In the late 1970s the Chrysler Corporation of America was in deep financial trouble. No-one wanted to buy their cars. Lee Iacocca, a former president of Ford Motors who was fired when he fell out with Henry Ford II, was headhunted and persuaded to to take on the presidency of Chrysler to sort out the problems there. It was a smart appointment as Iacocca knew all aspects of the car industry extremely well, having started in engineering but moved over to sales and marketing.

When he attended the first monthly meeting Iacocca was aghast at what he witnessed. The production department were stating what models and how many of them they expected to produce in the following month, and the sales department were tasked with selling them. This was madness in the eyes of Iacocca. To him the marketing department should be telling the production department what to build and it was then down to the salesmen to sell them.

The above is an extreme example of the conflict that there will always be between those who specify a product and those who have the task of delivering it. It is an issue that affects manufacturing, service industries, agriculture and both private and state enterprises. Indeed the Soviet Command Economy and its former five year plans probably represent the extreme situation at the other end of the spectrum, where goods or crops are demanded without any regard to the ability to produce them. It would be little exaggeration to say that failing to take into account what is actually deliverable can bring a down a major world power.

A Recent announcement

With the above in mind we now take a look at the recent controversial announcement by Minister for Transport Simon Burns. Or rather it does not appear to be seen as controversial and that is the worry. The announcements states that Wimbledon Loop services, which were due to be terminated at Blackfriars from 2018, will now continue to run into the core section of Thameslink.

The press release quotes just three sentences from Simon Burns and add a further two to clarify things, but in these five sentences we have a lot of complex issues to unravel. Indeed there are so many issues that this article concentrates just on the decision making process that went into this announcement.

It has always been a question of priorities

Those who believe, as the first Henry Ford did, that history is more or less bunk can skip to the paragraph headed “Thameslink Services Commence.” For a detailed background keep reading.

In the old days prior to nationalisation it was all so simple. The railway decided what service to provide and the public had a choice – take it or leave it. If the railway company got it wrong then it would affect their profits. Indeed that Southern Railway, in its early days, generally got it right was simply down to the fact that they had in Sir Herbert Walker an equivalent of Lee Iacocca – a man who understood the mechanics of the railway but was driven by marketing. The same could probably be said of Chris Green of Network SouthEast – he of the red lampposts fame. Better still, it could be argued that these people possessed a touch of the Steve Jobs in that they instinctively knew better than the customers themselves what the customers really wanted.

A railway is a pretty permanent structure. It is not like a production line that can easily be reconfigured. Even changing a track layout at a junction is probably far more complicated and expensive than the average person can ever appreciate. When the railways were nationalised after World War II it was a different world. The was very little money available to change things. There would have been very little concept of a market-driven goal. In an era emerging from a make-do-and-mend philosophy it was simply a case of taking the attitude that “This is the network we have got. How can we make best use of it?”

The fact that the railways were nationalised led to the presumption that those running it would act for the greater good. This again was something that people accepted following their wartime experience. Indeed the British Railways Board arguably had total freedom to run whatever services they wanted, although initially they were expected to pay their way. Once they started receiving subsidies then obviously the government has influence even if not specified in a formal manner.

It was felt that once the railways operated a route they would strive to make the best use of it so really no interference was necessary. Bad publicity and a desire not to get letters from MPs was probably motivation enough. The one exception to this hands-off policy was when the railways wanted to withdraw passenger services completely – or they were put under pressure from the government to do so.

A procedure was put in place for a formal process to be instigated if the railway proposed to close a route entirely to passenger traffic. This was to establish whether users would suffer “undue hardship”. When all the evidence had been collated, the Minister of Transport was expected to form an objective view and make a decision as to whether or not to authorise closure. As we have seen in recent years, this process can be circumvented by running one train a week in one direction at a inconvenient time just so that the formal procedure does not need to be invoked. Indeed in the case of the Watford West branch they didn’t even do that for a number of years – they simply closed the line when a vital link was severed, and classified this as “engineering work” for which they would lay on an early morning taxi if anyone actually turned up for the one train that was supposedly running.

It was different on the buses

It is curious to note that on the buses, which were still run by commercial enterprise, the exact opposite was true. One could not change the timetable, the route, the fares or even the type of bus used without approval from the overseeing Traffic Commissioners. The Traffic Commissioners basically existed to stop a free-for-all as seen outside London during bus deregulation in the 1980s and ensure that basic safety standards were complied with. Just about the only change that an operator could do without permission of the Traffic Commissioners was to withdraw the service completely. The argument was that as the service was being run as a commercial venture it would be unreasonable to require the operator to run it made a loss.

British Rail is still in charge

As late as 1990 when Thameslink 2000 was being planned, British Rail (as it then still was) was in effect the sole arbiter in deciding services to be run and this was more or less accepted. The railways had always been keen to encourage off-peak traffic and in peak periods they were constrained by what was possible, so commercial considerations and practicalities were the real determiners of the exact service provided. In situations within London where through trains were withdrawn, the situation was generally partially or totally compensated for by either a more frequent connecting shuttle service (e.g. Addiscombe or Sanderstead via Elmers End) or providing connections with fast through trains such as the branch services on the Great Western Main Line.

One service that did provide conflict however was the Bromley North branch and we have already covered this. At the time there was an active user group, BRONSPART (Bromley North and Sundridge Park Association of Rail Travellers). They wrote to their MPs who no doubt raised questions in Parliament. It is probably fairly safe to say that they would have received the stock reply that “this is an operational matter for British Rail”. For all sorts of reasons the government would not have wanted to get involved with the minutiae of railway operations.

One must not think from the previous paragraph that the government did not get involved with railway operations. Far from it. After all for any serious investment (such as the purchase of replacement rolling stock) the British Railways Board had to ask permission for the government to spend money and the government (or their civil servants) would examine the business case very carefully according to the criteria which they themselves had specified. More importantly, the world of the railways from the 1950s to the late 1980s was generally one of decline whilst the motor car was in its ascendency. The political issue with the railways was line closures and governments were sensitive enough about the fallout (i.e. loss of votes) from this. They would not have wanted to compound this with being blamed for decisions concerning service provision – especially when it involved choosing to favour one set voters over another.

The railway is privatised

When the privatised railway came along this issue of service provision needed to be addressed. The railway was still declining. The issue was to prevent the privatised railways taking the money and reducing the service. The way of addressing this problem was franchising. A standard of service would be specified for the duration of the franchise and the train operating company (TOC) would be obliged to provide it.

In retrospect the problem with franchises and providing the best service possible was obvious. The TOC would be constrained by the condition of the franchise. This however was not seen as a problem at the time that the structural framework was set up. That the TOCs would be constrained by contract in dealing with the growth of passenger traffic as best as they could was not even seen as an issue that would need to be addressed.

The privatisation framework also recognised that someone had to design and specify the franchise contract and also take on a broader long term view. After all the TOCs were ultimately in it to make money, not for the betterment of all users (including ones served by competing TOCs). When the Labour government came to power they recognised this. To this end the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) was created. Consisting mainly of experienced railwaymen, it probably continued with the Utilitarian approach of doing the greatest good for the greatest number of people. More than that, it was supposed to be strategic and have long-term thinking – so it would not be too concerned with the here and now but with what the railway would be like in ten years time. The people it would be “doing good” for probably had not yet been identified and (shockingly) may thus well be too young to vote.

For whatever reason, the Labour government were not happy with the SRA. Some of its powers were moved to the Office of Rail Regulation, others to Network Rail and the remainder to the Department for Transport which was responsible for franchising. Arguably the government had created a rod for its own back, or at least for the coalition government that followed. The very powers that for decades government had been careful not to interfere too much in were now vested in the DfT.

Thameslink Services Commence

We now need to get back to Thameslink. Thameslink services began in 1988. The great vision that is present today was not really applicable. The project was seen by many as more about increasing capacity and stock utilisation by reducing the need for trains to terminate on arrival in London than providing strategic links between north and south.

In those days through traffic was slow to build up as passengers were slow to change their routines. An off-peak Thameslink train from the south would arrive at London Bridge and most of the passengers would get off leaving two or three people per carriage to continue to Blackfriars and beyond. When Thameslink 2000 was envisaged it is unlikely that the issue of passengers losing their through services was considered and, if it was, then it is unlikely to have been thought of as a great issue and in any case passengers would be able to change at Blackfriars. If Thameslink 2000 had gone ahead in its original timescale then probably the loss of through services would not have been controversial.

What of course happened is that passenger rail traffic in general got busier in the years after 2000 and the Wimbledon – Luton Thameslink route became more effectively established as a permanent feature. Over a long period of time rail services will influence where people live and where they get jobs. Possibly more critically, as all trains got busier the by now substantial number of people using the Wimbledon Loop trains beyond Blackfriars realised they would probably be struggling to find a space on trains if they had to change at Blackfriars. Any through trains would no doubt be arriving already full to bursting.

Through Wimbledon service “Not Viable”

In July 2011 Network Rail published its final Route Utilisation Strategy for London and the South East. Its view on which trains should terminate at Blackfriars could not have been clearer:

Consistent with the recommendations of the South London RUS, operational analysis indicates that services routed via Herne Hill will need to operate into the new London Blackfriars bay platforms, whilst services routed via Catford will need to operate through the Thameslink core. Given the track and station layout currently under construction at London Blackfriars, reversing this arrangement would not be operationally viable.

This was no surprise as the identical wording had appeared in the draft document. One would have thought that was pretty definite. Things had obviously changed though because in the final version was a list of proposed Thameslink routes that was not in the draft and appeared to be very different to what had been previously proposed.

The DfT calls the shots

The previously mentioned table that was referenced in the document is not important for the purposes of this article. We may well refer to it in a subsequent one. What is more significant is its heading

Table 5.2 – indicative services assumed to operate through the Thameslink core in 2018

Why the assumption? Well the text makes the reason clear.

Further feasibility work on a potential post Thameslink timetable structure is ongoing. The DfT expects to consult on the proposed timetable structure in due course, as part of the Thameslink franchise replacement, before firm decisions are made.

In others words “we can’t tell you, it is not our decision to make”. There was absolutely no mention of this in the draft document.

The decision-making process

In May 2012 the DfT published their consultation document on the Thameslink franchise. The relevant paragraph and questions are as follows:

7.21 Many stakeholders are aware that Network Rail has recommended, in both the South London and London and South East Route Utilisation Strategies, that Wimbledon loop services should start and terminate at Blackfriars. Network Rail wishes to see trains presented to the Thameslink core punctually, and it sees the crossing moves that the Wimbledon loop trains have to make south of Blackfriars as potential conflicts with other trains, and thus a threat to punctuality. At peak times, from December 2018, it will be possible for up to 16 trains per hour to approach Blackfriars from the south route via Elephant & Castle, but for no more than eight of these to proceed through the Thameslink core. The other eight must terminate in the new platforms on the west side of Blackfriars station. All these trains will approach Blackfriars either from the Denmark Hill direction (including Catford loop trains) or from Herne Hill (including Wimbledon loop trains). The question to be decided is which six or eight trains (depending on whether 16 or 18 approach from London Bridge) go through the Thameslink core and which terminate. Trains that use these routes today come from Sutton, Wimbledon, Ashford (via Maidstone East), Rochester, Sevenoaks, Orpington, Beckenham Junction and Kent House. We are seeking respondents’ views on which of these service groups should run through the Thameslink core and which should terminate at Blackfriars.

Q.18 What services that run via Elephant & Castle do respondents think should run via the Thameslink core route?

Q.19 Recognising that not all of these services can run via the Thameslink core route, what would be the most satisfactory way of managing the interchange at Blackfriars?

So here we have the DfT deciding to seek stakeholders views on something that less than a year previously Network Rail has said is not operationally viable.

It could be argued that the DfT is right to consult on this issue. Maybe assertions by Network Rail should not go unchallenged. Given the unease and political pressure that was building up over the belated realisation, or acceptance, that Wimbledon Loop services would be terminated at Blackfriars it may seem to be a reasonable move.

One would think such an important decision would be subject to a lot of scrutiny. And when it would be announced the logical basis of the decision making process would be made available so that the reasoning behind the decision was clear.

A good precedent had been set for just such a scenario. When end of the South London Line service was proposed, TfL and London TravelWatch worked together to carry out an excellent objective survey to establish the actual hardship that would be caused if the service was removed. One would have expected something similar to quantify the true situation regarding the Wimbledon Loop.

Instead we have the terse announcement that includes the phrase “the department was always concerned that the initial proposals for this route were not quite right.” This sounds horribly like a subjective comment based on nothing factual. The press release tells us that “More than 16,000 journeys are made on Wimbledon Loop services each weekday” which sounds impressive and a good reason for making the decision they made. High-level figures, however, can conceal a multitude of sins. It may well be that 15,500 of these journeys do not proceed north of Blackfriars, and so are unaffected. The press release is lacking any relevant figure which would include the number of passenger journeys per day which are:

  • On the Wimbledon Loop and are to or from stations north of Blackfriars
  • On Thameslink through Blackfriars but NOT on the Wimbledon loop

It would also be highly informative to know the above figures for City Thameslink, since that station is only a short distance away and the inconvenience to passengers may well not be that great.

A further highly relevant figure would be for the equivalent projected values for 2018 when the Thameslink Programme is completed. This would expect to see many more people from other places continuing north as these services have not been established for so long. Of course ideally we would like the figures for the actual routes through Elephant & Castle when the Thameslink Programme is complete. The problem is that these are not available because the DfT has not even decided which routes these will be.

If these figures were ever established then an objective appraisal could also be done on the consequences of the 8tph in each direction that would now have to change from the western pair of trains to the eastern pair or vice versa, and come to a balanced judgement as to what the best decision would be. Of course with rail ministers who describe the benefits of removing a considerable number of conflicting movements as trains have to change tracks on a four-track (up, down, up, down) railway as “some marginal seconds in efficiency gain.” there is perhaps a doubt over just how balanced such a judgement would be.

What this announcement also lacks is any appreciation that this could cause problems in the future. There are no caveats. Supposing, hypothetically, it was discovered that Network Rail concluded that they could run more trains into Blackfriars providing they minimised conflicting crossings. Would the DfT then be prepared to see Wimbledon Loop trains terminated at Blackfriars in order to make the additional services possible? Tragically, with this announcement hitting them, Network Rail probably won’t consider it worthwhile to look. And what if it could be seen that 24tph through the Thameslink core was unworkable? Would the DfT then agree to reinstate the original proposals? Conversely, what if it was established that Thameslink could support 27tph through the core section but only if Wimbledon Loop services terminated at Blackfriars. Would the government then agree to the changes in that situation?

A Flawed Process?

The whole issue of how this decision has been made has the feel of political opportunism being put above rational scientific appraisal. It is perfectly right and proper that ministers should seek rail users views. It is also a proper part of the democratic process for constituents to write to their MPs over issues that concern them, and one would certainly not criticise them for doing so. One would expect the views to be taken into account as part of a full overview of the issue involved. What one would not expect is a response where it seems that the main factor in determining a decision is who made the most noise.

The decision was announced by a minister who will almost certainly not be around in the DfT when the consequences of it becomes apparent. To add to the ease of making the decision is the fact that those who will lose out have still not been fully identified, as the department still has not told us what other routes would have otherwise formed part of Thameslink. So the decision is bound for the most part to be popular with voters and encounter little popular opposition. It is also impossible to tell how much this was influenced by a fellow transport minister whose constituency just happens to be Wimbledon.

The best we can say is that it may ultimately be the right decision, but even if so it was made for the wrong reason. Perhaps there has indeed been some proper rational analysis that has not been published, but that is likely to be an optimistic view.

We hope to revisit Thameslink soon to provide an update and also go into more detail concerning the operating and other consequences of this announcement.

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There are 199 comments on this article
  1. Anonymous says:

    The thameslink project will be some 30 years late by the time it is finished – for that we can only blame John Majors government who got rid of BR and left us with the mess we have today.

    I was amazed to find out that after all this time the bottleneck at London Bridge for CX services will remain – the four lines out of Waterloo East will remain as two lines.

  2. James says:

    Re passenger figures for Wimbledon loop journeys to destinations north of Blackfriars, see this parliamentary question.

    When writing about the announcement I asked the DfT which services would be taken out of the spec for the Thameslink core to accommodate the Wimbledon loop trains.

    I’m not convinced the answer entirely stacks up but it’s more than the unquestioning regurgitation of the press release served up elsewhere.

  3. Safffy says:

    I used to regularly travel from Wimbledon to Farringdon, so such a change would have affected me. My purely unscientific feeling about it is that many people have similar journeys, from around the loop to one of the inner stations: Blackfriars, City Thameslink, Farringdon or St.Pancras. I don’t think too many travel much further onwards. On the odd occasion that I continued onto Kentish Town there were hardly any “original” passengers left.
    It would be annoying, certainly, to have to change at Blackfriars. But the frequency of trains on the line would mean that the wait would be a short one, as long as there was space. Although, given the proximity of the inner stations, it might be just as easy to walk the rest of the way.
    This decision just smells of political cowardice without a thorough analysis of how many would be affected and how badly.

    On a separate though related topic, I seem to remember someone in the comments to a previous article suggested a thameslink route that travelled from London Bridge to Blackfriars via the loop. For some reason this idea really appeals to me, though I’m not sure it’s practical. It would be very useful if the frequency of the trains around the loop was improved.

  4. John Bull says:

    Those figures are interesting – thanks James.

    So basically we’re talking about approximately 5,500 passengers a day (including those who would then get off at City Thameslink). Fascinating.

  5. Billy says:

    I think if Thameslink had an interchange with the northern line at Colliers Wood/Tooting, and an interchange with the Overground at Loughborough Junction it could take a lot of pressure off the overcrowded Northern Line from Wimbledon to the City and docklands. They would also need to put Thameslink back on the tube map so that people can see it as an alternative to the Northern Line.

  6. James says:

    It is quite amusing to look at the press comments from various MPs who represent the ‘loop’ to their local press – most seem to be claiming a single handed victory on this front.

