The massive redevelopment at Earls Court took a step closer to fruition in November 2012 when the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea gave its outline planning approval. The London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham had already given their outline consent in September and, as Sir Terry Farrell’s grand vision for west London looks to become a reality, we ask what the implications are for the rail routes in the area: the West London Line and the District routes through Earls Court.


The planned development

This is a huge redevelopment, straddling two London boroughs which are working with the Greater London Authority (GLA) to create an integrated strategy for the Earl’s Court and West Kensington Opportunity Area. The first phase of the plan, the Seagrove Road development alongside West Brompton station, received full planning permission in March 2012.

Opportunity Area

Earl’s Court and West Kensington Opportunity Area

A surprisingly large part of the site is owned by the railway, including the LUL Lillie Bridge depot and the various running lines. TfL also owns the entire block of land beneath the Earl’s Court exhibition buildings where the lines west of Earl’s Court diverge, although this is subject to a long-term lease to Capco.


Land ownership, taken from the Joint Supplementary Planning Document (apologies for the poor image quality)

Is this a rare opportunity to create a step-change in capacity, to resolve long-standing bottlenecks and to future-proof for rapidly growing transport demand?

The District Lines around Earls Court are among the most overcrowded on the system, and the projected overcrowding on the West London Line (WLL) is proving a challenge for TfL. The unexpectedly high level of demand generated by new services on the WLL will combine with flows created by the Earls Court development. Even with 8-car trains, the resultant overcrowding threatens to tarnish the Overground success on which TfL’s aspirations rely.

Sadly, while there is a vibrant vision for Earls Court, there does not appear to be one for the WLL. As London’s population continues to rise it is outgrowing the city core, with the result that rail demand on the orbitals continues to outpace even the most optimistic projections.

West London Opportunity Areas

West London Opportunity Areas, from the September 2011 Opportunity Area Planning Frameworks

A glance up and down the line reveals more Opportunity Areas, at White City (10000 jobs, 4500 homes), Battersea (25000 jobs, 16000 homes) and the gateway to Park Royal (14000 jobs, 3600 homes) at Old Oak Common. The new Old Oak Common HS2-Crossrail interchange is also projected to generate significant traffic along the WLL to Clapham Junction. As these Opportunity Areas become major traffic generators in their own right, will the WLL become as busy as the District is now?

Yet rather than future-proofing, the WLL alignment is being pared to the bone and will be hemmed into a concrete box below the new development, precluding any future expansion. What does this mean in terms of future capacity and operational resilience?

TfL’s position is presented below, but first let’s take a closer look at this fascinating part of the London rail network.

The Lillie Bridge tangle

The Carto Metro map below shows how the various lines interweave, noting that the Piccadilly Line runs beneath the District Line from Gloucester Road through Earls Court. At West Kensington East Jn there are effectively four levels of railway: Piccadilly, District, WLL and, at a slightly higher level, the Lillie Bridge Depot. The Tubeprune website expounds on the Depot and its slightly eccentric access arrangements from both West Kensington and Olympia.

Earls CtCarto sm

Adapted from Carto Metro, courtesy of Franklin Jarrier

The confluence of routes here prompts a perennial proposal to create a new interchange, which the Earls Court development might allow. TfL have looked at this and see no advantage: good interchange already exists at Earls Court and West Brompton, and the existing stations are closely placed which means a new interchange would have to replace them. The preferred strategy is to improve capacity at, and pedestrian access to, the existing stations.

The Carto map also omits the old Lillie Bridge Sidings on the WLL, which extended from Brompton Road north to Earls Court Jn. The legacy of this is a wide alignment right through to Kensington Olympia. On the east (Up) side the Lillie Bridge Sidings extended north into the Warwick Road Goods depot, the site of which (north of the West Cromwell Road) is now, inevitably, a Tesco car park. The Railway Clearing House map below shows these depots and gives a sense of the complexity in the area.

RCH extract

An extract from the Railway Clearing House map

The map below is derived from an 1872 Board of Trade accident report at Lillie Bridge Sidings. Remarkably the layout changed little in the following century. When the Brompton & Fulham Goods depot was built a line was extended alongside West Brompton station beneath the road bridge to join Lillie Bridge Sidings, and this became a long Down Goods loop in the 1970s extending to Earls Court Jn.

The Earls Court development will entail the demolition of the huge new Earls Court 2 exhibition space built in the 1980s over the WLL and LU Lillie Bridge depot tracks, which will reopen this wide railway alignment from West Brompton north. It is a rare opportunity to safeguard four-tracks from south of West Brompton station through to Kensington Olympia. This is, however, not to be.

Lillie Bridge 1872 map

Lillie Bridge Sidings in 1872, a layout that survived largely intact for a century, with multiple tracks through to Olympia.

The first phase of the Earls Court development at Seagrove Road is being built on the site of the Brompton & Fulham Goods depot, and the boundary between the development and the WLL is being retained as a wetland wildlife area, reminiscent of the WLL’s previous incarnation as the Kensington Canal. The elegant road bridge on the west side of West Brompton station is a remnant of this era: an old canal bridge.

The extent of the railway infrastructure is also shown in a fascinating 1928 aerial photograph below, looking roughly north. The District Lines out of Earls Court are uncovered, with West Brompton station on the right and the Lillie Bridge Sidings extending up the WLL towards Kensington Olympia. Below these, i.e. to the south-west, is the LU Lillie Bridge Depot, with the main shed extending much further south than today.

More maps and fascinating pictures telling the history of the area are to be found on the developer’s website, including this extract from the Environmental Statement.

Earls Court nr 1928

Photo courtesy of Britain From Above


A comparative view today, looking south-east. Source: Design and Access Statement Addendum, December 2011

The development

The Earls Court Masterplan shows a “Lost River Park” running above the WLL alignment, but it takes a lot of digging through the planning documents to find how much railway land will be taken, and what is left of the WLL beneath. Essentially the plan cocoons the WLL into a two-track box throughout.


Extract from the Masterplan showing the “Lost River Park”, below which lies the WLL

The cross section below is taken from the planning documents, at a point close to St Cuthbert’s Church, alongside which will be a large new building with the eloquent working title of WV01. The cross-section of the existing structures is misleading, suggesting that the WLL is already boxed in. The reality is quite the opposite, as shown in the recent photo below and on the photos included in the planning documents themselves: the WLL is still an open and wide alignment at this point.

Lillie Br today

The view south from the A4 road bridge, with a District Line train heading west and a Freightliner light engine heading north on the WLL.

Cross section

The cross-section above is across the middle of the earlier picture. This will become a two-track alignment boxed in beneath the new development.

Lillie Bridge 70s

A similar view south in the 1970s with the west sidings still in place, although the Down Goods loop from West Brompton (on the west side) has been lifted.

So much for the WLL, but what of the District Line? Noting the extensive TfL freehold in the development area, is there also an opportunity to improve the junction arrangements on the District Line at the Earls Court West Junction?

A new flyover was provided here in 1914 which allowed eastbound District services from West Brompton to cross westbound to Hammersmith, but at the time it was not possible to take these eastbound services over to the northernmost Platform 1. The result, as explained on Mike Horne’s blog, is that:

…High Street trains were in the right hand platform but turned left at Cromwell Road, while City trains were in the left hand platform and needed to turn right. Clearly this created a conflict, so delays continued. With rising traffic this is a really unhelpful arrangement and offers a real constraint to developing services, an issue only mitigated by the relative infrequency of trains to High Street or Edgware Road (not necessarily something to be proud of). The long term answer is to improve the flyover arrangement, but this is clearly impractical with all the railway lines confined within the piling of a working exhibition building. That is, until now.

TfL maintain that there would be negligible gains from further grade-separation here, and that an additional crossover and operational improvements already built into the upgrade program will allow the service pattern to operate more efficiently over the flat junctions at Earl’s Court.

In terms of the additional demand generated by the development itself, the planning applications were supported by the November 2011 Earl’s Court & West Kensington Strategic Transport Study Review. This detailed multi-modal study assessed the projected travel demand using the TfL Railplan model and other data, based on an agreed set of development scenarios.

In essence the study found that, given planned capacity increases on the routes serving the development area (District, WLL), 2031 crowding levels will be similar to today. Hence the redevelopment will need to provide extra capacity: in concourse areas and gatelines, step-free access, platform lengthening and improved interchange, including with other transport modes.

Given that the Earls Court development is not served by one single station at the centre, but by three stations on the periphery, it is expected this will spread rather than concentrate demand. But if that demand exceeds expectations, as has been the trend in the last ten years, then the only route with the potential to expand is the WLL. Yet this is being hemmed in beneath the new development.

The WLL ― throttling a strategic orbital route?

Given that the sharing of freight and passenger trains on the WLL limits capacity, is there a case for quadrupling this section to provide loops? Is there a further case to strategically safeguard the entire WLL route allow for future quadrupling?
We explored the issue of capacity on the WLL in the second of our three-part series on rail freight, noting how few paths are available to expand the Overground service. A particular problem was highlighted in the London & SE RUS:

“there is only limited capability for southbound trains to be held whilst awaiting a path through Kent or northbound trains to be held whilst awaiting a path on the WCML. Freight trains must in general therefore be kept moving to avoid delaying the following passenger traffic (and vice versa). The planned commencement of London Overground services via the South London Line to Clapham Junction can be expected to increase this existing issue, given that these passenger trains will use sections of currently freight-only line” (Section 9.7.9)

Our concern was that, as passenger and freight traffic increases, this will significantly reduce operational resilience as delays rapidly knock-on. Arguably, capacity needs to be provided, either as loops or 4-tracking key sections.

At the time we reported that TfL did not agree, and indeed the discussion following the article questioned the value of loops as opposed to keeping freight paths clear and the trains moving. Freight loops don’t really provide more capacity although they may help improve operational resilience on heavily used mixed traffic routes such as the WLL, particularly where these straddle different mainlines between which paths may not neatly align.

TfL’s position was clarified in November 2011:

“The West London Line (WLL) and West Brompton station capacities and future resilience are being assessed under our role as statutory transport authority alongside issues such as Underground line and station capacity, walking and cycling facilities, highway capacities and access, and bus routing and service levels. Following the submission of the three planning applications, this assessment is ongoing and TfL will continue to work with the transport consultants appointed by CapCo, the relevant local authorities and Network Rail (NR).
TfL considers that the predicted growth in passenger volumes on the WLL over the foreseeable future (the next 20 years) can be met by a combination of train and platform lengthening to provide 8-car capability and additional services that can be accommodated within the existing track layout. This would also require associated station capacity enhancements.
Regarding freight, modelling indicates the WLL will continue to be able to provide up to 35 freight paths to and from the Channel Tunnel per day which allows for the predicted growth in Channel Tunnel freight over the next 20 years. The route will also continue to be able to accommodate the current number of freight paths to and from the Kent Thameside ports. The predicted growth from these ports is focused on the London area, so it will not necessarily need to use the WLL. NR is investing in enhancements to Chelsea Bridge to increase the speed of freight trains. It should also be noted that the WLL was subject to comprehensive resignalling in the 1990s to enable it to accommodate a mixture of stopping passenger services and freight trains.
Neither TfL nor NR believe that the provision of freight loops is an effective way to deliver freight services on the WLL. The use of such loops can have an adverse impact on the reliability of passengers services because of the time freight trains take to accelerate from stationary. Keeping freight trains moving over the length of the WLL is the preferred option as it reduces the risk of delay to passenger services.
These comments are consistent with the findings of the London and South East Route Utilisation Strategy, which sets out the rail industry’s view of the enhancements required to meet the predicted growth in passenger and freight demand up to 2031.
Regarding Lillie Bridge Depot, TfL needs to ensure that the London Underground servicing and maintenance that is undertaken at the facility currently can continue either on site or in another location should the full masterplan proposals progress in full. A number of options are currently being investigated, but no decision has been taken. The District line is being improved as part of the full Tube upgrade plan and includes signalling and track replacement. By 2018 there will be a 24 per cent increase in capacity across the line.”

In Network Rail’s January 2012 statement in the Earls Court development planning process (on the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea website, under Meeting Documents, STR8, Appendices) there is clearly no concern over the capacity of the WLL per se, but on specific elements such as West Brompton station, and on the need to ensure gauge clearances within the new tunnels:

“There were three key areas that were raised in the latter dated 16/08/11, these were; a) capacity at West Brompton station, b) the TENS clearance requirements and c) West Brompton Station Platform Lengthening. The developers and their consultant team have continued to push for a conclusion on these matters and it is recognised that significant progress has been made…”

A vision for the West London Line?

It is difficult to avoid framing this discussion as a 1-in-100 year opportunity to safeguard future capacity as part of the Earls Court redevelopment. But is this opportunity being realised?

We hark back to Mwmbwls’ Pig in the Python discussion, that improving capacity on the orbitals may be hindered by a lack of joined-up network thinking and lack of a diversionary freight route. It’s hard to see 8-car trains being sufficient to alleviate demand on the WLL without a step-change in service frequency, and that appears not to be possible with the current infrastructure and demand for freight paths.

As London continues to expand, and the Opportunity Areas generate new demands, the WLL will come under pressure at precisely the time it is being cocooned under the Earls Court development. The growth in the Overground took even TfL by surprise, but significant growth is still likely along with potential new cross-London routes and, as service levels increase, the interchange for central London with the District and Central will become more attractive.

It’s a thorny problem and we look forward to the informed insight from our illuminati as to what might, or should, happen next.

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There are 263 comments on this article
  1. Pedantic of Purley says:

    As London’s population continues to rise it is outgrowing the city core, with the result that rail demand on the orbitals continues to outpace even the most optimistic projections.

    Surely that depends on your point of view? Personally, I think it continues to outpace the most pessmistic projections -suggesting that the capital is growing too fast too quickly.

    “continues to outpace even the most extreme case growth scenarios” is what is fairly indisputably happening.

  2. THC says:

    Good article on a subject in which I have a professional interest. One minor error in the second paragraph; Seagrave Road abuts West Brompton rather than Brompton Road station.


  3. Quinlet says:

    In the planning world there has been some discussion over the past 5 or 6 years about whether the continued growth of London is inevitable or even desireable. The broad conclusions drawn have been that it wuld be better to have growth in London, notwithstanding all the challenges this brings with it, than to try and artifically constrain growth or to direct it elsewhere. Much of this conclusion rests on the basis that the main drivers for growth in London rest on international competition and its support, rather than competiion within the UK. This would mean that redirection or constraints of growth would be unlikely to benefit the rest of the UK bu would benefit Paris, Frankfurt or places further afield such as Dubai or Singapore.

  4. DW down under says:

    Aalthough I am many thousands of miles away, I can see the incredible short-sightedness, acute extreme myopia, being shown in this instance. After all, what is the marginal cost of allowing for 4-tracking now on the final cost of the project. Add maybe $250k in concrete and re-inforcement, and labour? Yes, the cost of a flyover might add several tens of millions, but that isn’t just making a concrete box a bit bigger in the design – it’s a major load bearing structure. But to blow the chance, that’s criminal!

    This is the sort of thing that could excite Boris. He needs to be sold a vision (never mind the detail). Any suggestions on how he could be reached, bypassing his minions?

  5. CBN4 says:

    I always thought it’ll be a matter of time before NR and TfL will have no other choice but to do a major upgrade the WLL. The WLL’s connections are underestimated. At Clapham Junction it’s already one of the busiest stations in the UK and there’s the Battersea Northern Line extension and Crossrail 2 proposals which could add further interchanges. Then there’s Shepherd’s Bush which obviously has loads of connections already. Old Oak Common interchange is a possibility in the future as well. With Earl’s Court about to get redeveloped, it’s probably best to look at the bigger picture rather than just standard station and signal upgrades. I would love the vision of a new Earl’s Court station with LO, District and Piccadilly lines all interchangeable and if possible – double tracks and flyovers. …but of course it’s all a matter of cash

  6. JamesBass says:

    Four-tracking of this section of the WLL would be fairly pointless as there’s nowhere for the trains to go at either end of the section. The bridge over the Thames to the south is only 2 track and relatively recent developments at Shepherd’s Bush and Imperial Wharf have already eliminated the 4-track possibilities there. To run another actually useful pair of lines through the general area would already involve using a TBM. The damage from the point of view of the WLL has already been done.

    The thing we need is the Redhill freight chord and gauge clearance and electrification on the route Tonbridge -> Redhill ->Guildford -> Reading. That would allow freight from the Channel Tunnel to bypass London and hence free up paths for many services.

    The thing about this particular scheme that seems like a missed opportunity to me is the lack of the extra grade separation on the District line. Enabling “Wimbleware” services to operate independently of the main District line seems like a relatively simple scheme to give operational flexibility. Once the development is back up, it becomes MUCH more expensive again. I really hope they rethink this one.

  7. StephenC says:

    One point not mentioned is that the current Earls Court exhibition centre sits on a large concrete slab. Apparantly (as of earlier public consultation exhibitions of the proposals), the plan is to *not* alter the slab at all in the construction of the new development. This was cheaper and safer (agreed by TfL and the developers). Thus, underneath the slab itself doesn’t change (at least it wasn’t planned to, but that could of course have changed since the consultation).

    At the same consultation, I argued for the District line grade separation. It would involve
    – bringing the northbound District line up to ground level to the west of West Brompton station
    – creating a cross-platform interchange at West Brompton
    – dropping the northbound District line under the WLL north of West Brompton to reach the northernmost platform at Earls Court

    As a non-engineer, this seems like a no brainer to achieve proper cross-platform interchange at West Brompton and proper separation. However, the fact that the slab is staying probably is a key part of why no-one is that interested. Much as we may think it to be the right thing to do, it is IMO too late to get it done now.

    On the idea of a single large interchange station, I’m not overly convinced. Spreading some of the demand here seems reasonable. West Brompton is already very busy today (hence why it should also be cross-platform).

    Personally, I can’t get too excited about 4 tracking the WLL. That ship has long since sailed in my view, plus it was never an attractive ship in the first place. Each line into and out of London is packed. Threading any freight trains through those existing tracks is constricting. What we need to do is focus on aligning the tracks we do have to have specific purposes. If each pair of tracks is an effective isolated metro then there are far fewer knock on problems.

    Thus, the solution to freight is routes further out, or a dedicated freight tunnel. And since tunnelling is cheap (stations are expensive) you could probably tunnel from one side of London to the other for perhaps £2bn. Once the freight is gone, the WLL could easily run a tube frequency metro on just the 2 tracks.

    Finally, I do believe that the demands of the population growth here and beyond will overload the District and Picadilly. Ultimately, there will have to be a relief tube/Crossrail in this direction, perhaps via Earls Court and on to Fulham, or simply taking over the Wimbledon branch, as CR2 was (sort of) intended to do.

  8. Graham H says:

    A really interesting article: Lemmo is to be congratulated.

    One thing the freight operators could do to help themselves and everyone else is to run to the timetable. All too often it’s a matter of the box saying “nothing in front, out you come”, leaving the freight to struggle on until the next refuge (not too many of those in the WLL feeder routes.) And the FOCs hold a large number of unused paths to cater for erratic train running and sudden surges in traffic. Now whilst there are good reasons for that – shipping delays, just in time/just too late stocking by manufacturers, and so on – reserving unused capacity is a great luxury on routes like the WLL. The Swiss and Germans are beginning to make freight run to a smaller number of guaranteed paths to reflect the demands of intensive clock face passenger services and it seems desirable to go down the same road here.

