UPDATE: TfL have kindly provided us with a statement on this subject, clarifying their perspective on the matter. This can be found at the end of the article here.

There was some surprise back in June when it was confirmed that the DfT would devolve the West Anglia rail franchise to TfL, a major step towards the devolution of London’s rail services. Although not stated at the time, sources now suggest that the DfT have placed a price on this devolution of services, one on which the two parties are now negotiating terms – TfL must take on two other London branch lines as well.

Setting the scene

TfL have long argued that their concession model is far more appropriate for London’s rail services than the DfT’s current franchising setup. The DfT model, they claim, places too heavy a reliance on the ability of passengers to “walk away” from consistently bad services as a way of incentivising operators to deliver good ones. It’s a model that works well on long distance services, but fails on suburban and urban services within London. Here the high level of commuter traffic, and the fact that for many services there is supressed demand anyway, means that a fall in service quality does not lead to a corresponding loss of fares.

This, along with other reasons (related to the difficulty of long term planning across disparate franchises and the added cost within the contract if the operator is left to carry the risk) was why TfL opted to use a concession model for its Overground services – effectively contracting the operator to run services as stipulated by TfL, in return for a set fee and a small share of any operating profit. A model that on the London Overground at least, has proven to be highly successful.

That success is what encouraged TfL, with the support of both Mayor and London Assembly, to push for more services to be “devolved” to London’s direct control. The DfT, however, were reluctant to cede much in the way of control and a long battle – both in public and private – for control of rail services thus began, one that continues to this day.

A step towards devolution

In light of the above, the franchising announcement was thus seen by many as an important landmark. In the months leading up to the announcement, both TfL and the Mayor had talked openly about their desire to take on responsibility for both West Anglia and South-Eastern. Both, they argued, were prime candidates for devolution as they were overwhelmingly metro and commuter services within the London sphere of influence. Broadly speaking this argument received a considerable amount of backing – both from travellers who were keen to see their lines receive the “Overground treatment” and from politicians both local and national, who recognised the importance of good transport links and TfL’s track record of delivery. The public exception to this was in Kent, where the local council stood as a vocal opponent. Even Kent’s objections mellowed considerably however, at least in private, after a report commissioned by the council itself confirmed that Kent would stand to benefit, not lose out, under such an arrangement.

Indeed by the time of the announcement it was arguably South-Eastern, rather than West Anglia, that stood as the franchise perhaps more likely to be devolved first. For whilst Kent’s public objections had faded considerably, there was still an element to the north-east of the river who remained generally distrustful of the potential influence of the Mayor and TfL. In part, at least, this was due to the inherent conflict between the area’s airport interests (Stansted) and the Mayor’s push to see a new Estuary Airport elsewhere.

Ultimately, however, it was West Anglia – not South-Eastern – that received the DfT devolution nod. On the surface this has seemed so far to be something of a full concession to TfL’s demands, albeit one on which no doubt considerable discussion and debate happened behind the scenes. Sources suggest, however, that this move will in fact come at a price.

Paying the price – Greenford and Upminster

That price, it is suggested, is that the DfT want TfL to take over two other branch lines elsewhere in London. These are Romford – Upminster, and West Ealing – Greenford.

From the DfT’s perspective, it is easy to see why both of these branches are lines that they would be quite happy to see pass from their direct portfolio. The Greenford Branch consists of five stations on approximately four miles of track, with passenger services currently provided by First Great Western. Something of a “diesel island” in the middle of a sea of electrification, just how it would be operated in future has been a topic of debate within the DfT for some time.

Romford – Upminster is an even shorter line, featuring three stations over roughly the same number of miles. Unlike Greenford this branch line is electrified, but it comes with its own unique set of issues. Affectionally known as the “Romford push and pull,” the line is unsignalled and effectively operates in isolation from the rest of the London rail network, with a single train running back and forth along the length of the branch line to provide a half hour service.

A strong case for change

It is also easy to see why the DfT would feel that these services could easily fall within the remit of TfL. Greenford is already the site of a Central Line station and both lines will also be impacted by the opening of Crossrail. Greenford – West Ealing services will double once Crossrail opens, but only because they will not be able to run through to Paddington due to the new line’s impact on available rail paths. Crossrail will also serve Romford, with TfL likely to take control of station management there anyway as a result. Both lines also fall well within the boundary of influence that TfL has publicly stated it feels, in railway terms, is its by right.

Nonetheless, it is unlikely that TfL would be happy about taking both the branches on. That they would have to cede to what would be a rather clever bit of horse-trading by the DfT though seems certain, although no doubt there would remain some negotiation to be had on the final terms. For TfL the prize of West Anglia is too great, and having elevated devolution to a principle, rather than just a financial benefit, in the field of public debate they could not afford to be seen to reject two lines that – the DfT rightly argue – match TfL’s own criteria for devolution.

Challenges and opportunities

Just what the final terms of such a transfer would be, though, and how TfL would look to run those lines, would be interesting to see.

That they would be no easier for TfL to manage than the DfT is obvious, but every challenge is also an opportunity. Indeed this is precisely how TfL were able to embark on the Overground project to begin with. It is easy to forget now just how much of a basket case the North London Line in particular had become, and just how glad the DfT was to see that line go.

The situation with both Greenford and Upminster would, of course, be very different, but with GOBLIN electrification now secured, TfL will shortly (in railway terms) have a fleet of diesel 172s in need of a home. Whatever their original plans, Greenford may suddenly prove to be a potential alternative. Meanwhile the self-enclosed, and underdeveloped, nature of Romford – Upminster may well make it an attractive option for future “live” testing of systems or trains.

Whatever approach was taken, it is clear that TfL would need to think carefully about just what the “Overground treatment” really is. We have yet to see what their plans for West Anglia are, but the danger is that passengers will expect a similar step change in service to that seen already on the Overground, but that this will be something that TfL’s finances simply aren’t in the position to provide. If that’s a danger for West Anglia, then it would be doubly so for the Greenford and Upminster branches. TfL’s argument for devolution is largely based on the reputation that Rail for London (RfL) – TfL’s rail arm – have rightly built up as an “Operator of Exception” rather than the norm, and disappointed passengers on any of the three lines taken on would damage that.

If negotiations are indeed underway over these branches, then whatever the outcome (and indeed for West Anglia) was, TfL now have some interesting challenges ahead. They’ll be difficult, certainly, but right now there are few people who wouldn’t bet on orange.

18/09/2013: An Update from TfL

TfL have provided us with the following comment on the subject of West Anglia and any related lines, to clarify their position on the matter. Director of TfL’s London Rail, Jonathan Fox, said:

We are undertaking joint work with the DfT to establish and agree the future of the Liverpool Street to Enfield Town, Cheshunt – via Seven Sisters – and Chingford rail services and how they will be delivered. We are not yet in a position to comment further on this work. It is not the case, however, that the future of those services is contingent on TfL taking up a franchise of other services.

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There are 316 comments on this article
  1. Greg Tingey says:

    it smacks again, of DafT deliberately handing TfL an awkward one, in the obvious hope that they will screw-up.
    I think they’ll make a go of Greenford, probably by extending to W Ruislip, or even Gerrard’s X – which will piss-off DafT even more.
    However, the R-U shuttle is really problematic – passenger numbers are low – we did an on-train there earlier this year, & now we know why, don’t we?
    COULD they extend @ the East end, across the LUL lines ?? Um, err, not such a good prospect.

  2. Graham H says:

    The big issue for at least Greenford is depot accommodation – GW franchise bidders were reported to be pondering subcontracting it to Chiltern once CrossRail opened for that reason. Of course, RfL could do the same but for neither shuttle is subcontracting out a very convenient option. In the long term, it’s tempting to see both as potential tram train routes but the Romford operation is probably too small to stand alone. Crayonistas on another forum have sometimes suggested extending the Central through the back of Ealing Broadway and round to Greenford via W Ealing, but the land take at Haven Green is significant amongst other issues.

  3. Al__S says:

    I wonder if TfL will come back with a condition for Greenford, namely that it gets wired up? That would let them run the branch using what will be then standard Overground stock (with the GOBLIN wires they’ll cease to have any other diesel lines), with units trundling back and forward to the depot via Acton Wells.

    A much more ambitious/expensive endpoint would be to tunnel the District or Central from Ealing Broadway along to meet the branch, providing it with a through route to central London. With this, even the issue of potentially wanting to retain it as a freight route is far from unworkable.

  4. Anon5 says:

    Could Upminster to Romford become a spur of the District or at least be managed as such. Lay a third and fourth rail and tap on an additional order to the S stock. It’s full size so platform clearance shouldn’t be an issue. Even if it doesn’t wear LU livery and instead wears LO of TfLWA livery it could be maintained by the District mamagement as such. Of course, not knowing the Upminster layout, I’m sure there are all sorts of issues with carriage length, the branch having to cross the mainline to connect to the LU network etc that will render this obvious solution null and void.

  5. mr_jrt says:

    This is indeed quite interesting, and great news for users of those lines.

    Depot-wise, the proximity of Ruislip and Upminster depots will probably be quite useful for TfL, in that they can probably throw up a stabling shed or two at each site and have have somewhere near to the branches to store their stock overnight (and can run over TfL’s own tracks to get to the branches as well). Funnily enough, this is actually made easier by operating the branches with diesel stock as it removes the dual-electrification issue completely.

    I suspect it was the practical aspects of depot access why the St. Albans Abbey branch wasn’t also included in this – I’m quite certain the DfT would love to be rid of it…but without a viable way of accessing it from the New Lines at Watford Junction, it has no practical depot access options.

    As a self-described “Crayonista”, I’m all for a solution linking the TfL lines at Ealing Broadway to West Ealing. I suspect however, you would get better use of said tunnel by continuing along under the Uxbridge Road to Uxbridge rather than rising up at West Ealing, though I guess a branch might work there.

    As for Upminister, I refer to an old concept of mine for a dive under east of Upminster station. Shouldn’t be too hard at all, and handily it would create a single-track line with the passing loop both in the centre of the route and at a major interchange station. Downside is that the District would lose one of its terminal platforms, but if you were prepared to sacrifice the convenience of both trains being in the station at the same time then the diveunder could suffice as the loop with just a single track through the station as is currently the case.

    As with Upminster, things get interesting if a diveunder gets built at Watford…but I’m not holding my breath.

  6. Walthamstow Writer says:

    Another interesting bargaining situation revealed. I’m probably being very simplistic but are these really so hard for TfL to run? Depending on timing TfL can retain the 172s to run West Ealing – Greenford and we do not yet know what will transpire for West Anglia. If the 315s are retained then TfL’s operator of choice will simply have to keep one or two more running to cover the Romford – Upminster shuttle. If TfL finds it can afford new trains for West Anglia then the order could be upped for a couple of extra units or perhaps an add on to the Crossrail order (depending on stock formation)? Depends on the financial numbers and depot / maintenance arrangements I guess.

    I agree with the basic point that TfL may well struggle to “sprinkle some magic” on these routes as they’re marginal, destaffed, low speed and not seen as a priority *and* TfL hasn’t got a lot of money. I guess there are some interesting procurement questions for TfL – what is specced in what concession contract? When the first press release emerged about the Crossrail operator tendering process it included reference to some of the West Anglia lines being added in. Therefore TfL could simply spec one big concession for Crossrail, West Anglia and these new appendages. Alternatively it can keep Crossrail tidy and make West Anglia separate and stick Greenford – West Anglia on to the LOROL contract as a variation given they’ve the knowledge of running the 172s. Other variants are also possible.

    It’s interesting that the DfT can play games with these two lines but can’t resolve the devolution of WA stopping services via Totteham Hale or come clean about the future of the Great Northern suburban services out of Moorgate. Let’s hope some real tough, meaningful bargaining is going on behind the scenes to resolve these more important issues.

    I am bemused about the South Eastern devolution remarks – if it really was a lot less politically contentious near the end why on earth did the DfT take the decision that it did? Is it just protecting Tory votes in 2015 as I have long suspected? Politics over common sense and the common good?

  7. Anonymous says:


    If they continue to run mainline trains on the branches then it’ll be far more convenient to use an existing mainline depot to maintain said trains, rather than ‘throwing up a shed’ in a LU depot and expecting that depot to keep up mainline maintenance practices on top of separate LU practices for a tiny fleet of trains. Whilst you do say ‘stabling’ rather than maintaining, the difference is fairly moot for a small fleet of trains – I acknowledge you could plausibly leave something at Upminster from time to time, but since this couldn’t be all the time, is it worth it?

    The reason Watford-St Albans Abbey won’t have been included is because it is entirely outside London and so irrelevant to TfL. You’re drawing lines where there are no dots to join.

  8. Benedict says:

    The District taking over the Greenford Shuttle is a project with a long pedigree. LT as was looked at it a few times by all accounts, though how far their talk matched their walk beyond making the West Ruislip branch ‘to District loading gauge’ is a different matter.

    Maybe Romford-Upminster could take on a role as light rail, with a couple of extra halts along the way. Something would need to be done about the catenary post just beyond the buffers at Upminster.

    Ooor… maybe they could be branded as ‘Crossrail Connect’, tied into the Crossrail Concession, and run by single units from the Crossrail fleet

  9. Anonymous says:

    I can see both of these as branches of the Underground, passengers won’t be hugely bothered about the type of train operating them, but if they appear as branches of the Central and District it simplifies how they are presented to the public.

  10. stimarco says:

    Re. South Eastern devolution: it’s likely Kent’s earlier objections simply haven’t faded enough.

    In any case, Kent’s network is going to see a number of big changes once London Bridge’s rebuild is completed and Crossrail 1 opens. TfL may be taking a wait and see approach to see how that all pans out first.

    As for the Upminster-Romford branch: might it not be worth converting this to a DLR-style light rail affair? There’s a lot of housing surrounding the branch, so a couple of additional stops wouldn’t go amiss. Furthermore, there’s a rather convenient right of way it could follow just south-east of Upminster station, all the way down to the Thurrock Lakeside shopping centre. Getting across the tracks at Upminster would involve a dive under of some sort, (or possibly a flyover), but that’s the only bit of “big engineering” I can see. And there’s enough open land on the way to allow for a decent sized depot.

    Eventually, a future extension of the DLR could make an end-on connection with it.

    (Okay, okay! I’ll put down the crayons!)

  11. REVUpminster says:

    Upminster Romford is an ideal candidate for tram conversion with a couple of passing places and extra stops at Wingletye Lane and Brentwood Road. An extention on one of the depot reception roads through to Cranham and possibly road running into Cranham up Moor lane. The trams could be kept at the depot. Three trams could make a decent service.

  12. Top Banana says:

    TfL being given the Romford – Upminster shuttle is a bit of a bum deal i think. At the Upminster end the branch tracks are cut off from the rest of the c2c network by the tracks running into the undergound depot. I can see two long term scenarios here. TfL will either rebuild the infrastructure on the branch to be able to use a single S7 stock from the upminster depot so will forever remain a one train branch line; or when the c2c franchise is re-let TfL will try to offload it back onto that. Yes that Grays – Romford proposal looks good, but the Ockendon branch is single track and can only cope with one train each way every half hour. I am sure you realise that since Lakeside shopping centre opened this wasn’t run as a branch anymore but with through trains from southend to fenchurch street run this way. It is now the Barking – Grays via Purfleet that is run as a branch line. Ideal world? yes have both and double the ockendon branch and put in the fancy underpass at upminster. Real world? there is much more urgent things to spend the money on than that.

  13. Fandroid says:

    Or extending Anonymous’ logic, they could both be presented as Crossrail branches. If either or both stay as shuttles, then it doesn’t really matter who has the operating concession, as long as the paintwork and roundels keep up the pretence.

  14. REVUpminster says:

    Re the Ockendon branch. A lot of the branch can be doubled. I am sure the tunnel under the M25 allows for doubling. What is needed is a reverse curve between Chafford Hundred and Purfleet so trains can operate as a loop back to Fenchurch St. It would increase the service between Purfleet and Barking.

  15. timbeau says:

    Even if the Greenford shuttle were to be electrified, would 345s or 378s fit the platforms?

    “TfL may well struggle to “sprinkle some magic” on these routes as they’re marginal, destaffed, low speed and not seen as a priority”
    Wasn’t that what was said about the North London Line when Silverlink had it?

  16. Top Banana says:

    19:33, 17 September 2013

    Reverse curve Chafford toPurfleet – yes thats a great idea!

  17. timbeau says:

    @Top banana
    “It is now the Barking – Grays via Purfleet that is run as a branch line”
    Hence the oft-repeated proposals to merge it with the Goblin.

  18. timbeau says:

    @Top banana and me, both 1938

    Combine those proposals and hey presto! Romford Upminster becomes integrated into the Goblin operation.

  19. Top Banana says:

    19:38, 17 September 2013

    Yes makes perfect sense Grays – Gospel Oak when electrified. Fantastic one seat ride opportunities!

  20. Top Banana says:

    @timbeau and me ………. heh yeah all tied up in a neat overground bow! lol

  21. Graham H says:

    @mr jrt – “throwing up” (sic…) a couple of depots is not a cheap thing, particularly if they are to be diesel sheds co-located with electric ones or mainline stock co-located with tube depots. The sort of servicing and facilities required is very different. The fact that the fleets involved are very small if anything compounds the cost as spares become a disproportionately large overhead. [This is not, alas, Switzerland, where the maintenance staff also drive the trains and the stock is kept in an enclosed station building]. The business case will be very poor.

    @various – GOBLIN-Upminster – again, the cost of building a flyunder will be enormous, compared to the likely traffic. Conversion to tram won’t be cheap, either not least because a small fleet will still require a disproportionately large number of spares

  22. P Dan Tick says:

    Ahhh! Another innovator who has perfected the art of flying underground!

  23. Greg Tingey says:

    I wonder. Could TfL reverse-screw DafT by saying … “OF COURSE we’ll take those lines, but you’ll have to release some more moolah, in order for us to do a proper job – otherwise – no deal” ???
    Ahem: It’s interesting that the DfT can play games with these two lines but can’t won’t resolve the devolution of WA stopping services via Tottneham Hale or come clean about the future of the Great Northern suburban services out of Moorgate. Let’s hope some real tough, meaningful bargaining is going on behind the scenes to resolve these more important issues.

    And if someone comes up with a sensible answer, DafT’s reply is going to be “NIH” I expect (Not Invented Here) yes, I’m cynical ….
    It also seems to transpire that the tory councillors of (some parts of) Kent were not in total agreement with their voters, who seem to have other opinions – also interesting.

    REVUp …
    Certainly a “Halte” at Brentwood Road might be worth it ….
    Top Banana … yes – & extend GOBLIN, not to Dagenham Dock, but to Grays or Tilbury – would need extra terminal pf’ (or two)

    AND A reverse curve at the “top” end, away from Upminster + the desired freight chord/link to the GEML, to get the monster freights form Shell Haven OUT of London ….

    Also ….
    Mention of the 315’s is interesting, as I’ve been watching a lot of them recently & will be seeng quite a bit more of them soon. They are getting ancient – I mean only two types of unit have operated Liverpool St – Shenfield since electrification in 1949. But, they run, they are fairly reliable … refurb? Send off to the provinces as stop-gaps as the knitting extends?

  24. Top Banana says:

    @graham h

    hence my original suggestion that romford – upminster be converted to single S7 stock working from upminster depot

  25. REVUpminster says:

    Spares for trams should not be a problem if the trams are the same as Croydon’s. Three trams would take one shed road in Upminster depot which is already being enlarged. Upminster depot engineers should be able to maintain the trams since all new stocks seem to be repaired by replacing not one part but a module.

  26. timbeau says:

    How does Rompminster’s 357 get on and off the branch now?

  27. The other Paul says:

    Fascinating stuff indeed. I think Crossrail is the obvious link here. Both lines could make Crossrail branches of some sort, but the infrastructure is limiting for different reasons – Greenford two tracks but no wires and I understand the tracks are in a pretty shonky state. Romford has a wire but just one track, which makes a Tfl-standard of frequency (ie 4tph) an impossibility without a serious upgrade.

    Does the Crossrail package include an extra platform on the North side of West Ealing for the Greenford Shuttle? If not, the paths issue seems misrepresented – the Greenford shuttle will surely need to block the Crossrail up line at West Ealing to reverse four times an hour, and there’d be less disruption running it through. I would have thought the real reason for not running Crossrail to Greenford is the lack of wires, and the lack of business case to do the wiring, rather than any pathing issue – after all the 10tph west of Paddington is hardly an ambitious use of the relief lines is it?

  28. Twopenny Tube says:

    timbeau 20:27
    There is a crossover from the up main line to go home, and a crossover from down to up to start work. Thus, twice a day there is a blockage on the fast lines (Romford has 2 fast and 2 slow) when the unit arrives in the morning (from down to up and then to the branch) and leaves in the evening on the up line. Most trains (currently) on the fast lines do not stop at Romford.

  29. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Timbeau – I am happy to be corrected but don’t Greater Anglia run the Romford – Upminster service? Therefore it’ll be a 315 (probably). Hence my reference to it fitting in with the West Anglia or Crossrail rolling stock strategy.

    I was very careful to qualify my remark about “run down, slow etc” with the money factor. TfL had the benefit of a Mayor who got a load of money from Government and then got even more courtesy of the Olympics in order to upgrade Silverlink Metro and get the ELLX built. The Olympics also put a lot of impetus behind Network Rail getting their finger out and delivering the upgraded infrastructure (even though it was really months late but there was so much slack built in that they just moved the milestones!). None of those factors apply now – TfL does not have capital monies sloshing around spare when it is trying to deal with a £1bn cash raid by the Cycling Commissioner. The other problem is that TfL’s argument about concessions is about getting hold of the “revenue risk” part of the franchise funding and turning that into capital. However that counts as revenue expenditure and we all know that TfL’s and the DfT’s revenue budgets have been hammered by the Treasury. Boris has been more than happy to accept revenue budget cuts provided he can crow about “investment”. The only problem is that there is no point in investing if you cannot afford to run extra services once the investment has been delivered. Running the service is what brings in the money and the social benefits. Having expensive infrastructure doing nothing is just stupid. I expect the DfT will be playing very hardball about just how much grant it is going to cede to TfL in respect of the West Anglia lines *and* these new appendages. The smaller the level of transferred grant the less scope there is for TfL to do anything meaningful. TfL have set themselves a very high standard (a good thing in itself) but, of course, public expectation will be that that standard applies to every subsequent service transfer regardless of the state of the infrastructure or the budget available for improvements. Crossrail is probably OK because that’s a “cannot, must not fail” project. Until we hear more and see the updated TfL Business Plan we cannot know exactly where the cuts have fallen.

  30. ChrisMitch says:

    I would doubt that either of these branches can easily be added to Crossrail – they would have been left out of the original specification for good reasons.
    These lines are probably stuck as orphans for now.

  31. Graham H says:

    @revupminster – it’s not about the ease of maintenance, but its cost. The tools and maintenance access required will be totally different to S stock and at least one spare vehicle will need to be kept on site. Although a lot of spares are indeed modular, many are not, and a stock of both these and modular parts will need to be kept at Romford/Upminster even if they are the same vehicles as the Croydon fleet, and even if the modules are, as is likely, repaired somewhere else. EU procurement rules make it very unlikely that any future operator could guarantee to get the same vehicles as those in Croydon even if they continue to be available in the future. The scheme could look more viable if it formed part of a larger network, perhaps with some on-street running at either end.

    @P Dan Tick ho ho, but – alas – English useage is clear. Underpass is a highways term and burrowing junction has fallen out of use. Fly refers to the speed of transit, not aerial navigation – even for flyovers!

  32. JJ says:

    I spoke to some Kent councillors before the announcement that SE wouldn’t go to TfL. Their ignorance was quite something. They seemed to think that long distance trains would be removed in peak time. I explained nothing of the sort would happen – no extra paths are available for metro or long distance. The proposals were to improve metro services off peak witch wouldn’t impact long distance routes at all. Things such as running Victoria to Dartford past 7.30 pm at 2 tph, late night services to Dartford at frequencies above 2tph. They didn’t understand it and were paranoid – just kept saying its a land grab and our morning trains will be removed. In the event SE lives on and Victoria to Dartford gets a whopping extra one train at 8pm before it shuts up shop.

    Mass fare evasion lives on too without increased staffing that TfL would have provided. 90% of stations have no barriers or they’re open particularly off peak, and with their being no guards on board the chances of being caught are almost zero.

  33. timbeau says:

    Quite right – a combination of too much knowledge (I knew the branch was built by the LTSR) and too little – the one and only time I used the branch it was operated by a class 106 diesel unit! It looks like would fit best as an outpost of the West Anglia TfL routes then.

  34. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ JJ – thanks for the insight even though it makes immensely depressing reading. Makes me wonder just what on earth had gone on for months in terms of discussions and communication to result in such lamentably poor understanding / knowledge. I suppose if you start off blinkered and don’t want to look or listen then you remain blinkered in your beliefs. It says much about our political process and the quality of some elected representatives. Let us hope some lessons have been learnt on all sides about consultation and persuasion on such important issues.

  35. Daniel says:

    The tram suggestion for Romford-Upminster makes the most sense to me. The current problem with the line is the service frequency. Add passing points and that allows more frequency but you hit the problem that there is no signalling at all to manage multiple trains on the line. Trams solve that as they have the least complex/expensive signalling requirements. They also allow for additional stops at low cost. Despite being in the outer reaches of Zone 6 the route is almost all through dense residential areas so the new stops would be used. I suspect that users of the line would be quite happy to swap a train every 22-30 minutes for a tram every 8-10 minutes and a couple of new stops even if that increased end to end journey times a little. Extending at either end does not look likely to be worthwhile though.

  36. Paul says:

    The other Paul @ 20:35

    Yes, there will be a new bay at West Ealing provided by the Crossrail project.

  37. REVUpminster says:

    Ever since Upminster depot was opened passengers have wanted a station at Cranham (much like those at Northumberland Park) but the cost is too great, but a tram would solve this. as for passenger numbers. The 248 and 346 bus from Upminster Station to Cranham via their north and south routes are packed. The 370 bus which goes from Romford-Upminster-Ockendon-Lakeside is now a double decker. It is particularly busy to Lakeside because of all the concessionary fares not available on C2C. I am not advocating C2C losing their Upminster -Lakeside route in favour of trams, light rail. It needs heavy rail even if only for emergency freight use from Tilbury and the new deep sea container port.