    Have to agree with some comments that I have seen on related news stories on the downside of this change for commuters in terms of reliability. It will surely be a herculean task to provide a reliable service to loop users when any operational problem in a huge area has the potential to disrupt services in Sutton.

    The news this morning that the franchising process for thameslink has restarted with the current franchise being extended by 28 weeks (to facilitate the bidding process) at least points to some progress being made.

  7. Andrew Bowden says:

    It was very interesting reading the local newspaper websites and their comments following this change.

    When the consultation was launched every comment was absolutely, totally negative. Now it’s full of “You fools, what have you idiots done?” Suddenly lots of previously silent people have realised that whilst under the Blackfriars plans the Wimbledon loop would be more isolated from delays giving them a more reliable service, now things won’t improve, and certainly not one with an improved frequency. (I live near the line but use the tube instead. it’s faster and more reliable.)

    but yes, what’s most appalling is how the government have handled this. Sheer panic politics if you ask me.

  8. mr_jrt says:

    That bottleneck will remain as long as Thameslink services run via London Bridge…you’ll never have room for enough through platforms.

    Run all Thameslink services via E&C though, and then CX can have its 4 platforms at LB…but you’ll have a world of complications to contend with at Herne Hill :)

  9. Dave Edwards says:

    I’m a regular but erratic user of the Thameslink service from Herne Hill, travelling in both directions on an ad-hoc basis. I occasionally use to reach north west London but often to reach Farringdon or the Kings Cross/St. Pancras area. Or Wimbledon where I have clientele.

    I guess I’m one of those people who stayed silent. Personally, I don’t think it’s a ‘big deal’ to have to change at Blackfriars, especially if in return I get a solid, reliable service. As it currently stands – I don’t. Delayed or cancelled trains are the biggest frustration in my business travel whereas spending 10 minutes on a platform waiting for a train that is going to show up is par for the course.

    If terminating the Wimbledon loop at Blackfriars is the solution to the endemic delays on the Thameslink system – so be it.

  10. Anonymous says:

    It’s interesting how those of us who depend on mainline services consider a change of train so inconvenient yet tube users think nothing of changing lines, often involving a long walk through tunnels and escalators. In this case the change of trains, I believe, would be cross-platform (or perhaps same platform, I’m not sure). So I guess it comes down to frequency. Tube users can wake up late and know they’ve got a tube within a couple of minutes, whereas many of us out in the outer zones of south London are reliant on timetabled intervals. I can’t remember off-hand what the frequency of Thameslink trains through the core would have been if the Wimbledon loop services had terminated at Blackfriars but if it was on par with a tube then it’s about disseminating that information into commuters psyche. The other factor when changing trains between mainline trains compared to tube is the former is far more likely to be carried out in the cold and open to the elements, rather than ‘nice’ warm subways.

  11. Mark Townend says:

    There were always going to be some through trains between E&C and the Thameslink core, so the decision to allocate some of these paths to the Wimbledon loop doesn’t really affect the junction capacity at Blackfriars itself, rather how these trains will interact with others south thereof.

    The decision in fact gives more clarity as to future layout options towards Loughborough Junction in conjunction with other aspirations for service development.

    If we assume the terminating platforms at Blackfriars are to be used by new stopping services to and from the Denmark Hill or Herne Hill directions, then a modified layout with the slows on the inside would suit cost effective reinstatement of simple new centre island platform stations in the ‘gaps’ at Walworth and Camberwell.

    See . . .

  12. ngh says:

    RE: mr_jrt 02:28PM, 31st January 2013

    >Run all Thameslink services via E&C though, and then CX can have its 4 platforms at LB…but you’ll have a world of >complications to contend with at Herne Hill :)

    But CX services will have 4 platforms at LBG post rebuilding but with 2 DEDICATED tracks between London bridge and Waterloo East compared to 2 shared tracks at the moment.

    LBG post rebuild:
    Cannon street: new platforms 1-3
    Blackfriars: new platforms 4-5 and uses existing viaduct over Borough market (2 tracks)
    Charing Cross: new platforms 6-9 and uses new viaduct over Borough market (2 tracks i.e. an increase of 2)
    Terminating: new platforms 10-15.

    So Up Charing Cross services would alternate between new P9 and new P8 with one leaving as one pulls in and a reasonable time in platform for passengers to get off/on while waiting for the preceding train to clear the single Up track section ahead.
    (Compared with P6 or thorough track for Up CX at the moment in rush hour).

    There will also be no conflicting moves post rebuild between London Bridge, Waterloo East and Blackfriars as the Blackfriars and Charing Cross Services services will be sorted out by the Bermondsey flyunder.

  13. mr_jrt says:

    Ah, got myself in a muddle. You are quite right, I meant 4 tracks between WE and LB, which to maintain TLs segregation would require 6 tracks between Blackfriairs Junction and LB.

  14. Mark Townend says:

    @mr_jrt 05:20PM, 31st January 2013

    The 4 tracks between WE and CX are primarily concerned with splitting and joining traffic and regulating for the 2 separate and extremely busy terminal platform groups at CX. Many terminals have similar short additional tracks on their approach for these reasons, Fenchurch Street is another example.

  15. Dave says:

    The main complaint would have been the awkward change from the terminal platforms to the through platforms, and vice versa, at Blackfriars. So, what would have been the problem with running the Wimbledon & Sutton line services to City Thameslink, and turning them back in Snow Hill Sidings? They will be 8-car workings for the foreseeable future so not too long to reverse there.

  16. Dave says:

    Okay, ignore that – curious how one is hit by the obvious as soon as a message is posted!

  17. Anonymous says:

    Re: mr_jrt 05:20PM, 31st January 2013

    >Ah, got myself in a muddle. You are quite right, I meant 4 tracks between WE and LB, which to maintain TLs segregation >would require 6 tracks between Blackfriars Junction and LB.

    I suspect that only having 6 platforms at CX will still be the limitation (just) for the new arrangement hence having 4 dedicated vs 2 dedicated might have been unnecessary as the trains would hopefully always be moving in the 2 track section but always only stationary in the 4 track sections (London Bridge and Waterloo East).

    Cannon Street being closer (see Mark T’s point about knitting at terminals) and having an additional platform would then make 2 approach tracks the limiting factor hence retaining existing the 3 lines (Up / Reversible / Down)…

  18. Mack says:

    Guys, one big mistake. Thameslink didn’t serve the Loop until the latter years of BR. As such they never had to consider Wimbledon passengers.

    Initial network was like this…

  19. Mack says:

    I really don’t understand this issue of conflicting moves. During KO0 while the bays were shut, 16tph crossed at Blackfriars south and it worked (in sense of trains can do it, external factors such as failed trains, signal failure etc affected the timetable).

    Come Dec 2014 there will be 16tph crossing again while London Bridge route is closed.

    Yet when it comes to an all new quicker fleet everyone is up in arms believing its impossible. If 319 and 377 can achieve 16tph crossing each other than there is not a single reason the higher powered 700 fleet can’t do that.

    Believing this is an issue means your ignoring fact, simply put.

    Also NR knew about this in December, it wasn’t a surprise and its not the issue that’s taxing the team developing the 2018 KO2 timetable.

  20. Greg Tingey says:

    Mark Townend
    You are DELIBERATELY REUCING CAPACITY in your diagram.
    (Dead-ends, down to three tracks, conflicting use of single sections …)
    This automatically self-rubbishes your proposal, I would have thought?

    rgh @ 17.05
    I think you are confused …
    At present CX – WatE – Met Jn: 4 tracks / Met Jn – LB 2 tracks
    This will be unchanged after the rebuild … just that Slink trains will not be using the same tracks Met Jn – LB
    We are merely reverting to the (even then) unsatisfactory stus quo ante approx 1880/90 – 1990
    So, correcting/amending your own words ….
    LBG post rebuild:
    Cannon street: new platforms 1-3 NO CHANGE
    Blackfriars: new platforms 4-5 and uses existing viaduct over Borough market (2 tracks) TWO NEW TRACKS
    Charing Cross: new platforms 6-9 and uses new viaduct over Borough market (2 tracks i.e. an increase of 2) YES – 2 extra p/f @ LB, but also NO, as it now reverts to the pre-1990 situation, but with bottleneck to Metropolitan Jcn intact ..
    Terminating: new platforms 10-15. TWO LESS PLATFORMS
    { SNIP }
    …as the Blackfriars and Charing Cross Services services will be sorted out by the Bermondsey flyunder.
    EXCEPT, that this means that Greenwich trains cannot go to CX, exept in the off-peaks, as previously discussed elsewhere…

    Dave @ 18.02
    Perfectly correct
    This would also have two other advantages, one operating …
    You are keeping the Wombledon loopies as a separate self-contained service, not interfering (much) with others …
    & one for the actual passengers (!) in that they can stand on an enclosed relatively draught-free City-Slink station rather than shivering on Pneumonoia Central, a.k.a. the new Blackfriars.
    What’s not to like about this one?
    … Apart, possibly for the crossing “exit” move of a Southbound loop train.
    I wonder, they have just resignalled the whole thing, but would a single 10-car centre turnback track @ Snow Hill, with the N-bound main going round on the West side be feasible ??? Cost??

  21. Anonymous says:

    As a daily user of the loop I was opposed to the continuation of through services. I have been keeping records about the causes of delay to loop trains and the majority of the service disruptions occur due to problems north of Blackfriars. My view is that a substantial improvement in service reliability would have accrued from not running loop trains through the core.

    FCC control generally dump the loop first when the service starts to fall apart and no doubt their successors will continue to do the same. This decision condemns loop passengers to continue to suffer from the after effects of bridge strikes at Flitwick, wires down at Luton, and failed trains at Kentish Town.

  22. @Anon 11:07 Don’t exaggerate. Thameslink is only about twenty years late – not thirty.

    @James 11:43 Thanks for that. Although some might say “don’t confuse the issue the issue with facts” it is good to see a fact concerning this issue at last.

    @Mack. Regarding commencement of Wimbledon services. Thanks for pointing that out. You are obviously correct and have produced the evidence. I have reworded that bit as a result. The validity of the point being made hasn’t changed so I don’t feel too bad about it.

    I think on the issue of conflicts we are talking about different things. I am not referring to the track immediately south of Blackfriars. The crossings in question will be at Loughborough Junction (north of the station) and to a lesser extent at Southwark Bridge Junction. This is not the same as KO1 and will be worse than the situation at December 2014 – which is unavoidable unlike this decision.

    I do not claim any special insight. I don’t form strong opinions on an irrational basis. This is, or was until recently the view of Network Rail, which seems to have suddenly changed. If you are saying by believing this is an issue we are ignoring fact, simply put, then surely the same criticism ought to be directed at Network Rail as this is what they have stated for a long time.

    @Greg and Mark Townend

    Greg, you are using quite unnecessary vitriol in your attack of Mark’s idea. In any case I would argue you are completely wrong. It is not Mark who has reduced the capacity. That was done by the DfT when they insisted on a service that involves 8 tph having to cross from one set of tracks in each direction. What Mark has done is to accept that as inevitable and try to mitigate what has happened with a constructive idea.

    Given the number of conflicting movements I wonder if one might as well just make it a two-track railway for much of its length south of Blackfriars. Having it as four tracks with the proposed service seems almost pointless – except of course that decisions can be reversed so maybe it would be a good idea to keep it four-track in case that happens.

    (and Greg you can criticise the idea with reasoning but just blowing hot about a suggestion will lead to me deleting the comments).

  23. Mark Townend says:

    @ Greg Tingey 07:13PM, 31st January 2013

    A quick look at a typical off peak hour at Elephant & Castle . . .

    reveals around 18 movements per hour total, both directions, on 4 tracks.

    My proposal uses the width of the (underutilised) 4 track alignment to better effect, optimised to minimise the disruption caused by the unavoidable conflict of trains crossing to the Blackfriars terminal platforms. The method I have used is similar to a previous proposal for Herne Hill . . .

    . . . namely segregation by stopping pattern, and placing the ‘turning lanes’ for the crossing traffic in the centre, so as to conflict with only one through track at once in each separate movement.

    The ‘dead ends’ shown are for overlap overrun spurs where platforms loop or slow lines merge with an adjacent through line just beyond a platform end. This enables the speed and thus cost of the pointwork to be kept lower, whilst allowing a parallel stopping approach to the platform to be made at the same time as a fast is passing on the adjacent through line in perfect safety.

  24. Mack says:


    The Southern routes of Thameslink, bar Brighton, have always moved around. What’s happening niw just an extension of that.

    What I’m saying over crossing is its not only possible to have 16tph on a crossing but its happened in a near by location. Loughborough junction is two twin tracks mixing. If 16tph is achievable with four tracks going into two, I don’t see the issue here. Especially with a quicker, nipper fleet.

    As for timetable development work, Network Rail has never confirmed the ‘final’ plan but simply stated a proposed timetable. Nothing’s changed yet until the final timetable is announced. However it’s not ever going to be fixed forever as the ITT clearly stated that future route changes were possible.

    @Mark, others

    Sorry that diagram of the track layout is simply bad idea. Operationally it increases the risk of disruption wrecking the timetable and fails to allow for sudden changes to the needs of the railway, such as a failed train or points failure.

    I don’t it could ever be brought into use as it simply fails to deliver anything other an reducing capacity in a important section of railway.

  25. Lemmo says:

    Good article, and hard resisting the temptation to go back to my earlier comment on PoP’s forensic Thameslink piece back in 2011.

    “What this episode demonstrates is a shambolic decision-making process purporting to be responsive to public consultation. You don’t finalise the detailed design of a £6 billion rail project, and then consult while you’re building it, and then change the design. It’s pitiful.”

    @ Mark Townend, that’s an interesting proposal and one I’ve pondered before. It would marginally reduce the cost of rebuilding Walworth and Camberwell stations, and you could configure it as four-track throughout, which may help temper Greg’s ire. But intensifying the Elephant & Castle route does not appear to be on NR’s or TfL’s radar, which makes any station reopening rather doubtful. I think that’s woefully short-sighted, compounded by the inexplicable inability to safeguard additional bays at Blackfriars.

    @ Mack, good points. But what is “the issue that’s taxing the team developing the 2018 KO2 timetable?

  26. Pete In USA says:

    Good article! Kinda sparse on the aerial photos though… just kidding.

    I understand it’s a matter of money somehow, but has it ever been suggested that the Northern City Line be extended to Canon Street Station and beyond. It’s only inches on the map.


  27. Anonymous says:

    If ts project started in 1988 an is all finally up and running in 2018 – then thats 30 years in total surely – or l am missin something?

  28. Anonymous says:

    Losing the loop? This is all part and parcel of a privatised rail network – where ministers with little transport experience – or interest in-between jobs – dont intervene and just leave everything to “the market”.
    - so two lines out of London Bridge remain a bottleneck
    £16 billion spent on Crossrail
    £30 billion spent on HS2
    So for £50 billion we don’t 2 lines that link up in London?
    And if the Wimbledon loop trains terminate at Blackfrairs then all the passengers on those lines will lose their direct connection to Farringdon – and Crossrail

  29. Pedantic of Purley says:

    @ Anonymous 10:05

    The original Thameslink started in 1988. The project to enhance it was originally called Thameslink 2000 because it was due to be ready by 2000 so that suggests finished in 1999 or 2000 at the latest.

    This was much delayed – mainly due to privatisation and responsibility handed over to Railtrack who had no incentive to implement it. In fact quite the opposite as it cost them lots of money for very little benefit to their shareholders.

    The project was renamed The Thameslink Programme to avoid the embarrassment about the name and is due for completion in December 2018 so I make that just under twenty years.

    @ Anonymous 10:22

    Yes but someone has to lose their direct connection. If through trains from the loop stay then other trains have to be terminated at Blackfriars to compensate. Remember currently the terminating platforms at Blackfriars are not currently in use during the day time – all the trains go through the core. After 2018 some of them will have to terminate at Blackfriars. All one can do is to rob Peter to pay Paul.

  30. Anonymous says:

    There are a number of problems with John at’s article, which as you cannot comment on directly I will respond to here as it is clearly on topic.

    “Blackfriars Station has been rebuilt with the expectation that trains from Herne Hill via Elephant & Castle would use the terminating platforms on the western side of the bridge”

    That is completely untrue, and seems to be a common strawman type myth, having been repeated on here by Lemmo. The design and rebuild of Blackfriars station was to allow the through lines to London Bridge without having to cross in front of the terminating ones. This design came first, and along with the redesign of London Bridge itself, allows service to run all the way up the main line without having to conflict with any other route.

    Even the idea that the design would have been different had the intention to be to keep loop services as part of Thameslink is quite baffling. There is no way Blackfriars could have been laid out any differently while allowing the same level of service from the London Bridge direction.

    The proposal to terminate services from the loop at Blackfriars was a response to the design, not a reason for it.

    “The decision to send four Wimbledon trains an hour through the centre of London means that some rush-hour trains from stations in Kent – including Rochester and Orpington, and Beckenham and Kent House in South East London – will in future terminate at Blackfriars.”

    Not technically untrue, but completely misleading.

    The Kent House and Rochester services were always proposed in the RUS to terminate at Blackfriars, particularly as those were to be routed via Herne Hill. While the proposed services from Orpington are ones via London Bridge, and no announcement has yet been made to confirm those, but due to the layout would be unable to terminate at Blackfriars anyway. To reach the terminating platforms from London Bridge would cause a conflict with the through ones.

    Those Orpington services are ones from Tunbridge Wells and Ashford, and added as a response to the need to reduce services into Cannon Street. Though I believe this change is unpopular locally, so if there is a way they can still keep their current terminus then the “loss” of through services would be welcomed.

    “However, the London TravelWatch watchdog group has warned that the new plan may have implications for the new Thameslink rolling stock that will shortly be ordered as the platforms on Wimbledon loop stations can currently only accommodate eight coaches, whilst other stations on the Thameslink network – including Blackfriars – have been expanded to accommodate 12-car trains.”