    As jamesBass remarks, completing the Redhill-Reading electrification would be another Good Thing – why is it I smell another GOBLIN in the making?

  9. mr_jrt says:

    My personal view is that 4 tracking the WLL is advantageous because it would provide relief lines that both freight and semi-fast trains could use (to keep them moving). By increasing LO services there would be less need for Southern’s trains to serve all stations, and accordingly they could go semi-fast and just serve something like Clapham Junction, Shepherd’s Bush and Willesden Junction. TfL’s reply is disingenuous – yes loops for freight aren’t much use, but loops for passenger services with their better acceleration would be. If the service is frequent enough that it isn’t timetabled either (a-la the tube or the ELL core), then even more so.

    Alternatively, by reinstating the link to the GWML & NNMLs then you could have a 4 track section down to Earls Court, and operate West Ruislip to Earls Court as part of the Wimbleware service (West Ruislip and Wimbledon to High Street Kensington and Edgware Road). This would not need the constrained section of route from Clapham Junction to Chelsea & Fulham, and it also frees up the Central line to run elsewhere, say under the horrifically congested Uxbridge Road corridor from Shepherds Bush to Uxbridge via Ealing Broadway.

  10. Snowy says:

    @ Lemmo & Stephen C

    I did wonder why they wouldn’t use the opportunity to add a fly-over, I assumed any means of improving reliability & network resilience at Earls Court would be a no brainer. Not having to demolish a large slab (presumably needing closure of said underground lines for safety) is however obviously easier/cheaper.

  11. JM says:

    @James Bass

    Agree 100% on the Guildford/Redhill freight route or would you include a chord under Redhill? With electrification this could also be a useful route for Thameslink or for extra trains to Dorking.


    Agree that eventually you will need an extra route to relieve the Piccadilly particularly. The redesign of Hammersmith (sending the A4 under the twon centre) will make it a more attactive destination to work or visit when access to the river is improved from the north. If there were ever a new route one that make use of the fast tracks and four tracks to Northfields/Heathrow might be best. The journey times from Rayners Lane and Heathrow to Zone 1 is pretty poor in relation to other lines.


    I think new development north of White City will prevent a reinstatement of the chord between WLL and the Central Line. Although are you suggesting the West Ruislip branch loses its link to central London?

  12. The Kitten of Disenchantment says:

    Excellent article & quite fascinating. It would be interesting to see some diagrams of the proposals you would put forward as a solution. It’s clear that British transport planning excels at missing golden opportunities and here is a 24-carat example. The WLL is not just about Underground, Overground or freight – there’s the Southern service from Milton Keynes to Croydon which is potentially a “Thameslink 2” but is currently slow and neglected and only runs once an hour. With planning and inv£stment this could open up many more northern counties to Gatwick and Brighton and greatly alleviate the existing Thameslink bottleneck through the City. In 20 years someone will realise this and then launch a huge feasibility study into digging new tunnels under West London, decide it’s too expensive and give up.

    Redeveloping Earls Court and Willedsen Jcn, while not cheap, would still represent a huge “quick win” in opening up a new cross-London rail corridor without all that costly tunnelling which is suddenly so much in vogue. Why do the planners never see this??

  13. The Kitten of Disenchantment says:

    PS If it were possible amid the tangle of junctions, they should relocate West Kesngton further east to form a WLL interchange. The Olympia shuttle could be done away with and pressure relived at Earls Court tube station. Boris, are you reading this??

  14. Milton Clevedon says:

    WLL hourly passenger capacity is the key issue, plus access to stations, and interchange quality and availability. There are limitations on all those at present.

    The eastern equivalent, ELL, is freight-free and permits 16-18 tph but only x5-car trains (soon). For 6-car there would be a huge cost challenge.

    Longer but fewer trains seems to be the starting point for a solution on WLL, as long as freight has to be accommodated (?indefinitely, certainly don’t see it going anytime soon, given its importance for the Channel Tunnel and elsewhere).

    Stir Old Oak interchange and developments into the busily brewing development pot, and it feels that you could justify plenty more trains – but you face a real lack of train slots, not just on the WLL but elsewhere – where can the passenger trains go that will be practical and high value?

    Putting aside 4-tracking, where I am sceptical about its worth or feasibility, junction improvements might be one way to ease line frequency and therefore capacity restrictions – so that when you fire off a train along the track, you know it’s not going to get stuck somewhere unhelpful.

    TfL has also shown interest in some extra LOROL routes, eg via Old Oak to Dudding Hill line, Harlesden, Neasden and Brent Cross, and down to Hounslow via Acton and Kew.

    Sounds like another case for a strategy and a coherent package, which might then be incrementalised…?

  15. ngh says:

    Another great Lemmo article.

    The potential works mentioned on Cremorne / Chelsea Bridge in the previous article and again above in TfL’s statement above NR is investing in enhancements to Chelsea Bridge to increase the speed of freight trains. actually started at the beginning of May.

    Agree with others, there are probably too many bottlenecks elsewhere on the WLL to worry about 4 tracking a shortish section especially if 775m freight trains are being operated with diesel haulage. The key is to make sure all works to rail infrastructure is done to GC gauge with plenty of space for OHLE above.

    The key to the co-existance of freight and passenger services would require improvements to freight, passenger and rail infrastructure in general, this has GOBLIN stand-off written all over it (again).

    – Fast accelerating EMUs (see NR study on benefits of 25kv OHLE vs 750V 3rd rail on the SWML.)
    – Platform / service extension to 12 car on the passenger side. (Don’t bother being short term with 5 or 8 car platform extensions just do it in one go).
    This would include sorting out platform 0 at Clapham Junction and lengthening the WLL and SLL overground services to 12 car to use the passenger paths best.
    – In relation to HS2 / CR and Old Oak Common (in the distant future) divert the Southern Milton Keynes services via a new alignment OOC (this needs to be thought about in the master plan soon).
    – Better / more accessible freight loops at Wembley / Willesden with room to accelerate before joining the main line. (helped by sorting OOC)
    – Possible lengthening of 4 track section between Latchmere 3 junction and Longhedge junction by moving Longhedge further east towards Stewarts lane to create a 775m waiting place (attempting to de-link WLL and SLL)
    – Higher line speeds
    – Resignalling (again)
    – Sort out Old Oak Common, Willesden, Acton Wells area in general i.e. better interchanges and less interlinking?
    – When doing CR2 add some underground (terminating) platforms for Overground services to the east for the SLL services to reduce the multiple interlinking between the passenger SLL WLL and Freight services (particularly flat junctions). This would also allow platforms 0 and 1/2 (assuming 12 car, p1&2 would only be one platform) to be used for more intensive WLL services.

    With Tesco Redhill apparently dead is it time to make sure this scheme is done in CP6 including OHLE (Reading and electric spine will have been done.)

  16. Anonymous says:

    An absence of joined up thinking here too
    One of the proposals here is for a tunnel from the Hogarth Roundabout to Earls Court, the eastern part of which would run a little to the north of the Talgarth Road and West Cromwell Roads. It is not entirely clear where the eastern portal would be, but a tunnelled A4 would certainly change the scope of what is possible on the northern edge of the area shown in the “Earls Court MasterPlan”.

    The bored tunnel would have to pass under the sub-surface Distrct/Piccadilly station, and if it goes far enough east, also the under WLL

  17. Pedantic of Purley says:

    The eastern equivalent, ELL, is freight-free and permits 16-18 tph but only x5-car trains (soon). For 6-car there would be a huge cost challenge.

    You would think so wouldn’t you? But apparently not as huge as one might think. When they go to five car they will try whereever possible to put in passive provision for 6-car e.g. signal positioning where repositioning is necessary.

    The problems are probably not as great as one might think.

    Trains. TfL would like in any case to replace them sometime in the 2020s. Not only is the ELL a flagship product, it really doesn’t want to start to hit the tail end of the bathtub curve of reliability. It is not a tube line where disruption can be contained. Supposedly, the trains are a desirable product and there should be no problems in selling them or terminating the lease under favourable terms. Reconfiguring internally to suit another TOC is trivial.

    Depot space. The lanes were laid out to accommodate 3 x 4 car trains. Obviously going from 4 car to 5 car has caused problems in this area and meant that new stabling sidings have had to be built for 5 car trains at Silwood. But going to 6 car is not a big deal because you can still get two trains in a 12 car lane.

    Extending platforms. Obviously a bit of work to be done here and it would need approval for SDO/further SDO at Roherhithe, Wapping and Shadwell, maybe elsewhere. Clearly the one that focuses the mind is Canada Water. There is a limit to how much you can bash out brickwork before you have to start draining Canada Water itself so, for the first time, some limited SDO would be needed at Canada Water. Probably the biggest problem IS Canada Water but that is down to the need for interchange and lack of capacity on the Jubilee Line and the inadequate escalators – very little to do with 5 car or 6 car.

  18. Greg Tingey says:

    There WAS a plan for Kenny O to be a 4-track station, but they penny-pinched & went for 3 – a great mistake as it woould have allowed freight to pass through on 2 tracks, whilst passenger trains were in the loop/bays.
    As it is, the single centre-track is reversible, but that just isn’t as flexible or resilient as the original proposal.
    The Kenny O- EC – HStKen service is much too useful … but it crosses the main E-W Drasttic lne on the flat …..
    As others have said, a proper grade-separation of the various Drastic routes would improve capacity enormously.
    Difficult, though, if Earl’s Court concrete deck remains in place ….
    Agree wholeheartedly re Redhill 3rd side + 25kV AC taking load off WLL.

  19. mr_jrt says:

    Yes, the redevelopment is yet another wasted opportunity to reinstate the link from the WLL to the NNML alongside the Central line.

    Not directly, no. It will still have indirect access via Earls Court, but I also envisage Crossrail providing the semi-fast suburban service on the NNML, so central access would be provided by that route. You would also have interchange at any of the Crossrail stops between West Ruislip and North Acton/OOC.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Earls Court 2 is slated for demolition less than 25 years after it was built (I can remember watching it being built from my eyrie overlooking Lillie Bridge). Given the tardy progress of any rail project in the UK (e.g CR2 is probably irrelevant to any commuter already over the age of 40), by the time any project to widen the WLL comes to fruition, it is quite likely the proposed Earls Court development will itself be ripe for replacement.

  21. THC says:

    @anon, 3.12

    The focus of the West London Link proposal is the longer-term replacement of Hammersmith Flyover. While the WLL publicity refers to Earl’s Court as the eastern objective, other options including Barons Court are being looked at as potential portal sites. A feasibility study is expected to be commissioned shortly.


  22. JamesBass says:

    @JM The idea at Redhill is for a chord in effect linking Reigate to Nutfield running above and perpendicular to the BML. At the moment any train travelling from Tonbridge to Guildford would have to run up into Redhill station and then back out again- hence interfering with the slow lines of the BML (-the fast lines run in a tunnel emerging to south of Redhill). As mentioned by ngh, there was a proposal for a Tesco on a bit of land needed for such a chord and there were mutterings about safeguarding a box under the development for the line, but I don’t know if that was from anyone in officialdom.

    I can’t see how it would be at all useful for Thameslink services (other than removing some conflicting train movements) as the two junctions to the chord both would face away from the BML slow lines and have no connection whatever to the BML fast lines. I don’t see any passenger services running on the chord unless it was decided to be desperately urgent to run a direct slow service from Guildford to Tonbridge or Ashford or Canterbury.

    The point is to run the freight trains that originate at the Channel Tunnel and need to access the Midlands, North and Scotland, around London rather than over lines that, in an ideal world, would run at tube-like frequencies. With no freight services and a line upgrade, the WLL could get up to the magic 24tph figure from the current 4(ish)tph.

    I get the impression that rail freight doesn’t (at present at least) mind going the long way round, and not particularly fast, as long as it has a clear and reliable route to take. The WLL and the congested lines in South London are anything but clear and reliable at present, for either freight, longer distance commuter or metro services.

  23. JamesBass says:

    p.s. I did mention gauge clearance and electrification of the whole line in my original mention of the Redhill freight chord- I’m well aware that the whole project is not cheap by any means- surely cheaper than boring a freight tunnel under London though! I generally agree with StephenC’s enthusiasm for a good TBM, but that suggestion made me giggle.

  24. Anonymous says:

    A couple of points

    Firstly diversion of freight via Redhill + a new chord, while from an engineering point of view it is doable there are a umber of other issues that sink the idea

    (1) The geography of Redhill – The A23 actually runs on a valley floor with Brighton main line up on an embankment. The Reigate and Tonbridge lines arrive at Redhill through cuttings before launching themselves out into the valley to join the main lines. Thus any linking of the Tonbridge and Reigate lines would end up being a high structure (especially given the need to get over the Brighton line) which in tern leads to significant visual intrusion into the street scene plus amplifies noise levels. It also would require a fair bit of demolition where it joins the Reigate lines which are actually very curvy on their final approach to Redhill (NOT just the final bit into the station).

    (2) Reigate level crossing – Despite the presence of the M25 & M23, the A217 through Reigate is still a very busy road and there are only limited alternative routes (the ones that there are are either height restricted or involve going down residential roads. As a result all local councils are vehemently opposed to any intensive freight use due to the effect on the crossing downtime on the already badly congested Reigate town centre. Yes a bridge could be built but this would involve the demolition of a string of office buildings plus some others – not a cheap solution. Also the threat of increased noise / vibration would be a real concern for local residents who are not afraid a making a fuss.

    (3) Guilford – Any trains via Dorking have to join the busy Portsmouth main line south of Guildford then mix it up with SWT services through two tunnels and through the station area itself. Pathing is already quite complicated and presents a real problem to increased freight use.

    (4) Wokingham to Reading – Wokingham has a level crossing with the same issues as Reigate only made worse by the frequent SWT service to Waterloo. Again line occupancy onwards to Reading is an issue and then when you arrive at Reading trains face a stiff climb up from the reinstated dive under to get access to the slow / relief lines.

    Secondly regarding another loop at Kensington Olympia

    If you look closely when BR sold off surpass land over on the east side of the line, they actually retained enough land so that part of the original platform could be reinstated (for a 12 car length) thus allowing the removal of the current platform on that side and the reinstatement of the platform loop giving two centre roads again.

  25. JM says:


    I don’t know the geography of the area too well so thanks for clarifying. The Guildford to Redhill section of line is possibly the only section of south east railway I’ve yet to travel on.

    Although if the Thames Hub solution is taken forward in the Davies report and all CTRL freight is sent via an M25 radial route as the option appears to suggest (aswell as Thamesport and Felixstowe from the west) it will remove the need for any work at Redhill.


    Suspect Ealing Bdy part of the Central could plausibly go to the Bakerloo once Old Oak is built if it is to lose anything particularly with CRossrail at Ealing Broadway.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Anonymous @ 6:48 pm: I think you may be overstating the height problem with the Redhill chord. The Brighton tracks fall away quite smartly south of Redhill junction. Once upon a time I knew what the gradient was, but don’t now have it to hand. Depending upon the exact point at which the chord might cross, I reckoned, using the most detailed maps I could obtain at the time, that the chord might not need to be more than a couple of metres or so above the level of the station. Of course this was hardly a professional survey, so I will be interested to hear any authoritative answers.

    Your point about the Reigate level crossing and the Guildford bottleneck do, though, identify real problems.

  27. Paying Guest says:

    @Greg Tingey 03:22

    “There WAS a plan for Kenny O to be a 4-track station” – what on earth has Kennington Oval got to do with this?

  28. Mikey C says:

    While it is good to make the most of historic rail lines in London, I always worry about the ‘spend money here to sort out a bottleneck’ approach, as that inevitably shifts the bottleneck to somewhere else. Would a 4 track WLL in this area really help that much, when significant parts are permanently 2 track, such as Shepherd’s Bush?

    It reminds me of Thameslink, a cheap plan to link North and South London, which you end up spending more and more money on to upgrade, with massive scale disruption over a long period of years, and delivering an inferior railway to a purpose built cross London tunnel like Crossrail (or the Parisian RERs).

  29. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Milton C – I am intrigued about the reference to a West London Overground service being something that TfL has an aspiration for. Any source for this as it’s a new one in terms of any formal interest. I’ve seen plenty of “line drawing with crayons” interest – including from me 🙂

    @ PoP – I am amazed to read of an aspiration to fully replace the 378 fleet in the 2020s. Where on earth is the money going to come from for that?

    @ Lemmo – I don’t believe LU will now contemplate any sort of major work to the District Line west of Earls Court. I would say that the physical works for S7 operation are now designed and being implemented and they will need a stable design basis for the resignalling works. There were some intriguing words in the last TfL Quarterly Report suggesting that some “commercial wobbles” (aka arguments about contractual scope) have already emerged with Bombardier about sub surface resignalling. LU are not about to drop another major change into that project as it will open up all sorts of opportunities for more “discussion” 😉 I take your point about trying to safeguard a wider alignment but if a development agreement has been signed that excluded this then TfL could become liable to compensate the developer for loss of development potential / possible rental income from the space that would be lost. Again I can’t see TfL voting to put itself in the way of potential claims at this late stage of the process.

    I am mildly surprised that people are contemplating a throughput as high as 24 tph on the WLL. Surely the flat junctions at both ends of the line and the limited platform capacity pose very significant constraints on such a service level? Willesden Junction would need a radical rethink to handle that scale of train movements. All WLL stations, with the possible exception of Olympia, would need big changes to cope with the scale of patronage that 24 tph implies. I know the WLL is forecast to be horribly overloaded but the recognition of that issue has not translated into the scale of work that some people are contemplating here (ignoring freight issues which are not for TfL to set a strategy for).

  30. Anonymous says:

    @Mikey C
    Shepherds Bush is only “permanently” a 2 track station until the powers that be finally remove the silly stub of the motorway box that is the westway and the associated junctions.

    Once that’s gone, then the works to rebuild the roundabout will make 4tracks from Willesden to Chelsea possible.

    If there was still a need for a road there then building a new elevated replacement would easily enable a railway underneath, as it should have been built in the first place!

  31. Lemmo says:

    Thanks for the comments, an interesting discussion.

    Firstly, while it’s clearly late in the day for TfL to revisit their spec for the routes around Earls Court, the aim of the article is to raise two main issues: that there is no integrated plan for the WLL as a strategic orbital route, and that once again a relatively straightforward safeguarding opportunity has been lost.

    If you acknowledge that London is expanding, and that the orbitals play an crucial role in breaking the stranglehold of the termini , then routes like the WLL become much important to the capacity of the network as a whole.

    There is another factor: service resilience. Given the lack of layover loops on the mainlines north and south, would it not be prudent to provide for these on the WLL as, historically, there used to be?

    @ Milton Clevedon, “Sounds like another case for a strategy and a coherent package, which might then be incrementalised…?” Precisely.

    @ WW, “ignoring freight issues which are not for TfL to set a strategy for”. The success of Overground depends on TfL’s strategy for freight. Playing a passive role will mean it won’t get the new infrastructure required in and out of London, including alternative routes such as via Redhill, although we explored others in our articles on freight .

