Our recent article on future Northern Line upgrades was not really meant to be about one particular aspect but how the pieces as a whole fitted together. It was acknowledged in the title that the biggest contentious issue would be the upgrading of Camden Town station.

The first of these upgrades mentioned – the signalling – is in progress now but attracted very little comment. Whether this is because it is happening in the background or it is because that automatic train operation on the London Underground is now regarded as decidedly passé is hard to tell.

Other aspects of the recent article such as the proposed Battersea extension and Bank Station Capacity Enhancement have been covered before by us in recent years. So it was perhaps, with hindsight, inevitable that a proposed enhancement to Camden Town station to facilitate interchange would attract the most comment. It was also probably inevitable that the whole issue of Camden Town station being completely unsatisfactory for the numbers of people wishing to enter and exit the station would invite a lot of comment, despite clearly not being something that can be done in the timescale for completion of the other aspects of Northern Line enhancement.

The need for interchange facilities and HS2

The provision of good interchange facilities at Camden Town is regarded as essential before the Northern Line could be split – if a split is to be the intention. Some of the comments made the entirely valid point that if inadequate interchange facilities cause passengers to change somewhere else then that, in the bigger picture, would be seen to cause greater problems. A prominent example was Euston. Given that HS2 Ltd probably want the interchange at Euston between HS2 and the Underground to be as smooth as possible, it follows that they will also want to see any split of the Northern Line conditional on the quality of interchange at Camden Town being, at the very least, equal in terms of passenger convenience to that at Euston.

Some of the interchange passages needed at Camden will be quite long. It may be the case, therefore, that an argument could be made to install a moving walkway similar to the one deep below ground at Waterloo tube station to facilitate interchange to the Jubilee line.

Deep Level Shelters

Less expected was discussion of the relevance of the World War II deep level shelters. Taking into account any existing infrastructure when expanding a tube station is always a good thing to do, even if only to ensure one does not get caught out by it during construction – as actually happened at Oxford Circus in the 1960s during the rebuild of the station. This issue with the shelter tunnels was could these be used to an advantage during a possible future reconstruction?

Most regular readers will be familiar with the World War II shelters which were constructed as long deep level tunnels and built with the intention of subsequently using them after the war was over to bypass stations on the Northern Line and hence provide an express service. The idea was a strange one in general and in the rush of war probably no great thought or discussion was given to thinking how sensible an idea this was. Most bizarre of all the shelters in terms of subsequent use must have been those at Camden. The idea seemed flawed on two accounts. The first flaw was the idea that Camden Town would be a suitable station to have trains miss out on their journeys. The second flaw was that, as we shall see, the tube extends into the area of the complex junctions south of Camden Town. In all probability no consideration would have been given as to how the deep shelter tunnels could possibly be connected to this underground complex of junctions to produce a viable track layout. This is especially true when one takes into account that the future “express” tunnels were intended to be in addition to, and not instead of, the existing ones.

Not so secret shelters

The deep level shelters have been documented in many books through the years, and generally merit a few paragraphs or even a full chapter in all the usual suspects such Rails Through The Clay. The most comprehensive book on this subject though has to be the very recently updated London’s Secret Tubes published by Capital Transport in which the subject covers 34 large pages over three separate chapters.

Online it is comprehensively covered by Subterranea Britannica as you would expect. IanVisits reports on a lesser known use for the shelters, Diamond Geezer inevitably approaches the subject in his own way and indeed we ourselves couldn’t resist getting in on the act.

Precise Location

Updated Overview

The (black) deep level tunnels in relation to street level.

The above picture shows the location of the deep level shelter tunnels, which are shown in black. It can be seen that they are below the existing platforms (in grey) which it must be remembered are themselves on two levels – one for northbound and one for southbound services. Original access to the deep level shelter is shown in blue.

In the images that follow, north rather confusingly is not up the page but to the right.

Camden Town North

The Northern End of the Deep Level Shelters

Camden Town South

The Southern End of the Deep Level Shelters

In the two original plans above we see more precisely the exact locations of the tunnels and crucially, but not particularly relevant to current issues, the fact that they extend under the junction complex. As is often the case there are difficulties locating the position in relation to streets because the street names have changed. Wellington Street had been renamed Inverness Street by 1938. We cannot know if this means that the map are pre-1938 or, more likely, the draughtsman was using an out-of-date surface map as a reference. Park Street is almost certainly today’s Parkway.

Looks good in 2D

Ideas for transport links that initially look like a good idea often fall at the first hurdle. Above ground a visit to the site, or even just a thorough look with Google Streetview, may highlight flaws. Below ground, without an isometric 3D dynamic CAD drawing, it is more difficult to decide whether to progress or to abandon ideas at an early stage.

Despite their name the deep level shelters at this location are not that deep. The crown of the tunnel is only about 18 metres below road level. This was probably determined by the minimum depth that they could be which was consistent with safe construction below the Northern Line tunnels.

The southbound Northern Line tunnels are the deeper of the two and it is estimated that the centre of the tunnel is approximately six metres higher than the centre line of the shelter tunnels. This is about the size of a two storey house up to the roof level and it is difficult to see how such tunnels can be incorporated into any future layout of the station.

Are the Deep Shelter tunnels relevant?

It would appear at first sight that the deep level shelter tunnels are of no relevance – excepting, of course, that you always need to know what tunnels are in the area. This will be the case whether considering their use for a minimal improved interchange upgrade or a subsequent full-blown station upgrade.

The idea that the deep level shelter tunnels can serve no useful function in this instance, however, may not be entirely true. Much has been made of the difficulty of finding a construction worksite in such a sensitive area. London Underground have not been prepared to give away many details at this stage but verbally they have said that they believe that they would avoid the contention present in the earlier plans over having a building site in the centre of Camden by locating it some distance from the heart of the station.

London Underground’s pronouncement may just mean construction of an temporary angled shaft for access purposes, or alternatively it may mean using at least one shelter tunnel to access the station work site. This would not be an entirely new idea. As our piece on the upcoming repairs to the Jubilee highlighted, a similar approach was taken at Old Street during repairs to the Northern Line, with disused siding tunnels used for work site access. If this approach were used again, one suspects this would be from the north where there appear to be various insubstantial commercial buildings of little merit. If at least one of these tunnels were used for this purpose then arguably it would be the first time that any of these tunnels would have contributed to faster journey times as was supposedly their ultimate purpose.

Many thanks to Jonathan Roberts for making the material available to make this post possible.

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There are 134 comments on this article
  1. JamesC says:

    One possible use would be to move the numerous noisy bars and clubs in the area underground along with their unroullie clientele. These tunnels do look atleast from thr 2d plans to have enough exits to meet current evacuation standards for that number of people.

    As to aid faster transport, I guess you could move the tfl website servers down there!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Heh, TFL can fit out a deep tunnel as a (very long, thin) nightclub, then use the Electric Ballroom site to provide more ingress/egress to the northern line platforms. Might get a bit hot down there though if the tunnels aren’t adequately ventilated.

    It would be neat to see an article with some potential split plan diagrams for the existing Camden Town layout, if it was to be split.

  3. Anonymous says:

    “Some of the interchange passages needed at Camden will be quite long.”

    What? The four tunnels are all stacked together. Unless we’re talking about a connection with Camden Road?

  4. Anonymous says:

    @Anon 1216

    “The four tunnels are all stacked together”

    They are stacked in pairs, but the two pairs are not parallel, they form a V. A cross passage connecting the northern end of a Barnet branch tunnel with the northern end of an Edgware branch tunnel would indeed be about a train length if the aerial view in the article is accurate and the platforms extend as far as Buck Street.

  5. JamesC says:

    On another interesting note the similar tunnels at North Clapham are now up for sale. I vaguely remember one website doing an artical on them circa 2006 with a lot of photos.

  6. NLW says:

    @ JamesC – I couldn’t resist googling!

  7. Long Branch Mike says:

    One can download the a PDF of the floor plans, as drawn by the Tube. Also shows relation to surface structures and street.

  8. Mark says:

    @JamesC – Camden’s ‘unroullie clientele’ [sic] contribute an estimated £70-120M per year to the local economy and create more than 1,400 jobs. The night-time sector is an important part of the local economy – sorry if you’re not able to see past the noise.

  9. stimarco says:

    These unused tunnels seem to be quite popular with document archive companies. I’m pretty sure the ones at Goodge Street / TCR are used for that purpose, as is another pair under one of the Clapham stations.

    As for re-using old LT infrastructure, there’s also the example of Crossrail 1, who have built a new access shaft down to their running tunnels inside the old Kingsway Subway. (I believed it was covered on this very site, not that long ago.)

    Dragging the thread kicking and screaming back on-topic: if the intention is to split the Northern Line in two, would it not be more logical to design a Finsbury Park or Stockwell-style cross-platform interchange station? If you’re going to be digging a bunch of new tunnels and holes in the ground anyway, it makes sense to tidy up the network here and eliminate the entire “V-shape” problem entirely. An alternative might be to just stack two islands one above the other, so passengers need only go up or down a short escalator (or flight of stairs, or lift) to get from one t’other. This works very well at T-Centralen in Stockholm, though I grant the latter was blasted out of solid rock, so they didn’t have to worry overmuch about load-bearing concrete beams.

    Although it does mean more up-front capex, you do get the advantage of a much simpler, physically smaller, station, reducing ongoing maintenance and running costs. (A long corridor will need more lighting and more cleaning, to pick just one example.)

    Rewiring the line through here would also allow simplification of the junctions, with only a couple of connections needed to handle the new service. With all those unneeded points removed and tunnels mothballed, you’d cut the maintenance costs right back too.

    This could make those deep-level tunnels rather more useful: they’re already far enough apart to allow some lovely, wide, escalator banks and the odd lift shaft to fit in between them if you want to go for the layer-cake option. And they’re also far enough apart that you could easily drill a second pair of tunnels in between (or to one side of each) for a cross-platform interchange. Offset it from the existing station platforms a bit so you can build at least one or two new entrances without interfering with the running of the line through the existing station. Then, once you’ve plugged it into the network by building some short connecting tunnels, you can close the old station and modify the old entrances as needed, while passengers use the new entrances.

    Then you can close all those unneeded tunnels, mothballing them, leasing them to document archiving or utility companies, or whatever takes their fancy.

  10. Malcolm says:

    Yes, Camden Town could be turned into a modern cross-platform interchange, with sufficient circulating space to handle the market crowds as well.

    But it would cost absolutely squillions. It would amount to building a new station, and we have some eye-watering costs for those going on right now with Crossrail. With the extra “detail” of keeping the service running throughout.

    If those squillions are available, there might be many better places to spend them. Yes, it’s good to modernise London’s infrastructure. But I feel there are actually many improvement works which ought to be ahead in the queue. Probably most of these are in poor old South London.

    I’d go for either not splitting the line, or, if it must be split, doing as little as possible to Camden Town station – which is probably several extra interchange foot tunnels and an additional entrance. Even that minimum is going to cost muchly.

  11. Greg Tingey says:

    – you are going to split the line
    – do it properly,
    – surely the correct answer (Monies being available, that is) is to ….
    use the “deep-level tunnels for the Edgware barnch & then comprehensively rebuild the rst for the other branch, proceeding in stages.
    With LOTS more extra interchange tunnels/escalators etc.
    Still not as costly as building a whole new station, though.

    Carry on with the overcrowded, inconvenoent cock-uop we have @ present …

  12. Anonymous says:

    Wouldn’t the car park bit at the back of sainsbury’s or the vicinity of the eastern half of hawley crescent be more obvious work sites?

  13. Malcolm says:


    Doesn’t sound to me like the right way to go about it at all.

    You need the interchange capabilities right from day 1 of the split. So impossible to divert the Edgeware line into the deep tunnels (which compels a split) until you have built the rest of the passenger tunnels.

    A “do it properly” approach would leave the trains running exactly where they do now, until all the glorious interchange tunnels have been built. Alternatively, dig all the new train tunnels and platform tunnels to get cross-platform interchange – then send the trains into them.

    But whichever way is done, there won’t be much change from a fiver!

  14. DW down under says:

    Thanks PoP for getting the answer to my persistent question on the shelter tunnels.

    ISTM that these Deep Level Tunnels could be very useful as circulation space. They’re too small to be platform tunnels. But that does imply that platform tunnels are alongside. The direction for which good cross-platform interchange is most needed is southbound (the more concentrated morning peak). So perhaps both southbound tracks could be rerouted alongside one of the deep level tubes? That means they will pass beneath the flying junctions. It also means that these tubes could be used to connect (re/new/ed) surface facilities outside the conservation area directly into the station.

    The only other possibility is to remove a substantial proportion of the passenger flow from Camden Town. That would involve the Northern Heights scheme. Indeed, one might argue that it should be undertaken as a prerequisite to the Camden Town works and partial split (as it’s currently described). To make it possible, it needs to be linked up with what happens on the GN&C, at KX and on TL with regard to the GN suburbans – and that necessary leads us over to the CR2 consultation. I have comments to make concerning that (which I have already submitted), and those are directly relevant to Camden Town and the Northern Line.

  15. Ian J says:

    Some of the schemes being proposed here seem to involve spending enormous amounts of money in order to achieve the “saving” of reusing already-existing small-diameter tunnels, while ignoring the even bigger saving inherent in making the most of the platform tunnels that already exist. Maybe it’s time to accept that the deep level tunnels were built for a purpose (sheltering during the blitz), served that purpose well, never had a practical use beyond that despite the vague intentions of the time, and move on.

