch line to Heathrow – we would have a more connected railway system using existing trains on vastly expanded route stretching form Norwich to Penzance and linking millions to the UK busiest airport.

    Can’t we run existing trains and current services through the crossrail tunnels? Is is me, or why does every government never consider linking Heathrow (like Gatwick) to the bigger National Rail network? Before people say its all too expensive surely we’d SAVE money not having to build new trains, and surely we’d MAKE money routing the main line via Heathrow, and linking up a much bigger area? If this was Germany, France etc it would just be done and in 10 years or so, the people of Cardiff, Penzance, Colchester, Norwich etc would be linked up to Heathrow and commuter trains would be running through London rather than terminating at either Paddington or Liverpool Street.

  24. MikeP says:


    I’ll leave others to spot the other holes in your case – but your proposal wouldn’t lead to a “no new rolling stock” situation. Trains into Abbey Wood are 3rd-rail. Crossrail, the Western end, and the other Eastern branch are/will be all 25KV overhead. There aren’t enough dual-powered units to run Crossrail, so new stock would be needed under this scenario too.

    As an aside, though – I watched a program last night where the entire Leeds area was brought to a halt thanks to flooding – no trains allowed if the floodwater covers the rails. So that leaves (ha!!) ice as the only weather-related disadvantage of the 3rd rail – and with the chaos recently over downed OHLE, maybe 3rd rail isn’t such a bad idea, if all the stock can have Electrostar-style anti-icing systems (dump 100A through the rheostatic braking system all the time….)

    Lots of operational issues too with your idea – for one, you suggest routing long-distance services through Crossrail, but this is mixing long distance and suburban traffic – the very thing that causes all sorts of operational problems and one of the things Crossrail is designed to assist.

  25. Greg T says:

    Anon @ 01.06

    1] New rolling stock?
    We don’t have enough NOW.
    We need guaranteed longer (12 or 16-car) trains to carry the immense load that will be taken
    The older stock can then be cascaded to other places that need it, desperately
    2] No sane person goes anywhere near Heathrow, in the first place
    A branch toTheifrow is a sop to the all-powerful & insidious air lobby – what it SHOULD do is then carry on to Staines & Reading via the ex LSW lines …..
    3] Mailine services
    ONLY if you have a 4-track Xr1, not 2-track, with fewer stops, other wise, forget it – I assume you CAN work out why? If you can’t then please don’t come back?
    4] Yes we could, but, again, we NEED extra rolling stock, or have you not seen that the train-loadings have got to 150->200% capacity over the last few years?
    5] If this was Germany or France, yes it would have been done, long since, & with LOTS OF NEW TRAINS …..


    [modded for language -JB]

  26. Greg T says:

    Actually, given the serious intent & collection of total howlers, I wonder if our Anon poster is John Redwood?
    It’s exactly the sort of uninformed tosh that a supposedly inteeligent person (Redwood) comes out with, every single time!
    [ NOTE: Redwood has an on-line diary & hos comments on railways, about once a month are EXACTLY like this! ]

  27. Fandroid says:

    Crossrail does currently look very limited in its ambitions going westwards. However, once it’s built I can foresee all manner of potential extensions being discussed (beyond the far-seeing LR Commentariat) : Windsor via Slough, Staines via Heathrow, possibly even High Wycombe via Maidenhead and Bourne End (Howard Smith does like opening old railway lines after all!)

  28. stimarco says:

    I don’t understand the fixation some people have with diverting hundreds of trains per day via Heathrow. Why? In terms of rail passenger traffic and demand, Heathrow is a sad irrelevance. Here’s why…

    From LHR’s own website:

    Number of passengers arriving and departing in 2011: 69.4 million
    Percentage of transfer passengers in 2011: 34.6% (24.0 million)

    Transfer passengers *never leave the airport*, they’re just changing planes. That means, of that 69.4 million headline figure, we can subtract 24 million, leaving us with just 45.4 million passengers travelling to / from the airport in 2011. Sounds like a lot, but you then have to consider the fact that many of those millions of people arrive and / or depart LHR by road, not by rail. Furthermore, LHR has multiple stations, not just one, so any rail usage figures will be spread over the entire complex, not just a single station. (This is actually the biggest problem with diverting lots of services via Heathrow: each station adds minutes to the journey time. Heathrow would require at least two such stops, slowing down *every* passenger, regardless of their destination.)

    Heathrow Express claims they carry 16000 passengers / day. That’s about the same as Bromley South station in Kent, which serves a small market/commuter town.