    Yes, the flat junctions at either end of the WLL limit capacity but an intensive service through, say, Clapham Jn will require grade-separation on the junctions with the Brighton Mainline before Latchmere Jns become the limiting factor.

    @ Mikey C and others, a vision for the WLL as an intensive route would build in provision for new links and grade-separation where required, tackling each section of the route as the opportunity arises. The Earls Court redevelopment provides one such opportunity; it has not been taken.

    I’ve no idea about the retention of the concrete slab at Earls Court 2, and would appreciate confirmation of this. Anyone want to trawl though the planning documents?

    I’m also yet to look through the plans for the White City Opportunity Area, but yes there is an opportunity here to reconnect the WLL with the ex-GW freight lines alongside the Central through East Acton, and provide a route through to the Chiltern lines and from there to East-West Rail. Primarily useful for freight, but could also host cross-London passenger services similar to Southern’s Milton Keynes route, as The Kitten of Disenchantment alluded to above.

    Again, this requires an integrated vision for the routes as a whole and the foresight to do some safeguarding. Will this happen?

    @ ngh and others, some good points which I’ll tie into a further comment, and also into the upcoming article on Old Oak Common.

  32. DW down under says:

    JamesBass @11:55AM, 13th June 2013: Hear, Hear!!! – to all the points you made.

  33. DW down under says:

    Walthamstow Writer @ 08:10PM, 13th June 2013: “@ Milton C – I am intrigued about the reference to a West London Overground service being something that TfL has an aspiration for. Any source for this as it’s a new one in terms of any formal interest. I’ve seen plenty of “line drawing with crayons” interest – including from me ”

    … Funny. I thought LO already operated a service over the WLL. And then there is the aspiration for a link Brent Cross – OOC, which might also extend to CJ in the spirit of orbitality.

    “@ PoP – I am amazed to read of an aspiration to fully replace the 378 fleet in the 2020s. Where on earth is the money going to come from for that?”

    … Never mind the money issue, AIUI the 378 design cannot be extended longer than 5-car, so to go to six cars requires either replacement or splitting the 5-car units into a 3-car unit, and using the other cars to make up new 3-car units.

  34. Ian J says:

    @Walthamstow Writer: Possible future Overground services to Hendon (or a new Brent Cross station) and Hounslow are shown on what appear to be slides from some kind of TfL presentation in late 2011 here:
    and with extra answers which appear to come from TfL here:

    However, unlike the Brent Cross station, I don’t think they appear in the Mayor’s 2020 strategy so I don’t know whether the proposals are now dead.

  35. @ PoP – I am amazed to read of an aspiration to fully replace the 378 fleet in the 2020s. Where on earth is the money going to come from for that?

    Presumably it is fully dependent on the residual value of the the fleet and the replacement cost. Remember, unlike tube stock, the stock is leased. London Overground claim that they specify and maintain their fleet to a much higher standard that any of the conventional TOCs. This has two consequences:

    – the market value of a second hand LO train can be expected to be much higher than an equivalent TOC train. Its the same with airlines. A second-hand Lufthansa plane will always command a substantially higher premium than an equivalent plane from another airline because people know it has been maintained to a higher standard and in many ways is as new as the day it was built.

    – the higher standard of maintenance required means that the case for a new train, which should require less maintenance as technology advances (though many may disagree) should be easier to make.

    Remember also that any failure in service of an LO train tends to attract enormous penalty payments to Network Rail due to the knock on effects in an area with intensive train working so even a small improvement in reliability with more modern rolling stock can potentially have a more significant effect on the financial case for replacement than it would for a conventional TOC. I am sure a breakdown at Tattenham Corner or Seaford and the consequent penalty payments doesn’t cause the financial director of Southern to lose any sleep. London Overground only has bad places to break down or even worse places to break down.

  36. Ian J says:

    Actually, better proof that the Overground to Hendon and Hounslow is still a live proposal is from this presentation by Peter Moth, chief planner for TfL, from January this year at$FILE/Golden%20Mile%20-%20TfL.ppt

    It suggests that TfL have put together two cases for links to the Overground: a “central” case with diversion of the existing lines into a new OOC station, and a “wider connections” case with Overground links to Hendon and Hounslow added (I suppost this would not necessarily be a through service especially as the station layout shown would require a reversal at OOC). DfT are “interested” but concerned about costs etc and have commissioned a feasibility study from HS2 Ltd; a decision is flagged by the end of the year.

  37. Greg Tingey says:

    Paying Guest
    Very funny – not.
    I suggest you try again re places that might be called “Kenny O” – as in the famous “Kenny Belle” we discussed several threads back ….

  38. Slugabed says:

    Lemmo 11:13 13/06 and others…
    Reconnecting the WLL to the ex-GWR freight lines alongside the Central Line (E&SBR) is not quite as easy as it may look.
    Although the alignment is unobstructed at the West (Ealing) end,and,until the old dairy site is redeveloped at White City,at the Eastern end,too,there has been a lot of residential development on the old alignment in the Wormwood scrubs area which,while not insuperable,would make re-instatement more difficult and expensive.

  39. P Dan Tick says:

    Greg. I think that Paying Guest was making an oblique comment about your use of your own personal jargon to describe things and places. The usual purpose of language is to enable communication, not to make it hard work. Many of the LR illuminati (to borrow some Lemmo jargon) have the alternative GT vocabulary in their heads now, but no newcomers nor infrequent browsers will.

  40. mr_jrt says:

    I have mentioned the 5-car limitations of the Electrostar design several times, and I think there is a workable solution that doesn’t involve wholly new units.

    Original units were: [DMSO]-[PTSO]-[DMSO]
    Existing units are: [DMSO]-[PTSO]-[MSO]-[DMSO]
    Getting to 5 will presumably be: [DMSO]-[PTSO]-[MSO]-[TSO]-[DMSO]

    Beyond that, you effectively need two trains, so you either need:
    Cabs with gangways,
    …or even better, you build cab-less versions of the current vehicles and rig up something like:
    [DMSO]-[PTSO]-[MSO]-[TSO] [PTSO]-[DMSO] 6 car
    [DMSO]-[PTSO]-[MSO]-[TSO] [MSO]-[PTSO]-[DMSO] 7 car
    [DMSO]-[PTSO]-[MSO]-[TSO] [TSO]-[MSO]-[PTSO]-[DMSO] 8 car

    …essentially you’re still just building intermediate vehicles and no new cabs…so hopefully cheaper.


    A west London Orbital Route would certainly be worth developing The southern service literally crawls through the maze of willesden junction on my l;ast journey south Certainly an overground or extension or of the district line service to Watford junction would facilitate this so it is vital that any earls court development should have transport links north to Watford junction built in because any shopping development at earls court would increase dramatically the demand for a reliable train service south

  42. Anonymous says:

    P Dan Tick

    Very true.

    I spent too much of my allotted time working out what Krapy Rubsnif was.

  43. Anonymous says:

    @mr JRT

    Splitting the 378s into two single-ended units could work if the elecronics allow two units to be coupled together and work in multiple. Also, none of your proposed formations make use of the mid-unit TSOs which are to be added at the five car stage. These would have to be converted to cabless end vehicles (UNDMs in underground parlance, except that they would be trailers, so UTSO).

    Specifically, to go from [DMSO]-[PTSO]-[MSO]-[TSO]-[DMSO] to [DMSO]-[PTSO]-[MSO]-[UTSO] + [UPTSO]-[DMSO] requires not only a new UPTSO but converting the TSO to a UTSO

    If you go straight from 4 to 6 or from 5 to 7 you could insert two new “U” cars



    And the operating logistics of having two different types of half unit that cannot be mixed (because of the different proportions of motors to trailers, or simply because they have different numbers of cars) would be a headache. (The Underground operates “A end” and “D end” half-trains but tries to avoid doing so on lines where they can be reversed: the A stock (Watford triangle), C stock (Kensington and Aldgate triangles), 1972 stock (Kennington Loop) and 1992 stock (beacuse of the Hainault Loop) are reversible – 1973 stock was designed before the Terminal 4 Loop existed.

    Note that at Highbury & Islington two trains facing in opposite directions will both be facing the bsame direction when they get to Clapham Junction, so any SLL-WLL transfer via Clapham Junction will effectively reverse a train’s orientation.

  44. Anonymous says:

    @Michael Hustwaite

    ” it is vital that any earls court development should have transport links north to Watford junction built in”

    It does – there may be room for improvment in speed or relibility but, as you mention, there is already a direct train service from West Brompton to Watford Junction, as well as connections between the two Overground routes at Wiilesden Junction.

  45. Lemmo says:

    Slugabed, yes you are right, and there’s no obviously viable proposition for that at present.

    But there is also a dearth of integrated planning in London which might allow the short WLL – North Acton link to be identified as potentially important, let alone safeguarded within the White City redevelopment. It appears no-one is even thinking about this.

    There is no official alternative strategic route proposed that will take freight from the WLL. The ‘Electric Spine’ will siphon Southampton traffic, so will provide negligible benefit to the WLL.

    A link from the WLL to the Chiltern and on the East-West Rail is likely to reap rewards. It deserves further research.

    The Central Line spreads over the alignment east of East Acton; it’s where the Up and Down lines switch back after the shenanigans around White City. But you’d think that any long-term plan around the Central Line would resolve that strange quirk. Then the flyover around East Acton can be removed and you have your alignment back.

    On the Central, and off-topic I know (but things are a’changing out west), what of alternative routes west once Crossrail drains away the demand from the Ealing Broadway branch? Central Line to Uxbridge via Acton Central and Ealing? Bakerloo to Ealing Broadway? District north from “Kenny O”?

  46. ngh says:

    Re Ian J 03:42AM, 14th June 2013 & Ian J 02:01AM, 14th June 2013

    Good to see TfL, NR and H&F council thinking seriously about improving heavy rail services to OOC.

    The proposals linked above seem fairly well thought out, grade separating most new trackwork around OOC and significantly reducing conflicting moves (including likely service pattern alterations) which would increase the number of available freight and passenger paths. The problem then appears to be what to do with the passenger services at the southern end of the WLL unless there is also some more work done at Clapham Junction or significantly more are run as “Southern” though services via P16/17.

    Interesting to note that 8tph WCML Crossrail (taking over LM slows) is still being considered which has significant impacts on the use of a short section of the Dudding Hill line for potential Overground/Southern services i.e. Crossrail or Overground to OOC?

  47. mr_jrt says:

    Indeed…unfortunately you have to keep the proportion of motored to unmotored axles roughly the same or performance will suffer – so if you want to avoid the logistics it’s either 2×3 cars for 6 or 2×4 cars for 8. I guess if you wanted the simplest option then having the new -car TSOs built as PTSOs abet without the pantographs a-la the ELL’s DC units would be the easiest option that would avoid rebuilds in the future.

    You’ve just reiterated my proposals from my first post 😉

    As I envisage things, the ideal is:
    Crossrail from OOC to High Wycombe,
    Central line to Uxbridge under via Uxbridge Road Corridor from Sheperds Bush,
    Wimblewares extended from Olympia to West Ruislip/Denham/Uxbridge (pick one), segregated with a proper flyover arrangement at Earls Court (4 tracking the WLL north of Shepherd’s Bush to Lille Bridge),
    Bakerloo tunnels extended from Queens Park to Ealing Broadway via Willesden Junction and Park Royal interchange (arguably a lot more useful than being further east for North Acton to reuse the Central’s existing surface alignment to Ealing Broadway),
    Central extended to Richmond from Shepherds Bush (that’s all the District mainline’s urban branches gone),
    District taking Uxbridge branch off the Piccadilly (enabling the Piccadilly to concentrate on Heathrow),
    …and then the other fanciful schemes like the Jubilee branch from Neasden to South Ruslip or Greenford… 😉

  48. mr_jrt says:

    As for LO patterns, I think it’d be an interesting mix if LO operated the outer south London line between Crystal Palace and Clapham Junction – this could then be combined with the WLL services to form a single Willesden Junction – ELL service through platforms 16/17 at CJ, leaving 1/2 for the inner SLL route. Alternatively you could project it across the NLL if you had the paths, but terminating at Willesden Junction is the easy option.

  49. Alan Griffiths says:

    Ian J 03:42AM, 14th June 2013
    ” TfL have put together two cases for links to the Overground: a “central” case with diversion of the existing lines into a new OOC station, and a “wider connections” case with Overground links to Hendon and Hounslow added”

    A very neat design and high-value investment.

    The clever trick would be to build it before the rest of OOC station, so that construction workers could arrive that way. Too clever to actually happen, of course.

  50. ngh says:

    Re Lemmo 10:42AM, 14th June 2013

    Central Ealing Broadway branch.

    1. Relocate Hanger Lane (Central) and Park Royal (Picc) to form a combined interchange (not the easiest or cheapest thing to do.)
    2. Close Ealing Central Central line branch (thus releasing space at Ealing Broadway to make 6 tracking GWML much easier)
    3. Central Line takes over Greenford Branch with the new central branch terminating at Hanwell (or even Southall)

  51. ngh says:

    Re mr_jrt 11:33AM, 14th June 2013

    To replace existing services or as additional services between Clapham Junction and Crystal Palace?

    There won’t be any spare paths till 2018 because of the TL diversions from London Bridge on the Norwood Junction to Tulse Hill section on that route and NR want to use those paths for additional LBG via Tulse Hill services after that.

    The peak services are moving to mostly 10 car in the peak from December with the introduction of 377/6s so replacing 10 car services to Victoria where most of the passengers end up with 5 or 8 car to Willesden or OOC won’t be popular – it would also reduce Streatham Hill to just 2 tph to direct to Victoria and mean at least about 12 cars extra of capacity an hour in the peaks would be needed between VIC and CLJ and create even more interchange issues at Clapham.

  52. Gio says:

    Forgive me for sounding thick, but wouldn’t a lot of problems be solved if freight trains moved around the country late at night when passenger trains have stopped? I really don’t understand the need for freight trains to be moving through London in the morning and evening rush hours. I know the diesel cars are particularly noisy but surely something could be done about that.

  53. ngh says:

    Re Gio

    The general idea is that more maintenance work is done overnight (where possible) so the weekend engineering work and closures or bustitution is reduced where possible. This is being referred to as the “7 day railway” by NR/DfT/ORR.

    Also you then have to have more capacity at sidings and more wagons as they only move at night.

  54. JM says:

    On a west London wishlist.


    Depending on what you can do with freight and spare Crossrail capacity in the west (reconfigure some stations you could probably increase frequencies long the main western Crossrail route anyway and relieve the Uxbridge Rd), I think spare platforms at Wembley Park could be used for an Overground service linked to OOC.

    If you’re unable to do anything between East Acton and the WLL, a service terminating there from the north is better than nothing. A station at Craven Park would be beneficial too to a traditionally marginalised area like Stonebridge.

    I think the Central to Uxbridge only really has legs if OOC is fully developed and you possibly redesign the interchange at Uxbridge, potentially flattening and moving the bus garage. Would have to do something clever with the platforms at Ickenham and Hillingdon too. West Ruislip as ater minus serves a useful purpose for people in northern Ickenham and west/northern Ruislip so would never run that into the ground.

    I personally would look to extend spare Crossrail to Watford from OOC and terminate the Bakerloo at WEmbley Central on 2 new platforms immediately to the east of the station possibly with an updated interchnage with Crossrail at Stonebridge Park.


    2 stations to replace Hanger Lane might be better. A station at Brentham just to the west and an interchange at Park Royal. I think you need a serious investor in that area before this happens. Apart from the Diageo building there isn’t much else there.

    Oh and BRT for Hillingdon and Southall linking up Stockley Park, Southall station and gasworks, Uxbridge and the Uni.

  55. Anonymous says:


    There are other constraints as well – given the distances involved, and the slower speeds of freight trains, it is difficult to avoid all the congested areas – for example by not passing London until after the evening peak is over, it may hit the morning peak in Glasgow. I think freight schedules do often require them to be sidelined in the suburbs during the peak hours to give priority to the peak passenger flows.

  56. PeteD says:

    @Mikey C, 08:06PM, 13th June 2013

    “It reminds me of Thameslink, a cheap plan to link North and South London, …”

    A very cheap plan that saved British Rail significant sums in reduced rolling stock for the last 25 years. A very cheap plan that delivered passengers to new destinations without changing (especially attractive to non-commuters who fancy going to Luton Airport, Gatwick Airport or Brighton). Resulting in massive increase in use and premium payments year after year. Useful money if you looking to build something like Crossrail 1.

    ” … which you end up spending more and more money on to upgrade, with massive scale disruption over a long period of years, …”

    £3.5B over the last couple of decades for 12 car platforms out to Bedford, Peterbourough and Cambridge with upgraded power supplies. Also rebuilding/creating stations at West Hampstead, St Pancras, Farringdon, City Thameslink (releasing more land at Holborn Viaduct for development – more cash returned), Blackfiars and London Bridge. And Tanner’s Hill doubling and unpicking the approaches to London Bridge. Don’t forget an additional 16 tph (nearly all 12-cars), the equivalient of a tube line will run from London Bridge to Central London up the now booming Fleet Valley. Compared to £1B to improve Victoria Underground Station or £15B for crossrail it is a bargin.

    “… and delivering an inferior railway to a purpose built cross London tunnel like Crossrail (or the Parisian RERs).”

    Accepted, but not as good value for money. I don’t think we would be taking about planning Crossrail 2 or building Crossrail 1 if Network Rail had thrown £10B towards a Crossrail solution to the overcrowding on the Midland and Southern Lines.

  57. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Ian J – thanks for the web references to potential services over the Dudden Hill Line. Nice to see that others are considering similar ideas to my own “crayon scribblings”. I note that there is little talk about a diesel service being contemplated on the DH line so any new service means electrification and probably another ridiculous re-run of the “GOBLIN debate” to coin a phrase for what we have discussed ad nauseum. The only difference being there is no existing passenger service to give a starting point. At least with the GOBLIN we know it is busy, overcrowded and still seeing growth. Just imagine the guessing games that can be played to work out what benefits a new service, serving non existent stations and non existent major developments, would bring.

    @ Lemmo – I put the freight point to one side as I would not expect TfL to contribute funding to any scheme outside of the Greater London area with privatised freight as the main direct beneficiary. Clearly there would be indirect benefits to London passengers if freight paths on routes used by TfL services were surrendered. It is clear TfL are already trying to get historic but unused paths on the NLL freed up. I agree TfL are an interested party and will fight their own corner and try to influence national policy.

    @ PoP – I know the 378s are leased and they do seem to be well maintained at the moment. However circumstances can change and it may be that different standards or levels of performance prevail in the future. We have no idea what sort of deal TfL will get on any future concession and what sort of finance will be available. I know technology may move on and a future train design may give TfL what it desires but I sort of struggle with a 20 year life being deemed acceptable especially if the trains are still in good nick. Introducing new train designs is not without risk and while I accept your point about the “conking out” factor being a serious consideration for TfL and its operator you could well get a worse level of reliability with new stock as it “beds down” in front line service. That’s not a reason not to buy a new train but you have to manage that risk.

  58. Lemmo says:

    Whether or not Thameslink is good value for money is perhaps best discussed on the Thameslink NAO report posts.

    But it’s been raised a number of times here that the number of trains per hour through the Thameslink core may be limited by station capacity and dwell times at Farringdon and St Pancras. Doubling up the platforms here would significantly improve throughput, and the fact that they were not safeguarded or built into the design puts an absolute ceiling on capacity.