    That is also untrue, and so rather shocking it would come from London TravelWatch. All proposed services via the Elephant and Castle approach were for 8-carriage trains the majority of platforms have not been extended.

    Within London on any of the three approaches to Elephant & Castle (via Tulse Hill, Kent House, or Catford) only Sutton, Bromley South, and St Mary’s Cray are able to accommodate 12-carriage trains. And Elephant and Castle would need extensive remodelling to be able to extend its platforms beyond 8-carriage length. Even the proposed Caterham and Tattenham Corner services via London Bridge are only for 8-carriage trains, as those branches too cannot accommodate 12-carriage trains.

    One set of routes that could only accommodate 8-carriage trains has been replaced by another.

  31. Anonymous says:

    Pedantic of Purley: “Yes but someone has to lose their direct connection. If through trains from the loop stay then other trains have to be terminated at Blackfriars to compensate. Remember currently the terminating platforms at Blackfriars are not currently in use during the day time – all the trains go through the core”

    All services that currently go through the core will continue to do so, so no one will lose anything. The only loss is of hypothetical services, which never even existed beyond being suggested.

  32. The other Paul says:

    Could it be that TfL fear new stations at Walworth and Camberwell would undermine the CBR for a Bakerloo extension? And that the NR operators would prefer to chase more lucrative long distance travellers and thus view the prospect of these new stations as an expensive way to reduce capacity and slow down longer distance services?

    Both horrendously self-interested positions, but is that the reality?

  33. Ian J says:

    @Mack. You say that the Thameslink southern routes have always moved around and that was true in the BR era, but in the era of services specified by contract as part of a franchise 10 or 15 years in advance, this would be very difficult. Any contractor working for the government knows that the way to make money is to go in with a low initial bid and then charge through the nose for variations after the contract is signed.

    Part of the problem politically is that the suburbs of south-east London have no marginal seats (it’s a belt of safe Labour seats surrounded by a belt of safe Tory seats), whereas there are a number of marginal seats in south-west London. Hence all the SW London MPs scrambling to claim credit for this great “victory”. Incidentally, this is also the reason a third runway at Heathrow isn’t going to happen any time soon.

    @Anonymous. You have it exactly the wrong way round. The Southern Railway and British Rail were able to respond much more to “the market” because politicians didn’t want to get involved in details of service delivery. Now the supposedly private railway is subject to much more political direction than ever before. Which would be fine if the Department for Transport and its ministers had any kind of strategic vision or even basic competence.

  34. StephenC says:

    I think the real lesson from this is not whether the loop goes through the core or not, but how people react once they have something and feel they are losing it. Understanding this should be of vital importance to those still planning Thameslink routes.

    Specifically, I mean that the people of the loop (and I suspect it was more Streatham/Tulse Hill/Herne Hill than elsewhere) had got used to through trains. Had they not got used to them, there would have been less of an objection to losing them. This point is going to be significant when the Crossrail 2 plans are published and some destinations will change from Waterloo to Victoria.

    The point about the Thameslink planning process is that it becomes important not to “give” Thameslink routes out too easily. Once a destination is served, even with just 2tph, it will be very hard in the future to remove that service.

    Personally, I think that the Thameslink routes have always been too scattergun and not focussed enough. Reading the “in the know” replies, the impression is that is still going to be the plan, which I find frustrating. Rather than wasting 2tph off to random locations like Dartford, Ashford or Tunbridge Wells, where small delays lead to big service gaps, it would be better to run 4tph to fewer destinations. And maybe, if the loop has to run through the core, then that should be done properly? 8tph core to Streatham with 4tph around the loop in each direction. Catford line trains to terminate at Blackfriars.

  35. Mark Townend says:

    @StephenC, 11:40PM, 31st January 2013

    ‘The people of the loop’ – I like that term!

    Whilst I agree with the concept of ‘doing the inner suburban properly’, the very route geography of a loop makes it less than ideal as a destination for a high density service. . .

    Better to break the loop and run it as 2 separate branches, one to Wimbledon and one to Sutton. At Sutton that could be accommodated in a new bay at the London end, removing all Thameslink conflict through the busy through platforms and making room for more longer distance trains from the south. At Wimbledon the bay at the London end could accommodate that branch’s terminus. Two terminals with reasonable turn round margins could be a lot more dependable and easier to manage than the loop, and the trains would be concentrated on the busier parts of the route.

    So what to do with Wimbledon – Sutton? Tramlink has beeen suggested before , as has an extension of the Northern line from Morden. Instead I would join the line into the SWT suburban network and run trains from Sutton into Waterloo with a much improved central London journey time and providing masses of connectivity at Waterloo and Clapham Junction. At Sutton the line would terminate in new bay platforms constructed over the existing incline and junction to the south of the station.

  36. Paul says:

    Another minor inconvenience being that a connection to the up slow at Wimbledon will need another flyover. Is there enough length to do that on the country side of Wimbledon?

  37. @Anonymous 11:00 pm

    I have been very disappointed with the comments that have been coming out of London TravelWatch recently. They used to really understand the issues. Nowadays they just seem to have a policy of supporting any aggrieved party and come out with statement that show a worrying level of ignorance on the subject they are commenting on. This is particularly noticeable on their submissions to the Croxley Rail Link enquiry. I understand they have been effectively neutered and used to have a staff of eighteen and now have a staff of six. Dealing with passenger complaints must occupy all their time and leave none for proper investigation of issues like this.

    @Anonymous 11:06 pm

    Currently there are 16 tph through the core. A maximum of 4 tph go via London Bridge. So at least 12 tph must go via Elephant and Castle. In the minister’s announcement he says “8 Thameslink trains will run per hour via Elephant and Castle”. It stands to reason that 4 tph then have to be withdrawn. Inescapable fact.

  38. Anonymous says:

    I agree with Stephen C’s point about how people adapt to losing a service. Beckenham and Kent House are mentioned above. Here are two stations that have gained a Thameslink service in the last few years. Prior to this some peak hour trains starting from platform 4 at Beckenham Junction ran to Blackfriars. If services return people who have got used to this will feel short-changed even if that was always the longterm plan. Incidently was there much of an outcry in the late 80s/early 90s when the original southeastern wing of the recently-introduced Thameslink was withdrawn? (I think it ran towards Sevenoaks)

  39. timbeau says:

    Paul, Mark Townend. A flyover at the London end of Wimbledon might be feasible, possibly connecting to the existing flyover carrying the up slow over the fast lines. But any service to Sutton from Waterloo would have to be at the expense of something else – SWT’s line from Waterloo to Raynes Park has no spare capacity. Possibly a long term aspiration once Crossrail 2 is in place, but that is unlikely to be in our lifetimes.

    I have been an occasional user of the loop ever since 1981. It seems to me that most people from the Wimbledon direction have left by the time I do so at City TL. Interchange northbound at Blackfriars is level, (across the platform if you arrive at platform 3, round the end if at platform 4) but needs to use stairs /lifts southbound. I would happily trade that inconvenience (or walking round the corner to Blackfriars) for the much greater reliability the service had when it was a largely self-contained service running from Holborn Viaduct. And there were only 2tph to Tulse Hill then – the service ran Holborn Viaduct – Wimbledon – Sutton – West Croydon – London Bridge.

    Pete in USA – yes, it’s been suggested many times – the distance is about half a mile – but the problem is not really money:
    I’m not sure of the height difference between the two: Moorgate NCL is underground, Cannon Street about 10 feet above street level, but the ground falls towards the south so the actual height difference is not very great. But in between the stations you have, from the south:
    1. Cannon Street (the thoroughfare) – as I said, only ten feet below track level. The road cannot be lowered because the District Line runs directly underneath. The railway cannot be lowered for the same reason, and also because the approaches to Cannon Street from the south are on a bridge over the Thames
    2. the new Walbrook development currently under construction
    3. the Mansion House – the Lord Mayor’s residence (not the station of that name)
    4. If you have got below street level by this point, you have to tangle with the existing four underground and DLR lines.
    5. The Bank of England
    6. The Circle Line and Northern Line (and now Crossrail) at Moorgate – note that the NCL station is between the levels of the other two Underground lines, so any extension would have to be threaded between them or, if you divert underneath, you would require a very steep gradient to get into Cannon Street.

    Moreover, without extensive work to the underground stations between Moorgate and Drayton Park, any through trains would have to be limited to six cars, which might not go down well with commuters on the South Eastern, where most trains are ten or even twelve!

  40. Gio says:

    Wow – some of you are really rude to each other! But you seem to be used to it. Anyway …

    I think they are generally a bit ambitious with the amount of services they wish to maintain through this core. As some have pointed out, some services used to terminate at Blackfriars and the only reason they continued northwards was because the Blackfriars building work prevented trains terminating there. So through trains have been enjoyed by some passengers since 2011. It should’ve been clear that those through services were temporary, albeit from 2011-18 or so.

    It would be nicer if we had more of a ‘Teutonic’ attitude to railway services in this country. We have to squeeze lines and therefore restrict services around markets, office blocks and the like; whereas the Germans would just enforce a compulsory purchase order on things, bulldoze it, and build something better for the greater good for the long-term.

  41. Greg Tingey says:

    Seriously, look at that track-proposal, please? Actual capacity must be reduced with the proposed layout, especially … a pinch-point that does not presently exist, just N of E&C, another one N of Walworth, another S of Camberwell. Reducing 4 tracks to 3 S therof & introducing a flat x-ing just by Loughboro’ Jn.
    Did I really have to spell all that out?
    The present arrangement has x-overs just outside Bf, another set just N of E&C & a double “both ways” set just N of Loughboro’.
    The Denmark Hills can run up the E track, the Wombledons up the W, and they can also be switched if necessary. It could be improved with another “left-handed” set S of E&C, but it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

    Mark, I am quite aware of the movements @ E&C, having done numerous passenger-counts there! Sorry, but your “rationalisation” reminds me of the Salisbury-Exeter rationalisation in the 1970’s. Dead ends & pinch-points by making everything funnel onto single lines & then fan out again – a collection of single lead junctions in fact. My engineering training screams against it, I’m afraid. You are complicating that which is simple & introducing many extra opportunities for (system) failure. NO.
    I note that Mack @ 20.30 says the same thing.
    Please, let’s not start re-discussing Herne Hill here, though a proper redesign with a flyover, as we discussed would enable considerably more trains to go that way. Then we really would need those 4 tracks, wouldn’t we (!)

    Pedantic @ 22.46
    A friend of mine is a professional signal engineer – & he has worked on what he calls “Thameslink 3000” (as well as the ELL-&-ELL/SLL routes)
    Robbing Peter to pay Paul – yes, but which Peter should be robbed, then? Rationality suggests the Wimbledon-Sutton services, because they can be almost self-contained then, and not be subject (or not nearly so much) to the repeated disruption referred to by Anon @ 19.45

    Anon @ 23.00
    Agreed re. train-lengths! Indeed, where on earth one would find the room to extend, particularly @ E&C, up on its’ viaduct for 12-car platforms would be an, err, “interesting” exercise. Do-able, with enough money, of course. Which reminds me … the ghastly E&C shopping centre is going to go – what will happen with station access? And as I can testify (see above) the stairs & access to the station are definitely NOT “disabled-friendly”. Narrow, twisting, steep & long & no lifts. Euw.

    The other Paul
    Ah, the long-mooted extension of the Bakerloo through Camberwell to Peckham & … ???
    First mooted & seriously proposed in 1929-31 (Though the then SE London Councils were pressing for a tube extension as far back as 1923-4) … [Source: “Rails through the Clay”]
    So it looks as though this could be the longest ever time span between a proposal & engineering reality – over 100 years, in the middle of the largest city in Europe.
    Disgraceful isn’t a sufficient word for this sort of stupidity.

    Ian J
    You malign some ministers – Adonis had it & it looks as if McLoughlin has his head screwed on right. As for DafT – let’s not go there again, right now, shall we?

    Stephen C
    Spot on regarding segregated, complete services. Problem with ¼-hourly services each way around the loop – the idiot single-track section @ Wimbledon…..

    Mark Townend
    Interesting idea re making three services out of the loop.
    Nice try … Streatham Jn – Wimbledon, OK, tick!
    Streatham Jn – Sutton – probably OK, but you need to remember that there will still be through “Portsmouth line” services, tick!
    Wimbledon – Sutton via St Helier … um .. first you have got to find room/paths for these between W & Waterloo, err, um, squeeze, & even worse there’s reason the W Sutton – Sutton section is called “The wall of death” – the gradient is horrendous + curvature, & it drops off as soon as it’s clear of the points to the W of Sutton station. So, where, exactly were you going to put your bay platform(s)??
    I’d go with Part 1 YES
    Part 2 YES
    Part 3 NO – revert to tram + N-line extension, with final, very short tunnelled terminus @ Sutton. (??)

    Room for a Wim Chase-Wimbledon flyover in the up direction?
    Yes, just – tight though, & very expensive for the result obtained. Which tends to support my alternative proposal for part(3), above.

  42. Lemmo says:

    @ Anonymous 11.00pm, thanks for this detail, but I don’t believe I’ve written anything which promulgates the “straw man myth” that “Blackfriars Station has been rebuilt with the expectation that trains from Herne Hill via Elephant & Castle would use the terminating platforms on the western side of the bridge”.

    Indeed, one of the options we discussed before PoP wrote this article was a look at the junction arrangements at the south end of Blackfriars, and operating an intensive service pattern which splits the core route to London Bridge and Elephant & Castle. In the end the most important story to be told was on the decision-making process, which is yielding this rich discussion.

    Clearly the new layout at Blackfriars is designed for terminating services from the E&C route, whether via Herne Hill or Peckham Rye. If from Herne Hill they could be Wimbledon Loop services or, as Mack’s 1988 Thameslink map above shows, from Streatham Common or West Norwood. My piece on Herne Hill explored how crossing movements could be reduced by routing more services from West Dulwich to Blackfriars, and we haven’t even touched upon using the west curve at Loughborough Jn to take an orbital service from, say, Clapham Jn or the West London Line.

    This is looking a long way ahead but any intensification of the E&C route will inevitably push Herne Hill (or Brixton) trains towards the bays, and Peckham Rye trains towards the Thameslink core .

    Surely I’m not the only one astounded that you can design a £6 billion project, get most of the way through the construction and then ask people about the service pattern and interchange arrangements at Blackfriars?

    DfT announced yesterday that the Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise process will be restarted, and expects to exercise its option to extend the contract by 28 weeks, and then possibly another two years “as part of the finalisation of the wider franchise programme”… whatever that means, or is this code for “while someone decides who decides what the service pattern should be.”

  43. jn says:

    so whats going to happen to services via Bellingham & Catford, reduced service pattern as to keep reliability up due to having to cross south of blackfriars… =/

    Catford branch is just as busy as wimbledon loop surely… will try and find figures… and therefore both branches have a claim to not be the ones to terminate at Blackfriars…

  44. mr_jrt says:

    Flyover on the London side of Wimbledon from the East Putney lines to the loop platforms. Then the District or LO can run down to Sutton. Tramlink needs to be moved up to the road regardless…NR needs the platform far more.

  45. ngh says:

    CR2 / Long term Future of the loop.

    With a potential CR2 announcement not to far off (next week? if you believe Boris) that if similar to previous draft proposals there would be a station at Tooting Broadway for Northern Line / numerous bus routes interchange which would offer a journey time of circa 12 minutes (hopefully better) to Victoria. This is likely to suck passengers heading to the City off the northern part of Sutton Loop (Streatham -Wimbledon) and the Northern line and on to CR2. As there probably won’t be a direct loop to CR2 interchange except at Wimbledon (unless Tooting station is moved to the A24 and there is a CR1 style join 2 existing stations together approach at either end of a CR station) a major rejig of services on the loop to increase frequency (within the loop) would need to occur so as to effectively feed passengers on to CR2.

  46. Fandroid says:


    yes we love a good argument here, and most of us can cope with Greg’s injections of ‘passion’.

    Germany is regularly put forward as a place where government decides and government does with apparent efficiency. I would suggest that you look at the history of the Stuttgart 21 project. Massive demonstrations against it followed by an election which changed the control of the regional government of Baden-Wurttemburg. As it happened, they then had a referendum (!) which agreed that the project should go ahead. Makes the Thameslink consultation look like a quarrel over the cakes at a tea party.

    Another fine example is the Cologne north-south U-bahn line.

  47. Greg Tingey says:

    Actually, it’s code for the usual from DafT, nemely … We haven’t a clue!”
    Mr jrt
    Yes, that is a distinct District possibility, isn’t it?
    But my injections are based on observed facts – my problem is that I often leave out my intermediate workings & present a bald result …..

  48. James says:

    Anon @ 11pm:

    The Kent House and Rochester services were always proposed in the RUS to terminate at Blackfriars, particularly as those were to be routed via Herne Hill. While the proposed services from Orpington are ones via London Bridge, and no announcement has yet been made to confirm those, but due to the layout would be unable to terminate at Blackfriars anyway.

    Well, when DfT was asked which trains previous proposed to run through the core would be taken out of the spec to accommodate the Wimbledon loop trains, they said peak trains from Kent House/Rochester/Orpington/Beckenham. Make of that what you will.

  49. Littlejohn says:

    @Greg, The other Paul and all who have commented on the Bakerloo extension, on this post and others. The online access to LURS’ monthly journal ‘Underground News’ has this, probably the most recent and comprehensive overview available: Interestingly, in terms of cost per passenger, Lewisham and Hayes come out badly.

  50. peezedtee says:

    @Gio: “some services used to terminate at Blackfriars and the only reason they continued northwards was because the Blackfriars building work prevented trains terminating there. So through trains have been enjoyed by some passengers since 2011. It should’ve been clear that those through services were temporary, albeit from 2011-18 or so.”

