Images bring to life many London Reconnections pieces. We are lucky to have a band of chums willing to brave frostbite, heat stroke and going rusty to capture stuff on our behalf. Therefore our thanks and copyright acknowledgements go to Steam 60163 and Unravelled for these images enabling us to update earlier articles.

Over with Steam 60163

Earlier this year we published an article about the new graded junction at Hitchin. Steam 60163 has assiduously recorded the construction of this viaduct and recently took advantage of a not to be repeated photo opportunity. At a Network Rail charity event local residents were given a guided tour of the soon to be opened link. The tour started at the Hitchin end and proceeded to the junction at the Letchworth end.


The ECML, looking towards London, passes underneath the highest point of the flyover


One of three substantial expansion-joints on the viaduct’s track

The east-facing view of the flyover

The east-facing view of the flyover

The transition from flyover to embankment

The transition from flyover to embankment

Under the Flyover

Under the Flyover

A Networker passes the spot where the new line joins the existing Cambridge-Line

A Networker passes the spot where the new line joins the existing Cambridge-Line

The new line, awaiting completion, meets the existing Hitchin-Cambridge line

The new line, awaiting completion, meets the existing Hitchin-Cambridge line

For those interested, the photographic history of the flyover can be found here.

Under with Unravelled

Meanwhile, Unravelled has been following the public demonstration of complex engineering skills that is Crossrail. Inevitably, most of the action is underground but the section from the open-air section from Royal Victoria to Silvertown is taking place before his very lens.

Looking back from Custom House to Royal Victoria

Looking back from Custom House to Royal Victoria, the interlocking sheet piles are in place, prior to the excavation of the Royal Victoria portal

Part of the old NLL Custom House Station remains but its’ days are numbered

Part of the old NLL Custom House Station remains but its’ days are numbered

Tunnel Access

At the north end of the Connaught Tunnel next to Prince Regent DLR, a the concrete slab base has been installed and is currently being used from road access to the Tunnel

Another view of the tunnel access

Another view of the tunnel access

Cofferdams for Crossrail

Cofferdams have sealed off the centre of the docks exposing the roof of the old Tunnel. This scene is moving on from JB’s previous site visit in 2012 and earlier in 2010 (linked at the bottom of this article)

Conditions within the Cofferdams

Unsurprisingly, working within the dock is a muddy business

Work underway in the dock

Work underway in the dock

Note the brickwork and the old service tunnel location

Note the brickwork and the old service tunnel location

Albert Road

Meanwhile in Albert Road, preparations are well underway for the brief re-emergence of Crossrail from the Connaught Tunnel before its dives under the river to what we suppose should technically be South Woolwich

The Scenic Route

Unravelled took the scenic route south that attracted little publicity, until now

The Ferry, with Docklands in the distance

The Ferry, with Docklands in the distance

Post-script: Light, what light?

The progress of new Thames crossings proposals increasingly resembles the baby steps taken in the children’s game “Mother May I?” with TfL announcing a further round of consultations, presumably on the consultations.

This ongoing topic provokes profoundly differing opinions and therefore deserves a fuller article. In best Blue Peter tradition, here is one prepared earlier but not by us. Our chum Darryl at 853 encapsulates the choppy river crossing saga rather nicely. The full history can be found here.

The new road crossing(s) is/are not, however, the only game in town and we are again grateful to 853 for keeping us in touch with the ongoing saga of Woolwich’s Crossrail Station.

Crossrail’s station at Woolwich (developers prefix or suffix of choice to be later inserted here) seems to invoke another outbreak of the mulishness that strikes London’s infrastructure plan de temps en temps. The situation is not without precedent. Readers might recall when the station box at Kings Cross Saint Pancras was built but not fitted out. This was despite challenging safety situations arising at the old widened lines station because of growing Thameslink patronage.

Woolwich station was crowbarred into the Crossrail project by pressure from local MPs, the House of Commons Hybrid Bill Committee and local councils. These included Greenwich’s own Nick Rainsford the former minister for London, who had led the Government’s campaign to reform the British construction industry. A deal was supposedly struck at the time that the developers would build the box in order to facilitate the development of their surrounding site, because it did not make sense to start building and selling property to new owners whose new homes would be then blighted by excavation of a large hole next to their front doors. This outbreak of common sense now sadly appears to be no longer common. This is something that needs to be resolved in short order for truly in the case as our images show, the light at the end of the tunnel really is an oncoming train.

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There are 104 comments on this article
  1. Greg Tingey says:

    We are already past peak car use … so why do we need a new ROAD tunnel?
    What we need a a new rail tunnel, so oriented (sic) that it joins up friegy routes avoiding then “central” London overloader rail routes, especially in light of the Shell Haven developments ….

  2. The other Paul says:

    Berkeley would be nuts not to build the Crossrail station as slated; it’ll add such a premium onto the cost of their new flats – they’ll make a killing.

  3. Darryl says:

    Thanks for the links! TfL’s board papers reveal that a deal’s been struck between Greenwich Council and Berkeley to build the Woolwich station:

    The detail’s unknown, so we don’t know how much each party is coughing up. Berkeley’s been playing hardball on this – and elsewhere in the borough, it’s blocked roads in the old Ferrier Estate (now its Kidbrooke Village development) but demanding TfL pay for a turning circle so buses can continue to serve part of it near an adjacent council estate.

    Greenwich has pretty much played the monkey to Berkeley’s organ grinder for several years now, so I’m not confident Berkeley’s contribution will be huge. While Woolwich getting Crossrail is certainly a good thing, the council – or rather, its residents – could well be taking a big hit. We’ll have to wait to see what the details are…

  4. Darryl says:

    Oh – and I really can’t emphasise how badly Greenwich Council is screwing its own residents over Silvertown, and the local media’s so poor down here, very few people have done any proper analysis of the TfL consultation, which is based on a ludicrously biased sample where 31% of respondents use the road to get across the Thames to work. You might think Boris is bad, but you’d hope your own council would defend you…

  5. 2013SG says:

    Greg – agree we don’t need another car tunnel at silvertown. I don’t think a further rail tunnel downstream is as good an option as a bridge at Thamesmead with extensive bus links from SE london over the river which would be a massive benefit and only possible on a bridge, with good segregated cycle lanes and pedestrian paths. Then there is the easy possibility of a DLR over a bridge from Beckton to Thamesmead – the DLR passes very close to the bridge site in Beckton at the terminus of the line. It could even be a shuttle going from Beckton via Thamesmead to crossrail.

  6. JamesC says:

    The main reason we need a new road tunnel would be for resilience of the network. If you live anywhere near Rotherhithe then you would know the chaos that rains if the Blackwall gets closed.

  7. Darryl says:

    And if you live anywhere near Rotherhithe, you’ll get screwed when traffic tries to avoid paying a toll at Blackwall/Silvertown, as TfL is currently planning.

  8. Anonymous says:

    It’s a shame that the new river crossings are hijacked by the anti car lobby, East London has poor access, there are only a limited number of road crossings via the Lea Valley, along the south is the river Thames, if you want to use rail you have a time wasting dog leg journey to somewhere you don’t want to go, only to travel all the way back again, and in the east there is just the Dartford Crossing which is outside London and outside the London Bus network, as well as restoring the cancelled extension to the North Circular, I would put in another crossing between Rainham and Belvedere – don’t forget, a road crossing can be used by buses/cyclists/pedestrians – although I wouldn’t bother with the Silvertown tunnel – it’s another Boris bodge job.
    As for rail projects I would consider diverting the DLR Dagenham Dock extension via Thamesmead – if you have to dig a tunnel for Barking Creek (it’s classified as a navigable river so a bridge would be too high and therefore too expensive) then you may as well stay down there and cross the Thames – but I would also extended Goblin to Dagenham Dock to meet the DLR – but alternatively you could build a new line from Barking via Creekmouth, Thamesmead, Abbey Wood, Bexleyheath to Sidcup and extended both the Hammersmith & City & Goblin (assuming it’s been electrified).

  9. Alan Griffiths says:

    There is considerable dissention in North Woolwich and Silvertown about the recent phase of Crossrail works, with residents as far away as Rymill Street (nex to King George V DLR station) complaining of noise and dust.
    Hopefully when
    1) the Tunnel Portal is complete
    2) they are able to restore two-way traffic in Albert Road E16
    the level of disturbance to neighbours will reduce for an area that will not benefit from a Crossrail station.

  10. Chris M says:


    Yes, I was at the Crossrail meeting in North Woolwich last week and there is clearly a lot of discontentment among the residents to say the least.
    The guilty parties seem to be Crossrail and TfL in about equal measure, although some of the residents really didn’t help their cause by refusing to listen to the answers they were being given. It really does take time to reorganise a bus route – making sure that you have all the drivers in the right place at the right time and that they all have a bus to drive is not as easy as people seem to think. That said there really isn’t any reason why TfL didn’t institute a shuttle bus between Beckton/Cyprus and the ferry at the same time as the 573.

  11. The other Paul says:

    @Anonymous “the new river crossings are hijacked by the anti car lobby”

    Really? Or are they more being pushed hard by the much better funded motoring lobby? Given the size of the river and the engineering required, Rail tunnels have a much higher CBR than mega-bridges. That’s why we’ve been building more of them of late.

    Personally, I think the GOBLIN would be a good extend through to Thamesmead, then maybe back across to Purfleet/Thurrock and back again to Ebbsfleet/Gravesend. Knit it across the river. DLR would probably be a cheaper alternative. Another option would be taking Crossrail to Ebbsfleet via Purfleet/Thurrock rather than Dartford.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Its all very well building these mega-orbital railways, but people who have a choice often avoid using them because they are so slow.