    This provides lessons for the WLL, as it is only possible to build in this capacity now, at very little extra cost.

    @ WW, that’s the challenge faced by TfL: persuading someone to invest in infrastructure outside London that will allow it to realise its ambitions for Overground on the orbitals. Yes TfL is counting on those unused freight paths on the NLL and WLL, but will this be sufficient? And should the vision for the WLL be of a mixed use railway? I argue that, if so, then 4-track sections will be useful.

  59. DW down under says:

    mr_jrt @ 09:55AM, 14th June 2013:”@DW
    I have mentioned the 5-car limitations of the Electrostar design several times,{snip}
    …or even better, you build cab-less versions of the current vehicles and rig up something like:
    [DMSO]-[PTSO]-[MSO]-[TSO] [PTSO]-[DMSO] 6 car
    …essentially you’re still just building intermediate vehicles and no new cabs…so hopefully cheaper.”

    Quite. I doubt that TfL will want to run 3-car units for off-peak – they’ve dropped that philosophy on LU. So, yes you’re right in a way. The problem with your plan is performance. In an era when paths are tight and acceleration is key to timekeeping, you’ve proposed to go from 60% to 50% motor cars. Ideally, you need to be at 66% or higher especially as the 378 doesn’t have all axles motored.

    There are 37 class 378/2 dual voltage units, and 20 DC-only 378/1. The plan is modify into:

    1) 9 x DMSO-PTSO-DMSO class 378/0 — leaving 9 x MSO-TSO
    2) 28 x DMSO-PTSO-UNDMSO class 378/3 —- leaving 28 x DMSO-TSO
    3) 20 x DMSO-TSO-UNDMSO class 378/6 – leaving 20 x DMSO-TSO spare
    4) The spares get built into 9 x DMSO-TSO-UNDMSO class 378/6 – leaving 37 DMSO, 48 TSO
    5) 18 x DMSO-TSO-DMSO class 378/4 – leaving 1 DMSO, 30 TSO
    6) The 30 TSOs get used in new build trains, while the one DMSO is retained as an engineering spare.

    This gives nine 3-car dual-voltage 378/0 class for GOBLIN; plus 14 six-car trains for dual voltage, plus 23½ 6-car trains for DC. That means LO will be 20 trains short of the current fleet of 57. The proposal is that 40 new units be ordered, with thirty 378 TSOs being incorporated plus 10 new pantograph trailers. This will give a combined 38½ trains for DC, plus 19 dual voltage. There may be a shortfall against dual-voltage requirements, in which case the order would be built up with a mix of additional new dual voltage units plus some TSOs not being re-used in the new build, but having new PTSOs instead.

    You will notice that I have specified UNDMSOs – the idea being that cabs are not required in the middle of a train, but the facility to split a train for maintenance or repair remains most useful from an operational point-of-view. It also means that for DC operation, one dual voltage half-unit can be coupled to a DC half-unit to make up a train. More flexibility means less spare units overall. This may help reduce the number of additional units needed above those to cover the GOBLIN.

  60. DW down under says:

    Anonymous @ 06:48PM, 13th June 2013 wrote: “ … diversion of freight via Redhill + a new chord, while from an engineering point of view it is doable there are a number of other issues that sink the idea

    (1) The geography of Redhill –“

    … addressed in part by the other Anon..

    “ (2) Reigate level crossing – “

    … Thank you for helping with local information. This would imply as I suspected, a more southerly alignment for freight. This would become a Reigate avoiding line – the downside would be that Reigate misses out on direct West Surrey – Gatwick and Brighton traffic from a link from the east-west chord onto the BML – unless passenger traffic from Reigate to the South was sufficient to warrant extra construction. There would be a voltage changeover at Reigate for through passenger services.

    “(3) Guilford –“

    Would seem to be a major reconfiguration issue there. As orbital traffic is now very much regarded as of equal importance to radial, and as this will become a major freight corridor “limb” onto the “freight spine” it will be incumbent upon NR and the FoCs to come up with a strategy – maybe starting with signalling optimisation and some trackage alterations, but ultimately some form of grade separation and/or avoiding line. Passengers trains will still need access to Guildford, ideally with cpi.

    “(4) Wokingham to Reading – Wokingham has a level crossing with the same issues as Reigate only made worse by the frequent SWT service to Waterloo.”

    … would indicate that grade separation is overdue.

    “Again line occupancy onwards to Reading is an issue and then when you arrive at Reading trains face a stiff climb up from the reinstated dive under to get access to the slow / relief lines.”

    … Line occupancy can be dealt with through signalling, relief lines and other devices. Please forgive my lack of knowledge of Reading’s layout today, but I think you are telling us that to access the Oxford branch at Didcot, and hence reach the “Spine”, that freight needs to gain the tracks on the NORTH side of the GWML … and that the climb to reach those tracks is challenging. If so, there are several parts to the solution: a) signalling – to ensure the trains have sufficient momentum to negotiate the ramp; b) define the section as a ruling gradient, setting the power and adhesion characteristics required for haulage of trains over the route; c) track arrangements – ensure that the whole train can be accommodated at the top of the ramp (ie 775m) before drivers are required to stop (by an adverse signal in whatever form it takes at the time – eg ERTMS/ETCS).

    OVERALL, I don’t think the idea is SUNK, but certainly will take some paddling to stay afloat!! 🙂 

  61. DW down under says:

    Walthamstow Writer @10:56PM, 14th June 2013 wrote:

    “@ Ian J – thanks for the web references to potential services over the Dudden Hill Line.”

    Worthy of note is reference in the links to approval of the Radlett Freight Terminal potentially increasing freight frequency on the Dudding Hill line – that runs through the suburb of Dudden Hill.

    @ Lemmo – I put the freight point to one side as I would not expect TfL to contribute funding to any scheme outside of the Greater London area with privatised freight as the main direct beneficiary

    I imagine the mechanism would be the charge by NR for release of the freight paths to LO. That would localise the cost to London.

    @ PoP – I know the 378s are leased and they do seem to be well maintained at the moment.
    But see discussion about the issues of recycling the 378s into 6-car trains and 3-car units in the context that:
    a) LO will need 57 additional cars for existing LO trains, somehow – to extend to six-car trains.
    b) LO will need about 27 cars for GOBLIN (more if extended beyond Barking)

    That’s a total of 94 new cars, or equivalent to about 24 new 3-car units. The 378 design will be superseded before the 6-car programme begins. So it will become quite a challenge to stay with the “proven” technology (yes I know we’re talking about Bombardier).

    IMHO, trains of a new design should be assigned to the routes of greatest capacity need (eg ELL), in the hope that higher performance (eg wider doors, higher acceleration and regen braking) might enable higher service frequencies, shorter journey times, and greater rolling stock productivity. But they could be proven on less vulnerable routes (eg Watford Junction) until fully bedded in.

  62. Mark Townend says:

    @DW – Tonbridge-Reading freight

    Reigate level crossing: This is a major bottleneck even with the existing rail traffic (max. 2 per hour each direction). The road here is the main access into the town and surrounding areas from the M25 London orbital motorway at Junction 8 about 2 km north of the crossing and in my limited experience of traffic in the area I have seen very long queues build up extremely quickly. A long rail bypass around the south of Reigate would be expensive and highly contentious given the local high land values and the desirable residential characteristics of this ‘stockbroker belt’ area. Grade separation along the existing route would be a better bet but that would not be easy either, The railway cannot be sunk into a trench due to other road underbridges either side of the crossing so must be raised over the road. The road could also be lowered to some extent to limit the rise necessary on the rail alignment but proximity to junctions either side of the crossing prevent that being a complete solution. The station would have to be completely rebuilt, incidentally also solving platform length issues. Such major work would need a long closure of rail facilities for reconstruction.

    Guildford: The station and the 2 track section south through the tunnels to Smallbrook junction is very busy and probably couldn’t take any additional traffic. There might also be significant problems achieving useful freight loading gauge clearance through the tunnels. I have previously suggested a bypass idea here:

    Wokingham level crossing: Not in the same league as Reigate. Although it can cause local traffic jams, the road over the crossing is really only a minor road, so the effects are much less widespread. A longstanding plan (as yet unbuilt) for a new inner relief road parallel to the railway proposes to further reduce the status of this crossing and better integrate it with road junction signalling, also making it ‘one way’ only. If absolutely necessary, I think there is room around the station yard area to build a flyover here for road traffic.

    At Reading the new layout already provides the reinstated underpass from the Wokingham line to the northern ‘relief’ side of the GW main line. To add further freight capacity a second parallel link could be made at the top the ‘Southern spur’ from the throat of the 3 southern terminal platforms (now nos. 4, 5, 6) taking over the former up main ‘middle road’ alongside platfrom 7 to the west end flyover already planned for XC Midlands-south coast traffic. As for gradients, even though very steep, all these would be fairly short so only a small part of a full length train would actually be on the hill at any one time. The measures you suggest for avoiding a stop in the area could be implemented and given the strategic importance of the area, might be supplemented by stationing a very high tractive effort rescue locomotive locally to help move anything that stalled.

    Despite all this there’s clearly no possibility of eliminating all railfreight from London’s orbital rail routes as there will continue to be terminals in the London area itself, for aggregates for instance, and Network rail will continue to require the movement of engineering trains around too, so some capacity for this traffic has to be retained, Whether justified or not by demand ( I doubt it) it seems these lines will never carry passenger services at full ‘tube like’ frequencies. The exception is the ELL which already has high frequencies on the middle section under the river and out to Dalston, but this has not shared metals with freight for over 50 years!

  63. Anonymous says:

    The Reading upgrade gets rid of the centre line realigning one or both platforms so there isn’t space for one.

    I rmember going through the centre line on a non stop HST back in the days when such things existed – Oxford to Paddington in 46 minutes. Progress….

  64. Mark Townend says:

    @Anonymous, 10:40AM, 15th June 2013

    Yes I know, I read the project is attempting to ‘improve sighting’ by straightening and ‘relieve overcrowding’ by widening platfrom 7. The platform face to face interval will (apparently) taper from the existing 3-track spacing at the country end to a typical 2 track spacing at the London end. Despite this I think there should be room to reinstate a centre track here in the future, although platform edge and canopy changes would be required (once again!).

  65. mr_jrt says:

    Interesting thoughts.

    Would the large pool of spare TSOs you propose for new build trains not be of better use upgrading the Goblin to 4 cars from the off rather than 3 though?

  66. Paul says:

    Mark @ 11:11

    Not much point in having an additional through track on that side at Reading though, especially if it requires removing the widened platform and all the yet to be built roof structures? There’s an obvious circulation pinch point on platform 7 in the current temporary state alongside the new lifts, where today’s passenger flows along P7 (including all those between P1-3 and the new main entrance) really do require the extra P7 width.

    However a short length of additional track east of the station (only a couple of hundred yards) parallel to and south of the down main would allow a train off the down Reading spur line to join the down main loop through P8 and have a straight run via the ‘Festival Line’ (the XC flyover/underpass) to get to the down relief west of the station. This additional length of track would keep freights clear of the down main route through P9 towards the Didcot direction.

    Unless they ever timetable more passenger services via the new eastern underpass though, it’s a bit academic because your freight services can use the eastern underpass to get to any of platforms 13/14/15 which are all bidirectional…

  67. SAINTSMAN says:

    My natural reaction is to protect railway alignments. I’m a firm believer in having dedicated pairs of tracks for separate services in cities. However the WLL is constrained by the capacity over the Battersea Railway Bridge (Viaduct). As a listed structure it is highly unlikely that this would be changed to allow a 4 track crossing.

    The Channel Tunnel Act protected freight paths on the WLL until 2052, so we are likely to continue to see mixed traffic for some time. A full 4 track is not possible, although a passing 3 track section north of the Earls Court site may help. So it is logical for TfL to pursue train lengthening in the short term. Personally I’d like to see some creativity to allow London Overground to buy batches of used freight slots for PIXC services.

    By 2052, hopefully Old Oak Common will be a mega hub into which London Overground services including WLL will feed. With Clapham Junction at the southern end boosted by Crossrail 2, I don’t see the need for a major WLL / tube interchange at Earls Court. The big question is what happens to WLL freight, which also has major implications on SLL and beyond. I fully support the other respondents of diverting freight into a dedicated cross London freight tunnel and/or cleared surface routes further afield. Getting rid of freight could then allow a LO push on WLL towards 24tph and if already at 8-car this will give sufficient capacity on 2 track WLL.

    Personally the focus is on the wrong line. The District Wimbledon to Edgware branch is far more important to this development. Schemes to turn this into a 24tph service always fail at Praed Street Junction, along with dispersing passengers and trains at the terminus stations. But the other key is the need to have a proper underground interchange at Earls Court to allow transfers to both Piccadilly and remaining District. Such a major upgrade, to completely separate tracks and provide an improved interchange needs to be pushed as a condition of planning. Once Earls Court is “fixed” the north of Paddington part becomes more attractive.

  68. Graham Feakins says:

    Freight – This LR link provides useful insight into the sort of freight traffic loads on the South London Line route, most of which feed into or off the West London Line:

  69. DW down under says:

    @jrt: I’m basing the 3-car GOBLIN units on the platform length available at Gospel Oak.

    My guess is that any works to extend that would be to six- or eight-cars, and the whole line would then change to six-car working, by then standard across LO.

    That in turn will trigger a need for more new units.

  70. Mark Townend says:

    @Paul, 12:09PM, 15th June 2013.

    Retaining the middle track was to allow a freight to run through whilst cross country reverses in pl 7. Having 2 parallel routes across the layout would allow opposing freights to pass through the station. If there was significant traffic , conflicts might otherwise result in a Didcot bound freight having to await its opposing move, blocking the station approaches from Wokingham.

    Here is a sketch I did a while ago showing the middle line retained and providing a new mid-platform scissors crossover, Cambridge style, to allow shorter trains to separately use the extremities of platform 7, weaving around each other using the middle line to arrive and escape.

  71. DW down under says:

    @ Mark T. I know too little about Reigate to really comment, except that it has been identified as an issue. Clearly some significant local road redesign is needed: local ring road, midtown orbital, whatever – and the level crossing eliminated.

    For the relatively short distance involved (< 10 miles in open country), a sunken freight avoiding route (possibly covered) should not prove an overwhelming obstacle, just a challenge.

    @ commentators in general: elsewhere I have suggested that the way TfL pay for such out-of-London freight route upgrades is through the price they pay for paths on the WLL. While the Act guarantees freight access on the WLL, there should be no reason preventing these being sold off on a pre-emptible basis. Because so few of the total freight paths allocated are actually used, NR would be accruing a very substantial body of funds with which to finance projects at Redhill, Reigate and Guildford, etc.

  72. Paul says:

    A freight will already be able to run through platform 8 (what you’ve labelled platform 9?) while a XC reverses in P7 with the planned layout.

    Can’t see them ever reversing the decision to build out the platform in the medium term though, so it’s a bit academic really…

  73. DW down under says:

    @ Mark T. Sorry I don’t understand your Reading diagram. Partly because I don’t have pre-works and current layout diagrams. What do your dotted lines mean? And where do the underpasses from Guildford and Basingstoke fit the layout?

  74. Wok says:

    Thee are no actual plans to resolve the issue concerning the level crossing at Wokingham station. From personal experience it is not a minor road that uses the level crossing and can cause notable delays in the area. Ideally this would be resolved and the use of Oxford Road as a substitute to some of the traffic using the level crossing is not one I’ve seen proposed. A further option is to replace the bridge on Finchampstead road as they have done at Reading to allow larger vehicles to pass under the North Downs line and Reading to Waterloo line. The station link road that the Wokingham council is building will not resolve the problem and the station car park is already very busy and capacity cannot be reduced just for more freight trains to use this route.,d.ZGU&cad=rja The council and local residents objected to the proposed heathrow link using this line and decreasing the time the level crossing could be used by cars and there would be i’m confident a similar protest if it was proposed for freight this time without the level crossing problem being resolved.

    Off peak the Reading to Wokingham line has 4 TPH, 2 x SWT and 2 x FGW. Much of the line, maybe half, already has DC and the remaining around 14 miles could easily be infilled if it helped move freight down this line. during the peak I think there is 8 TPH, with definitely 4 x SWT and I believe 4 x FGW. So off peak there should be plenty of space to run freight services. In the evening and Sundays it is only 3 TPH as FGW only has 1 TPH after 8/9pm weekdays.

    If freight is to use this route it must use the dive under as otherwise you will have the freight train go along the fast lines through Reading station and cross the remaining fast line on the flat west of it to reach the slow/freight lines. The work at Reading with the new flyover/dive under to the west and reinstatement of the dive under to the east were done specifically to minimise, if not ideally eliminate, on the flat crossings. The North Downs line is a strong candidate for use with freight services but there will need to be at least DC installed and work on the Wokingham level crossing whether there or alternative routes nearby to cut necessity of using it..

  75. Wok says:

    @ Mark your diagram is missing the flyover/dive under being built west of Reading connceting the Newbury/Basingstoke lines with the northern/slower lines running through Reading Station

  76. Mark Townend says:

    @Paul, 01:45PM, 15th June 2013

    Excellent! You spotted my deliberate mistake with the platform numbers! I agree a through move could be made via 8, but that would interfere with alternate use along with (the actual!) pl. 9 by frequent down main trains calling at Reading.

    As you say its all fairly academic; any North Downs strategic freight project is probably a long way off, and would require very significant work all along the route, with the extended planning and design timescales that would imply. It would be wise at Reading perhaps to at least safeguard the space for the extra track from any further major construction however. As long as nothing more substantial than the new platform face and canopy are in the way then a subsequent change would be remain practically conceivable.

    @DW down under, 01:45PM, 15th June 2013

    Here is a final layout of the larger layout showing the new facilities. I’ve seen this drawing published in railway magazines. I can’t find anything more comprehensive on the NR website.

    My dotted lines are old lines removed.

  77. Mark Townend says:

    @Wok, 02:34PM, 15th June 2013

    Thanks for sharing that latest version of the Wokingham station link road scheme proposal. It is not obvious from this document and especially from that rather misleading front page illustration that one of the key elements to avoid congestion is to provide separate signalled turn filter lanes for traffic passing over the crossing so they don’t block other traffic passing through the intersections. The existing junction layout with a mini-roundabout does not ensure this, so a small amount of traffic waiting to cross the railway can cause a disproportionate amount of congestion to other traffic, that can propagate more widely across town.

  78. wok says:

    An opportunity was missed when a development was built just south of the Wokingham station and junction on the former cricket ground where they could have crossed one if not both lines there, by the bowling alley, and connect to Ashville Way thus the level crossing could be removed. Again hindsight is 20:20 and the options are reduced to resolve a known present or highly likely future problem by not taking a rare opportunity to build in such a provision or at least not eliminate it as an option which, going to the theme of the article, is happening with the Earls Court development. Where leaving space for even a 3rd line to be used as a bay for freight, if not the ideal of four tracks is left as a provision, as noted above by BR when selling land along the WLL.