  38. The other Paul says:

    Another thought on Greenford: With the redevelopment of the Park Royal industrial area, it would seem feasible to put a curve in at North Acton to give the NLL from Willesden access towards Greenford via Hangar lane. If the Richmond service is then diverted via Dudding Hill, and a new station on the site serves both branches, LO could run from Stratford to West Ealing via North Acton and Hangar Lane, using the East-South curve onto the Greenford branch. Greenford itself of course would no longer be served, but new platforms at Hangar Lane and/or North Acton could retain the interchange with the Central. I don’t know if the North Acton station in this scenario would be sufficiently close to the OOC development to provide interchange there also, such a thing would seem desirable.

  39. MikeP says:

    Since they got the franchise extension, SouthEastern do seem to have woken up a tiny bit. The train operator on 1D54 does now make an occasionally-audible announcement at New Eltham that it will be fast to LBG, something that rarely happened before. Most helpfully, usually after (s)he’s closed the doors. “Oh shit, it’s New Eltham, better do the announcement before I pull away”.

    But it’s become patently clear that it’s the cumulative effect of station dwell times that’s the killer for timeliness. All through August, and into the first week of this month. said 1D54 arrived at LBG pretty much right-time every day. The last week and a half, it’s back to the regular 5-10 minutes late now the PAX numbers are back to normal. And we are right-time at New Eltham usually. Only changes of stock (and not just on the suburban lines) stand a chance of fixing that. Unless it’s the single-platform up working at LBG that’s the bottleneck, in which case things will improve after the rebuild – and that does make post-TL upgrade a much better time for TfL to take the suburban routes on.

  40. Harjinder Singh says:

    My suggestion for the Greenford Line :

    Run four trains an-hour Greenford – West Ruislip, giving a connection to Crossrail & Heathrow from West Ruislip (Central line and Chiltern), South Ruislip (Central line and Chiltern) and Northolt (TfL bus connections).

    Fewer Central Line trains should run through to West Ruislip.

    On the longer term an underground connection from West Ealing to Ealing Broadway would make this a very useful extension of the District Line, but I doubt that the necessary funding would be forthcoming soon, given the the present hesitant start of some kind of recovery !

    Harjinder Singh
    Southall, Middlesex UK

  41. Greg Tingey says:

    Romford / Upminster
    Passenger numbers, are … LOW
    An average of 14 ( 13.9 actually) passengers per trip mid-week in late winter this year ( Adminstrators p-m email me for further details, as information is to be anonymised, please) And this for a 4-car set! Something serious would have to be done to improve the take, since it is a reliable shuttle, running every half-hour ….

    As REVUp says, much later: 4-railing it & putting in a station @ Cranham would be a good idea ….OTOH, you are then using a 7-car train of “S” stock for these loadings. Um.
    And – Grays – Upminster needs double tracking, with a S-E curve at the N end, for freight ( + link to GEML, of course )

    “Carto Metro” is your friend, as is Quail … trailing connection off the up main, just to the East of Romford station. As 2d tube says, also ….

    The other Paul
    I once, deliberately made a set of trainee planners do a computer-exercise to institute a new Xr1 service; they were supposed to programme in track-lengths & locations & then “schedule” a service” (without any consideration of fitting it in with others – a much more complicated exercise ….)
    By inserting the Hall Farm curve, splitting the Chingfords into 2×10-minute services, & making those via Lea Bridge (which they also had to put back) services Chingford – Greenford. NO consideration was given, at that stage (or ever, because that was a separate exercise) to lengthening the station platforms to take 10/12-car trains, which you would certainly need W. Ealing – Walthamstow Central & you’d have to put in to accommodate, elsewhere.
    Were I to do this now, I’d make it Chingford – Greenford – Gerrard’s Cross (Or even Wycombe ).

    [Usual deletion for quite unnecessary invective PoP]
    … & WW …
    [and again PoP]

    The current service is half-hourly. With the present track layout, it cannot be anything else, except LESS frequent.

    Mike P
    P/f 6 @ LBG is a nightmare – you try counting J/A/OTD there (!)
    What really, really screws it are the Brighton / Gatwick / Luton / Bedfords.
    With huge numbers getting both on & off there, usually with luggage.
    They are often late in (in either direction, so p/f 5 is no better, sometimes) & always later, out. So, yes, having separate “slink” platforms there has got to be an improvement.

  42. John Bull says:

    UPDATE: TfL have provided us with a statement, which I include here without comment. To save people scrolling up:

    We are undertaking joint work with the DfT to establish and agree the future of the Liverpool Street to Enfield Town, Cheshunt – via Seven Sisters – and Chingford rail services and how they will be delivered. We are not yet in a position to comment further on this work. It is not the case, however, that the future of those services is contingent on TfL taking up a franchise of other services.

  43. Anonymous says:

    @the other Paul
    “it would seem feasible to put a curve in at North Acton”

    It wouldn’t be easy, as there is a significant difference in height and the curve would have to thread its way around Acton Wells junction (with the Dudding Hill line). Flying junctions would be needed if the capacity of the existing routes were not to be compromised – as well as the NLL services, there is a lot a freight traffic through the area. A simpler link between the NLL and the GWML would be possible using the existing connection between Acton Wells Junction and Acton Main Line station. This, or one of the various flavours of Overground/GWML interchange proposed at Old Oak Common, would seem to achieve much the same interchange possibilities as a West Ealing – Hanger Lane – Willesden service.

    There was once an official proposal to divert the Bakerloo from Willesden (low level) via North Acton to Ealing Broadway, allowing the Central’s Ealing branch to be diverted at Shepherds Bush by a new link to Turnham Green and thus Richmond, in turn allowing the District’s Richmond trains to be diverted to Rayners Lane and Uxbridge, allowing the Piccy to run more trains to Heathrow

  44. an observer says:

    I have seen lots of ideas about redeploying the 172s to Greenford and stable them at LU depots or extend them over LU metals but you’ve got to work out how to fit tripcocks to them first.

  45. ngh says:

    Re Mike P and Greg

    SE Up LBG services via P6 etc.
    The new London Bridge will certainly be far better for dwell time issues and time keeping but SE could still improve dwell time etc more generally by rolling stock modification (rather than replacement) such as copying SWT’s 455 solution – removing seats and other obstructions from around door ways to improve passenger flow. The down side is less seats but you can actually get more people on the train if they stand instead.
    Additional rolling stock (discussions rumoured) and more 12 car services should help as well.

    Wider platforms with fewer obstructions should also help.

    In the future the platform exit from the Up through platforms at LBG won’t be at the front of the train but nearer the middle so there shouldn’t be the problem of CHX/CST and LBG commuters all wanting to be at the front to potentially escape quicker.

    Simplification of service patterns along side the LBG works (such as all via greenwich services going to CST rather than mostly CST and a few to CHX) should also help reduce the delays if a train doesn’t get it slot at a conflicting junction (fewer conflicting moves in the future).

    Also I suspect the full potential of the Tanner’s Hill Fly down is not being used yet and won’t be till the time table changes in May next yet year?

    It is far safer for TfL to avoid anything to do with the SE franchise routes till after 2018 – they can’t afford to have a bad experience if they want to take on more in the future. Unfortunately this means waiting till the SE franchise renewal comes up again in 2020-2022…

  46. MIlton Clevedon says:

    Both of these lines have very low usage. Some of that may be down to low frequency – ½ hourly, not early AM or after mid-evening, and not on Sundays. In catchment terms, RU is worse off than Ealing-Greenford, as the GWR put in local ‘haltes’ which survive.

    To be Overgroundized, frequency, availability and quality would all need to be raised. Again easier on Ealing-Greenford if it became West Ealing-Greenford, as it could be ¼-hourly with the same two units (whether or not replaced) and an 11½ minute end-to-end trip time. That might raise more usage though possibly off the local buses so would TfL be any better off financially or in its VfM calculations?

    Harder on Romford-Upminster for the reasons correspondents have listed – one unit not two, no passing loop, and only one intermediate stop though one or two more might be feasible.

    Changes to depot arrangements are likely to increase allocated costs as modification capital spend could be needed, regardless of operation costs.

    Therefore I conclude that the real opportunities are to see if these routes can achieve higher value quality and revenue outcomes for little extra cost – if the basis of the article is true and TfL have at least been asked to see if there is a basis for taking them on. (I can’t see the DfT just telling TfL “take them over regardless of whether the public finances incur a worse financial outcome”.)

    The scope for a different revenue outcome is through better marketing – eg as part of Crossrail or Underground branding, irrespective of service developments – and through assessment of major service changes if those could be a low-cost service extension with payback over 5-10 years.

    In the case of Ealing-Greenford, an option while keeping a Greenford link is to have a limited stop extension via existing main line tracks to Gerrards Cross, where there is a reversing bay, to open up Chilterns to West London travel, end-to-end journey time about 32 minutes. (Not all local Chiltern Line stations will be worth serving.) Three units in total would be needed to offer a ½-hourly West Ealing-GX service, with additional leasing and operating costs for one more unit, and reopening the old Central-GW station subway connection at Greenford with one new platform on the former GW Birmingham line. Not desperately costly, and potentially some higher value flows capable of generation (including Chilterns-NW London-Heathrow changing onto Crossrail), so some modal split benefits within Greater London.

    I suspect a say-½ mile single-track flyover east of Upminster wouldn’t cost much under £10m after all costs and risks were grossed up, if you wanted to head towards Lakeside. This would require remarkable revenue shift to be worthwhile financially. The easier but less exciting option might be to create an additional stop or two, before biting a much costlier bullet as part of a wider project for improved Thames Gateway accessibility.

  47. Mark Townend says:

    @REVUpminster , 22:38, 17 September 2013

    mods: please delete my previous comment with its rather humorous attribution [Done PoP]

    Upminster – Grays could be fairly easily integrated with a Romford – Upminster light rail conversion, extended around the the north and east sides of Upminster depot site with a Cranham station in the north east corner then connected by around 400 metres of street running along Front Lane over the Basildon main line to the B187 roundabout whence the segregated rail alignment would be regained via a new ramp up to embankment level. The heavy rail connection into Upminster station and the heavy rail junctions at either end of the route could be retained for time segregated emergency freight diversions or possibly more regular mixed services if high floor LRVs were approved for ‘tram-train’ operations.

  48. Peter G says:

    I’m confused by the idea that TfL could have taken on Southeastern services. The long-term plans have for some time been the merging of Southeastern and Southern with Thameslink to create a superfranchise, no? Presumably TfL weren’t planning on taking on all these tracks, well outside of the GLA voting boundary? Did they want Southeastern on its own, in the hope that DfT would only merge Southern and Thameslink in the future?

  49. REVUpminster says:

    re Mark Townend

    Sounds good, BUT, there are two brand new £1,200,000 houses in The Chase opposite where I presume you would build your ramp to gain access back to the Grays branch. The other side is a group of flats and the Havering planning computer likes to say no. The new houses were a miracle that no one believed would ever be built.

  50. timbeau says:

    I would guess that both the Greenford and Rompminster shuttles will see a significant ridership boost in a few years’ time when both Romford and West Ealing acquire direct services to a range of central London destinations that currently require a change at Liverpool Street (or Stratford) or Paddington.

    yes, Upminster and Greenford already have direct cross-London services, but there will be a significant number (in relation to the numbers currently using the shuttles) for whom a feeder to Crossrail will be attractive. Upminster to Heathrow – would you rather change at Romford or Hammersmith? Greenford to Canary Wharf – change at West Ealing, or Bond Street?

    The intermediate halts may also see more traffic if it is but one change from, for example, Drayton Green to Canary Wharf.

    Linking the two branches together may look tidy, but running such short trains through the Crossrail core would be a waste and I doubt if there is much pent-up demand for a direct service betweeen, for example, Emerson Park and Castle Bar Park.

  51. REVUpminster says:

    My reason for tram and street running into Cranham but up Moor Lane is to a proposed huge retirement complex at the north end in the corner between the A127 and the M25 but Havering will not give planning permission and it has gone to appeal.

  52. ngh says:

    Re Peter G
    10:36, 18 September 2013

    No that was not quite the idea:
    The future TSGN franchise (as DfT refers to it) is/was effectively all Thameslink / GN (i.e.FCC etc.) – All Southern – but only SOME Southeastern services (only the ones taken over by Thameslink post 2018 or existing shared ones) . Most of Southeastern would have remained as Southeastern…

    The SOME -vs- ALL bits often being lost in communication.

    Now that fewer current Southeastern services are being transferred to post 2018 Thameslink, even more of SE will stay as SE.

    TfL’s “plan” was to take over the SE metro services when some of the other SE routes were transferred to TSGN.
    The current shared FCC/SE services were planned to be transferred earlier on and additional post 2018 TL services in 2018.

    See the DfT consultation on the SE re-franchising (now delayed due to West Coat Franchise issues so add 2 years to every date connect with franchising!).

  53. timbeau says:

    @Peter G

    “I’m confused by the idea that TfL could have taken on Southeastern services. The long-term plans have for some time been the merging of Southeastern and Southern with Thameslink to create a superfranchise, no?”

    Indeed, but TfL has already taken over some Southern services – the South London line and part of the stopping service on the Forest Hill line. I see no reason in principle why South Eastern couldn’t be carved up into an inner suburban part (to be integrated into TfL) and an outer suburban part (to be integrated into the Southern/Thameslink/Great Northern superfranchise). Something similar happened to Silverlink, where the “County” part got merged with Centro to become London Midland, and is to happen when the Greater Anglia “superfranchise” (made up of the old Anglia franchise, Great Eastern, and the WA part of WAGN), loses not only the West Anglia inner suburbans to TfL but also the Shenfield line suburbans (as part of Crossrail)

  54. Castlebar says:

    Castlebar (or Castle Bar Park Halt as the station sign once read), was my local station for 25 years.

    Once GWR services were cut back to Greenford, (the old platform sign at West Ealing used to read “WEST EALING Junction for Greenford, Northolt and Ruislip”), the Greenford branch was primarily a freight line until about 1965. Freight traffic volumes were massive. I think the loop was also used to ‘turn’ Kensington Motorail services.

    I’m sure that there was once an election pledge (mid 1970s I seem to remember) for LBofE council elections, thats IF elected (they weren’t) the Conservatives would extend the Greenford – Ealing branch via Acton and the WLL to Clapham Junction. These were the days when some (BR perhaps)were saying that the WLL would never re-open to passenger traffic as it had been tried once (70 years earlier!?) and failed through lack of patronage. The plan (or election idea) then was to access the WLL via North Pole, then Kensington Olympia etc.

    So even in those days, the local politicians were making a case for services to be extended, rather than cut back. Now, 40 years later, there is a facing junction which would in theory be available for Chiltern services to get access to Heathrow via Hanwell junction. There were and still are many opportunities for this route. It would be great if local people were asked about these potential possibilities, rather than have decisions made for them by straw men who have little or no local knowledge (in some cases). There is still potential for this line, but cutting back services to W. Ealing seems to be the only option that has been considered.

  55. c says:

    Paris has a few shuttles/offshoots on the metro – 3b and 7b. Why not these as branches of the District (or Central for Greenford?)

    Could Emerson Park become a double-platformed loop? And some basic signalling could allow crossings there and 4tph? Other small stations could be added if symmetrical!

    For both branches to appear on the tube map would be a massive PR boon for them, especially Romford.

    As they’re both self-contained, even if they were converted to DLR type vehicles they could be on the tube map. People don’t notice or care too much.

  56. Peter G says:

    Thanks ngh and timbeau for the clarification!

  57. Long Branch Mike says:


    “Why not these as branches of the District”

    Doesn’t the District have enough branches? Surely more would make the line more confusing…

  58. ngh says:

    Greenford branch + District line discussions…

    Given that there are complains over lack of capacity (i.e. over crowding) on the District already does extending the district to Greenford (or beyond) make much sense unless there are assumption based on massive changes in journeys when Crossrail opens?

    Will lots in the future now head “outwards” to change to Crossrail at Ealing Broadway for a much quicker journey overall thus making the District heading “inwards” quieter?
    Will the Picc line Heathrow branch become much quieter too as passengers swap to crossrail? (I will be provided they don’t intent to charge HEx style prices…)

  59. Castlebar says:

    As the existing Ealing – Greenford service is being curtailed at West Ealing because there will be insufficient slots for a 2tph service between Ealing Bdy & W Ealing, how do people propose to replace it with an even more intensive service on a purpose built District Line extension?

    Do they propose surface, cut and cover, or tunnelling? Just to provide a continued rail service to Drayton Green etc?

    Something doesn’t add up! The cost/benefit figures won’t either.

    P.S. Look at Drayton Green’s passenger numbers before advocating 7 or 8 car railway stock

  60. Fandroid says:

    Regarding Crossrail being a preferred route to Heathrow, there is still a price differential for Heathrow Connect compared with normal rail prices and the Tube. A Connect single to Heathrow from Paddington is £9.50. £3.80 of that is for Hayes to Heathrow. As Crossrail is due to take over Connect, I suspect that semi-premium fare (‘semi’ when compared with HeX) will still apply, and off-peak, the Piccadilly will still easily remain the cheapest route. I travel to Heathrow a lot, and being fairly time-rich I now often use the Tube from Waterloo to Heathrow, finding that the frequency on the Picc absorbs a lot of the hanging around time at Paddington. One mystery is why do they hold the T4 trains there, rather than send them on to Heathrow Central where many passengers want to go anyway?

  61. Jeremy says:

    @Castlebar: I have to agree with a good deal of what you’re saying. For what it’s worth, my personal preference would be to make Greenford via Ealing Broadway the western destination of the new GOBLIN trains, but it just isn’t on the cards for any number of practical and financial reasons.

    I note with interest that Greenford is to get something of a refurbishment. The last wooden escalator on the network is doomed to be replaced. Merrily, for fans of trivia and those with limited mobility at least, what’s planned is a new escalator on the other side of the stairs and an unusual, glass-walled incline lift in place of the old escalator.

  62. timbeau says:


    “One mystery is why do they hold the T4 trains there, rather than send them on to Heathrow Central where many passengers want to go anyway?”

    There is layover time built into any timetable at the termini to maintain timekeeping: on the Picadilly it is done at T4 rather than T123 because at the latter it would hold up trains coming from T5. Passengers for Heathrow Central are advised to use T5 trains to avoid hanging around at T4.

  63. ngh says:

    Re Fandroid
    14:43, 18 September 2013

    The Connect semi-premium will probably remain till 2023 when the BAA project finance deal that covered the line construction etc. expires. Hex / Connect are run by a sister company to the current HAL so their interests aren’t always aligned. In 2023 it becomes easier for TfL to negotiate some more sensible prices and whether HEx in its current form should continue (i.e. if most people swap to crossrail and HEx carries mostly fresh air…)

  64. Alan Griffiths says:

    Benedict @ 18:53, 17 September 2013 link

    “maybe they could be branded as ‘Crossrail Connect’, tied into the Crossrail Concession, and run by single units from the Crossrail fleet”

    I thought of calling both “Crossrail shuttles”

  65. Twopenny Tube says:

    Jeremy 14:43:” I note with interest that Greenford is to get something of a refurbishment. The last wooden escalator on the network is doomed to be replaced….”

    Also one of few, if not the only, example of an escalator on the tube that goes up from street level.

  66. Littlejohn says:

    2nd Tube: It is only the fact that it goes up that has allowed it to remain. If it had been subterranean it would have been replaced long ago.

  67. Whiff says:

    I have always been intrigued about why the Greenford line has quite such low passenger numbers given it has a regular, direct service to a central London terminus and two interchanges with the Underground. First Great Western are preoccupied with maximising the profit from their many long-distance routes so one would assume that TFL, even with no cash to invest, would do a better job of running line.

  68. Jeremy says:

    @Whiff: It’s commuter territory, and the trains are pretty busy even west of West Ealing in the peaks. The half-hourly service means that there are substantial chunks of time where it’s quicker for off-peak passengers to make their way by bus to Ealing Broadway, West Ealing or Greenford.

  69. Jeremy says:

    @ngh: In this context, a 2023 end to those contracts is actually more convenient than I had imagined. There will be some considerable pressure to ditch the Heathrow Express, or at least to integrate it into the Crossrail service pattern, especially if it does run even emptier. The paths on the fast lines into and out of Paddington are very valuable, to increase services to/from Bristol and Cardiff.

  70. timbeau says:

    “it has a regular, direct service to a central London terminus and two interchanges with the Underground”

    Both interchanges are with the same line, so there is little point in going from Greenford or Ealing Broadway, or vive versa, to connnect with the Central Line. There are also a relatively dense network of local buses which are more frequent and cheaper.

    The time is rapidly approaching, if it hasn’t arrived already, when TfL’s London services will need clearer distinction than merely colouring them all orange and calling them “Overground” In particular, the West Anglia routes will intertwine with the existing Overground routes in a very complex way, and colouring them all the same will suggest a lot more through jlourneys are possible than is actually the case – although the new Hackney pedestrian connection will open a few up.
    The separate service groups (“lines”) are, as I see it, the SW Essex or Lea Valley group out of Liverpool Street, (yes I know they don’t include the actual Lea Valley main line, only the branches), the Euston-Watford line, the South East Orbital group through Brunel’s tunnel, the North West Orbital group through Hampstead Heath, and the Goblin (which might get integrated into the NWO group once it’s electrified).
    There is also Crossrail, and now also the two “Crossrail Connect” shuttles – which, even if branded as such would be unlikely to be able to use 345s as I understand they will be 10-car (or possibly 2×5) formations: one of the two branches can only take a four car set and the other only two.

  71. Castlebar says:

    @ timbeau

    Yes, and I can see little point in redesigning Greenford station now, when the existing bay platform was only designed to take a tank engine with a maximum of two auto coaches. Anything longer will require a visit back to the drawing board. Some of the “ideas” I have seen regarding this branch are just not practical, and just look at South Greenford’s annual ‘through the gate’ figures! Where are District/Bakerloo or whatever stock going to fit at Greenford? A crayonista’s paradise, but in reality, a nightmare in the making for a line that probably makes a loss now, always has done and probably always will. In the days of an hourly service, and two men in the cab, I’ve been the only passenger on the train, with an 8d fare.

  72. Anonymous says:

    If TfL are taking over Cheshunt-Seven Sisters, is this going to remove the current option Greater Anglia have of diverting services via Seven Sisters instead of Tottenham Hale during scheduled works and during service problems (as happened today due to a broken down train at Enfield Lock)?

    I suspect it wouldn’t make too much difference, as trains can occasionally go from Stratford through Seven Sisters via a short section of the GOBLIN, but increased service through Seven Sisters would leave less slack for anything else.

  73. Graham Feakins says:

    @ ngh 11:09, 18 September – I wonder what will happen to the odd Thameslink/Southeastern services that run well beyond the ‘normal’ shared services, e.g. the evening peak one from Bedford to Ashford (Kent) via Elephant & Castle, Bromley South and Maidstone East.

  74. timbeau says:

    @anon 1906

    TfL will not, as I understand it, have exclusive rights over the National Rail tracks on which the NE London services operate, any more than they do on the north London Line or the Forest Hill line. They are more like a Train Operating Company, albeit the services are run as a “concession” (basically a fixed price contract, like the buses) rather than as a franchise. The basic difference is that TfL takes the revenue, and the financial risk, whereas in a franchise, the revenue is the franchisee’s (and, in theory at least, so is the financial risk)

    Indeed, TfL do not operate the services themselves, but contracted it out to LOROL, which is a joint operation of MTR and Laing (Laing is now a subsidiary of DB Rail which operates several UK franchises and the Tyne & Wear Metro) , MTR is the Hong Kong-based operator of that city’s Metro, and several others).

  75. London Spotter says:

    I’d love to see an orange Parry People Mover operating the Romford – Upminster branch.

  76. Disappointed Kitten says:

    If TfL take over the Greenford route there should definitely be some investment in building an interchange around the Acton area – even if it means closing Acton Central and moving it north. Lack of radial interchanges is one of the greatest weaknesses of the NLL, and creating a NLL/GWML interchange would offer so many possibilities here- opening up the NLL to West London and a new route to *Heathrow*. Woo!

  77. Matt says:

    @C 11:44

    Making Emerson Park an island with two platforms would, if achievable cheaply enough, be a great solution. Even though it’s not quite midway between Romford and Upminster it would allow for a doubling of the service, although some fairly basic signalling would be needed.

    As for the very low patronage other commenters are right about both the branding/promotion issue (paint it orange and they will come) and the advent of Crossrail (a feeder route to a train that takes you to Canary Wharf or Liverpool Street in under half an hour).

  78. timbeau says:

    @Disappointed Kitten

    Why close Acton Central? It’s very handy for (surprise , surprise) Acton’s town centre. It’s also a very long way to the Old Oak Common area

  79. Anonymous says:

    What will the impact of the HS2 work be on the Greenford branch?

  80. RicP says:

    Fascinating discourse, but inevitably some more ‘interesting’ ideas which are neither affordable nor practical. Having lived at Hanwell for 4 years, I became familiar with the Greenford service, picking up my partner from Drayton Green if she had missed the half-hourly Slough stopper, back in the final days of 117s and various other oddments. Those Slough stoppers were crowded, but the Greenfords were a useful back up until 21.30. The cut-back to West Ealing is so logical, as a 2 unit service can provide a 20 minute service with ease, and a 15 minute peak service at a push. But this is several years away! There is just no money for major works and links, although extending to South or West Ruislip has possibilities.
    Romford – Upminster is equally logical, even more so as TfL gets Shenfield from 2015, and will have to use 315s until the new Crossrail Stock arrives. That is assuming it ever get’s ordered. But lightweight stock, maintained at Upminster is an intriguing idea. But expect 315s ’til 2018.
    Enfield, Chingford and Cheshunt doubtless will get some improvement, 3 or 4 tph, to both Enfield and Cheshunt, initially using 315s and basic 317s. TfL no doubt want to operate at least 3, ideally 4 tph. Services after 22.00 hrs on Overground lines which drop to 30 minute intervals are unacceptable, and user groups are pushing TfL on this issue.