    I had a friend who tried to get from Upper Holloway to Southend. You would expect GOBLIN to be the perfect answer, but he reckoned that by the time it took to get to Barking, he would have been half way to Southend anyway. Exit yet another potential customer.

  13. Snowy says:

    @ Anonymous 07:28AM, 20th May 2013

    Really? Was this recent? I’ve used that route several times. I think technically going archway to bank & then walking to fenchurch street may save 5mins depending on the time of day but a cross to an adjacent platform is always better than trapsing through the city at a busy time of day. They must have had a bad day.

  14. Patrickov says:

    @ Snowy: Just by watching in-cab videos, is the walk from GOBLIN platform to c2c platform at Barking simply “a cross to adjacent platform”?

    And more importantly, does GOBLIN’s timetable fit c2c’s? A quick search on the two timetables reveal that they sync rather badly, mainly because c2c’s Southend services are not in perfect 15-minute interval, and c2c trains depart Barking more or less at the same time as a GOBLIN pulls in.

    Both of them could make a day very bad IMHO.

  15. Jeremy says:

    Upper Holloway to Barking is timetabled at 32 minutes. Archway to Bank is 21 minutes. Even ignoring the walk from Bank to Fenchurch Street, when you add in the 15 minutes it takes to get from Fenchurch Street to Barking, the GOBLIN would be the quicker, easier choice to get to Barking.

    However, I suspect that the frustration may come from the fact that the arrival times at Barking bring you in just as the Southend train leaves, and you lose all of the advantage.

  16. Anonymous says:

    The GOBLIN comparison is with a car, off-peak travel, no missed connections.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Surely the main aim of a new crossing in the East of London is to alleviate the traffic load at the Blackwall Tunnel, and additionally take traffic that is coming “into the city and out again” (i.e., North Circular -> A13 -> Blackwall Tunnel -> A2).

    The Blackwall Tunnel is a major congestion spot, as is the A13 and the A12 Southbound, and it really needs some relief, and a backup in case it breaks (as it seems to do all the time, being such an old tunnel). This has nothing to do with being “pro-car”, the cars are already there, the need is already there.

    And yes, I am sure there is an argument to be made for a new “Further East London Line” too – probably a DLR extension unless you can extend the Overground from Barking to the river and beyond somehow.

  18. Patrickov says:

    @ Anonymous 09:57AM, 20th May 2013: I am sorry but I have to denounce your comparison as unfair. Public transport almost can never replace one’s own car in terms of time, unless that city’s traffic condition is as bad as Beijing. You friend is simply too used to his/her own car IMHO.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Actually, my friend has worked in the public transport business all his life, but finds himself less and less tolerant of the increasing unpleasantness of travel by public transport.

    Why not make a comparison of various suburban lines around London and marvel at the differences in average speeds instead of gettting hot under the collar.

  20. Mikey C says:

    Rail users can hardly complain about being hard done by when it comes to river crossings in East London when you consider the Jubilee Line, 2 DLR crossings, revitalised East London line and Crossrail.

    By contrast, there is a massive need for another road crossing, the river is a massive barrier to road traffic, be it car, buses or distribution vehicles. The northbound Blackwall tunnel is an ancient, twisty route, which really doesn’t meet modern standards.

    The cancelled Beckton bridge is in the perfect location for a crossing, tying in with the A406 on the north side, but they never resolved what to do on the south side, as most traffic would want to access the A2/A20 not the A2016 through Thamesmead, and the result would be terrible rat running.

  21. John Bull says:

    Road river crossings are also about freight, not just passengers, which is something that often seems to get forgotten – willfully so, I’ve noticed unfortunately, whenever the Greens in the Assembly are talking about the subject or putting out press releases.

    Basically assuming rail is the answer to all questions is just as bad as assuming road is the answer. The truth, as always, lies somewhere in between.

  22. Martin Smith says:

    @Anonymous 11:10AM, 20th May 2013

    Barking’s my local station, so I know both Goblin and c2c well – I wouldn’t regard either as unpleasant, especially in the off-peak. Both can get pretty crowded in the peak.

  23. Martin Smith says:

    Looking at the timetables the connection’s actually do-able twice anhour. 4 tph on both lines. The 57 and 27 arrivals on GOBLIN aren’t good as the Southend trains leaves at 55 and 25, but the 12 and 42 tie up neatly with the 14 and 44. I wouldn’t normally risk a 2 minute connection, but since:

    – it’s just up and across from platform 1 to platform 4 (which are faces of adjacent island platforms)
    – the Goblin arrival time includes customary last-stop padding
    – c2c and LO are the top two TOCs on PPM

    I’d probably give it a go. Would be better if the gap were longer enough to count as an official change possibility (5 mins, I think?).

  24. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Fitting out of Woolwich box is a non-issue, apparently. All agreed in principle. Announcement due next month.

    According to this website.

  25. Josh says:

    The issue is that public transport can never be all things to all people at all times, at least not without being ridiculously expensive and wasteful.

    Therefore, once you get out of the high density areas and into the periphery and beyond, the car will have an important role to play to some degree, whether it’s your own, a taxi or bumming a lift off your friends/parents/car-jacking victim. Just because we may have passed peak car usage, it doesn’t mean we are a few years from car usage dying out altogether.

    And in the case of the lower Thames crossing, we’re not talking about replacing a two lane single carriageway bridge with a dual 4 lane motorway. We talking about a brand new crossing allowing road traffic, of whatever form, to cross the river without making an excessively circuitous journey.

    An orbital railway for the periphery would be nice though.

    Anyway, I heard that one of the TBM’s was supposed to break through into the Bond Street Eastern ticket hall box today.

  26. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Anyway, I heard that one of the TBM’s was supposed to break through into the Bond Street Eastern ticket hall box today.


  27. Anonymous says:

    That link says it’s the western box. And surely it should be joining up with the station (platforms) rather than the ticket hall, unless the TBM is a very long way off course?

  28. Mark Townend says:

    @John Bull, 11:54AM, 20th May 2013

    I think there is also a strategic need for a rail freight Thames crossing east of London. The important heavy industrial zone on the north river bank is very poorly connected to Kent and the continent, with trains having to circumnavigate London via the West London line instead on lines that are now very crowded. Whilst there are a number of existing and planned crossings, non are suited to modern freight operations, being too steep, too congested or otherwise route constrained. Freight CAN use HS1, but the line is too steep for heavy haulage and the slow paths required are difficult and presumably expensive to obtain. With HS1 passenger traffic growing, such freight paths can only become even harder to acquire in the future. In addition, junctions, particularly on the Kent side, are not arranged for easy through running from traditional freight routes, forcing international freight to stay on HS1 throughout between Barking and the channel tunnel, fine for specialist high speed, high value parcels and distribution traffic maybe, but further compounding the pathing issues for anything heavier and slower.

    It would be difficult to justify a new freight only link however, so some sort of shared heavy rail passenger service would be needed to increase the benefit. A GOBLIN extension over the river might be the ideal mixed use solution with no more than a 15 minute interval service, leaving plenty of space between for freight; tube-like passenger frequencies cannot be accommodated on the same track pair alongside freight traffic. The new link would have to be constructed with gradients suitable for heavy freight use, say no steeper than 1%.

  29. stimarco says:

    @Mikey C:

    “Rail users can hardly complain about being hard done by when it comes to river crossings in East London when you consider the Jubilee Line, 2 DLR crossings, revitalised East London line and Crossrail.”

    Seriously, mate: don’t go there. There are people in south London who are beginning to think the Taliban had the right idea. What’s the point of paying the same taxes as everyone else, when none of the inward investment ever amounts to more than lip-service or, in the case of the Dartford Crossing and its unethical tolls, a flat-out kick in the balls? Where does everyone north of the river think all those HGVs clogging up the tunnels and the QEII bridge come from? Dartford? Margate? There are two major ports in Kent, generating a massive amount of through traffic. And that’s not including Ramsgate, which also has a ferry service to Dunkirk.

    This traffic has to get across the Thames somehow. Short of running the HGV shuttle trains all the way up to Dagenham, there’s really not a lot of choice: it’s the Dartford Crossing or the Blackwall. (Only an idiot thinks driving an HGV the other way around the M25 is even remotely viable as an alternative.)

    As others have pointed out: buses use roads too. So do cyclists. The latter cannot use tunnels at all, rail or otherwise. At Blackwall, there’s a special shuttle bus service for cyclists. So more open-air bridges are required if cycling is to be encouraged. The only current option is to try and squeeze these bicycles onto a packed train.

    None of the railways you mention go any further than the North Kent railway, which is a slow, winding, radial route with a top speed of around 60 mph. It ain’t quick. It takes the best part of 40 minutes just to get as far as Dartford from London Bridge — and that’s assuming a tailwind and a signaller who hasn’t decided that a freight train should be given priority.

    The Jubilee extension “serves” south London in much the same way the Woolwich Free Ferry “serves” Bromley. The ELLX’s orbital route is only accessible from Lewisham if passengers change to the (very few) Victoria services via Peckham Rye; the stub branch at New Cross only goes a little further north than the line used to go before all that tax money was spent: it is most emphatically not an orbital route for passengers coming up via Lewisham or Greenwich. Hell, the ELL isn’t even accessible from the latter route.

    How is a rail user wanting to get to Crossrail at Abbey Wood from, say, Mottingham, supposed to do so without travelling first to either Dartford or Lewisham? Only one branch of the DLR comes noticeably further inland from the Thames riverbank, yet Lewisham is also part of the North Kent route. It’s also a lousy interchange as many services go around it rather than through it.