    The Heathrow Express website even claims the service has carried a total of 60 million (-ish) passengers since the service began in the late ’90s. By contrast, Waterloo station saw 91 million passengers in 2011 alone!

    According to TfL, the three Tube stations *combined* saw 13.39 million passengers in 2011. That works out at roughly 36000 passengers per day, across all three stations. By comparison, Walthamstow Central, Bethnal Green and Barking each saw more passengers over the same year.

    To cut a long post short: Heathrow Airport’s station complex is so far down the passenger demand league tables that diverting loads of trains through it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

  29. John Bull says:

    ^^^What Stimarco said.

    The need for everything to go to Heathrow is a bit of a transport myth, somewhat encouraged (as Greg suggests, albeit rather colourfully) by the powerful Heathrow lobby.

    The current Heathrow arrangements are perfectly adequate really, and if anything there’s an argument for saying that diverting more services via Heathrow actually does long term damage if you’re long term goal is to shift transport habits (and airport traffic) AWAY from the airport.

    Actually there’s probably a post in this, so I’ll stop there for now. Stimarco, do you want to drop me an email so we can talk Heathrow?

  30. JM says:


    To come back on one of your points – I’m curious why you believe routes via Heathrow or any airport should not be as isolated as possible from the main rail network. If you add passengers and workers, it equals around 300,000 people per day travelling to and from the complex when larger conurbations are being denied a direct route for HS2 and would generally receive between 1-3 trains per hour.

    If you were travelling from the SW to central London, why would you want to travel via Heathrow where dwell times at stations would likely be longer due to the amount of extra luggage which would require the removal of seats on every carriage?

    I’m all for better rail access for Heathrow/moving HEX and HConnect onto Crossrail etc. Paris, Hong Kong, Singapore all have good local rapid transit to the airport but it isn’t operating at an expense to the travel quality of the rest of the network.

    As long as Heathrows future isnt clear cut, it would make little sense planning infrastructure for the next century with Heathrow directly in mind. If its future as a hub/dual hub is assured then a HS2/GWR spur and increased Crossrail services will probably come.

    Ken Livingstone, more than once, made a pitch for HS2 running as you did north to south through London. A strange thing to advocate whilst running for London mayor I thought. Something that would ultimately benefit anyone not living in London.

    Separately as for western extensions go, when Old Oak Hs2 arrives (and if the Farrell project there follows in tandem) it would make an awful lot of sense to route the terminating Paddington XRail services over the west coast main line suburban routes as Greengauge and others have suggested giving you up to half a dozen spare platforms at Euston. Not as simple as that I know as you have the Thameslink thing of something trying to be metro/commuer rail all at once, plus at least a couple of stations along the route (Watford High St being one) may have problems extending platforms.

  31. Littlejohn says:

    The general consensus, that Crossrail should be kept away from Heathrow, may well be right. But Heathrow is really a small (or not so small) town and what is missing from Stimarco’s post is an assessment of how many workers commute to Heathrow and where they are coming from. You never know, there might be justification for improved rail links there alone, quite apart from the passenger numbers.

  32. Long Branch Mike says:

    I too am surprised that Crossrail will not proceed beyond Heathrow. I understand the reasons stated above for not stopping a service through Heathrow, but there is a need to access Heathrow from the south, as in the Airtrack proposal. Surely such southern access can be designed, without impacting the majority of CrossRail services.

  33. JM says:


    Not sure the consensus says Crossrail shouldn’t go there, rather it shouldn’t be used at as a through station for long distance trains. Unless I’m reading it wrong??

    I tried to find commuter specific stats, particulalry by mode for Heathrow but haven’t found them yet. According to Heathrow Commuter, 72,000 people work at the airport (Heathrow aka BAA say 76,000) although whether that includes those actually inside the airport, within the free travel zone or periphary busnesses on top (hotels etc), I couldn’t tell you. You can make a rough assumption therefore around 150,000 staff journeys are made to and from the airport each day.

    Heathrow figures state nearly half of staff live in the surrounding five boroughs. I know from using the 140 to Heathrow at 5am for an early flight, buses to the airport within the TFL zones are very well utilised.

    Agree you could probably justify a regular service to Heathrow on something like CRossrail as it potentially acts the same way a large suburb would like Croydon or Enfield. BAA paid for and operate the EXpress so some ownership/train path issues I suspect that may make running more frequent services not as simple as it should be.