  81. Graham Feakins says:

    Greenford end – and Romford end – readers interested to read my comments on the latter are recommended to progress towards the end of this – my apologies. No, why should I? Blame the DfT with their crayons!

    All this talk of the Greenford branch having ‘only’ a bay platform to accept a rail motor and a couple coaches and so on made me think that my memory was failing me. Even “Castlebar”‘s comments above that “Once GWR services were cut back to Greenford, (the old platform sign at West Ealing used to read “WEST EALING Junction for Greenford, Northolt and Ruislip”), the Greenford branch was primarily a freight line until about 1965.” made me think twice about mentioning that the route was also used into Paddington from Birmingham and Bicester. I used the services back in the 1970’s when I travelled occasionally from Bicester in loco-hauled stock ex-Birmingham, complete with restaurant car on morning peak services into Paddington via but not stopping at Greenford…

    I was thus beginning to worry in view of the comments above that I must have mistaken the route from Bicester to Paddington but I am happy to see that point confirmed here:

    “In an attempt to compete with the LNWR’s London–Birmingham route, and also speed up goods traffic between London and the west-coast port at Birkenhead, the GWR took advantage of an existing partnership with the Great Central Railway (GCR) to build a new, direct route referred to as the Great Western and Great Central Joint Railway. This enabled the GCR to run faster services than had been possible on the Metropolitan Railway route through Aylesbury and Amersham, which was congested with stopping trains.

    The new route started at Northolt Junction in Middlesex, from which two lines ran southward:
    a direct line, referred to as the New North Main Line, towards London Paddington via Greenford and Old Oak Common, built by the GWR. This line also included a triangular junction at Greenford, providing access to the 1838 Great Western Main Line via Castle Bar Park…”

    Or am I still mistaken? Do please tell me.

    So, in theory, to date, you can still do you want with the ‘Greenford Branch’ and maybe TfL/DfT & Co. will need to be told that it must not be isolated for ever more, whether or not trains stop at Castlebar Park (sorry Castlebar!)

    Surely TfL wouldn’t want to complicate the Central Line further by electrifying it on the fourth rail and forming some form of a Greenford loop from Ealing Broadway via West Ealing by somehow adding further tracks (or a reversible single track) parallel to the GW main line or in tunnel? So it would have to retain its dedicated stock and presumably TfL wouldn’t want to maintain it as it has no facilities for doing so. It’s certainly nothing to do with the Anglia network, so I don’t understand the mind behind DfT (if there is one) for suggesting the trade-off.

    Oops! That reminds me to comment that I cannot support any of the Romford – Upminster tram suggestions so far made above. Reasons? Only one to three trams would be required to meet the service interval and route length. There are no dedicated facilities to maintain them and certainly not Upminster Depot without adding ‘millions’ to the infrastructure within its walls. A wheel lathe alone costs some £7 million these days. Their rolling stock would be unique to the area – if they weren’t, they would be referred to as “Underground Trains”. To utilise another tram depot maintenance facility would require transfer by road.

    Trams are normally thought of as being required to cater for day-long or peak passenger loadings in excess of some 8,000 per hour in each direction up to about, say 14,000. In other words, they serve the middle ground where buses cannot cope but the potential traffic will not (never?) be sufficient to warrant – in normal circumstances, N.B. – a heavy rail service. The Romford branch should ‘think itself lucky’ that it has survived at all. Even then, I guess that part of its function when closure was mooted long ago was to form some part of a diversionary route for passengers (not through trains as such). Indeed, the one and only time I used the Romford branch end-to-end was to change between Eastern Region trains during weekend engineering work at the London end on the Liverpool Street route. It is classed as a rural line. Need I say more? Questions welcome.

    P.S. Perhaps the Parry’s People Mover could be used but I gather that the present version is perhaps, how shall I say, not mature yet.

  82. Greg Tingey says:

    CHI already gets 4 tph & as far as EDR does as well – it’s just the last two stops to ENF (including the terminus) or the longer trot to CHN that have a half-hourly service, since the 4tph splits @ EDR into 2x2tph …..
    What CHI, HIP,WST, WHC, SJS (& CPT?) need is a 10-minute service …….
    AND the CHI service remains ¼-hourly up to the very last train @ 01.03 – which I expect to catch on Saturday morning …..
    So, the “improvement” possible from the transfer to OvergrounD is limited, since there are still the pathing constraints, most especially once you are past BET & on the two tracks down the bank, to LST.
    I expect that post-Xr1, more paths will become available, but are they not likely to be taken up by longer-distance services? After all, the AM rush services from HFE were so rammed that Greater Anglia started running timetabled extras from BXB to relieve the pressure – and now both sets of trains are filling up. ( I mean, of course, that they are now both full-&-maybe-standing at TOM, but it used to be that a morning up from HFE would disgorge something over 300 passengers @ TOM & then leave for LST still full-&-standing!)

    The section of the Wiki article you quote does not seem to indicate, that, of course, there was also the direct line from GFD towards OOC & PAD, which was, of course, pure GWR track. Most trains to PAD went direct, of course, but the two triangles at both ends of the GFD branch were & are very, very useful. Which is another reason why permanently closing the last bit up to OOC (to save 2d) for HS2 seems so terribly short-sighted.

    (All stations herein described by official codes, especially for GF – referring to a comment on another thread, & also as a demonstrator – do we really want to do this? I suspect not.)

  83. Castlebar says:

    @ Graham Feakins

    Very interesting, and I shall respond in full later, when time permits.

    @ GrT WTF ?

  84. RichardB says:

    @Greg I found your last post interesting but to be honest some of the station abbreviations mean nothing to me for example BXB, HFE and TOM. I understand the desire for brevity but without a key such posts imply the site is only for a small group of enthusiasts who prefer such codes. It actually reduces the accessibility of the site and the impact of your post.

  85. Littlejohn says:

    References to the Parry People Mover are interesting. There is a planned stretch of the PPM – the Class 139/2. It looks a bit like the GWR AEC (or Hardy) Railcars. However, the future of the PPM is complicated by the Winding Up order on Parry Associates by the High Court on July 8th. The latest update from the company is here:

  86. John Bull says:

    Quick Note: The Use of Acronyms and Abbreviations

    I think Graham’s point has merit – this is something I’ve been thinking about for sometime (in terms of how we approach acronyms in comments). Station codes and suchlike are all well and good but not everyone is fluent in them.

    I think, for now, people should assume that the guidelines are the same as that which LR posters themselves have to follow. Which is:

    1) Any acronym or abbreviation already used in the article is fair game. As are the likes of DfT, TfL and GLA – i.e. “top-level” government or national bodies where an expectation of familiarity is fair. Similarly tph (“trains per hour”) and things like mph etc. are fair.

    2) Any other acronym or abbrieviation should be preceded by at least one instance of it being spelt out in full. So things such as station codes are acceptable, as long as the first time they are used is something like:

    “At Chingford (CHI) there are already four trains an hour. If you wanted to increase the service between here and Liverpool Street (LIV) then you could do CHI – LIV…”

    Personal Note: I’d rather people didn’t use station codes – my own opinion is that, generally speaking, if your comment is long enough that it needs them then you may want to think about whether it’s too long to begin with. Also, I hate comments that read like they’re a list of moves in a Diplomacy Game (A CHI – Liv, F Bet – PAD). I appreciate that others find them useful though.

    Obviously, as usual, the above should be treated as a general guideline, and we reserve the right to completely and arbitrarily ignore our own guidelines when moderating comments. Such is life.

  87. timbeau says:

    @Graham F

    The New North Line is still there, and still has a passenger service – a once a day “Parliamentary” from South Ruislip to Paddington (1102) and return (1136). But although it goes via Greenford, it doesn’t call there – the through platforms are long gone – and it takes the direct route to Old Oak Common parallel to the Central Line, rather than the dogleg via Ealing Broadway. The former Great Western service from Birmingham Snow Hill was diverted, first via Reading (operated, oddly, by Cross Country) but more recently restored to the High Wycombe route and diverted to Marylebone as part of Chiltern’s operation.
    Some time in the 1980s, when its traffic appeared to be in terminal decline, there was a proposal to convert Marylebone into a road coach station, with its train services to Aylesbury transferred (back!) to Baker Street, and those to Wycombe and Banbury handled by Paddington.

  88. Castlebar says:

    @ John Bull

    I have only recently discovered that WTF doesn’t mean “Watford”

    But to parody an old joke from my mis-spent youth, many years ago,

    “I used to think 38D was a bus route – until I discovered Smirnoff”

  89. Pedantic of Purley says:

    I think with station codes it is definitely not a “everybody knows it” thing. If is wasn’t for the National Rail website and, more particularly, modern timetable apps, then I doubt if anyone would know them externally. Indeed, why would they even know of their existence? And even people that use them on apps tend to only remember a few stations that they frequently use.

    Their usage seemed to get popular when staff used them (or at least the Underground ones which don’t always match the National Rail ones) on District Dave’s or their own website then other people copied doing it thinking they were being clever. One of the problems is unless you really know them and the system well or know quite a bit of history some of them are not obvious at all. DKT, ELW, ZFD are some that spring to mind. And believe it or not they do change! Smitham was SMT but the station name changed to Coulsdon Town whilst the code remained SMT but on checking up I have discovered the code is now CDN.

    Personally I struggle to see any benefit. I also dislike it when you get a TLA that looks like a station code. I once spent a while pondering where TLK was (and it wasn’t Greg on this occasion) only for it to eventually dawn on me that the commenter was referring to Thameslink.

  90. Littlejohn says:

    @timbeau. I’m not sure that the single journey from South Ruislip to Paddington is a Parliamentary. Isn’t it more to do with maintaining route knowledge in case the line from Northolt Junction is unavailable? Such as here:

  91. timbeau says:

    To put you out of your misery,
    DorKing wesT,
    ELtham (Well hall, as the old station was called before it was re-sited to make way for the A2 Rochester Way Relief Road ) ,
    (Z)FarringDon – it helps to know that stations not owned by National Rail have a Z-prefix

    I did compose an email translating all the “TLA”s Greg used, but the computer swallowed it and life’s too short to do it all again. For anyone sufficiently interested, study of a diagram of the NE London routes to be taken over by the Mayor should shed some light on it.

    Although the Greenford branch does not see any regular long distance services, it is sometimes used to turn HSTs round (they can end up “back to front” for example if they are diverted to run from Bristol Parkway to London via Bath rather than direct, or from Exeter to london via Yeovil).
    In 2008, when the West Coast Main Line was blocked, Virgin ran some Euston – Birmingham passenger services via Willesden, Acton Main Line, Ealing Broadway, Greenford, High Wycombe, Banbury, Leamington and Coventry

  92. timbeau says:

    You wouldn’t need to run in passenger service to maintain route knowledge. I suspect “route knowledge” is a figleaf and the runs are really to avoid going through the closure process.

  93. Malcolm says:

    @Littlejohn You are probably right about the journey being a route-knowledge one. But there seems to be a need for an umbrella term that applies to an infrequent service, probably not meeting a conventional transport need (people actually needing to make that journey at that time) but run for some other reason.

    Reasons might include: avoiding/postponing the need to formally close something (these trains are often referred to as parliamentaries, arguably incorrectly), or maintaining route knowledge among drivers and/or signallers, or stopping the rails from getting rusty, or getting trains to/from depots, or turning trains round to even up wear on wheels. They would also include the original parliamentary trains, which were run because parliament said they must be.

  94. Twopenny Tube says:

    @ Castlebar: In my mis-spent youth, 38D meant Staveley Shed when I discovered Ian Allan.

  95. Mark Townend says:

    @Graham Feakins, 03:49, 19 September 2013

    If a Romford – Upminster light rail scheme was combined with Upminster – Grays via a connection around the back of Upminster depot and street running through Cranham along Front Lane, then a larger fleet of LRVs, maybe 4 or 5 units, would be required. They would not need entirely separate facilities at Upminster, possibly being able to share some of the maintenance equipment such as a wheel lathe with the sub surface stock based at the depot (assuming tools and settings can be changed on modern plant), and most importantly their maintenance could take advantage of the skills and time of the existing technical staff; hence an entirely separate rolling stock maintenance organisation may not be required. Alternatively Galleons Reach DLR depot is a but short road haul away if their skills or prices are more compelling for anything more than day to day servicing.

  96. Whiff says:

    Twopenny Tube – re your comment yesterday: Stratford and Canning Town now also have escalators UP to the platform.

  97. Pedantic of Purley says:


    Sorry but no. If ELW is ELtham Well hall (i.e. it has the old name) then logically it follows that DKT is DorKing Town. Surely if it were to match the current name, Dorking West, it would have been DKW?

  98. ngh says:

    Re Pedantic of Purley
    09:45, 19 September 2013

    Is it worth having an approved abbreviations / styles list to solve the “TLK” issue? So there aren’t multiple abbreviations used (even if spelt out in full on first use) by different commenters on the same article… (How many variations of HEx in this comment stream alone?)
    i.e. Thameslink is TL, Crossrail is CR [or CR1 if crossrail 2 proposals are being discussed]
    And try to avoid having any 3 letter acronyms that could be confused for station codes i.e. use of appropriate formatting i.e. DfT rather than DFT for example.
    tph always in lower case following John Bulls example?

    And where does Old Oak Common (OOC) come into this as it isn’t a station code (yet)?

    Train Operating Company abbreviations are an interesting one as some use their own acronym frequently to the public (SWT & FCC) and some don’t (Southern / SN).

    London Bridge are we talking about the station or the bridge as both have come up in separate LR discussions? 😉

  99. Jeremy says:

    @Timbeau: Not just in 2008, either. Mainly they’re not to Birmingham, but rather to Nuneaton via Coventry for connections. Latest were, IIRC, the late August Bank Holiday.

  100. timbeau says:


    I didn’t invent the codes, I’m only trying to work out the logic – I don’t know how old the codes are, but DKT may indeed have been allocated when the station was “Town” rather than “West”.

    The limitations of three letters sometimes lead to the same word being abbreviated in different ways – for example in DKG for Dorking itself but plain DK when part of Dorking West. In Greg’s post WST, WHC and SJS all have in Walthamstow in their names: WST could be any of them but is in fact Wood STreet.

    There are some elephant traps too – put Waterloo (WLO) to Charing Cross (CHC) into the Journey Planner for a five hour, four train, Odyssey.

  101. Castlebar says:

    Which TOC will be at OOC? AFAIK HS2.

    O, WTF, this thread has been diverted off piste (the GWR new route to Brum via GFD), and personally I do struggle with some of the acronyms that some writers often use quite casually as they consider them to be common knowledge in the public domain.

    I therefore agree with John Bull’s excellent posting of 09:21 and will adhere to it with all my own future postings

  102. REVUpminster says:

    An argument against Light Rail as opposed to a tram on the Romford- Upminster section is the (definitely) one or two (possibly) pedestrian crossings on the line. Although to counter myself there was, and maybe still is, a pedestrian crossing just east of Upminster depot on the C2C with 60mph trains passing.

  103. Greg Tingey says:

    John Bull … & everyone, actually ….
    Station 3-letter codes can be got from the Timetable planner front page of the National Rail website … HERE:
    Typing in the code gives you the station & vice versa …
    I admit it was a try-on, but I don’t think, as I said earlier, that we really want to do this – unless, of course, one follows a station name with it’s code & then uses the code thereafter, for brevity ???? – JB’s point (2) – agreed.

    Not so sure, there still is some freight using those routes & it is certainly used for ECS workings & stock-transfers …

    Thameslink = slink
    Crossrails, should be either CR1, 2, etc, or Xr1, Xr2 …..
    OOC has been used a lot recently, so I assume we all currently know what that means – but no, of course it isn’t a station (yet)

  104. Max Roberts says:

    Usage of Emersom Park, South Greenford, Castle Bar Park, and Drayton Green are all staggeringly low, and by itself this might look like a sound argument for letting the lines rot away. This is the British-Rail-in-the-1970s approach to transport planning. However, a look at the satelite images tells me that both of these lines have a useful catchment area. So, what is going wrong?

    Take a look at the satelite image for one of the most useless stations on the Underground: Roding Valley. The service is only every 20 minutes (less hassle to get a bus to Woodford?), what little housing there is is low density, and most of the catchment area is park or woodland. Yet somehow, this station attracts around double the entries of any of the above listed stations.

    The implication for me is that Ealing-Greenford and Romford-Upminster are both currently supplied with such a monumentally bad and pointless rail service that demand is being suppressed. Romford-Upminster has the disdavantage of being single track throughout, but with a better frequency of trains, and the opening of Crossrail, Ealing-Greenford has the potential for considerable improvement.

  105. John Bull says:

    Crossrail is CR1 if you really need to abbreviate such a short name. And that’s because CR2 exists in spirit, if not yet in fact, as a clearly defined line. Similarly saying “Old Oak Common (OOC)” takes care of that particular problem easy enough.

  106. Mark Townend says:

    @REVUpminster, 13:14, 19 September 2013

    Light rail, tram etc . . . I dislike such rigid distinctions. A particular rail system can be designed suitable for the application, the only thing we can be sure of it is not conventional heavy rail of the traditional national rail or LU varieties.

    My Romford – Grays proposal would ideally be equipped with high platform vehicles (to suit existing stations) powered via the existing OHLE converted to low voltage DC for Romford – Upminster, and provided new around the depot and on the short street section. There are options for the power solution onwards to Grays depending on whether this section would remain accessible for other heavy rail traffic, but it could remain 25kV, requiring the LRVs to be dual voltage equipped, with switch-over accomplished at a new stop at the the south end of Front Lane in Cranham near the B187 roundabout, or if the Grays line was to become solely light rail, that section could also be converted to DC, allowing simpler vehicles. There would be no DLR – style automation, but apart from street running along Front Lane the system would be largely on segregated track ensuring reliable operation. New stations and passing loops could be constructed as required between Romford and Upminster, and these could incorporate pedestrian level crossings as customary on tram/LRT systems in Croydon and Manchester, reducing the capital cost of access arrangements. If some residual heavy rail operation remained on the Upminster – Grays section then any new stations there would have to follow heavy rail practice, avoiding new level crossings.

  107. Twopenny Tube says:

    @ Max Roberts
    You ask, “What is going wrong?” having looked at a satellite picture of the area surrounding Emerson Park. Have a look at the North-East (NE) London bus map, there are three routes that pass the station and between them, they offer access to Hornchurch and Romford among other destinations. In fact, it is no more than a 10 minute walk down to Hornchurch town centre, where there are plenty of buses to Upminster as well.

    Emerson Park was built a few years after the line was opened, to serve a new ‘posh’ housing estate (‘Great Nelmes’ used to be part of the station name), much as the nearby Gidea Park (and Squirrels Heath) was. Subsequently, Gidea Park has had the advantage of being on a regular and frequent suburban service and a lot more housing in its catchement area. and still thrives. I suggest that Emerson Park, and any suggested intermediate stations (at least one other was proposed in Midland Railway days I believe), are far from critical (but I wouldn’t go as far as to say irrelevant) to discussions about the future of the line.

    Taking as an example, Brentwood Road which has been mentioned as a stop, if a Light Railway or Tram conversion took place. (This is the second road bridge after leaving Romford). There are three buses to Romford from that location, and unless the trams were at very short intervals, I can’t see the 3 or 4 minutes saved on the journey as being very attractive . Also, the line arrives in Romford with the further challenge of two flights of stairs to get back to street level. Would people seeking to continue their journey by rail (and they have stairs to contend with to change platforms) outnumber those who want to walk or bus from the station?

  108. Anonymous says:

    The users of Roding Valley are mostly commuters who want a choice of seat before the train gets to Woodford, in London with a dense bus network why would you want to use either of the branches? If they were part of longer lines then it would be worth catching the train – but as a passenger I know there are plenty of trains from Ealing Broadway, Romford & Upminster – so why would I inconvenience myself going to South Greenford, Castle Bar Park, Drayton Green or Emerson Park first and then waiting for the train just to go one or two stops.
    Even if you pushed the Greenford – West Ealing frequency to x10 minutes, would you bother using it as an alternative to staying on the Central Line train to London?, or get off the E11 at Castle Bar Park instead of staying on the bus to Ealing Broadway?

  109. Littlejohn says:

    @timbeau 10:18, 19th September

    Why would you want to close it? It seems useful enough (and used enough) to justify keeping it open.

  110. REVUpminster says:

    Re Twopennytube

    If a tram could be raised up at Heath Park Rd then it could street run along Victoria Rd into Romford. One boost to TFL taking over the line is that concession holders cannot use the line until the 0954hrs from Upminster when they can go on the 370 bus all day. There are ramps to all platforms at Romford and one to the street. You still have the problem of the flats in St Marys Lane and the fact that there is very few new stations that would be needed. Again the 370 bus, once it leaves Upminster can travel almost as quickly as the train to Ockendon and the concession holders go free all day. They have to pay on the C2C. It’s one of the reasons I don’t think the cost of a building a tram to Lakeside travelling mostly in Essex territory.

  111. Twopenny Tube says:

    REV Upminster
    Indeed, diverting along Victoria Road instead of alongside the main line crossed my mind. After crossing the ring road at the traffic lights, Victoria Road sees very little road traffic other than buses, so plenty of space for stops and passing loops and all, and maybe continuation into the bus layby in South Street, close to the station entrance. It might be the cue for the Council and local businesses to set about rejuvenating Victoria Road. They might be tempted to extend the run under the railway, to a terminus nearer the charity shops and pubs and tanning studios of central Romford.

    As I am sure you know, there used to be two tracks under the bridge, as there was a run round/head shunt for the former LTS/LMS goods depot on Victoria Road, and the private owner sidings round the bend – was it Hall’s? So there is a bit of leeway for the necessary gradient and curve, perhaps avoiding the need for buying bits of garden or demolishing houses.

  112. Rational Plan says:

    On the other hand, I feel crossrail has the potential to transform these routes.

    The easiest is the Greenford route. With crossrail people won’t need to rail head to Ealing Broadway anymore and since the traffic along the Uxbridge road is horrific, any local rail alternative would be welcome. 4 trains an hour is probably enough for local walk up traffic, to get people to change from the Central at Greenford to West Ealing would either require much greater frequency (8 to 10 trains an hour) or through services to West Ealing.

    I’m not sure that such a heavy investment is required. At the end of the day the Central line is only heavily loaded in the West from Ealing Broadway and with Crossrail a lot of that will divert to Crossrail anyway, there is no real need to divert them from the other branch of the Central line.

    The Upminster branch on the other hand feeds direct into the Romford rail head, and will be even more attractive after crossrail. How much quicker will crossrail be compared to the District line, a decent service and more stations could attract a lot more commuters. Though again, I struggle to see a case for more than 4 trains an hour, unless part of a much bigger scheme and the Upminster line is in a much less dense area than the Greenford branch.

  113. REVUpminster says:

    Lets not exaggerate how quick Crossrail will be. This is a metro service stopping all stations Shenfield to Liverpool St. plus Whitechapel. The time saved will be in not having to change and the longer gaps between stations in central London. A semi fast from Southend stopping at Shenfield Ilford Stratford Liverpool St will be still quicker.

  114. timbeau says:

    Quite – but you need to go through the closure process if there ceases to be a regular schedule passenger service – hence the infamous “Ghost bus” that used to run from Ealing to Wandsworth Road every Tuesday because Cross Country no longer ran a Manchester- Ramsgate service: or the 6am daily service to Croxley Green (operated by a taxi in its final days); or the weekly Stockport – Stalybridge service (one way only).

    Going back to an earlier point – why does TfL insist on showing all Overground routes on the Tube map in the same colour – and will they persist in this for the West Anglia suburban routes and the two Crossrail shuttles (for want of a better name) and indeed Crossrail itself?

    RATP manage to produce a fairly comprehensible map (given the much more intricate intertwining of its dense central area) with 16 Metro lines, 5 RER lines, 5 tram lines (there would be six but Line 4 is off the edge of the map) , the Orly Bus shuttle, the Montmartre funicular, and the SNCF “Grandes Lignes” all given their own colours – 29 of them. The Tube map uses only twelve: surely another three or four wouldn’t hurt?.

  115. SAINTSMAN says:

    I very warmly welcome TfL taking over both the Greenford and Upminster services. If TfL are genuine about rail devolution then must also solve the “problem” cases.

    Greenford as “London’s last diesel branch” makes little sense remaining part of the soon to be electrified GW-Great Western franchise (to Reading and beyond). Crossrail will take over Greenford’s GW Relief lines paths to Paddington, leaving a simple shuttle service. A new bay is being constructed at West Ealing for that purpose. This shuttle links two TfL services Crossrail and Central line, so it makes a huge amount of sense to put it fully “on the TfL map”. Bringing stations up to London Overground station standards should also help. Sorting out better access to South Greenford is a must. When GOBLIN electrification allows, I strongly argue transferring some of their 172 to run this shuttle, replacing existing stock. On current plans West Ealing will only have 4tph Crossrails calling. So a more frequent branch service does not make sense. Although the promised 4tph peak service is due to be restricted to 2tph off-peak, I hope under TfL 4tph is maintained all day everyday. The bay at Greenford, which gives useful cross platform interchange with Central line, limits trains to 2-car, without a major rebuild. Electrification was rejected as part of GW work plans and I can’t see that changing until it is Chiltern’s turn to go under wires in a future control period. So I basically and quite boringly, assume TfL doing a better job of existing plans than whoever takes over GW.

    As another self-confessed Crayonesta Greenford gives some happy distraction. District Line to Greenford looks great until you start to factor in the cost and engineering implications required to add the extra tracks. Directing some Chiltern services to West Ealing and dumping those passengers into Crossrail trains, when they are already loaded has peak, has overcrowding implications. The branch itself moves freight traffic so unless you want more freight conflicts elsewhere the branch should be retained as heavy rail. At the Greenford end you could argue to use Greenford west junction and join onto the Acton-Northolt Line (New North Main Line – NNML) to link up with Chiltern trains. Extra Greenford platforms would be required on the “mainline”. My personal preference is run to a new bay at South Ruislip skipping Northolt – but there are many other options. (Chiltern would swap West for South Ruislip). By adding an extra bay at West Ealing, a further 4tph could run (repeating if room to make 12tph). But you only do this if / when more Crossrails call at West Ealing. Until Crossrail’s timetable settles down and Reading extension, Old Oak Common, WRAtH and Heathrow services become finalised there seems little point planning beyond the 4tph shuttle.