  16. Edgepedia says:

    Sorry if it’s been raised before, but it could be cheaper to rebuild Euston with a new large island platform for the Charing Cross branch beneath the City/Victoria line platforms. Interchange between the two branches would be at Euston. I’m only going on for the layout of the platforms here.

  17. JamesC says:


    I was trying to lighten the mood somewhat, as I myself have worked at a number of those venues in the past…….

  18. Rogmi says:

    Thanks for the link. I’ve taken the liberty of posting in in the LondonsTransport forum: where I’m sure it will be of interest
    I’m never sure what the time scale of the rental price per sq foot refers to. If it’s £1.38 sq ft rental per year, then I’m sure it’s a snip at £89,700 a year 🙂

  19. Stuart says:

    Why does the northern end of the shelter tunnels diverge so far from the existing line ? Surely any express line would have needed to follow a more similar course to the original

    My first though was what a good idea it would be to use these, but looking at the plans, it is not so easy to see how

  20. Rogmi says:

    The tunnels follow directly above the Edgware branch, along Camden High Street, which would have been correct if it was intended to run an express service towards Edgware.

    The only slight deviation is that the Edgware branch curves slightly at Healey Crescent, whereas the ends of the the shelter carry on for a short while in a straight line.

  21. JM says:


    If you look at open street map the platforms are curved to the northwest of the Bank branch/Vic platforms.

  22. Long Branch Mike says:

    @Ian J

    Whilst some of the conjecture on the deep level shelters on this forum may prohibitively expensive, it is a worthwhile exercise to examine all options in reusing existing assets in all possible permutations, as building and expanding underground station infrastructure is the most expensive part of improving transit capacity. Savings could be realized in reduction of spoil, reuse of parts of existing infrastructure, use of said infrastructure for workspace or for non-passenger TfL use, etc.

    Some examples worldwide of century old tunnel infrastructure being reused, and saving hundreds of millions of pounds/dollars, include Crossrail’s refurb of the Connaught Tunnels, & Vancouver BC’s reuse of the disused Dunsmuir railway tunnels under downtown Vancouver for the Expo SkyTrain line. Interestingly, the latter’s tunnel was tall enough to run each direction of the SkyTrain line one above the other.

  23. Ian Sergeant says:


    Using a work site well away from the centre could mean a number of things. As I’m sure you know, the conservation area ends at Buck Street, so anything beyond there would be less controversial, even the Inverness Street suggestion. This does give the possibility – eventually – of a new station for Camden, without which I suspect the council will not be too keen to proceed.

    One other thought I had have was the possibility of the use of the canal and the deep level tunnels for removing spoil. I’m not sure whether there are any suitable sites.

  24. c says:

    Could they build a second entrance, which could be nothing more than a ticket facility/gate line, and then 2-3 high capacity lifts, running directly down to a new circulating area. No stairs or escalators.

    Thinking big, modern, quick lifts as at Heathrow Terminal 5, not as per Covent Garden.

    That’s surely easier than new escalators, and could compliment the existing lines.

    The new entrance/exit could be at either extremity of the ‘V’ rather than Camden Town itself – so that for exit they’d usually only be used by one line split.

  25. David says:

    There already is cross-platform interchange at Camden Town, of a fashion. The two northbound platforms are at roughly the same level as the two southbound platforms. The problem is that there aren’t enough cross-passages because of the V-shape, with all the cross-passages being at the southern end of the platforms. I don’t understand how or why it would be so difficult to dig some new cross-passages, together with another escalator shaft and circulation space up to street level. Have a second entrance to the station further up the road towards Kentish Town. The only issue would be the compulsory purchases required, but they’ve done more of that for Crossrail; they even pulled the Astoria down for Crossrail, so I don’t think the bleating about the Electric Ballroom would be listened to too much if the will was there.

    Euston is never going to be a sensible interchange point for the Northern Line. I know it nominally looks like there’s the opportunity, but it is a surprisingly long walk from the Charing Cross branch platforms down to the Bank branch platforms. It’s certainly a longer walk than a new cross-passage across the top of the V at Camden Town. I don’t think any of the platforms at Euston could be moved without significant new tunnelling, far in excess of what would be needed at Camden Town.

    I doubt the Northern Heights would change a great deal, as the plan is for the split to be Edgware-Kennington and High Barnet-Bank. You’d still have much of the interchange traffic at Camden Town as the Northern Heights wouldn’t divert High Barnet-Charing Cross or Edgware-City traffic. You’d also have to find capacity at Finsbury Park for interchange between the Northern & City line and the outer-suburban stations to Welwyn or Hertford, which would be difficult to achieve given Finsbury Park can barely cope as it is.

  26. Milton Clevedon says:


    Agree with this analysis. Entry/exit issues are one generalised topic, solved by supplementary entry/exit somewhere else – probably in top of ‘V’ northwards eg Buck Street.

    Problem is SB, not NB when all you need is more cross passages which look constructable.

    SB, you have the NB Barnet tunnel in the way of easy cross-platfor – not enough headroom. That’s where the difficulty arises. Could be OK to create new (SB) tunnel ducking under NB Barnet (LUL does it at the main junctions), to create unconstrained cross-platform SB Edgware to SB Barnet.

    You would need new SB tunnel from South Kentish Town, but potentially cheaper than huge re-use of deep level – though I like PoP’s view of using that for construction access.

  27. Ian Sergeant says:

    @Milton Clevedon

    I agree with your sentiment almost entirely, but if you are going to build a station at the top of the V I believe that you need to be beyond Buck Street simply because of the sensitivity of the market and the church after the previous negotiations. Hawley Infants will be replaced by social housing reading between the lines, so maybe the area to the east of Stucley Place is a possibility.

    The one thing I disagree with? Where you say that “all you need is more cross packages”. I’ll agree if you add “…and wider platforms”.

  28. DW down under says:

    @ David

    Re: Finsbury Park – I’m suggesting cross platform to/from the Cambridge/Peterborough trains. There would be no need to negotiate the passageways below unless exiting or changing to LU. The inner suburbans (WGC, Hertford N) would run onto CR2 and interchange at H&I, missing FP altogether.

    With the Northern Heights restored as a “metro” type shuttle East Finchley-Moorgate, the configuration of the northen line split could be altered so that High Barnet runs via CX. With the connections at CT and Kennington, access to depots could be balanced out. For example, High Barnet trains have the smaller facility at Highgate, so some would be routed beyond Kennington to Morden for depot access. I’d suggest that Golders Green would be exclusively the Edgeware-City route, while Morden would be shared.

    To avoid congestion south of Kennington, the initial thinning out of the service as trains return to depot would use Highgate. Only further outside the peaks would extra trains run to/from Morden via CX.

  29. MiaM says:

    Sorry if this has already been discussed in the other thread, I haven’t yet read all comments there. Anyway:

    1: How much capacity will really be gained by a split? Is there really a good bcr for doing the split at all? The points themself must surely have a capacity comparable to the points at termini stations. Unless a line has turning loops at both ends (thus no points changed during normal peak traffic) then there will anyway be points on the line and I don’t see how the points at Camden could be worse than any other points.

    IMHO the resignalling, introduction of new trains and ATO should be done first and a split and Camden rebuild should be on a “wait and see” list.

    2: Re the issue of a crowded northbound platform at Bank in the afternoon peak due to people waiting extra long to catch a train to their branch: This could simply be solved by not telling the passengers where the train goes until they already are on it! I know it would be highly impopular, but it would work. As no passenger knows where a train goes they might as well take the first incoming train, thus there will be no passengers waiting longer than for the first northbound train to arrive at Bank. When the train leaves Moorgate (or perhaps longer north) the true destination should be revealed to the passengers. Those who are on a train destined to the wrong branch can just get off the train at for example Angel and catch the next train from the same platform (assuming a 50-50 division of services from Bank to both northern branches). In theory a passenger might save a few seconds by changing at Camden Town as they might be able to catch a train from the Charing Cross branch a few seconds before the next train from Bank arrives, but i doubt that passengers would try that as it involves a far longer walk and the chance of saving time is less than 50% and the saving would anyway always be less than 2 minutes.

    There could be exceptions to this rule, for example disabled passengers (or the odd passenger with extra luggage) could be guided by a member of staff that actualla knows the true destinations of the trains.

    The right kind of information materials could probably make passengers less upset. This kind of operation would of course only be neccesary when the northbound platform at Bank is (nearly) overcrowded.

    3: The reason for a possible rebuild of Camden Town is to increase interchange capacity. I don’t really see why a “split the Northern Line” project should have to pay anything for extra lift/stair/escalator shafts and extra entrances. Camden Town won’t have more passengers entering or exiting the system because of a split of lines. Of course there are other good reasons for opening more entrances, but those reasons are not neccesary for the split. (However of course the split is neccesary for building more entrances as they would connect to the cross passages that’s part of the split).

    4: Re the deep lever shelter tunnels: If entrances to the underground station would be useful where there currently are entrances to the deep level shelter tunnels, some kind of passages could be buildt connecting the deep level tunnels to the underground stations, and then the deep level tunnels and their entrances could be used as new entrances to the underground stations. Too bad that the deep level tunnels are on the Edgware branch and not on the Barnet branch, otherwise they could be used as an interconnection between Camden Town underground station and Camden Road overground station.

  30. Greg Tingey says:

    This could simply be solved by not telling the passengers where the train goes until they already are on it!
    They have been doing this on the Victoria line for years.
    Have you any idea how really annoying this is? Really?
    Obviously not.
    Quite frankly, I don’t believe the level of arrogant contempt for the passengers you are displaying – have you ever considered a job in LUL’s management structure?

  31. iggy says:


    I disagree that that’s arrogant behavior. LuL’s dealing with managing crowds of people, not the wish of the individual who doesn’t want to transfer. If there’s unused platform capacity uprail at Angel, then this psychological solution (rather than one of engineering) may well assist

  32. Rogmi says:

    It is not the points themselves at Camden Town that’s the problem, it’s the junction. A delay on one branch can have a knock-on effect on the other. This is especially so on the City branch.

    A delay with a SB Bank train on platform 2 (EW branch) will hold up a Bank train on platform 4 (HB branch). because the crossover is close to the platforms. This is not the case with the CX branch as the tunnel between the platform and the crossover will hold a train. It is the same NB.

    It’s a similar situation NB where the City branch junction is near the platforms. If there is a Bank train waiting to go to platform 1 and there is a delay in platform 1, a train behind it going to platform 3 (HB) will be stuck and thus the NB City branch will be delayed. Again, this is less of a problem on the NB CX branch because the junction is further back and the tunnel to each NB platform can hold a train.

    Then, of course, there are signal / track failures. Depending on where the problem is, this can affect both branches. Indeed, when there are failures, trains are often routed over fixed routes and passengers have to change at Camden.

    Point operation can have an effect on reliability – the more points that have to be operated, the greater risk of a problem. The points at Camden are probably the most individually used anywhere on the Northern line. Every train passing through Camden Town junction goes over two points. Depending on the route, not every set of points is operated for every train that passes. The number of points that have to be operated (from normal to reverse to normal) for each route is:
    Bank to HB (2), Bank to EW (1), CX to HB (0), CX to EW (1)
    HB to Bank (1), EW to Bank (2), HB to CX (1), EW to CX (0)

    Therefore, from a reliability point of view, the best way to route trains would be:
    NB – Barnet branch via Charing Cross, Edgware branch via Bank
    SB –via Bank from Barnet branch, via Charing Cross from Edgware branch.

  33. Anonymous says:

    I use the NL semi-regularly between King’s X and Tufnell park, mostly off-peak but I’ve been during both peak hours often enough. Camden makes the journey incredibly slow at times, minutes wasted either just outside the station or at the platform. If a split can increase the speed and reliability of the journey alongside greater frequency, that’s more than worth losing access to both branches.

  34. Whiff says:

    Greg, and others, might enjoy this video doing the rounds on the internet at the moment – keeping vaguely on topic it does mention both Bank and Kings Cross St Pancras.

  35. peezedtee says:

    MiaM’s amusing suggestion that the Northern line should deliberately run “mystery trains” reminds me of the Central line when they used to say (or maybe they still do?) to eastbound passengers at, I think, Oxford Circus and TCR to take the first train and change at Liverpool Street if necessary. The clear implication was that there would be more trains to choose from at Liverpool Street. Of course this was a barefaced lie, as regular passengers would soon realise. The powers-that-be just wanted to get the passengers off the platform. I think this sort of dishonesty is immoral and probably counter-productive. Refusing to say where a train is going would be a sort of dishonesty of a similar order.

  36. Greg Tingey says:

    Of when the Central was out, because the traction motors were effed …
    everything went on the Vic with extra buses from W’stow …
    AND the standard service pattern, with approx half the trains STILL terminating @ 7 Sis was kept on with …
    And you had to guess if LUL were lying or not, if they SAID a train was going to W’stow … & often, far too often, they were lying.
    This sort of thing breeds permanent distrust, as it certainly did for me – it’s why I don’t believe anything they say, unless there is other confirmation.
    MiaM wants to revive this idea?