    Always thought a good solution might be a Zone A travelzone for Heathrow with Heathrow plc receiving a premium for the proceeds raised with TFL running the services and a relative larger charge for travelling to that zone from Zone 6. Would wager travel by bus/tube dwarfs the Express/Connect and you could probably ensure an Oyster registered to an employer within the airport isn’t charged a premium to encourage more employees to use public transport to the airport. I’m sure someone could tell me the gaping flaw if I’ve missed one

    Long Branch Mike

    I believe the access problem from the south has a lot to do with level crossings on the Waterloo route. I think the only way you could get a frequent service is build a curve around Longcross/Virginia Water and divert WAterloo bound Reading/Weybridge services onto the SWML. Given how full that is, you wouldn’t be able to do that without having six tracks. I’m new to this site but I think there is an article on this on the archive.

  34. stimarco says:


    “150000 staff journeys per day” doesn’t equate to “150000 rail users per day”.

    Most workers at Heathrow are low-paid shift workers who tend to arrive by road (bus, bike, foot, or car). Hatton Cross was actually built in part to serve workers at the airport. It provides a local transport hub, with a number of bus services stopping there, including internal staff bus services run by the airport itself.

    Thanks to the collapse of the AirTrack project, the airport itself is only really accessible by rail from the east (i.e. the expensive direction towards London), which drastically limits the potential catchment areas for rail commuting.

    Rail travel is also expensive compared to buses, so many simply won’t switch. Especially shift workers, who may well have to travel when there aren’t any trains running anyway. The lowest-paid workers will probably be walking or cycling to work.

    To get an idea of how many passengers a single line can shift, consider that one ’73 Stock’ Piccadilly Line train can carry 684 passengers. The Piccadilly Line runs 12 tph. through Terminals 1,2,3 (and 6 tph split over the other two stations). That’s a total hourly capacity of 8208 passengers per hour. Add in the Heathrow Connect and Heathrow Express services and you’re looking at a potential 20K passengers per hour of throughput. Even assuming 20% of that 150K figure would actually travel by rail, (which is extremely optimistic for the reasons outlined above), the existing services would have no trouble at all coping with the demand.

    Heathrow really has plenty of rail infrastructure to cope with current and projected demand. (Even Heathrow’s owners have admitted that their original projections have proved far too optimistic and have had to push back some of their grandiose redevelopment plans well into the 2020s.)

    @ John Bull: re. a Heathrow article. I’d be happy to contribute. (Don’t you already have my email?)

  35. ChrisMitch says:

    The problem with current trains and tubes to Heathrow is that they are either horribly crowded (Piccadilly line),
    or go to a useless terminal in the top right corner of London (Paddington) – plus these trains are extortianately expensive, and not included in the zone system.
    Roll-on crossrail. It won’t make it easier to get there from S London, but it’s a start.

  36. Anonymous says:

    Extend Crossrail to Feltham from Heathrow Terminals 1,2 &3 via Heathrow Terminal 4 to provide the required interchange with SWT services. A fast rail service to the airport would be useful for local people as well as Surrey/Berkshire SWT airport passengers/workers. This would also assist regeneration in Feltham town centre and provide some useful new links between Feltham and Old Oak, Ealing Broadway, Southall and Hayes.

    Or double and rework the Piccadilly Line loop so trains run Hatton Cross, HT1,2&3, HT4 and Feltham and reverse. The latter would help to even out loadings on the Heathrow branch (westbound HT4 & HT1,2&3 trains are less popular than the HT1,2&3 & HT5 trains due to the longer journey time to HT1,2&3) and provide HT1,2&3 with a more frequent direct service from Central London.

  37. DW down under says:

    Just a reminder with regard to Heathrow that the station box provided at Terminal 5 has only ONE through road. This was deliberate on the part of BAA who DID NOT want through trains, but wanted AirTrack. So it’s a station box designed to TERMINATE trains from the east (London) and from the west (Staines), but not to make a loop of them.

    Silly, but that’s business politics.

    So, if anyone wants to build through capacity into Heathrow 5, your facility will have to be outside the present building structure.


    DW down under

  38. DW down under says:

    Anonymous @ 10:41PM, 20th February 2013

    Like your ideas. Heathrow Crossrail Connect to connect with SWT by extending south from Heathrow 4 would be a winner if AirTrack or some variant thereof doesn’t take off (pun intended). 🙂

    DW down under

  39. Greg T says:

    DW du
    “So, if anyone wants to build through capacity into Heathrow 5, your facility will have to be outside the present building structure.”
    Easy – make the airlines & the airport operator pay for it.
    They want a service, they get to pay for it, especially given the grossly exorbitant prices charged for their express service, or even for traversing Hayes & Harlington – Theifrow on “Heathrow Connect” services!