    The answer is, as one would expect, to take a bus (i.e. don’t use rail) but the road network south of the river is even worse than its rail network. You can probably guess what effect that has on the area’s bus services. There is no proper “South Circular” as such: it’s merely a signposted route. Anyone trying to cross the Thames from Kent is faced with either an unethically tolled bridge / tunnel on the M25, the older, but free, Blackwall Tunnel, the incredibly dangerous, 20 mph., Rotherhithe Tunnel. Or the Woolwich Free Ferry, which is a pair of car parks connected by some motorised rafts that struggles to cope even with off-peak demand.

    South-east London and Kent need BOTH road and rail crossings. The latter can be in tunnel, but at least one more new bridge is required somewhere in the east London area (e.g. Beckton) if cycling is to be encouraged. The same bridge could also be used to provide an additional DLR (or tram) crossing. The bridge could be signposted as having a weight limit to prevent its use by HGVs. Another tunnel at Blackwall has some logic to it—the Silverlink Tunnel proposal predates Boris Johnson’s tenure at the GLA by many years.

    There also needs to be a link further out from Dartford, probably east of Gravesend, and linking the M20, A2/M2 to the arteries north of the Thames, eventually linking to the M11. (There has been such a proposal doing the rounds for a while.) This would greatly improve the connections between the Gravesend / Medway Towns area, as well as providing more direct connections between the docks, which helps with freight logistics. The same crossing should also include rail links to help with the rail freight issues created by having multiple container ports in close proximity along both sides of the Thames estuary.

    And that’s just the beginning.

  30. Anonymous says:


    “[cyclists] cannot use tunnels at all, rail or otherwise” is not quite accurate.
    – Outside peak hours you can take a bike on the Overground, including the Thames Tunnel
    – You can wheel a cycle through the Greenwich and Woolwich foot tunnels, (provided the lifts are working).
    – You can also use the dangleway.
    – And although it cannot be a very pleasant experience, I don’t think cycles are actually banned from the Rotherhithe tunnel. They are certainly not amongst the conmprehensive list of restrictions depicted here,-0.055085&spn=0.000027,0.022638&safe=active&hnear=Rotherhithe+Tunnel,+London+Borough+of+Southwark,+London+SE16,+United+Kingdom&gl=uk&t=h&z=16&layer=c&cbll=51.499114,-0.055085&panoid=v6Z4bvV9SGBz_XtTZPPW6Q&cbp=12,57.86,,2,0

    “At Blackwall, there’s a special shuttle bus service for cyclists”

    Is there? Tell me more! Are you sure you’re not thinking of Dartford? The management there are legally obliged to take cyclists across for free
    although the special buses are long gone http:[email protected]/2206717599/
    Nowadays they just bung you and your bike in the back of a Land Rover these days.

    The first Dartford Tunnel will be 50 years old in November.

  31. Alan Giffiths says:

    stimarco03:56PM, 20th May 2013 “The ELLX’s ………………… stub branch at New Cross only goes a little further north than the line used to go before all that tax money was spent: it is most emphatically not an orbital route for passengers coming up via Lewisham or Greenwich. Hell, the ELL isn’t even accessible from the latter route.”

    I am amongst those who recommend changing between ELLX and DLR at Shadwell.

  32. Alan Griffiths says:

    The 2nd and 3rd Crossrail photos show features that I notice last time I passed by on the DLR. There’s a wire mesh fence demarcating the boundary the between Custom House station site and the Royal Victora Portal site. Nothing so insubstantial between the Custom House station site and teh Connaiught Tunnel site; that’s marked by a serious concrete fence!

  33. Chris M says:

    Yes, the key thing is that multiple new river crossings are needed between Blackwall and Dartford, and at least one east of there, and all of it needs to knit together with interchanges.
    The road and rail network in South East London is al about independent radial routes into central London. Other than Greenwich and Lewisham DLR stations, any connection between any of them and anything remotely orbital is entirely accidental. Even the Woolwich branch of the DLR is primarily radial, particularly as the link to Stratford is a just peak only services on Weekdays.

    The way to solve this is to build road and rail crossings, and connect them properly to the network either side of them. The Silvertown tunnel for example plans to dump all its traffic on an already overloaded dual carriageway and so does almost nothing to relieve congestion.

    Also forget about trying to share tracks between heavy freight and suburban passenger rail. Build a four track railway and each pair can then do one job successfully rather than one pair making a miserable failure of both.

    Yes this all costs money, but there is no way to get around the fact that it needs to be spent, and if we spent the money on actually building stuff when a need is identified rather than a dozen studies over 20 years we’d get the benefits and have the money to spend.

  34. answer=42 says:

    ‘Short of running the HGV shuttle trains all the way up to Dagenham,…’
    Now there’s an idea. Not as a replacement for the main tunnel shuttle but as an additional service. I know HS1 user fees are high but the time to get the trucks North of the river is also expensive.

  35. Malcolm says:

    Minor comment on stimarco’s observations – there is no longer a ferry service from Ramsgate to anywhere – it folded a couple of weeks ago – and before it folded it served Ostend, not Dunkirk (and took no coaches or foot pax). Years ago it was Sally Line of fond memory, and that /did/ go to Dunkirk.

    On the wider issue of lower Thames crossings in general – yes there is lots of suppressed demand – and the Dartford tolls are a U-turn on long-ago promises – but govt. just cannot keep all its promises. Not without being a lot more careful about making them, anyway. But I can’t help thinking that if bridges and tunnels were either impossible or only possible at great expense, we would manage somehow. Yes, it’s annoying that Sheerness to Southend is 66 miles intead of a crow-flight 9 miles. But Sheerness to Milton Keynes is more than 66 miles, and no bridge can shorten it, so Sheernessians just don’t go to either place unless they really need to.

    I’m not expressing this well, but Kent does not have any automatic right to be well-connected to Essex, just because they are crow-wise close. Yes, build more crossings if they can be justified. But if the money is better spent alleviating other bottlenecks elsewhere – then so be it!

  36. stimarco says:


    I agree.

    Some friends of the family regularly drive across the top of France to Germany in order to catch a Motorail—I forget the exact brand name—service that takes them all the way down to Bologna in Italy. And, of course, the Swiss do this as a matter of course. (Yes, it’s a subsidised service, but given the alternative would involve some truly heroic road-building and tunnelling, all of which would also need to be paid for by the taxpayers at some level, it more than pays for itself.)

    This kind of service is much, much easier to provide when you have some proper, grown-up railway infrastructure, instead of the noddy little toy train set we’ve been saddled with by our oh-so-visionary Victorian ancestors. Which is why I’d really like to see HS2 done properly. Not only is HS2 not about “High Speed”—we’ve had “High Speed Trains” since the 1970s—and they’re even diesel powered! Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, 125 mph. was officially classified as “High Speed” even on the continent. All that’s changed since then is the position of the goalposts—it’s not even solely about capacity, although that’s by far its major feature.

    What HS2 gives the UK, particularly once it’s fully built all the way to Scotland, (stopping at Birmingham would be idiotic as the BCR doesn’t really make sense until you get all the way up to the border with Scotland) is a long spine of GC-gauge infrastructure that could open up a range of potential new services across the country. Not just sleepers, but Motorail-type services (which would be very interesting to the Scots, I suspect), “rolling road” services for HGVs that logistics companies will love as it makes driver logistics easier to handle, and so on. I’m willing to bet good money that there’ll be calls for quadrupling within a few years of it opening all the way to Glasgow.

    I also wonder if there’s case to be made for combining a rolling electrification (using OHLE) plan with one of gauge enhancements. You’ll need to do quite a bit of the latter to fit the former anyway, so there’s some logic in hitting both birds with the same stone. The long-term advantage would be the ability to just buy new rolling stock off the shelf, instead of having to order it custom-built each time.

    There’s a price to being the first to build something technically difficult: Everyone else gets to see what you did wrong and avoid making the same mistakes. At some point, we’re going to have to fix the mistakes our ancestors made. I’d rather it was done sooner than later. The longer it’s left, the more expensive it’ll be. Best to bite the bullet, swallow the bitter medicine and get it over with.

    @Anonymous (04:43PM, 20th May 2013):

    The fact is that neither the Rotherhithe, the Blackwall, nor the (northbound) Dartford tunnels are even remotely sensible for cycling through directly. It’s certainly not a pleasant environment given all the fumes, noise, and swerving trucks trying to negotiate the older tunnels’ sharp corners! God knows what it must have been like to walk through the Rotherhithe when it opened, but it’s clearly no longer popular with pedestrians as the stairs were closed off when I used it last.

    I do remember a bus and cycle shuttle service at the Blackwall back when I lived in the Lewisham area, but it’s been a few years now and I (deliberately) tended to avoid those crossings anyway. The service may well have gone now, or been subsumed into an ordinary bus service. The Blackwall tunnel’s southern entrance is also close enough to the new cable car service at Greenwich that that may well have taken over as the cyclists’ preferred route.

    As for the foot tunnels: Cyclists are supposed to dismount and push their bikes through the tunnel, not ride them all the way. So these tunnels don’t really count as cycle crossings.

    So I stand by my original point: you can’t cycle across the Thames on anything other than a bridge or ferry.

  37. Castlebar says:

    The Thames Dartford Tunnel cycle carriers were specially built for the job, started work in November 63 but were so poorly patronised that they were all (5) retired after just 2 years. I think that because they were such a special design, no other work could be found for them, They were Ford “Thames Trader” chassis with Strachan bodies

  38. Anonymous says:


    If you can’t cycle across the Thames except on a bridge or ferry, how come signs on the Rotherhithe Tunnel approach advise cyclists (and motorcyclists) to take care?

    So your original point is wrong, I’m afraid.

  39. Anonymous says:

    Anon 0705

    Although one is permitted to cycle through the Rotherhithe Tunnel, and indeed can do so if you can manage the exit gradient, Stimarco’s point is that it is not a very sensible or pleasant thing to do.