    @ Benedict – Like the “Crossrail Connect” branding idea. Orange lines not connected to LO “orbit” won’t make much visual sense to the casual user.

  116. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Saintsman – your first comment is telling – “I very warmly welcome TfL taking over both the Greenford and Upminster services. If TfL are genuine about rail devolution then must also solve the “problem” cases.” You make it seem as if Silverlink Metro was not a problem case when it was taken over. OK it had growing patronage but pretty much everything else was a shambles – nasty stations, fare evasion, unreliability, horrible overcrowding and no inherited strategy (from Silverlink) to do anything about it. OK TfL had a strategy about what it wanted to do and it had money to deliver it. I think we can reasonably conclude that TfL has resolved those inherited problems but success has brought further problems for it to deal with. We are at the beginning of the work to see if the next stage of improvement can be delivered with little pain for the vastly larger number of passengers. That brings its own challenges.

    While I have read all the comments I do not think that TfL has anything like the same opportunity this time that it had with Silverlink Metro. If I was to be cruel, and assuming that the transfer happens, TfL are being lumbered with “problem cases” that the DfT couldn’t or didn’t want to resolve satisfactorily. This has all the hallmarks of “oh it’s in the Greater London area let’s dump it on TfL and say this is a devolved matter” as was rumoured to be the stance under Justine Greening when she was Secretary of State (SoS). I have not used either route in decades but based on the comments made they are not in good condition with very limited scope for easy improvement. Given the low patronage and revenue base there is unlikely to be any great business case other than one based on “avoiding disbenefits” (i.e. the stop the rot, do minimum option). The other problem is that given the limited scope for improvement there will be an instant “cliff edge” difference between these services and Crossrail when it opens. I note also the remarks about freight traffic on the Greenford line some of which will undoubtedly have grandfather rights to paths. This brings in all the arguments we had with some of the Overground routes and which TfL are still battling with. That restricts the ability to easily boost frequencies if that means freight paths would be lost.

    It would be nice to imagine that DfT had plans “on the shelf” to make modest improvements to both branch services and that these were to be handed to TfL together with the funding. Unfortunately a squadron of pigs have just flown past my window so we can discount that idea. Even applying the concession model to these lines offers no great opportunity as any priced revenue risk in the franchise will be tiny given the low revenue base. It really does like TfL are being handed “problem cases” that will be very hard to do much with given the lack of TfL money and hugely competing needs for what money there is. If you had a spare £25m would you spend it on your soon to be inherited West Anglia lines or a couple of tiny branch lines – hmmm? Sorry to be so gloomy but I do not see any substantive improvements being possible if TfL does gain these routes. They therefore run the risk of pulling down the perception of TfL’s rail services when set against Overground, Crossrail and West Anglia (assuming something reasonably decent can be done there).

  117. Greg Tingey says:

    REVUp …
    CR1 quicker? Maybe – we were discussing this @ Stratford (SFD) the other day, looking at (& counting) the vast flows on to the Central Line.
    From SFD to say Bond St – intermediate stops via CR1 = 4, but via Central line = 9. Which also applies, of course to the other stops all the way out to Romford, all 7 of them, if I can count correctly.
    Which means, of course that the x-platform flows @ SFD will reverse, once CR1 opens & CR1 will be rammed from day one, probably …

    Actually, if OvergrounD get “Greenford” (GFD) then it makes no sense at all to keep the present shuttle. Extending as a minimum, GFD – W Ruislip is a much better option, though platforms would have to be put in on the old GW main line again, & re-double, for a short length, at the least … um, costs? Benefits?

  118. MickH says:

    A number of points regarding the Romford-Upminster branch:
    1. Conversion to a tram would be hugely, if not prohibitively, expensive. The only available depot space might be within Upminster LUL depot but even if space was found it would require the extension of the OHL into the depot on two tracks (to allow passing) and into the depot shed which probably doesn’t have the headroom.
    2. If the money was ever found to reconnect the branch to the mainline at Upminster it would make more sense to create a fly-under west of the station and do a platform swap so that LUL took platform 6 and national rail had platform 3. In conjunction with a turn back siding this would provide numerous advantages in addition to through services of the mainline. It would allow c2c services to be held when there when the Grays branch was blocked without blocking the mainline, allow a metro service between Upminster and Fenchurch St.. and provide an additional diversionary route for the extra freight when London Gateway opens.
    3. The low off-peak passenger numbers results from a lack of commitment from the franchisee. Current services arrive/depart at Romford so as to miss the half hourly semi-fast services. They could easily be re-time to provide a route into The City quicker than Upminster to Fenchurch St. As Emerson Park is closer to Hornchurch Centre than Hornchurch LUL a little marketing would work wonders!

  119. Alan Griffiths says:

    Matt @ 19:48, 18 September 2013 link

    “paint it orange and they will come”

    You have neatly summarised the entire business careers of Stelios Haji-Ioannou

  120. Alan Griffiths says:

    Greg Tingey @ 06:59, 20 September 2013 link

    “CR1 quicker? ………… the x-platform flows @ SFD will reverse, once CR1 opens & CR1 will be rammed from day one, probably …”

    I think you’ve overstated your case, Greg. I expect that passengers will cross the platform between Central Line and Crossrail both ways at Stratford. Some will be more concerned with having a short walk at their Zone 1 destination than a quick journey on the train.

  121. REVUpminster says:

    Romford Liverpool St is 29 mins on their 10 minute Metro service.
    Upminster Fenchurch St is 23 min on their 10 minute Metro service, quicker on the 2 trains that miss Limehouse.

  122. timbeau says:

    I can’t see any of these grand plans seeing the light of day. TfL is surely getting these for no other reason than that they would otherwise be more or less “orphaned” from their existing franchisees by Crossrail. I don’t think London Underground were overjoyed to be saddled with the Epping – Ongar shuttle either.

    The timing of the transfer of the W&C to London Underground was interesting too – just before the est of the former LSWR network was put out for franchise.

    Even if the Underground were to be extended from Ealing Broadway to Greenford (at considerable expense), and the bay platform at Greenford extended, or replaced, to take an S7 (or an eight car 1992 stock train), could you really justify the cost of extending the platforms at Drayton Green, Castle Bar Park and South Greenford too? Or would you close them?
    Why would Chiltern want to run between South Ruislip and Greenford, in competition with the Central Line? They seem to have little intrest in providing a decent service on their existing inner suburban route via Northolt Park, so I doubt they would relish being asked to take on another, or have the capacity at South/West Ruislip to handle it..

  123. Crayonista-Dreama says:

    Just thinking about a West Ruislip (WRU) to Greenford shuttle service:

    If the Central line was diverted through Ruislip depot to join the Metropolitan line to Uxbridge, could the vacated Central line platforms at WRU then be used to terminate Overground trains from Greenford. The old Central line tracks would be free from WRU almost as far as Ruislip Gardens, which is where the Chiltern main line is a two track railway on a four track alignment. The two Overground lines could then be shifted northwards onto the four track alignment at that point, leaving the Central line to run on its original alignment. (A cross section of the tracks south-north at Ruislip Gardens would be: Central Line x2; Overground x2; Chiltern Main Line x2. Potentially slow down Chiltern services could use the same track as down Overground services towards WRU.)

    A bit of track slewing at Northolt Junction would be needed (as well as a rebuild of the South Ruislip Chiltern up platform), but I think (if I’m reading carto metro correctly) that the Evergreen remodelling would make this relatively simple. My only query would be whether it is possible to provide an Overground up (i.e. towards Greenford) platform at South Ruislip – this might need to be offset slightly.

  124. Mwmbwls says:

    Meanwhile back at Greenford – works are afoot

  125. Mwmbwls says:

    @Mark Townend 14:30, 19 September 2013

    If TfL, Thurrock or Network Rail were thinking of adopting your suggestion they might like to think of keeping an eye on the Sheffield Meadow Hall to Rotherham tram train experiment.
    An existing example of a high floor tram system is already to be found in Manchester,
    http:[email protected]/8029113483/in/photolist-deviH6-br4vrS-bDYvzB
    Whilst it is probable that a joined up technology solution might be drawn up on these lines I think that the politics might be somewhat more complicated.

  126. c says:

    Crayonista –

    If Uxbridge did take the Central line, then yes that could be some sort of scheme. A 4tph shuttle between the Ruislips and West Ealing might be worthwhile.

    Conversely, you could flip that so that the shuttle to West Ealing ran to Uxbridge! Putting it back on the rail map and giving it a Crossrail and Ealing connection…

    Think I prefer a full on Chiltern shuttle though, ideally with some from Gerrards Cross or High Wycombe.

  127. Whiff says:

    Does anyone know if the current plan is for the new Greenford shuttle to operate on Sundays? The Crossrail website says only that there will be 4 trains per hour at peak times.

  128. IslandDweller says:

    On the subject of station code abbreviations, earlier in the comments.
    For those of us who also follow aviation matters, it’s mildly confusing that for those airports that have a station directly connected, the codes which apply are different.
    Gatwick. IATA code LGW / station GTW
    Birminham BHX / BHI
    Manchester MAN / MIA

  129. Littlejohn says:

    More confusingly, airports have 2 completely different codes. The IATA one (which we see on our luggage) is 3 letters, as Island Dweller says. There is also a 4-letter ICAO code, which is the one used by airlines, air traffic control etc. (you will see it on the moving map as you overfly airports). Luton for example is EGGW, which sounds as though it should be Gatwick.

    There are also 3-letter IATA codes, which is what they use for airlines (eg BAW for British Airways). Railways are fairly straightforward in comparison.

    IATA = International Air Transport Association
    ICAO = International Civil Aviation Organization,

  130. SAINTSMAN says:

    @ 00:31 Walthamstow Writer – I had the regular misfortune to use the old Silverlink metro service. Sooo much better since LO took over. By “problem” I mean Greenford has been pretty much forgottem about over the years. DfT are waking up to the challenges of Great Western change program, ‘First’ don’t seem particularly interested. Given everything else going on, Greenford will be way down the list of whoever takes over. I’d rather see TfL do a few simple things to make our lives easier.

    I agree that TfL can’t splash serious cash on the branch. Hence my expectation of gradual solutions. Get the branch “on the tube map” and running 4tph all day everyday metro style are faily simple to fixes (might improve use – given the loss soon of Paddington direct). Using the GOBLIN stock once available again improves service. Greenford accessibility has already been cancelled once but is somewhere in TfLs queue. The other 3 stations need sorting out when cash allows. As for track renewal and electrifcation its a NR v TfL arm wrestle in the making.

    I’ve never travelled the Upminster route so can’t really comment but would expect it to be under same initial project plan as the Cheshunt lines (GA takeover).

    The thing about problems is if you fix them you get a much stronger case to do more. That prize being TfL Metro services south of the river.

  131. Castlebar says:

    The Greenford Branch

    A Greenford to West Ealing 4tph shuttle is the easiest option. One could ask if passenger numbers at South Greenford and Drayton Green justify anything else. Castlebar Park has only been added to the London Bus Network in recent years.

    As has been stated, the branch is a peculiar anachronism having junctions at both ends enabling rail traffic to access both Paddington or Banbury and the Midlands by leaving Castlebar Park in either direction. But from the Greenford bay, trains must head towards Castlebar as direct access to the GWR “new route” is not possible. ANY DMU/EMU longer than 3 cars would require major rebuilds at both Greenford (because of the length of the bay) and Drayton Green (because the platforms are sandwiched between Drayton Green Junction and the Drayton Bridge Road over-road bridge). No options are likely to justify the expense. This, I think, rules out ANY extensions to either District or Central Lines from Ealing Broadway. The costs would be astronomical. They might look good on a map, but you are talking MAJOR expenditure for very little additional traffic.

    There are other options. Anything other than 2 or 3 car units would require new platforms at Greenford, and Crayonistas please note that the Central Line and old GWR platforms are at different altitudes. As I said before, there was once a local election pamphlet (c. 1979)promising a new service via existing tracks from Ealing Broadway to Clapham Junction via Acton and the WLL, so using existing tracks in entirety. IF that had come about, I feel certain that traffic flows would have exceeded all expectations. But there was more chance then of seeing flying pigs than Three Wise Men in BR(W). (Especially the “W”).

    I still believe a phenomenal potential traffic opportunity was missed, because at the time, the last thing BR(W) were interested in doing was extending their suburban services. It seemed to passengers (like myself), that BR(W) would liked to have been rid of anything other than longer distance traffic. They certainly didn’t want branch lines, or anything to do with the Paddington to Wycombe route, so hence even Paddington to Birmingham traffic was routed via Reading. Yet, there was so much scope! At Drayton Green, the junction COULD now take traffic from Wycombe directly into Heathrow, and even the flying pigs could have seen that, but BR(W) couldn’t. The old GWR line from Wood Lane to North Acton was also lifted in the 70s (I think) just in case it might have come in useful later. There was NO vision then and the aura of closure by stealth was everywhere around Western Region’s suburban network, and I suspect that anyone proposing innovative schemes for new traffic flows, would not have survived there (could GH please confirm?). This was the time that suggestions for re-opening the WLL were dismissed because it had been tried and had failed 70 years previously (when effectively the WLL marked the western boundary of the London conurbation!)

    So, forget extending Central and/or District Line services westward from Ealing Bdy because it CANNOT happen. There is merit perhaps still (but for XR getting in the way) of extending Greenford – Ealing services to ClapJunc, but these would now have to be routed via Acton Wells and Willesden as the North Pole route no longer exists, nor would be practical. There is scope using the SW leg (Drayton Green – Hanwell) for (Chiltern?) Heathrow services of some kind. The North East spur (S Greenford – Paddington) looks as if it is to become S Greenford – Park Royal or oblivion, an act of crass madness because of plans for OOC. However all is not (yet) lost there, but it looks as if it will be.

    The most interesting prospects come at the S Greenford – Greenford end. There has been a call for many years to develop a service from the Central line to access Uxbridge. Opportunities have been lost, but it is still ‘doable’. IMHO (and others) consider that this would be the best way to find a new route to Uxbridge as those planning re-opening West Drayton to Uxbridge Vine Street should throw their crayons away now. IT CANNOT BE DONE. Similarly, I have seen crayonistas’ schemes (on another site) to put a new line into the old Uxbridge High Street station from Harefield and Denham that are even wilder.

    The line DOES have potential, but it also needs logical thought processes to concentrate on what can be done and what cannot. Doing nothing at all, (the favoured option since 1948) is no longer an option.

  132. SAINTSMAN says:

    Sorry my comment “Greenford accessibility has already been cancelled once but is somewhere in TfLs queue.” is out of date see Mwmbwls 20:30 20th Sept

  133. Littlejohn says:

    Sorry, correction. The 3-letter airline codes are ICAO. I said it was confusing.

  134. stimarco says:


    In fairness, Gatwick Airport station was originally named “Gatwick Racecourse” and predates the present airport. (Gatwick Aerodrome had its own station a little to the south, with a direct subway link to “The Beehive” – Gatwick’s first terminus, built in the 1930s and still standing today, albeit converted into offices. – that’s what Gatwick used to look like, as seen from an approaching aircraft. “The Beehive” is the circular building in the middle of the big concrete apron. Almost not trace exists today of the station you can see in that photo.)

  135. mr_jrt says:

    As an addendum to this discussion, those who read the comments on here regularly may be aware that I advocate a branch of the Jubilee line from Neasden to serve Wembley Stadium station on the Chiltern route using the former 4-track alignment. Whilst there is certainly opportunity to continue this along the Chiltern line which was mostly originally 4-track), it wasn’t all the way to Northolt Junction, and a significant factor in the stations beyond Wembley Stadium having such poor usage is due to them practically being on the doorstep of Piccadilly line stations on the Uxbridge branch.

    So, with that in mind, lets “break out the crayons”. From Sudbury and Harrow Road, dive down and head via Greenford Green (potential new underground station) to the Greenford branch, either rising up in the centre of the triangle, or with a slightly wider curve, passing closer to Greenford station (with underground platforms for NR interchange), before rising up around the junction.

  136. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Saintsman – I don’t disagree with TfL trying to do what it can if these lines transfer. However I must come back to money. Crossrail has a tightly controlled budget but TfL is being pressured to find extra millions to make all “inherited” stations accessible. Goodness knows where that money is coming from. We must also remember that there have been disputes about finding money for extra seats and replacing metal panels with glass or plastic on shelters at GOBLIN stations. It took ages to find money to drag Blackhorse Rd GOBLIN platforms to something like the spec elsewhere on the line. This all boils down to tight finances but involves piddling amounts of cash. The government has taken £225m out of TfL’s revenue grant which is what pays for concession payments thus leaving the scope for discretionary spend on rail matters as negligible. The capital budget is also tight given the effective scrapping of the Deep Tube Programme and deciding to keep 72 stock running until it can draw its old age pension.

    I can see how merging in Romford – Upminster as an outpost of the Crossrail and / or West Anglia concession contract is feasible. One or two units of 315 stock is no great issue and I assume trains will be maintained at Temple Mills or Ilford (is it still open?) depot along with other WA stock. Lumping in diesel workings to the Crossrail concession makes no great sense as it’ll all be costly and marginal work. Logic would say keep the CL172s (as you suggest) and somehow get them to and from Willesden depot for maintenance where there is knowledge. However once GOBLIN is electric will TfL have any interest in running a tiny fleet of 3 or 4 DMUs for a tiny line in West London? I mean really? I just don’t see it.

    If I go into demented crayon wielding mode and imagine money is no object then we could run that nice planned Hendon to Old Oak service down to Ealing Broadway and then up to Greenford and West Ruislip. It is a shame that paths are seemingly going to be so scarce through Ealing on the local (CR1) lines that an orbital service (of some form) couldn’t be entertained. Even as a short term measure Greenford to Willesden Junction via Ealing Broadway would make sense given the connections it would permit. Still time to put the crayons and over full piggy bank away and wake up to the real world 🙂

  137. Graham Feakins says:

    @ Mwmbwls 10:30, 20 Sept – Bodies like TfL always make me smile when their blurb states something to be “innovative” when it’s nothing of the sort. There are dozens of such inclined lifts in Germany, for example, as witness here in Düsseldorf:

    Spot the tram. Couldn’t be much closer a connection to the U-trams below.

  138. John Bull says:

    I’m pretty certain Crossrail are doing one somewhere as well – although I can’t for the life of me remember where off the top of my head.

  139. Castlebar says:

    @mr_jrt (13:43)

    I’ve just read……………”So, with that in mind, lets “break out the crayons”. From Sudbury and Harrow Road, dive down and head via Greenford Green (potential new underground station) to the Greenford branch, either rising up in the centre of the triangle, or with a slightly wider curve, passing closer to Greenford station (with underground platforms for NR interchange), before rising up around the junction.”

    ………..and wondering why I bothered, being certain that there is no point in my continuing.

    May I politely ask if you have any local knowledge (of Greenford/Sudbury)??

    I suspect not.

  140. Greg Tingey says:

    DfT are waking up to the challenges of Great Western change program … like does CR1 go to Reading … or not, you mean?

  141. mr_jrt says:

    Responding equally politely, I’m from outer NW London, have a few friends and friends-of-friends in that general area, and my sister lives in Northolt, so I’ve driven around more than a few times, and my brother uses the Met around that area to visit friends, so I have some idea of connectivity around the top end of that area.

    I’m curious what difference you think local knowledge has to these connectivity musings (and lets be honest, that’s all anything on sites like these are unless you want to fork out £60k for a actual study?) Opening up orbital routes is just as good at creating new usage patterns as enabling existing ones. Not everyone wants to go straight to zone 1, and sometimes an orbital route with interchanges is just as good, if not indeed better, depending on circumstances. Case in point, an orbital Jubilee branch as proposed interchanging with a Crossrail branch at Greenford (or South Ruislip) enables quick access to zone one if desired (as would also be the case at the southern end at West Ealing), but also enables access to vast swathes of nearby areas which would otherwise require several buses to (slowly) navigate. The economics of operating as part of a larger route rather than a shuttle also stack up well as you get much better utilisation of the assets, i.e. you don’t need dedicated rolling stock, you can just project some services from further down the line to provide the service.

  142. SAINTSMAN says:

    @Greg 14: 23 20th Spet – DfT are waking up to the challenges of Great Western change program …like does CR1 go to Reading … or not, you mean?
    Crossrail 1 to Reading – protected but not approved. My language was deliberately loose as strong expectation it will happen – it just adds to the pressures. Larger point is that IEP, electrification, Crossrail, WRAtH, Then Valley lines, a couple of redualing schemes, Bristol Metro and Exeter plans, with Tavistock and other Devon and Cornish requests thrown in for good measure – whoever is running GW franchise will need a lot of skill or luck to keep service levels acceptable in the next 3-5 years. ‘First’ seem to have cold feet on the franchise extension. With DOR – Directly Operated Railways waiting to pick up the mess. With all that going on a small 5 stop diesel branch, isolated from the rest of GW with relatively low passnger numbers is unlikely to get much attention. So Greenford is much better off with Tfl even if money is tight.

    @Walthamstow writer – 3 upgrading Greenfords inherited stations can’t cost more than £10M, great deal less I suspect. But there is a queue of other schemes so I’m not advocating an immediate fix. GOBLIN has waited years for a few shelters.

  143. timbeau says:

    Doesn’t the inclined lift at the Millennium Bridge count as public transport? (not to mention numreous seaside cliff railways – Hastings, Lynton, Bridgnorth (not at the seaside) etc)

  144. Castlebar says:

    @ mr_jrt

    A) Would you go over or under the canal?

    B) In view of the incline up Sudbury Hill, is there any steeper from a starting point “under the Greenford triangle” to Sudbury on the whole LO/LU network? Especially with A) above in the way.

    C) Do you think people in “Greenford Green” actually want a railway there? I am certain they have never asked for one, even when I was involved with local politics in that very ward, but I invite you here to prove me wrong.

    Do you honestly think there is a traffic flow from Sudbury & Harrow Road to South Greenford , Drayton Green or West Ealing? Again, prove me wrong.

    In my article of 12:54 I considered all sensible proposals that I have seen to date. I’m afraid I cannot add yours to that list.

    PS. Don’t forget the canal

  145. Anonymous says:

    Using a clutch pencil instead of a crayon, I think MickH third point gets to the heart of the matter, just make the Romford – Upminster branch connect with the fast London trains at Romford, and then aspire to a standard x15 minute frequency on the Greenford – West Ealing branch.
    My earlier point about marketing the lines as branches of the the Central (Greenford) and District (Upminster) is about the ease of marketing – as Overground they would be isolated branches, as Crossrail Connect there would be expectations about frequency which can’t be met.
    As an alternative brand I was thinking about NOVO – NOt Very frequent Overground.

  146. Castlebar says:

    @ Anon 17:35

    I think Crossrail Connect is a spectacularly good idea

  147. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Saintsman – I accept that stations can be tarted up for not a lot of money *unless* people want them to be accessible. There is already great pressure to make Crossrail accessible and with Greenford being done then the politicians and lobbyists immediately turn their attention to anything nearby – especially if branded “Crossrail Connect”. A quick whizz through the photos of the stations on the National Rail website shows the stations would all require a fair bit of work to make them accessible – South Greenford is closest to being accessible.

    My other concern is what state is the infrastructure in? If it’s all fine and in good nick with reasonable speed and capacity then fine. If not then you end up with TfL having to pay if it desires more capacity through better signalling or higher line speeds. I know we are not talking about a high speed line but even a couple of minutes can make the difference between a robust or shoddy timetable. People have already talked about installing extra tracks, points and signals on the Romford – Upminster line to bolster frequency. Once you touch the infrastructure for this sort of work you are talking about bringing it up to current standards and we know that is not cheap.

    I note many posters here only ever talk about the cost of something and usually then only the bricks and mortar (capital) cost. This is to miss the point about ongoing costs from TfL’s more expensive operating model as well as any benefits. One very telling aspect of looking at the station photos is the palable back of ticket purchasing facilities. One tiny ticket office at Castle Bar Park and a small ticket hall at West Ealing which also has a ticket machine. All the other stations have no ticket machines presumably due to vandalism concerns. There are Oyster validators. Do these shuttles operate as “pay trains” with the guards doing revenue duties or have FGW simply given up? As an aside I watched the C5 programme on FGW last night where protecting revenue at Reading in the evening seemed to be a revolutionary concept despite them clearly knowing hundreds of students travel for nothing. TfL would, I assume, want to repeat the Overground concept with staff and ticketing facilities being provided at all of these stops. Given the lack of ticketing facilities it makes me wonder whether any money is earnt on these lines where people travel between “open” stations. I still wonder about there being a proper business case for anything other than the most basic of “tarting up” exercises on these lines.

  148. mr_jrt says:

    I’m inclined (if you’ll excuse the pun) to say under the canal, but I’m aware of the 20-odd metre drop between Sudbury & Harrow Road station and Greenford. However, given modern rolling stock and the distances involved, I don’t see this gradient as too great a impediment. Depends on what works out best for the rough objectives. I suspect anything connecting these points would have to be underground. If anything, the hill is a boon as it enables a underground routing to be realised much easier. I’ve generally proposed West Ruislip as my preferred terminus, I merely mentioned the Greenford branch as an idea.

    As I tried to point out, there may not be much of an existing traffic flow as as there isn’t really a service to offer one. If all you do is try to handle existing traffic flows you don’t really get anywhere beyond concentrating demand. I’m sure there were people like you wondering why to build anything new at all as it wouldn’t cater to existing flows. Why build new roads Mr Roman Emperor, the British tribes are happy in their villages, why build these new railways as the people living in towns are happy staying in them, why build the underground as people are happy taking trams or omnibuses, why build the…you get the idea.