    Your comment on “Business politics” is fascinating – (Apart from the instinctive reaction of: “Yeah, greedy & stupid”, that is) because I’ve just come across an fascinating historical snapshot, highly relevant to transport in London.
    It is a copy of the 1st edition front page of the “FT” – 125 years ago, 13th February 1888.
    On that ONE page there are:
    1] “The Southern Railways, temporary rupture of negotiations” – referring to talks between the SER (Watkin is mentioned by name) & the Brighton Company.
    2] Great Northern Railway – Directors half-yearly report
    3] The Metropolitan District Railway – a really steaming rant by an irate correspondent, regarding the iniquity of the MDR management & J. S. Forbes in particular!

    Plus ca change, qui plus la même chose comes to mind.

    Incidentally, if we want a really interesting discussion, I can convert the original to a *.pdf-format & forward for re-publication.

    Anyone interested?

  40. Littlejohn says:

    @stimarco 09:45PM, 20th February 2013. I didn’t say “150000 staff journeys per day” equates to “150000 rail users per day”. I didn’t even mention 150000 staff journeys, that was JM and I can’t see that he then said that that equalled the same number of rail journeys.

    All I said was that your post of 12:12PM, 20th February 2013 understated the demand at Heathrow because it dealt only with passenger numbers and ignored the workers. Your suggestion that ‘Most workers at Heathrow are low-paid shift workers who tend to arrive by road (bus, bike, foot, or car)’ may be true although the car bit lacks a certain logic, but the fact remains that any assessment of demand for rail, or anything else, must start with an understanding of travel patterns, numbers of potential passengers, their locations and existing provision. Plucking these from the air or relying on gut instinct in unlikely to lead to the right answer.

  41. timbeau says:

    The downfall of Airtrack was the large number of level crossings between Barnes and Sunningdale. However, many of these could be avoided if the trains used the Hounslow Loop. At its closest, this line is less than half a mile from the Piccadilly Line. Could a connection be built between them? The Picadilly’s Heathrow branch must have spare capacity, because of the gaps left by trains serving the Rayners lane branch. Full size trains should be able to get as far as Hounslow West, as it was used by the District Line until the 1960s. Beyond that, the tunnels would need to be expanded (possibly only allowing full size trains to serve T4 and the Picc to serve the rest). Alternatively, all Hounslow Loop services could be handed over to Tube trains, by extending the Northern Line from Battersea to take over two tracks to Barnes – however this would require services from the Staines and Twickenham directions to terminate at the junction with the new spur – not ideal, but better than the existing bus transfer from Feltham.

  42. JM says:

    @Littlejohn @stimarco

    Just to clarify, the 150,000 staff journeys per day came from me and was approximate given the disparity in figures between figures on various Heathrow affiliated websites. I’ve looked for modal share but haven’t found it. I used to work at Heathrow years ago (pre HEx) and would summise back then that bus was (and still probably is) the dominant mode of transport. From personal experience, I would not suspect given the noise and traffic, walking, cycling or cars feature highly – although admittedly I can’t prove this. Even with shifts the night bus network to the airport now is better than most regional cities.

    Relative to other European hub airports, Heathrow is very well served from it’s local city. CDG has 1 suburban line, SChipol has no ‘local’ link (but most regionals from the south stop there en route to Amsterdam) and Frankfurt has 2 S Bahns with combined frequency of 8tph. THis is compared to 18tph arriving at Heathrow via Hex/Connect/Piccadilly. Granted the others have far better regional/high speed access services though. Someone can correct me if wrong but I believe CRossrail gets 4 trains to Heathrow per hour, taking over the Connect so giving you 20tph altogether. Not bad.

    Think you could only eliminate the price issue for the trains if TfL run the service. Standard prices and westbound trains should be heavily utilised though I’m only really going how busy I used to see 140/105 which passes stations along the route.

    If LHR gets a third runway, it will almost certainly get a sixth terminal too north of the current complex. CRossrail/HEx may be able to serve it but not sure what effect that would have on the PIccadilly line or it’s service pattern. 4 destinations with one through line. Given how busy the Hamm – Knightsbridge section gets, would almost certainly need a split and a new tunnel.