  37. Twopenny Tube says:

    peezeedree: “…the Central line when they used to say (or maybe they still do?) to eastbound passengers at, I think, Oxford Circus and TCR to take the first train and change at Liverpool Street if necessary. The clear implication was that there would be more trains to choose from at Liverpool Street. Of course this was a barefaced lie …

    This seems to be nonsensical to me on two counts. Firstly, for something to be a ‘barefaced lie’ there has to be a statement and intention, not a ‘clear implication’. Secondly, what alternative to overcrowded platforms would you siggest? Close the station, empty trains at the preceeding stop? Surely the regular passengers, to which you refer, would know full well that, that in the normal course of things, no extra trains are introduced to the eastbound Central Line between Oxford Circus and Liverpool Street. They might also conclude, on the basis of regular usage and observation, that if they were to squeeze on to the first train they could, they might be able to get out before the services divide, and hope for the best at a station further along the line, when a train to their destination appears. Liverpool Street, where lots of people are likely to get out, seems a sensible choice, though not the only option.

  38. peezedtee says:

    Well, I certainly felt badly deceived the first time it happened to me.

  39. timbeau says:


    “Depending on the route, not every set of points is operated for every train that passes. The number of points that have to be operated (from normal to reverse to normal) for each route is:
    Bank to HB (2), Bank to EW (1), CX to HB (0), CX to EW (1)
    HB to Bank (1), EW to Bank (2), HB to CX (1), EW to CX (0)

    Therefore, from a reliability point of view, the best way to route trains would be:
    NB – Barnet branch via Charing Cross, Edgware branch via Bank
    SB –via Bank from Barnet branch, via Charing Cross from Edgware branch”

    I don’t understand this at all – surely any fixed pairing of branches will simply result in a succession of trains running over the same routings, with the all points set in the same direction, so no points would need to move at all. It doesn’t matter who goes where, as long as everything from a given branch goes the same way.

    The facing points only need to be moved if successive trains from the same branch are to go down different branches. The trailing points only need to be moved if two trains destined to follow each other down the same branch have come from different branches

  40. Pedantic of Purley says:


    The facing points only need to be moved if successive trains from the same branch are to go down different branches.

    I suspect it is a lot more complicated than that if it follows Network Rail practice.

    Take a look at the diagram of the junctions.

    Taking for example the first junction encountered by a southbound train from the High Barnet branch. On the right hand route to Bank there is another junction shortly afterwards. On the left hand junction to Charing Cross the next junction encountered is much further away.

    If the signal prior to this junction is at danger it may well be the case that the points are set for the left hand route as a safety precaution just in case the train overruns the signal. Of course this shouldn’t happen because the tripcock should prevent this. The points will only move and be set for the right hand route once it has been established that a safe route can be set. Thus potentially every single train could take the right hand route but nevertheless there are a lot of point movements. The situation is analogous and similar to trap points – and trap points often move despite no train being intentionally routed into the “trap” as part of the service plan.

    If the line were to be split and this was the way the signalling works then it all probability it would need modifying to take the revised situation into account where the safest route always would be the route the train was due to take.

    If you ever want to see this stand at the London end of platform 1 at Lewisham. The points from platform 1 ALWAYS send the train via the Nunhead route (up the viaduct) EXCEPT for when a route is set up to go via St Johns. You will only see the points move for the St Johns route seconds before the signal displays a non-restrictive aspect. Once the train has passed the points will almost invariably move back to the Nunhead route even if the next train is due to be routed via St Johns. So every single train from platform 1 could go via St Johns (as is often the case) and yet there are lots of point movements. In this photo taken from platform 2 the leftmost set of points is set to go up to the viaduct (Nunhead route) because this is the safest route if a train goes through a red signal. It is highly unlikely that this will actually be the route required for the next train at platform 1.

  41. Rogmi says:

    A brief explanation of point working.
    Looking at standard powered points (and not spring / spring toggle, loose points etc.), they have two designated positions Normal and Reverse. This is used to identify the position of the points. Normal is the default route that the points are always set for, Reverse is the alternative route. If a train is due to be routed over the points in the default direction, no action needs to be taken. If the train is due to be routed over the alternative route, then the signalman (or electronic equivalent) has to pull the points lever to throw the points to the Reverse position. After the train has passed, the points are then returned to the Normal position. With odd exceptions, they do not remain in the Reverse position.

    Take the route that PoP mentions – SB from platform 4.
    The first set of points (25) are facing points. Normal routes a train via CX as far as trailing points 22. 22 Normal position is set for CX branch trains from platform 2.
    Therefore, a train going south from the Barnet branch passes through 25 points at Normal and 22 points at Reverse. After the train has cleared 22 points, they will be returned to their Normal position. If the next SB CX train is also from platform 4, then 22 points will be reversed again, and so on.

    I think that having the points return to Normal each time may be something to do with the signal interlocking, but I can’t remember now. One thing it does do, as PoP says, is to allow a following train to be brought a lot closer than it would normally be able to if it had to wait for the train in front to clear the section.
    In theory, if the service pattern was changed and it was decided to send all trains from platform 2 via Bank (25 points have to be Reversed to do this at present), there’s probably no reason why they couldn’t designate the Bank branch as the Normal route and only have to Reverse 25 points for a CX train.

    Likewise, they could change it so the points remained in the last set position. This is done with 7 points at East Finchley – the SB junction for the SB main (platform 4) or towards Highgate depot (platform 3). The Normal position for 7 points is platform 3, Reverse (with a route indicator on the signal) for platform 4
    In most cases, at least on the Northern line, where there is a junction, the signal controlling the junction is normally plain green for the Normal position of the points and green with a route indicator if the points are reversed. ‘Bar for Bank’ as trainees are taught for Camden SB! One exception is NQ9, the SB junction signal off the Mill Hill East single line. A route indicator is for when the points are Normal (to platform 3), plain green for when the points are reversed (straight ahead to platform 1). It used to be a route indicator for platform 1 until they moved the single line over because they demolished half the adjacent bridge.

    For some points information, see the Point Types Book here:
    There is a signal / points diagram of Camden Town on the same site. See the Controlled Areas signal diagrams book (PDF format) here:
    (the diagram is a bit squashed to fit on the page!). note – the spring toggle points on the SB Bank branch junction have now been replaced with power points and are designated 23B. 23 are now 23A

  42. Rogmi says:

    @Pedantic of Purley
    The Lewisham example is a good one. Although the angle that the photo was taken makes it a bit difficult to see, the reason for keeping the points normal can be clearly seen when looking at the Carto.Metro map or Google Earth. Without the Normal route being set for Nunhead, there would be very litle overrun if a train should overshoot platform 1. It would foul the WB line. It is also standard practice (there are exceptions) for the points at both ends of the crossover to be Normal or Reverse at the same time. On the Underground, the points would usually share the same number, e.g. 23A and 23B.

    I’m assuming that the points are Normal for Nunhead, Reverse for St Johns. Therefore, if the points were reversed, that would mean that the points at the other end of the crossover would be reversed as well, juat as if a train was going from platform 1 to St Johns. As a consequence, no train could go to St Johns from platform 3 as long as the points are reversed.

  43. Ian J says:

    If you want to be moralistic about it, the railways “lie” every time they say at King’s Cross that a slow Cambridge train is only going to Foxton, or say at Oxford that a slow London train is only going to Ealing Broadway. But it is a benign lie that stops passengers wasting their time on a train that will be overtaken. There are also plenty of cross-passages on the tube marked “no exit” which do in fact lead to exits, but if everyone went that way then they would get in the way of people entering the platforms. I don’t see the problem with this at all.

  44. Graham Feakins says:

    And for decades in the Southern Region era, the train indicator at Victoria never specified any Brighton main line trains stopping at Clapham Junction, despite the fact that several did, thus diverting intending Clapham Junction passengers onto the suburban services and freeing up seats on the main line trains for those passengers whose genuinely wanted the main line.

  45. Greg Tingey says:

    IJ & GF
    And even that doesn’t work … as the regular passengers soon find out & alter their journeys accordingly.
    Ditto Down Lea Valley trains are not announced as stopping at Tottenham Hale – but everyone knows they do.
    Actually, there is an alternative explanation for this – they are technically “pick-up only” which means that they don’t have to wait time for “RA” @ TH ….

  46. Anonymous says:

    A curious one was the “Little Kimble” destination blind used by Marylebone – Aylesbury via High Wycombe trains in the class115 era. The trains may have been advertised at Marylebone as for LK, for obvious reasons, but no intending passenger at Marylebone would see the blind on the front of the train. And the route diverges from the direct route via Amersham before the first stop (Wembley Hill, as it was called then), after which Aylesbury would be a more appropriate destination to display.

    The confusion caused by “not” lying can be seen in some journey planners (including TfL’s) when the journey includes a “roundabout” service. Telling someone already at Waterloo to take the 1657 service towards Waterloo is just silly. (It is actually advertised to Strawberry Hill – by the time it gets to Wimbledon it’s advertised as a Richmnd service, and only at Kingston does it admits it is going all the way to Waterloo – even then it can cause confusion, as it is still 15 minutes slower to Waterloo by using that train than by going back the other way.

  47. @Graham Feakins,

    I remember that. This is an interesting one because I recall reading in some official document that nowadays more people get on at Clapham Junction on a train’s outward journey than get off. That is, a down train will be more crowded on leaving Clapham Junction than on arrival. It seems counter-intuitive and I can’t really believe this is all down to London Overground but it is difficult to otherwise explain and does seem to be backed up by what I see myself. Unless it is only true for trains from Victoria because people start their journey at Waterloo and change.

    So basically it isn’t perpetuated because the reason for introducing it has gone.

    Incidentally, from memory, the same is now true at Tottenham Hale so I am puzzled as to why a stop at Tottenham Hale is not publicised on an outward journey from London.

  48. timbeau says:

    @Rogmi and Pedantic

    I am aware of how flank protection works on NR, but it is not safe to assume LU practice is the same. Firstly, the tripcocks should prevent any over-run, preventing a train even getting close to the short links between e.g between 23A and 23 B in the crossover tunnels. Secondly, if the services are completely split, there should never be a train on the converging route during normal running.

    In the example you give, all trains from Barnet go via CX, and all trains from Edgware via Bank (the opposite of what is usually suggested, but the point stands whichever way round it is done). “Normal-set” facing points 25 and “reverse-set” trailing points 22 would be the way all the barnet/CX trains would go. There would be no possibility of a train from Edgware approaching points 22, because the facing points leading to that section would always be set the other way (for Bank).

    Depending on how complete you want the split, and how much money you wish to save, you could have the unused connections only able to be set manually, or only under an engineer’s possession, or you could simply remove the points altogether and have the tracks plain-lined!

    However, having the points available can have its uses!

  49. Anonymous says:

    @graham F

    I recall reading in some official document that nowadays more people get on at Clapham Junction on a train’s outward journey than get off. That is, a down train will be more crowded on leaving Clapham Junction than on arrival. It seems counter-intuitive.

    Interesting, – was this specifically Southern’s or SWT’s services, or both? But not particularly surprising that down trains get fuller on leaving CJ.
    Nearly everyone arriving at CJ on a down train from Waterloo or Victoria is likely to leave the station on another down train. The rest will be leaving the system altogether, but these are almost certainly outnumbered by the people feeding in to the down services from both Overground lines, and people switching from an up Victoria to a down Waterloo (e.g Brighton to Woking), or vice versa.

  50. Pedantic of Purley says:


    I did say I suspect it is a lot more complicated than that if it follows Network Rail practice.

    Rogmi has answered this. On LU points always go back to “normal” once a one-off move has been completed. I take your point that with trainstops one would have thought this wasn’t really necessary and indeed removing it would save wear and tear on the point mechanism. The fact is it happens and that is why you get point movement even if successive trains are going the same route.

    Flank protection. I knew of it but never knew what it was called.

    @Anonymous 09:47

    I have to say I never considered the situation where people change trains at Clapham Junction but don’t go to or from London – except in the case of London Overground. I would have queried whether the numbers are significant but, as I sometimes do this myself (e.g. to get to Heathrow), I suppose I should have thought of it and realised its significance.

  51. Greg Tingey says:

    I told you why – because they don’t have to “wait time” @ TH – trian’s baorded, CD / RA go ….

    Lots of Buses @ Clapham Junction – lots of people use them too!

  52. Rogmi says:

    Whilst a raised trainstop (signal at danger) will eventually cause a train to stop by operating the tripcock and applying the brakes, a tripcock / trainstop is no guarantee of protection as there are variables that affect the train’s braking – speed, gradient, weight, weather conditions etc. The train doesn’t stop instantly. In most cases where a train passes a signal at danger (SPAD) and gets tripped, it’s probably due to the driver misjudging the braking distance and the train is already on its way to stopping – no doubt the driver having already applied the emergency brake!

    Depending on the location, there may be one, two, three signal (or more in multihome areas) where they are all are at danger, protecting the train in front or a crossover. Some of them may act as speed signals, allowing the train closer, but retaining the protection because the train is now at a slower speed. Irrespective of how many signals there are, the first red signal is normally at such a distance in that if a train is tripped at it at normal speed, it will stop short of the train or crossover ahead.