    The point is not so much end to end journeys as making the route part of a longer one for the economies of scale. If the Northern line extension of the 1920s was a standalone project you really think it would wash its face as a shuttle between Edgware and Golders Green? Or the Piccadilly between Finsbury Park and Cockfosters? Hell, by your own examples, why reintroduce passenger services on the West London Line? We tried them 70 years ago and they didn’t work. 😉

  149. SAINTSMAN says:

    @Walthamstow writer – I absolutely agree, tarting up the Greenford stations is one thing. The BIG cost is the track renewal, signallaling and eventual electrification = its about 4.3km. Its been a long time.

    This lead to some to question the original omission (electrification in this case) including Railwatch No134 Dec 2012 who
    “Either this is simply an oversight, or since it is entirely within Greater London, possibly like the Gospel Oak line,the Government is waiting for Transport for London to pick up the tab.”

    If NR still own the rails then in theory then they will eventually do the work. I’m sure with TfL (rather than GW) running the services they will be after a larger contribution. The ‘when’ will be down to politcs (and money). At the moment it would be at least CP6 (mid 2020s). If TfL push and wave cash it might be earlier – but that depends on both delivering the greater effiicencies. Without higher passenger numbers is this the highest priority? Being a shuttle the key is not necesarily quicker journey times (however much as passengers we desire) but the ability to consistently operate on time with 2 trains. An extra minute or two saved would be a major help to on time metrics.

  150. timbeau says:

    @mr JRT
    I’m not sure your examples are comparable
    The Roman Roads were not built for the benefit of the British tribes – on the contrary, they were to facilitate the army’s job in keeping them under control – as, 1500 years later, the General Wade roads were built after the Jacobite rebellions exposed the Hanoverian regime’s weakness
    If the Tube extensions of the 1920s were indeed not standalone projects but projected services out into areas previously unserved, providing those areas, for the first time, with services to central London (in some cases, like the Piccadilly extension, there was a main line through the area but it had bigger long-distance passenger and freight to fry and didn’t want the commuter traffic)
    But, for all its lack of joined-up connectivity, NW London is well-served with tube lines to London. By all means maximise the use of what we have, but I really can’t see that this link meets a long-felt want: there are already several more direct routes from the Greenford and Ealing area to central London than this Jubilee extension would offer.
    If there really is a pent-up demand to travel between, say, Neasden and Ealing, not met by the existing opportunities via Rayners Lane or the 112 bus, there are cheaper ways of resolving it than building a new tunnel: the proposed Old Oak Interchange for example, or providing a passenger service on the Dudden Hill line.

  151. mr_jrt says:

    Well, yes. The roads was a deliberately contrived (bad) example that was actually aware of…but I post on here whilst doing other things so I try to spend as long thinking about a reply on here as you might down the pub with a pint in your hand 🙂

    The point I’m trying to convey is that the Greenford branch won’t be anything more than a backwater and thus won’t see worthwhile investment until it’s part of a longer route. Passengers don’t need to be making end-to-end journeys on a longer route, it just makes it cheaper to run. I don’t really care how that happens, be it an idle musing of connecting it to the Chiltern route to Neasden, a branch of Crossrail, an extension of the tube from Ealing Broadway, or a branch of amother-desired msuing – the GWML metro.

    If your route involves a tube then a bus then a tube you probably won’t do it unless it’s a special occasion. Buses are unreliable, get stuck in traffic, don’t have very good timetables, etc., so you certainly don’t want them in the middle of your journey. Anything that enables you to have simple in-station interchanges between orbital routes is a winner in my book.

  152. timbeau says:

    @mr Jrt

    Indeed, but the nature of orbital traffic is that any given route can only serve a relatively small group – those who happen to want to travel between two places on the same orbit. Unless there is a significant people for whom your route is, as you put it, “a winner in their book” too, I can’t see the investment washing its face. Ideally, yes, if there was an infinite pot of money, it might be desirable, but real tunnel boring machines cost a lot more than virtual ones. (And a short tunnel costs a lot more per mile than a long one).

    And extending the Jubilee to West Ealing via Greenford still doesn’t answer the question that any extension (be it District, Central, Chiltern, Crossrail, Overground (via Acton Wells, either from Stratford or from Clapham Junction), or HS2(!) – how do you accommodate longer trains at Drayton Green et al: at present the traffic those stations attract don’t even justify the cost of installing a ticket machine there!

    A Jubilee extension from Neasden to West Ruislip, with the Central diverted to Uxbridge looks a possibility, but really I think Northolt Park et al are on borrowed time.

  153. Castlebar says:

    @ mr_jrt & timbeau

    The diversion of the Central beyond Ruislip Gdns to Ickenham, Hillingdon and Uxbridge is an idea that has had local support for years, and is an idea I also support wholeheartedly.

    If the Picc were curtailed at Rayners, with a few extra peak journeys to Ruislip (only), would that also release 2 or 3 Picc trains for Heathrow services?? More Chilterns should call at both W & S Ruislip, but then, should some of these go on to West Ealing OR even Heathrow via Drayton Green – Hanwell chord ?? But I don’t think Heathrow would want 3 car Chiltern trains at a max of 3tph

  154. Anonymous says:

    Diesel trains would not be able to operate to Heathrow, so any such proposals would require the electrification of the Greenford branch.

  155. Will says:

    @Anon 18:55

    … not to mention of the Chiltern line itself.

  156. Top Banana says:

    14:43, 18 September 2013
    “I travel to Heathrow a lot, and being fairly time-rich I now often use the Tube from Waterloo to Heathrow”

    Have you ever considered taking the south west trains service from Waterloo to Feltham and then the 285 bus to Heathrow? Feltham is about 30 mins from waterloo, when i used to use that regularly it was £2.80 single. (having just checked it has increased to a staggering £6.60 off peak single in just 6 years!) The 285 takes about 10 minutes to hatton cross and runs 24 hours a day. The bonus being that the trains off peak are quiet and hassle free.

  157. Top Banana says:

    Top Banana
    20:31, 21 September 2013 link
    14:43, 18 September 2013
    “I travel to Heathrow a lot, and being fairly time-rich I now often use the Tube from Waterloo to Heathrow”

    following on from my comment i just had a thought that Waterloo – Feltham would take Oyster payment? How do you know what the fare would be in that case? Anyone? If i have already travelled from another SE mainline station in London using Oyster, say from Abbey Wood how could you calculate the fare? (off topic i know but we were discussing getting to heathrow by various methods further up in the thread and maybe makes a useful comparison to going via picc etc underground)

  158. Top Banana says:

    OK national rail enquiries says its £3.50 Abbey wood to Feltham via waterloo using Oyster. I’d say thats a bargain and you avoid the hassle of the underground and central london. So my crossrail friends, how much will you charge to go direct abbey wood – heathrow when it opens?????

  159. Anonymous says:

    A new station at Ruislip Road East on the Greenford branch would be very handy not only for the local population but also for bus interchange to a swathe of suburban housing located a long way from a station – Greenford Broadway, Yeading etc.

  160. timbeau says:

    “national rail enquiries says its £3.50 Abbey wood to Feltham via waterloo using Oyster”
    Add the £1.40 Oyster bus fare from Feltham to Heathrow, and that comes in the same as the £4.90 train+tube Oyster fare from Abbey Wood to Heathrow via SE trains and Underground.

    Why do you have to pay more if your journey uses a national rail service south of the river than if it’s a tube or NR north of the river? And even more if you want to use both?

  161. mr_jrt says:

    The usage patterns aren’t really limited to the orbital though…don’t forget the classic “zig-zag” of a journey that is radial, orbital, then more radial. If, say, I was travelling from West Drayton to Wembley Park then despite changes at West Ealing and Neasden, the line would still serve me. The trick to making that quick enough to be competitive is to make sure the service frequency on the routes is either simply high enough or well-timetabled enough.

    I don’t deny that TBMs are expensive…but still probably cheaper than building new road capacity, probably! 😉 There’s always the option of TfL refurbing a couple of the ones being used by Crossrail rather than selling them back to the manufacturers as is planned. These aren’t long tunnels I’m proposing – it’s only a few miles and would probably only take a few months to do the tunnelling. The planning work on the other hand…;)

    As for longer trains…I still fail to see how it costs so much for platform extensions in the country. At their simplest, you just build wooden platform extensions back away from the current platforms so you don’t have to alter the signalling or stopping marks. Done properly (with suitable weatherproofing), those would probably suffice for a fair few years before needing replacement. More permanent platforms are just a bit of brickwork filled in with hardcore and covered in tarmac or concrete! It really shouldn’t be expensive! In my eyes it shouldn’t cost more than a fair few thousand pounds to extend a platform properly, and certainly no more than £5-10k for wooden extensions (the majority of which is probably labour costs), which in terms of railway budgets is chickenfeed.

  162. timbeau says:

    “At their simplest, you just build wooden platform extensions back away from the current platforms ”

    After first building out the embankment at South Greenford to be wide enough to take them, or rebuilding the overbridge immediately to the north of Drayton Green, and/or remodelling the junction to the south.
    Not to mention, unless the track formation is already wide enough, buying the land adjacent the railway from whoever owns it.

    It can be done if a suitable site is available – look at the temporary platforms used at Workington North for the “bus-replacement” rail service after the bridge washouts there. But in an urban environment?

  163. Malcolm says:

    The obvious response about platform lengthenings is that they are not usually required in places sufficiently undeveloped that the land on which to built the platforms is available. In all the hard cases we hear about, there are things like bridges, houses, junctions or other obstacles. The megabucks are therefore needed, not just to built the platforms, but to move one or more of such obstacles. I do not know whether this is the case at the Greenford branch stations, but it does seem quite probable. They are, after all, in Greater London.

  164. The other Paul says:

    The Greenford branch is not located in a particularly densely built-up area of London. It it was it would probably be busier! If there were the demand I don’t think extending the platforms would present any massive problems; I’d guess at something like £25m for all the stations to get 6 car platforms.

    Greenford itself possibly poses the greatest challenge, there is some space to extend the platforms along the bay track to the South East, but the incline soon kicks in. Reopening platforms (or an island platform) on the through lines would probably be the answer, and there is plenty of railway-owned space to do it. Access to new platforms from below shouldn’t be too hard to provision either, a single island would obviously be cheaper.

    The embankment South Greenford sits on has fairly gentle slopes. Supporting extended platforms may require some underpinning either side but it shouldn’t require any land take.

    Castle Bar Park clearly has space to extend platforms at either or both ends without land take, again, underpinning of the embankment might be necessary to the North.

    Drayton Green is a little more problematic for anything but a tiddly extension as it’s constrained by the overbridge to the North and the junction to the South. However the overbridge has an unused span to the East so track realignment to use the inside of both spans would leave adequate space to extend the platforms underneath and beyond. A nicer arrangement might be to align tracks on the outside and build an island platform up the middle. Alternatively the overbridge could be replaced with a single span version, as it isn’t that long. That would cost more though.

    Not sure what’s being built at West Ealing for the branch by Crossrail, but guessing it’s making use of the disused railway yard space to the North West of the station. A bay platform here would be constrained by the buildings to the East and the junction to the West but 6 cars would probably fit quite comfortably.

  165. Mike says:

    What’s happening at West Ealing is shown at (though it may not be up to date – the Abbey Wood map shows the discarded cross-platform layout).

    I like the idea of Crossrail Connect – get the lines on the Tube Map, and see them come!

  166. Graham Feakins says:

    @ Mike “get the lines on the Tube Map, and see them come!”

    That never happened with South Acton, though!

  167. Greg Tingey says:

    Maybe this should be in the earlier article about TfL getting WAnglia, but not Kent(ish), services but …
    I’ve just had a horrible realisation.
    The takeover of the Chingford / Enfield Town / Cheshunt lines will require at total timetable & rostering re-write …
    Which explained why TfL wanted Hertford E as well, & why DafT said “No”.
    Currently, amost all Chingford-line trains arrive @ Liverpool St, then metamorphose into Hertford Easts … & vice versa.
    And, the other critical point is the flat junction by the Lea (Clapton Jn) because of interleaving the 1/4-hourly Chingfords with the Cambridge / Stansted / Hertford E / Broxbourne (rush-hour) services.
    Maybe this wasn’t such a wonderful idea, after all?

    [Amended due to silly stations names. On this occasion I think it was down to a dodgy ‘h’ on the keyboard rather than intentional. Cue: Monty Python style sketch. PoP]

  168. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Top Banana – a couple of comments on fares. The Mayor has stated that Crossrail will be a TfL service in respect of fares and ticketing. I expect this will mean it is on the TfL PAYG tariff (same as Tube, DLR & Overground). What that also means is that cash fares will follow the tube model making such tickets very expensive. I would not want to speculate as to what the fares will be at the Shenfield and Maidenhead bits of the line.

    Heathrow fares are more difficult because of the influence of using the BAA link beyond Hayes. I fear it will mean the current Heathrow Connect concept of a premium fare (but less than HEX) will prevail although there will be huge political pressure on whoever is Mayor to make Crossrail the same price as the tube. At that point I’d expect HEX to squeal about “unfair pricing” even though I accept they set themselves apart as a “premium product” but I expect many people will view Crossrail as the premium product giving not much slower journeys plus the seamless link into and across the centre. I’d guess there is already some form of agreement in place about Crossrail using Heathrow and the fares regime that applies (for however long). There have, I believe, been attempts to put PAYG into Heathrow via the BAA line but they’ve foundered for reasons unknown.

    In terms of other fares there is an “add on” fare if people use National Rail, tube and then National Rail across Zone 1 where the National rail tariff applies on either leg. If using TfL services or NR routes that use the TfL tariff then the “add on” disappears. Compare Manor Park to Hayes and Harlington with Walthamstow Central to Hayes and Harlington. The first journey involves NR, tube and NR legs with the first on the NR tariff and then the rest on the TfL tariff (FGW services out of Paddington use the TfL tariff). This costs £6.20 peak / £4.30 off peak on PAYG using the tube / train tariff. The second journey involves either NR, tube and NR or tube and NR. However the fare is the same as the NR line from Walthamstow C to Liverpool St is on the TfL tariff as is the Vic Line. The second and third legs on the tube and FGW are on the TfL tariff. This costs £4.60 peak / £3.00 off peak on the TfL tariff and has no Zone 1 “add on” element. There are, of course, alternative fares routed away from Zone 1 involving travel via the NLL and WLL lines and then the Central Line from Shepherds Bush to Ealing Broadway. Confused? – you will be! 🙂 In the future I’d expect the fare from Manor Park to fall to match the regime applicable from Walthamstow as the TfL PAYG tariff will apply on the Shenfield line.

    The Mayoral Decision for the Jan 2013 Fares Revision talks about the “add on” fare element as well as having tables of the fares that currently apply.

  169. Anonymous says:

    Unfortunately given the recent assault on Tf’s budget by the treasury I really cannot see that TfL have much choice than continue the two services on an ‘as is’ basis. Drawing lines on maps is all very well but we need to be realistic about what TfL (or to be more specific what the Treasury) will fund. As nice as they may be ideas involving new Underground tunnels, diverting the Central line, extending the District, etc. are quite simply flights of fancy that will never happen – (Indeed if money was available then Crossrail 2 is a far more worthy use for it).

    Therefore the question is what can TfL do in the real world

    For the Romford – Upminster the current service can be maintained quite simply by hiring a EMU unit from the Anglia franchise (who will presumably keep the using Illford depot which is the closest to the line) on a daily basis, though using West Anglia based unit (and therefore TfL leased stock) stock is also possible (if a bit more awkward from an access point of view.

    Its worth noting that back in the days when the Great Eastern bit was a separate franchise from the Anglia one, GE hired a sprinter unit for the Sudbury branch from Anglia as their solution to a lack of diesel stock within the franchise

    For the West Ealing – Greenford shuttle then assuming the Gospal Oak – Barking electrification is done quickly then the surplus 172s are the obvious choice. Maintenance could be contracted to Chiltern at Wembley or Aylesbury. It might also be possible to hire a couple of turbos from the Great Western franchise with maintenance again contracted to Chiltern who maintain similar units. Again this is not a new concept – Southern contract out basic maintenance and fuelling on their diesels used for the Brighton – Ashford service to ‘St Leonards Railway Engineering’ near Hastings to save them the trek up to Selhurst

    The biggest issue facing TfL then is basically a marketing one. Currently the ‘Overground’ brand guarantees a service of at least 4tph – indeed that is what TfL themselves demand so as to provide their much trumpeted ‘turn up and go’ facility. However if pathing constraints on the WA route prevent this from being achieved throughout the day – do TfL risk the ‘brand’ image of the Overground or do they introduce something different until they can.

    Of course the situation with the Greenford and the Upmister branch in particular is such that maybe they could be marketed as something along the lines of ‘Crossrail connect’ – i.e. it connects to Crossrail but is not actually part of it and is shown as such on the relevant system maps.

    Longer term the Greenford branch has great potential because of the connection to Heathrow airport via Crossrail at West Ealing. Given traffic the traffic congestion on the roads leading to the airport, a West Ealing – Gerrards Cross service does suggest itself as being a viable option. The problem is that such a service doesn’t lend itself to operation by TfL because to compete with the roads it probably would have to run non stop from West Ruslip to West Ealing. (In this respect it could actually be implemented fairly easily – platform lengths, or the lack of them at Greenford not being an issue). This obviously doesn’t help Greenford or the intermediate stations on the branch and could well make a 4 tph shuttle impossible.

  170. timbeau says:

    The Greenford branch is not the only one that will be orphaned by Crossrail – something will have to be done about the Windsor branch (and I don’t think the proposed cross-Windsor connection is a runner: at least not in the time scales we are talking about). Electrification to Reading will leave Marlow and Henley as further diesel islands when Reading depot moves over to electric trains: not to mention the North Downs line. Or are these planned to be electrified too – it seems to be a bit on and off

  171. @Timbeau

    Electrification to Reading will leave Marlow and Henley as further diesel islands

    Whilst there is nothing that gives an absolute commitment the High Level Output Specfication for July 2012 show that the intention is to electrify these (and Slough-Windsor).

    @Anaonymous 19:35

    Currently the ‘Overground’ brand guarantees a service of at least 4tph

    A popular misconception. I think it is still true that services to New Cross in particular “thin out” late at night giving a worse service than in East London Line days. More to the point Euston-Watford Junction never has a service as frequent as every 15 minutes. It is basically every 20 minutes regardless of time of day or day of week.

  172. RicP says:

    A point of much contention is the paucity of services on some Overground lines after 22.00 – 22.30. It is an issue where TfL will not talk to the Stakeholder Groups, and leave LOROL to front it up, even though we all know the dictum comes from the faceless officials at Rail For London. Despite letting LOROL know about these shortcomings, nothing of any significance is done. Yes a few tweaks to the timetable, but these have been simply to liven up a few empty stock (ecs) workings, but there are still empty trains whizzing around that could carry a passenger or three for some part of their return trip to depot.
    One serious proposal that TfL seems unwilling to discuss or take any further is moving to 20 minute cycles after 2100 hrs, the argument being that 20 minutes is a long enough wait, particularly for passengers traveling alone who jus feel that 29 minutes is just too long to wait after missing a train.
    While daytime services are generally good, TfL has failed on its promise to deliver its promise of ‘Tube’ style services. LO’s late operations barely match up to the outer reaches of the ‘Met’. Only hassling TfL will produce a result. If you have time to pop a note on LR, then send Peter Hendy a letter or e-mail!

  173. Milton Clevedon says:

    @ Anonymous
    19:35, 22 September 2013

    Agree with your thinking, and don’t believe any major new lines will be affordable even if possibly justified (behind Crossrail 2, even behind a Bakerloo SE extension!).

    Looking at affordable ‘do-ables’, see my similar post above in this discussion: .

    For West Ealing-Greenford, the strategic choice will lie between a 4tph shuttle – there is just room in the timetable for that, and certainly at least every 20 minutes – or maintaining the present frequency as far as Greenford (main line) and then a limited stop operation to Gerrards Cross. That needs only one extra unit to maintain a half-hourly service which can be marketed as Crossrail Connect – and Heathrow Connect, for that matter! This would also avoid unnecessary shift from bus to rail in the Drayton Green-Castle Bar area which doesn’t do anything for TfL finances.

    If to Gerrards Cross, you don’t need to try to serve all Central Line-equivalent stations because the Central Line already does that. My preferences would be a new platform at Northolt (large housing estates benefiting from fast link into West London/Heathrow), maybe West Ruislip, maybe Denham, and Gerrards Cross (where many Chiltern fast trains call).

  174. timbeau says:

    Would Chiltern countenance such a TfL invasion of their hitherto exclusive territory? Would they be willing to take on this probable lossmaker themselves?

    (Note that these scenarios are not mutually exclusive – a lossmaker can still steal revenue from its rivals: the Rompminster shuttle is an example, the LTS built it primarily to keep the Great Eastern out of its territory, not to make money)

  175. Andrew Gwilt says:

    As Transport for London might be taking over the branch line from West Ealing to Greenford. I recon Crossrail in 2018 should be operating on that line aswell to Maidenhead/Reading, Heathrow and possibly to be operating on the Windsor & Eton branch line from Slough in 2018 after the completion of the tunnels that Crossrail will go through below Central London.

  176. Crayonista says:

    Surely the solution to these two short branches is a new east-west tube from Romford to West Ealing via Bank and Waterloo, incorporating the Waterloo and City tunnels? Maybe with conversion to monorail?

  177. Overground Commuter says:

    The only branch of the ELL with a guaranteed 4tph all day is the Clapham Junction branch, although one train in the late evening makes up the parliamentary train to Battersea Park.

    It’s not just late night services to New Cross which are worse than under LUL. 4tph operate during the majority of the day whereas LU operated 5tph on the branch and until later past midnight.

    New Cross, Crystal Palace and West Croydon thin out to 2tph during late evenings with an uneven wait between services between New Cross Gate and Sydenham if waiting from the core section for the 4tph which serve those stations.

  178. mr_jrt says:

    @Milton Clevedon
    I’d support that as a first step before electrification, but longer-term I think the usage patterns you’re trying for there would be much better served by extending Crossrail from OOC to High Wycombe via the NNML (with access to Heathrow being via a change to Crossrail’ Heathrow services at OOC instead of West Ealing), which again, would leave the Greenford branch out in the cold. Perhaps a Central line branch from Perivale is the answer with the minimal amount of infrastructure required…

  179. Geoff says:

    From Wikipedia , LB Ealing’s favoured option was West Ealing to West Ruislip – although the reference link to LB Ealings website is down. Once 4tph is established and passenger demand gauged , it might then be the time to take the Greenford bay out and reopen a platform 4 to allow a 3 or more car train . ( I am assuming the Crossrail are building a sufficently long bay at West Ealing and LB Ealing might contribute to the platform new build and extensions ) . The final step back to West Ruislip would need an up/ down link on the Chiltern main line at the station and the use of the down or up siding as the turnback.
    The serice would be West Ruislip non stop to Greenford , all stations to West Ealing . It would give a Chiltern connection to Crossrail and a central London alternative to some Central Line users .

  180. mr_jrt says:

    …though, thinking about it, the one thing the Greenford branch offers that no other route can is a direct service from the Chiltern line to Heathrow, so apologies if someone already proposed such a thing about and I misinterpreted or missed it.

    The more I think about it, the more I think it might have some legs.

    Even more beneficial, it bypasses the structural bottleneck of Ealing Broadway, so the line could quite easily be 6-tracked from Hanwell Junction to Airport Junction, keeping things segregated. Given that arrangement, you might even consider treating Hanwell as part of the Greenford branch, and at a pinch, maybe Southall as well, with the interchange to Crossrail being at Hayes & Harlington. Basically, using the extra tracks to remove a part of the skip-stopping pattern and speed up Crossrail services.

  181. Alfie1014 says:

    The Romford – Upminster line has long been a bit of an orphan. Whilst connecting it to the Upminster – Grays line certainly has some merits the latter is much less of a branch than it used to be with Chafford Hundred (for Lakeside) generating much off-peak revenue for c2c. Peak loadings towards London are high with a maximum of 7 train movements in the high peak hour (4 towards Fenchurch St and up to 3 in the other direct), the absolute limit of the current infrastructure with only a loop at Ockendon. The line was built for double track with most structures including the 13 arch Mardyke Viaduct wide enough for two tracks. I think only the relatively recent M25 overbridge couldn’t take a second track.

    I’ve oftern wondered if both lines could not be incorportated into a Thames Gateway Metro that could run from Romford, though Upminster, Lakeside, Grays, Tilbury, cross the Thames to Gravesend, Ebbsfleet, Bluewater to Dartford. Possibly using the Fastlink rights of way south of the river, linking no less than three regional shopping centres,if you include Romford. Of course this wouldn’t come cheap but with the debate a third Thames crossing underway and all three current road options opposed by those in Thurrock and possibly elsewhere , extra infrastructure is going to be funded one way or another (most likely road as things current stand). Anyhting that improves public transport crossing the river to the east of London must be welcomed, which once east of Docklands can only be described as pretty much non-existant.

  182. Peckhamdamo says:

    @Overground Commuter
    The Clapham Junction branch goes half-hourly after 22:54 from Surrey Quays as well, really not good for Peckham’s burgeoning night life!

  183. Fandroid says:

    @Crayonista. You have missed the point altogether. These two branches are just the start of a super-orbital ring railway which would involve (among other cost-saving ruses) reconverting Tramlink to heavy rail. It would (a) allow HS1 to be connected to HS2 without bothering with a central London stop (b) solve all of the trans-London freight problems and (c) would be the start of a connection to Boris Island Airport. It wouldn’t cost a lot more than a new M25.

  184. MickH says:

    The M25 bridge on the Upminster-Grays line (hardly a branch now) is also built for double track. The only significant impediment to doubling the whole line is Chafford Hundred Station which strangely was built over the trackbed!

  185. timbeau says:

    “linking no less than three regional shopping centres”

    Why would anyone want to go from one to another? They all sell the same stuff. The Dangleway suffers from the same odd thinking concept hat there are a lot of people who might want to go to events at both the Dome and the Excel Centre – on the same day

  186. Long Branch Mike says:


    Most shopping centres are hubs for local buses, hence rail stations there would be a good connectivity point.