    – Yes, but it’s the Catford loop trains from Sevenoaks that terminated at Blackfriars (other than one or two through to City Thameslink in the peaks) until 2011 and only since then have gone through the core to St Pancras and beyond. The Wimbledon/Sutton loop trains already went through the core before that, so the people from those stations would lose a service they have had many more years to become accustomed to than the Catford loop passengers, who might not much miss the loss of a service they have had for only a couple of years.

    Surely NR are the ones most at fault in all this, for designing an engineering solution that pre-empted the result in terms of feasible services, without asking anybody or properly spelling out the implications, and then consulting on possible service patterns only after the re-arrangement of lines and platforms at Blackfriars was a fait accompli.

  51. Greg Tingey says:

    Exactermerly! (as they say)
    If (again) someone in the planning stage had had the foresight (& could persude guvmint to come up with the money – which is why we have “thameslink 3000″) the correct sloution would have been, using the old bridge piers …
    Northbound throough track/reversible through track/ double S-facing bays/reversible through track/reversible through track.
    You’d still have needed only three platforms with six faces.
    But, because of lack of imagination, similar to that shown around LB itself, we have this completely unsatisfactory dog’s breakfast of a still very exepnsive project.

  52. mr_jrt says:

    If we’re talking foresight….then I’d direct you back to the previous article on here about four tracks all the way to Farringdon or Moorgate. :)

  53. Mark Townend says:

    I feel it unfair to claim NR or any others most ‘at fault’; rather this is a project that has, and continues to, ‘evolve’. Consequentially there is no fault to allocate blame for, more a range of unfolding opportunities that need to be exploited and managed effectively by a broad range of stakeholders. The basic scheme concept pre-dates NR, even RT, and has had broad local and national support since first proposed, hence it has remained alive politically.

    Whilst it would have been most helpful to have had detailed firm plans for the ultimate service patterns right from the beginning, the core infrastructure concept is widely acknowledged to be sound, and there would be a danger of the scheme losing momentum, direction and funding if infrastructure planning was delayed indefinitely pending a final service specification that may not be possible to determine in advance of the understanding of what is practical infrastructure-wise. A chicken and egg problem indeed!

    The whole landscape of transport planning in London has changed significantly in the decades since this scheme was first mooted as a ‘no-brainer’ expansion of the extraordinarily popular and operationally efficient reopening of the Snow Hill lines. The balance between local and longer distance services remains a point of debate, as it does on most of London’s railways; what Thameslink finally becomes from a service point of view may be very different from plans first published in the 1980s,

  54. John Bull says:

    The whole landscape of transport planning in London has changed significantly in the decades since this scheme was first mooted as a ‘no-brainer’ expansion of the extraordinarily popular and operationally efficient reopening of the Snow Hill lines. The balance between local and longer distance services remains a point of debate, as it does on most of London’s railways; what Thameslink finally becomes from a service point of view may be very different from plans first published in the 1980s,

    This is, to my mind, a very good point – and a reason why its vitally important when you start doing something to proceed with all reasonable pace towards its conclusion. Otherwise you end up with an ever-shifting plan that does nobody any good.

  55. Fandroid says:

    There is an endemic problem with London’s rail system that Thameslink is a fine example of. To some extent, it’s the problem that just about the whole national rail network has. The mentality behind the RUS s is that of ‘sweating the assets’. That’s very good when trying to avoid wasteful duplicated investment, but it traps us up a cul-de-sac when we have a system that’s already straining to cope with demand. Thameslink also suffers from an effort to please just about everyone and come up with as many different routes as it can jam in. I’m not sure that it really knows what it’s trying to achieve. Through linkage from one fringe of the south east to the other is fairly pointless as so few passengers will want to do the whole trip, and those who do would probably be content with a same platform, or cross platform interchange somewhere.

    Contrast this with Crossrail, which has an incredibly focussed objective, and has been blamed for not being imaginative enough. Thameslink/Crossrail is like two different ideologies battling it out for the hearts and minds of the powers that be, only no-one is actually watching.

  56. Mark Townend says:


    Without wishing to become too philosophical, perhaps even theological, perhaps there are no ‘powers that be’ in transport really, merely degrees of influence expressed at specific times during the evolutionary process that may end up with similar convergent outcomes. Thameslink could eventually become a much more focussed scheme, with one or two longer distance routes, supplemented by a denser inner suburban network, perhaps marketed as a LO type service, equivalent to S-Bahn or RER. Similarly Crossrail may start as a S-Bahn, but a search for destinations in the west particularly may result in integration of longer distance destinations. There is no reason why longer distance trains could not be specified similar to the locals, differing only in internal fit out and toilet provision.

  57. Pedantic of Purley says:


    Well that has probably killed off my planned opening paragraph for an intended follow up article. Yes the two are an incredible contrast and it could hardly be greater. Especially when you try and actually try and find out anything about the two projects. Also Crossrail has a very focused management team which oversees the whole project and seems to take into account all the various aspects of the construction. Thameslink is really two projects – a rolling stock project and a railway infrastructure project. Worse than that no-one seems in overall charge with Network Rail and DfT having responsibility for various issues. Crossrail has a clearly defined “customer”, at least for the part in London – TfL. Thameslink’s first “customer” is not known because it relies on the franchise process although I understand First Capital Connect fulfil this role to a greater or lesser extent. So there is no or insufficient feedback from a TOC in the know to remind people of the operating consequences of the decisions made. It would be interesting to know FCC’s view on continuing to provide loop services through the core. A TOC is in the situation of not wanting to upset its customers but also wanting “the plan” to be as robust as possible. After all, FCC’s successors will be one of the organisations that has to live with the consequence of what is decided – whichever way that decision would have gone.

  58. peezedtee says:

    @PoP “It would be interesting to know FCC’s view on continuing to provide loop services through the core.”

    – I am pretty sure that FCC couldn’t care less. It’s clear from the company’s consistent behaviour that it has no interest in these local services. As Anonymous said further up this page, “FCC control generally dump the loop first when the service starts to fall apart”. Just yesterday mid-morning for instance, two consecutive trains to Sutton were announced cancelled at Elephant without explanation. This sort of thing happens all the time. The service is lamentably unreliable at present. I hope some other company wins the new franchise; they couldn’t be any worse.

  59. Fandroid says:


    The point about Thameslink’s ‘customer’ is a very good one. Another way in which franchising fails to deliver. I know from experience that if a project doesn’t have a focussed and involved operator, it is in great danger of just turning into an engineers’ folly. Even the best motivated project manager is lost without that vital input. I think (I would, wouldn’t I ?) that the water industry model would be worth following, and I think the Brown report hinted at the notion. ie turn franchises into ‘licences’ and allow them to continue from one review period to the next, with the regulator punishing less than good performance by restricting price increases. Ownership would have to be spread around a bit, but that’s not difficult if the regulator demands it.

    @Mark Townend.

    Crossrail is well managed and is avoiding late changes as if they were the plague. Chopping and changing as you go along is what politician’s love, only they never can get into their sweet heads that the inevitable result is a monumental waste of money. Civil servants seem to be infected by the same disease. Look at IEP, an absolute classic example. As far as I can see, they still don’t realise that they are the ones responsible for throwing away so much money. Anyway, the result of the Crossrail project is that we will have a fantastic asset, a fast full-size tunnel through London. Once that is in place, we can see what can be done in the way of spreading the benefits, although I think that real long distance stuff should be kept out. Limited stop services from the normal commuter range would be feasible (Newbury, Swindon, Oxford, Basingstoke?)

  60. Fandroid says:

    I’m off on a hobby-horse combination now. Some of you may well have guessed that I travel in Germany a lot and I find fascinating the strange combination of standardisation with individual solutions that they apply to transport. Several big cities there have had a rail tunnel driven through their centres. These have mostly happened in those cities that had big terminal stations. Munich, Frankfurt and Stuttgart are obvious examples, with Leipzig building one at present. However, those tunnels are exclusively used by S-Bahn services, and those all adhere to the principle of a metro service stopping at every station. Some go big distances beyond city boundaries, but as far as I know, they all look like Crossrail clones (or is it the other way around?), so can be relatively slow ways of getting to neighbouring towns. What I’m trying to say, is that they haven’t taken on the Thameslink model, despite the opportunities. The result is some real anomalies. Munich airport has two S-Bahn lines, each going through the city centre tunnel but in opposite directions. Getting from Munich airport to the main station is tediously slow! Gatwick is much better served, even leaving out Gatwick Express. Berlin has a new tunnel to its Hauptbahnhof, but that doesn’t carry S-Bahn trains, just intercity and regional ones. RER tunnels in Paris only carry services similar to the German S-Bahn. Did I mention Zurich? Does anyone know what now happens in Madrid?

    What I’m trying to say, is that similar tunnels exist, not far away, but they seem to stick to just one function, either metro services or conventional non-metro train services, not both. It would be intriguing to find out why and observe the lessons that might be there for Thameslink.

  61. Anonymous says:

    Those who are saying the loop was not served by Thameslink from the start are wrong. There were peak hour services right from the very first day. The all day service was a later addition. I travelled on brand new 319031/32 on the first morning in May 1988 from Sutton Common to Farringdon.

  62. Pete In USA says:


    Thanks for the response.

    I guessed it also all those other things you mentioned, but it appears to be such an elegant solution. trains from the S/SE go via Cannon St Stn and trains from the S/SW go via Blackfriars Stn, like back-to-back parentheses.

    Damn this 3 dimensional world we live in.

  63. Rob says:

    I wasn’t sure if there is a link to Stephen Hammond, the Wimbledon MP, in all of this. Hammond works alongside Simon Burns at the DfT where he is responsible for roads/freight/maritime. Although Wimbledon is a reasonably safe Tory seat, the loss of the loop has become an important local issue and maybe the MP sees this as an opportunity to show his value to the local community.

  64. Geoff says:

    @Anonymous 7-18pm
    Quite so. There were 4 morning Thameslink services, via Mitcham Jc, Sutton, St.Helier from 16th May 1988 :
    6-28 London Bridge – St.Albans
    6-38 Farringdon – St.Albans
    7-28 London Bridge – Cricklewood
    6-33 Bedford – Cricklewood
    Five in the evening in the opposite direction.

  65. Andrew says:

    The railway organisations designed the new Blackfriars station without effective consultation. The Franchise consultation has been the first real opportunity to challenge the proposals to cease through trains to Sutton.

    Blackfriars could have been designed with 4 through platforms possibly in the same configuration as Epsom where a two track railway splits into 2 routes with the conflicting movements occurring south of the station rather than at the northern throat. Using the Epsom layout and London Underground operating arrangements of close headways and multiple platforms would maintain reliability.

    If Sutton through services are discontinued Sutton would be unique as the only London borough to loose cross London services and would join Kingston as the only boroughs to not have cross London services after 2020 when Crossrail and Thameslink and London Overground are all in operation. Some boroughs such as Croydon would have 3 routes (ELL, southernwest London and Thameslink)

  66. Greg Tingey says:

    Love the idea of a 4-through pf Blackfriars, with turnback available @ all pfs.
    Yes, why was this not done, with two island pfs ???
    However, assuming XR2 (Chelney as was) is not yet built, in 2020, LBWF will not have any x-London services, nor will Harrow, I think, as the MML does not enter that borough.

  67. Anonymous says:

    I apologise if this has already been covered, but now that KO2 (Key-Output 2) has commenced I find that keeping the Wimbledon loop services as they are would be difficult because of several reasons, including that AFAIR the ‘core section’ between St Pancras and Blackfriars is due to have it’s signalling upgraded to ATO operation, and current trains will no longer be able to pass through, which would require the use of the new Thameslink stock, which is to be formed into 6-car formations, and doubled up to 12 in the peak, and as we all know that the current stock is 8-car in the peak and they certainly wouldn’t allow for a drop to 6-car, then wouldn’t it mean that all the platforms on the Wimbledon loop would have to be extended to 12-car, as they are currently doing on the MML between St Pancras and Bedford?

    It has been a while since I have double-checked the issues raised above, and there may be a completely logical answer for this that I may have missed, and I apologise if I have got any of this wrong.

  68. Anonymous says:

    Thameslink trains will be 8 or 12 car and one cab at each end. There won’t be any dividing off peak. Tattenham branch trains off peak will be particularly overprovided.

    Harrow has cross London trains on the West London line and Bakerloo, Waltham Forest on Central (I think), and iVctoria lines.

  69. Anonymous says:

    Sorry Andrew @14:35, but there are conflicting movements at the north end of Epsom – as I write this, there is a train from Dorking to Victoria departing in 10 minutes or so from platform 3 and similar operations occur throughout the day. These cut across southbound trains from Waterloo. Furthermore, I wouldn’t regard services through Epsom as among the most reliable in London, particularly in the peak, so would argue that this hardly makes for a good model to follow.

    Having said that, would it have been possible for the Blackfriars bay platforms to open out at the north end in any case? They could still have been used predominantly for terminating trains but, just supposing a train were to break down within the station (a highly unlikely scenario, I’ll grant you [ahem]), a service could still be maintained around the blockage.

  70. Paul says:

    Sorry – posted my 20:35 as anon – didn’t mean to, as it makes following comments too hard to follow!

  71. Greg Tingey says:

    Anon @ 19.13
    Ah – I was (mis)interpreting that as Overground/Main-gauge trains, not “UndergrounD” ones.
    Nomenclature strikes again!
    Harrow is borderline, since the closest they get to the centre is Kenny O / Barons Court, neither of which is in Zone 1 IIRC.

  72. timbeau says:

    Andrew, Greg
    However you arrange the junctions and platforms, if you have two or more converging routes (e.g London Bridge, Denmark Hill, Herne Hill) continuing onto a double track section (City TL) there are going to be conflicting moves somewhere. This is true even if you have a layout like Dalston Junction – although the conflict is displaced to Surrey Quays, where it could be resolved by the new flying junction at Silwood.

    In the new Blackfriars layout, any train from London Bridge will, somewhere have to cross the path of any train to the Elephant unless the latter started from the bays. Also, any train from Denmark Hill (either through the core or terminating at Blackfriars) will have to cross the path of any through train from the core towards Herne Hill. The problem was the same with the old layout, which is why, when the bays were on the east side, (and there was no London Bridge service) it was the Catford Loop line trains which terminated at Blackfriars and the Herne Hill trains which went on to Holborn Viaduct – this being the only way to allow the two routes to be entirely separated. Now the station layout has been reversed to favour the London Bridge line, terminating the Herne Hill line in the bays minimises the conflicts. Catford line trains are squeezed in gthe middle, and will inevitably conflict with either the Herne Hill line (if they use the bays and Herne Hill the core) or with the London Bridge line (if they run through and Herne Hill uses the bays).

    Time was when, in the middle of the day, all down trains used the western pair of tracks through the Elephant, and all up trains the eastern pair – up Herne Hill and down Catford Loop services crossing over outside Blackfriars and again just outside Loughborough Junction. (with only 2tph on each route, this was hardly a problem). I can only assume this was done so that the two side platforms at Elephant did not need to be staffed.

  73. Timbeau says:

    Harrow having no cross-London services through Zone 1? Which line is South Harrow on? Or Stanmore for that matter.

    LBKingston, on the other hand, lost its only cross-London service when the X26 bus was cut back from Dartford to Croydon The trains do just manage to sneak across into SE London (look at Waterloo’s postcode)

  74. peezedtee says:

    @timbeau “Time was when, in the middle of the day, all down trains used the western pair of tracks through the Elephant, and all up trains the eastern pair”

    – Yes, in fact this often still happens in the middle of the day, causing great confusion to passengers at Elephant, who may easily miss their train as a result because of the long stairs down and up again, especially when the platform is wrongly announced and corrected only seconds before the train arrives. I have seen this happen on several occasions, much like in the famous scene from Les Vacances de M. Hulot ( ). Clearly the operators have no idea of the consequences of a late platform change at Elephant, or else they just do not care about the passengers.

  75. Ian J says:

    I’m not sure I agree with the commenters who seem to hold up Crossrail as an example of better planning than Thameslink – it is another example of a multi-billion dollar project under construction where no-one seems to know what the final service pattern will be. Will it go to Reading? What is the long-term future of Heathrow Express? Is it really sensible to build a large depot on land at Old Oak Common that will have huge strategic value as soon as HS2 is built? Will trains ever go beyond Abbey Wood? At the moment TfL seem to be deliberately ignoring these questions in the interests of getting th project built, but they aren’t going to go away and decisions made now will permanently block off some options.

  76. Whiff says:

    Ian J – I agree with your comments on Crossrail. I think that the key difference between the two projects is that the newly built section, as previous commenters pointed out, is being built with a clear, well-thought-out strategy in mind; for once we are seeing the benefits of starting from scratch and not just trying to ‘sweat the assets’ we already have. Unfortunately, however, for the stretches of Crossrail that will run on current tracks there seems to be just as much confusion and uncertainty as there is with Thameslink.

  77. Greg Tingey says:

    See also my comments re. counting at Infanta.
    The station, along with the about-to-be-nuked shopping centre needs a proper rebuild (it’s been claened up & painted very nicely in the past couple of years) … but whether any few pennies of the developers’ monies will trickle down to the station is moot. I’m certainly not holding my breath in anticipation, shall we say?

    Ian J & WHiff
    Agree, in spades.
    The idea of terminating half (ish) the X-rail trains just outside Padders is completely daft, given the suppressed capacity W of Paders. The loading in & out on the suburban services are scary.
    And all the other uncertanties mentioned.

    I think it’s a DLR-scenario.
    WE’ll be able to extend it.
    If they had gone for a sensible scheme, X-rail would have been postponed AGAIN, wouldn’t it?
    After all, construction should have started… ooh, about the time the railways were privatised, shouldn’t it?
    What was that about proper planning?

  78. Ian Sergeant says:


    I agree to an extent that Crossrail is being built with only Phases 1 and 2 (central core, extensions to east and west) funded. However nothing which has happened so far precludes Phase 3 coming along afterwards. The issue I have with Sutton/Wimbledon trains being part of Thameslink is that it is by its very nature service limiting.