    However, it is a myth that a signal gives absolute protection. Most drivers were under this impression. This was disproved when a WB Central line train got tripped at the outer home at Holborn and hit the back of the train that was standing in the platform. Whilst this might have been an exception, and work has gone on over the years to try and eliminate any chance of that sort of thing happening again, it cannot be stated 100% that it would never happen.

    With regards to Camden Town, it’s difficult to say if the platform starter on it’s own is enough protection for 23B points. The starter at one SB platform cannot be cleared to send a train SB via Bank if the route is already set for a train to go via Bank from the other platform. This is because there is no signal between the starter and 23B points. Therefore, having the route normally set for the CX branch gives all the protection that is needed.

    Of course, all this is irrelevant with the new moving block signalling, but the current arrangement would still give added protection should a train being driven in manual mode somehow manage to overshoot.

    One thing that must be remembered is that an additional ‘fouling’ area has to be allowed before the points because two trains meeting at the same points will physically touch each other before they get to the crossover because of a) the width of the train and b) the distance the actual bogie is away from the point blade. Depots will often have the fouling point (FP) limit marked on stabling roads.

    I don’t think that if they segregated the service, it should ever be assumed that the points would never be needed in the opposite direction, other than during engineering hours etc. Having two separate branches running through the centre of London means that, in the event of an incident (signal failure, defective train, etc.) trains can be diverted as necessary. Therefore if the service pattern is Morden to High Barnet via Bank and there is an incident at Angel, a through service can still be run by diverting the trains via the CX branch. Rather than just shutting the whole Morden – High Barnet section down or running shuttle services between, say, Morden – Stockwell and High Barnet – East Finchley. LU would be idiotic to get rid of that facility.

    Now if only the runaway train had a working tripcock 🙂

  53. Pedantic of Purley says:


    I told you why – because they don’t have to “wait time” @ TH – trian’s baorded, CD / RA go ….

    First of all, that is not an explanation. It is a statement but I cannot see how it is causal.

    Second, I cannot see how your explanation makes any sense or is indeed true.

    If passengers were not supposed to board  then I could see why a train would not have to wait for its booked time. But we are talking about people alighting  at Tottenham Hale on a down service when they shouldn’t – are we not ?

    Also I cannot see what CD/RA has to do with this. Surely this is necessary to ensure safe departure of the train from the platform? And surely if the doors are opened then this procedure must be carried out, if it is a location where it is carried out, regardless of whether passengers are supposed to board/alight or not – and as I understand it they can legitimately board  a down train at Tottenham Hale.

    I, for one, would not like to be the representative of the TOC at the court hearing for an alleged breach of H&S resulting in a passenger severely injuring him/herself or being killed and having to explain to the judge that safety procedures weren’t carried out because the train was advertised as as pick up (or set down) only.

  54. timbeau says:


    “The starter at one SB platform cannot be cleared to send a train SB via Bank if the route is already set for a train to go via Bank from the other platform. This is because there is no signal between the starter and 23B points.”

    But if the lines were segregated there could never be a train for Bank in both platforms.

    “I don’t think that if they segregated the service, it should ever be assumed that the points would never be needed in the opposite direction”

    of course it’s a useful facility to keep, as it has been at Baker Street and Finsbury Park for example, but it’s unlikely to be used in practice – have you ever see a train from Stanmore diverted to the Elephant since 1978, even when the Jubilee’s woes were at their worst? Is the signalling northbound on the Jubilee at Baker Street arranged in the assumption that the next train over the junction could be coming from the Regents Park direction, or does the signalling clear as soon as the previous train is clear of the junction?

    Even if the facility were kept, it would be possible to make provision for two different modes of operation, one in which the eight sets of points are all set )maybe scotched ad clipped) in non-conflicting mode, and one when they reverse after every train

    Part of the justification for splitting the service is that it allows different rolling stock to be used on the two lines, helping the allocation of new stock as we would have two small (well, medium) fleets instead of one enormous one. It is

  55. Anonymous says:

    The Stansted Express is primarily an airport service, and secondarily a commuter service to Harlow and Bishop’s Stortford. They do not want airport passengers having to stand from Liverpool Street because the seats have been taken by those only going to Tottenham Hale.

    he only reason they stop there is for the Victoria Line connection, not for passengers travelling between north London and the City. So northbound the train is pick-up only. This is not a problem southbound as anyone boarding at Tottenham Hale just takes up the vacated or empty seats, which is why it does not need to be made a set-down only stop.

  56. Rogmi says:

    @ timbeau
    It depends how a split / sgregation is defined. If the Northern line is split into two completely separate lines, then that could be a different matter. My assumption was that it’s a split in service only.

    At present, the Northern line has one big advantage over other lines in that the all of the line is crewed by staff who are trained on the whole line. That is the disadvantage that the Bakerloo / Jubilee line has. When the Bakerloo ran Elephant to Queens Park / Stanmore, all crew were trained for both branches. If there’s a problem on the Stanmore branch, divert the Stanmore trains to Queens Park and vice versa.

    Once the line split into the Jubilee amd Bakerloo lines, staff were divided and allocated to either one or the other of the lines. New staff were only trained on the line they were working on, and the licence of existing staff soon ran out for the line they no longer worked, so they couldn’t drive on that line any more. Thus trains could no longer be diverted to the other branch because, as the lines were now separate, there were no longer two branches. Of course, now there is the added difference of the two different signalling systems so the stock on one line couldn’t run on the other line in passenger service anyway. In my previous post I was going to compare Baker St and Camden Town for their flexibility until I realised that they couldn’t swap branches any more at Baker St!.

    If the Northern line did completely split into two operating lines, with drivers only being trained up for their own line, then the operating flexibility that the Northern line currently has will be lost. In theory it would be a bit easier because both lines would have the same signalling system and the same stock, so at a push diverting to a different branch would still be possible if enough pilotmen were available to accompany each driver over ‘foreign territory’. Having new stock, to be used exclusively on one line might not be so much of a problem, except that only drivers on that line would be trained on it.

    If it was thought necessary to split the Northern line into two separate lines with different names, then the simplest way would be for all staff on both lines to be trained on both lines (and both stocks if different). It wouldn’t matter what line they worked on (say line A for the first half of the duty, line B for the second) as it would be no different to the current arrangements. That way trains could still be diverted as necessary and the only difference to today is that passengers may find a line A train suddenly being diverted to line B.

    To be honest, I can never see the lines being totally split as it wouldn’t make much sense. Both lines would still need maintenance / overhaul depots, so it would either mean duplicating the work done at Golders Green and Morden depots (Golders has a wheel turning lathe, Morden has a paint shed), or transferring stock between lines to go to the different depots as required for specific work to be done.

    As far as I’m aware, the points at Baker St are normal for through running on the individual lines, only being reversed if going from one line to the other. That way the points will only need to be operated on the rare occasion a train is crossing over between the two lines. A similar arrangement would no doubt be in use on a completely segregated Nothern line. It’s highly unlikely that points would be left clipped and scotched as that’s normally only something that’s done temporarily on a passenger line (because of signal / point failure etc.)

    Probably the most common use of the crossovers at Baker St and Finsbury Park is for engineering trains transferring from one line to another. Baker St is the only link that the Bakerloo line has with the Underground (via the Jubilee line) and Finsbury Park is the only link the Victoria line has with the Underground (via the Piccadilly line).

  57. GRaham Feakins says:

    Rogmi clearly explains the operational arrangements at Camden Town but one thing not mentioned is my personal experience at Camden Town, which reflects the fact that it is a signalling timing point and often trains are held to even out the headways, just as happens at Green Park on the eastbound Piccadilly for example. It is surely that which is likely to delay trains behind rather than push them through.

    Rogmi also provides an interesting explanation about points’ operation and possible failures and others have commented. Risking being divisive, I suggest that points failures, real or otherwise, should not be taken into account in planning a timetable or track layout but the general attitude today seemingly forgets old adages about poor workmen blaming his tools and similar (I don’t mean to include Rogmi as such). The points are there to function correctly for goodness sake and any failures seem to me to point to a maintenance or robustness failure, even if it just the result of a loose wire causing the circuit to fail. Why should a timetable be cast around sets of points that are expected to fail? It takes not a moment to think of perhaps hundreds of sets of points which are equally intensively used, both on the railways and intensively-used tramways, especially in Continental Europe. If everyone thought like that, we would be in a pickle. With apologies to PoP, harking back to “the olden days”, Borough Market Junction with its four tracks to Cannon Street and two to Charing Cross handled over a thousand trains a day (per official Southern Region quote).

  58. Graham Feakins says:

    @Greg Tingey 06:42AM, 20th May 2013 – on Clapham junction not being shown on the indicator for main line trains at Victoria – “And even that doesn’t work … as the regular passengers soon find out & alter their journeys accordingly.”

    The point is that you would only discover the main line trains which actually stopped at Clapham Junction if you were travelling to East Croydon or beyond. To take the chance unknowing at Victoria would risk sailing past Clapham Junction non-stop to East Croydon.

  59. Steven Taylor says:

    @Graham Feakins

    I actually live at Clapham Junction and in the 1980s, when stopping main line trains at Clapham Junction were not indicated as such on the Victoria boards, I often used to use the trains. It was easy to discover which ones stopped by looking at the departure sheets at Clapham Junction. You soon get to know. I did on occasion make a mistake and sail past to East Croydon.

  60. @Graham Feakins 01:25

    Why should a timetable be cast around sets of points that are expected to fail?

    In general I would agree with you but surely one has to do a risk assessment and consider the conseqences. I think the situation at Camden Town is an exceptional one and deserves being treated on its own merits.

    In the particular location of Camden Town it is surely a bit of additional prudence to run a northbound service in the morning rush only in a way that minimises point movements given that this affects relatively few people but enhances the reliability of the vast majority of people who are going south.

    Your example of Borough Market Junction could not be a better one to illustrate my point. Prior to 1976 Borough Market Junction was as you say. And there were points failures that completely screwed up the entire South Eastern network. Post 1976, well post 1990 anyway, I think I can be reasonably confident in saying that the number of points failures at Borough Market junction has been zero. Why ? Because there are no points! The relevant engineering adage is “the most reliable piece of equipment you can have is the the piece of equipment you managed to design out altogether”. We cannot, currently, get rid of the points at Camden Town but we can use them in such a way so that, at the busiest time of day, the possibility of a points failure is reduced at very little cost to a few passengers and to the benefit of the vast majority of passengers. Remember the set of points that never fails in service has not been invented yet.

  61. @Graham Feakins 01:33

    The point is that you would only discover the main line trains which actually stopped at Clapham Junction if you were travelling to East Croydon or beyond. To take the chance unknowing at Victoria would risk sailing past Clapham Junction non-stop to East Croydon.

    Except that in those days people often carried line timetables around with them and could simply look it up.

  62. Castlebar says:

    Quite often in the 1970s, in the national printed timetable was a “u” with a time at Clapham Junction.
    That meant that in theory, the train was to stop and pick up passengers only and thus CJ was not shown as a stopping point on the relevant departure boards at Victoria. The theory was that this cut dwell time at CJ as passengers could board as soon as the train came to a stop.

  63. Anonymous says:

    Anon, 2113 ” This is not a problem southbound as anyone boarding at Tottenham Hale just takes up the vacated or empty seats, which is why it does not need to be made a set-down only stop”

    It’s also harder to conceal the destination – from TH all southbound trains are going to Liverpool Street (except for the odd Stratford one) . It’s less obvious at LSt whether a train will call at TH.

    @Steven T I lived at CJ in the eighties too, and used the same trick. (To mollify anyone travelling with me, who doubted my ability to spot them, I would promise to pay the taxi back from Croydon if I got it wrong: i nvere had to!) It got much easier when the Gatwick Express started, as they were then the only ones not to stop at CJ.

  64. Graham Feakins says:

    Thank you Castlbar. The Southern didn’t do things by halves. I remember the “Stops to pick up only” in the timetables now you remind me and I thought, as a boy, I would be in dreadful trouble should I have ever attempted to alight at such a station and, even worse, I was caught by the on-board ticket inspector with a ticket for Clapham Junction on such a train from Victoria. The situation didn’t arise because I was invariably travelling Victoria-East Croydon but the thought was there. I felt more relaxed if I had a Rail Rover day ticket but even that was severely restricted by the boundaries of the Central Division suburban area with few exceptions.

  65. Rogmi says:

    @GRaham Feakins
    I agree. A layout should be designed to run a railway however you want. If, as a consequence of the design there are less points movements, all the better, but that should not be the overriding concern. Whilst there are failures in everything, regular maintenace should elimanate many failures by catching them before they happen. It is often said that “things were built to last in the old days” and there’s a lot of truth in that when compared to todays throwaway society with many items having a built-in obsolesence of a few years. If you buy something cheap or cut corners in the specification (same thing I suppose), and then don’t bother to look after it, it is bound to fail a lot more.

    Points failure’ is rather a misleading term. Strictly speaking, I assume that a points failure should only refer to equipment associated on site with a set(s) of points – point motor (air or electric) not working, obstruction in the points, the position of the points not detected, mechanical failure within the points mechanism, the on-site EP valve (for air-worked points), relay etc. Whilst there can be mechanical failures on site, often the problem can be a remote one. E.g., a points lever on the IMR frame not going into the correct position, a defective points relay in the IMR (or wherever) or any problem in the control of the points.