  79. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ DW DU – Sir Peter Hendy is on record as saying any GOBLIN EMUs will be a minimum of 4 cars and probably 5 cars *if* TfL ever get to the point of ordering electric trains for the line. This clearly has some interesting implications for well known “pinch points” at a couple of places on the line. It also means a potential rolling stock order would be a bit larger than your guesstimate. The other unknown is what level of service TfL would wish to have the line resignalled for and when that service level would be triggered. Looking at your sums you look to be assuming 9 3-car units which suggests a slight increase in frequency if one extra train could run.

    Given the projected increase in freight on the GOBLIN post Crossrail opening the line will be jammed full unless something is done to add signalling capacity. I would certainly want to see a 10 minute Overground frequency catered for even though I accept much longer trains will bring a big capacity boost. Any proposal to serve Barking Riverside would, in my view, need something a bit better than a 5 car EMU every 15 mins. I suppose TfL could, with the appropriate facilities, run Barking – Barking Riverside shuttles in the peak assuming that didn’t interfere with the C2C service.

  80. mr_jrt says:

    Maybe the solution there is widening key stations with platform loops, so the freight can sail past non-timetabled passenger services at stations…

  81. Anonymous says:

    re Reigate and ring roads etc.

    There is very little through traffic on the A217 so a bypass wouldn’t help much – it’s generally quicker to stay on the motorway. There are a lot of offices in Reigate and the rush hour has the school run too. The level crossing can snarl up the traffic to the top of Reigate Hill, particularly at the morning peak and whenever there is congestion on the M25.

    Reigate Hill is extremely steep, the edge of the North Downs is there and any bypass would be a tough one to build with the surrounding geography. I studied the approach to the LC carefully last time I was stuck in traffic there and I can’t really see how a bridge would be done without being extremely intrusive.

  82. Graham Feakins says:

    Remember that the A217 traffic on the London Road in Reigate also used to have to cope with this tunnel just south of the level crossing:

    That WAS a cause of congestion with increasing road traffic, even if it went down to one way at the end of its life as a road tunnel!

    The level crossing probably saw more rail traffic then, what with local and through goods trains.

  83. Anonymous says:

    Interesting. I had assumes that the tunnel must have been part of the A217 by it’s alignment, but I didn’t realise that it was as recently as 1970.

  84. Lemmo says:

    @ Graham Feakins, thanks for flagging this up:

    This LR link provides useful insight into the sort of freight traffic loads on the South London Line route, most of which feed into or off the West London Line:

    There’s also Mwmbwls’ marvelous pieces on Redhill from back in 2009:

    So, with all this talk of shifting the freight outside London, in practice this appears to be rather challenging. Along with lack of progress on Goblin electrification, it’s difficult to avoid the conclusion that there’s no real strategy for rail freight in London.

    As the demand for freight increases alongside the growth in Overground on the orbitals, something has to give. In the absence of any viable alternatives, or an overall plan, it seems sensible building in capacity rather than reducing it. As Saintsman points out above:

    The Channel Tunnel Act protected freight paths on the WLL until 2052, so we are likely to continue to see mixed traffic for some time.

    Yes, the two-track Battersea Bridge will remain a bottleneck, especially with the slow speeds enforced. But there will be no point in investing in alternatives here if the rest of the route is so constrained. And the main point is to provide capacity for service resilience; the objective is not necessarily a four-track route throughout.

  85. StephenC says:

    I travelled the WLL again today. Any notion that it could be widened to 4 tracks should really be comprehensively squashed. There are continual incursions of lineside development that would prevent it. Note that HS2 looked at widening the line from Old Oak to South Ruislip and found it cheaper to dig a tunnel. The same applies here.

    I think that a freight-based route can be built so long as it also serves passengers. For example, a new line from Luton to the southern edge of Stevenage, built as part of the East-West Oxford-Cambridge route would help both. There would be two connections, one for passengers to access Stevenage from Luton, and the other for freight to access Hertford North. Similarly, a link north of Hertford, or preferably a tunnel from Gordon Hill to Enfield Town provides the next piece of the puzzle.

    As mentioned above, the only Earls Court development question of relevance is the absence of grade separation of the Wimbledon District.

  86. Anon at 0857 again says:

    According to, the Wokingham Station Link Road is in tranche 2 of schemes awarded funding from the Local Pinch Point Fund.

  87. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Almost totally off the off-topic topic

    The tunnel in the middle of Reigate has extensive underground caves on either side. They were created when excavating sand for commercial use. This isn’t ordinary sand but a very fine sand which was used for things like egg-timers and as a scouring powder. Apparently there are other loads of other caves and extended basements dug out of this sandy soil. I don’t know if this extends as far as the railway but if so I suspect that tunnelling would be a nightmare in this area – especially if it involved going under existing buildings.

  88. Pedantic Of Purley says:

    @Walthamstow Writer

    Regarding replacing the Class 378 in the 2020s

    I sort of struggle with a 20 year life being deemed acceptable especially if the trains are still in good nick.

    Not at all. The trains would be reassigned rather than scrapped.

    Although this to some extent goes rather against one of the arguments I have put, by then TfL may have some bigger suburban railways to look after and may want to consider using them to replace yet older rolling stock e.g. the original Networkers that don’t currently have SDO capability. The older-still rolling stock could then be made available to other TOCs.

    I understand that you are in favour of GOBlin electrification. This would involve re-assigning the Class 172 units, of about the same age, much earlier. How is that situation any different?

  89. DW down under says:

    Do I understand correctly that the escarpment to the south of Reigate is chalk? If so, an ideal tunnelling medium. So, my suggestion for a freight avoiding route to the south incorporating the link to Tonbridge, and the link to the BML for Reading-Gatwick and possible Heathow-Gatwick passenger trains (the latter subject to the outcome of Davies Commission) would appear to be on “good ground.”

  90. DW down under says:

    Can I ask whether a route starting at Tonbridge east junction, via Tunbridge Wells, East Grinstead, Three Bridge and thence via a new chord south of Three Bridges via Crawley, Christ’s Hospital and Cranleigh to Guildford work as an alternative to Tonbridge – Redhill Avoiding Chord – Reigate Avoiding line – Guildford?

    This would entail reconstruction of closed railways, some of which (I’m using Adlestrop) may have been single track. I haven’t “flown” the route yet using GoogleAir or BingSky, but seeking local knowledge comments before I go for my aerial survey.

  91. DW down under says:

    @WW. Re: GOBLIN and sparkies: Thanks for mentioning Sir Peter’s comment. If that remains the case, then it would mean that Gospel Oak platform and the track layout immediately east thereof would need to significantly rebuilt. Has anyone seen anything in any planning document to support that, show plans, show a NR GRIP analysis, is it on the London and SE RUS (must get that read again), anywhere?

    If it is the case then the provision of nine 3-car units for GOBLIN would be irrelevant. And an extension to Riverside or Dageham would swell the numbers needed (and probably create a need for 6-car trains anyway.)

    Also we read that the WLL might need 8-car trains.

    If both of these were the case, a larger part of the fleet would remain 5-car dual-voltage (how many for WLL?). For WLL, 3-car units or half-units would be needed. These could be made up as I previously described. But in the scenario where more than 84 new cars are needed (arithmetic error fixed, d’oh), ISTM that block six-car trains would be sourced. The requirement would probably be about 120 cars in twenty trains – a reasonable sized order. I’d expect about half to require the AC gear to be fitted, the others to have interim provision (ie for ELLX).

  92. JamesBass says:

    @DW Re 7.09am

    Reopening those lines might be a good idea in the long term for other reasons, but as a way to avoid building a freight chord less than a mile long, it’s just nuts!

  93. Greg Tingey says:

    As the demand for freight increases alongside the growth in Overground on the orbitals, something has to give.
    Yes when the new Shell Haven (“Thamesport”?) opens & the GOBLIN isn’t electrified.
    Only then ay much greater expense & a lot of fuss will anything be done, unless we are very lucky.

    The Weald is where systematic geology started, & it is multi-layered.
    There was a dome of chalk over everything, but the middle has eroded away, exposing older beds – the opposite of London, where the Chalk underlies the more recent clays & gravels – the chalk re-surfaces at the North of Essex & Hertfordshire as the downs just to the South of Royston – and extends round as parts of the Chilterns. And of course, re-appears as the South Downs.
    Going South from the crest of the N. Downs ( say Merstham or Quarry tunnels ) … Chalk, Upper Greensand, Gault, Lower Greensand, Wealden Clay .. by which time you are about 2-3km South of Reigate!
    Try here for a very poor overwiew of the complexity …
    For a better view, try using the BGS on-line map-viewer HERE – very good and have fun!

  94. timbeu says:

    The escarpment to the NORTH of Reigate is chalk, and might make a better tunnelling medium

  95. DW down under says:

    @ Stephen C. I wonder whether TfL’s apparent “laissez faire” attitude towards the Earl’s Court situation lies in longer term, unpublished plans to service Chelsea off the Piccadilly Line, extending thence to Wimbledon and maybe Sutton. This would take the conflicting at-level movements off Earl’s Court east junction. Disrict Services would replace Piccadilly to Uxbridge. It does mean that Barons Court and West Kensington become a pinch point on the District. As these are same-direction pincers, a higher throughput could be expected than with the current conflicting movements.

    If I’m right, then the Chelsea element of CR2 may be “sacrificial” and TfL might be using it as leverage to get funding for the Piccadilly/District rearrangement, new tunnels and new underground station(s).

    BTW, does anyone know where in Chelsea the station is proposed?

  96. mr_jrt says:

    “I travelled the WLL again today. Any notion that it could be widened to 4 tracks should really be comprehensively squashed. There are continual incursions of lineside development that would prevent it.”

    Go on then…

    When I did the same the issues were:
    The West Cross Route to the Holland Park roundabout – Should never have been built, and utterly pointless as it directly feeds motorway levels of traffic from the M40 onto the hopelessly inadequate roads around the roundabout. Demolishing this and rebuilding as a smaller road would help relieve the pressure at the roundabout’s other roads. Building the new road as an elevated structure over the railway further releases land for development, as well as permitting a 4-track alignment through this area.

    Olympia – The false platform edge. Easy to remove, and there is ample platform length for an 8 car train.

    South to West Brompton – Odd support for Earls Court 2 I think was the worst I could see.

    West Brompton to Chelsea & Fulham – Nature Reserve, easy to provide replacement elsewhere for

    Chelsea & Fulham to Battersea Bridge – 2 tracks. If you took land from surrounding properties then maybe you could get to north of Imperial Wharf…but that embankment would need creative bridging to get wide enough, and of course, you’d still need another parallel 2 track bridge. Thus, my proposals for 4 tracks end just south of West Brompton.

  97. Lemmo says:


    @ Stephen C, the point of the article is about strategy and safeguarding. We focus on the West Brompton to Olympia section, but question whether there is any vision for the WLL as a whole.

    If the rail planners decided that the WLL was a key strategic route then they’d work all the planning levers to make it so. Their response to the Earls Court development indicate that they don’t see it this way.

    Essentially the only limits on this route are the bridge over the Thames and the section through Shepherds Bush. As mr_jrt and other have pointed out, the alignment at Shepherds Bush can be widened. The route over/under the Thames is less straightforward… but so too is the route for any new cross-London freight route.

    In the absence of any credible alternative, a new strategic freight route is still likely to use the WLL. If so, either you need train paths, which are in short supply, or you need more tracks to ensure service resilience. That’s not an option now.

    Given that the Redhill route is not coming up trumps, what are the other options? We’ve explored them here on LR and it doesn’t look pretty. Until someone rises above the fragmentation and recognises the depth of the problem, the WLL is the only option. And it’s just got harder.

  98. DW down under says:

    @ James Bass. If it was as simple as avoiding building a short chord, totally agree. I take it you haven’t read the detail upthread supplied by folks here familiar with local issues along the North Downs line, and providing ample links for further reading. If you had, you’d realise that the avoiding route I’ve asked about:

    a) avoids visual and aural amenity issues in Redhill;
    b) bypasses Reigate with its severe complications at a level crossing in the centre of town; and
    c) provides an approach to Guildford further south giving space for grade separation.

    It doesn’t resolve Wokingham, but ISTM there they have grade-separated crossings available as alternatives to Station Rd.

    And it certainly isn’t a direct route!

  99. DW down under says:

    @ Timbeau. Thanks for that. Would the alignment take it under Redhill or to the north?

    If the freight went that way, the pax service could stay much as is, with addition of a chord to take Gatwick trains directly onto the BML/local track.

  100. DW down under says:

    @ Greg T – Thanx. Had a look at your second link. Yes, good for getting an accurate location vis-a-vis the railway and local roads, but where do I find a key that explains the colours – and of course colour coding is used to continue to confound those like me who are colour-vision impaired.

  101. DW down under says:

    @ Lemmo – would it be worth examining the issues associated with the West Drayton – Colnbrook – Staines branch (part abandoned and built over) being used in conjunction with the current ideas for WRaTH to provide a N-S freight corridor?

    Also, to what extent is the NLL from Richmond to Willesden Jct chockers?

  102. StephenC says:

    @Lemmo, @mr_jrt, The other part of my comment was that it will be cheaper to build a tunnel than widen the existing line, exactly as was found with HS2 in West London and East Birmingham. Now if a short freight loop helps, then great, but full 4 tracking is a nonsense.

    Personally, I think the WLL is seen as important, with the LO WLL service full and being invested in. But it seems that they think there are cheaper and more effective ways to manage that than full tunnel or four tracking. I suspect 8tph of 8 car trains will be sufficient in the medium to long term.

    I think the answer to London bypasses lies both in the Redhill chord (2 paths per hour won’t affect too much elsewhere), and in East London, either with the HS1 Thames tunnel or a new Thames tunnel shared with passengers.

    BTW, freight is popular with politicians, so I wouldn’t rule out a bigger scheme.

  103. Mark Townend says:

    @DW down under, 11:13AM, 16th June 2013

    I don’t really see any case to create a new direct Reigate to Gatwick chord at Redhill, whether or not a new freight bypass ever materialises. Although less than 3 km from Reigate centre, Redhill is a large town in its own right, with much of its commerce clustered around the centrally located station, Redhill Traffic is thus healthy on all lines radiating therefrom including the North Downs route. The station has useful interchange from the Guildford direction into trains across to Tonbridge and beyond, as well as back in towards London, to Purley, Croydon etc, so retaining the stop is most worthwhile despite the journey time penalty of reversing. There are long standing plans to construct an extra platform on the west side of the station, taking over space occupied by little used engineering sidings. That could create sufficient capacity for the Reading -Gatwick trains to become 2TPH throughout the day.

  104. JamesBass says:

    @DW I feel a GregT moment coming on. To suggest I haven’t read the upthread is frankly an insult.

    The reason I was quite so dismissive is that your idea was so very very nuts- indeed the most egregious example of fantasy line drawing I’ve read in a long time.

    I have repeatedly caveated before that the line would need grade clearance and electrification- this wouldn’t cost an insignificant amount of money, but it would be peanuts compared to bulldozing extra dedicated freight tracks across the whole of South and West London or reinstating a line over 50 miles long when there is one there, underutilised and begging to be upgraded. The Electric Spine project is already funded and the upgrade of Reading station is pretty well completed. And now you’re suggesting shoving freight on the Richmond-Willesden Jct (half of which is also the District line!) or a proposed WRAtH line. The whole point of a Redhill chord is to divert as much freight as possible off of lines whose capacity would be much better used by intensive passenger service. I re-read earlier LR articles earlier and, according to National Rail, freight traffic from the Channel Tunnel to the North and Midlands is predicted to grow enormously over the next couple of decades. Passenger services on the WLL are already packed, freight restricts capacity on the urban rail network in South London and there is no realistic way of 4 tracking the whole of the WLL without demolishing a hell of a lot- some pretty recently built.

    Half of the argument about the fantasy lines comments that has arisen here is exactly from ignoring the realities of lines on the ground and losing sight of why people are making proposals- in this case that sorting out Tonbridge to Reading frees up huge capacity within London. I really do suggest you go and read the excellent articles written on both the Redhill chord and London rail freight that are linked above as they provide a lot of the background needed.

  105. Greg Tingey says:

    Colour-coding pops-up in a sub-box on the map, once you select the correct “button” or tick-box – it was obvious to me, anyway!

  106. DW down under says:

    @ James B. And I am offended by the suggestion that I haven’t read the articles you mention. I have. I was asking a question, was all. The question was asked in the light of the issues at Redhill (visual and aural amenity), Reigate (level crossing and awkward geography) and Guildford (conflicting movements on at-grade junction) which I set out clearly as context. And it was a question. I for one am fully convinced that Tonbridge – Reading via Redhill avoiding chord is the way to go, so I’m with you brother, on that point.

    I hoped it was clear that I was just seeking confirmation that there wasn’t an obvious alternative nearby for which taking the freight was the price for getting a passenger service restored (which seems to be the balance needed to win over community support).

    Now if the wiggly lines on existing maps (I didn’t draw anything, but I did suggest a chord near Three Bridges) are as difficult or worse to restore than to make good the North Downs route, then it’s been worth our while as a group getting acquainted with the Redhill issues, much as we are with the WLL.

    Finally, I only asked a question – no proposal or argument – about the Richmond section and about Colnbrook (the reference to WRaTH is linked to what otherwise would be a duplicated chord to gain the west side GWML). No need to blow a fuse! These questions are purely a “clearing the deck” stage, to be sure there aren’t options we have missed. I don’t know anywhere near as much detail as some – surely there’s no harm in asking.

  107. DW down under says:

    @GT – thanks. “Geology Key” D’oh! Now my struggle will be matching the colours and understanding the implications.

  108. Milton Clevedon says:

    Re current navel gazing by various contributors.

    My personal preference is to take a helicopter view of things, including a judgement on feasibility, and guidance by numbers where they make any sense. Hopefully that makes a few of my contributions credible, though whether they are happy reading is a separate matter!

    In the commentators’ current debate on removing or reducing freight from WLL – though I don’t think Lemmo’s article is really about that – there are perhaps two helicopter points to make:

    (1) why should freight move when away it doesn’t have to (cf 2052 legal deal)? – though I accept you might devise a basis to pay them to go away – and
    (2) why must the automatic alternative freight choice be via Redhill and Reading, or anywhere else via the congested Southern rail zone and an already capacity-limited Thames Valley, when the miles travelled that way towards the West or East Midlands or beyond amount to 190 or so as far as Nuneaton, compared to a nominal straight line from Dollands Moor of 145 or so, and a current distance via Maidstone and WLL of about 165-170.

    Perhaps you have Felixstowe-Nuneaton as a comparator? Well that’s not much over 150 miles, again to Nuneaton to use a constant measuring point, but it’s 175 miles or more from Felixstowe via cross-London and the WCML, so you can see why freight operators might vote in that case with their train sets.

    Back to the Dollands Moor-Nuneaton straight line. It barely touches within the M25 – and that on the NE side of London, not south or west. It may hint at a case for a new East London or Lower Thames Crossing rail tunnel under the Thames to link up with N and NW main lines. East-West Rail ideas might also be relevant, just as Felixstowe-Nuneaton is growing nicely and incrementally. In a past decade I was sorry that the 1980s option for a main line rail tunnel at Woolwich finally emerged as a DLR route, but that’s now history. (And I am not going to try to define a precise line on a map now!)