    May be difficult to link HLoop and PIcc (Picc is mostly above ground level around Hounslow) but interesting you mention the NLE. I think there are two level crossings around Barnes Bridge/Chiswick

    I think a natural extension for that could utilise curve at East Putney and the northern Hounslow loop so you could run 30 tph from Battersea/CJ further west to East Putney (if there is space for 2 sidings otherwise you probably have to remodel platforms to an island), Feltham via Hounslow(would almost certainly require station rebuild though) and reinstate a curve to Southall from Brentford to interchnage with Crossrail. You could have intermittent stations at GReat West Road to cover hq of large local employers (Sky and GSK) and Windmill Bridge (lots of brownfield sites in east Southall that could benefit long term) and would serve areas like Norwood Green lacking close access to any train. There would also be space for a depot at Southall and would improve transport access for the 4000 homes being built at the old gas ometer giving west.south access without having to travel into London. Plus you would have much better access to the airport from south London via CJ and Southall.

    May be issues with junction at Brentford but think you only have one warehouse separarting the bridge at Great West Rd from the Hounslow loop. May stand up even without Heathrow. You could run more Reading/Windsor/Weybridge and even a Camberley service along the Richmond part.

  43. The other Paul says:

    Yes I forgot Southall to Brentford on my original list. The biggest expense of reopening would be bridging the A4, though once the line is raised (or lowered) for that it would seem to lend itself to a grade separated junction with the Hounslow loop.

    Given the nearby curve to South Acton and the Dudding Hill line, maybe there is an opportunity for LO here? Either a straight connection from the new “staples corner” station via Actons Central and South, Brentford and around to Southall, or a re-casting running Dudding Hill services to Richmond and NLL services to Southall via Brentford.

    4-tracking the Brentford section might even be feasible if we want a segregated railway, and the Bollo Lane level crossings are surely long overdue for closure?

  44. mr_jrt says:

    If you’re going to go to the expense of enlarging the Heathrow Picc tunnels to what they should have been built as…

    …why not extend the four tracking from Northfields. Should be trivial to get the additional pair to the A4 around Ridgeway Road, then a simple tunnel under the A4 all the way to the existing tunnels at Hatton Cross. Interchanges at Osterley and Hatton Cross.

    What you can then do is resolve the silly situation of having tube stock hopelessly trying to compromise between metro and long distance airport provision and take advantage of the S-Stock’s large size and suitability for fast running (as seen on the Met). With a re-jig at Turnham Green so the Piccadilly can use the old LSWR flyunder to take the branch to Richmond (at least until the Central gets here 😉 ), it can then switch to providing a stopping service between Richmond & Earl’s Court. It can then have a branch to Hatton Cross where it also provides the all-stations service, interchanging with the District at Hatton Cross and Osterley. The District service could then run T5, T123, Hatton Cross, Osterley, Acton Town, Hammersmith, then all-stations.

    Depending on which has the spare capacity, either of the two can take the branches north of Acton Town to Ealing Broadway and Rayner’s Lane.

    All vaguely shown, as usual, on the hacked-up map of doom.

  45. Greg T says:

    MR jrt
    and suitability for NOT fast running (as seen on the Met).
    Really? Like why are there 4 tracks between Wembley Park & Harrow, now & I assume that the 4th-rails will soon be removed on the NW pair of tracks between Harrow & Moor Park, thanks to LUL’s insanity – tell me, why was all that money spent, back in the late 1950’s?
    Actually, I wonder how long this will last …..

  46. Fandroid says:


    Although Frankfurt has two S-bahn routes through its ‘Regional’ airport station, that station also has RE trains too. I have got there from the Saarbrucken line via Mainz without changing. Its ‘Fern’ station next door takes many intercity trains of whatever type so that getting to the national hub airport is relatively easy from most of the western half of Germany, as well as from the Rhine-Main area around Frankfurt. As for Schiphol, you have to remember that Amsterdam is a relatively small city, so does not have a big Metro network anyway. Its mainline rail connections (excellent by the way) provide good connectivity to the southern part of the city as well as to Amsterdam Centraal, and to the major centres of Den Haag and Rotterdam. London is Europe’s biggest city. The rail connections to Heathrow may be excellent to West Central London and (part of) SW London, but they are hopeless in any other direction.

  47. JM says:

    @ The other Paul

    Agree there probably could be a greater role for LO around there, particularly around the Old Oak Stn site as I mentioned somewhere else. Both Wembley Park and East Acton also have spare platforms or room to add spare platforms for spurs for north/south link.