    It’s not the fact that there has been political interference that I dislike. It’s simply the wrong decision when there is an onward train every few minutes. The ethos of London Underground, feeding into the cross-London metros we are building now, is that you may need to change to reach your destination, but you won’t have to wait long for your next train.

  79. peezedtee says:

    @Greg Tingey
    Actually you are a little out of date. Under the latest plans, the shopping centre at Elephant will not be demolished after all. The scheme now apparently going ahead will “retain the structure of the existing building, effectively tearing up previous council policy which had sought the demolition of the centre and the creation of a new pedestrianised street across the site.”

    Supposedly some (unspecified) improvements to the Tube station are included, by which they presumably mean the Northern Line station. No word as to the consequences, if any, for the NR station.

  80. Greg Tingey says:

    Oh dear
    So a lick of paint & some more jerrybuilt flats eh?
    Not a good prsopect.

  81. Mark Townend says:

    @Paul, 01:40AM, 1st February 2013

    At Wimbledon a country end flyover need not cross the whole layout, only the down slow which would be moved to platform 9 with 8 becoming the platform for up sutton services. At the London end the additional up sutton track leads is extended to a new junction London side of the existing up slow flyover, alongside the depot. To accomodate this, the down slow is moved.


    Moving the down slow has a side effect; it acheives cross-platfrorm interchange between Tramlink, Thameslink and the entire down direction suburban operation. On the diagram I have also shown the additional stepped platform arrangement for Tramlink.

    @Greg Tingey, 09:05AM, 1st February 2013

    At Sutton, any new country end terminal platforms, whether for LUL or SWT services need not tunnel under the existing station or adjacent buildings. Instead they could be sunk into a level retained trench along the alignment of the Wall of Death incline and alongside the Epsom line. Pedestrian subway access to the country extremities of the through platforms, which are just the other side of Bridge Road overbridge, could be provided together with a new station access onto the bridge itself. The trench retaining walls could provide solid foundations for a raft development above the platforms to help pay for the work.

  82. Edpgc says:

    No one seemed to sell the plan. I’d much preferred a tfl overground high frequency service into Blackfriars than what we’ve got now. That never seemed to be offered!?

  83. timbeau says:


    A clever solution, but I have two points:

    A new game of “guess the platform” for the next train to Waterloo (5 or 8)
    Which existing SWT local service is going to be axed to make way for the Sutton trains?

  84. mr_jrt says:

    Indeed, very clever. I would still argue that a single double track flyover from the Putney lines (and evicting Tramlink) would provide more benefit though. As Timbeau points out, if the lines to Waterloo are full, then you’re diverting someone else’s service to Sutton from wherever it currently serves.

    With that in mind, the District is the easy choice, and in time if they can ever work out something viable from Clapham Junction to East Putney, LO even more so. Hell, even the SWT metro services via Wandsworth Town could be used with a restored flyover provided some way was found to replace them beyond Putney (NLE, perhaps?)

    ..a really easy option is to just run a service from the Blackfriars bays to Sutton via Wimbledon, terminating in new platforms west of the bridge, as suggested above.

  85. timbeau says:

    With the BBC News reporting movesafoot on Chelsey-Hackney, with its promise of a new service to Wimbledon, maybe that extra capacity into Waterloo will become available. Would the good folk of Sutton and Wimbledon trade their existing Thameslink service for one on Crossrail 2?

    Whether I will live to see it is another matter!

  86. Metrication says:

    I’m currently working on an alternative tube map that plots line extensions that were authorised but never built or completed. I was aware that the District was supposed to come to Sutton but wasn’t sure of the exact route or details until I found this document:

    In brief the plan was to continue the line from the platforms at Wimbledon up to the footbridge near Worple Road (there would be an intervening station to server the old Tennis Courts) and then it would dive under the SWML and follow a near identical route as the loop does today.

    Had this been realised, the shafting of Sutton residents would certainly not be occurring today. I can assume that it will continue when Crossrail 2 is announced and areas outside of London like Epsom are given the privilege of a train service that runs more than 2 trains per hour.

    This leaves Tramlink to pick up the pieces of course, but considering what happened with Crystal Palace’s extension recently it doesn’t give me much hope.

  87. Rogmi says:

    @Anonymous 07:45 PM 31 January

    I totally agree with you. I used to be a supporter of through trains at Blackfriars, but when I looked at some of the causes and sites of the delays. I decided that it was much better to have a self-contained Blackfriars – loop – Blackfriars service.

    The slightest little incident and trains are cancelled. A half hour service turns into one hour or two hours and so on. Trains are frequently turned short to make up time, either that or they run fast, such as Streatham – Wimbledon – Sutton just to make up a couple of minutes. There are times you don’t know a train is cancelled until after the departure time – e.g. due 14:10, 14:09 the “Train now approaching” message is played. 14:15 the train is still showing on the DMI as “on time” Then it either disappears or a calll on the help point informs you “It’s been cancelled since / from XXX”

    I am an occasional user but, because of the state of service, even then I use it a lot less than I could. It’s sometimes been easier for me to get a bus and walk, even though it takes longer. At least I know I’ll get to my destination within a certain time. Going to the Lambeth Cemetary area for example (nearest loop station Haydons Road), I’ve sometimes ended up walking in the opposite direction from my NR station and getting a 93 bus to South Wimbledon then walking. I certainly wouldn’t walk back to Haydons Road on the offchance that I’d get a train back. I’d rather carry on walking to Tooting Broadway and get a 280 bus.
    If they had a decent service, I’m sure they’d get more customers, but that doean’t seem to enter into things!

    I’m not sure how accurate it is, but looking at sites such as those below show the status of the service (24 hour record for a station at Realtimetrains) and some of it can be an eye opener.

  88. ngh says:

    Re Timbeau and Metrificaton on CR2 effects

    See my earlier post:
    “ngh 10:34AM, 1st February 2013

    CR2 / Long term Future of the loop.

    With a potential CR2 announcement not to far off (next week? if you believe Boris) that if similar to previous draft proposals there would be a station at Tooting Broadway for Northern Line / numerous bus routes interchange which would offer a journey time of circa 12 minutes (hopefully better) to Victoria. This is likely to suck passengers heading to the City off the northern part of Sutton Loop (Streatham -Wimbledon) and the Northern line and on to CR2. As there probably won’t be a direct loop to CR2 interchange except at Wimbledon (unless Tooting station is moved to the A24 and there is a CR1 style join 2 existing stations together approach at either end of a CR station) a major rejig of services on the loop to increase frequency (within the loop) would need to occur so as to effectively feed passengers on to CR2.”

    To add:
    My feeling is that CR2 would remove lots of passengers from the existing Wimbledon – Streatham part of the loop due to the high frequency and quicker journey times from Tooting Broadway.
    I suspect they could even use the loop trackbed for Wimbledon-A24 for CR2 to reduce costs (closing that part of the loop.)
    The paths from Wimbledon – Waterloo released by CR2 would allow the Wimbledon – Sutton Services to go to Waterloo reducing journey times vs Blackfriars. The Sutton to Streatham part of the loop then be run at greater frequency to Blackfriars (or beyond) / London Bridge.

  89. timbeau says:

    I saw that the first time round, but was, and still am, puzzled by the reference to a proposed CR2 station at Tooting Broadway, as I have never seen any CR2 proposal penetrating south of the SWML. Most proposals I have seen tap into the SWML at either Wimbledon or Clapham Junction – indeed I had understood one of its main raisons d’etre is to abstract traffic from the SWML and give SW London, West Surrey and Wessex direct access to the North Bank.

    I would be very interested to see any such proposals connecting Tooting to CR2.

  90. Stu says:

    Many interesting comments above on the contrasting approaches of Crossrail (TfL, London Mayor) and Thameslink (NR, DaFT). And interesting to compare with the Paris RER system. That – to my mind – is something of the model that London is now aiming for (and it is quite efficient, so why not)

    Within the Paris RER system you had the potential for conflict, with the A and B lines instigated by RATP in the 1960s (local Paris urban and Metro network) vs the C, D and E largely developed by SNCF (National state-owned operator) since the 1980s once RATP’s lines were seen to be a success

    But there, the two were bashed together relatively early into a coherent joint venture. Not sure who forced that – national of local Government

    SNCF has been more pushed or chosen to keep RER focussed to serve fewer destinations well, rather than to let too many suburban services get pushed through a central core (2 lines only, as per Thameslink’s core)

    To deliver for passengers, some sort of more coordinated, joint approach is needed for London (and the Mayor cannot deliver that as the Greater London area is not the only stakeholder)

  91. timbeau says:

    Thanks for that – I do recall that map, but had overlooked the detour via Tooting in view of two other features
    1. the curious idea of running two branches in parallel up the A10 corridor – why not have the slpit at Seven Sisters instead of Angel – less civil engineering, and amore frequent service at the intermediate stations
    2. serving my station (hooray) and four other SW branches (oh dear, Thameslink all over again)

    The Paris RER has been cited as a good example of keeping each line as a simple shuttle. A counter example can be found in many German S-bahns – Munich in particular – where all eight main routes share a common core.

  92. ngh says:

    There are 2 unofficial tubemap style route diagrams doing the rounds at the moment that explain TfL’s CR2 thinking post Network Rails’s 2010 RUS v2 (no idea who the actual artist is).

    Regional (inc Tooting broadway -solves SWML capacity issues):

    Automatic Metro option:
    Clapham Junction Northwards and doesn’t solve SWML capacity issues:

    A news item on it:

  93. Stu says:

    @ timbeau “The Paris RER has been cited as a good example of keeping each line as a simple shuttle”

    Well it isn’t a simple shuttle. Most lines have 2 or 3 alternative destinations at each end. But not as many as Thameslink proposes south of the river – though the C line probably rivals it


  94. Ian Sergeant says:


    I’m really not sure what the point of the split it at all, other than terminate trains at Ally Pally. If you were to run 4tph to Hertford East (I seem to remember that needs quadrupling to Broxbourne) that would leave 20tph to terminate at Ally Pally. And make Hackney/Dalston Junction one station and split it further north – but you lose options to remove metro traffic at Liverpool Street if you make a split. Once people have a 20tph service from Ally Pally they won’t want to lose it.

    I suspect that this is a first phase, but I’m struggling to work out what to do long term. Moving Enfield Town to this line is a possibility as Enfield has city trains from Turkey Street and Gordon Hill, so moving 4tph to be West End headed will help some. So that’s 8tph. What to do with the rest?

  95. StephenC says:

    TfL seem very excited about going via Tooting Broadway so I’m certain that will be in the plan tomorrow. I’ve also picked up suggestions that the portal will be east of Wimbledon on the Queens Road car park. That will be interesting to understand wrt the loop. I’ll reserve judgement until I see the plans in detail, but I fear that there won’t be a cross platform interchange between Waterloo and Victoria routes, which seems vital to me.

  96. Greg Tingey says:

    I think you can forget the “automatic tube line” variant …
    For reasons that should be obvious.
    However, the other option has a repat-fault form current x-rail – not enough branches at theNE end this time.
    There SHOULD be a third branch, though whether that should go to Epping or somewhere else is open to question.
    Remeber that (Stratford) – Leyton – Epping used to be main line railway, so could “easily” be reconverted, The central line would then keep Leytonstone – Gants Hill – Hainault – Woodford.

  97. Mark Townend says:

    @StephenC, 09:15PM, 4th February 2013

    Here’s an idea that would achieve the cross platform interchange. . .

    I would send Sutton trains to Waterloo, Thameslink trains to Kingston and Twickenham.

  98. Ben says:

    Chop off the Wimbledon-Sutton section of the loop and connect it to both the Northern line and District line, as was once planned (The Uxbridge branch of the south?).

    As to the northern half via Tooting, plumb that into the slow lines south of Wimbledon to take over the suburban routes. In places south of Wimbledon the formation could be widened to 6 tracks to enable separation of subs; and this would relieve the approach into Waterloo aswell as the subs wouldn’t be using the slow lines atall north of Wimbledon.

    Ideally, two island platforms under Wimbledon in a box would be needed, they could incorporate cross platform interchange between the two routes.

    There you go! TfL expands the tube and empire build, and NR relieves the SW main line. Both happy :)

  99. timbeau says:

    I think many users of the Kingston line would not appreciate having their direct trains to Waterloo diverted over the circuitous Thameslink route to Blackfriars. Even for those, like me, who work in the Blackfriars area but find it quicker to walk from Waterloo than switch at Wimbledon.

    I also can’t see how your down trains can avoid having to cross each others’ path on the flat – am I missing something?

  100. Whiff says:

    RER in Paris – one other point about the RER is that it has a mix of fast and stopping services.

    Greg – you are right that in principle there is nothing wrong with building the first part of a project and then when funding becomes available extending it. After all, as you say, that worked well for the DLR. My concern is that it helps if there is a plan in place for what might happen next and with Crossrail there are so many mixed messages it’s not clear if that’s the case.

    Anonymous at 7:13 on 2nd February said that there won’t be any ‘dividing off-peak’ in the new Thameslink services. What I think he meant is that for services that run all day there won’t be any difference in frequency between the traditional peak and off-peak hours. However, as the press release about the Wimbledon loop confirms, there will be some services that only run in peak hours – for example the 2 an hour from Maidstone via Bromley and the Elephant. Can anyone confirm that is correct.

  101. MBS473 says:

    I’m not really a railway person and only stumbled across this page due to a bus article but I’ve found this thread fascinating. I’m prepared to be shot down in flames because I have no great knowledge on the subject but it seems to me that the biggest problems seem to be line capacity and conflict between routes? Surely the answer then is to improve interchanges to make switching between trains easier and terminate suburban services in the suburbs?

    At the moment we have one main line size cross London line with one under construction and another in the pipeline. With perhaps one more linking the lines into Victoria to the Metropolitan and Chiltern Lines and connecting up the Dartford/Orpington services to the “Windsor” side of Waterloo, would there not be sufficient cross London capacity to take nearly every suburban service currently terminating at a London termini along with express services from Luton-Gatwick and Heathrow-Stanstead?

    Of course it would cost money but a fair amount of that would be on flyovers and new stations rather than construction of new railway lines (other than the tunneled sections across central London) and it would probably require all local rail services in London and its environs to come under TfL control first, but if it’s feasible would it not give us a joined up urban railway service on a par with Paris?

  102. Arkady says:

    Presumably the Ally Pally link is to relieve Finsbury Park by allowing Northern City and some East Coast Mainline passengers to interchange north of FP?

    What with the recently declared Western Ticket hall works and other improvements Finsbury Park will cease to be quite so miserable.

  103. timbeau says:

    My comments on mark’s suggestion apply equally to Ben’s – the idea of diverting any “subs” (let alone all of them) via Tulse Hill would be hugely unpopular with most of the existing users of those services. 17 minutes to Waterloo or 29 minutes to Blackfriars (or 37 minutes by District Line) – not to mention losing connections at Clapham Junction and Vauxhall (even TfL’s recommended route from Wimbledon to Victoria is via Clapham Junction, not direct on the District)

    I was at Wimbledon this morning when a City-bound Thameslink came in – lots of people got off, not many got on (and most of those had gone before I did, at City TL, so where are all thgese people who would miss the through services?)

    Additional thought on Mark’s proposal – you could avoid the conflicts between down trains if both Sutton lines used the flyover – i’e the “Down Slow B” (platform 9) goes to Sutton and the “Down Slow A” (platform 10 goes towards Surbiton.

    But I would feed the Hampton Court and Guildford via Leatherhead trains into Thameslink – since most users of the former change at Surbiton for Waterloo, and users of the latter service (except sleepy Bookham) have plenty of alternative services anyway, diverting them the long way round would adversely affect fewer people.

  104. Paul D says:

    Off topic, but has the LR team considered launching a forum to accompany the blogs? The quality and quantity of the discussions on threads these days is so unbelievably high, but it’s becoming increasingly different to follow all of the threads that come up.

    And also, sometimes people want to through in and talk about something topical that isn’t about the original article – for example today’s Crossrail 2 announcement, but there is no appropriate space for that really.

    LR is an increasingly valuable and wonderful blog for discussing London area transport. I just wondered about the thoughts of the team and everyone else on this? (But again, there is no proper place for me to put this!!)

  105. Paul Drake says:

    Different = difficult in the comment above!

  106. Paul Drake says:

    And through = throw. Dear me, really must read before clicking post!

  107. Sunny Jim says:

    Paul D – I was thinking the same thing. The original articles by LR authors are obviously the foundation of the site and are of uniformly high quality of research and analysis, but the subsequent discussions throw up all sorts of fascinating information and ideas, often only tangentially related to the original post. Without wishing to dilute the success of the LR format, I wonder if a user-led discussion forum could be added.

  108. Arkady says:

    Agreed, though I hate to think of the subsequent moderation requirements. Most people here are very civil, but we have at least one resident punchable douchebag who clearly couldn’t be trusted not to ruin things for everyone else.

  109. Arkady says:

    It seems that the aforementioned Crossrail 2 two option has been amended so that they Ally Pally branch goes via Tunrnpike Lane rather than Wood Green:

    I suppose that Wood Green & Ally Pally could be a double-ended station.

  110. ngh says:

    Boris’s (London First) proposal for CR2 published today



    Very similar to Regional proposal but:
    No Woking and instead Hampton Court
    A massive Euston – Kings Cross – St Pancras

  111. Mark Townend says:

    @timbeau, 07:17AM, 5th February 2013

    The Sheppertons would still go to Waterloo, and cross platform interchange would be available at Wimbledon to other Waterloo bound services. Clearly Twickenham would also retain its Waterloo services via the Windsor lines.

    Good point about the down direction at Wimbledon – see new version here . . .

  112. timbeau says:

    well, that was a bit of a damp squib. So, like Motherhood and Apple Pie, they think it’s a Good Thing.

    No surprises there – and the route is not markedly different from that published in the London Rail Study in 1970, except that it runs Victoria – Kings Cross instead of providing a connection between the South Bank and the City over the Waterloo/Farringdon axis.