    Here’s how they do it in Geordieland

    and in Antwerp

  40. Martin Smith says:

    Cycling through the Rotherhithe is almost exactly as vile as walking through. It’s deafening;y noisy, the air is thick with exhaust fumes, and the lanes so narrow cars can’t overtake you, so unless you can sustain 20mph uphill all the way out you’ll have unhappy motorists sitting right on your tail.

    You *could* cycle on the pavement (almost no-one walks through, there’s no risk of running down pedestrians) except it’s strewn with bits of fallen/discarded tyre/exhaust/brake and one tumble will put you straight under the traffic.

  41. IslandDweller says:

    Cycling is not permitted in the Blackwall, and there is no bus shuttle for cyclists. The cross river route for cyclists in this area is via the foot tunnel at Island Gardens. This is incredibly busy with cyclists these days. Busy, Despite the total fiasco of unfinished refurbishments (see details on 853) and insane barriers in the tunnel that cause havoc for everyone, and possibly impassible for wheelchair users.
    As to more road crossings. Yes, there is suppressed demand to cross the thames out east, but Building more crossings will just generate more traffic/pollution. Is that really a good thing?
    [Apologies, isad throwing in random capitals….]

  42. Alan Griffiths says:

    Malcolm08:59PM, 20th May 2013

    Many stations in Kent are very well connnected to Essex. Once or twice an hour, by changing trains between Stratford International and Stratford.

    Ebbsfleet to Shenfield betweeen 45 and 56 minutes according to Journey Planner, although it says 42 minutes by car.

    Ashford to Colchester between 1 hour 48 and 1 hour 57 minutes, although it says 1 hour 54 by car.

  43. stimarco says:


    “Building more crossings will just generate more traffic/pollution.”

    I’m not entirely sure that point is strictly relevant for Kent / Essex crossings: the Channel ports aren’t going away any time soon and all that traffic has to be decanted out of Kent somehow. Is it really such a great idea to have them pour out solely through the Blackwall and Dartford crossings?

    The “pollution” argument holds no water at all: internal combustion vehicles pollute more when they’re stopping and starting all the time. The smoother and more consistent the journey, the less fuel you burn and the less pollution you create. Only hybrid / electric cars change this, but it’ll be a long time yet before they catch on properly: the battery technologies and related infrastructure still need more work and refinement.

    There’s also another point here: the “generates more traffic” assertion only makes sense as long as the car remains the most attractive means of travel — hence my points about providing rail crossings too — and with ever-increasing fuel and duty, as well as sky-high insurance premiums, that’s no longer as true as it was even ten years ago.

    Thirdly, a crossing links existing infrastructure, not specific sources of traffic. This isn’t a motorway linking two cities, but a new bridge (or tunnel) linking existing roads. The purpose of any eastern crossing is to provide an alternative route out of Kent for vehicles exiting the ferries and shuttle trains on the Kent coast. The rail links will allow freight to be diverted off the heavily-used commuter rail lines too. Yes, such crossings also help the local and regional economies, but that’s not their main purpose in this instance.

    Another key issue is that the Thames, at least as far out as Gravesend / Tilbury (they’re literally facing each other across the river) isn’t exactly full of awesome scenery, and there’re a lot of brown-field sites in this neck of the woods too, so there’s an ideal window of opportunity to build something here, before it gets cheap and nasty Barratt homes spattered all over it.

    @Alan Griffiths:

    If you think Stratford Mainline and Stratford International make a convenient interchange, you clearly haven’t used them. I have. The latter station is so far away from the former that they’ve had to rope in the DLR to provide a glorified people-mover service. I’ve actually done the journey to Colchester (and Ipswich) by rail from Gravesend and, er, no. Just… no. Car wins by a country mile.

    Ebbsfleet is a lot further east than Stratford, with no intermediate stops, so you’re practically doubling-back on yourself for a substantial part of your journey. Even with the awful traffic jams on the Dartford Crossing, it’s still a damned sight quicker to go by car. Cars give you a door-to-door journey too, which Colchester station certainly doesn’t: it’s way outside Colchester’s centre, but Colchester Town station has a much less frequent service, so it’s not much of an alternative.

    And, of course, there’s the small nit-picking detail that many people in Kent don’t actually want to go to Essex. It’s a lovely county and all, but there’s more to the UK than the Home Counties. Tales have been told of a mysterious place called “Dudd Lea” (or something like that; I forget the correct spelling).

  44. Timmy! says:

    I agree generally with stimarco and John Bull (and others here). I’m very keen to use public transport (as I suspect most LR readers and commentators are) and live in southeast London. My local area has good rail and bus services but once you get on the roads, it all fails especially trying to cross the river. Sometimes you do need to drive in London (and trade vehicles and lorries do need to get from A to B). Sometimes you need to get from southeast London to the northeast of London and onto a motorway.

    I have cycled through the Rotherhithe tunnel – it’s an incredible experience but not one I’d recommend. Given the costs of the Emirates cable car and restrictions on the Overground as well as the foot tunnels, there are limitations to cycling.

    On the TfL consultation, I indicated I favoured a bridge that could support rail (DLR?) and road users including cyclists. I don’t want any new roads but there is a need for another crossing, ideally one that will support multiple types of local transport.

    Anyway, good news on Crossrail today and I’m glad the Hitchen flyover is nearly ready (and thanks making me discover ‘expansion joints’! Now I just need to know what the funny concrete bits are on the rail tracks at Surrey Quays station?! Drainage?).

  45. Anonymous says:

    I gave engineering advice to the Hitchin project for those expansion joints, having used them previously at Blackfriars – platform 4 gives a good view of them – the first Network Rail use of them. We pinched them from HS1’s Medway viaduct, who in turn pinched them from the continent. Technically they’re known as structural expansion switches.

    They have to deal with three movements: thermal expansion of the rails (typically on a 24hr cycle, varying by season); thermal expansion of the structure (typically on a moving weekly average, depending on material and exposure); and accelerating/braking forces of each individual train. You have to set the “neutral” position of the switches based on the first two (assuming you do it in a possession!) using specific bridge and track parameters.

    They are unusual in that the magnitude of the expansion they can cope with is so great – ±150mm in theory, vice ±30mm for the normal scarf type that you see elsewhere on NR infrastructure, and all over the DLR. They’re starting to appear more and more as the structures get longer and longer and more mobile. The “original” (pre-Thameslink) Blackfriars bridge essentially acted as six fixed piers/abutments and the arches expanded upwards with temperature. The designers of the bridge refurbishment works have reanalysed and changed the structure and now the abutments move approximately ±45mm in extremis. Out of interest, this includes the whole of the south station! Look in the Hopton Street arches to see all of the reinforcing steel that was added to make those the new abutment. This is why the switches are south of the lifts on platforms 1-3, and there’s a sliding deck for platform 4 to make the movement felt further north as it was too near the crossover.

  46. DW down under says:

    Anonymous @ 10:24PM, 21st May 2013

    The expansion joints reminded me of the sliding expansion joints that appeared in or about the 1960s to replace butt-jointed rail with longer sections. They went out of favour by the 1970/80s as means of anchoring LWR were perfected.

  47. JamesBass says:

    A consultation has gone up on the DfT website about a new road crossing either at Dartford or downstream. Shame it is proposed to be road only with no suggestion of rail as well. One of the questions on the consultation is about tunnel vs bridge as well which is interesting.

  48. Greg Tingey says:

    referring to the lower Thames: isn’t exactly full of awesome scenery .. As yes …”Erith isn’t twinned with anywhere, but it does have a suicide pact with Dagenham”
    Eecho your point about Stsrtford & S-in-the-hole … fighting your way through “Eastfield” is not a pleasant expereince….

    Correct – doble-deck bridge really needed for rail & road traffic – but we treid that in Newcastle didn’t we & the fashion now is to build road-bridges & let railways go to hell – consult “Dornoch Firth” as a classic way of screwing up!
    See also James Bass … precisely.
    Any hope of inveigling a “rail-crossing too!” suggestion in to the consultation?

    Re: expansion joints.
    Of course there’s the odd example of the classic swing-bridge @ Selby, with its’ very odd point switches & long-leads.

  49. JamesBass says:

    @Greg There are indeed a couple of free text boxes in the consultation where one can suggest a rail link at the same time. I mentioned this in my response in relation to freight traffic between the Chunnel and Gateway Port and points north of London, and the possibility of local passenger rail services.

  50. john b says:

    “Not just sleepers, but Motorail-type services (which would be very interesting to the Scots, I suspect), “rolling road” services for HGVs that logistics companies will love as it makes driver logistics easier to handle, and so on.”

    Nice idea, but rolling roads are the only ones with any chance of getting anywhere. Motorail and sleeper services are both dying out in mainland Europe, and 350km/h HSR to Glasgow & Edinburgh will make even the existing sleepers hard to justify (certainly the lowland ones; perhaps the highland can be kept). The idea of a HS motorail sleeper that brings you from Edinburgh to Milan in a day is a jolly one, but it’s not economically viable, even in B/CA terms never mind financial terms.

    Rolling roads are far more expensive than driving a truck the same distance, even allowing for driver costs. I did some work for the Trieste-Salzberg rolling road years ago, and it’s only viable because the governments in question effectively bar HGVs from going by conventional road. However, a rolling road option from the Kent ports to north-of-London, made viable either through massive subsidy or a massive toll rise for HGVs at the Dartford Crossing, could be an option.

    What E London really needs is a bridge providing 2-track metro-or-light-rail, 2-track freight-rail, 2-way cycle paths, a wide pedestrian path, 4 bus/commercial vehicle lanes. And, obviously, barred to private cars.