    Meanwhile, because rail freight doesn’t pay its full track costs (this helps it compete with marginal lorry track costs until the day we have lorry miles pricing), please don’t expect it to pay for lots of new infrastructure. But it can be a beneficiary of schemes which are mainly justified by passenger transport requirements. So I would focus on those first. That might include making the WLL more operable.

  109. Lemmo says:

    @ Milton Clevedon, in the final piece on freight we touched upon alternative rail freight routes on the north east side of London. This may be more attractive than via Redhill, and a we discussed the further problem of the congested two-track section from Didcot to Oxford.

    It may be worth revisiting this now. For instance, could freight use HS1 across the Thames, and then access the LTS lines at Dagenham? If this was possible, is there potential to get across to the ECML and MML via new links at, say, Enfield or Hertford, and reopening Hitchin-Bedford?

  110. DW down under says:

    @ Lemmo. In my day, the A602 went from Stevenage to Hertford. These days, it completely bypasses Hertford. In terms of rail freight futures, I’d imagine the realpolitick would dictate a similar approach. In which case, I would qualify your comment above to read “near Hertford”.

    On a broader spectrum, in many parts of the UK, freight takes “the long way around.” I’d imagine the paths are cheaper, more readily available or more reliable on such routes. So the comparison above by Milton C which showed a 50 mile or so difference likely wouldn’t perturb a FoC. If the longer route offered the right combination of price, paths, reliability and service resilience the extra distance squares out on the indifference curve.

    The issue I guess is to take an FoC perspective and assess the potential future pricing, availability, reliability and resilience of the WLL route vs alternatives.

  111. Milton Clevedon says:

    @DWdu. Accept your point in principle about there being trade-offs, but the new ORR proposed charging structure for freight (preliminary views announced on 12th June) puts some higher charges on freight for track wear and tear, which will generally be proportional to the infrastructure costs of the route adopted and to miles travelled. The increase in charges is less than the industry had feared, but there will still be additional sensitivity to unwarranted distances.

    Current rail freight forecasts are set out here, if commentators want to study them – these are prior to the latest ORR periodic review:
    Map 7 on page 26 for the London & Home Counties area is the most relevant for the current discussion, showing projected daily flows in 2030.

  112. DW down under says:

    Hi @ Milton C. Indeed, but the ORR has chosen to go lightly on intermodal (the lion’s share of international) so that it retains a competitive position vs road haulage until such time as a comparable track access charging regime is in place for heavy haulage.

    It then comes down to whether NR, in order to get higher WLL track access revenue from TfL, offer FoCs pricing equivalence for longer routes. It’s by no means a foregone conclusion that freight operators will be significantly more sensitive to longer routes around London.

    If they were, then routing traffic from Thamesport via Ipswich to the north is equally vulnerable.

  113. Milton Clevedon says:

    @Dwdu. Do you really mean Thamesport? – it’s on the Isle of Grain so a WLL routeing. For Harwich/Felixstowe, as I have shown the mileage is actually better via Ipswich for Midlands etc traffic. Or do you perhaps mean the new London Gateway port off the c2c on a branch from Stanford le Hope? London Gateway is indeed a problem. As far as I know, the line from Stanford le Hope isn’t being electrified, There would certainly be longer miles doing London Gateway via Ipswich, and no easy way of getting north from S-le-H to the GE line. I don’t think they are aiming for that route, So London Gateway appears to worsen the GOBLIN and Hampstead Tunnel pressures, without doing anything to help the electrification business case by, for example, proposing electrified freight haulage…! (Unless I have my facts wrong.)

    If there were anywhere that could benefit in London from new freight infrastructure, I would put it as a third Midland bore under the Hampstead Ridge, accessed from the Tottenham & Hampstead. That could direct freight onto the Midland’s 5th and 6th tracks from Finchley Road, with some round to the Dudding Hill line. But again the business case would need largely to be the Overground capacity gains through the Hampstead Tunnel, so no optimism there, as that is pointing to longer trains instead.

    I still think the likely best for WLL is some junction upgrading, longer passenger trains, and intelligent routeing and junction changes in the Old Oak area. The GLA is due to launch some consultation on development options in Old Oak at the end of June.

  114. Greg Tingey says:

    Milton Clevedon
    You are indeed correct, the “Shell Haven ” development (“London Gateway”) is going to fall down in a big expensive pile, one way or another, because
    you are going to get huge amounts of diesel-hauled freight going along already overloaded passenger lines,
    huge numbers of structure-damaging giant lorries
    or, most likely both of the above.
    It’s as insane as not electrifying Felixstowe & the GOBLIN…..
    I mean they are bulding the new chord @ Ipswich, but not stringing the knitting Stowmarket – Pererboro’ for freight.
    What was that about electric spines (that don’t go past Sheffield ….

  115. Kit Green says:

    It seems to go against current operational practice, but why not revert to the previous way of working at Redhill and allow freight locomotives to run round on the west side of the station where the disused sidings are still in place? No costly flyover needed.

  116. Greg Tingey says:

    Driver’s wages = time too!
    Fuel savings (don’t have to slow down, stop, tun round, re-start.
    Etc …..

  117. Kit Green says:

    But lower track access charges due to minimal capital investment (except the locomotive that runs round), and pricing to encourage it rather than use WLL.

  118. Anonymous says:

    @Kit Green, 05:13PM, 17th June 2013

    The Redhill run-round couldn’t accommodate more than about 350 metres train length as against ideal modern UK freights of up to 750 metres. If each train was allowed 20 minutes or so to run round, sharing a single siding would limit throughput to 1 an hour in each direction. All movements would have to cross the entire layout at the south of the station and there would be no room to build the additional platform on the western side of the station, preventing the 2TPH Reading – Gatwick service aspiration that relies on this.

  119. Castlebar says:

    With all this discussion based on Redhill, l was recently reminded that there was once a S – W connection, east of Deepdene to allow through running from Guildford via Dorking to Horsham and not via Christ’s Hospital. I can see on O.S. maps where this link probably was. For how long was it in use and what was its function? Would it have any practical use today now that the Chr. Hosp route has been pulled up??

  120. Lemmo says:

    @ Milton Clevedon, thanks for the freight forecasts. Do you know whether these estimates are the same as in the 2011 RUS, or whether they have revised the estimates upwards (or downwards) for London?

    Interesting proposal to add a third bore on the MML at Hampstead. Historically, the southernmost Midland tunnel was for the Goods lines, now the MML Fast, and the northernmost took the combined Fast and Slow passenger lines, now used by Thameslink. Will the MML once again become a major freight route?

    I’d like to know more about the mooted W12 route north, one of the aspirations of the Strategic Freight Network. Where would this go through London? e.g. from GOBLIN, or extended from HS1?

    @ Kit Green, Redhill is but one of the problems with the route, as described in several comments above (Reigate, Guildford, Wokingham etc.).

    @ DW down under, to return to your questions above about WRAtH and the Richmond NLL branch. The latter was covered in the freight articles that are linked above. The Dudding Hill route does take freight but is hampered by connections at the southern end, onto the busy Windsor Lines whereby a Down movement from the Stewarts Lane lines has to cross both the Up Windsor Lines on the flat at Clapham Jn.

    There may be a solution to this which could also allow an ELL extension to, say, East Putney. A new grade-separated Down line could be built rising from where the Stewarts Lane route runs under the mainlines, and rise up where the carriage lines now are. This would allow Down freight (and perhaps ELL) trains to access the Down Windsor line without conflict.

    Another benefit may be that there is room to provide layover loops for freight, as the alignment is six tracks wide west to Wandsworth Town.

    On WRAtH and the Colnbrook route, its possible this could be used by the small amount of freight which accesses the GWML from the WLL, but the bulk of the traffic heads north via the MML and WCML. But again the issue is capacity on the Windsor Lines all the way out to Staines, with its plethora of level crossings. I can’t see any benefit.

  121. Mark Townend says:

    @Castlebar, 08:36PM, 17th June 2013

    A little research on the Dorking S – W connection suggests it was closed in 1946 and the alignment subsequently removed and built over. There’s no sign of it on aerial photos.

    There was also a very early N – E connecting alignment constructed at Dorking, although there are doubts whether it was ever actually used or even fully completed. That is not obstructed and traces are visible on aerial photos. One of the LR writers previously suggested this as part of an alternative freight route via a new curve at Leatherhead to Guildford where a cheaper bypass might be created by taking a flyover across the Portsmouth line at the north of the station, joining the Leatherhead and Ash lines.

  122. Mark Townend says:

    Going back to the original WLL issue, I do think there might be some capacity or at least performance benefit in creating a continuous section of 4 track through both West Brompton AND Kensington Olympia stations. This section, at around 2 km long and bypassing 2 platforms, could give a freight train closely following a passenger stopper sufficient margin to overtake it.

  123. Greg Tingey says:

    Castlebar & MT
    Looking at “Cobb” tells me that the Dorking link was opened & closed twice.
    1867 – 1900
    & again 1941-47
    The latter, of course, might have had something to do with, not only the War, but because the Southern’s wartime HQ was at the Deepdene Hotel – there’s a nice copy of an oil-painting of said building in the SR’s official war publication, “War on the Line”
    Fantasy-routes time: IF one reinstated that curve, you would then have to put an E-S curve in @ Redhill & an E-N one @ Horsham – a GWR indeed!
    There was also a very early N – E connecting alignment constructed at Dorking
    Not according to “Cobb” at any rate – I think you may be referring to the earlier itieration of the same route?

  124. DW down under says:

    [Post about Surrey Rail Strategy deleted. Please resubmit without gratuitous references to lines which I am sure have no relevance at all to the Surrey Rail Strategy. PoP]

  125. Anonymous says:

    What the S R S seems to have overlooked is the potential demand from stations south of Horsham of, (particularly Billingshurst, Pulborough) for people who commute to Dorking, Leatherhead (& Wimbledon) who use the A24 as a racetrack every day because the rail connections at Horsham are SO bad. There are several commuters from the Worthing area too, but that is a different subject.

    Because the Horsham-Dorking line suffers from a different RUS group to the “Southern’s puppet RUS” of the Arun Valley line, there does seem to be little if any joined up thinking, and ditto communication either.

    Joined up thinking and rail strategy = oxymoron

  126. Graham H says:

    Maybe it’s because Horsham, Pulborough and Billingshurst are not in Surrey?

  127. Milton Clevedon says:

    @ Lemmo 9:50PM, 17th June 2013

    Thanks. Freight forecasts are 2011 vintage if you look on Rail Freight Group website, so are at least contemparaneous with the 2011 RUS.

    Re Midland 3rd bore, the T&H Line starts at a higher contour level than MML east of Gospel Oak, and local topology may allow a bore starting higher and north of the MML then cross OVER the 2 existing Midland bores (and the lower still Northern Line), then descending to Finchley Road and tracks 5 and 6. Always try to bore over existing tunnels if you can, for their sake and for reduced tunnelling subsidence risks, providing you don’t aim for basements! Crossrail 2 might adopt an interesting level through the Euston StPancras Kings X area, for example…

    Re a W12 route, I don’t know but it looks plausible that it will need to be linked to HS1 – the only current W12 freight apporach from the Chunnel – therefore also relevant will be any revisions to the HS2-HS1 link. West of Central London, I would look to the LNW or ex-GW Birmingham line, the latter now being available again as HS2 desires to tunnel all the way through NW London while the GW loading gauge is more generous than some others.

    Finally, your Wandsworth flyover thinking is interesting and might also allow a cross-London option offpeak via the Kew Curve thence back towards Acton and Old Oak. However I’m in severe danger of attracting adverse attention from PoP with line-drawing within blogs, so I’ll stop there!

  128. Castlebar says:

    @Graham H

    Well spotted, but l would normally have expected a more intelligent answer from you.

    But, that IS the problem. Dorking-Horsham services could logically be extended. But south of Dorking seems to be a RUS ‘nomansland” which is never going to capture much thinking time, nor development money. Southern’s policy seems to be one of atrophy, and l remember that Dorking – Horsham was (by accident, of course) omitted from the national rail network map one year, some years ago after the last through trains had been forced through the Gatwick bottleneck. > > Wishful thinking?? Closure by stealth??

  129. mr_jrt says:

    I also proposed a Midland 3rd bore a few years back (though I had it running all the way to the Goblin), though I had it mainly as a passenger option as it would enable a underground interchange to the Northern Line’s Edgware branch at Belsize Park, which, if combined with a Goblin station at Tufnell Park, could help relieve Camden Town.

  130. ngh says:

    Re Lemmo & Milton and freight demand projections.

    Wouldn’t those projections be pre-electric spine? Therefore we might expect things to look a bit different now also after the recent decision on the retention of the former GWR Birmingham line rather than its conversion to HS2?

    So one might expect more freight going up the to be electrified MML to the Midlands logistics hubs (Daventry etc) and the Yorkshire container terminals rather than the WCML. (More so after they fill the gaps to Doncaster and Leeds etc in CP6).

    I’ve had thoughts about Overground either WLL or SLL (ELL) to East Putney but too much of the infrastructure seems to have been designed for 4 track between just east of Wandsworth Town station (the bridge over Trinity Road is 6 track) and Point Pleasant Junction (the bridge over Putney Bridge Road is 6 track) a distance of just under 1km to create a segregated service – trying to interlink with the existing Windsor line services is a recipe for disaster IMHO.
    The Down line could use most of the existing down through track (next to P6 at Clapham Junction) that is only used for empty stock return to Wimbledon via east Putney in the morning peak). The former Up flyover from East Putney would need reinstating.
    Demolishing the ramp section of the Waterloo curve (ex Eurostar use) to remove the current 3 track (bottleneck) section of the Windsor lines around the Queenstown road area might be more popular with the current line users.
    The service is like to be too infrequent (based on current 4tph) to extract many passengers from the District at East Putney so might largely be a Wandsworth Town PIXC buster?

  131. Milton Clevedon says:

    @ ngh 11:18AM, 18th June 2013

    Yes the numbers are pre-electric spine. That may not affect total projected demand very much as it is mainly a logistics / UK sectoral economy formula. It might possibly affect allocation of flows to individual routes, but only if/when freight operators commit to investing in electric locos and having the spurs and branches wired as well (at whose cost?). A spine on its own might not be enough to convince the commercial private sector, see the London Gateway comment in blogs above. Use of wires will also depend on environmental/emission regulations in future years.

  132. DW down under says:

    @ Lemmo. “On WRAtH and the Colnbrook route, its possible this could be used by the small amount of freight which accesses the GWML from the WLL, but the bulk of the traffic heads north via the MML and WCML. But again the issue is capacity on the Windsor Lines all the way out to Staines, with its plethora of level crossings. I can’t see any benefit.”

    The question of Colnbrook and WRaTH chord is linked to restoration of the western chord at Staines, but then there is little point – the traffic might as well go via a new Redhill chord. But for local freight movements to/from London, could serve some value.

    Of course, any freight to the north gaining access to the GWML leads to the “spine” via the 2-track pinch Reading – Didcot and on via Oxford.

    So, now I’ve had a good squint at Adlestrop (with its errors) and Joe Brown’s 3rd edition, I have a refreshed understanding of just how vulnerable rail freight is in the UK. The near total reliance on the WLL must be ranked as a serious risk factor in any economic appraisal. Apart from the capacity limitations, there’s the issue of the Cremorne bridge over the Thames. One more hit by a loaded barge, and ?????

    What’s Plan B?

  133. DW down under says:

    PoP, did you read the response I posted? Nothing gratuitous about that. I thanked those who posted on subthreads, those who challenged my ideas, those who supplied further information – and you don’t even have the decency to relay those thanks.

    Pedantic, bah! Just plain bad tempered. Would JB have done that?

    You can cut this out if you like, but I’ve made known my feelings.

  134. ngh says:

    Re DWdu 01:28PM, 18th June 2013

    As I stated in my first post on this thread NR started renovation work on Cremorne bridge at the beginning of May which should lift the speed limit for freight over the bridge and provide extra pathing flexibility (an presumably a little more tolerance to a small knock due to a strike.) 2 of the 5 arches will be closed underneath at any time during the works.

    Cremorne has shown much greater tolerance to barge* strikes than two of the other nearby rail bridges at Kew (District + Overground) or Fulham [Putney] (District line) both of which have had strike repairs and in the case of Fulham protective concrete buttresses installed round the pillars. Barnes (the original one part of which remains is a more similar construction to Cremorne) seems very resilient as well.

    The barge movements (currently the only regular ones are to/from Wandsworth waste transfer station) are only done on the last 2 hours of the rising tide in that area which is the lowest risk timing wise and all regular river uses know this. The difference in stream strength across the river combined with the shape and position of the buttresses at this point should also deflect a barge off the bridge buttress unlike what happened to Gloriana at Kew Road bridge last week!

    *Most are ~ 450T loaded

  135. DW down under says:

    @ngh. Thanks for that information. As a Grade II listed structure, I would imagine there are limits to the extent of work NR can do. It is a wrought iron structure. My understanding is that it isn’t as strong as a steel bridge, and that wrought iron will eventually start suffering significant fatigue fracturing. Please brief us on how this is dealt with. Is it so overengineered that we’re still well within materials tolerance?

    Nowithstanding all this, with so much freight focussed on just one bridge, at a national level shouldn’t Britain have a Plan B in hand?

  136. RicP says:

    The arguments discussed in this thread are long and complex, but all of you good people seem to overlook one major thing: MONEY. With splurges on GW and Midland Electrification, as well as the NW Triangle, Taxpayers’ money is being spent at last on electrification. The northern PTEs/ITAs or whatever they may next be called, also want investment in regional city networks. Cash for London is tight, unless its HS2, where money seems no problem.
    But it will become a problem as the Tories have not understood Keyneseyan economics to invest in the right kind of local infrastructure to promote growth. Hence over in NE London, the machinations over GO-B wiring trundles on, and on and on.
    The same could be said about Southern infills which seem to have met an obstruction as some DfT or NR smartarse thinks AC can be superimposed on a DC Network without so much as a stray current leaking. Hurst Green – Uckfield and then the extra 5 miles to Lewes electrified at AC is frankly bonkers. The AC conversion of the Southern is a long way off, even Basingstoke to Southampton. Brecknell Willis Aluminium composite 3rd rail could do a lot to improve electrical distribution efficiency!
    Enough of these far-flung parts and back to London. Cash is tight. Some of the ideas in earlier posts above are simply unaffordable or too complex. Just look at Overground stations; not much Charles Holden legacy here. TfL London Rail and Rail for London, are really skimping on re-furbs, a second small Macemain shelter if you are lucky, on both the South London and GO-B lines. Upgrading station facilities on the NLL has also been pretty minimal. Hoxton and Haggerston are very swish by today’s basic standards. It’s the equivalent of the supermarket Basic or Value ranges.
    There is much comment on reforming the 378s. 376s have four motor coaches and just one trailer. The 378s will be the same to get the necessary acceleration from lots of close stops. The Barking – Gospel Oak RUG has pressed hard for wiring, as the 2-car 172s were overcrowded from the off, as the 150s had been before them. There is much argument over extending the 172s to 3-car sets, which would be possible even with current Euro regs.
    The RUG has argued for repatriation of Southern’s 313s, as overhauled they are a sound piece of kit. The 44 GN sets are a bit rough but are unlikely to be retired before Crossrail’s fleet is delivered. 10 x 313s at Willesden could provide a 10 minute peak GO-B service plus 1 unit to act as the hot spare at Willesden, to cover a 378 failure on the NLL and the Watford DC lines. 6-car trains are unlikely due to platform limitations on all lines and the technical changes needed to go beyond 5-car sets. On the WLL crowding will be catered for by the Southern services which should be 8 cars at the peak, platforms to be extended speedily. 3-cars on GO-B would require minimal infrastructure work, South Tottenham being the only major rebuild.
    Capacity on all routes is critical and the initial discussion here focused on the WLL; how might 4 tracking help? Extending loops at Olympia is a viable option, and some judicious re-signalling and bi-directional working could do the trick, even allowing freight to pass Overground trains at Olympia! The NLL needs the extra Camden Road works, preferably without the HS1 – HS2 link! GO-B needs a few additional signals to help carry Thames Gateway Port container trains to and from the LT&S.
    TfL has no firm plans to extend the network in the short term, i.e. CP5, but ideas still emerge.
    Overground has been a major success for TfL, and their enthusiasm to run inner suburbans on radial routes is well placed, their standards are higher than for the DfT managed TOCs. Good luck to them!