    Indeed, I think it was part of the post war plans of the 1940s (in which the Victoria Line was “Line C”, Thameslink was “Line A” and the Fleet Line was “Line F” I think) – does anyone have the full list?

    Certainly no actual commitment to a date when they actually start digging. Direct trains from Kingston to Tottenham? That would make it much easier for our five year old niece to keep in contact with us. But the only date mentioned is “the 2030s” – by which time she’d be old enough to drive the train herself!

  113. Mark Townend says:

    After my previous comment I saw the Crossrail 2 announcement and route map!
    I would still stand by my original idea though:

    Sheppertons to Waterloo
    Twickenhams to Thameslink
    Crossrail2 as otherwise proposed + reinstatement of Woking stoppers

  114. Sunny Jim says:

    Re the London First proposals, I find it fascinating to see the relatively obscure Chessington and Hampton Court branches included. I can’t see any reference to the intermediate stations (eg Thames Ditton and Berrylands). I’m also wondering where the CR2 tracks would fit between Wimbledon and Surbiton, or would they just share with the SWML?

  115. StephenC says:

    This Crossrail 2 plan (which really comes from TfL) lacks huge amounts of detail to be interesting. The document does mention that a fifth track is planned between Surbiton and Wimbledon to boost fast services from beyond Woking, but that is so pathetic an approach it only provides 9 extra paths.

    Critically, the document gives no indication as to whether Kingston/Epsom only get CR2 services, or keep Waterloo services as well. We asume the former, but we don’t know. This matters because of the small matter of Earlsfield. This is the one station between Wimbledon and Clapha Junction served today that Crossrail 2 would not serve. So what services would call there? If it is the Woking semi fasts and Guildford via Claygate services, there simply aren’t enough trains to take the demand. And if trains are still stopping, then how do you get 9 extra paths without a fifth track at Earlsfield? Or reducing Earlsfield’s service quality from 18tph down to something much less?

    A simpler, and £1.5bn cheaper, plan is to have a fast tunnel Esher to east of Clapham Junction for the fasts. Running at 100mph through the tunnel, rather than 75mph on the current route in from Surbiton, the time savings and lack of conflicts would immediately build a business case for that. That leaves a 4 track SWML for London. A cross platform interchange between Waterloo and CR2 services at Wimbleon (with no infrastructure work), and the CR2 tunnel portal at Battersea Power station, with access via railway lands near Stewarts Lane depot. Shorter tunnel + less underground stations = cheaper. Of course, you lose the Northern line relief at Tooting, but there are other options to deal with that.

    Finally, I think the report is missing a trick. Build the central tunnel as 4 tracks not 2. With a single very large bore divided in four for safety. This would allow a 24 hour railway, absorb twice as many services and allow both northern branches to get 24tph, not 12tph. Somehow I doubt the cost of a single large bore is that much more than 2 single-line bores…

  116. ngh says:

    Re Sunny Jim 01:41PM, 5th February 2013

    From the report: 5th track for the SWML from Wimbledon to Surbiton (as NR RUS suggestion).

    It seems detail light at the moment but you would have assume that the intermediate stations would have to be served to release the extra paths for the beyond London services into Waterloo to benefit ( 9 extra paths each way / hour, presumably all services could/should stop at CLJ too?).
    The report suggests effectively segregating the SWML slow lines for CR2 with a very small number of remaining suburban services to Waterloo (Similar to CR1 Shenfield branch approach?) hence the only way the existing intermediate stations (i.e. not shown on their map) could be served (with identical or better service level) would be CR2 services calling.

  117. StephenC says:

    @MarkTownend, your possibilities for enabling the Sutton line to have through trains are definitely possible and interesting. However, I go back to a point I’ve made before that the housing density along the Sutton part of the loop is much lower, maybe 1/4, than other areas such as Tooting/HaydonsRoad/Wimbledon. Its that low density which is the real problem with justifying a good service there, and why trams are a possibility. That said, in general I quite like Suton to Waterloo, because it would draw some people away from the Northern line at Morden, which as you’ve read above is necessary for Northern relief if CR2 does not go via Tooting Broadway (as in my scheme above).

  118. timbeau says:

    There is a reason tunnels are bored as individual single track bores rather than a single multitrack bore. Given it is bored, it has a circular cross section (it’s as high as it’s wide). That means a double track bore generates four times times as much spoil as a single track one (and double that of two singles). A four track bore generates four times as much as a double track one, and eight times as much as two singles. That’s a lot of extra digging!

    Moreover, the shallower curvature of the lining needs more reinforcement to withstand the external pressure.

  119. Greg Tingey says:

    I can see why they want 7-Sis – Turnpike Lane – Ally Pally
    They’re re-inventing the Palace Gates branch, with, presumably a terminus actually close to the palace, bacause the top of that hill is a public transport nightmare, with lots of bus routes that all appear to get stuck in traffic!
    Wonder what they want to call the linking-terminus station? Eustcossancras? Kingsancston?
    More seriously, I still think that a 3rd branch is needed on the NE side.
    Hackney – Leyton – Leytonstone – Epping, for preference ??
    Time to start digging?
    As soon a X-rail 1 is finished, of course, so the teams & equipment have not dispersed & we have to recycle start-up costs.
    But that would be much, much too sensible, wouldn’t it?

    “Rails through the Clay” has diagrams of the just post-war various proposals, all very interesting stuff.
    [ I once gave a presentation, sarcastically entitled: "The futility of Transport Planning in London" using some of them - & + Klapper & other sources, just for the fun of it.. Still got the notes - would you like a copy as an article, just for the extremely cynical laughs? ]

    I like the revised Wombledon station layout … but … but … I still think Wim – Sutton is better off as Tram / tube/drastic line.
    Would it be economical to extend the DIstrict line to Sutton, instead? Dive it under W station?
    Common running with Northern line S of S Morden, Rayners Lane style?

    The problem, noted by several people here, still remains, even with X-rail2
    Not enough track capacity between Hampton Court Jn & Clapham Jn, even with X-rail2 abstracting some of the traffic. You will need 6 tracks, not 4 all the way as far as wherever the X-rail services “vanish”.

  120. timbeau says:

    Earlsfield’s problem is that all trains are already full before they get there (not least because of people transferring from the Sutton line at Wimbledon) mnot If CR2 is extracting, resulting in each train leaving many passengers behind to add to the numbers waiting for the next one. If CR2 abstracts enough people at Wimbledon from whichever trains do continue to run to Waterloo, (and this may well include some middle-distance ones which don’t currently call at Wimbledon, let alone Earlsfield) those trains will be emptier, and so more people will be able to board at Earlsfield.

    But how many will want to transfer at Wimbledon? Certainly anyone for the West End or Kings Cross may prefer to do so there rather than at Clapham Junction or Vauxhall. But CR2 will do little for those who currently stay on the train to Waterloo, who will now have to switch from CR2 to SWT at Wimbledon or Clapham Junction to get to Waterloo.

    The original Chelney proposal swung much further east after Victoria, via Waterloo, Aldwych, Holborn and Farringdon, giving much better relief to not only the Vic but the District, Picc, Northern and Drain as well.

    Over the last seven decades many millions have been paid to consultants, all of whom recommended building some form or other of CR2. If the same money had been paid to actual builders instead, how much of it could have been built by now?

  121. Paul says:

    Greg and others…

    The ’5th track’ SWML is a separate option in the London and SE RUS to running CR2 down the SWML. But the latter would replace the ’5th track’ option, and according to NR’s description there would then be six tracks on the country side of Wimbledon out as far as somewhere between Raynes Park and Surbiton…

  122. stimarco says:

    Re. Wimbledon Loop…

    The District / Circle Line’s Praed Street platforms at Paddington will be much closer to the new Crossrail platforms than the H&C platforms, so interchange from the Wimbleware route will be easy enough and certainly much quicker than the present LU option of going via Sloane Square. Granted, there are a few stops, but CR1 gets you all the way to the Docklands area more quickly than the Jubilee via Waterloo will. (Waterloo isn’t exactly a rapid interchange given its sheer size. The W&C isn’t too hard to get to, but the Northern, Bakerloo and Jubilee can be quite the schlep.)

    Wimbledon has three routes to Zone 1: LU’s District Line, the SWML to Waterloo (+ Drain), and the round-the-houses route via the Wimbledon Loop. The latter is by far the longest journey, so skewing Thameslink services to favour it makes very little sense given the low population density in the areas it serves. As others have suggested, at least one half of the loop may be better converted to light rail with the goal of improving local orbital journey options.

    Blackfriars’ location and the fact that there are only two tracks through the Thameslink core create an unavoidable limit on service patterns. By flipping the bays to the west side, you allow services to go via both E&C and LB while also retaining what is essentially a two-track terminus serving the western pair of E&C route tracks that can be operated almost as a standalone line. These lines have some flexibility for peaks, but there are only so many trains you can ram through that core even with ATO. The oldest sections are well over a century old and weren’t built for speed.

    Re. Choice of termini for CR2…

    The reason for the many south London rail railheads for CR2 is down to history: South London’s railway networks have had to do double duty as both an urban metro and a long-distance network, with services from as far afield as Folkestone, Guildford, Rochester and Portsmouth having to creep up twin-track routes shared with urban and suburban stopping services. North London’s mainline railway networks built a big chunk of similar branches and urban metro services, but these were mostly scraped off and dumped onto the London Underground, freeing up more capacity on those long distance lines. That simply never happened south of the Thames, although some attempts were made to alleviate the problem. In part, this is because there just isn’t that much more Great Britain directly south and east of London: you run out of land after just one or two counties and hit the Channel.

    The Northern Line’s lonely foray south of the Thames is unusual, not the norm. Even the Jubilee Extension gingerly dips its toes into south London, but ultimately buggers off back up to Stratford without ever straying more than a few hundred yards from the river. (It was *supposed* to go down to Lewisham!) Only the DLR has made any attempt to match the Northern Line and even that only makes it as far as Lewisham, which is on the Zone 2/3 border.

    Part of the CR2 remit is therefore to do to the South London network what has already been done north of the river: the Central Line’s eastern and western ends run over much older railway infrastructure that originally ran into the existing mainline termini. By diverting the same metro-type flows from the mainlines on the SWML and into new tunnels, you can free up a lot more capacity for the (more profitable) long-distance trains instead.

    However, the poor transport infrastructure that has existed in these areas to date means the housing density is a lot lower than the equivalent areas north of the Thames. Harrow, Wembley, etc. were all mostly fields before the Metropolitan Railway came along. By the 1930s, they were rammed with row upon row of (relatively) high-density housing. Hence the larger number of branches. To the north, the line is running through some much higher density urban sprawl and is mostly designed to balance loads. To the south, the key issue is mostly just finding somewhere out of the way to terminate without requiring major rebuilding. (Also, it’s likely that the depot will be on one of the southern branches given how little of CR2 will be on the surface on the northern legs.)

    The Chessington South branch’s inclusion is in part due to its proximity to Chessington World of Adventures, which should help even out the flows. (The branch was originally supposed to rejoin the Dorking line near Epsom but it was never completed.) However, I suspect that it may also be an ideal spot for a depot.

  123. ngh says:

    re Greg Tingey 03:49PM, 5th February 2013

    Greg surely 6 tracking from Raynes Park* (where the Epsom and Chessington South branches of CR2 join the SWML) to the junction where the Sutton – Wimbledon line joins the SWML (just 800-900m? with plenty of space either side of the exiting alignment would be a very easy and cheap solution and most of the benefit.

    However the tunnel mouth is marked on the plans as being on this section (i.e. Wimbledon CR2 station is underground) so I suspect the addition 2 tracks would be added, 1 to the North (i.e. entering) and 1 to the south (i.e. emerging) to / from the 2 tunnel bores. The Epsom and Chessington South branches would use these 2 outer tracks not the existing slows [thus releasing 8tph of stopping service paths from Raynes Park to Waterloo] with the Hampton Court, Twickenham and Shepperton services swapping to the new outer CR2 tracks just after Raynes Park thus releasing 4 tph Wimbledon to Waterloo.

    This would mean that the fast services that currently can’t stop at Clapham Junction at the moment could now stop there (and more at Wimbledon too).

    5th track Raynes Park to Hampton Court Junction (7th track Wimbledon to Raynes Park??) would have to be used for bi-directional fast line capacity with some of the current / additional (9tph) fast line services swapping to / from slows before Wimbledon for the rest of the trip to Waterloo. The 5th track would maybe only have to take 10 tph total (i.e. equivalent of 5 in either direction overall)

    * [currently 6 Track but only 4 platforms on the SWML slow and Branch slow lines]

    Any thoughts?

  124. stimarco says:

    If memory serves, there’s quite a lot of space west of Wimbledon for the tunnel mouth. Part of this appears to be earmarked in the CR2 report for stabling / sidings, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the final design involved two tunnel portals, one for each of the outer ‘slow’ lines.

    Unusually for a south London main line, the SWML has a lot of flying junctions between Wimbledon and Woking, which is probably why the CR2 report has nailed so many of them onto its suggested route as there are no issues with conflicting movements for these. (The two routes to Guildford both have non-stop / skip-stop sections once they reach the mainline, so aren’t really suitable for CR2. It’d be like running the northern branch out to Stevenage.)

  125. timbeau says:

    “Wimbledon has three routes to Zone 1: LU’s District Line, the SWML to Waterloo (+ Drain), and the round-the-houses route via the Wimbledon Loop. The latter is by far the longest journey,”

    Not if you’re comparing like with like – District to Blackfriars is much slower (albeit more frequent) than Thameslink, whilst Waterloo and walk is the quickest of all. And even to Victoria, the route via Clapham Junction is quicker than Earls Court, despite the need to change at the former.

    Chessington World of Adventures – I wouldn’t bet on it being an attractive rail destination: although the earthworks were built almost to its front gate before all the unpleasantness in the 1940s, and is still there (under 75 years growth of vegetation) neither BR nor SWT have shown any interest in putting any track down on the extra half mile or so beyond Chessington South, so all visitors arriving by rail have to trek along the A243 instead – a major feeder as it connects to the M25 at J9.
    That the railway hasn’t exploited this ready made market seems even more remarkable, given that out of season CWOA’s car parks are used by Kingston Council for a park and ride service – bus service – into the town centre.

  126. Ian Sergeant says:

    When we are talking about Waterloo, I would urge caution. In the peak the main destinations are the City, the West End and the Wharf. So Waterloo isn’t really a primary destination in itself at peak. People will, in the great part, come out of their terminating train at Waterloo and board another train.

    So those branches on CR2 create a direct journey for many, as the train goes straight to TCR. For those heading to the City or the Wharf, they can change at TCR rather than Waterloo.

    And for those in the Waterloo catchment area not served by CR2, one would hope they see a better service into Waterloo. Logic says there are 24 tph to be divided out.

    So general feeling – pleased about the announcement even though it’s no surprise. But I still have no idea what is happening at the north-east end.

  127. NLW says:

    @ Paul D and others : I would welcome a facility to go to the first unread comment for each article, that would seem ideally suited to a forum.

  128. Pedantic Of Purley says:


    You almost have that. If you click on the first (i.e. lowest down the page) comment in the list on the right hand side that you haven’t already read then it will take you there.

  129. Rich says:

    RE: Paul @ 05:20PM, 5th February 2013: Chessington and Hampton Court are within the TfL area. My guess would be in a TfL driven plan they want to get hold of more suburban rail routes that are solely within the TFL area, and if they can’t be turned into Overground routes, join them to a new CR2 which they will have much more control over than at present. Essentially take it outside the normal franchising scope.

    RE: Greg Tingey @ 03:49PM, 5th February 2013: In for a penny, in for a pound. If Ally Pally is the destination and already in a new tunnel, why not add a potential onward spur to Muswell Hill. Both because it is a way to bring a currently isolated area into the network, and also as a way of siphoning of 4-8 trains an hour after Ally Pally which don’t need to be terminated/extended North. Yes, i know the geography and extra tunnel would be expensive. I just find it a bit sad that all the new infrastructure being put in generally avoids geographically transport sparse areas (such as Thamesmead on CR1, although at least CR2 brings in Chelsea), adding new/amended connections for people that already have services instead of potentially transforming isolated areas.

    And if you want a third branch, surely Chingford is an obvious contender? Another suburban line solely within TfL area which could be transferred in whole from a portal after Hackney, and could potentially be separated relatively easily from the existing network.

  130. Anonymous says:

    The north east end of the route is a dog’s breakfast and the amount of tunnelling involved will be very expensive.

    Why are Dalston and Hackney on different branches? Doesn’t this produce two long parallel routes largely in tunnel with no intermediate stations over the Seven Sisters-Dalston and Tottenham Hale-Hackney stretches? Stoke Newington, Stamford Hill or Clapton won’t be served. Instead the Seven Sisters branch could rise to the existing surface tracks after Hackney and serve Stoke Newington and Stamford Hill and run on to Enfield Town. This would have regeneration benefits for the Tottenham area and directly serve a heavily built up residential corridor as well as giving Enfield a faster link to the West End.

    Why does the line extend in tunnel all the way to Alexandra Palace? Is it purely to extract West End bound traffic from the Great Northern suburban services rather than further down the line at Finsbury Park and Highbury & Islington? If so won’t the roundabout route to the West End via Hackney be a severe disincentive for passengers to switch? The existing Alexandra Palace Station is not well located for Wood Green town centre and bus interchange is limited. Surely if goung to the expense of building a tunnel it would be better for the line to run to Muswell Hill Broadway from Turnpike Lane to serve an area with no tube or rail station.