  51. Greg Tingey says:

    Under @ Woolwich err ..
    See HERE … looks as though they are finally, going to do the sensible thing.
    ( What happened? )

  52. Mwmbwls says:

    Greg @ 07.23
    What happened?

    An out break of common sense, alas not a common occurrence.

    Anonymous @ 10.24 21st May

    Thanks for this – I find it is the incites that others bring to the table that makes writing for LR really worthwhile

  53. Greg Tingey says:

    Speking of which, according to BOGORUG, the entances to Walthamstow “Midland” [ It is nowhere NEAR Queen’s Road! ] will be fully open … by August.
    The intermediate entrance, into/via Edison close may open sooner.
    ( Incidentally, what a misnomer for a road … this country did not use the Edison low-voltage DC transmission system, AFAIK, & naming anything after a person as unpleasant as T.A.E. is a disgrace, anyway – look up his dealings with Nikola Tesla, for a start. )
    However, given that we have had to wait 15+ years for sense to break out, I suppose one should not complain about another couple of months.

  54. Anonymous says:

    DC mains supplies existed in many areas – often as a sideline to the municipal tram companies – until well after the Second World War. According to Wikipedia, Bankside power station in London was delivering DC (as well as AC) as late as 1981 for a few specialist customers, notably the Fleet Street printing presses.

    The band AC/DC took their name from the label on a sewing machine capable of running off both systems.

  55. Alan Griffiths says:

    stimarco 05:14PM, 21st May 2013

    DLR runs between Stratford and Stratford International stations every 10 minutes. It doesn’t have many pasengers, but then no-one has moved into the East (previously known as Athletes) Viallage yet. Those DLR trains are from Woolwich Arsenal at peak times and Beckton at other times.

    The other way of changing is to exit Stratford station to the north, walk through the Lower Ground floor of the Westfield shopping centre, then exit between Currys / PC World and HSBC to reach the east entrance to Stratford International.

    I have made this trip loads of times. Even when you had to reach the high-speed line by bus from the far end of platform 11, it was a quicker route to St Pancras than the local train and underground.

  56. DW down under says:

    @ John B

    Your list of vehicles to use the 4 road lanes of your mooted downstream Thames Crossing has a serious flaw.

    A large number of apparently “private cars” are actually commercial small vehicles providing services, deliveries and passenger transport. You’d be obliged to identify and admit any vehicle being used for such purposes, including voluntary community/hospital transport, company reps, maintenance personnel (eg photocopiers, PABXs, vending machines, ticket machines, etc), tradespeople, minicabs, etc. Black cabs would be more obviously commercial.

    Of course, you would ban motorhomes and caravans – so they have to obstruct other crossings. Let’s be realistic, it ain’t gonna work – unless it’s tied in with a congestion/toll charging system and operates by analogous type of rules and distinctions.

  57. DW down under says:

    @ Mwmbwls: “incites that others bring to the table” ?? sounds like a recipe for infighting, to me :). P’raps you meant “insights”? OFF.

  58. DW down under says:

    To prove I dunno the least thing about the ancient BB based blog systems, the text I entered before OFF in my post above was obliterated. It was “PEDAND MODE” OFF but enclosed in ‘less than’ and ‘greater than’ signs. OOPS, sorry!

  59. Greg Tingey says:

    DWdu & john b
    Oh, dear, DON’T GO THERE … please?
    As a Land-Rover owner ( A “classic” L-R that is, not a rangie or one of thos freelander thingies ) I’m only too familiar with this problem.
    “ALL L-R’s are commercial vehicles” & therefore are [ All of these have been tried on at one point or another ] …
    Charged lorry rates for crossing toll bridges – now abaondoned, largely
    Banned from the LEZ – remitted after a long (over 2 years) fight
    Have to comply with semi-HGV rules – mostly abandoned, now
    Treated as “buses” – this one can actually, sometimes be benificial – CC-exempt, IF you jump through the paperwork!
    Require anyone with a licence granted after (IIRC) 1998 to take a separate driving test – only applies to pre-2005 LWB’s
    And, the perpetual hate – can’t get into car–parks, because some complete tosser has set a steel bar at 2 metres (or lower, so we can’t get in or out. [ Incidentally, the number of these where the displayed height restriction != actual height is scary – & they get it wrong both ways, too! ]

  60. Anonymous says:

    Mwmbwls: I read this regularly, and, when it stays on topic, find the history and context hugely useful and interesting. It’s useful because if you know why something evolved as it did, you can often work out how to make it better and avoid the traps that those more ignorant may fall in to. Temper that with my up to date engineering experience and it’s a pleasure to be able to provide those incites (sic) that you like. However, I only ever speak for myself, hence leaving the name as anonymous. Those who work closely with me will know who I am from the way I write and the knowledge I have, but they only rarely read this website.

    As an aside, I did promise a design for Herne Hill flyover a few months ago – but to maintain my anonymity I emailed the picture to [email protected] for hosting but it never made it onto the page – can someone look for an email on 24/11/12 and see if there’s anything you can do? Thanks

  61. stimarco says:

    @Alan Griffiths:

    “DLR runs between Stratford and Stratford International stations every 10 minutes.”

    Whoopee: a people-mover you have to pay for!

    As for the new shopping centre: Frankly, I’ve had my fill of being forced to walk through yet another copy-pasted English shopping mall full of overpriced restaurant chains, Marks & Spencer’s Food Shops, clothing stores and the occasional WH Smith’s simply in order to continue my journey. Thanks, but no thanks. I’d prefer to use an interchange worthy of the name, and I’ve used lots of those. Stations that share only a first name and postcode are not interchanges, no matter how pretty the icon is on the route maps.

    St. Pancras is one of the worst offenders: I’ve taken HS1 Domestic services and changed there a few times to get at the Thameslink line. Why in the name of Starbucks do the escalators from the Domestic platforms face the effing shops instead of the concourse? (Answer: to force more people to walk past those lucrative shops. To blazes with making the passengers’ lives easier: let’s try and relieve them of even more of their money!)

    As a UX choice, it’s not merely stupid, but downright insulting: we’re being taken further away from every other set of platforms with every foot the bloody escalators move. This is exactly how NOT to design an interchange.

  62. DW down under says:

    @ Stimarco. You wouldn’t be the first to mention the problems with layout of St Pan for “ordinary” British travellers. When it opened about 5 years ago, I read of many of these issues.

    That’s why I am happy to promote a Euston Cross/HS London Central scheme so that St Pancras can be restored to principally domestic use, to accommodate growth in MML passenger traffic and provide a plan B when the TL core collapses.

  63. timbeau says:

    Kings Cross is another example where you are now directed to the wrong end of the concourse. Exiting from the Circle Line, you are directed through a long subway to come out at the north end of the new concourse – not far from the suburban platforms, it is true, but as far as possible from the entrance to the main platforms 0-8.

    Of course, the worst example in London is Elephant & Castle

  64. Anonymous says:

    The trick with King’s Cross exit is to follow signs for taxis – it brings you out just south of the GN Hotel… apart from that exit is closed at the moment for the refurb works. This certainly works for the deep tube concourse but I rarely use the SSL platforms there.

    A pet hate of mine is if you follow the St P signs to the Victoria line, you end up a) walking further to reach the platforms, down stupidly narrow tunnels, then b) you’re at the wrong end of the train when you get to Victoria, so you have to walk again. Stupid.

  65. Greg Tingey says:

    Victoria Line platfoms to Thameslinkj platforms – 6/7 minutes, & I’m a fairly fast walker!

  66. Graham H says:

    – and Victoria to EMT about 10 depending on the prevailing flow of punters in the passages.

    All this makes me very leary about the real utility of linking Euston, St P and KX into one giant station, even if there is some form of people mover/travolator (which, itself, because of the British Library basement, wil have to be in a suboptimal position). Platform to platform interchange times are going to be long, for peole with luggage – and this interchange will have plenty of those – it will be terrible; even now, a brisk surface walk from Euston to KX beats any LU trip or a bus.

  67. peezedtee says:

    Reminds me of Paris Montparnasse, where the trick for getting from Metro to TGV is to ignore all the signs and interminable tunnels. Instead, just emerge to street at earliest opportunity and walk along rue du Depart!

  68. stimarco says:

    I do wonder why the UK seems to treat every building older than 50 years as some kind of priceless museum artefact. The Victorians thought nothing of repeatedly demolishing and rebuilding London’s oldest commuter terminus (London Bridge): very little of the original remained even before the rebuilding works. Even the station at Greenwich was rebuilt into a through station once permission was obtained to extend the line through Maze Hill.

    Today, we have the technology to recreate entire districts in digital form, right down to the chips in the brickwork. We’ve used the technology for years now in movies to show how Rome’s Colosseum looked in the days of the gladiators, or to recreate a long-gone London slum for a TV show. The same technology is being used right now for video games. So why not use it to record how our cities look today, and make it easier to see the context of a site through the years? It’s a hell of a lot more useful for historians and the public than just letting a building stay standing while everything around it goes to pot. St. Paul’s Cathedral looks completely context-free today, surrounded as it is by all those grotty buildings.

    That technology is something our ancestors never had. For them, the only way to preserve our heritage was to do so literally: keep every old bit of brickwork and stone standing, preferably in-situ, so that future citizens could see it and try to visualise – often with great difficulty – what once was. I contend that this “preservation in amber” approach to historic structures is no longer necessary. If you want to keep an old building because you think it looks nice, put up the money to keep it, move it, and / or maintain it. If you can’t raise the funds to do so, it’s clearly not all that important.