    Not sure I’d use Brentford to Southall for LO though. To me offers a great opportunity to go Berkshire/Heathrow to south London/surrey/sussex or vice versa bypassing central London whether you use it for Windsor Lines or Northern Line.

    @ Fandroid

    Was only really specifically talking about access from London which went back to the original post about using it as a through station but agree you’re right and have used ICE myself to travel from Cologne to Frankfurt Airport. With the extra Crossrails, its probably already well served from the city. Agree about the west but not sure what you do – surely taking long distance trains reduces potential capacity for London. Maybe a new spur west to south running out to Reading (next major interchange) complementing Crossrail frequency to the airport the other way. Otherwise difficult to decide which of local/longer services are more deserving.

  48. DW down under says:

    From Railway Express (

    As part of it plans to reform passenger rail services in New South Wales, the state government has announced the appointment of London Underground chief operating officer, Howard Collins as the CEO of Sydney Trains.

    Seems that there is a general exodus from the top @ LUL.

    Dunno if Howard is getting a promotion 🙂

    DW down under

  49. Pedantic of Purley says:

    The salary quoted in DW down under’s link (click through) looks good at A$530,000 which is around £350,000. But, as noted recently by the BBC, the cost of living in Australia is high.

    Many organisations expect top management to have had experience elsewhere. In the civil service it arranged internally and top civil servants have often done a stint in outside industry with the state’s blessing. Chief Constables are expected to have experience of more than one police force at a high management level but seem to gravitate back to the force they started at. More famously Mike Brown himself left LU to go to Heathrow but was back after a surprisingly short time. It is as if he had an annual appraisal and got told that he wouldn’t get any further unless he had some outside experience.

    If the lure of Australia doesn’t tempt Howard Collins to permanently resettle I expect we will see him return in a few years time.

  50. DW down under says:

    Pedantic of Purley @ 10:25AM, 25th February 2013 wrote:

    “The salary quoted in DW down under’s link (click through) looks good at A$530,000 which is around £350,000. But, as noted recently by the BBC, the cost of living in Australia is high.”

    I live in a high cost part of Australia – Tasmania. It’s an island, like Ireland. Everything we get comes by boat, and they’re all manned by Union crews with no commercial competition. Even so, it’s my impression that our cost of living is way less than London.

    But Sydney, now there’s a different kettle of fish. Some of the expensive bits about Sydney are: real estate, road tolls, parking. If his contract deals with some if not all of these, he will be comfortable – but there are many in the private sector who would have less responsibility and be paid ten times as much.

    I wouldn’t mind the job as his no. 3 on 1/3 of that, mind! 🙂

    DW down under

  51. Richard Peterson says:

    Hey – I heard a rumour that Howard Smith used to be in the SAS (!). Can anyone confirm or deny??

  52. Anonymous says:

    Reply to Steven Taylor on 19/12/13 – 12.41

    That was the old New Cross Stadium (Greyhounds, Speedway and Stock Cars) which closed in 1969.

    From what I can remember (I worked for the local council when the stadium was demolished and had access to the site) there was never a grandstand built on the old 1913 formation but there was a line of blue and white dog kennels on the embankment that was something of a noticeable feature for some years. You may be thinking of the north terrace of the Stadium, or the east terrace of the adjacent old Millwall Football Stadium as these standing spectator terraces were built right up against the railway embankment

  53. Anonymous says:

    Cancel that last post! Apologies Steven – your memory is better than mine! I’ve just found an aerial view of the Stadium and the main grandstand looks as if it was indeed built on the 1913 formation. I was confusing that line with the other two that sweep in from the left to make a junction with it north (?) of the stadium – it was on one of those that the dog kennels were situated.

Leave a Comment

In order to make LR a pleasant place for discussion, please try to keep comments polite and, importantly, on topic! Comments that we feel do not meet these criteria, or that contain language that could cause some people trouble at work, may be moderated or deleted.

acceptable tags

* (This won't be shown, but you can link it to an avatar if you like)

Recent Articles

Friday Reading List – 17 March


As anyone looking to properly understand London’s transport needs and network knows, context, background and best-practice are important. As readers might imagine, behind the scenes here at LR Towers we thus spend a lot of time sharing links and reading

Read more ›

LR Magazine Issue Five: Overgrounded


With print copies now being prepped for dispatch to subscribers at LR Towers, London Reconnections Magazine Issue 5: Overgrounded is now available to purchase in our online store. Transport is politics, politics is transport You don’t get transport without politics.

Read more ›