  187. MikeP says:

    @timbeau I can answer that one. When one finds a pair of shoes one wants in Schuh, but Bluewater don’t have your size. They phone Lakeside who, it turns out, do. So they reserve them and, wanting them immediately (we are talking shoes here, after all) one drives across to Lakeside to get them.

    Here things take a turn for the worse as whilst at Lakeside a distribution centre next to the M25 that has been smouldering turns into an inferno, closing the crossing. Foolishly, one attempts the return journey via the A13 and Rotherhithe, rather then all the way round the M25. The journey therefore takes 5 hours rather than 2…. One of those journeys (instigated by the step-duaghter, and in her car too, fortunately) that I will never forget.

  188. RicP says:

    @ Overground Commuter
    Late evening services on Overground are very much a live issue, which the Overground Users Stakeholder group cannot get past LOROL. Delegates have tried to find out who at TfL and Rail for London insisted on this service ‘reduction’ from what was originally promised, noted in my earlier post.

    BGORUG has started a ‘Have your Say’ page and to look at service delivery problems. Our officers are meeting LOROL during October, and any useful comments on late night services could help our arguments. We will start a topic thread.
    This ‘Have your Say’ Blog is for issues about Overground services. We would respectfully ask the ideas merchants keep their more exotic suggestions for either London Reconnections or District Dave where their ingenious concepts will get a much wider airing. Thanks. RicP.

  189. Top Banana says:

    20:13, 23 September 2013
    14:57, 23 September 2013

    Arrrgghh! now see you poked me about the bane of my life the dartford crossing, and the lack of public / transport crossings east of woolwich. Perhaps this has been discussed before on LR, but why did the North Kent Line (NKL) after swanscombe not get realigned to directly serve the domestic platforms of Ebbsfleet and Northfleet station closed? To join a HS1 train from ebbsfleet i have to take a train from belvedere to abbey wood. Abbey wood to gravesend. gravesend to Ebbsfleet. Then ebbsfleet to london, or for that matter dover. There is a distinct lack of joined up thinking along the NKL corridor. By re aligning as i have stated there would have been a direct connection into ebbsfleet. On the North side of the river, the opportunity should have been taken to move purfleet station to tank hill road and the whole alignment to follow the new HS1 line. How useful would it be to be able to go from Ebbsfleet to Purfleet on a train, about 5 minutes at the most and never have to worry about that blummin crossing????? A well known blue and silver bus company runs buses to lakeside from purfleet, the journey from tank hill is about 7 – 10 minutes. Much better than playing traffic roulette. The ONLY opposition to a new road crossing (one is proposed from the A2 through gravesend to tilbury and then up to the M25 by the North Ockendon railway tunnel) is THURROCK COUNCIL believe it or not, the very area that would benefit from not being totally gridlocked by traffic every friday.

    Mike you are quite right to say that when the bridge / tunnels close as they did recently for 8 hours it is much quicker to spend 2 hours of your life going all the way around the M25 than to try and go any other way. I have during a previous incident abandoned my car in east london and taken the woolwich foot tunnel and a 99 bus to get home, going back the next morning to rescue it.

    Ok. steps off soap box…….

  190. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Timbeau – given any ideas about invading Chiltern territory are all brand new and not envisaged by the DfT or Chiltern then Chiltern would be required to object to any application by TfL for track access which could extract revenue from its services. There was plenty written about various TOCs being required, under their franchise terms, to object to the “open access” Shropshire services run by a sister company to Chiltern due to concerns about affecting London Midland and Virgin revenues. The same requirement would apply here I am sure.

    We return again to why would TfL be bothered about serving Gerrards Cross or anywhere beyond West Ruislip – it is a distraction to their core purpose. Given interchange from the Greenford shuttle to Crossrail will be relatively straightforward at West Ealing and it is cross platform at Greenford to / from the Central then I’d argue people on the Central Line will have a relatively straightforward link to Heathrow and therefore we can forget about a TfL service straying further north than Greenford.

    If Chiltern could or wished to run to offer a link to / from Heathrow then it is really down to them to apply for the relevant track access and secure appropriate stock that can run in the tunnels to Heathrow. Given Chiltern have a long term franchise and could have decided long ago to try to serve Heathrow by some means the fact they have not bothered suggests to me that they see no viable market. It is pretty clear that they view longer distance services as the bit of their franchise that makes the money and that’s where their attention is largely focused.

    And just to re-emphasise (like a stuck record) the lack of money aspect I noted in the updated LFEPA fire safety plan, that showed planned funding cuts for all Mayoral functional bodies, that TfL will see a £255m reduction in 2014/5 and over £750m cut in 2015/6. To my mind that scale of cut is simply unsustainable given the likely effect on services and future investment. It is also far worse than I had previously understood was the case. We can therefore stop hoping for better late night services on the Overground and gradiose schemes if extra rail lines are taken on!

  191. timbeau says:

    “If Chiltern could or wished to run to offer a link to / from Heathrow then it is really down to them to …… appropriate stock that can run in the tunnels to Heathrow.”
    Until either the Chiltern line is electrified or they develop a train that can run on compressed air or some other non-flammable power supply that would be allowed down the tunnel at Heathrow, I can’t see what stock could be appropriate.

  192. Milton Clevedon says:

    @ Walthamstow Writer
    21:36, 23 September 2013

    Just to observe that if anyone (TfL, or someone else) could reduce the probably high operating loss on Ealing-Greenford, then DfT might be supportive. FGW has had bigger fish to poach, while Crossrail is hardly going to worry about a currently very minor branch, so maybe TfL can be the shining orange knight?

    Re incursions into another’s territory, TfL (LU) and Chiltern have a history of co-operation or at least co-existence. I don’t see how a service increasing Chiltern’s West London catchment, and Chiltern-Heathrow which it doesn’t attempt to serve at present (therefore should increase its revenues) could be regarded as hostile – more likely beneficial. A West Ealing-Greenford-Gerrards X service is hardly going to divert revenues away from a faster, direct route to Marylebone and Central London.

    And any Chiltern connector would indeed need to reach Gerrards Cross, in my assessment, because you don’t really think that Chiltern would bother to serve West Ruislip more than it has to, do you?! Mahomet (Boris?) has to come to the Mountain, not the other way around. Yes the interface is a commercial problem for both, and a boundary problem for one, but these things are soluble and likely to be beneficial for travel and for road pressures in West London, so why don’t we all try and find a way to make it happen…?

  193. Jeremy says:

    @Milton Clevedon: I think that the situation for Chiltern likely rests on what impact such an additional service would have on available paths for other services on their main route. In particular, anything that reduces any station’s service frequency to Marylebone in favour of a West Ealing train would likely be met with some considerable resistance.

  194. Pedantic of Purley says:


    Actually Jeremy I think if anything it is the other way round. A few years ago elements within Chiltern Railways were talking enthusiastically about taking over the line to West Ealing and feeding into Crossrail (both for London and Heathrow) as a way of providing extra services without pressurising the constraints of Marylebone. I think they regarded the need to stop at the stations involved (Castle Bar Park etc.) as a price they would just have to pay. If they could divert at least some of the short distance services (i.e. the ones that make no money) then they would free off slots for the longer distance stuff.

    Mind you this was all talked about when they were enthusiastic about running their service to Wrexham and they regarded going to West Ealing as their next big project after their through trains reach Oxford. Whilst Chiltern Railways do provide a little-known service to Oxford they don’t yet do so from Marylebone and won’t do so until 2016.

  195. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Timbeau – well exactly. A Heathrow link would require considerable investment by Chiltern and Network Rail that is not on anyone’s “shopping list” as things currently stand.

    @ Milton Clevedon – the extent of actual or perceived cooperation is not the issue. My point, obviously not well made, is that any TOC is *required* by the terms of their franchise to object to anything that may cause a divergence from what the TOC is committed to deliver in terms of services, projected revenue, costs and premium payments / subsidy. It might sound daft but in the era of DfT “micro management” the department needs to maintain an oversight of what a franchisee is doing. It is a contractual situation and there is public money involved so it is understandable that the DfT will want to be reassured that change instituted by the TOC or an outside party is not going to result in unexpected financial impacts that the taxpayer has to fund. This explains why it can take so long for things to happen on the railway where multiple parties are affected – you need people signed up to a reasonably well specified scheme where the impacts can be estimated to an acceptable level of “certainty”. This then allows for (any) compensatory payments to be made by the parties as necessary and budgets to be revised to cope with the predicted changes.

  196. timbeau says:

    “Whilst Chiltern Railways do provide a little-known service to Oxford they don’t yet do so from Marylebone ”

    The Oxford to Bicester line was reopened by Network South East in 1987 and after privatistaion was operated by Thames Trains and later by First Greater Western until 2011 when Chiltern took it over. I doubt many people noticed as it is still operated by Class 165 units. Although it is currently isolated from Chiltern’s other operations, the new curve at Bicester (the “Evergreen 1” project) will allow through services from Oxford, Water Eaton Parkway, and Islip to operate to High Wycombe and Marylebone.

  197. Moosealot says:

    There is no bay at Gerrard’s Cross and creating one (or a third through platform) would be tricky given the constraints of the site. I spent about 20 minutes waiting for a connection there a few months ago and had a good look around. The existing up platform appears to have been built in front of the existing one, so reinstating what appears to be the original platform line would allow a passing loop but the site is in a cutting and not wide enough to accommodate a third platform from the East without demolishing the station building and some significant earthworks. The turnback to the West of the station is to the North of the main lines rather than between them so requires a conflicting movement to enter. It is useful for when Chiltern want to have short peak-hour workings but is not really viable for frequent use due to the conflicts presented as a late up train would cause a down terminator to hold up other down trains while it waits for access to the turnback to clear, and I doubt Chiltern would be happy to accept delays to their fast through services due to another operator’s stock blocking the line!

  198. 0775John says:

    Gerrard’s Cross used to be laid out like Beaconsfield (where I grew up) and thus had two through lines and two platform lines. Rationalisation meant that the platform at GX (but not Beaconsfield) was moved forward and speed for non-stop trains could thus be increased. No-one seemed far-sighted enough to realise that the 4 track lay-out was useful in may ways and that a time would come when it would be a positive boon. Many a time (ie both regularly planned times and as a result of late running) were the platform lines used, as was intended, by the Marylebone slows whilst the GW Birkenhead/Wolverhampton – Paddington expresses overtook as did the ‘The Master Cutler” – in the short period in which it ran this route – and others going up the Great Central to the east Midlands). Also many freights were stopped for the same reasons, allowing cabbing of the locos when small boys asked politely and the driver was in a good mood!
    The space at Beaconsfield was (is still despite the new-ish multi-storey car park) greater and is on the south side of the station, unlike GX, and thus maybe more suited to a replacement of its bay/cattle dock (but as High Wycombe is not very far away if you are going up the line at all it is rather pointless to terminate trains as far up Beaconsfield.

  199. timbeau says:


    “The turnback to the West of {gerrards Cross] station is to the North of the main lines rather than between them so requires a conflicting movement to enter.

    Couldn’t the up line and the turnback be swapped over?

    “The existing up platform appears to have been built in front of the existing one” i.e built out over the up slow so that trains calling at the station use the old up fast”

    The aerial view suggests that the down platform is in its original position so the trackbed of the down through line is still available – a turnback might be put in there.

  200. mr_jrt says:

    I think the problem with swapping the through line and the turnback is the curvature it would introduce on the line and the associated speed penalties. If you were to widen the formation you could profile the line to whatever speed you so chose, but of course, this would require the purchase of land outside the railway boundary (not to mention realigning a lot of track!). If they took the view that eventually the line will need to be four-tracked, then you coudl consider it as an investment along the lines of the Gerrards Cross tunnel being large enough for four tracks and OHLE.

    In many ways, this somewhat emphasises the advantage of having the fast lines on the outside of a formation – only a single island platform needed, turnbacks are trivial to put in place, but also the downside – you need much wider formations to ensure the fast lines aren’t slowed down too much by the station “bulge”.

  201. MIlton Clevedon says:

    @ Walthamstow Writer
    09:17, 24 September 2013

    Thanks for that clarification of the contractual DfT position. My judgement is that the net revenues would be positive therefore have a chance of a tick in the box – but clearly someone would have to do the numbers!

  202. Josh says:

    At Beaconsfield, there is more than enough room to put in passing loops through the middle, subject to moving the odd bit of equipment.

    At Gerrards Cross, major reconstruction of the station would be required, but it should be possible within the space. The embankment would need to be walled up.

    At Denham, the current tracks are the original platforms loops so there was space in between for passing loops, but the new down platform was built in the middle, so now there’s no room. It would require major station rebuilding.

    At West Ruislip, there is already triple track (an up passing loop) and a very large down platform. The down platform can be cut back a bit to allow for a fourth track. That’s still quite a bit of work required though. I suppose it would be logistically easier because you could make all down trains skip West Ruislip and call at South Ruislip instead with an advisory to use the Central line if needed.

    At South Ruislip, there is already triple track (a down passing loop). Less obvious room to expand here. It might require extending the station into the neighbour’s yard.

  203. Graham Feakins says:

    Through tracks and passing loops – Josh’s comments make a lot of sense coming simply from recalling what was there at each station with two through tracks plus two loops serving the platforms, one on each side.

    During the days when I travelled to and from a village (Stratton Audley) before/after weekends, I know that the loop platforms at Bicester seemed to be remarkably well laid out with straight through tracks and quite gentle curvature leading into and out of the loop tracks. At the end of my regular visits to that pleasant part and when BR had removed at least one of the platformless through tracks, the non-stop trains seemed to pas almost as quickly as before, even using the present loop platforms. I had assumed that was the same most of the way up to London via Ruislip today.

  204. E17 says:

    Hi, Does anyone know if the TFL fare will apply to stations after Walthamstow Central towards Chingford once it is devolved to TFL? Currently you have to pay more due to National Rail add on.

  205. timbeau says:

    One would expect so – that’s what happened to those fares on Southern’s territory when TfL took over some of the services

  206. Greg Tingey says:

    Or one hopes not …
    Current Walthamstow C – Liverpool St annual season: £888
    Current zonws 1 – 3: £1424
    An increase of £536 pa for NOTHING & also an increase in fare of 60%+

    It is to be hope that this proposed theft does not occur.

    Or are we talking about something else?

  207. timbeau says:

    I was talking about single fares. The loss of point to point seasons is an important issue though. The extra £536 does give you access to all of Londons buses, as well as tube and rail travel within (roughly) the North & south Circular roads, but that’s little consolation if you don’t need that.

    A similar situation on the opposite side of London – Waterloo to Norbiton annual £1512 – valid either way round the loop, Zones 1-5 £2072 – not valid via Kingston

  208. Greg Tingey says:

    Sometyhing over 70-80% (I forget the exact figure) of season-ticket holders to Liverpool St walk to work, or on exiting the station …
    A lot, of course have a separate “Oyster” card for non-season journeys.
    Means you only pay for what you need.

  209. timbeau says:


    As I said, the added bonus of being able to sample the delights of Neasden and Tooting as often as you choose is not much compensation for having to pay half a grand more. A significant proportion of SWT commuters walk too – especially as a point-to-point “London Terminals” ticket gives us access to not just Waterloo but half a dozen other central London termini as well.

  210. Anonymous says:

    The service specification of the new Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise will include an off-peak frequency increase to x15mins from Moorgate to Welwyn Garden City and Hertford North commencing December 2018 according to the DfT’s stakeholder briefing document. From December 2015 all evening and weekend inner suburban Great Northern trains will operate to Moorgate instead of King’s Cross to allow better interchange to the London Overground and Victoria Line at Highbury & Islington. This will also benefit weekend visitors to Arsenal FC and the late night economy in the Old Street/Shoreditch area.

  211. Westfiver says:

    Two weeks ago, I travelled on the Greenford Branch for the first time.

    Being on the 13:15 from Paddington to Greenford service, instead of alighting at Ealing Broadway and catching the E2/E9 to North Ealing, I decided to remain on the train until to Castlebar Park and then walk from there – after getting off though it dawned on me that I should have carried on to Greenford and then come back.

    Patronage of the service was more than I expected, passengers got on and off at all stations. At Castlebar Park about 10 got off, and a couple got on. Two people failed to get on as the doors closed as they descended the footbridge – their way was blocked by those going up. Whether this is the normal passenger load is unknown. TfL or Ealing Passenger Transport User Group (EPTUG) should carry out a survey of the line to find out how the line is being used.

    With the introduction of Crossrail and the service being curtailed to a shuttle between West Ealing and Greenford, and being passed to TfL, one must ask whether the branch has a future, as in the main it is paralleled by a number of nearby bus routes. It is only by the branch being part of a wider scheme that there is any long term future, and with TfL having 8 class 172s to find a use for it will be interesting.

    The only route that requires no new infrastructure is Greenford to Clapham Junction – this is the preferred option of EPTUG. However, paths have to be found on the GWML, NLL and WLL, as well as platform space at Clapham J. Other route options could be to West Ruislip or to Brent Cross / Hendon via Dudding Hill.

    What never get mentions with the introduction of Crossrail is that it will cut off the branch from Ealing Broadway, and that it will then require two changes of train to reach the district line or a main line service westbound to Twyford or Reading.

    And finally, for rugby enthusiasts, Castlebar Park is the local station for Ealing Trailfinders who now play in the English Championship. Ealing’s home ground is the Trailfinders Sports Ground, the former GWR Staff Sports Ground at Castlebar Park / Vallis Way.

  212. Castlebar says:

    @ westfiver

    Castlebar was my local “station” for the first 27 years of my life, before I migrated south (West Ealing), and then much further south still.

    As I have just posted on the contemporaneous OOC thread, I am pleased to see the once (1970s) proposed idea to EXTEND the Greenford branch beyond Ealing Bdy to Acton ML and then Clapham Junction via the WLL is not dead.

    The Greenford branch was almost killed off around 1970 by a major embankment slip near South Greenford in about 1970. Fare-paying passenger traffic was rock bottom, but the service was used by some Paddington apparatchiks who lived in the Vallis Way area. Oddly enough, in the 60s, two of the best patronised trains were the very last two late ones leaving Ealing Bdy just before 11p.m. and just before midnight. The last of these even left a few minutes later than the last bus to Greenford and was always full, but these last two were cut out and have never been restored. Back in the 70s, the area twixt Drayton Green and Castlebar was a deep cutting with an abundance of wild birds and the sound of birdsong was magical as the single Class 121 unit (sometimes with a trailer) went along. The area east of Castlebar Halt (as it was when I first knew it), was a wonderful paradise for us feral kids. Now its been “developed” and Castlebar even has a bus service (something that would once have been ridiculed), but nonetheless passenger numbers have risen with Oyster and all the new building in the area. I still think the line should be developed, – somehow, but I don’t see how without some sensible innovative ideas. Extending up through Greenford Green to Sudbury Hill as someone else has proposed is (IMHO) neither sensible or even doable. Nor is it wanted.

  213. Westfiver says:

    @ Castlebar

    Just to update you, the cutting between Drayton Green and Castlebar Park was turned into a covered way ( do not know when) and residential building put on top. Whether there is enough headroom under this structure to allow for any future electrification is unknown, but as it is a relatively modern structure it may well have.

    The embankment to the south of South Greenford was strengthened last year – there was a lot of work going on adjacent to the golf course.

    South Greenford station is another one of those stations that is mis-named, it does not serve the area after which it is named. North Ealing on the Picadilly Line is another.


  214. JA says:

    I decided to take a look at both these branches last week on the basis of this article. Both feel somewhat anachronistic in Greater London, more like stereotypical country branch lines or heritage railways than essential parts of the transport infrastructure. Common features of both are tight curves and low line speeds.

    Line speed especially seems to be a problem between Romford and Upminster , it seems it might well be 30mph. Acceleration also seems to be a limiting factor, along with the quite generous time allowed for turnarounds, the driver of course having to walk the length of four carriages. I do wonder if they really pushed the infrastructure and stock and staffing they could get up to 15 minute schedules, Upminster to Romford seems to be scheduled to take 7 minutes, whereas the reverse journey is scheduled for 9 minutes. Perhaps the provision of a driver at either end of the train could be a relatively cheap solution. Though no doubt this would require negotiation with unions and quite significant derogation from normal operating procedures.

    It’s worth noting that the branch bisects the ‘Hornchurch Cutting’ just outside Upminster which is a Geological SSSI, I imagine this could potentially hinder suggested dive-unders, expansion or doubling of the route or any use as part of an orbital freight route or similar.

    Thinking well outside the box, but could full bustitution be an answer, as mentioned by others the 370 bus serves all three stations on the route. If the savings from withdrawing the branch service could be ringfenced in perpetuity for a replacement bus service, with much better frequency, and some form of through ticketing along the route retained then it could form an interesting experiment for TfL in integrating rail and bus services much more effectively. Seriously thinking outside the box, at the moment there are no heritage railways with 25kv AC electrification in the UK, if there were to be space at Upminster for a maintenance and restoration facility of some kind then perhaps this could be a use for the branch that safeguarded the formation for future use.

    Looking at the Greenford Branch similar thoughts spring to mind, could bustitution potentially be an option, or perhaps, if the services were to be extended northeastwards, speeding up of journey times by closing South Greenford, Drayton Green, or both. Drayton Green is really not very far from Castle Bar Park, Hanwell or West Ealing and the platforms would be exceptionally difficult to extend beyond their current length as well, the northbound being sandwiched between the toe of the triangle points and a solid brick abutment. South Greenford’s passenger numbers are low and I doubt that closing either of those stations would hit overall passenger figures massively, or seriously inconvenience many. Looking at the density and quality of housing and potential for regeneration one has to doubt that there is the underlying demand for travel that there was on the current overground network, and the opportunities for symbiotic development and gentrification to increase passenger numbers. I doubt increased frequencies could produce quite the same returns they have elsewhere.

    Largely ignoring what I’ve written above, I expect the future for these two branches, for at least the next decade or so will largely be a maintenance of the status quo. As others have pointed out, rebranding as crossrail connect, with some associated improvement in service frequency, and getting the branches on the tube map would be a pretty solid start to improving passenger usage of these services.

  215. Castlebar says:

    @ JA

    I don’t think there is any potential for “customer development” at Drayton Green. There’s little potential at Castlebar, but there is potential at South Greenford IF FGW were to promote some local marketing. Nonetheless, whilst the line is restrained by lack of vision, this line isn’t going to go anywhere either literally or metaphorically. If there were to be a complete re-think to maximise its potential, such as the S.E.wards extension to Clapham Junktion that local politicians proposed 40 years ago, this line has the potential to be very useful, but until that happens, it will still be the anachronistic historical stub of a pre-1948 GWR service that it is today.

  216. Anonymous says:

    A new station at Ruislip Road East with bus interchange would generate some additional traffic.

  217. Castlebar says:

    @ Anonymous 10:07

    I lived within 100 yards of there for 27 and regret to inform you that you are wrong. Furthermore, another station within a few hundred yards of the ones either side, would slow down the service intolerably. Sorry but my local knowledge tells me that your suggestion could actually lose traffic at Castlebar and South Greenford, so there would be no net benefit for a slower journey time.

  218. Littlejohn says:

    Generating more passengers for the Greenford branch could be neatly achieved by the development of a South Greenford Parkway, to capture all the drivers sitting on the A40 every morning. According to my trusty 1989 A-Z there is plenty of undeveloped land available to make a decent car park.

  219. Greg Tingey says:

    I was at Ealing Broadway yesterday & Acton “Main Line” today (How exiting!) and noted the loadings on the Greenford Trains.
    Quite a lot of people, actually, more than I was expecting …..
    I’m not going to release them at the moment, but if the auditors/editors would like an off-the record peek, I can send them privately, for information.
    Oh & the LUL rail treatment train turned up again & I got a decent photo.

  220. Greg Tingey says:

    Reviewing my data, I note that some figures are not confidental, as the client has not asked for them & thus have not been returned to them.
    However, observing a 2-car train leaving AML with 246 / 252 / 221 persons squashed inside, makes me wonder [ again] about the “wisdom” of turning CR1 trains around @ OOC, because “there isn’t the demand”.

    This is where a bad previous decision [ DafT refusing Thames Trains /FGW new units some years back ] influences passenger loading, which are “low” in total, even though the trains are utterly rammed, which then leads to apprently “low” later passenger figures & probably not helped by ORR’s obviously-erroneous figures a couple of years ago – which leads to the decision by CR1 to turn trains around, even though there is an obvious heavily-suppresed demand, which is leading to the obvious looming problem in the future.

    I wonder if the GWML electrification, which, of course will be finished well before CR1, will lead to a thorough revision of proposed timetables?
    One can only hope so.

  221. @Greg,

    I don’t think it is just, or even mainly, an issue of not enough demand, allegedly. Remember a 10-car Crossrail train with limited seating will suck up an awful lot of passengers. I think it has a lot more to do with available train paths – and remember off-peak one has to allow for freight. Freight trains will suck up passenger train paths in the way that Crossrail will suck up passengers.

    There is nothing definitive that is really reportable – all speculation – but the “chatter” suggests that there is a lot of rethinking going on about the Great Western Main Line as far as Reading (including Heathrow access) and how it is best served once Crossrail is opened. However each rumour presents a slightly different scenario which suggests that all options are being considered and none have been decided. We will just have to be patient.

  222. Castlebar says:

    I no longer live in the Greenford area, but my sources there confirm PoP is correct in that all these rumours about the Greenford Branch, Crossrail, OOC, West Ealing Interchange etc., are creating only one current outcome: > > > Confusion

  223. ngh says:

    At least they are having a think about Crossrail western plans as presumably either the number of EMUs ordered or more likely options for additional ones later could still be easily increased at this point.

  224. Castlebar says:


    I am glad they’re “having a think”

    There are still many opportunities which will be lost when finally built over. The old GWR Wood Lane to North Acton route was left abandoned for years until lifted, then built upon. Although I cannot know, I suspect history will repeat itself yet again in years to come, and someone will say “If only they’d been foresighted enough to have protected that bit of the old railway, A to B would now make a very useful route to re-open”

    HS2/Crossrail at OOC junction and the GWR’s “New North Route” immediately come to mind. Once, there was talk of extending the Greenford branch service, but now there is only talk of shortening it.