    Cities are not meant to be living museums. We already have the likes of Beamish for that. It’s time to stop the madness of trying to shoehorn 21st century life into Victorian buildings. St. Pancras and King’s Cross prove that the result is inevitably a godawful compromise. Yes, the new King’s Cross entrance is nice, but it’s still basically a pretty white zit nailed onto the side of a station that was clearly designed to be accessed from the front. And the flat roof at St. Pancras that covers the awkwardly re-sited commuter / BedPan platforms is also clearly tacked-on. The long walks and lousy UX faced by commuters is merely dung on the cake.

    London has far too many terminus stations. Instead of preserving this spectacular Victorian planning blunder, we should be doing something more constructive about it by constructing new, combined, terminus stations for long-distance services, and diverting as much of the commuter traffic under the city in new tunnels.

    That will mean closing some of the Victorian termini in favour of fewer, larger, combined stations. And this is where that digitising and recording technology I mentioned comes in: the history is no longer lost to us, but preserved instead, recorded in truly staggering detail, for future historians and for the public to see. And, unlike reality, we can show how the building and its context changed over the years, thanks to the archaeological understanding we have of the areas in question and the use of CGI. We can even take a virtual walk through a King’s Cross in the age of Gresley’s Mallard, or Paddington back when Brunel’s 7-foot gauge was still king. Good luck doing either of those today.

    It’s time the British stopped looking over their shoulders, crying for what they’ve lost, and started looking forward to what they could become.

  69. DW down under says:

    @PZT: I guess the main benefit of the labarynthine passages is when it’s bucketing down outside. You get where you’re going while staying reasonably dry. After all, we’re not talking about Surfers Paradise …. but Sufferers Purgatory as provided by Britain’s weather 🙂

  70. peezedtee says:

    Fair point, but actually in London it isn’t raining most of the time. Perhaps the signposting should give the punters a choice between “short wet route” and “long dry route”.

  71. Ian J says:

    @stimarco: Lots more people used to think like you did about Britain’s Victorian terminuses. The result was such temples to the human spirit as Euston station and Birmingham New Street. “UX”, as you put it, is about more than just circulation paths. There are few more unpleasant experiences in British transport than “using” New Street station.

    “nailed onto the side of a station that was clearly designed to be accessed from the front”: take a look at the original plan at the station was clearly designed to be accessed from the west side, where the ticket office was and a roadway for cab set-down was provided, then onto the departure platform. Exit was from the arrivals platform on the east side through the colonade to the cab rank.

  72. Graham Feakins says:

    Ian J – last post, your first paragraph – Oh how you are not alone!! One example is when I was with my pal, who was brought up in Birmingham in the 1930’s and saw how they had destroyed New Street completely to how you describe and we all well know, when we inspected the restored Central Station in Antwerp (also bombed). He said wistfully that all the hopes he and others had since at least 1953 that New Street could be rebuilt to reflect its original grand architecture similar to that achieved at Antwerp were never to be realised. This is Antwerp (note the dual-level platforms):

  73. Greg Tingey says:

    One: the “redesigns” of KX & StP were still done on the cheap – see the crap arrangement for the ex-MR line trains.
    Two: there is still nothing like the REAL THING
    Three: keep the best, ditch the worst (like the 1960’s Euston, euw…
    Four: That will mean closing some of the Victorian termini in favour of fewer, larger, combined stations ALREADY DONE THAT – Broad Street & Holborn Viaduct, haven’t we?
    Five: your prediliction for turning the whole city into a downmarket replica of Brent Cross with unbelievably ugly, unsafe monorails everywhere is well-known.
    Six: – nice troll – you’ve got everybody going!

    Ian J
    Newport (Glam) when it’s raining & the new bridge is err, “leaking”?

  74. StephenC says:

    @GrahamFeakins Antwerp has tri-level platforms, not dual-level. Its a feat of modern architecture and engineering. And a tweaked version of the design would be *ideal* for HS2 Curzon Street, allowing a future tunnel to be dug under the city centre towards Wolverhampton.

  75. Graham Feakins says:

    @StephenC – It’s a while since I last visited Antwerp, so wasn’t sure – hope folk clicked on the Photos link from the link I sent above to see the pleasurable/delightful/stunning achievements at the station. In a way, it’s St. Pancras as it should have been done, instead of having just about all main line services on one level and sticking the restrictive platforms for the Midland Main Line services as far away from the main station building as possible before calling them “Kentish Town” – even if St. P is hemmed in below by Thameslink at the tunnels to the King’s Cross Main Line.

  76. Ian Sergeant says:


    We need to remember that the infrastructure under KXSP will always constrain the site. Even if you knocked down Scott’s hotel, and Barlow and Cubitt’s respective sheds are also rased to the ground, you’d still have challenges with the Fleet Sewer and the West-East Sewer. Unless things have changed dramatically underground over the last thirty years.

  77. Chris Richmond says:

    St Pancras was never going to be an easy interchange and I for one actually enjoy the walk through the station even if it is a few extra minutes on your journey time (although I agree about the escalators from the HS domestic platforms). On another point at StP, what I don’t understand is why they didn’t plan for four platforms in the Thameslink box, which would separate out MML bound and GNR bound trains in the northern direction and would add a little bit of service resilience south-bound. Opportunity missed or was it too difficult to engineer..?

    Connecting StP to Euston could have been planned into the new development on Midland road opposite the entrance to StP with a integral walkway diagonally through the new building followed by a covered travelator or such like along a pedestrianised Brill Place and Phoenix Road ending up in a new entrance to Euston at the north east side of the station (with new facilities and platform access (or a new station if it ever happens)).

    Fewer terminating stations is probably a good idea in principle but with at least 125 terminating platforms in London mainline stations that could be difficult. Personally, I would do away with Marylebone and run the long distance Chiltern services in and out of Paddington (platforms freed up post Crossrail 1 but route may not exist post HS2) and run a new Crossrail-style line for the suburban services (Met line/Chiltern) through Baker Street in a new tunnel heading south or southeast to join up with a suburban line south of the river (cheap and easy option would probably be MLB-Marble Arch-HP Corner-Victoria, but this would not be that strategically acceptable. BSt-TCR-LB would be better. With all the works going on at TCR, planning for a third Crossrail line running NW/SE would have been a good idea, seeming that you have the opportunity to future proof the station to cope with huge passenger numbers).

    Finally, re Birmingham and a new HS2 terminal, would it not have been better to move the main interchange station to this new site? There is plenty of room it would do away once and for all the horror that is New Street Station (although you could keep the station as a metro style stop for the local lines)…

  78. stimarco says:

    @Ian Sergeant:

    I keep reading this same excuse trotted out over and over again, but it makes absolutely no sense: the Fleet sewer was originally a river and has already been realigned and moved from its original site almost exactly 150 years ago! The DLR route into Lewisham utilises part of the old Ravensbourne river culvert—the present route of the river through the park is entirely man-made.

    Clearly, relocating such stuff isn’t impossible. Our ancestors built an entire city-wide sewer and water supply system, an entire underground railway network, an entire overground railway network, and a hell of a lot more. From scratch. How the hell is it now “too hard” to move and realign some tunnels? There’s video footage of us doing precisely that in the 1960s for the Victoria Line, for crying out loud.

    Yes, there’s a lot of clutter down there, but there’s quite a lot of crap on the surface too and nobody whines that knocking down a few buildings is too hard. We used to be able to do all this kind of work for a damned sight less money too, so there is absolutely no reason why a brand new station couldn’t be built to replace Euston, KX and St.P., leaving the latter two’s original buildings for other purposes.

    Interchanges should be cross-platform and / or stacked wherever possible. What’s the point of inventing machines to save us from drudgery and pointless labour when we then force passengers to the machines’ work for them?

  79. Pedantic of Purley says:

    On another point at StP, what I don’t understand is why they didn’t plan for four platforms in the Thameslink box

    It could have been done. Loads of respected transport experts as well as members of the public suggested in the planning stage that it should have been done but it would have cost more and added to the cost of the regeneration of St Pancras for Eurostar. The Thameslink programme hadn’t been approved so there was no guarantee it would be used to full effect. Besides the constraints of other stations (see the last paragraph for my comments on this) meant that it wouldn’t have achieved that much. But yes, most people I think would agree it was short sighted and now it is quite unrealistic to think that anything could be done retrospectively.

    run the long distance Chiltern services in and out of Paddington (platforms freed up post Crossrail 1…

    Wishful thinking. You can be fairly confident that anything freed up by Crossrail I or Thameslink is already spoken for and in fact probably forms part of the justification for the scheme. After all, these schemes are about increasing capacity not just re-routing existing capacity. In fact, if Paddington post-Thameslink were to have two more platforms then the extra paths available would probably have been allocated already. After that I believe the approach tracks limit capacity. And remember that the lines into Paddington had the largest forecast growth into any London terminus – and that was before electrification was approved.

    To quote Sir Herbert Walker in writing to the the chairman of a Royal Commission in 1927:
    ‘To the ordinary man in the street it may appear that the Southern Railway has a super-abundance of terminal stations on both sides of the river in London. but you have my assurance that under present conditions each one of these stations is essential to our traffic requirements, and none of these could be dispensed with without very serious interference to the travelling public.’

    True in 1927 on the Southern, true today for all lines into London and will be even more true in 2027 and beyond.

  80. stimarco says:

    @Greg T:

    Nice try, but I did not, at any point, recommend demolishing either KX and St. P. and replacing them entirely, but repurposing the buildings for other uses. I don’t believe in demolition for its own sake: they’re perfectly nice buildings, but they’re just not fit for their current purpose. The Musée d’Orsay in Paris is a perfect example of how a redundant railway station can be reused.

    And no, I don’t want to turn London into Brent Cross: stop putting words into my mouth and read what I actually wrote. I don’t particularly care how old you are or how experienced you may be: there’s no excuse for what you’ve written.