  131. Anonymous says:

    I can’t see why they don’t surface at Ally Pally and go up the Hertford Branch. Then maybe the Northern Heights could be resurrected for Muswell Hill etc

  132. Anonymous says:

    Seems a lot of money. Surely people could find 3-6 £1bn to 4bn schemes in the capital that would benefit more people, and make better use of existing assets, eg a series of strategic interchanges (Brixton), the fast tunnel swml idea mentioned, extensions to bakerloo line to camberwell / lewisham, northern line from battersea to clapham junction, more frequent trains on northern city line from alex palace, even victoria line se a couple of stations (eg streatham) with its new capacity post upgrade etc etc.

    if more capacity at euston is needed with hs2 think about a shorter cheaper crossrail to Waterloo with one station at Tottenham ct rd with links north and south

  133. stimarco says:

    @Anonymous (10:05PM, 5th Feb):

    “Seems a lot of money…”

    Yes, it is a lot of money. However, the “London First” report clearly explains why they’ve chosen this more expensive option over Option “A+” (a more traditional Tube line) and the “Rearrange the deckchairs” option of spending £6bn. or so focusing on ‘quick win’ options which can only provide minimal improvements in capacity.

    The problem is that the UK’s infrastructure is *old*. There’s also not a hell of a lot to the south of London in terms of major conurbations. Sure, Portsmouth and Brighton are big *today*, but they’re still peanuts compared to, say, Greater Manchester, the Tyne-and-Wear conurbation, or Glasgow. And, of course, back when the original network was being constructed, there was next to bugger all until you reached one of the port towns. (It was the railways and, to a lesser extent, the canals, that unlocked the potential of inland towns, helping them grow into major cities.)

    The South West Main Line out of Waterloo serves three primary markets: the south coast (particularly that facing the Isle of Wight); the South West – Salisbury, Exeter and Bristol; and the commuter trains servicing the dormitory suburbs in Hampshire, Sussex and, to a lesser extent, Surrey.

    Those commuter trains are a pain in the bum: they’re only heavily used during the peak hours, but you can’t magic new platforms and tracks into Waterloo just for a couple of hours each day, nor can you justify only opening the many stations these trains use during those peaks, and closing them outside the peaks. So you end up running them back and forth, shunting mostly fresh air between Woking and Waterloo during off-peak hours, and having to maintain a fleet of expensive, frequent-stop metro trains that are no use to the operator at all on long distance journeys.

    And it’s those long-distance trains that actually make a profit: trains are most efficient when shifting a lot of stuff (or people) over long distances and making very *few* stops. The more stops you have, the longer the journey takes, the slower the average journey time, so the more trains you need, the more drivers you need, and the more signalling and other infrastructure you need. Stations don’t maintain themselves either: each one is an ongoing expense, but for a commuter service to be even remotely useful, you need to have quite a few stops on the line. Far more so than you would on a dedicated express line. The more ‘local’ the service, the more frequent the stops. That requires specially designed trains, designed for frequent acceleration and braking cycles, lots of wide doors, plenty of standing room and reduced seating capacity.

    This is why urban metros are typically run at a loss, subsidised by local or regional councils: they cost a fortune to build as they must, almost by definition, be built through, or beneath, some of the most expensive land in the country. A single underground station will set you back over £100m. Add in the running costs of lighting, heating, cleaning, staffing and – especially in London, which has a lot of waterlogged ground: just pumping out the water that seeps in – and you’re talking well into six figures, per station, per year. Minimum. That’s a huge chunk of cash when you add together all the stations on just one line.

    On the other hand, long-distance services – properly segregated – can actually make a profit and return some money to the nation’s treasury. That’s how it’s done pretty much everywhere else.

    Segregation of services is key. It’s crucial to increasing frequencies, because you can’t do that until you can guarantee service reliability and having trains crossing in front of other services is anathema to that goal. Hence projects like CR2. Yes, they cost a lot up-front, but you end up with a much neater, tidier, easier-to-maintain network for mainline services, and those annoying commuter services end up under local or regional authority control, so you haven’t got to pay for them any more. SWT will be relieved of a lot of onerous duties and can focus instead on providing better, more lucrative, services to the likes of Portsmouth, Weymouth, Aldershot and Exeter.

    And that means we, the taxpayers, don’t have to subsidise SWT (or their successors) in future to anywhere near the same tune as we do today.

    Over the short-term, it’s a painful hit, but in the long term, it’s very much a win-win.

    The problem is that we should be talking about Crossrail’s 4 and 5 by now. Getting any substantial infrastructure built in the UK takes so damned long now it’s a national embarrassment. The political systems are just as congested, if not more so, as the city’s infrastructure. *Both* need major upgrades, but I’m not going to hold my breath for either.

  134. Ian J says:

    It’s important to remember that Crossrail 1 was always intended as the first line of a two-line network. I have a vague idea of the late-80s planning work that came up with the two safeguarded routes: please correct me if I’m wrong but I thought it went like this:

    - If you were only ever going to build one line, it would be better to link Liverpool St to Waterloo via Tottenham Court Road. This gave a better benefit-cost ratio than Liverpool St to Paddington (since there is more demand on the lines out of Waterloo than the Great Western)
    - but you got a still better cost-benefit ratio from building two lines – Liverpool St to Paddington and Waterloo to Kings Cross (and beyond)

    When Crossrail existed without funding as a small skeleton staff, they talked about a two line network and always referred to the first line as “Crossrail 1″. Then Crossrail 1 got the go-ahead and talk of the second line was played down, I guess to avoid scaring the horses by talking about 30 billion plus of rail projects in one go.

  135. Whiff says:

    The Crossrail 2 proposals are so vague it’s hard to comment in much detail, but a couple of quick points. Does anyone know if there is a complete list available anywhere of all the bits of land that have already been safeguarded. And I have friends who live in Muswell Hill and I understand from them that most residents of the area are quite happy NOT to be connected to the rail network.

  136. Mwmbwls says:

    @ Whiff
    Re Safeguarding
    You might find this article to be of assistance

    Without wishing to stifle debate on this thread, we, in LR Towers, are currently studying the London First report in detail and once the tream have had time to read, mark and digest and do a little probing of our sources we will publish our response. If you, or any other LR reader, have any input that you would like to add if you would like to contact JB we would be most grateful. For more details select either “Be a spotter” or “Be an author” in the menu bar. As ever, our readers find images make articles easier to understand so pictures of the existing lines included in the CR2 proposal would be welcomed in the London Reconnections photo-pool.

  137. timbeau says:

    I have pointed out the circuitous detour via Tooting already, which will add to the journey time to Victoria and encourage many SWT passengers to change at CJ instead of Wimbledon (especially if there is no cross platform interchange at the latter and/or that passenger is lucky enough to have a seat). The Tooting call is said to be to help relieve the Northern Line but connections work both ways and I suspect that, on the contrary, it will actually feed more passengers into the Northern Line, as the whole of south west London and Surrey finds it has a new and more direct connection to the City. Even the Northern Line is less overcrowded than the Drain!
    If you want to relieve the Northern Line, build an interchange between it and the Haydons Road line where they cross near St Georges Hospital

    @ Ian Sergeant
    “. For those heading to the City…, they can change at TCR rather than Waterloo” Crossrail 1 only skirts the edge of the City (Farringdon, Moorgate). For the heart of the City you would have to use the Central Line from TCR – why go all that way round when the Northern Line runs straight as a die (or a Roman Road) all the way from Tooting.

    (Please rename the Crossrail 1/2 interchange “Centre Point”, not only is TCR a highly misleading name, but it’s too long to fit easily on the map!)

  138. Anonymous says:

    Once the Northern Line extension is built aren’t all trains north from Tooting being routed via Bank? This means CR2 to TCR would relieve congestion at the Kennington interchange.

  139. ned says:

    re Timbeau 10.33
    Agree re Centre Point/TCR – I’ve thought this for a while. There’s the related absurdity of buses on route 1 showing Tottenham Court Road as a destination as the word ‘station’ on blinds is now frowned upon, yet it doesn’t serve that road at all.

  140. Anonymous says:

    With a change a TCR it’s going to be 5-6 stops to the City on CR2 from Tooting Broadway vs. 12/13 on the NL. I can’t see how it will be quicker getting off and going onto the tube. The trains on CR2 will also be larger, more spacious and comfortable with A/C. Given that, I don’t see why passengers would get off at Tooting Broadway instead of staying on and doing the change at TCR instead. For those using Tooting Broadway as their local station, I guess many City workers will continue with the slower but more direct NL, but for those based in pretty much most other central London destinations (incl. the Western fringe of the City around St. Pauls-Farringdon, plus probably CW), I suspect CR2 will make more sense, which all mean relief.

    People should look at some of the saving times, they’re huge for what are basically metro services from London neighbourhoods to the centre.

  141. Anonymous says:

    Never mind Centre Point (a hideous building imo), there’s already a perfectly sensible name for that location – St Giles Circus

  142. timbeau says:

    Anon 0129 I make it eight stops Tooting Bdy to Bank via TCR (Clapham Junc, Chelsea, Victoria, TCR (change), Holborn (another misnamed station, Chancery Lane (which actually is on Holborn!), St Pauls, Bank), and 12 direct via Borough. Given the longer distances between stations on CR2, and the more circuitous route, (the Northern Line follows the Roman Road) will it really be quicker?

    “St Giles Circus” may be accurate, but does anyone really know where that is? Whereas, like it or loathe it, everyone knows where Centre Point is – and what better name for the meeting point of the two Crossrail routes?

  143. Arkady says:

    Let’s rename ‘City Thameslink’ to ‘Ludgate Circus’ while we are at it.

  144. Anonymous says:


    There is no need to use the central line, it’s 5 stops via a change onto CR1 to Moorgate and Liverpool Street, or 4 to Farringdon and Barbican. Bank and St. Pauls are around 400/500m from the crossrail stations, about 5-6mins walk going by the average of 12mins for a kilometre. Many of the major offices are north of Cheapside and around Bishopgates anyway, so you could easily be looking at 10mins from platform to door.

  145. Anonymous says:

    Sorry, I meant 6 stops to Moorgate/Liverppol st, and 5 to Farringdon/Barbican.

  146. ngh says:

    re Anonymous 01:29PM, 6th February 2013

    The estimated time saving (from the London First report) for Tooting Broadway to TCR using CR2 instead of the northern line is 18 minutes (i.e. 12 minutes instead of 30mins)

  147. Anonymous says:


    Yeah, and from TCR crossrail’s site is giving 4mins to L’pool st./Moorgate and 2mins to Farringdon/Barbican. Throw in a few mins for the interchange and to City it’s 17-19mins. BY contrast Tfl have Tooting Broadway to Bank and Moorgate as 26 and 28mins. Throw in the interchange and it’s at least a third quicker not to change onto the NL, on a more comfortable, cooler and spacious train.

  148. Mwmbwls says:

    Anonymous @1.47
    I like “St. Giles Circus”.

  149. Bryn Davies says:

    A more accurate and appropriate name for TCR would be St. Giles.

  150. Anonymous says:

    A couple of thoughts:
    Four tracking of WA line is clearly not budgeted for in CR2 so that needs a supplementary project.

    Stanstead’s figures are actually down and the chances of expansion are uncertain.

    I wonder if CR2 will go much further than T Hale on that branch!

  151. Chris says:

    Anonymous @ 08:59PM, 5th February

    There’s very little to be gained from taking over a surface route at Ally Pally – Thameslink and the Moorgate Branch already take suburban services into Central London and i think i’m correct in saying the work underway should produce 6 tracks, allowing them to be segregated from each other and the mainlines. What’s needed is to relieve Finsbury Park and the interchange with the Picc/Vic.

  152. Chris says:

    If WAML four tracking isn’t included then that’s almost certainly because they expect to have been delivered anyway – after all, wasn’t a partial quadrupling part of TfL’s HLOS submission for CP5? If they, as seems to be expected, they get hold of the Lea Valley services and combine them into the Overground the case will only be strengthened.

  153. peezedtee says:

    @Arkady “Let’s rename ‘City Thameslink’ to ‘Ludgate Circus’ while we are at it.”

    But only the southern exit of the station services Ludgate Circus. The northern exit is more or less where Holborn Viaduct station used to be. You might just as well call it Holborn Viaduct. In fact it is both, and it is misleading to call it only either one or the other.

  154. timbeau says:

    Ludgate Viaduct? Holborn Circus? Actually, what about the street which runs parallel to it, and the large and well-known building occupying most of its length – Old Bailey

    The other misnamed station – used to be Holborn Kingsway – I think they dropped the wrong word. I used to get very tired of explaining to frustarted, late and wet visitors to my office that they should have used Chancery Lane, (or even Farringdon) rather than the station that shares a name with the street my office happened to be on.

  155. Taz says:

    Never mind TCR being too long, what about Euston Kings Cross St Pancras? I think the CR2 station should be called Terminus, in the style of Bank and Monument. In the days before all-figure phone numbers, the phone exchange for Euston was Terminus, denoting the first main-line rail terminus in London. It seems appropriate since the CR2 station will serve the terminus of three rail routes.

  156. Greg Tingey says:

    Anon @ 18.19
    There are already other proposals in-line (so to speak) for extra tracks Tott H – Chesunt/Broxbourne, which would be completed before XR2 comes along, Also, I can speak from close observation that the Hertford E & Broxboirne workings are seriously rammed at present.
    See also Chris @ 19.41

  157. Whiff says:

    Thanks Mwmbwls – a very useful link. So it seems the route was safeguarded in 1991, again in 2008 and is set to be safeguarded again in 2014 which must be some kind of record. Anyway looking forward to the full article on CR2.

  158. StephenC says:

    Merton council’s draft plans had this to say about the Queens Road car park, just to the east of Wimbledon station – “The feasibility of Crossrail2 (Chelsea – Hackney line) is being examined by government. The proposed route will involve Wimbledon station, passing by Queens Road car park. The Crossrail2 team are in the final stages of preparing a feasibility report and have indicated that Queens Road car park may be needed to facilitate the development of Crossrail2. Confirmation of whether this is necessary is expected to be received by April 2013. If it is needed, no other development will take place on this site.”

  159. Sunny Jim says:

    Re Crossrail 2 and Queen’s Road car park: this could be a location for a tunnel portal, but how would the CR2 lines and platforms fit in Wimbledon station? Better surely to keep CR2 underground at Wimbledon, then surface to the southwest of the station (as the London First sketch map implies). The Merton document is vague on how the land could be used in relation to CR2.

    Going even further off-topic, a few other transport nuggets from the Merton Council document:
    It notes that TfL has withdrawn proposals for a tram route between Mitcham Junction and Tooting.
    And the bus station at Sir Cyril Black Way, Wimbledon, is included as a potential building development site. Would the bus station be lost?

  160. timbeau says:

    One thing not picked up is that neither Shepperton nor, particularly, Twickenham, will be particularly interested in the Crossrail route – (although the Evening Standard in its naivety chose to interview Twickenhamites about what the new line would do for them). Twickenham already has a fast and much more direct service to London via Richmond. Shepperton’s most direct route to London is also via Twickenham, but for operational convenience (i.e no room on the Richmond route,) most trains take the longer route via Wimbledon although strangely they manage to squeeze three trains in on the direct route at the busiest time of day.
    Crossrail only goes to Twickenham because a service has to be provided on the Kingston loop.

    An alternative service pattern:
    Direct Waterloo to Shepperton trains via Richmond 4tph.
    To make space for these through Richmond, Kingston loop and Hounslow loop trains to be combined, with a reversal at Twickenham – also 4tph.
    Shuttle Kingston to Shepperton (or some intermediate point): might be peak hours only with a change at Strawberry Hill at other times.

  161. Anonymous says:

    Given that the fast trains from twickenham stop at CJ (20mins i believe) I’m guessing most will change into CR2 there, esp. given it can take a while to get into Waterloo due to waiting for a platform and trains bunching up.

  162. Chris says:

    Sunny Jim @ 12:03PM, 7th February

    It’s perhaps more likely that the car park would be used for construction purposes and/or a station box, looks just about long enough and on the right alignment too.

  163. stimarco says:


    “Terminus” wouldn’t really work though: Euston, St. Pancras and Kings Cross stations are the termini, but would retain their names, while the CR2 station would be a through station and thus clearly *not* a terminus, yet would be confusingly named “Terminus”. (Or, more accurately, “Terminuses”. Which just sounds even worse.)

    I’d vote for “Euston Road (for Euston, St. Pancras International, and King’s Cross stations)” As long as the signage is clear, it shouldn’t pose any problems. These are going to be big stations, so plenty of room for signs with subheadings.

  164. Pete D says:

    No, I’d vote for Bloomsbury. Because it’s in Bloomsbury, and oh and it sounds nice.

  165. Mark Townend says:

    @stimarco, 12:02AM, 8th February 2013

    How about ‘Transcentral’ – you could catch the last train heading there . . .

  166. bobanobjob says:

    A more apt name for TCR would be Tinhon West (Tinhon being an anagram of There Is Nothing Here Of Interest). I appendage the word ‘West’ as you could then have Tinhon East = City Thameslink, Tinhon North = Farringdon and TRinhon South (There REALLY Is Nothing Here Of Interest) = Blackfriars.

  167. bobanobjob says:

    oops I should have said ‘acronym’ not ‘anagram’

  168. bobanobjob says:

    .. and I meant “an acronym of ‘There Is Nothing Here Of Note’” – but I’m typing on a phone on a bus in my defence.

  169. John Bull says:

    There’s now an Overground Capacity Upgrade post up, so I’ve moved the comments in this thread related to that project to there.

    If further discussion of that work could take place in there, I’d be grateful.

    Apologies for not having a Crossrail 2 post up yet – I did have one written but wasn’t happy with it and ended up discarding it entirely. Soon as finished the new version I’ll post and transfer the comments in a similar way.


  170. Mark Townend says:

    I’ve had some more thoughts about Wimbledon, Crossrail 2 and the Sutton Loop. Here are my latest ideas, together with a South West London network map which should help put things into context.

    The proposal is to create a network for Crossrail2 completely segregated from the South Western Waterloo suburban services, by providing separate tracks as far as possible. Towards that aim I have suggest removing Hampton Court from the original Crossrail 2 route plan in favour of the Sutton line.