  225. George says:

    Very interesting piece as well as the subsequent comments, as a new resident of Hanwell/Cuckoo and frequent user of Castle Bar Park I have some insight and up to date observations.

    Re current passenger numbers. The service is pretty well full in the 7-9am (to Paddington) and 5.30-7.30 (from Paddington) rush hours. Admittedly in the morning a lot of people exit at Ealing Broadway and in the evening at West Ealing. But the proposed termination at West Ealing will fundamentally change the service, it will for right or wrong become a shuttle service and not a particularly good one at that!

    For users wanting to exit at Ealing Broadway they will presumably have the clunky journey of alighting at West Ealing just to catch a Crossrail train one stop to Ealing Broadway (to either terminate their journey or to catch the District or Circle lines). Traffic and bus services along this route are pretty aboniable, 20 mins from Castle Bar to Ealing Broadway on a good day, and not a realistic option.

    I cannot see TFL stumping up the cash to radically change the line (apart from possible short extension West) unless they were to extend it into the Overground services at Clapham Junction. There are merits to this option as you would be linking West London to South London (and Heathrow to Gatwick!) without having to go via Central London and it would be interesting to see what estimated demand for this type of service would be. But are they realistically going to spend the money?

    What I think has been overlooked however is the increase in passenger numbers that will flow with the CR project. We are already seeing vast increases in house prices in the area (5-10% in the 6 months it look me to buy) and gentrification is inevitable (of which I confess I am part). Current residents largely live and work in the surrounding area with at least one car per household (traffic/parking is a major bone of contention for residents as I witnessed at a Council open forum yesterday). But with the natural flow of money and people to the area, more Central London workers and ‘city types’ will move in and will require effective public transport. Crossrail will obviously be taking the major brunt of this but I can see a log jam at West Ealing, especially if there are any delays to either of the services.

    The elephant in the room must surely be not extending to Ealing Broadway (whatever the cost), commuters will have the options of Central line to Shepherds Bush (Westfield), district to Victoria, trains to Paddington and Crossrail to Central and East London. Perhaps the justification would be an extension to Clapham?!

  226. Greg Tingey says:

    Slight correction…
    but I agree with you …
    The elephant in the room must surely be not extending 6 tracks to Ealing Broadway Airport Jn (whatever the cost …)

  227. ngh says:

    Interesting comment by Lord Adonis earlier this week on extending CR from Maidenhead to Reading prior to opening.

    There was an interesting post on LR about a fortnight ago on the same subject…

    FGW also apparently talking to DfT about taking on the 387s after their short life on Thameslink.

  228. Fandroid says:

    Lord Adonis says nothing new, and may even be behind the times regarding the notion of shifting turnaround facilities from Maidenhead to Reading. If you drill into the ‘Reading Borough made a case ‘ link you will see an interesting bridge demolition pic and an MP asking the right question: ‘is a 2tph slow train to east London what we want?’

  229. Mark Townend says:

    Two things hardly related to the original article but continuing the comment thread development:

    Firstly I feel a new route diagram coming on related to my own thoughts about Crossrail on the GWML.
    Secondly I feel sure that whatever their extents some Crossrail 1 services will be included eventually in the weekend 24 hour network announced by the mayor ––but-750-tfl-jobs-to-be-axed-8953909.html

  230. HowardGWR says:

    Is not the case for extending XR to Reading partly that this is *the* exchange point with most fast services to far and wide, enabling semi fasts between Reading and Paddington to be – just that?

  231. Mark Townend says:


    Whilst I fully understand the concerns about overcrowding on existing local services, I have my doubts that any appreciable number of passengers will choose an all stations stopper from Reading itself just to avoid changing at Paddington, especially with little seating and no toilets, unless they’re forced to by Express stops at Reading being largely removed (which would be unnacceptable to existing customers and uneconomical for operators who could lose a lot of commuter revenue heading for jobs in Reading and its connective hinterland) or encouraged by a significant fare differential.

    However my larger concern is the effect that two or four additional terminating trains at Reading would have on the capacity and flexibility to cope with non-terminating trains stopping at and passing through the new station. On the relief side 4 shiny new platforms have been built, providing useful overtaking capability for the different stopping patterns and freights. This may end up blocked for a significant proportion of the hour with Crossrail, unless some sort of dedicated turnback facility could be constructed to the west, or part of the new depot complex used for that purpose.

    I think a much better solution would be to combine stopping services west of Reading with a semi-fast new Crossrail tier of service using additional rolling stock specified for the more outer suburban role with better seating and toilets. This would provide an attractive option for people currently travelling from local stops such as Pangbourne and Theale, who would gain direct services to central London, often avoiding TWO existing transfers at Reading and Paddington. My XR semis between Reading and London would probably stop Twyford, Maidenhead, Slough, Hayes, Ealing Broadway, Old Oak Common, Paddington, Central London Crossrail and they would take the opposite branch east of London to the GWML stoppers to increase the number of direct journey possibilities. WCML services could be planned on a similar basis with two service tiers going to different eastern destinations.

  232. Moosealot says:

    @Mark T
    Extending the Crossrail stoppers out to Reading isn’t about people going from Reading to Abbey Wood without changing. It will almost certainly be both quicker and more comfortable to get a non-stop from Reading to Paddington and change to Crossrail at Paddington – especially as the Crossrail station is to the South West of the mainline station, the same side as the low-numbered long-distance platforms.

    The beneficiaries of extending Crossrail to Reading are those travelling from Twyford to Slough or Burnham to Reading who will be on more spacious, faster, quieter rolling stock than the 165s and their cousins that ply the route at the moment. Additionally, taking the Reading slows out of the diagram and running the Oxford-Paddington slows only as far as Reading will free up space on the relief lines all the way in, allowing Bourne End and Henley to keep their peak-only DMU services to Paddington.

    Having some Crossrail services as all-stations and some as limited-stop makes the service more complicated and the crucial thing will be to ensure that all trains are presented at Royal Oak on time so while there may be benefits from running limited-stop Crossrail services, I think it is more likely that First Great Western or their successors will have Maidenhead and Slough calls on some mid-distance services (e.g. Oxford, Cotswalds, Bedwyn), allowing the switch to Crossrail at Paddington. Or Old Oak Common if it gets built…

  233. ngh says:

    Re HowardGWR 14:00, 21 November 2013


    Re Timbeau
    This is surely mostly for those wanting stations between Reading and Paddington or on the branches (particularly the Henley branch?) It would probably be accompanied by a reduction in the number of stops on the semi-fasts. Hence the 110mph EMU spec for the GW semi-fasts to maximise fast line capacity (both trains and average passenger travelling distance)?

    The Crossrail trains will also be less painfully slow than the existing DMUs…

  234. ngh says:

    Re moosealot

    Largely spot on except the Henley etc DMUs will become EMUs as the branches are being electrified too…

  235. Mark Townend says:


    I never mentioned passengers going all the way from Reading to Abbey Wood and you’ve agreed with me that the Reading – London commuter market will not shift markedly towards an extended Crossrail all stations service. Local services will get better quality rolling stock with electrification anyway and I can’t see those longer distance commuter services being allowed capacity hogging stops on the fast (I know ‘main’!) lines at Slough or Maidenhead. As Paddington is not a significant destination in its own right, the vast majority changing there onto LUL for West End and City, perhaps those odd Thames Valley branch through services could be curtailed if a single change onto a central London bound Crossrail semi-fast were substituted for the Paddington transfer. I appreciate your comment about service complexity feeding into the core at Royal Oak however, although the greater reliability of a modern electric network and rolling stock should help to improve this.

  236. Littlejohn says:

    I still don’t understand why anyone travelling from Reading or west of it would want to change to Crossrail before Paddington. To take one of Mark’s examples (14.48 comment), you can get from Theale to Paddington in about 45 minutes without changing by getting on a Bedwyn train (so the existing DMUs aren’t really painfully slow [ngh] – after all they do run non-stop on the fast lines after Reading) so why would you want to change at Reading and stop half a dozen times before Paddington?

  237. Graham H says:

    Moosealot is clearly right, and the answer to Littlejohn is (a) that there will be plenty of people who use the stopper between Reading and Maidenhead, who might otherwise have caught a fast/semifast, simply to get a seat rather than enter a scrum at Paddington*; and (b) there’s a considerable amount of reverse commuting into Reading, which seems to be growing, as noted elsewhere in this forum. Oh, and (c) we don’t know yet whether or not there will be different fares applicable as between GW and XR from Reading.

    @Mark Townend – I think most railway operators would, without being quite as paranoid as Oakervee was on the subject, have a lot less faith than you in the fundamental reliability of a train service. If you add in the fact that you would be offering the punters a choice on the XR core section, you would automatically create an additional number of punters waiting on the platforms for the right train – not sure that the XR stations have been designed to cater for a couple of train loads at a time as a matter of course – wouldn’t do much or dwell times, either.

    * a trade-off well known south of the river.

  238. Si says:

    The London & SE RUS demands 20tph on the main lines after electrification. Leeway around paths is therefore limited, and the lines awkwardly arranged (main up – main down – relief up – relief down) causing conflicting movements with Oxford/Newbury main line services moving to the relief lines at Slough or Maidenhead to provide semi-fast services. Also, 20tph (16tph, plus the 4 HEx paths used for Paddington-Reading shuttles, though probably extended to Basingstoke), strongly suggests trains not normally terminating at Reading from the west.

    Twyford and Maidenhead would be served by 4tph ‘skip stop’ Crossrail to Reading
    Slough would be served by 6tph – the 4tph serving further west and another 2tph ‘skip stop’ from Crossrail that terminate there. The other 18tph from the core would be, according to the L&SE RUS: 8tph limited stop (Ealing B and Hayes? or would there be a mix to give, say, W Ealing and Southall 6tph each and Hayes only 8tph?) to Heathrow T5, 8tph terminating and 2tph skip-stop to Heathrow T4.

    Skip-stops would presumably stop at 3 stops (inc Ealing Bdwy) between Paddington/Old Oak and Hayes, Hayes, 2 stations between Hayes and Slough, and all stops west of Slough/south of Hayes. I’m assuming 4tph to all stations except T4 (2tph), Slough (6tph), Ealing B (16tph) and Hayes (overkill at 16tph). Two of the stations between Hayes and Slough would have uneven service.

  239. Si says:

    Having given the Crossrail service pattern planned with Reading, here’s the crossrail service pattern without Reading.

    4tph Crossrail to Maidenhead (2tph off-peak)
    4tph Crossrail to Heathrow
    2tph Crossrail to West Drayton (peak only)
    2tph Paddington to Reading (limited stop)
    2tph Slough to Reading (peak only?)

    Given the electrification will exist, going to Reading to remove the Paddington Main Line branch of Crossrail, and the Slough west-facing terminators, is a good idea.

    It was always the plan to take *all* relief line services out of Paddington – and the reversing sidings at Maidenhead and this uncertainty are the cost of not having an extra billion added to Crossrail’s bill from the mass of work at Reading (station rebuild, resignalling).

  240. Graham H says:

    @Si – the trouble with skip stops is that they, too, eat capacity unless you have a comprehensive programme of loops on the common sections. If you skip stop on the section you want to run at 20 tph, then some skipping trains will be busy running down the train i n front.

  241. Milton Clevedon says:

    @ Moosealot
    15:16, 21 November 2013

    The July 2011 London & South East Route Utilisation Strategy says a lot on the GW future capacity topic, see Chapter 7 sections A1 to A5 and also other coverage about a West Coast Main Line link to Crossrail 1 via Old Oak.

    Stir in HS2 and Old Oak interchange, and it is clear that the nominal Crossrail 10 tph extended service beyond Paddington in peaks is now ancient history – or might only exist for a few months or years. (Though no one has yet declared what the new history will be – it may be relevant that the intended Crossrail ITT is delayed, and that timetabling west of Paddington is still having difficulties?) How soon before 24 tph to Old Oak with HS2?

    And will the politically sensitive Henley and Bourne End through peak trains be retained via the relief lines on a semi-fast basis…? I feel a ‘Wimbledon Thameslink’ moment coming on, ahead of the May 2015 General Election. LSE RUS link here:\RUS%20Documents\Route%20Utilisation%20Strategies\RUS%20Generation%202\London%20and%20South%20East

  242. Milton Clevedon says:

    @ Si
    18:14, 21 November 2013

    What about WRAtH services and frequency?

  243. Littlejohn says:

    @Graham H (17.29). I’m not quite clear what you are saying (and I may have complicated what I said by including people joining at Reading). The Bedwyn trains are limited stop to Reading then non-stop to Paddington, so I ask again, if you are already on a fast train and have a seat (which you will have at least from Reading as a lot of people get off there) why would you want to change to Crossrail at Reading in order to have a slower journey – quite apart from having to wait for the next departure? I’m also not sure what you mean by the ‘scrum at Paddington’. Is this eastbound or westbound? Do you mean that Crossrail will be full by the time it gets to Paddington? You are of course right that no-one knows what the fare structure will be, so it cannot be used to support a position one way or the other.

    @ Si (17.50). I was unaware that Oxford/Newbury main line services will be moving to the relief lines at Slough or Maidenhead to provide semi-fast services and so are all my commuting neighbours. At the moment the Bedwyn train does Reading – Paddington in just over 30 minutes, comparable to an HST. The only concern locally (i.e. Newbury) is what will happen to the Bedwyn – Newbury element post-electrification. If they are moving to the relief lines presumably they will have to be stopping to avoid catching up the stopper in front. Where, and what will be the effect on overall journey times?

    Arguably Crossrail is only of real benefit if it actually calls at or near somewhere you want to go. Otherwise you will be changing to the tube anyway. In which case, if the Oxford/Bedwyn services do become slower semi-fasts then I suspect most people will put speed first and go for an HST. In the morning there are 8 fast departures from Reading between 2 Bedwyn services.

  244. Long Branch Mike says:

    WRAtH Western Rail Access to Heathrow is a proposed rail link between Reading and Heathrow, via Maidenhead/Twyford and Slough. It would provide a rail link to the airport from the west, and reduce the journey time between Slough and Heathrow to just six minutes. The short rail link would need under 4km of new tunnel between Langley and Terminal 5.

  245. Milton Clevedon says:

    I was thinking about relief line frequencies, I believe WRAtH is intended to be 4 tph each way, so I assume that Reading to intermediate stops will therefore be partly covered by that service, leaving Reading to Hayes/Southall/Ealing/OOC)? and Twyford/Maidenhead/Slough to other major stops? Or is WRAtH less of an all stations animal?

  246. Castlebar says:

    Having returned from a pleasant week away, I am pleased to see this thread still “has legs”. But I’m none the wiser as to what will actually happen to the Greenford branch, and especially when CXR has been “bedded down” for a few years, and someone decides it is time to “improve” it.

    I still feel a MAJOR opportunity was lost when a C.1979 idea to extend it to Clapham Junction was not progressed, but reading Grahma H’s comment on this earlier, I am sure that this was a kite flown simply for election purposes.

    Who today would put money on what services will be running on the branch in 2025 ??. 55 years ago, the branch was worked to capacity, block on block, with loose coupled freight. 40 years ago I can remember being the only passenger on a class 121 ‘bubble car’ on more than one occasion. It was thought then that the branch’s days were numbered. It seems it still has a future. For the moment.

  247. Graham H says:

    @Littlejohn – I don’t know (nor, I suspect, does anyone else) what services will be offered on the B&H after electrification. In particular, some bidders are brooding on paying for electrification beyond the current plan, as a matter of operational convenience; I understand that they will be welcomed with open arms by NR if they do. I agree that if you are already on a fast train at Reading you’ll probably stick with it not least because you will be able to sit for longer, but if not (and, forgive me, I thought that was the point your were making), then you have a choice: fast to PAD and then XR, or slow XR all the way – and I suspect that people will often choose the latter because they get a seat on a Reading starter. I am certainly assuming that XR trains will be full to standing at PAD from the west and that seats will only become available further east – XR will have failed if that is not so – it really cannot afford to cart too much fresh air around.

  248. ngh says:

    re Milton Clevedon
    18:24, 21 November 2013 link

    And will the politically sensitive Henley and Bourne End through peak trains be retained via the relief lines on a semi-fast basis…? I feel a ‘Wimbledon Thameslink’ moment coming on, ahead of the May 2015 General Election.

    Now I wonder where the Home Secretary’s constituency is 😉

  249. ngh says:

    RE Littlejohn 17:00, 21 November 2013

    (so the existing DMUs aren’t really painfully slow [ngh]
    Try taking a fully loaded stopper to Twyford (I do occasionally) their acceleration is bad which makes the stoppers so unloved. The rule of thumb from one of the RSSB reports was that the best new DMU’s acceleration time to 50mph is about twice as bad as an old EMU. They won’t be getting the performance of an old EMU either.
    Current Paddington semi-stopping service to Maidenhead with 7 intermediate stops = 43 minutes
    Crossrail Paddington to Maidenhead with all 12 intermediate stops = 39 minutes

    Re Moosealot 15:16, 21 November 2013
    & Graham H 17:29, 21 November 2013

    Agreed you have put point far better than I have. Crossrail to Reading is mostly about improved service for those between Airport Junction and Reading.

    Re Milton 20:48, 21 November 2013

    WRAtH – Heathrow have major air quality issues to address beforehand if they want an additional runway and terminal. So they need to get as many people who travel to Heathrow on to public transport (preferably electrified) to reduce local air pollution. WRAtH has the potential to address both the passenger and staff car parks, so I would expect a couple of stops as this helps on the staff side.

  250. Si says:

    @Graham H (18:20) – no it doesn’t: you just have to path it right. And skip stop was in relation to the relief lines (16tph), not the main lines (20tph).

    You’d have it so that you’d have a Reverse-Limited stop-Skip stop pattern of three trains running 8 times an hour. Hayes is where you’d have to integrate limited stop and skip stop services. Skip stop would have two more stops than limited stops, and the skip stops would leave Paddington 5 minutes before the limited stop train that is following it. That seems doable – 2 minutes a stop.

    Skip stop is all about not needing to build loops, but not have an all-trains all-stations service or low frequencies.

    @Littlejohn (19:11)

    I too am unaware of plans for semi-fast trains. I was unclear there as I modified what I was to say in that comment, and deleted half an argument. The rest of the argument was that semi-fast trains to Reading and beyond wouldn’t exist under the L&SE RUS plan and those 20tph would non-stop between Reading and Paddington (unless OOC is built and many/all also stop there).

    There does seem to be a few Paddington – Maidenhead non-stop trains in the ‘Crossrail-ends-there’ service pattern, but I don’t know how that would work (guessing utilising the gaps that HEx on the fast lines provides to stop at the fast line platforms, or move over to the relief lines).

    @Milton Clevedon (20:48)

    I did have speculation to post-WRAtH frequencies in my OP, before I removed them and stuck to the real world. I imagine that they would stir things up, especially if extensions of 4tph of the Crossrail Heathrow services. WRAtH seems more like a local service. Annoyingly it needs to serve Reading, so you can’t run 2tph Henley – Heathrow and 2tph Marlow – Heathrow with short trains and keep Crossrail as is (perhaps skipping Burnham and Taplow off-peak?)

    Can Henley and Marlow be extended to 10-car (passive provision for 12-car) trains? Or Crossrail trains split into shorter ones at Maidenhead/Twyford? In which case, the through trains would be able to remain easily, and could run all day post-WRAtH (as Crossrail on the more direct relief lines would have no reason to go to Reading).

  251. Graham H says:

    @Si – the general point remains. Skip stop suboptimises line capacity. Drawing the graph shows why. In the specific case you mention it cuts capacity from a theoretical 20 tph to a deliverable 16 tph. That is a high cost and a wasted investment, and something which the force of circumstance (ie further growth in traffic) would eventually force a change. The understanding that having different trains doing different things on the same pair of tracks eats capacity, is one of the key reasons why many professionals think, for example, that more can be squeezed out of the classic network (WCML especially) without building HS2.

  252. Littlejohn says:

    @ngh 01:27, 22 November 2013.

    Point taken, but surely the slowness here is a product of the service pattern operated. Diesel will never match electric for acceleration but as I said in my comment at 19.11, on the fast lines between Reading and Paddington the Networker performance is on a par with the HSTs.

  253. Pedantic of Purley says:

    @LittleJohn and others.

    If you want to think about whether people would switch to Crossrail or not from Reading you can get a good idea of timings by using the published station-to-Crossrail timings on the right hand side of this page. Obviously an intelligent guess for electric unit times for a possible Crossrail extension from Maidenhead to Reading based on current times needs to be used.

    Also you will probably need to assume very little time difference between HST and IEP services between Paddington and Reading. This is because the top speed is the same and it is only the acceleration out of Paddington or Reading as appropriate that will be significantly different. On the stoppers though the better electric acceleration leads to considerably faster timings than available today.

  254. peezedtee says:

    @Graham H

    I agree. In addition to the likely loss of capacity, skip-stop services can be very confusing for the uninitiated passenger. The “all trains stop at all stations” principle seems to me worth preserving for reasons of clarity (admittedly this was breached long ago on the Metropolitan line.)

    I must say the idea of skip-stop or limited-stop services on Crossrail is a new one on me. Does anyone know if the Paris RER or Berlin S-Bahn have any such services?

  255. REVUpminster says:

    A point re passengers likely to change at Reading instead of Paddington. I think they will if Crossrail runs non stop to Maidenhead then stopping the rest of the way.. I say this because passengers on the C2C travel to West Ham and take the Jubilee Line to Westminster then pick up the District Line instead of going to Fenchurch St and getting the District at Tower Hill. The time difference is only minutes but they do it.

  256. ngh says:

    Re REVUpminister 10:52, 22 November 2013

    I think they will if Crossrail runs non stop to Maidenhead then stopping the rest of the way..
    From which direction non stop then stopping?
    Twyford is the only stop between Maidenhead and Reading.
    Crossrail to Reading is surely about extending the CR service by 2 stops thus reducing the need to have other services running on the relief lines???

    re Si 02:15, 22 November 2013
    Can Henley and Marlow be extended to 10-car (passive provision for 12-car) trains? Or Crossrail trains split into shorter ones at Maidenhead / Twyford? In which case, the through trains would be able to remain easily, and could run all day post-WRAtH (as Crossrail on the more direct relief lines would have no reason to go to Reading).
    Henley and the bay platform at Twyford can do 6 car with the 2 intermediate stations 4 car? Nothing really difficult at Henley / intermediate Station but complete overkill!
    Marlow /Bourne End – they are apparently worrying about how to get to 4car on this branch!

    Higher frequency with 4 car units on the branches with frequent connections (minimise the current waits) at the connecting stations Twyford and Maidenhead (conveniently provided by Crossrail extension in the case of Twyford) looks like the future.

    This would probably mean more than 4 peak tph Crossrail to Reading if some (F)GW didn’t run instead.
    Ending HEx would change the picture in big way as well the inner Crossrail stations would get a more frequent service (some alteration or extension to the West Drayton terminator?)

  257. Castlebar says:

    Never forget that “Skip stop” services were also run on the District (“Not stopping at Gloucester Road and South Kensington”) until ABOUT 1960 when they were withdrawn.

    History always repeats itself when the lessons have been forgotten.

  258. Anonymous says:


    Every other RER B train heading south basically stops everywhere in Zone 1, then skips most/all stops in Zones 2-3, then stops everywhere from there outwards. The alternate trains stop at every stop from Zones 1-3.

    I think that’s fairly analagous to what the Metropolitan line does? And impressionistically at least, it works very well: city centre trains are frequent, journeys to the suburbs are fast. Someone with a more detailed knowledge of the system may disagree…

  259. Moosealot says:

    Fast Reading-Maidenhead is missing out only one station – Twyford – which is also the terminal of the Henley shuttle. What to do about Twyford – and to a lesser extent, Taplow and Burnham (minor stations between Maidenhead and Slough) – is one of the big questions when considering patterns on the GWML reliefs.

    My own observations* are that there are people who want to travel between just about every pair of stations between Paddington and Reading, so some all-stations services will be necessary.

    @Graham H, pzt
    Agree on skip-stop services. There is also the disbenefit that someone wishing to travel between two intermediate stations suddenly has to change. I don’t know how many people travel from Hanwell to Southall (or vice versa) but skip stop would mean that no train called at both those stations and going via Ealing Broadway or Hayes to change will at least quadruple the length of the journey.

    A limited-stop Paddington-Slough-Maidenhead-Reading service – extendible to wherever-you-like – in addition to all-stations Crossrail services would fit in well as passengers for London could opt to change at Maidenhead/Slough for a faster service to Paddington or stay on Crossrail to keep their seat. If timetabled correctly wrt HEx, the paths required to cross from Main to Relief at Dolphin Jct (immediately East of Slough) shouldn’t matter and given the planned Heathrow terminations at Slough, Heathrow and West Drayton, there should be enough space on the reliefs for them to run without catching up with the preceding slow service.

    Another possibility is that Crossrail could take on the Henley branch. Henley, Shiplake and Wargrave could all easily take platform extensions to 240m (not true of the Bourne End branch without major surgery). In fact, I would suspect that extending all three platforms to 240m would be cheaper than building a bay at Slough**, so extending the intended 2tph Slough Crossrail services to Henley looks viable on the face of it. Which brings us neatly back to what we do with branches off the GWML!

    *not reliable data, I know
    **yes, I know there’s already an East-facing bay there, but at 120m it needs doubling which cannot be done without remodelling Slough station. The industrial unit North of the existing relief lines immediately to the East of the station that is preventing extension of the existing bay is a major data centre. Its removal/reduction would be even more expensive than rebuilding the North side of the station.

  260. Moosealot says:

    You beat me to it 🙂

    I would be inclined to support the extension to Henley because it would be a good place to turn trains round rather than because the branch needs 10-car services.