    As you clearly don’t understand my fundamental argument, allow me to explain in simple terms:

    A guided transit system requires three core components:

    1. The guideway;
    2. The rolling stock;
    3. Power;
    4. Control.

    From a purely engineering standpoint, a traditional railway is just one form of guided transit system, and not a particularly efficient one at that. This is hardly surprising: although metal rails themselves first appeared in the Middle Ages in any great number, stone and wooden waggon-ways were common even as far back as the Romans. But that’s just the first component: the guideway.

    Next, you need rolling stock to run along that guideway. For most of the time waggon-ways have existed, that rolling stock has been pretty basic as the motive power (point 3) was not that powerful. Steam changed everything.

    That rolling stock needs motive power – be it human, animal, fossil fuel, or electrical – and, for any modern passenger system, sufficient extra power to run the additional services on-board, including lighting, control panels, computers, etc. On modern railways, that power is typically either diesel, which requires expensive logistics to maintain a steady supply, or transmitted electrical power via either a rail or an overhead system.

    Finally, you need to control that rolling stock using a signalling system.

    On top of all the above, you also have the interfaces with other systems. That includes level crossings (rail interfacing with road traffic), stations (rail interfacing with passengers), bridges, tunnels, viaducts, and so on. These are often custom-built for traditional railways.

    Railways are expensive to build, expensive to maintain, and about as labour-intensive a system as you could invent today. There is very little modularity in their construction, which keeps their capital costs high. (Do not confuse TBMs, or similar machines such as that used during the construction of the viaduct for the DLR’s King George V extension. That’s not modularity.)

    A key problem with the above technology is that each element requires a completely separate team of experts: you need signalling engineers, OHLE engineers, rolling stock engineers, guideway (i.e. track) engineers, as well as suitably trained project managers, suitably trained contractors, logistics and supply chains for each, and so on. When you see a team working their arses off during an Easter Bank Holiday weekend trying to renew track, OHLE and signalling at the same time, you’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg of a project that will have been in preparation for many, many months to ensure nobody’s stepping on each others’ toes, while supplies and parts are delivered exactly when and where needed. It’s a seriously long, complicated dance.


    Because there’s no modularity. In 200+ years, the railway as we know it today is little changed since the 1850s. Yes, we’ve upgraded individual technologies—we have lights instead of semaphore arms; we use computers to eke out that little bit extra performance from the rolling stock, etc.—but the heart of the technology is still two metal rails kept a set distance apart, with an entirely separate control system, and an entirely separate power supply and transmission system, each of which requires its own small army of people to keep it working.

    If you want to build such a system beneath a major city like London or Rome, you then need to add on the additional costs of building the stations, which all need to punch through the surface, through all those services, utilities, other lines, etc., just to get down to the platform level.

    What modern guideway technologies offer is modularity: they’re typically continuous bridge structures, so you don’t have to rip up roads or gouge trenches into the landscape. Once you’ve built the support pylons, (which do NOT have to look anywhere near as chunky as the Japanese ones given that the UK is not prone to earthquakes), the rest is built using components prefabricated off-site, rather like slotting together a Scalextric track. You can build a new line in months, not years. The up-front costs of construction are typically orders of magnitude less than an underground railway, and often cheaper than an on-street tram network too.

    However, up-front capital expenditure isn’t the main advantage: what that modularity buys you is much lower ongoing maintenance and running costs.

    Take my usual example of a suspended guideway system: Trains can be entirely automated (DLR-style) with some units including track-monitoring systems to provide near-real-time data. Maintenance can be done almost entirely using on-track robots as all they have to do is swap out a suspect module for a prefabbed replacement and take the dodgy part back to the depot for inspection and (if necessary) repair, refurbishment, overhaul, or permanent disposal. There’s no ballast to tamp. There’s no fragile OHLE to be affected by high winds, or third/fourth rail to pose a danger to passengers. Stations can be built inside new structures, alongside existing structures, above major junctions, or even at street level (which means the cost the same as a simple tram stop).

    When you have automated trains and maintenance systems, it’s easier to justify running a 24-hour service (or near as dammit), with half-hourly trains during the night. That also reduces the potential for vandalism and graffiti as there’s never a time when the trains aren’t running at all.

    On a suspended guideway system, even the dreaded “one-under” becomes a thing of the past as the trains don’t actually touch the ground; high-level stations can have PEGs or PEDs (according to preference), or even just a simple mesh floor between the platforms to stop people who’ve seen one too many Simon Cowell karaoke programmes from ending it all by leaping to the ground below.

    Depots can even be built above other structures, such as bus stations or even large supermarkets, so you don’t have to lose valuable land to maintenance and storage.

    Croydon could certainly benefit from a suspended guideway system replacing the existing Tramlink infrastructure: that loop through the town centre is a major bottleneck and there’s no sensible way to send trams down the A23 in either direction without either massive demolition to provide a dedicated right-of-way, or making the already serious congestion problems even further. The replacement system could even reuse almost every tram stop on the route, with the line only rising above the traffic in Croydon’s town centre and passing directly above the two stations, shopping centre(s) and the bus station. That’s the only point where new stations would be required, but at least they’d be proper double-track throughout.

    As for the “non-standard” argument: the UK’s existing railway infrastructure—particularly the deep-level tube lines—is entirely “non-standard”. There are, in fact, multiple European gauge standards too—Russia still has its five-foot gauge, while kinematic envelopes also vary quite a bit across the continent. The US has its own, far bigger, loading gauges. The UK has to acquire custom-built trains for its entire classic network. Furthermore, we already have long-term contracts with the likes of Hitachi and Bombardier to build, maintain and provide rolling stock to our TOCs; how is this fundamentally any different to tying yourself to the same companies to design, build and maintain a complete system?

    None of this requires turning large swathes of London into Brent Cross, other than Brent Cross itself, which I suspect is probably a lost cause anyway. Given that large chunks of outer London are already littered with ugly viaducts and other railway infrastructure, I cannot understand why you’ve even suggested this is an issue. Are you seriously suggesting that the infrastructure (suitably lightened for the UK’s less-earthquakey environments) shown in the video I’ve linked to above is massively worse than the sodding M1 and its approaches, that blight the area? Or the North Circular, or the similar blighting by the roads at Hanger Lane and Hammersmith? Talk about hyperbolic! Hyper-bollocks, more like.

    The viaducts around Deptford, Lewisham and Bermondsey are staggeringly ugly for the most part—particularly the large stretches that aren’t in the middle of a conservation area or visible from the town centre itself. They’re typically smothered in graffiti, as well as cheaply patched and mended using materials that don’t even come close to matching the originals. They also blot out the light in a way not even the DLR’s massive concrete viaducts can match, and those aren’t exactly thin and light either.

    Even the station platforms at Lewisham itself look seriously nasty when you’re walking past them as they were clearly built on the cheap out of concrete slabs that sit above rubbish-strewn, weed-choked debris that doesn’t appear to have been cleaned since the age of steam.

    So, if you’re going to make utterly pig-ignorant and unfounded claims about a suggested solution to a problem—I’m in no position to get any of my suggestions built and no longer even live in the UK, so it’s really no skin off my nose what you Brits let your government piss away your taxes on—you really do need to explain why your alternative is in any way better than mine. “It’s a railway” isn’t an explanation. It’s just a fear of change. And, given that it’s the UK we’re talking about, and the 150th anniversary of the Metropolitan Railway’s inauguration, that’s just deeply bloody sad.

  81. Anonymous says:

    The Chiltern route would be a good match for the Cannon Street approaches, if you can find somewhere to build a portal? Bermondsey area maybe? It would render the London Bridge works that have just started slightly redundant. Using a Victoria route (assuming a low level station for the same terminus was a prerequisite) wouldn’t serve a useful part of London, so the only other alternative would be Fenchurch Street, then you’re pretty much mirroring the Met line (or a potential reroute) anyway, just with longer trains stopping less often.

  82. JamesBass says:

    @Anon 8:48

    The Chiltern route and Cannon Street are not well matched at all. Chiltern runs outer suburban services and pseudo-Intercity services and only about a dozen trains an hour, whereas Cannon Street (post-Thameslink) will serve primarily metro services and a few semi-fasts beyond Dartford and up to a full 24tph. The mismatch between service levels to the north and west of London (due to the far superior tube coverage) compared to the south and east is a problem for identifying Crossrails 3 and on, so it’s not necessarily a deal breaker to have such discrepancies, but given that the Metropolitan and District lines are basically a Crossrail for the lines into Marylebone and Fenchurch Street, I think those 2 lines are probably at the back of the queue. In terms of a match for services into Cannon Street, I think Windsor lines services are probably the better bet as both they and the North Kent lines really need four tracking Barnes to Feltham/Staines in the west and Lewisham to Dartford/Gravesend in the east

    Also, since when was the whole swathe of south-central London that is served by the metro lines into Victoria “not a useful part of London”? There’s probably well over a million people here with public transport that does not compare well to places in north, west or even south west and east London.

    It would take many decades, a shed-load of money and a LOT of political will but I do believe that Crossrailing/RERing all inner metro trains that currently run into at London termini stations is the way to go- quite possibly followed by outer suburban services in the very long term.

  83. Chris Richmond says:

    @JamesBass – I presume Anon at 8.48 meant that a route from Marylebone to Victoria was not useful, as it skirts the centre rather than crosses it. I think that the North Kent lines are a good match for the Windsor lines via a not-too-expensive link through LB and Waterloo, leaving the Orpington/Swanley suburbans to link into Chiltern suburbans, with some Met line routes as well to match frequency. Outer routes could include High Wycombe and Aylesbury through to Tunbridge Wells/Maidstone/Medway towns, inner routes could be Uxbridge/Rickmansworth to Orpington/Swanley – plus other options I’m sure. I agree that all local London rail services and most outer suburban routes should be crossrailed as soon as possible. I would far sooner see more through-route connections within the M25 and thereabouts than the current longer distance destinations of Thameslink.