    It’s a grey area as to whether some of these are defects are defined as signal or points failure, and I’m sure they’re often called either, irrespective of where the Fault lies. In most cases, a points failure will mean that a signal cannot be cleared (depending on the route set) and this may be the first indication that something is wrong somewhere. Unfortunately, with the modern way of signalling, there are many ways that something can fail. Oh for the old days when everything was mechanical – a signalman pulled the points lever, and the points moved over! Very few things to go wrong by comparison.

  66. Anonymous says:

    @Graham F
    ” I thought I would be in dreadful trouble should I have ever [been] caught by the on-board ticket inspector with a ticket for Clapham Junction on such a train from Victoria”

    In the same situation, I reasoned that the worst they could do was to eject me from the train at the next stop – which was where I wanted to go anyway.

    Reminds me of the exchange at Reading, as a passenger boarded a London-bound train not scheduled to call, but held at signals.

    Porter: “Sir, this train doesn’t stop here”
    Passenger: “Then I can’t be getting on it, can I?”

  67. Graham Feakins says:

    @ Pedantic of Purley 02:09PM “And there were points failures that completely screwed up the entire South Eastern network.” and “We cannot, currently, get rid of the points at Camden Town but we can use them in such a way so that, at the busiest time of day, the possibility of a points failure is reduced at very little cost to a few passengers and to the benefit of the vast majority of passengers. Remember the set of points that never fails in service has not been invented yet.”

    If you have a set of points that are not moved in traffic, they can still fail, possibly worsened by all trains being using only one fork, especially at Camden as just abut nothing can be said to be a straight-through set of points there. Yes? Just like a track failure, really but more risky. Surely we have advanced (or not?) since the track failures of the 1970’s to obtain robustness of the permanent way and related equipment and if not, why not?

    And what about diverting lots of trains up one branch, as per your suggestion, when they perhaps really need to return to Golders Green depot on the other branch? And it follows that, if the lines are completely split, where are the depots? Morden right at one end for one (operationally bad planning, to say the least, if only one major depot on the line) and Golders Green for the other? Only comparatively minor stabling points are provided elsewhere.

    Bit late now for the Northern Line perhaps, but in Hannover in Germany, for example, the tram depots are located partway between city centre and the outer termini so that, when the trams run out for the morning service, half go out to the outer termini and the rest travel city-bound to set up the service and vice versa at night.

    As for Borough Market Junction, intuitive railwaymen used to divert trains ex. Charing Cross via Cannon Street to London Bridge in the case of a serious points failure at Borough Market on the Charing Cross side and keep the service moving. My experience in those times indicated that the Southern went through a period when point motors were not as reliable as expected and measures had be taken to improve their reliability. All goes back to that robustness I mentioned.

    Finally, permit me to divert you to Basel in Switzerland for a couple of minutes at a non-peak period and have look at the trams and track layout here (plenty of other examples available) – and they are linked to a central control, albeit not in the signal box fashion (but Croydon Tramlink is) and consider the additional risks to the equipment of road traffic passing over the pointwork as well as the trams. It is essential for the points to be robust.

    Perhaps better is this Zurich one:

    There would be complaints if those sets of points in view failed.

  68. Castlebar says:

    @ Anonymous of 4:22 p,m,

    Porter: “Sir, this train doesn’t stop here”
    Passenger: “Then I can’t be getting on it, can I?”

    I can tell you the name of that passenger. It was

    Cyril Edwin Mitchinson Joad (12 August 1891 – 9 April 1953)

    Cyril Joad was a famous philosopher in his day, a member of the “Brains Trust”

  69. Pedantic of Purley says:

    @Graham Feakins,

    And what about diverting lots of trains up one branch, as per your suggestion

    I hope that nothing I have written in the article and comments is regarded as “my suggestion” but is a commentary on
    what I believe is the current thinking is in LU/TfL. You are of course free to disagree with it but it seems to make sense to me.

    I can tell you the points on Tramlink are not that robust and (like all points) they fail. The the driver gets out with a big stick, sticks it in the point mechanism and wiggles it. He (or often she) then gets back into the tram and continues on his/her way.

  70. Greg Tingey says:

    Anon & Castlebar
    This actually sappened to me …
    Many years ago, I was coming home from Watford, & an up express stopped ( it was the then Liverpool Pullman, which also had ordinary 2nd-class coaches in the consist)
    I got on.
    Platform staff came along & loudly claimed it was “sd only” & I’d have to get off.
    I pointed out that I was, therefore, a figment of their imagination.
    They threated to call BTP.
    I pointed out that… meanwhile we were blocking the up fast & there were, surely, other trains behind, which were going to be held up, because of their idiocy.
    They retreated, muttering & off we went!

    Points may have been more reliable in the supposed “good old days” but … consider the manpower (& it would have been MEN, too!) required to keep it so.
    SB’s every mile or less, 3 shifts of men in each box, mobile track-gangs … the COST (!!!)
    Now, the actual points are probably even more reliable than before (Metallurgy is better for a start), but you also have to have, as said above, reliable & robust (As in built like a Battleship) motors, actuators, locking mechanisms, etc.
    And, we still need (much smaller numbers of) skilled track maintenace people – when it does go wrong it can be spectacular & expensive – see “Potters Bar” for instance.
    Now THERE is a still-unresolved can of worms.

  71. DW down under says:

    @GF – have you overlooked Highgate depot?

  72. Rogmi says:

    Highgate is only a stabling point, albeit they can hold 18 passenger trains (+1 on the engineers siding if necessary), compared to High Barnet (8) and Edgware (13). Other than a couple at Highgate, trains do not stable at these depots between peaks during the week.
    In fact, looking at the current 91 train working timetable (available on the internet), as many trains enter service from Highgate in the morning weekday as at Golders Green (16). Morden (38) Edgware (13) High Barnet (8).

    Like Edgware and High Barnet, the ‘Depot’ part was changed to the politically correct ‘Sidings’ to reflect that they are sidings only and no maintenance is carried out, other than very minor work, such as changing a bulb etc. However most staff still refer to these stabling points as Depots.

  73. Ian Sergeant says:

    I was going to make a point about Highgate. Many trains late at night go to High Barnet then work as advertised services back to East Finchley. I know as too often I go one stop too many beyond Totteridge and Whetstone. I seem to remember that the same applies to Edgware trains and Golders Green.

    But how does this stabling work once the Battersea branch is built? Where do the first trains in the morning from Battersea come from?

  74. Graham Feakins says:

    @ PoP – Suppose it’s my turn to be pedantic:

    “I can tell you the points on Tramlink are not that robust and (like all points) they fail. The driver gets out with a big stick, sticks it in the point mechanism and wiggles it. He (or often she) then gets back into the tram and continues on his/her way.”

    The big stick is traditionally called a “point iron” (I think they have a new-fangled name for it but that’s what it is); there are several locations on Tramlink where the points are not motored and so the driver has to use his point iron but usually for out-of-course working; and at least two of the motored points (to gain access to the central platform 2 at East Croydon) were disconnected and converted to manual operation following a derailment pending the subsequent RAIB enquiry. Accordingly, what you see with a driver and big stick may have been nothing to do with a points failure at all (except at the Church Street points to interlaced track, which has caused (to me) expected problems – see below).

    Regarding platform 2 at East Croydon, it transpires that Tramlink had an exceptionally complicated arrangement, whereby the points (street track) were previously connected by track circuits to the Control Centre at Therapia Lane and were electrically controlled from there. Any ‘normal’ tram system would have the points operated solely by the approaching tram. Furthermore, the electrically-operated points (both the steel bits and the electrical bits) were, how shall I say, not of the best quality and thus ill-designed for the purpose – a bit of heavy rail engineering expertise inappropriately applied to light rail.

    I knew this at the time and was therefore not surprised when the pointwork there and in other locations had to be replaced. Of course, anyone can cause a points failure on Tramlink – kicking a stone or similar in between the point blades doesn’t help, for example. But I was talking about the Northern Line in tunnel originally (where such problems ought not to occur) and happily used the Swiss trams as an open-air, on-street example thus subject to more possible problems than an isolated railway as Camden Town, under cover, not subject to rain, snow, awkward members of the public and so on and yet the Swiss don’t seem to have these problems that seem to be so terrifying to UK railway engineers, so much so to persuade them to remove as much of the pointwork as possible to reduce the anticipated risk of failure.

    To me, that simply shines of engineering ‘shyness’ and speaks volumes for those involved. Instead of “Risk”, I would be far happier for them to adopt the term “Robustness”, whatever trackwork and pointwork is installed. Then we can the retain the flexibility that even an urban railway requires. Underground trains used to be turned back, especially within the tunnel sections, or even diverted in the outer stretches, at short notice all over the system, in emergencies of one sort or another. Of course, the policy then was to keep the service running to the benefit of their passengers but I’m not so sure these days. To do otherwise is a false economy.

    P.S. I was trying simply to refer to your commentary concerning the concentration of trains up one branch and apologies for implying otherwise.

  75. DW down under says:

    @ Rogmi and Ian S


    I think the point is now well made that Morden – Edgeware and Battersea – Barnet is as workable a combination as Plan A (Morden – Barnet and Battersea – Edgeware).

    We can also see that, apart from the very real difficulty of a mid-point depot on the southern sections, the northern arms are suitably equipped (@ GG and Highgate).

    One thing that could be floated, I suppose, is that a basement depot be included under the mooted HS2 area of the enlarged Euston (assuming Euston Cross/HS London Central doesn’t get supported). This could serve both Northern branches, the proposed Kingsway and W&C lines.

    Also worth floating, I guess, is the question of whether the new HS2 area @ Euston creates an opportunity to reroute the Northern Line City Branch for better interchange with the CX branch and thus take the heat out of the Camden Town situation?

  76. Ian J says:

    @Graham Feakins: surely the point (sorry for the pun) is that tramway points are not really comparable to the use of points on the Underground – because trams operate on a stop-on-sight basis and drivers are expected to visually verify that points are set the right way, there is no need to integrate them into the signalling system – as rogmi suggested many “points failures” are actually failures of the signalling system or failures to verify in a fail-safe way that points have switched – so there will be fewer disruptive points failures on a tramway. But I don’t see stop-on-sight operation and a fall-back to drivers in the four-foot with point bars as viable for the Northern Line.

  77. Pedantic of Purley says:

    @Graham Feakins

    Regarding East Croydon points on Tramlink, I suspect you have already read the RAIB report. And yes the points on Tramlink, to a non-experts on trams, like myself, do seem to be rather strange in the way they operate. And of course points ought to reliably work. But on Tramlink I have seen what is no doubt a points failure and confirmation at a talk that they happen far too often. The good thing is that a failure tends not to be a disaster but will screw up the service a bit.

    I suspect one of the consequences of the former unreliability of points at East Croydon was that controllers were reluctant to route trams into platform 2. I have certainly heard of controllers hesitating to invoke a plan because it involved moving a set of points that they didn’t trust would work – usually based on the “once bitten, twice shy” principle. This clearly should not happen and controllers and signallers ought to not have grounds to have this at the back of their minds when making decisions.

    I believe what happens on Network Rail, but it has been a recent change, is that the consequences of failure are taken into account when deciding how much to “gold plate” it. I think this always was the case with point heaters. I seem to recall reading that the entire alternative Thameslink route from Blackfriars to East Croydon has had extra resilience measures put in prior to closing the London Bridge route during rebuilding. This includes bringing forward bridge rebuilding in the Tulse Hill area and extra attention given to the points. One would love to install points everywhere that have been sufficiently engineered to hardly ever fail but that simply isn’t cost effective and nowadays the engineers can cost out the price involved in upgrading a part and the consequential cost of it failing based on the likelihood of it failing. Like it or not that is how today’s cost effective railway is run. No doubt Beeching would have approved of this approach and I am pretty sure Sir Herbert Walker would have endorsed it.

    The trouble with points a Camden town is that they are not easily accessible and, I believe, located on awkward curves. I sure everything possible is done to make them reliable, as they are so critical. Another issue is that, assuming they only have a limited life in terms of usage, they are awkward to replace which can probably only be done by closing the line to passenger traffic. So this is another factor in balancing the needs of one set of customers passengers against another set. Given the relatively small number of people who travel north on the Northern Line in the morning rush hour and and that only 50% of them will be inconvenienced (and the other 50% have a slight benefit) I think that this is a reasonable thing to do.

    Finally, lets not get carried away by this. The issue of the points is subsidiary. The dominating reason for splitting the line northbound in the morning was to get a more reliable service by removing conflict at the junctions.

  78. Pedantic of Purley says:

    @Ian Sergeant

    But how does this stabling work once the Battersea branch is built? Where do the first trains in the morning from Battersea come from?

    Oh. That is easy. The answer, I suspect, for the first two trains is Battersea. More precisely the stabling sidings to the west if the station – similar to Walthamstow, Brixton and Elephant & Castle. More difficult is where trains 3 and 4 northbound of Kennington via Charing Cross would come from. Remember the Kennington loop would still be there so if it came from Golders Green it wouldn’t have to go all the way to Battersea before starting its northbound journey.

    If the line wasn’t split (and remember nothing has been decided yet) then it could be from some of the first trains out of Morden depot. I don’t know what currently happens. I suspect the latter. Hopefully Rogmi can tell us.