    Bourne End station is the big problem on its branch because at one end is the town and immediately beyond the platform at the other is the junction for the Marlow shuttle. Rebuilding the entire station as an island with the Marlow junction part-way down the North face might get you 8 cars in but 10 would involve taking a few metres of residential gardens on each side of the line and 12 would quite possibly require widening the bridge over the Thames as well…

  261. Fandroid says:

    Commenters here should not be deluded into thinking that the Henley and Marlow branches are a big deal. The overcrowding on the through Henley services is due to short trains venturing onto the main line. Both towns are really quite small, and the branch lines have an air of lost rurality (albeit with very well-heeled inhabitants). As already stated here,
    extending Crossrail to Reading makes sense in terms of managing traffic on the relief lines between two major centres – Paddington and Reading. Crossrail will then do a decent job of providing a service for those commuting into Reading, without a bonkers disconnect at Maidenhead. The parallel Reading to Waterloo line demonstrates exactly how Crossrail will operate if extended. Almost no-one commutes that way from Reading to London, but large numbers do the reverse trip. The balance point between London commuters and Reading commuters must be somewhere around Bracknell. Henley direct services would be doomed by a Reading extension, as platform extensions at Twyford would cut off the eastward facing link from the branch.

  262. Milton Clevedon says:

    @ Fandroid
    14:02, 22 November 2013

    The point I raised earlier was about the politics of losing the limited peak through services to London, not to do with the nominal passenger demand. How come the branches have survived at all…?

  263. Fandroid says:

    Milton Clevedon. I agree that it’s probably surprising that the branches have survived at all! As I understand it, Maidenhead to High Wycombe was not even slated for closure by Beeching, but somehow the Bourne End to Wycombe bit went and the crazy back-to-front side branch to Marlow survived!

    However, for the branch line tail to wag the main line dog would be absurd. As I said, I don’t think the Henley direct services could survive a Crossrail extension to Reading, as if the relief platforms at Twyford are extended westward (there’s a high bridge in the way eastward) then they will cut off the direct link to the branch. That would have to be replaced by a new westward chord using up a bit of the overflow carpark.

    I suspect that Reading will only get what it really needs if WRAtH turns up and replaces HEx with new version that does a GatEx impression by starting back at Reading, doing a limited stop service to Heathrow, express from there stopping only at Old Oak Common and stations from Paddington onwards with an ultimate destination somewhere beyond Canary Wharf. Of course to do that, new stock with toilets, first class, and tunnel compatible signalling would be needed.

  264. timbeau says:

    Through services from Paddington to the Marlow branch have always run only to Bourne End, with the “donkey” covering the final leg to Marlow – the main reason for there being two platforms at B E.

    Is there not scope for a three-portion peak hour working for Windsor/Bourne End/ Henley?

    This would allow 4-car operation on each branch, without having a short train (or three!) taking up a valuable path on the GWML. If Crossrail stock can’t be split into 4 car sets, (or existing 4 car sets are not allowed in the tunnels, although if they are 319s, built for the single bore tunnels in the Barbican area, I don’t see why not) they could use the main line platforms at Padd.

  265. Kit Green says:

    …if they are 319s, built for the single bore tunnels in the Barbican area, I don’t see why not

    Platform edge doors will be a major problem for any other than new Crossrail stock.

  266. Mark Townend says:

    I’m coming round to the idea that the simple all stations Reading Crossrail extension option is preferable to any more complex limited or skip stop pattern overlay I or others have suggested. The journey time achievable by the new high performance units is swinging it for me with a only a 50 minute journey all stations from Reading to Paddington or thereabouts seeming plausible.

    Reading to London commuters will no doubt still prefer the non-stop fast line expresses unless there’s a fare differential implemented, but remembering that Crossrail from Paddington will also improve onward connections to West End and City significantly as well.

    Journey time improvements from all the intermediate stations to the central London core will be very impressive and attractive however, just as currently planned as far as Maidenhead, but extending this benefit on to Twyford (for Henley) and possibly the long-envisaged Thames Valley Park station, east of Reading. The 5 extra minutes taken by Crossrail from Paddington to Tottenham Court Road for example would scarcely be sufficient to get from a main line platform to the bottom of the Bakerloo line escalators today! The other key plus points for me are that all the intermediate stations would get a regular direct and fairly fast high capacity service to Reading for the reverse commuter market, the significant shopping and leisure attractions and the onward connections available there.

    At Reading I now think the 2 central platforms on the relief side of the new station probably can cope as the terminus for two Crossrails an hour, as well as the same frequency of WRaTH trains to Heathrow , especially as the new depot reception roads and sidings nearby can act as an overflow reversing facility if during the peak layovers or at other times Crossrail and WRaTH trains need to get out of the way of other non-terminating passenger or freight trains stopping or passing through the station. That leads to the conclusion that WraTH ought also to be an extension of the Crossrail service to Heathrow, and the joint operation could base at least part of its fleet at the new Reading depot, possibly a partial alternative to the proposed Old Oak Common site that seems to be limiting commercial development potential immediately adjacent to the HS2 super-hub.

    I assume that, whether integrated with Crossrail or not, WRaTH will run on the reliefs and will have to branch off south under or over the mains towards the airport somewhere east of Slough. 110/115 MPH capable limited stop GW services heading to or from places west of Reading also seek a painless weave between the mains (east of Slough) and relief lines (through and to the west of Slough), and the current flat Dolphin Junction (or any flat ladder) arrangement is not ideal for this. I suggest solving both requirements using a large grade separated intersection built a little to the east of Langley and incorporating both the Airport junction and a grade separated parallel main to relief crossover facility. With the wide range of routes and places served and the long distances involved in main line service, the kind of split second precision required to manage a flat junctions effectively on the this very fast and increasingly busy section is impossibly difficult to acheive reliably and consistently, and the results of any small real time variance in up direction timings will be knock-on delays to any down trains requiring to cross and any others following close behind.

  267. Fandroid says:

    timbeau. Any trains going through the Crossrail tunnel will also have to be equipped to cope with the different signalling system down there, so there are a lot of extras that have to be built in to existing stock to allow that through.

  268. Pedantic of Purley says:

    @Mark Townend,

    Pleased you have grasped the point about timings and worked through the scenarios. One has to remember that there are not actually that many stations between London and Reading. I can understand what Moosealot is saying and if Paddington really was the ultimate destination he would be 100% correct. The thinking going on by the people at the top is moving more to the idea that people will accept the notionally slower journey to avoid a change at Paddington. This was commented on by Terry Morgan (chairman Crossrail) in his presentation but Andrew Wolstenholme (Chief Exec) has said much the same thing whilst both making it clear they were offering a personal opinion. The implication was though that this would also be at least partially true for Reading if Crossrail happened to go there. We musn’t forget though that if Crossrail were to go to Reading it would be more about convenience for those commuting to Reading than Reading commuters travelling to London.

  269. HowardGWR says:

    I am so pleased that NGH, PoP and now Mark Townend, see the point about extending XR to Reading. I think the emphasis of this site (natural) on commuting to central London misses so much that the success of such initiatives as the services of both Overground and Thameslink have demonstrated.

  270. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ PoP – I do wonder whether a further dimension of the extend to Reading debate is related to allowing a bigger cascade of EMUs to elsewhere in the country if Crossrail EMUs were to take over the slower Paddington – Reading services. Others have mentioned the possible depot benefits. There are loads of open questions about what rolling stock will run on many lines earmarked for electrification and whether more capacity per train is to be provided. Some of the decisions will be tied to franchise awards but there must be a big risk of a mismatch between concluding franchise renegotiations and new TOC owners being able to procure stock to tie in with the introduction of electrified lines. It’s already gone pretty wrong with respect to Thameslink and IEP with supplementary orders being needed to patch up the mess.

    As a mere bystander so far as GWML matters are concerned I can’t really see what all the fuss is about when it comes to running Crossrail to Reading. I do understand people wanting really quick journeys but given the monstrous overcrowding on the 125s (as seen on the telly many times) and the poor interchange conditions at Paddington it would be a no brainer to me to use Crossrail if I got a seat and wished to get into part of Zone 1 served by Crossrail.

  271. Pedantic of Purley says:


    I have always seen the point of extending to Reading. But, until GWML electrification was announced, I also saw the point that to do so may well have threatened the whole project due to the way costs for upgrading Reading (especially resignalling) would have been charged to Crossrail by Railtrack and possibly subsequently by Network Rail. That might have been wrong but it was the reality of the situation.

    There is also the issue of project creep. As someone not au fait with the such consequences in a construction environment I do not think I am in a position to judge but it would be nice to get an agreement to extend to Reading now. But if we had to wait for the project to be complete then extend to Reading later I don’t see the great harm done so long as there isn’t a lot of wasted redundant investment.

  272. Pedantic of Purley says:

    @Walthamstow Writer

    And the clincher may well be overall rolling stock utilisation. At the end of the day money talks.

  273. ngh says:

    Re PoP and WW
    My suspicion as well on the rolling stock.

    There weren’t enough 319s to cover both North(west) electrification in CP4/5 and the GWR electrification before the scope creep on both (i.e. adding the GW branches or Windimere branch or Leeds – York or the intensification of services (doubling up of units) etc required due to continuing demand growth in the last few years.

    FGW are apparently in talks to take on the future 387 post Thameslink which would be 29 4 car units if the options aren’t taken up. Is 29 4car units enough to meet the service levels on the GW semifasts and the 3 branches? There will be a big shortage of 110mph capable EMUs (Just 387s and some recent 350s) for semi-fast services nationwide.

    It would also returns the GW franchise to more of it original emphasis without the stopping commuter services nearer London (the old Thames Trains franchise).

    It could all potential work quite well, “London” hasn’t paid for the electrification between Maidenhead and Reading or the rebuild of Reading. So the cost of extension is relatively small compared to the total bill.

    In terms of timelines:
    a) delays to all the franchises with short extension to FGW gives some time to alter the long term franchise shape.
    b) the final number of 345s for Crossrail is fixed yet.
    c) the amount actually spent on the Maidenhead site so far isn’t much but a decision needs to be made soon before any unnecessary work is done. The cost of Maidenhead works and the other 13? NR stations west of Paddington is £98m so most would be spent any way.
    d) from the safeguarding docs it looks like they intended to rebuild the bridge east of Twyford.

    This would also clean the service patterns the London side of Reading.

    Re HowardGWR
    I’ve always though it was a good idea but have been in the PoP school of thought on who pays the bill.

  274. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ ngh 0018 – I was actually pondering a little more widely than the GWML but that is clearly an important issue. There are things like the East – West line plus the electric spine passenger services. There is electrification north of Oxford to Coventry and across to Nuneaton as well as the Midland Main Line. AFAIK there is no electric traction identified for services on these routes nor the new possibilities related to the reopening of the Bicester – Bletchley line. I assume Chiltern will also require more trains to run from Aylesbury to MK plus the new Oxford service. There must also be big question marks about elements of the Cross Country service pattern plus Trans Pennine converting to electric traction. I accept I am straying wildly here but it illustrates a complicated set of decisions and potential dependencies between franchises and the wider electrification strategy. We also have some potential rolling stock requirements from TfL for GOBLIN electrification, Barking Riverside extension (if it materialises) and West Anglia. And to think the DfT say that rolling stock is an issue for the TOCs 😉

  275. ngh says:

    RE WW
    Indeed I didn’t start listing everything or even trying, a lot has been added to the list since DfT announced the big EMU procurements under the previous government.
    Also add the South Wales Valleys original assumption was 315s post Crossrail and then Hull electrification possibly paid for by First Hull Trains on a Chiltern “Evergreen” style deal.
    But there are some 317s in storage and probably 25x 317/321 cascaded post introduction of 700s on TSGN.
    so that is another circa 35 units.
    WRAtH would presumably use HEx /connect units if it isn’t run as part of Crossrail if now another 19 units.
    Options for 35x additional 387 4 car units if that can be exercised.
    So 120 ish of which 55 existing units could easily be used to bolster existing services where the rolling stock is compatible.

    I would expect potential “investment” announcements in the forthcoming Chancellor’s Statement and a few more in Budget – Constant drip of good news depending on what is at the ready to sign stage.

  276. ngh says:

    Re WW

    PS aren’t NR due to publish a 30 year Electrification plan imminently?
    Rolling stock planning would then follow…

  277. Greg Tingey says:

    Plus, of course, all the displaced “Turbo” units, which are nowhere near life-expired, which can be then cascaded to places with Pacers ( Euuugghhh! ) or other small, overloaded & getting-ancient units.

    The Reading E. MP has whinged about a “slower service” …but where does he want to go? The Lie Factory, of course, so is it going to actually be quicker for, even he, to get CR1 & change @ Bond St, given interchange times & walks at Padders as at present.
    Wonder if he’s thought it through? [ DON’T answer that question! ]

    Generally – yes – rolling stock utilisation should make this one a semi-certainty?

    And, of course, simply nuking the ridiculous HeX services (I’m sure a sufficiently crafty lawyer could think of an excuse to terminate – or after 50 years of “Who” should that be “EXTERMINATE!” HeX ) would also release quite large amounts of capacity.

  278. HowardGWR says:

    Yes, I suppose in the end, as long as the formations are not endangered, any nonsenses perpetrated by competing interests do not make this sustainable transport enthusiast over-furious. Thanks for the reactions anyway; I suppose the only long term issue is the possible waste of money at Maidenhead.

  279. Fandroid says:

    Stabling at Maidenhead probably wouldn’t be redundant if and when Crossrail were extended to Reading. It’s probably better to have a distinct TfL storage site rather than mix the whole thing up with the GW franchise maintenance and stabling facility at Reading. That extra stabling may be seen to be a good thing in the future if demand for rail services continues to increase. The only issue might be: is the Maidenhead stabling facility big enough to take all the units for the Reading extension too? But as someone else hinted, efficient stock utilisation once the services start might prove that no extra units need be ordered. (As used to mysteriously happen in the good old days of BR).

  280. @Fandroid,

    I really don’t think there is any chance of these extra carriages appearing from nowhere. Everything is far too well scrutinised these days. But yes it was amazing how in BR days they managed to eke out extra available carriages by methods which only occurred to them after the order for them was placed.

    What I was trying to suggest was that if ordering a few extra units of Crossrail stock for any extension to Reading meant that:

    – a better service overall for the passenger could be run and
    -in totality (Crossrail and the GW TOC) fewer carriages were actually required due to other services (e.g. Slough – Reading) not now needing to be implemented

    then it is hard to imagine politicians and the DfT not jumping at the opportunity to save money whilst at the same time presenting it, with justification, as a better deal for the passenger. But first, someone, preferably from within NR, Crossrail or the TOC, needs to produce a convincing case to the DfT. Read into that what you will.

  281. Mark Townend says:

    With the simple extension of all stations Crossrail to Reading becoming a consensus, I didn’t feel that needed any illustration. However I still felt a need to exercise my creative muscles, so I’ve come up with a proposal to extend the Henley branch to Basingstoke through Reading instead! 4 trains could provide a 30 minute interval service, and I’m assuming new stations at Thames Valley Park and Green Park.

  282. Castlebar says:

    @ Mark

    You are right in that something ‘creative’, (as opposed to something crayon) using existing infrastructure is always worth considering, and as the basic structure and route is already there, costs are quantifiable and (comparatively) minimal. Henley – Reading – (or Reading West??) – Basingstoke might “have legs”, but there is always the problem of crossing the main line. Trailing junctions (such as they are now stuck with at Bourne End), should always be avoided whenever/wherever possible with any proposal.

    Bourne End – Wycombe is the great tragedy. Is it too late now ??

  283. Malcolm says:

    @Mark Townend

    Clever. Not sure if the good burghers of Henley and Shiplake wanting London would be that thrilled about a hike through the forest instead of just crossing the platform. But those who want Reading would be thrilled.

  284. Mark Townend says:

    @Castlebar, 16:52, 24 November 2013

    Clearly my Henley proposal is predicated on completion of the station and junction work at Reading, and would use the new flyover to cross the main lines west of the station.

    @Malcolm , 17:07, 24 November 2013

    The walkway could be made at least partially covered and in the up direction would be little more than 200 metres to interchange with Crossrail, for those going on to central London no further than the interchange walk avoided at Paddington. Alternatively if Thames Valley Park (TVP) station was constructed with an island platform for both reliefs, interchange there with Crossrail and also possibly semi-fast Paddington bound trains could be accomplished in either direction by a simple cross platform walk. Failing that, a Henley passenger could travel to Reading itself easily and transfer to a non-stop express to Paddington. Another idea would be to join a peak Henley portion to a semi-fast Paddington service at TVP (clearly a more complex station design required there to handle that).

  285. Mark Townend says:

    @Castlebar, 16:52, 24 November 2013

    I think Bourne End – High Wycombe would be possible, but only via a completely new, shorter, more southerly link from Bourne end to the Chiltern route, joining it between Beaconsfield and Loudwater . Interestingly If that Chiltern junction was built as a triangle, Marlow could become an alternative branch destination for Marylebone stopping trains, restoring regular through London trains to the area. The High Wycombe link could be used by some of the Crossrail Maidenhead terminators or some part of the East-West Railway network to access Heathrow or Reading (via reversal at Maidenhead)

  286. Graham H says:

    @Mark Townend/Castlebar – we looked at this for a franchise bidder about 10 years ago, who was contemplating running from Brum to the “airport”. Apart from the short platform problem, the main obstacle to re-opening the old route is an industrial and housing estate blocking its northern section. A different approach from the north would probably solve that, even if not terribly popular with the locals…

  287. Walthamstow Writer says:

    I want to know if Mr Townend does courses on how to produce such clear and informative single side of A4 pdfs for his schemes and ideas. They’re really very good. 🙂

  288. Paul says:

    Mark T @ 1755, it’s changed since the original plans, the new chords at Reading are effectively on the ground, it is the main lines towards Didcot that are now going to be on a flyover. (Functionally equivalent of course.)

  289. timbeau says:

    What would your proposal achieve that reversal in the existing bay at Twyford (as is done by a couple of daily Henley/Reading services in the current timetable) does not? (I accept that extending the up relief platform may require re-locating the connection from that line to the bay, but that will surely have to happen anyway).

  290. Castlebar says:

    Getting back to the thread title, do we really know any more about the service that might be running on the Greenford branch in, say, 20 years from now??

    Sometimes I feel that history has shown that transport ‘planners’ never “miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity”, and I can see the same happening again.

  291. Fandroid says:

    @Mark. Superb presentation of your Henley branch proposals. Noting your cycle-walking track to Wargrave, I don’t know if you are aware that there was once a very serious SUSTRANS attempt to use the spare width of the railway’s bridge over the Thames at Wargrave for a new cycle route to Henley. The hysteria generated within the moneyed classes who lived nearby had to be heard to be believed. Makes the HS2 objections look calm in comparison! I worked out that the ‘hordes’ of cyclists would amount to seeing about one per 100 metres, even on a busy weekend. Sad to say, the naysayers won, and trains are still the only way of crossing the river between Sonning and Henley.

  292. Fandroid says:

    Forgive me for going grossly off-topic, but Mark Townend’s plan for a Henley-Basingstoke service reminded me of a curious fare anomaly. The Standard off-peak day return Basingstoke to Henley costs £10.40, whereas the First off-peak day return costs £29.30 ! And, if the First class punter is unlucky he may find himself on a standard-class only train from Basingstoke to Reading! Time for Disgusted of Farleigh Wallop to go into print.

  293. Littlejohn says:

    @ Fandroid 09:15, 25 November 2013.

    Staying off topic but on the new thread, if the punter was travelling on Saturday/Sunday, could he get a weekend upgrade for a fiver, or would he have to buy a separate one on each leg of the journey?

  294. Geo says:

    Hello, does anyone have an idea when the TfL / DfT plans for the Greenford branch are likely to be announced? As a frequent user of the service I have a great interest!

  295. Snowy says:

    Currently still planned to be part of the Great Western franchise, if you want to suggest it goes to TfL, or even that it stays as part of the great western then there’s a new DfT consultation on the Great Western franchise that you could complete to put your case, the consultation can be found here.

  296. Paul says:

    There has been a new DfT consultation for the future GW direct award franchise released today, it clearly states that Greenford – West Ealing is staying with the GW franchise.

    That must be the most up to date info – unless anyone knows differently…

  297. Paul says:

    You wait all day for an answer then two synchronised posts arrive!

  298. Geo says:

    Great minds obviously! Thank you both.

  299. Geo says:

    For those who are interested, a Chiltern train was run on the Greenford branch to Paddington this morning. Allegedly ‘on loan’.

  300. Castlebar (Continuity Contra Crayonista) says:

    Geo, Thanks

    Was it in service and/or did it use the Greenford bay out of service???

  301. Geo says:

    Alas I was not on the train but I’m informed it was in service as the 7.52 am from Castle Bar Park to Paddington. Not sure what happened at Greenford.

    Following an enquiry on Twitter First Great Western tweated: “It won’t be a permanent arrangement Claire but is on loan in the interim to assist with additional carriages. “

  302. Castlebar (Continuity Contra Crayonista) says:

    Thank you Geo

    Then it must have used the bay at Greenford

    Info appreciated

  303. Geo says:

    Can we read anything into this? The “on loan in the interim to assist with additional carriages” doesn’t really ring true as usually if there is a problem with a train they just cancel it.

  304. Pedantic of Purley says:


    I suspect if there is an immediate problem they just cancel it. If there is a longer term problem that is different. Normally rolling stock is allocated so tightly that no-one has any spare but Chiltern does appear to have a tiny bit of slack so may well be in the position of being able to arrange short-term loans. Didn’t they loan a train for Goblin services at one stage? Also Chiltern are masters as re-diagramming their trains so that the effect of shortage of stock is minimised. They replace lighter used services with one fewer carriages until they have sufficient for their needs. This is something they can probably do in July and August without upsetting customers.

  305. Castlebar (Ruislip Chord & FCUK LU) says:

    Don’t know, but unless it’s of a class already used on this line, surely there would have been a proving run OOS first. Secondly, was it 2-car?

    Also, was it an individual journey or is that stock being used all day?
    I remember in about 1970, just for one afternoon only, l remember a pair of “M” numbered class 101s or 104s being used, then never seen again

  306. Geo says:

    @Pedantic thank you that’s interesting, perhaps I’m guilty of jumping to conclusions but you can see the potential for Chiltern to take it over when the line terminates at West Ealing.

    @Castlebar I wasn’t on the train unfortunately but I would imagine it would have to be a 2-car. Will see if it is running this evening, having an air conditioned train is a welcome luxury this time of year!

  307. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ PoP – yep a Chiltern 172 did materialise on the GOBLIN. I think it was cover while some mods were made to LOROL’s fleet.

  308. Moosealot says:

    I doubt anything could be read into it other than (i) as PoP says, Chiltern are really good at rolling stock management and they can probably spare a couple of carriages over the summer holidays as some commuter services could be shortened, and (ii) that it’s pretty easy for Chiltern to send trains to the Greenford branch.

    Once the Greenford service is cut back to a shuttle to West Ealing and taken over by TfL — wow, back on topic! — I could easily imagine there being a maintenance deal being done with Chiltern if the DMUs that were going to be used on the Greenford branch are the same class as ones that Chiltern already run themselves.

    I could also see there being a benefit to running a daily ‘parliamentary’ from Aylesbury to West Ealing via High Wycombe and Castle Bar Park if the rolling stock ends up being stabled at Aylesbury and the New North Line is cut by HS2 in order to keep the route available for diversions.

    While possibly useful as an orbital(ish) route, High Wycombe to West Ealing fails due to the only main line platform at Greenford being in a SE-facing bay. While there is space to put platforms on the ‘through’ New North Line, the cost would probably be prohibitive, especially as the NNL tracks are significantly lower than the central line tracks and the current bay platform. If capacity at Marylebone becomes a problem, then diverting some High Wycombe services to West Ealing for a change to Crossrail may justify the cost of works to Greenford. But only if Crossrail isn’t also full by that point…

  309. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Moosealot – one wonders as to the merit of a x30 West Ealing – Greenford shuttle combined with a x30 West Ealing – High Wycombe service. The latter service would not stop at Greenford but pax could be allowed to “double back” to South Ruislip if they wished to catch it down to West Ealing. This gives a good frequency over almost all of the shuttle line but opens up interchange to Crossrail and Heathrow via West Ealing from part of the Chiltern Line. I confess to having zero clue about whether paths are available or viable so I may be wasting everyone’s time!

    Oh and TfL are not likely to take over the Greenford shuttle despite the rumours that prompted the article. There’s no suggestion, as stated above at least twice, of this in the latest Great Western franchise consultation. If it was in prospect I’d have expected the DfT to have said so by now to avoid wasting bidders’ time.

  310. Castlebar (Ruislip Chord & FCUK LU) says:

    I think that the severance of the NNML between OOC and Perivale because of the need to save a bit of money with HS2, will turn out to be one of the great railway cock-ups of this century

  311. Ian J says:

    @castlebar: Is it clear that the line will be severed? I can’t see any indication on the HS2 plans of a permanent severance of the NNML, and they seem to have carefully placed the vent shafts to avoid impeding on the trackbed (even the unused trackbed of the second line).

  312. Moosealot says:

    @WW, re West Ealing – High Wycombe

    The paths are there, taking the slots ex-Marylebone that go via Amersham. There are passing loops at both South and West Ruislip. I would imagine such a service would be semi-fast calling at Denham, Gerrards X and Beaconsfield (where is should be possible to reinstate the passing loop if required) as the other intermediate stations have very low patronage but the residents would scream blue murder if the Marylebone services were removed. The question is whether there would be enough DMUs to run it.

  313. Greg Tingey says:

    Moosealot & others
    We can still hope, I presume, that the long-term insanity for obvious short-term gain of [ permanently, as opposed to temporarily ] closing Greenford W Jn – OOC W Jn can/may be averted?
    If the closure is temporary, whist HS2 is constructed & the line is re-instated, then fair do’s, but ……

  314. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Moosealot – thanks for the info re paths. I can think of 8 DMUs that will become spare in 2017 from a line in East London.

  315. Anonymous says:

    A couple of visits to Greenford ( living well 😉 showed just how difficult it is to know there is a train service there. Nothing visible at all from the outside and the sole timetable panel well inside the booking hall is sometimes competely obscured by a LU mobile panel. Of course FGW say it’s a LU station and LU just don’t want to know. Even with the cutback service, getting it onto maps people see on other trains will be a huge increase in visibility.

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