  137. ngh says:

    Re DWdu

    It was only listed in 2008.
    Being a non bridge engineer I would guess the main problems are probably corrosion (not much paint left in places) and fretting around the rivets holding the extensive lattice structure together which would eventually lead to fatigue issues. The structure is probably relatively flexible due to the construction method and the slow speed limits may be due to the way the structure resonates under loading at certain speeds. Most of the smaller individual wrought iron elements would be relatively easy to replace if needed unlike the 30 big wrought iron arches.

  138. DW down under says:

    Lemmo @ 09:14PM, 16th June 2013: “@ Milton Clevedon, in the final piece on freight we touched upon alternative rail freight routes on the north east side of London. This may be more attractive than via Redhill, and a we discussed the further problem of the congested two-track section from Didcot to Oxford.

    It may be worth revisiting this now. For instance, could freight use HS1 across the Thames, and then access the LTS lines at Dagenham?”

    Lemmo – just looked at Joe Brown’s 3rd Edition Atlas. There are links to both northbound and southbound tracks at Dagenham Dock East Junction (Up) and … (Down) respectively. The down junction is shown hard against Dagenham Dock station’s Up platform. From there, without reversal, freight can get to Barking and ISTM with grade separation can access the Gospel Oak & Barking Line (GoBLin).

    From the GoBlin by means of at grade movements against conflicting traffic over the GEML and via Stratford, freight can access the NLL or via Temple Mills to the WAML.

    But on the other hand, from the GoBlin via a single lead at grade chord at Seven Sisters, and then via the flat junction at Bury Street trains can travel to Cheshunt via Southbury. The at-grade junction at Cheshunt gains the WAML.

    The ECML can be attained from the GoBlin by a reversing movement at Harringay, then MML at Carlton Rd Jct, or NLL at Gospel Oak.

    I guess the route with the least at-grade conflicts would be via GoBlin, Seven Sisters and Cheshunt to the WAML. North of Cheshunt, quadding would certainly help this to become a major freight corridor.

    Connection across to the north and north-west would be via Cambridge, Ely and March to Peterborough.

    {Fantasy Alert=ON} To make any connection closer than Peterborough would mean using the Enfield Town branch and extending it in tunnel the short distance to pick up the Hertford Loop at Gordon Hill. I can see many ramifications for CR2 and GN&C planning from such a link. That gives access to the ECML south of Peterborough, but that gains little because there’s no link further west.

    So your idea of re-instating the Hitchin-Bedford section of the former Midland Railway comes into play. Let’s have a look at the ramifications. Grade separation just south of Gordon Hill – good. Grade separation at Stevenage – good. Possible extra tracks throught the old Stevenage station side – good. Hitchin – bad! The grade separation there points towards Cambridge. Up freights would have to cross at grade or yet another Hitchin flyover be built. No doubt Bedford will be rebuilt as part of the N-S spine and E-W rail, so issues of conflicting movements there might be resolved with grade separation. {/Fantasy Alert}

    BTW, I did a fly past of the old Seven Sisters – Palace Gates line. Still locatable, but heavily built over. No chance of resurrecting it as a link. Likewise the Hertford link.

    So, in summary – can the HS1 exit at Dagenham Dock replace paths on the WLL. Yes, to the extent that main lines can be reached by the GoBlin.

    And certainly an avoiding route that combines the Seven Sisters – Enfield Town section with the Hertford Loop and re-instated Hitchin-Bedford line could reach the upper end of the “spine”. There is some construction needed, including an urban tunnelled link mainly underneath playing fields. But there is also a major negative. A lot of extra electrification would be needed: GoBlin, new Enfield link and Hitchin-Bedford.

    Wouldn’t mind seeing the business case. Cheers.

  139. DW down under says:

    Milton Clevedon @ 11:19AM, 17th June 2013
    “@Dwdu. Do you really mean Thamesport? – {Snip} Or do you perhaps mean the new London Gateway port off the c2c on a branch from Stanford le Hope? London Gateway is indeed a problem. {SNIP}”

    Thanks for pulling me up – I meant the new Thames Gateway at Shellhaven.

    Oh, and I like the idea of six-tracking from Gospel Oak through Hampstead and onto West Hampstead Thameslink. For LO, we’d be looking at an extended route from Dagenham Dock to Brent Cross Thameslink – that’s a bigger picture than just the wee old GoBlin.

    See also my response to Lemmo on links to the GEML and MML. But your idea may have an edge on my thinking. Especially as the Hampstead tunnel would enable substantial freight volume towards the newly approved Radlett Freight Terminal.

  140. DW down under says:

    Kit Green @ 05:13PM, 17th June 2013: “It seems to go against current operational practice, but why not revert to the previous way of working at Redhill and allow freight locomotives to run round on the west side of the station where the disused sidings are still in place? No costly flyover needed.”

    1) Can those sidings take a 775m intermodal freight?
    2) Are they electrified?
    3) Reversals add significant operating cost.
    4) if FoCs were happy to reverse freights, they’d also be happy to change traction. They aren’t, which is why so much diesel under the wire happens.

  141. Anonymous says:

    1) No
    2) no

    5) They are building a new platform there.

  142. Anonymous says:

    Extra reply from above

    2) no but it will have to be done for 5) and wouldn’t be much of an add on if you were doing the North Downs.

    As an aside all Chunnel freight is diesel hauled when diverted through Croydon so is the power not good enough on Redhill to Tonbridge?

  143. DW down under says:

    Anonymous @ 05:04PM, 18th June 2013: “Extra reply from above

    2) no but it will have to be done for 5) and wouldn’t be much of an add on if you were doing the North Downs.

    As an aside all Chunnel freight is diesel hauled when diverted through Croydon so is the power not good enough on Redhill to Tonbridge?”

    Right now, the FoCs are not into changing locos. So, diesels will have to do until 25kV is available right through from the Tunnel to the Spine.

    One thing that might make reversals more palatable to FoCs, given reversing sidings are long enough and access is good, would be Distributed Power with locos top-and-tailing a freight working in MU. Then reversal is effectively the time for the driver to walk about 800m (10 mins). DP is widely used. Heavens, even the Aussies use it!!!

  144. DW down under says:

    Milton Clevedon @ 11:19AM, 17th June 2013
    [email protected] Do you really mean Thamesport? – {Snip}” Oh, by the way (BTW), it seems to me (ISTM) that freight off the Isle of Grain line could access HS1 at Ebbsfleet and exit at Dagenham Dock to attain the GoBlin. No absolute need for WLL.

    And yes, Thames Gateway @ the old Shellhaven looks to be a pig’s ear of a project from the landside perspective. P’raps they’re hoping it will take 20 years to really take off, buying time to sort out landside freight management.

  145. Greg Tingey says:

    Freight round the “squealer @ 7 Sisters!
    You MUST be joking!
    It’s a steep uphill grade (though short, with very tight curvature (IIRC a 10 or 15mph speed-m=limit & with good reason)
    I’ve watched a weedkiller/rail-treatment train go round & it was SLOW, with lot of rail-grinding squeals from all the flanges.
    Perhaps not.

  146. Graham Feakins says:

    Redhill & West London Line (WLL) – Network Rail informed us at a Southern forum yesterday that new “Platform Zero” at Redhill will be available by 2017. NR wanted to do more with the track layout but were refused funding.

    By May, 2014, there will be 8-car trains on the WLL core during the peaks, with 5-car trains to Milton Keynes.

  147. DW down under says:

    @ GT. Ah well, there goes a fairly good low-conflict route – ah, but wait!

    “Flange squeal” did you say? Now in historic Fremantle (Western Australia), the freight railway goes around some serious squealers. This was unacceptable, so the track authority has installed sprinklers. Works a treat. For the gradient in question, just don’t start the sprinklers until the loco has cleared each sprinkler section.

  148. DW down under says:

    @ GF. Thanks for the news on Redhill and WLL (West London Line).

    So, if 8-car trains are to run on the WLL during peaks, that would suggest that enough of the 378 fleet will be kept as 4-car units to make up these trains. But they’ve ordered 57 new cars. Mmmm? The mystery deepens. Perhaps some of the 57 will be delivered as complete 5-car trains, while others will be used to extend existing 378s.

    The 5-car trains to Milton Keynes, would they be using the recently ordered 5-car 377/5s?

  149. ngh says:

    Re DWdU

    The 8 car trains would be provided by Southern on the Milton Keynes – Clapham (or further South) service running at 2 tph using dual voltage 377s. Presumably run with the remaining 377/2 (4 car units) that aren’t transferred to Thameslink with 377/7 (5 car units – construction yet to start) providing the non peak diagrams that run south of Clapham Junction.

    TfL’s Overground would continue to run as 4 and then 5 car eventually (ELL routes getting 5 car first as most stations are already longer than 5 car, minimising infrastructure work in the shorter term).

  150. DW down under says:

    @ ngh: Sorry, may I clarify: Are you saying that I have misunderstood GF’s information – that it only applies to the Southern through services to Milton Keynes which will be 8-car peak, 5-car off-peak? At present, there are (AIUI, as I understand it) no peak trains.

    And, that the reference to 8-car peak trains is not a reference to TfL’s aspiration to run 8-car LO trains on the WLL stopping services.

  151. ngh says:

    DW down under 09:32AM, 19th June 2013

    @ ngh: Sorry, may I clarify: Are you saying that I have misunderstood GF’s information – that it only applies to the Southern through services to Milton Keynes which will be 8-car peak, 5-car off-peak? At present, there are (AIUI, as I understand it) no peak trains.

    And, that the reference to 8-car peak trains is not a reference to TfL’s aspiration to run 8-car LO trains on the WLL stopping services.

    And similarly always read NR / TfL press releases carefully (remember the extension of overground services to 5 car which didn’t mention Goblin staying at 2car!)
    Note is was “Southern” forum Graham was talking about hence reference to southern services not overground…

    The Southern service stops at 8/10 car platform length stations on the non WLL sections of the service whereas the Overground WLL+NLL service has many 4 car platform lengths to the east of Willesden.
    Southern services to Watford Junction etc. on WLL in the morning peak (I have used the 0739 3 times in the last few years hence I know they do run!):
    leaving Clapham Junction at 0638*, 0739*, 0819^, 0839^ 0939^
    * = Starts at Clapham junction P16/17
    ^ = Starts at East Croydon waits for 9-10 minutes at Clapham P16 due to lack of path alignment East Croydon – Clapham J slow lines & WLL

    There is an old LR article on the subject of ELL/NLL/WLL platform lengthening:
    with the platform lengths shown on the 2nd route map – if no length shown it is at least 8 cars.

  152. Johnny Brolly says:

    It’s a shame they are not considering putting a proper interchange station at Earl’s Court. I don’t really get this spreading the load argument against such an interchange.

    If a totally new station were built, with proper interchange between WLL, Picc Line and all the strands of the District Line it could be so much more useful to punters than now and be less prone to delays. The current state of interchange is weird. If you want to go from WLL to the Picc line you have to change at West Brompton, then take a train 1 stop to Earl’s Court (probably getting held up for ages on the approach into Earl’s Court) , then transfer again to the Picc Line. I’ve spent ages waiting on the platforms at Earl’s Court. Charming as those old school next train indicators are, it’s quite a backward place. You do think, “Should I be carrying a gas mask?”

    If we had a totally new station, that’s yer opportunity to design something to take a high capacity of punters. The current stations must be on course for capacity issues anyway, and if we leave them the way they are that will never get solved.

    Yes, it’d be very expensive, but we could get the developers of Earl’s Court to pay for it. In return offer them more land by building over the top of the existing Earl’s Court, West Brompton and West Ken stations.

    Yep, build a new station and close 3 old ones.

    I’ll get me coat

  153. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ DWDU – the Southern WLL service runs hourly throughout the day including peaks. The aspiration is to move to half hourly at some point. WCML pathing is probably the constraint here. The plan is to move to 8 car trains *run by Southern* on the WLL – at least I think this is what the TfL and RUS documents say (happy to be corrected by the experts here). There are peak extras to / from Shepherds Bush run by Southern and I guess it might be possible to extend these to 8 car too. I am pleasantly surprised by the timescales set out by Mr Feakins – that’s rather faster than I thought possible for some WLL stations that need platform extensions.

    There are NO plans that I am aware of that involve Overground trains running to 8 cars. The 378s will, as you know, be extended to 5 car as part of the approved enhancement project that is now up and running.

  154. Mark Townend says:

    @DW down under, 01:45PM, 15th June 2013

    I revised my modification drawing for Reading to show the change more clearly:

  155. ngh says:

    Re WW 01:44PM, 19th June 2013

    See my post 2 above.
    They have already put an extra peak service in to make it 2 tph to Watford Junction in the peak hour but are limited by lack of stock to do any more till the 377/6s and 377/7s arrive.

    Southern are being very clever with the stock (i.e. limited dual voltage 377s [377/2s] as the Thameslink ones show no signs of returning in the short term) at the moment to run some of the extra services in the peak for example only going to Watford and not Milton Keynes or Clapham and not East Croydon (or further south).

    In addition to the Southern services that make it to at least Watford listed above the overground runs services leaving Clapham Junction at 00, 15, 30, and 45 minutes past the hour (except 0810 instead of 0815) with Southern running 4 PIXC busters at :
    0810 Clapham J to Shepherd’s Bush only (i.e. can be run with 3rd rail only stock)
    0850 Clapham J to Shepherd’s Bush only (i.e. can be run with 3rd rail only stock)
    0905 East Croydon to Shepherd’s Bush only (i.e. can be run with 3rd rail only stock)
    0924 Clapham J to Shepherd’s Bush only (i.e. can be run with 3rd rail only stock)

    The additional 377s (directly or indirectly) would presumably allow some of the southern services to be lengthened and/or some extended off the core Clapham J to Shepherd’s Bush.

  156. Southern are being very clever with the stock
    they have already put an extra peak service in to make it 2 tph to Watford Junction

    Which presumably is why we get the truly weird 07:31 Coulsdon Town to Watford Junction.

  157. ngh says:

    Re Pop 04:29PM, 19th June 2013
    The most useful thing for more (through) WLL services (apart from more stock) might actually be building those 2 proposed north facing terminating platforms at East Croydon…
    Then running East Croydon to Shepherds Bush (or Old Oak Common if and when they do something there – the cheap option TfL are looking back is effectively turn back only at OOC) as a 2 part PIXC buster. (Assuming the 4 platforms for slow services is the limiting factor on Southern “metro” services at Victoria).

  158. @ngh

    The most useful thing for more (through) WLL services (apart from more stock) might actually be building those 2 proposed north facing terminating platforms at East Croydon…

    The latest idea (and it is probably the one that will eventually happen) will mean eight through platforms at East Croydon. I can’t imagine they will be keen to use a through platform for terminating – at least in the peak hours.

    I have always presumed that the difficulty was getting the trains to East Croydon in the first place – the restriction being the set of junctions north of East Croydon.

    Assuming, hypothetically, that one can get to East Croydon, I have always thought that Sanderstead would be a good place to terminate them. It already has 12-car platforms. Although Carto Metro doesn’t show any crossover, Joe Brown’s Atlas (2nd edition) does show one just to the south of the station. I am pretty sure it exists as I think I remember seeing it and I am fairly sure there is an early morning train that starts from there. Of course if it were possible to add a terminating siding that would help. Furthermore I think it has reasonable passenger use and could well attract people away from fairly nearby Purley Oaks which would help reduce the delay on the slow lines on that critical section.

    Failing that, there is always the option of adding a platform 7 at Purley for terminators.

  159. Anonymous says:

    PoP – I reckon Purley could take the extra even at the peak by better use of Platform 4 for up trains from the branch. Or you could turn at Coulsdon Town (0731 service is probably more useful than the Victoria slow it replaced, which did nothing for Coulsdon Town -East Croydon due to it’s speed.

  160. timbeau says:

    There certainly used to be a crossover at Sanderstead, in the days when the Elmers End shuttle went there. As it was the limit of electrification, electric trains had to use it to go back again

  161. @Anonymous 06:52

    Don’t forget that Purley is where trains join and divide. Divide is generally done in platform 6 and rarely causes trouble. Join at Platform 5 means a long platform occupation time – up to nine minutes if I recall correctly. So I don’t think there is much chance of being able to better use platform 4 without a very tight and restrictive timetable. Not only that but if you can’t join the trains for any reason you are pretty much stuffed.

    As an aside, when they can’t join the trains, typically in very cold weather, I think they make a right mess of it. What I think they should do is after a couple of minutes past the due departure time just send the first train non-stop to East Croydon to catch up on any delay – or even not stopping at East Croydon which is what sometimes happens to delayed trains. Then just send the other unit somewhere, anywhere where it can be put out of the way for the duration of the peaks e.g. Tattenham Corner, Caterham. What actually happens is the train loses is slot and surprisingly quickly there is a knock-on effect as further trains from both Tattenham Corner and Caterham are sitting outside the station. One dare not send them to platform 4 if they were timetabled to join as then one has blocked the down slow for at least a few minutes – worse if those trains won’t join either.

  162. Mark Townend says:

    There is still a trailing crossover at the country end of Sanderstead station. It’s time consuming to to use as you have to unload in the down platform first, then draw forward and reverse into the up platform again.

  163. Lemmo says:

    @ ngh, 11:18am 18th June

    From my understanding the short four-track section through Wandsworth Town would not be a major bottleneck. The Up Up Down Down formation helps spread the traffic, and careful pathing might even allow 6tph ELL through the day. The bottlenecks are the three-track section through Battersea, the flat junctions at Barnes and the long two-track sections sharing fast and stopping trains.

    Of relevance to this thread is that a new Down line onto the Windsor Lines at Clapham Jn will allow more freight to go via the Dudding Hill branch, as well as allow an ELL extension and Wandsworth Town PIXC busters.

  164. The anonymous from 6.52 hitherto known as Staffman says:

    I have to say that I’ve never actually seen a failed join in the morning at Purley, a few late arrivals of the joining train and they have been known to use Platform 4 in those circumstances. You’re right about the failed join effect and you certainly couldn’t send a train back to Tattenham or Caterham from Platform 4, it would have to go to Redhill Parcels.