  79. Anonymous says:

    “I think the point is now well made that Morden – Edgeware and Battersea – Barnet is as workable a combination ”

    How? – On IS’s figures Highgate and High Barnet together can only muster 24 trains – allow one for the MHE branch and that gives you just 23 trains to provide a service on a line which, even without the Battersea extension, takes 46 minutes to get from one end to the other, or 92 minutes for the round trip. Even allowing no time at all for layovers at the termini, that equates to only one train every four minutes, or 15 tph. You might stable a couple more at Battersea, but the extension itself will increase the round trip by at least eight minutes, so you’d now have 25 trains for a 100 minute round trip – still 15tph. If the lines are completely segregated, where are the other trains to be kept?

  80. Castlebar says:

    Strangely, there is an analogy with trolleybus operation

    One of the longest routes, the 667, Hammersmith – Hampton Court, was exclusively operated by Fulwell depot. Even though there was a trolleybus depot at Hammersmith, it was never used for the 667, so the last journey to Hammersmith ran at a ridiculously early hour as the bus had to get back to Fulwell as a service journey, and ditto, there were no really early journeys from Hammersmith because the first bus had to get up there from Fulwell. The 607 had similar problems with first and last journeys althougth in that case the 607 depot at Hanwell was bang in the middle of the route

  81. Graham Feakins says:

    @ Pedantic of Purley 09:41AM “…the entire alternative Thameslink route from Blackfriars to East Croydon has had extra resilience measures put in prior to closing the London Bridge route during rebuilding. This includes bringing forward bridge rebuilding in the Tulse Hill area…”

    I regret that the reason you state for bridge rebuilding in the Tulse Hill is mostly another bit of eyewash circulating. Those bridges (actually on the Tulse Hill to London Bridge route but with the Thameslink pair at Tulse Hill itself as well) have been in dire need for replacement for years and some have already been done. All the old ones have longitudinal sleepers which gradually shift out of alignment. I used the route twice daily and the ride over them at speed gradually worsened until the bogies were positively lively, throwing the coaches all over the place. When this had reached what I thought was about the day before a train lurched off the track over the viaduct, they would realign the sleepers and all was well again. The process was repeated approximately every six months at each bridge.

    Per Network Rail: “Assessments to Croxted Road, Rosendale Road and Village Way Bridges built in 1865 have concluded that all the structures are under strength and need to be replaced.” Also included is the one over Thurlow Park Road at Tulse Hill and the railway over railway (Portsmouth lines crossing Chatham lines in Dulwich). None of this work will take place until the first quarter of 2014 so goodness knows when it was going to be done if it hadn’t been brought forward.

    All a bit late for the complete closure of London Bridge (Southern side) throughout this coming Bank Holiday weekend….

  82. Rogmi says:

    The first NB CX train is at 05:37, then 05:46½, 05:55½, 06:04, 06:11½ – all from Morden depot.
    The first SB train (from Edgware depot) arrives at 06:02 and continues to Morden, The next SB train (from GG depot) arrives at 06:08, then goes round the loop to form the 06:18 to Edgware.

    Allowing 5 minutes to / from Battersea and 5 minutes turn round, a SB CX train would have to depart Kennington 2 to Battersea at 05:22 to be able to form the first NB CX train from Kennington 1 at 05:37. This means that the first SB train would have to have juice on 46 minutes earlier from Golders Green, which is very unlikely to happen. To keep to the same NB times from Kennington without having any trains from Morden, six trains would have to be stabled at Battersea. Kennington siding could hold two trains if they move the shunt signal forward or the buffer back slightly a 12-car 95 stock can just squeeze in there at present, but the driver wouldn’t be able to see the shunt signal. However, this would mean trains running over foreign territory if the lines were completley split (the would also have to allow trains to go from the siding to platform 2 – the only platform that a train from the siding cannot go into at present.

    Another option would be to stable one train in Kennington platform 2 and one in platform 2 (if reversing was allowed from platform 1 towards Battersea). However, from a train check and preparation point of view, they don’t like trains stabled in platforms and sidings if they can help it.

    I suppose it will part;y depend what time the service is required to start from Battersea. The simplest way is to carry on as now, with the first trains coming from Morden depot and then reverse trains in platform 1 as necessary to send them to Battersea until the first SB CX train arrives at Kennington.

  83. Graham Feakins says:

    @ Castlebar – The 667 trolleybus route wasn’t alone. The 630 (Harlesden – West Croydon) was based at Hammersmith depot and the first journeys had to start out of Hammersmith at 3.15/3.30 a.m. so as to provide for a return from West Croydon at 4.40 a.m. or thereabouts. Moreover, some of the crews came from what was the former Thornton Heath tram depot, the plan being to accommodate some of the 630’s at Thornton Heath should the South London tram routes have been converted to trolleybus operation. However, right until the end of the 630’s, there were Thornton Heath crews who had to book on and off there (via Hammersmith)!

    It reminds me of those more recent days when some Central London bus routes were run by (Grey-Green?) buses stored out in the Surrey countryside and had plenty of empty mileage just to pick up and leave their routes, whilst transport text books still stressed the need to design services so as to avoid dead mileage. You couldn’t make it up, as they say.

  84. Pedantic of Purley says:

    All a bit late for the complete closure of London Bridge (Southern side) throughout this coming Bank Holiday weekend….

    I don’t understand the relevance. This coming Bank Holiday weekend Thameslink trains are running normally via London Bridge.

  85. Ian J says:

    @Graham Feakins: “I regret that the reason you state for bridge rebuilding in the Tulse Hill is mostly another bit of eyewash circulating”: nothing in the information you give is inconsistent with what Pedantic said: that bridge rebuilding had been brought forward because of the greater importance of the Elephant route during London Bridge rebuilding.

  86. Graham Feakins says:

    Just a passing complaint, PoP. Platform 8 onwards will be closed, with no Southern services.

    Ian J – except that the bridge rebuilding is on the Peckham-Tulse Hill route not on the Elephant route, save the one at Tulse Hill, which I believe will be dealt with last.

  87. DW down under says:

    Anonymous @ 10:00AM, 23rd May 2013:

    I had suggested that Morden supply early start and late finish trains on the CX branch, as well as service the Morden-Bank-Edgeware line. As the line busies up, then stock would be drawn in from Highgate for the Battersea-CX-Barnet route. Early trains from Battersea would include the 2 stabled there, plus the first arrivals from High Barnet.

    So we aren’t expecting Highgate and High Barnet sidings to service the whole train requirements of the CX branch. Instead, Morden supplies the balance for both branches, with GG dedicated to Morden-Bank-Edgeware.

  88. Greg Tingey says:

    You COULD stable four trains @ Battersea over night, actually – two “up the spout” & two in the platforms, assuming no engineering work overnight @ the station. Might allieviate the problem?

  89. Rogmi says:

    That could be an option. Another one is to make the overrun tunnels longer (if they’re not long enough as planned) and stable two or even three trains in each like they used to do on the C&SLRky. However, doubling up gives problems if the train in front is defective and can’t move thus trapping the train behind. This used to happen a lot at Morden with the older stock but, as Morden was a depot, that wasn’t really a problem. The crew for the train behind would just be given a train on another road and meanwhile the fitters would either repair the defective train or move it elsewhere.

    A further option would be to build four extra stabling sidings at Battersea. With the overrun tunnels, that would allow six trains to be stabled on separate roads. Lots more money though!

  90. Anonymous says:

    Why are all these expensive proposals for extra depot space, or dead mileage between Morden and Kennington over what will essentially be another line (analogous to maintaining Bakerloo or Circle stock at Neasden)? There is already sufficient space for all trains needed on both lines, post NLE, AND post split.

    A clean-break split of the Northern Line will inevitably result in more people changing at Camden (although some will chosse to change elsewhere for statoins on the other branch, such as at Euston, or KX for Leicester Square and vice versa, Moorgate or Bank for TCR and vice versa, or Waterloo for London Bridge and vice versa). But is one way of doing the split very much worse than the other?

    How are passenger flows through Camden distributed at present – are there more passengers in total between the Highgate branch and the CX branch and between the Golders Green branch and the Bank branch, than there are in total on the other two pairings? i.e, given a split, which pairings would result in the least interchanging? – or, at least, minimising the amount of interchanging at the busiest time?

  91. DW down under says:

    Anonymous @ 11:32AM, 24th May 2013

    Perhaps I should have made clear that my proposals for using Morden to service BOTH lines after a Northern Line split involves trains running from Morden station in service, to High Barnet via CX. I do not anticipate EMPTY running.

    Also, I doubt the early morning demand at Battersea – if its catchment is as expected. You may be looking at 0600 for a first train, 0615 for a second; by which time trains would have arrived from High Barnet and East Finchley to make up an 0630 and an 0640; then it would “on for young and old.” Meanwhile, regular and reasonably frequent early morning trains would be running ex Morden via Kennington thence Waterloo to cater for early morning demand along that section and at Waterloo.

  92. Taz says:

    Three trains will stable overnight at Battersea, one in the platform, according to the April Underground Railway Society meeting. These will probably come from Golders Green depot late at night to start clean. It looks likely that these will be a new design of train for the Northern, with the current trains moving to other lines.

    Plans speak of a ‘partial split’ which might allow early morning workings from Morden to Charing Cross. It is the peak junction working that is limiting. Of course, this indicates that both branches will share a common rolling stock ahowing maps of both routes.

  93. Ian Sergeant says:

    Thanks Taz. That’s an interesting approach which allows LU to run the next trains after the first three either as empties from Golders Green or as in-service trains from Morden interleaving the three trains from Battersea. It leaves the decision as to whether to have a total split until later.

  94. Mark T says:

    As I see it, the only objections Camden council have are changes above ground.

    Couldn’t they use the existing site on Buck st (where the existing WW2 deep tunnel entrance is), to create a new entrance/exit to Camden station. Afterall, it’d be much nearer the market, and we don’t need to keep all of these deep tunnel entrances, there’s enough other ones out there to admire. A small set of escalators down to a ticket hall (as per at Kings X), so the entrance can be unobtrusive and doesn’t require a large footprint above ground.

    New passenger tunnels would link from there to the platforms but crucially at the extremities of the ‘V’, allowing for nice large tunnels with plenty of capacity.

    The existing station would be closed, and left there to look pretty. And with the closure of the old entrance, interchange along the existing tunnels would be absolutely fine, as you’d no longer need to dice with death at the bottom of the escalators (the escalators would be gone).

    The new entrance/exit would be closer to Camden road too.

  95. Long Branch Mike says:

    @Mark T

    Why close Camden station’s existing entrance? Surely with the Buck Street Deep Level entrance being closer to the market, and much less crowded, it would abstract at least half of the entering/exiting passengers from the existing entrance & underground passageways.

    Closing the existing entrance will also upset alot of the current station users, not good for proposing this change.

  96. Ian Sergeant says:

    If you created an underground ticket hall accessed from Buck Street, you would need to take half of Buck Street Market temporarily to build it. This might be acceptable to Camden Council, but that isn’t guaranteed. Also I believe you would need to make the station accessible somehow – I don’t know whether the original lift shaft can be reused.

  97. Taz says:

    It seems that when the Battersea extension was first planned, it only required four trains (now five), and the plan was to send a 1995ts train to eastern Europe to get it cloned. But now with the Jubilee wanting to borrow some 1995ts for 36tph in 2019/20 when Battersea also opens, and Northern Upgrade 2 requiring more trains for 2021/22 (according to Crossrail 2 papers) it seems clear that the first of the new generation tube trains will go to the Northern Line.

    It was recently suggested that the Barnet-Bank-Morden line would get these new trains, with displaced trains replacing old Bakerloo trains. There will be problems accommodating longer cars of 6-car 1995ts trains at curved platforms where current 7-car trains leave a big enough gap! But this also assumes that the Edgware-Battersea line will retain current trains in a segregated service. In recent years talk has been of a ‘partial separation’ which suggests some interworking, and therefore desirable to have a common stock with all routes shown on car maps.

    If all 106 Northern Line trains are to be displaced where will they cascade to? The Piccadilly, Bakerloo and Central line upgrades are now listed as post-2022 with completion in the 2030s! The Central currently has 8-car trains, and if the 1995ts was made up to 7 longer car trains, they would still be shorter, whilst 8-car would be too long. They would also leave larger gaps at Bank curved platform etc.

    So that leaves the Piccadilly which currently operates similarly formed 6-car trains of 1973ts. The Met/District resignalling already includes the Picc line west of Barons Court except west of Northfields by 2018. If the remaining sections are completed by 2022 then the new trains could operate with auto-drive enabling an enhanced service through the central area with extra trains. That is an upgrade on the cheap with only resignalling for the remaining third of the line. Providing the Jubilee with a few more trains made up to 7-cars could also benefit the Central Line. If both trailers are removed from five trains of 1995ts they could be stripped of equipment to become special trailers to make up to 10 extra trains for the Jubilee. The remaining 4-car all-motor trains could be modified with this equipment to cover services currently provided from the trailers. They would release the five trains from the Waterloo & City Line which could be used for spare parts on the Central Line. I understand that they are operationally incompatible there. 1995ts would be longer than the current 1992ts, which were shorter than the trains they replaced. The current depot access hatch may need to be lengthened.

    So a new fleet on the Northern Line could enhance the Waterloo & City and Jubilee, provide a cheap upgrade to the Piccadilly, and some spares for the Central Line. Unfortunately this leaves the Bakerloo running the oldest trains, although the signalling is much younger than the Piccadilly. If the Bakerloo gets a new train build, it will need under half of what the Piccadilly would have needed, so another saving at this time of austerity!