  84. stimarco says:

    A Victoria – Bond St. – Baker St. / Marylebone link seems eminently sensible to me, though it’d need to be a four-track setup.

    Remember, by the time any such line is built, CR1 and CR2 will both be in service. The first calls at Bond Street, while CR2 is expected to have a station at Victoria, so such a “Thameslink Belgravia” link would actually offer faster connections to TCR, the City, Docklands and both Essex and (north) Kent than any of the existing routes from the north.

    That said, I’ve already stated my approval of a combined Crossrail South Bank and Thameslink West End project that would involve building a triangular junction at Waterloo / Waterloo East to link LB with Waterloo and both with Charing Cross and Euston via either TCR or Holborn.

    This would need to be a four-track route in any case, so interchanges at both TCR and Holborn might be viable, with the ex-Waterloo tracks ‘rolling over’ the ex-LB tracks to get at Holborn. This would reduce the pressure on the W&C too as it gives Waterloo a direct connection with the City. Charing X would be rebuilt as a Blackfriars-style cross-river station, providing ample room for four tracks to dive under the existing concourse and LU ticket office and head north.

    If memory serves, the Charing Cross – Euston portion has already been floated as a potential “Crossrail 3” (though I prefer retaining the “Thameslink” name for broadly north-south routes). However, I don’t know if the east-west junction was included in the original proposal. It seems such an obvious “quick win”—it’s practically free compared to the tunnelling-under-London part—that there’d have to be very good reasons not to do it. And it would finally see the SWML reach its original intended destination: a station at, or very close to, London Bridge!

  85. DW down under says:

    @ Stimarco. You keep making points about your clearly preferred “suspended modular transit system.”

    How about addressing the question that’s been put to you several times: how would you provide the level of emergency egress for all passengers, including wheelchair bound, at ALL points along passenger served tracks that is currently required of passenger transit systems (including tube and DLR)?

    Another arising from your recent missive address to GT: with modular sections, assuming that a beam has been damaged somehow – and is replaced by a new beam … where you’d require a skilled crane operator. Do the same people disconnect the traction and control connections; the physical locking mechanisms that secure the beam; and when the new beam is swung into position, do the same people secure the beam, then reconnect traction supply and control feed – then test them for conformance?

  86. Ian J says:

    @stimarco: “you really do need to explain why your alternative is in any way better than mine”: But why? I feel that this is where the comments section to London Reconnections tend to go off the rails (so to speak…) sometimes. Too many people pushing their pet fantasy schemes (never with any mention of anything so sordid as budget or timescale), not enough discussion of what is actually happening in the real world.

  87. DW down under says:

    @ Ian J: and I would add: not so much as a mention of how Elfins af Tea might view certain concepts.

  88. Greg Tingey says:

    sitmarco has accused me of the thing he is doing himself – not reading what I wrote – I’ll leave it at that, apart from echoing DWdu about emergency egress ….

    The 1938-48 proposals, some of which I sketched in diagram-form in my lost submission showed that the ex-GC route would surface near LEWISHAM, not any closer in. The assumption seems to have been that it woud join up the outer-suburban & medium-distance services, not the inner-suburban ones. So it would have been like Beford – Brighton on the Slink, in fact.

  89. Ian J says:

    @DW: Actually spurious and ill-informed Richard Littlejohn-style claims about what would be forbidden by “health and safety” are another plague of the comment threads: like the canard that sloped platforms are not permitted, or the claim made recently that having doors open as the train came to a halt Paris-style would cause Network Rail a “heart attack”, when in fact this was actually specifically required in the Thameslink rolling stock specification.

  90. PeteD says:

    A better match for Southeastern services are Southeastern services. Put the metro services on the Hayes branch and the Sidecup loop in to tunnel at Ladywell and Hither Green respectively with an underground station at Lewisham, City of London, Thameslink, Charing Cross then Victoria before coming to the surface near Stewarts Lane and onwards on the surface to Denmark Hill and Herne Hill. At Stewarts Lane put the outers from Victoria in plain tunnel all the way out to past Shortlands.

    This would allow an increase in southeasterns metro and fast services to both London Bridge and Victoria. Very few passengers using cross London lines stay on the same train to cross London, most use the multiple interchanges in the central zone, provided by such lines, to complete their journey with a single change.

    BoomerangRail has the added bonus of both ends of the tunnelled section have compatible systems (voltage, clearance, management, etc.)

  91. DW down under says:

    Greg Tingey @ 08:12AM, 25th May 2013. Getting your LR underneath 2m height barriers. I can sympathise. Had the same problem with my Transit van when I lived in Blighty. But I had a coupla mates 18 stone and 19 stone. Sat them on the back, voila: slipped under.

  92. DW down under says:

    Ian J @ 12:17PM, 4th June 2013. Are you suggesting that Elfins Afe Tea wouldn’t require emergency egress capability for all passengers, including wheelchair bound, for a new-build urban transit system? While I can’t cite Act and Section, I can be very confident that if TfL could have avoided the incredible extra cost by adopting one of Stimarco’s preferred aerial modular transit systems instead of DLR or JLE, they would have.

  93. DW down under says:

    PeteD: and assuming he isn’t in jail, you’d use Rolf Harris to sing an appropriate little promo ditty for the boomerang line? 🙂

    I suppose the idea of out and back loops merit some serious study. After all, this is what Melbourne and Sydney do, and what could be done with the Circle Line.

    I’d suggest: Lewisham – Tower Interchange/Fenchurch St/Aldgate – Bank/Moorgate/Lothbury – Farringdon/Snow Hill/City TL – Holborn Kingsway (new street access as well as underground links) – Charing Cross – Victoria – (Chelsea?) – CJ …. and, if it got up, to drop the Chelsea stop off the CR2 plan.

  94. Anon5 says:

    Is this the first time we’ve seen the new purple Crossrail roundel on an artist’s illustration of a Crossrail station?

  95. Ian Sergeant says:

    Frustrating to me that the transport editor of the Standard thinks that Abbey Wood is in Kent. What a mistake we made when creating the Greater London Council that it wasn’t insisted upon that if you lived in London, your postal address was London. The same did not apply a decade or so later to Northern Lincolnshire for instance – the postal address became South Humberside. Likewise Tyne & Wear, etc. London is one of the great cities of the world. Just a shame some people don’t want to be part of it.

  96. Anonymous says:

    Kent, Essex, Middlesex, Surrey and Hertfordshire are great counties. Such a shame that people don’t want to be part of them and associate themselves with a small ancient city in Middlesex on the Thames opposite Southwark (in Surrey btw) 😉 All power to the Standard writer for getting Abbey Wood’s county right!

  97. Anonymous says:

    It was not the creation of the Greater London Council that put Abbey Wood in London, but the formation of London County Council eighty years before. Note the London SE2 postcode

  98. mr_jrt says:

    As we’re both fans of the CR3 Waterloo-Euston idea I thought I’d share something I came across the other day:

    …interesting plan of the intended Blackfriars-style station they planned to build beyond Waterloo..

  99. Slugabed says:

    Anonymous 9:08 9/07
    Whilst agreeing with your sentiment I must,rather pedantically,point out that London (The City) is not in Middlesex (or ever has been,I think) and it’s a debatable point never put to the legal test,whether it is in the UK…its status being rather similar to that of the Crown Dependencies,but with an observer (the Remambrancer) who makes sure that the UK Parliament does not impinge upon its rights and privileges….

  100. Anonymous says:

    London was indeed part of the Kingdom of the Middle Saxons, but has been self-governing since long before there were any such things as county councils

  101. Anonymous says:

    “[the City of London’s] status being rather similar to that of the Crown Dependencies,”

    Does that mean that, like the Channel Islands, it’s not part of the European Union? and a tax haven/ (That would explain a lot!)

  102. Graham H says:

    @Steer – the principle of a freight by pass (whether hugging the M25 or as a slight variant on it) must be right. The problem we have now is trying to shoehorn freight onto high frequency passenger lines, where providing a clock face departure pattern (as per NLL or GOBLIN) means that the line capacity has to be designed for twice the number of passenger trains simply to give the even interval and provide some freight paths, which is wasteful. [To illustrate what I mean, for a 4tph 15 m interval, you have to provide for 8 paths per hour, even if only a single freight path is needed; the alternative would be to provide for 5 paths, one of which is freight, but leaving a 24m gap in the passenger clock face. getting freight off the passenger lines altogether could be the long term answer – how about not building HS2 but a freight line instead, so releasing capacity on WC and ECML for passenger services? Maybe a bit slower but not significantly so – we know that, with tweaking, Glasgow is eminently doable in 4 hours on the existing infrastructure.

    @Slugabed – it’s not clear that there ever was a separate kingdom of Middlesex; it doesn’t appear until c800 and no separate king or subking is recorded for it, On the usual assumption that the early boundary of the diocese of London reflects the local power situation in the early seventh century, it seems to have been part of Essex until c650 when it was absorbed by Mercia. Quite what happened before Essex appeared c520 is pretty well unknown but it is most unlikely that it was a separate kingdom. BTW, there is absolutely no doubt that London is part of the UK, being governed, taxed and represented in the same way as the rest of the country – just not part of Middx, that’s all. (Effectively, a county borough avant la lettre) just like those created in 1888).

  103. N.O.C. Parker says:

    What a long discussion! Sorry I haven’t managed to read all of it yet. Was just wondering if anyone knew what the current deep excavations at Thamesmead were about. They go down under the roundabout by Lidl. Is it just about water?

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