    Looking at the infrastructure from west to east:

    At New Malden I noted there was space for an additional track through the existing down direction fly-under leading to the Kingston line. The unused fast line island platform at New Malden station also takes up a large part of the corridor width that with some reorganisation could be reused for an additional pair of tracks. From New Malden to Wimbledon the railway corridor generally looks wide enough to accommodate additional tracks, except immediately east of Raynes Park station where roads and buildings are very tight to both sides of the formation. The local road under-bridges there will probably preclude any grade separation for the Motspur park branch so I have shown a new platform for Crossrail 2 constructed just east of the existing station, London side of a flat junction.

    At Wimbledon the station would remain largely as it is today, except Tramlink is evicted from the west end of platform 10 to restore a through double track heavy rail alignment to be used by both Crossrail and Thameslink trains. The new flyover to the West gives grade separated access to and from the Sutton branch and the Crossrail portal to the east drops underground between the tracks of the Thameslink Streatham line.

    I think that extending the Thameslink Wimbledon branch to Twickenham provides better orbital connectivity than retaining this as a further Crossrail 2 branch. With a significantly faster journey time from Twickenham via the Windsor line, changing at Clapham Junction will likely remain much more popular than a direct train. Sharing the platforms at Wimbledon would be a capacity challenge however, but would assist interchange, and I would expect that even with a number of branches a fair proportion of Crossrail 2 services would turn back towards the core at either Clapham Junction or Tooting Broadway, as the Clapham Junction interchange in particular is likely to be extremely busy.

  171. Anonymous says:

    Re names for the Euston/SP/KX megastation, why not an entirely new name? Britain’s done it in the past with the plethora of Victorias, airports often do it (eg New York, Liverpool, Paris), and American do the same with railway stations – so how about honouring a railway-related notable, eg Stephenson, or Watkin, or Yerkes, or Bradshaw, or even, to mark the significance of the station (and the creator of the current setup!), Major?

    Re the Chessington branch, that was heading for Leatherhead rather than Epsom, and the coal concentration depot south of the passenger terminus was well on the way to (then) Chessington Zoo.

    And (pedant mode on), the plural of terminus is termini, rather than “terminuses”.

  172. timbeau says:

    Anon: I don’t think many Victoria stations, if any, were renamed from something else. Certainly Manchester, London, Southend, Nottingham and Sheffield’s examples have never had any other name.

  173. Pedantic of Purley says:

    I think that that the London Reconnections Style Guide requires those who contribute articles to use termini. However terminuses is a perfectly good word and is the normally used word in other English speaking countries. Feel free to use either according to preference. We know what you mean.

    Believe it or not we have actually had a discussion, admittedly after a couple of drinks, about whether a full stop should be followed by one or two spaces.

  174. Anonymous says:

    PoP. I’ve had that very discussion recently regarding stuff going out from work. The decision was 1 for consistency but recognising that 2 was also correct – but generally only for those taught typing on a typewriter. (we were sober!)

  175. HowardGWR says:

    We in the west have to put up with Bakerloo, so why not Eupancross?

  176. JM says:

    First time poster, interested in this site, particularly transport planning and strategy but not so au fait on civil engineering so happy to pulled up on anything by those more ITK. Apologies if some of the things I’ve written have been exhaustively covered elsewhere.

    Particularly interested in Crossrail 2 route in regard to HS2 and the Davis Report. Slightly concerned an awful lot of emphasis is placed on Euston entry and exit but not about where those leaving would be travelling to. With NL upgrades along with the Vic you could realistically have up to 90tph(?) running north/south from Euston in the 2020s without CR2. But only the same number as now travelling east/west on the Circle/H&C/Met. Not saying CR2 would not be necessary but those travelling from east or west/north west London could have an inconvenient route out of Euston if required to walk a 5 minute link to Euston Square with bags. It may be over the next 30 years another Crossrail route would have to be planned if east/west routes are strained and access to Old Oak and Stratford Intl remains slightly isolated.

    If better connections at Old Oak were planned than what I have seen so far then it might also lessen the impact on Euston. Take the Richmond leg of the Overground running spurs along the freight/new lines to Wembley Park and Brent Cross T/L and maybe even a southern spur to Kew Bridge. If the Park Royal International scheme becomes reality at Old Oak with GW station thrown in then I’d love it to go further by using spare capacity on the Bakerloo (hopefully with the southern extension closer to reality) by routing trains from QP via Old Oak to cross platform interchange at North Acton and taking over one of the Central Line branches. I’m sure I read there was a plan for the Bakerloo to go to Ealing back in the 80s? Then Old Oak has NSEW access direct under the station without the awkwardness of getting at off at Willesden Junction, North Acton etc and using a people mover or similar.

    Regarding CR2. I don’t regularly use Victoria or Waterloo to commute into London but acutely aware there is a huge capacity constraint on the SWML between CJ and Surbiton. I’d be interested to know what is the current percentage that change at CJ from Waterloo bound services to Victoria and vice versa. Or even those that get onto the NL at Waterloo for the West End. I think the NL from Tooting upwards will be overloaded if you have a CR2 interchange. By the 2020s you could do TB – Moorgate on the NL in less than 25 minutes. It will be the most convenient change for London Bridge and Bank even if changing at TCR for CRossrail to the City makes the difference to Moorgate slightly quicker.

    No problem with the central route although it seems ridiculous to have 1 station for 3 mainline terminuses. The dwell time in the station would surely be too long. Even RER E in Paris didn’t try to use Magenta to cover 2 mainline stations. If one station is the choice then at least build 2 platforms for either side of the train for entry and exit to help speedup exit and boarding.

    As I live in NE London, very disappointed nothing is being done to alleviate the huge overcrowding on the eastern Central line as was the original plan. Tubes are currently full to busting out in Zone 4 along the Epping between 8-8.30 although you would probably need over half the CR2 service to cover it effectively possibly taking over the northern Hainault branch too to prevent Central tubes and CR2 sharing track north of Woodford (so around 15/16tph) . .

    If the Davies report recommends future airport expansion at Stansted, then a later extension from Epping to include running along the M11, P&R at J7 of the M11 at Potter Street before meeting the West Anglia at Sawbridgeworth may be worth looking into. Stansted and Stratford would have a rapid link and CPI direct to the City to complement an upgraded or new high speed Stansted Express I’m not sure how you could run a frequent service up to Stansted and Hertford without radical expansion of the existing track, not just four tracking but all the flat junctions at Brimsdown/Enfield Lock and lots of brownfield demolition, Tesco Park around Cheshunt. City services would surely have to be curtailed. If CR2 can relieve the Victoria line, then maybe the spare track might be useful for a future extension for that up to Brimsdown/Enfield Island with a major interchange somewhere like Angel Road or wherever Spurs site a future stadium to maximise use of the Lea Valley to the west end, the city and the ‘new’ airport.

    If Stansted is the de facto choice for a new hub then extra platforms required at Liverpool Street with probably mean Enfield/Cheshunt/Chingford have to routed onto a new CR3 via the City which could also cover the Northern Heights. And could help relieve Waterloo still further if it takes semi fast services or takes over the CR2 Waterloo route allowing that to take over some of the suburban south London routes into Victoria.

    If Davies recommends Heathrow (which I really can’t see) or one of the Estuary options, Gatwick (or no expansion at all), I think an LV extension is even harder to justify.

  177. timbeau says:


    To answer one of your points, I belive the HS2 plans for Euston include better integration of Euston Square station into the whole – probably including access from the eastern end of the platforms, which are quite close to the CX branch of the Northern Line. I assume many passengers from HS2 for existing Circle/H&C destinations would be expected to use CR2 and CR1 to get to places like Liverpool Street, Whitechapel, Paddington etc, A cross platform interchange at TCR would help, but I don’t think TCR has been future-proffed to provide it.
    HS2 and CR1 will also connect directly at Old Oak.

  178. Anonymous says:


    I think after the signally upgrades the Northern SSL are going to get around 4 extra trains each on the Met and H&C/Circle, so that’s 8 more through Central London. I also believe as timbeau said that Euston Square will be linked to the VL and NL station as part of the first phase of HS2 (the bit to B’ham).

    That being said I agree at some point capacity might be an issue. Euston and KXSP are going to see a lot more trains in 15-20 years than now, many being very long intercity trains from across the UK and Europe, alongside the usual suburban increase from hubs north of London. On top of that the area is seeing some huge development in terms of commercial, residential and retail/leisure space, which will surely include Euston (if only to pay for some of the station redevelopment). Farringdon will also provide greater and greater amounts of office space and much of the City’s growth, with its skyscrapers, is around L’pool St.

    Further down the lines there are potentially massive developments taking place between SB and White City, thousands of units of housing alone, extension of Wesfield, Imperial’s campus, offices, maybe a new QPR ground and so on. On the Met it’s less dramatic, but Wembley is growing and the inner-London areas like Kilburn, Willesden, etc will see growing populations. On top of this is general city growth and passenger increases in our airports. I suspect a separation of the Met and H&C/circle will have to be looked at some time from the middle of next decade.

  179. timbeau says:

    Anon 934pm
    “I suspect a separation of the Met and H&C/circle will have to be looked at some time from the middle of next decade.”

    Difficult to achieve unless all met services terminate at Baker Street. This would improve capacity on the core as the flat junction at Baker Street would not be used, but it would be diffficult to pump much more through Praed Street Junction so I’m not sure how much it would help unless one or two extra tracks could be squeezed in between ERd and the junction, allowing separation of terminating and through trains, or a flying junction to remove conflicts between westbound Hammersmiths and eastbound trains from HSK. Whether Baker Street could handle so many terminating trains I’m not sure – maybe some would be sent to Marylebone instead.
    Once upon a time, in the 1970s, it was thought that Baker Street could handle Aylesbury line services again, and with Wycombe services handled by Crossrail (joining the existing route at South Ruislip), Marylebone would be closed.

    My own solution is to bypass Baker Street altogether by building a connection between the Met and Midland Main line at West Hampstead, allowing Met trains to access Kings Cross St Pancras and thus Farringdon via the City Widened Lines. (Thameslink has far more southern than northern destinations, so an extra one of the latter would even things up a bit).

  180. Pete D says:


    No, what Thameslink needs isn’t more northern destinations but less southern destinations to provide the most robust service possible. How would you fit an additional 24 Met trains through Farringdon without displacing all the 14 midland and 10 east coast suburban services?

  181. mr_jrt says:

    @Pete D
    My own proposal in times past was to bore a new tunnel for Thameslink between Blackfriairs and West Hampstead that could be both faster and have a more direct routing.

    With the widened lines cleared, finish the job back to Baker St. and build the long lost flying junction and knock though platform 4, then fill in the existing junction to create two centre bay platforms to help with passenger flows (though there’s no reason they couldn’t be retained if that was more advantageous). At the other end, knock though the Moorgate bays to Liverpool St across Finsbury Circus, and build a new grade-separated connection between the SSL and the NR lines.

    That segregates the Met from the SSL. …but it’s then not the longest distance in the world to then do Baker St. to Edgware Road and the long-overdue widening of Praed St to Edgware Road.

  182. StephenC says:

    @Mark Townend, An interesting approach to bring in the Sutton line instead of Hampton Court. The main issue is that you share tracks between the Thameslink and CR2 lines through Wimbledon station. Even assuming only 4tph on the Thameslink part, that would be a significant impingement on the ability to run a reliable CR2. Reading between the lines of the official plan, I get the intention that the CR2 lines are intended to be completely separate from the other tracks – necessary to achieve reliable 24tph (apparently).

    @JM, your description of the Central line as full and bursting in zone 4 is also important here. Crossrail 2 simply isn’t anywhere near enough capacity. London’s population is due to rise 14% in just the next 10 years. To simply stand still, London needs 2 more Crossrails in the next 20 years. To actually relieve anything, it needs 3 or 4 more. Thats why I think Crossrail 2 should be pitching for 4 tracks on the core section.

  183. Greg Tingey says:

    Stephen C
    ….or 4-platform stations, with 2-track running lines, giving over-run flexibility.
    Quite franky X-r2 needs to include the Epping-Leyton section as well, as said before!

  184. timbeau says:

    No service either way round the loop for the rest of the day because of……… overhead line problems at Elstree! Does anyone in Wimbledon still think the through services are worth it?

  185. rogmi says:

    An advantage of Wimbledon loop trains terminating at Blackfriars.
    Yet another example. Current / forecast cancellations round the loop are that that from around 12:40 at Haydons Road there was/will be no anticlockwise service, with a normal clockwise service. Looking at the NR site now (13:46), the loop is closed in both directions until at least 15:30.

    The NR explanation is:
    “Overhead wire problems are causing disruption at Radlett. Train services are expected to be disrupted for the rest of the day”

  186. Rogmi says:

    We crossed in the post:-)

    NR now states that a limited service will be running between Blackfriars and Sutton / Wimbledon. I assume that this means there’s nothing on the rest of the loop. Looking at Sutton Common, NR are currently (15:26) showing:
    via Wimbledon:
    15:42 cancelled
    16:12 delayed
    16:42 delayed
    17:16 delayed

    via Sutton

    15:58 Cancelled
    16:28 Cancelled
    16:58 Cancelled

    so, no anti-clockwise service round the loop
    All the clockwise trains are showing delayed with no time. This is the NR’s way of saying that “it will be cancelled, but will probably be displayed until after its departure time!
    so, it is assumed that there is no clockwise service round the loop either.

    Given that NR are stating that the problems at Radlett will be going on all day, I can’t see there being a service at all round the loop for the rest of the day, unless it’s a token train they send through.

  187. timbeau says:

    Appears to be a clockwise only service at present – all direct trains to Wimbledon from Tooting in the next 2 hours variously shown as cancelled or “delayed” – includin one that should have left Luton over an hour ago, so not much hope of that actually happening now. Delayed, in my experience, usually means they’ve lost it – usually because the train to form it hasn’t left the terminus yet (and indeed may never do so).

    A particular annoyance about ” delayed” trains is that on “next train” indicators, although most trains are shown in order of their “expected” time, “delayed” trains come up in that sequence at their scheduled time, even though it would be physically impossible for them to still actually turn up in that order – thus displacing useful information about actual trains which might arrive in the next five minutes

  188. Anonymous says:

    If FCC-SE services are still problematic tomorrow it could add to the predicted disruption on the Southeastern metro network. SE is warning passengers that overnight engineering work at Slade Green could see many services cancelled or short-formed. Joy.

  189. StephenC says:

    I finally got to write up my plans for a better, cheaper Crossrail 2 in South West London, which I christened Crossrail SSW.

  190. Whiff says:

    Timbeau – your comment on the 11th February suggested that there will be an interchange between Crossrail and HS2 at Old Oak Common but the last official statement I read was that there had been no discussion of building a Crossrail station at Old Oak. Has something changed in the last year since then?
    (Incidentally I had a look at the HS2 website to find out their latest plans for Old Oak and their website is so un-user friendly I found out nothing useful.)

  191. Mark Townend says:

    @Whiff, 05:45AM, 14th February 2013

    The drawing here . . .

    . . . shows an 8 platform GWML station alongside the HS2 station box. Under current plans Crossrail is connected only to the GWML in the west so it is reasonable to assume CR trains will serve this station, indeed it would make sense to extend those workings planned to terminate at Paddington from the east to Old Oak to strengthen Central London services from this important interchange.

  192. Mark Townend says:

    @StephenC, 11:43PM, 13th February 2013

    Some really good ideas there. I would still link in the Sutton line as per my first Wimbledon proposal:

    and suggest combining with your Richmond crossing idea to get even more benefit from the new tunnel section:

    Also I would definitely provide Clapham Junction platforms on the Express Lines in a box sunk into the yard between the Windsor and Main Lines, with the aim of stopping all long distance trains there for the exceptional connectivity available. Yard capacity would be sacrificed clearly, but some berthing might be relocated to Wimbledon and with the new tunnels that would create less conflict with longer distance trains than now. There is some industrial land to the north of Wimbledon depot that looks like it may have once been sidings and might be reacquired for railway use if necessary.

  193. JM says:

    @timbeau @Anonymous @StephenC

    Thanks for your responses. Will come back properly but will probably wait for the article if one is coming.

  194. StephenC says:

    At today’s GLA transport committee, it was indicated that it is now unlikely that the Wimbledon loop will be increased from 2tph to 4tph. If this indeed comes to pass then I’m even more frustrated with the consultation and its fallout.

  195. answer=42 says:

    How does this come about? Perhaps there has been a bloodless coup that no-one has told us about and now the GLA Transport Junta are in charge of Thameslink.

  196. DW down under says:

    Pete In USA
    09:36PM, 31st January 2013

    See the discussions under the Finsbury Park article for ideas concerning extending the GN&C south. The concept worked through in greatest detail was one linking to Fenchurch St and the LT&S lines. This was also followed through on District Dave’s @

    You forgot to put a smiley after your comment about “only inches on the map” :)


    DW down under

  197. DW Down Under says:

    08:30AM, 5th February 2013

    Dividing was referring to trains – there being a cab at the outer ends ONLY.

    DW down under

  198. DW down under says:

    07:36PM, 6th February 2013: wrote:

    “Anonymous @ 08:59PM, 5th February

    There’s very little to be gained from taking over a surface route at Ally Pally – Thameslink and the Moorgate Branch already take suburban services into Central London and i think i’m correct in saying the work underway should produce 6 tracks, allowing them to be segregated from each other and the mainlines. What’s needed is to relieve Finsbury Park and the interchange with the Picc/Vic.”

    Yes there is. XR2 would have to take over all the GN inner suburbans if the GN&C route was to be repurposed as has been proposed to either:

    a) a DLR Bank – Northern Heights extension
    b) a W&C Bank – Northern Heights extension

    This is to transfer the train reversing capacity (12 tph in use at present) from Moorgate to an SoR destination. Otherwise, despite TL (which will take 6tph off the ECML suburbans), the ECML will be short of train reversing capacity.


    DW down under

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