  98. DW down under says:

    @ Taz. In the context of the current refurb of 95ts, I have learned at DD’s that there is no provision in this refurb for adjusting the ATO to suit the Jubilee Line. That’s not to say it can’t happen in 6 years or so, but it does seem a lost opportunity while the stock is out-of-service.

  99. Taz says:

    @DWdu Isn’t Jubilee & Northern lines’ ATO the same system? What will need to change? I can understand wanting to leave well alone until it has proved itself in service on the Northern. It has been installed on the trains for some time now, and only just getting to prove that it really works out on the line.

  100. DW down under says:

    @Taz. I don’t have the detail, but posters on DD’s have indicated that 95ts can’t run on the Jubilee as they are; and that the current refurb doesn’t address that issue.

  101. Eric Golding says:

    Is there any update information about Camden Town station?

  102. Pedantic of Purley says:

    @Eric Golding,

    Nothing very specific. I asked at the Bank station consultation exhibition. The team see it very much as the next one to tackle. It does seem to be most definitely on the radar in future plans even if there are no or very few references in official documents. There is a lot more confidence they can get it through. They feel that they are much better prepared with a far better understanding as to how to present one’s case to the inevitable public inquiry.

    As to exactly what they will be proposing, this is not clear and I am not sure it is even decided yet by London Underground. All one can be really sure of is that they will prepare their case very thoroughly.

  103. Graham Feakins says:

    The New Camden Journal had this to report in September concerning a meeting of TfL with Camden Council concerning a Camden Town upgrade (Holborn gets a mention, too):

  104. timbeau says:

    Intrigued by the suggestion in the New Camden Journal that the Kingsway Tram tunnel might find a use in an upgrade of Holborn station.

  105. Graham Feakins says:

    Ah ha, timbeau! You and me both but my fault for the error; it is in fact the Camden New Journal. Apologies.

  106. Milton Clevedon says:

    I observe that the Camden New Journal is referencing Buck Street as a possible location for additional station access. That is of course where one of the deep level tunnel shelter entrances exists, so maybe works are to take advantage of that shaft as an excavation point if nothing more. A Buck Street access is also helpful if in due course there might be a deep level Camden Town-Camden Road inter-station link, as the entire Northern Line northern suburbs currently fail to have any easy interchange with the orbital rail network.

  107. Ian J says:

    The TfL presentation that forms the basis of the Camden New Journal report is online here:

    It shows TfL’s current thinking on Camden Town and Holborn. For Camden Town, there are two options.

    The first (and judging by the newspaper report TfL and the councillors’ preferred one) would be to demolish the school on the north side of Buck St, and sink a 5-storey box with escalators in it and a new ticket hall on the ground level. Meanwhile the deep level vent shaft Milton Clevedon mentions would be used as access to build connecting tunnels directly from the bottom of the escalators to the northbound platforms, and links to the existing concourse and the southbound level. The building over the vent shaft would then be removed to create a “vibrant new space”.

    The second option would be to remove the Buck St market and build a new ticket hall on the site (ie. on the south side of Buck St). Again, the vent shaft would be used for access, but this time would remain after construction finished.

    For Holborn, the scheme involves a new deep level connection between the Central and Piccadilly Line platforms, plus a new lift shaft which links this connection to the ticket hall to provide step-free access. Interestingly this does not involve reusing the two existing shafts down to the Piccadilly Line platforms, and has inclined lifts running parallel to escalators to get to the Central Line platforms.

    As timbeau mentioned the plan is to use the Kingsway tram subway as a worksite, with three shafts sunk down from the tram subway to a Piccadilly Line concourse in the old Aldwych branch platform tunnel below. There is also a reference to using the Aldwych line for spoil removal.

    Expected dates are 2018 to start Holborn and 2019 for Camden Town.

    So we now have three planned London Underground projects that use redundant bits of transport infrastructure as access points for tunneling and spoil removal: the King William St station at Bank, the deep level tube access shaft at Camden, and both the Kingsway Tunnel and old Aldwych platform at Holborn.

  108. AlisonW says:

    I sometimes wonder why the ‘Oxford Circus’ approach to redeveloping Camden Town isn’t used. Build a new concourse below the road junctions, add new southern entrances so roads don’t have to be crossed, and that location is at the apex of the platforms, thus shorter distances involved.

  109. Ian Sergeant says:

    What we all need to remember regarding Buck Street are the old arguments around the importance of the market. Buck Street Market sells itself as ‘Camden Market’ – so closing the market has a real negative impact on the area, they argued. It’s also within the conservation area.

    Hawley School is on the other side of Buck Street, outside the conservation area. If I remember correctly, it’s an infant school only, and there are plans for it to move to the Hawley Wharf area, where infant and junior schools could be provided. That area could be used uncontroversially for access to a large underground ticket hall – and it should leave some of the area vacated by the school available for social housing, which I seem to remember was one of the desires relating to the school move.

    I’m not saying for a second that I accept the market’s argument, but others do – so it’s probably best to go with the Hawley Street plan – assuming the school move goes ahead.

  110. Ian J says:

    @Ian S: I agree, which is why Option 1 seems to be the one that TfL are pushing for, though it obviously needs Camden council’s cooperation as it reduces the space available for their development of the site. The removal of the access shaft in Option 1 creates a larger open space that could potentially be used by the market.

  111. Taz says:

    The last Camden Town plan was a total remake. This appears to be a minimum option. Will fix the overcrowded top station, but seems to do little for the quarter of travellers changing trains there. Regular travellers will stick with the current interchange passages at the south end of the platforms rather than the new long passages to be built at the north end. Upgrade 2 may or may not involve a split of branches according to this presentation. But if they can’t commit now, upgrade 3 definitely will and interchange will become the main function of the station. Also confusing that Upgrade 2 is shown as expected by 2022 as part of the deep tube upgrades that are shown not expected before 2020’s and we know that Piccadilly is first to go.

  112. Walthamstow Writer says:

    Good find about Camden Town and Holborn. I see that “inclined lifts” are becoming a more popular option – a couple on the Holborn plan. The Holborn plan is interesting in that it deals solely with interchange movements in order to decongest the escalator banks. Having had to use Holborn at the height of the peak I once timed the link from e.b Picc to Street level. It took 8 minutes to shuffle down the corridors and stairs to reach the escalators and then exit. Horrendous.

    I note in amongst the jazzy slide about future TfL projects that the name “Mainline” has been used for the West Anglia lines. I wonder if that’s the project name or the brand?

  113. Taz says:

    It looks to me like the planned Holborn Picc eastbound concourse fills the current Aldwych branch platform tunnel, so no more trains to Aldwych (even for filming)?

  114. Ian Sergeant says:


    Regarding the south end of Camden Town, I don’t think that there is enough detail yet to comment. I would have thought that work could be done in two phases – close the north end, build the new station, then close the south end and remove the spoil between the platforms. I’m not a civil engineer, but this does not sound impossible given the lack of depth of foundations of the buildings above.

    Clearly we see no plan to do work beyond improving access for locals and tourists, but I would argue that the only plans we see are at surface level. Let’s hope that common sense prevails for those who will need to change in the morning and evening rush hours.

  115. Taz says:

    @ Ian Sergeant 11:27, 9 November 2013
    Upgrade 2 is expected in 2022 according to the presentation. A 2019 start means 2023 completion of the new entrance at the earliest, although maybe the north end crosspassages will be completed first from the current deep-level shelter vent shaft. If the current station entrance then closes for additional crosspassage works then add a couple of years at least, so a few years after Upgrade 2 is supposed to be operating. Perhaps full separation of branches will have to await Upgrade 3, which will become inevitable.

  116. Fandroid says:

    I love that PR presentation of TfL’s: the Jubilee tph increase is illustrated by a train up on jacks(?!?), the Northern Line upgrade to be completed in 2022 shows a map of Kennington with no Battersea branch although that was illustrated in another pic with a completion date of 2020. All terribly impressive, but lack of attention to detail can make the cynics even more cynical (cynical – moi?).

  117. Ian J says:

    @Ian S, Taz:

    Clearly we see no plan to do work beyond improving access for locals and tourists and
    Perhaps full separation of branches will have to await Upgrade 3, which will become inevitable

    The presentation states that “The scheme will enable full weekend access and accommodates all planned line upgrade scenarios including enhanced upgrade or full separation”. Remember that shifting some of the people entering and exit the station to the north end of the complex frees up space for interchanging passengers at the south end.

    @Fandroid: It’s not a PR presentation. It’s a presentation to a local council committee by LUL’s station capacity manager, which happens to be publically available because Camden Council put their minutes and papers online. Personally I would hope he spends his time working on the hugely complex engineering and planning tasks involved in these upgrades rather than finding precisely appropriate images for his Powerpoints.

  118. Taz says:

    @Ian J 04:46, 11 November 2013
    The presentation does state as you quote. Some of us find that hard to believe, even though we accept that some current passengers will use the new entrance to the north. Many will still prefer the current route and demand will grow in the meantime. The shortest interchange routes are only used for that purpose, so no relief from new access. The area at the foot of the current escalators should be a little less crowded, but that is all to ease interchange. If the branches are split to increase frequencies then near 50% of travellers will change trains there to start with at least, since services are currently 50/50 between routes. In time some will change their residence or job to suit the new travel patterns, and some will find alternative interchanges. The original scheme had better interchange areas than you could dream up!

  119. Greg Tingey says:

    I find P6 pf that report interesting … demand has been outgrowing supply since 2003, but officialdom didn’t wake up (or not at national guvmint level, at any rate, until about 2 years ago – and there are still those, like the Treasury man mentioned in another thread, who did their utmost to prevent ANY rail scheme (Such as delaying CR1 for 20 years) from going ahead. Now, of course, it’s play catch-up time.
    P8 Really? Arabfly dangleway has “exceeded journey target for year one” … however, numbers are certainly plummeting now (Oops, that was a poor choice of words, or was it?)

    Camden Town behind Holborn – which I find suprising.
    BTW, I’m not sure if the Aldwych branch would be severed, permanently – it’s very hard to tell, even from the 3-D drawing.

  120. @Greg,

    Cognitive dissonance maybe? You get one years figures and explain it away as a blip. Two or three and irrationally you suspect there is a problem with measuring the figures. Four or five and you get uncomfortable and and keep an eye on things then, far too late, you recognise there is a real problem. For some Americans touchy subjects can cause this period to be extended over decades or centuries even.

    I know our civil service should be better than this but I suspect it is a human failing replicated over much of the world.

    I hate to out-cynicise you but I suspect the cable-car projected figures were deliberately made very low in the first few years. If the thing is hardly used then “in line with expectations” and if used a little bit “exceeded journey target for year one”.

    Camden Town behind Holborn – which I find suprising.
    I am a bit surprised but on reflection find it much more understandable. Holborn is a relatively cheap scheme. It is not controversial and has the local authority (interestingly Camden) very much wanting it to happen – and soon. It can also be carried out quite quickly so it gets a quick result in relative terms.

    In a way it is more important than Camden as the Piccadilly Line upgrade (which will go ahead in the early 2020s) will be pretty pointless without it in the same way that the Northern Line Upgrade 2 would be pretty pointless if you didn’t sort Bank out. I also understand that the Piccadilly Upgrade team also need work done at Holborn to get an extra substation in at Holborn and the work would be much cheaper and much less disruptive if it can be done as part of one overall project.

    Sorting out Holborn also give something positive to show Camden council and possibly links the rationale for doing things – if they support resolving Holborn then how come they do not support resolving Camden?

    What I don’t understand is that I was convinced that the plan was for a completely separate entrance at Holborn. I don’t know if I am just wrong, whether that has been dropped or there are drawings for a further upgrade in the future.

    Your might be interested in this ITV report made before the latest spending round when LU was worried that the Holborn upgrade would be a victim of the chancellor’s spending cuts.

  121. Fandroid says:

    @Ian J. My cynicism drive switched itself on mainly because it was a presentation to a group with a serious interest (and influence) in the actual proposals. It was obviously felt that the assembled folk had to be softened up with an ‘aren’t we wonderful !’ introduction. That particular slide looked like a corporate PR creation which that manager was probably obliged to include by the HQ wonks. It might be the way that things have to be done, but on this site I think I’m allowed to scoff a little.

  122. Fandroid says:

    Pedantic. Another reason for Holborn being ahead of Camden could be because its problems occur in the working week, whereas Camden’s seem to mostly occur at weekends.

  123. Taz says:

    @ Greg Tingey 08:42, 11 November 2013 ” I’m not sure if the Aldwych branch would be severed, permanently – it’s very hard to tell, even from the 3-D drawing.”

    It is clear that it will be severed. The new escalators descend to the Aldwych platform. Lift B provides step-free access with a passage to the platform which crosses the current track. The current Aldwych train could be serviced on site – it doesn’t see much use. It is of the Bakerloo design which will remain in service another 15 years at least. Traction current may remain on at Aldwych for filming purposes with a cable under the new concourse to link the severed section. Else the train could be moved by the magic of film!

  124. Will222 says:

    Does that TFL demographic analysis not terrify anyone else? 750k more London residents, 1.26m more London jobs.

    Leaving aside central London transport and housing, if London’s employment rate stays roughly constant, does that not translate to roughly another half a million people per day commuting from outside the M25? Does anyone with an insiders view know what’s on the drawing board to address this?

    HS2: 18,000/hr?
    Thameslink: extra 14,000/hr?
    CR1: will it any add new capacity outside of central London?
    CR2: should in theory allow higher capacity on SWT into Waterloo?

    Is the odd-bit of train lengthening on the commuter railways expected to bridge the gap? Or is it the hope that London’s high cost of living will drive up the central London employment rate, so that the extra jobs are filled by people who live in London (i.e. by forcing out the young/old, economically inactive and unemployed)?

    Is anyone in power actually thinking about these long term trends in a co-ordinated way?

  125. RichardB says:

    @Will222 I agree and the figures could be higher as there is already some evidence that the statistics for London’s population underestimate the number living in London. London Councils has recently stated they need another 800,000 new homes to be built within the GLA area over the next decade just to keep pace. London is a megacity. My personal view is that at some point the investment in Crossrail type projects and train lengthening will cease to produce beneficial effects or be unable to grow further as there is a limit on how many trains you can squeeze in (tph) on either underground lines or indeed National Rail lines.

    I think at some point we will need a second underground system consisting of several lines to take trains conformant with the National Railway gauge i.e. not the current Gauge used by the Tube lines. Unlike the cross rail projects I think we will need new stations in central London with only a limited number of interchanges with the current network. The reason I say this is that we are starting to shoe horn a lot of new dwellings within the inner boroughs and relying only on grand interchange stations for new lines such as Kings Cross, Tottenham Court Road etc will not serve.

    At the moment such ideas will seem pure moonshine but at some point the demographics will compel a radical review of London’s current and anticipated needs. The problem is that up until now the convention has been to view public transport as a facility for the poor and that the numbers of users will either plateau or decline. This thesis is being challenged but it will take some time before radical proposals will be considered. I for one am in favour of Crossrail 1 and 2 and even 3 for that matter but one of the weaknesses of the Crossrail concept is that it becomes a hostage to a quite rational desire to improve cross London regional links. London also needs new metro services as well with more stations but the cost is frighteningly high and will only be addressed when the present remedies are seen to have reached their limits. If I am right crayonistas may yet have a field day

  126. Will222 says:

    I think you’re bang on. I’ve lived in a few world cities and am always amazed at how London does things backwards – waits for the congestion before building the infrastructure (Docklands a case in point).

    The only solution I can see is to take a few large derelict areas of industrial wasteland and agricultural scrub, build direct rail expressways to the key employment centres and build up up up. And I don’t mean the millionaires skyscraper announced today for Canary Wharf:

    It’s actually bizarre that a housing project with 700 flats should even make the news – these should be going up like bamboo.

    Singapore’s population density is far higher than London’s (a third of the island is still rainforest which the raw stats ignore) but it never feels busy in comparison, as there’s a never ending stream of new transport and residential projects and immigration is at times fiercely controlled until the infrastructure has caught up with population forecasts. Easy when the state owns the majority of the land and housing stock, though this can be solved at home with more aggressive planning and infrastructure laws. 

    And this will become essential very soon, unless the UK finds a way to opt out the EU’s freedom of movement laws (ONS: 60% of Uk pop growth to 2035 directly or indirectly the result of immigration).

    Otherwise the South East will become a deeply unpleasant and expensive place to live and work. None of which is about Camden Town, apologies mods. I just can’t help feeling that the relatively minor or long awaited projects we all celebrate on here, don’t even scratch the back of the elephant.

    Would love someone on here that knows about these things to write an article, with a proper analysis of how the heck we can use engineering (and whatever else) to solve this. Maybe Boris has got it all wrong – he should be building a foggy Manhattan in the Estuary, not an airport!

  127. stimarco says:


    The DLR was actually a rare example of building the infrastructure before the congestion – or, indeed, any construction at all – appeared.

    In general, I agree with you in that London needs to either decide to offload some of its employers to another city and focus more on just one or two sectors instead.

    For example, kicking the politicians out and making, say, Birmingham, the UK’s new capital city instead. This never did NYC, LA, San Francisco, Milan, Turin or Sydney any harm. None are capital cities and they’re doing perfectly well.

    Meanwhile, inner London could certainly stand to lose some of its endless rows of low-quality Victorian terraced housing. Oxford Street is hardly an architectural wonder. Modern technology allows us to measure and record all these structures in vast detail, so we can easily preserve them in virtual form. (And 3D printers would allow us to easily build tactile models of entire streets and districts if preferred. That’d be an interesting use for the Palace of Westminster if the politicians could be convinced to leave it for somewhere newer, shinier and better suited to the job.)

    But I digress.

  128. Greg Tingey says:

    Richard B
    Unlike the cross rail projects I think we will need new stations in central London with only a limited number of interchanges with the current network.
    Err ….
    CR1: Paddington, Bond St, TCR, Farringdon(Aldersgate-&-Barbican), Liverpool St(Moorgate), Whitechapel = 6
    Central Line equivalent: Notting Hill Gate, Queensway, Lancaster Gate, Marble Arch, Band St, Oxford Circus, TCR, Holborn, Chancery Lane, St Pauls, Bank, Liverpool St, Bethnal Green = 13.
    You were saying?

    [Irrelevant dig at politicians deleted.PoP]

  129. 0775John says:

    As I was about to write yesterday in response to Will222, the choice is stark. The problem seems to me to relate to the worship of market forces by those within the establishment. If you leave infrastructure planning to the market it will continue to supply offices and residential towers etc etc where people currently want to go because “the demand” is there. Re-directing demand by creating wholly new towns/cities can only be done by what smacks of central planning and even a Tory/LibDem coalition is castigated by many for wasting public money on something as “normal” as HS2. So to restrict and redirect growth away from the place where the rich and powerful (as they see themselves, anyway) want to be , especially by overt means, would provoke threats of world HQs being moved and jobs being lost and the economy suffering.
    If HS2 goes ahead, at least it may prompt a more balanced outlook by big business who may realise that directors etc who feel the need to “be where the action is” can get to the Midlands and North as quick as it used to take them to commute from the Chilterns and realise that quality of life for their commuting workers is better done outwith the M25

  130. Walthamstow Writer says:

    Interesting to see someone cite Singapore as some sort of transport panacea compared to London. This is the place that cannot provide a direct, without change rail service from the Airport to the Central Business or Shopping area. Bonkers given the excellent reputation of Changi Airport. They make everyone take taxis, cars or small scale shuttle buses to their Airport instead. I’ve done the public transport journey once from the airport – never again. I object to being forced to use taxis but that’s Singapore for you. Despite two new lines running close to Changi *none* of them will directly serve the airport itself. More insanity.

    The authorities in Singapore have only recently (last 5-7 years) woken up to the huge overcrowding on parts of their transport network and taken the decision to replace buses with the MRT. Their MRT expansion is akin to what London went through 100 years ago so quite why they are ahead of us I don’t know. They have also just realised that in the short term it is worth expanding their bus network having allowed it to atrophy for years with old, worn out buses slogging around. There is now massive investment with 800 extra buses and 40 new routes planned which is certainly welcome. The other aspect is the provision of covered walkways between stops, station and housing estates – perhaps an odd improvement but given the heat and rainfall definitely required if you want people to walk to reach public transport.

    The MRT has also had its woes with inadequate maintenance causing conductor rails to come loose causing massive disruption. This event also showed that evacuation procedures were woeful and plans for rail replacement services non existent. This caused huge damage to the MRT’s reputation with a lot of work needed to put these matters right. LU is not perfect but it tends not to be in quite such poor shape.

    I agree with the need to expand the tube network in London. I am more sceptical about trying to shift head offices and government out of London. Despite years of “moving the civil service out of London” announcements from government ministers has any of it really moved? I don’t think so. We have to accept that corporate HQs and the financial / IT sector are going to be anchored in London and the South East until such time as the requisite skills and knowledge are developed outside of London to make it a low risk proposition to move out. I can’t see any strategy to make that happen. I really can’t see big business being willing to be “forced” to locate to unattractive areas where labour and office space may be cheaper but everything else is inconvenient. I don’t even see HS2 as a game changer in that respect. If government really wants to “rebalance” the economy then it has to take business with it and I don’t believe they are doing that nor are they seeking to pull business out of London. After all the Mayor is desperate to pull business *in* to London.

  131. RichardB says:

    @ Walthamstow Writer I agree the idea we can stop the growth of London by encouraging employers to move to the Midlands and the north just doesn’t seem to work. Unless we adopt a Stalinist approach it’s never going to happen and even if we achieved it the end result might not be as attractive as proponents would have us believe. The brutal truth is that London is successful. I think we forget the degree to which it is successful. There are only two cities rated as AAA Plus – London and New York. London unlike most of the other regions makes a large positive contribution to the UK economy. It is for better or worse the powerhouse of the UK economy and whilst I have no problems with investment in the regions I think the idea we can transfer the dynamism of London’s economy thereby creating a static or perhaps steady state economy within London is a concept which is fraught with difficulty with no guarantee of success.

    London is on a roll and we have to live with it. The problem is we have to face upto the transport challenge and given the limitations of the road network new investment in further underground railway infrastructure is I think inevitable as despite its costs underground being out of sight means the usual Nimby based opposition is less strident.

    @ Greg I think you misunderstood the point I was making. Crossrail 1 has stations which in each case interchange with the legacy network. Essentially because of the cost of new stations we elect only to build those which provide interchanges but there is a real problem with that approach as all it does is funnel even more people through the same stations. For example Crossrail 2 which with reservations I support will have interchanges with Kings Cross St Pancras and also Tottenham Court Road. This will only add to the capacity problems at those stations. If commuter numbers continue to grow we will have a real problem. I think PoP’s view that we should identify where we would need new stations to be and then consider how such places could be linked is the way forward. For example should we have an underground station outside the Albert Hall? If so and I appreciate others might scoff what other locations could benefit from new stations and would this be the basis for a new line. I appreciate such lines would need to be deep and they would also need some interchanges with the historic network but not necessarily at the usual hub stations

  132. Will222 says:

    @WW The issues you raise on Singapore’s system are interesting and to an extent valid. I cant comment on the situation a decade ago or on a detailed level. My own anecdotes for what theyre worth, is that there has been a single occasion I remember of a line being suspended in two years (the incident you refer to). When in London I grew quite used to walking 30mins to a non-suspended line in the mornings, whether due to signal failure, faulty stock or strike action.

    At the busiest interchanges on the busiest lines I find you can board the first train that arrives in rush hour. Good luck with that on the Bank branch Northern Line.

    The criticism of a lack of fast public transport from the airport is not wholly fair. The MRT journey from the CBD takes about 40mins, roughly the same as Heathrow to the City, which will also not have a direct connection until CR1. This journey costs a pound or two. In reality the road congestion charging means for most, taking a taxi is the best option (20mins, £8-12). 

    There seems to be a recognition that population increases have led to congestion. Hence the multiple new lines under construction and to an extent the proposed HS line to Malaysia. 

    Singapore has many problems the UK does not but on public transport, my experience is it wins hands down and is a compelling reason to delay a move home for as long as possible. Then again, I don’t live in the poorly connected heartlands so I would say that. And certainly the new Circle line has platforms far too short for future growth, even a layperson such as I can see that. 

    Finally I agree with all the comments – London’s success is not an excuse to centrally plan it’s industries elsewhere. That implies there are major engineering and planning challenges ahead for some of the expert contributors to this forum. I look forward to be being further educated by you all as to how they may be solved.

  133. Fandroid says:

    There have been limited successes for central planning in the UK. London’s Docklands would probably still be a mouldering wetland if the government hadn’t pitched in with infrastructure and big incentives. There has a been a recent very well publicised relocation out of London. The BBC has shifted a lot of activities to Salford.

    If the government stopped relentlessly centralising all power to itself and handed some real autonomy to the regions, then the balance might shift a bit. After all, London has regional autonomy, the only bit of England that has!

  134. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @Will222 – I would sincerely hope that the Singapore MRT can perform better than a 100 year old railway that was deprived of proper asset management practices for about 3 decades. What was concerning was that when it did suffer its serious breakdown I understand that revealed a lack of engineering understanding as to what has happening in the tunnels and with the traction power supply. To be honest I found that surprising as I’d expect much more rigour but, of course, the operation of MRT lines is tendered out to SMRT and SBS Transit – the first a rail operator by trade but with bus operations and the latter a bus operator by trade but with transit added later. I’d have expected the MRT to have shared best practice with Hong Kong’s MTR which is an acknowledged world leader in railway asset management. Hopefully the Land Transport Authority and the contracted operators have learnt some important lessons and there will be no repeat. I do not imagine for one moment that the MRT would run well if it had been deprived of proper levels of funding for asset replacement and enhancement for 30 years.

    Much of London’s problems derive from its history – it has historically been a successful world city and that trend has simply accelerated in recent decades. It also has a transport history of things not quite being co-ordinated properly or fully with vested interests forever fighting their little battles and this then deprived the city of the long term funding it needed to ensure a modern, coherent and efficient transport system to support the long term trend of increased economic activity. We can still see the nonsense of suboptimal co-ordination and vested interests battling away on a wide variety of schemes currently under consideration.

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