    However, most of the trains south through Purley in the peak come off the fast to Platform 4 so a blocked platform is more of an inconvenience than a disaster (gets me fitter too!).

  165. DW down under says:

    Thannk you to all who clarified who is doing what on the WLL.

    I would be interested to know which party has initiated the PiXC busting Southern services on the WLL? Southern, TfL, NR, DafT, ORR? And how that fits with the Franchising model.

  166. DW down under says:

    @ Mark T: The revised drawing of Reading is really nice and clear. I now understand much more of the discussion. Thank you.

  167. DW down under says:

    @ Johnny Brolley: no need to run. Very sensible, logical, desirable ….. BUT!

    What’s the BUT?


    Maybe if it could be tied in with OOC and HS2 (and CR2?) somehow?

  168. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @DWDU – I’m guessing but I expect it will be a combination of TfL, DfT and Southern. The Southern franchise is unusual in that TfL were closely involved in the specification and pay for enhanced evening and Sunday services, ticket gates and enhanced staffing coverage within the Metro area. Therefore it would be surprise to know that the “increment” also provides for extra WLL capacity to support the overstretched Overground service. I assume you know that TfL have the legal option to “increment” or “decrement” services (and pay for extras or benefit from savings) on franchises in the Greater London area. They are also a statutory consultee on franchise specifications for those TOCs that serve the Greater London area.

  169. ngh says:

    Channel Tunnel freight and it onward journey – mostly through the WLL

    The European commission is looking at the access charges the FOCs pay to eurotunnel to run freight trains through the tunne, if these come down then lots more fright heading towards the WLL

    “The EC also said that freight companies are put off using the Channel Tunnel because of the “excessive” charges, preferring to send their goods by road, which causes traffic congestion and pollution.

    The Commission claims 43% of the Channel Tunnel’s capacity is currently unused.

    Vice-President of the European Commission Siim Kallas said: “‘The Channel Tunnel is not being used to its full capacity because of these excessive charges.

    “As a result, more freight is being carried on lorries instead of by rail, freight operators and their customers are being over-charged, and passengers are paying over the odds for their tickets. The current regime is also stifling growth in the rail sector,” he added.”

    Interesting that DfT haven’t refuted that the intergovernmental tunnel regulator is weak (in the commission’s words) or that that eurotunnel might be charging excessively.

    If they are forced to drop tunnel access charges then lots more of the paths might get used.

  170. Greg Tingey says:

    Thjere’s the treasury’s hidden claw at work here ….
    Never mind freight-charges through the CTRL, remember the FUEL TAXES from lorries …
    Just like unphased traffic-lights & cost disbenefit when a new rail scheme takes traffic off the roads.
    This has got to stop, but how long is that going to take?

  171. SAINTSMAN says:

    Expanding on my post of 15th June 12:33

    Freight on WLL is going to be a reality for many years to come. The prime driver being, Channel Tunnel traffic, along with Isle of Grain (Thamesport) etc. Personally I think Thamesport is going to struggle against the behemoth which London Gateway on the north bank will become. Road and rail to both will seriously struggle if either got to their full potential, unless we do something. North Down Line enhancements will help Thamesport, but not solve the problem of WLL.

    Going wider, it is fairly bonkers that any Felixstowe, Southampton or Bristol freight needs to enter London. With a little joined up thinking further north and a push for a complete East-West (Varsity) link at least some pressure can be taken off the NLL and GOBLIN. But this won’t help the WLL, much.

    I’m with the EU commission that Channel Tunnel is sadly under used. If we can ever get a solution to border controls more passenger services could be introduced. On freight approving more traction and getting the pricing right will help to get inter-modal volumes up which must be a good thing for the railways in general. But as things stand this is bad news for WLL. I’ve never fully understood the pricing on HS1, which pushes freight onto classic rail, and so to the WLL. It’s a big if, but if Channel tunnel freight could be persuaded to use HS1’s Thames crossing (Other tracks to Northfleet?) it ends up in a similar area as the London Gateway; and must result in a similar number of used paths. If you combine these two flows you could justify a freight only service at European Gauge around/under M25 to MML (etc). Otherwise the GOBLIN will be unable to cope (a fully quad and gauged NLL would also help). Then head north on electrified tracks (dedicated) at the same GB+ (GC) gauge, using Bedford etc to switch to other freight routes (who misses the Great Central). If this makes economic sense the WLL most freight will not be used. Thamesport could also use this to survive. Freight is not going to pay for such a fix in full. TfL will need GOBLIN, NLL and WLL etc capacity increases as an offset justification.

    Although significant lip service is given to a London Freight strategy where is it? Most flows originate and end away from London metro services which they impact.

    So, back to Earls Court. WLL in the short term could benefit from extra tracks to separate passenger and (increasing?) freight. Personally given the southern constraints, I’d limit this to north of the Earls Court redevelopment. WLL must get back to twin track at some point before the Thames. A bi-directional freight third track for me is the cheapest option running north of the current redevelopment area (no need to go as far south as West Brompton) and would help. Quad tracking this section is possible but requires grabbing extra land, which for me, if you give a proper euro gauge alternative it’s not necessary.

    I still firmly believe the greatest tragedy of Earls Court scheme as currently proposed is proper grade separation of the District Line. A Wimbleware (at least to Paddington and extended) service will become an absolute necessity.

  172. Graham Feakins says:

    Just to confirm that I was only providing news above on the Southern (railway) train services on the WLL.

    At the most welcome, friendly and informative Forum meeting laid on by Southern for stakeholders, it was stated that the Brighton Main Line improvements are expected to be achieved between East Croydon and Windmill Bridge Junction during Control Period CP6.

    Whilst I am happy to put together a report on the day-long meeting [which I can send to PoP initially – Lemmo please liaise if interested], I am rather hoping to receive a copy of the slide presentations to confirm or add aspects I noted.

    Meanwhile, picking up on an old chestnut, double-deck trains, Chris Burchell, MD of Southern knocked that one on the head: “Double-deck trains are no good if you want brief station dwell times”.

    Southern has enough on its plate dealing with the present but is still working on further improvements despite the end of its franchise in two years. In the past year, there was a notable degradation of the core network on which they run (fault of Network Rail), with up to 20 temporary speed restrictions imposed all at one time on the Sussex main line! Naturally, the passengers blame Southern, which of course is most unfair.

    It’s not just the WLL to think about and push trains through if the remaining bits cannot supply trains running to time. Same will go for the new, bright, shiny, ATO-dominated Thameslink core, of course. A minor disruption somewhere on the multiplicity of routes serving it will most likely result in what many recognise as “Timetables – see under “Out of the Window” in the dictionary of Applied Commonsense.

  173. Lemmo says:

    @ Saintsman, thanks for reiterating this. I agree, and it underlines the need to retain capacity on the WLL. TfL is counting on gaining those spare Channel Tunnel paths, but this is risky, especially given the dearth of a strategy overall for London rail, not just freight.

    My understanding is that no extra land is required, it is all within the existing rail alignment. The length of four-tracking from Wst Brompton through to Olympia is beneficial for the long 750m trains, and to allow space for acceleration.

    I also agree about the opportunity to properly grade-separate Earls Ct West Jn. Why do you feel a more intensive ‘Wimbleware’ service to Edgware Rd will be necessary?

  174. DW down under says:

    Walthamstow Writer @ 08:58AM, 20th June 2013: “@DWDU – I’m guessing but I expect it will be a combination of TfL, DfT and Southern. … I assume you know that TfL have the legal option to “increment” or “decrement” services (and pay for extras or benefit from savings) on franchises in the Greater London area.”

    Thanks WW. Actually I didn’t know about TfL’s legal option. That would explain what is happening. I’m sure I’m not the only one was not across this power, and that does leave a lot of questions about service levels within the GL area.

  175. DW down under says:

    ngh @ 10:47AM, 20th June 2013: “Channel Tunnel freight and it onward journey – mostly through the WLL. The European commission is looking at the access charges the FOCs pay to eurotunnel to run freight trains through the tunne, if these come down then lots more fright heading towards the WLL … ”

    Despite the TYPO, how right you are! 🙂

  176. DW down under says:

    @GF: “Meanwhile, picking up on an old chestnut, double-deck trains, Chris Burchell, MD of Southern knocked that one on the head: “Double-deck trains are no good if you want brief station dwell times”.

    Thanks for picking that up. I will try to make contact to explain how it can be achieved, so that the misleading statements can be stopped. The truth is that DD trains will take a while to develop and prove, and are NOT a short-term solution. But they could be delivered a lot sooner than major trackage, platform and train length improvements.

    If you’ve got an appropriate contact, kindly let me know – by maybe a Private Message on District Dave’s to DW54.

  177. stimarco says:

    ““Double-deck trains are no good if you want brief station dwell times”.

    I assume the bloke who said this bollocks has never visited any other European country’s network, ever. There are double-deckers everywhere on the continent. Even Paris’ RER lines use them. In my own experiences, the dwell times are about the same as for single-decker trains. The trick is to have nice, wide, doors.

    Of course, if you really think it’s an issue, there’s no reason you couldn’t have double-decker platforms at stations too.

  178. Anonymous says:

    @ DW down under

    Thank you for quoting Chris Burchell, MD of Southern

    I distrust “Southern” so much that if anyone from Southern said “Good Morning” to me, l would know it must be night time. So this looks like another one of “Southern’s” economies with the truth.

    They are fighting dirty to get the combined FCC franchise (hopefully more on this soon) and l for one, as a resident in the heart of “Southerh”‘s heartland, will hold a party when they are stripped of their franchise, . If the MD of Southern has said that about double-decked trains, the opposite will be the case and it was simply a statement to be fed to the sheeple that Southern simply don’t want them, irrespective of the benefit they might bring.

  179. Greg Tingey says:

    DWdu & sitmarco
    DD trains do take longer to load/unload … just watch @ (say) Chatelet-les-Halles to observe this.
    You can get quite a few (but not as many as you might think) more people in, but the trundling UP to the platforms at the ends from “downstairs” & DOWN to the end-platforms from upstairs takes quite a time.
    And you have alarge standee-only area @ the end-doors …
    & of course, you can’t have doors @ 2/3 lengths .. they have to be at the ends,
    So yes, it definitely increase dwell times, especially if the loadings are heavy.

    Of course, if you really think it’s an issue, there’s no reason you couldn’t have double-decker platforms at stations too.
    Excuse me, but that really is total bollocks, you’d need greater-than US-loading-gauge to do that, unless you populate the whole train with midgets!

  180. Castlebar says:

    Didn’t a double deck Bullied design EMU run on the North Kent lines in to the early ’70s? What are the stats? Did it run to a different timetable to cater for these alleged longer dwell times?

  181. DW down under says:

    @Castlebar. Yes. See

    @ GT. Wide doors aren’t enough. My designs use much shorter cars, too. So that the total platform access area is balanced with the increased passengers numbers, and the distance to the doors almost balances a 1/4, 3/4 design in a 23m single deck. By the way, 1/4, 3/4 is more efficient than 1/3, 2/3 – think about it.

    British trains would use a mezzanine level unlike quite a few Euro designs, so the stairs to the upper deck are short, straight and need to be WIDE for throughput. The late John Dunn was an acknowledged expert on DD design, and had stressed without success the need for internal stairways to be a min of 1m wide. In vehicles where this has been done, AIUI dwell times have been reduced.

    @ Stimarco. I am seeking a design that delivers benefits to the British travelling public in a much shorter timescale that the Fantasy Scheme of DD platforms. And yes, despite all the dazzle of some very nice looking deckers in Europe (and some plain ugly ones further east), the truth is that they are slow in platform duties, and that a suitable design for Britain must address that.

    I’ll ask Mark T if he could pretty up my drawings so that those interested can see what I have in mind.

    But may I suggest, please, that we don’t make this topic repetitive like one that tested PoP’s patience.

  182. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Meanwhile, picking up on an old chestnut, double-deck trains, Chris Burchell, MD of Southern knocked that one on the head: “Double-deck trains are no good if you want brief station dwell times”.

    Can we please get a sense of proportion? This was a stakeholder meeting with lots of things to discuss. In the usual frustrating way that people do, someone raised the issue of something completely off the radar. Railway managers are used to this. The important thing was to knock the discussion on the head as it wasn’t relevant to what was going on.

    Chris Burchell used a sensible tactic of giving one pretty resounding reason why double-deck trains weren’t practical to try and kill the subject and get on with the matter in hand. No doubt he could have given loads more. What he probably didn’t want was the meeting to degenerate into a discussion on double-deck trains. I know the feeling.

    Double deck trains was done to death in A Question of Carriages. If you really must discuss double deck trains I would suggest you do it on your own website or at the very least put it on the Question of Carriages article and not pollute this one.

  183. Anonymous says:


    The two 4DD units had a lot of problems, which is why the idea was not pursued and the 10-car programme was instigated instead. Certainly dwell time was one problem – another was the need for airconditioning because the upper deck had to curve to fit the loading gauge and consequently couldn’t open, and that beacuse they were built right out to the limits of the loading gauge they could only be used on a handful of routes.

    Effectively each compartment had eleven seats on each deck, with the two decks connected by a staircase effectively the width of one seat. Access to the compartment was only through the lower deck. Because the decks were staggered, only six double deck compartments and one single deck one could be fitted in the length that a normal 4SUB trailer carriage had ten (motor coaches of DD stock had five double deck compartments and standard SUB stock had eight compartments) resulting in only an extra 24 seats (20%) per trailer carriage (14 in a motor coach). A passenger in a top deck window seat would effectively have to negotiate across two compartments, plus the stairs, to reach the door. On the South Eastern, with Charing Cross services calling at two other central London calling points (Waterloo East, Loindon Bridge), dwell times are a very important consideration.

  184. Anonymous says:

    @PoP – sorry if previous was innappropriate – composed and posted before seeing yours.

  185. Pedantic of Purley says:


    Quite understood. Actually, I am all in favour of a bit of a reality check so long as this isn’t taken as an opportunity to dissect every point made to the finest detail and keep an irrelevant digression alive.

  186. stimarco says:

    My “DD Platforms” comment was intended facetiously.

    @Greg T. and others:

    Two of the lines that serve my nearest big town of Viterbo use DD trains. I’ve used both of those lines quite a few times, so I’m not just making this up. I’m speaking from first-hand experience of using multiple types of rolling stock.

    Using the stairs before getting out is something you do BEFORE the train stops, same as on every other train: regulars always tend to head towards the doors well in advance of their stop, especially if the train is busy. Similarly, you have to be on board the train before you can climb any of the stairs inside it. The vestibules are pretty big on these beasts, so there’s plenty of room. Passageways are also pretty generous.

    On the Capranica-Viterbo line (which also serves the Bracciano lake, so it’s popular with tourists in summer), the biggest problem is the loco-haulage and push-pull operation: the train’s performance characteristics are so dire, the dwell time is by far the least of its problems.

    That said, the doors on these units seem to be about 1.5 x the size of those on the new S-Stock, so they’re not mucking about. Contrast with the single-leaf designs used on the Class 395s on HS1, which are apparently deemed adequate for commuter services in the UK.

    @DW down under:

    Funny you should mention that mezzanine concept: the Italian DD trains I’ve used have the doors at an intermediate level, at the same height as the (high) platforms, while the ground and first floors are offset from it. The lower windows are quite close to the high platforms. The newer trains have ramps down to the lower level and steps to the upper one. Older units have stairs for both, although the mezzanine / vestibule area is big enough that sitting there in a wheelchair isn’t a big issue.

    Wheelchair users are rare on Italian trains as they’re encouraged to drive instead. It’s not just a matter of adding lifts, but also raising the low platforms at older stations(you can see the original low platforms in the foreground), which has the obvious problem of how you handle the existing station buildings, whose entrances won’t line up any more. Those low platforms also cause far more dwell time issues than anything else.

    As far as I’m aware, most of the UK’s rail network doesn’t have enough height to allow EU-style DD trains. (If memory serves, the width is about the same as the most common UIC gauges, albeit with some small differences at and below platform level.) The aborted Bulleid DD stock clearly didn’t work, so I’m curious to see your own solution. If there’s a way to increase capacity without having to demolish great swathes of our cities to do so, I’m all for it.

  187. stimarco says:

    Oops, just read PoPs post. Please delete both these posts.

    (An “Edit” button wouldn’t go amiss, incidentally. Hint, hint.)

  188. Pedantic of Purley says:


    No. I will let it stand. You obviously spent time and effort writing it. My comment was intended to be a warning shot across the bows. In retrospect, it is only fair to have a period of grace for people already composing comments – which I think has now expired.

    We are well aware that the linear nature of comments is far from ideal but the other available options have their problems too (as does allowing edits). It is frustrating to us as well as you and if we came across something better that we were happy with I am sure we would implement it. And for the record this is an area that John Bull has loads of professional experience in so it is not really an area where we would be afraid to tackle once we were convinced of what was best. Don’t forget there is behind the scenes stuff as well. We can see the issues from both a user and moderator perspective.

  189. Graham Feakins says:

    @ Walthamstow Writer 08:58AM, 20th June – WLL – “I’m guessing but I expect it will be a combination of TfL, DfT and Southern.”

    That is about right but I guess in turn that the extra services and longer trains on the WLL is a Southern-originating project.

    Southern have been good at improving services all over their area, e.g. increasing frequencies on the East Grinstead and Uckfield routes. My understanding is that they are free to request added services over and above their franchise requirements but equally, they can take them away. An early example of the latter was the unfortunate withdrawal of the London Bridge to East Croydon via Peckham Rye and Crystal Palace service. It was not specified in their franchise agreement and thus could make way, track-occupation-wise in the East Croydon area, for the Milton Keynes – East/South Croydon service. The proposed turnback at Norwood Junction at a restored Platform 7 will enable Southern trains once again to access reasonably good connections via Crystal Palace to the Brighton Main Line.

    My apologies to all for clouding this topic with passing mention of double-deck trains.

  190. Greg Tingey says:

    Southern have been good at improving services all over their area,
    But, all too obviously, not between Leatherhead, Dorking, Horsham & Arundel, with the line being “full” with 1tph.
    Time, London Victoria to ….
    Horsham 1922 – 1h 11; 1961 – 0h 55; 2013 0h 54 via Croydon/Gatwick or 1h 16 “direct”, ahem.
    Arundel 1h 45; 1h 23; 1h 24
    Littlehampton 2h 7; 1h 33; 1h 41 via Hove – direct not possible, sometimes….
    Utterly pathetic, isn’t it!

  191. Whiff says:

    Returning to the subject of the District Line there are a couple of points I haven’t seen raised yet.

    Firstly, surely the easiest way to avoid trains from Wimbledon having to cross the main District Line on the flat at Cromwell Road would be if they turned right to Gloucester Road etc and not left to High Street Kensington. As no-one else has suggested this is there some obvious reason I’m missing why Wimbledon train have always traditionally gone to Edgware Road despite the problems this causes at the flat junction.

    Secondly what is the long-term future for the Olympia District Line shuttle; I don’t know Olympia station well but if the District Line no longer served the station would this create any extra space for the West London Line.

  192. peezedtee says:

    Only every other District train from Wimbledon turns left at Earls Court to go to Edgware Road. The other half of the trains do indeed turn right and go to Tower Hill or Upminster.

  193. stimarco says:


    The Wimbledon – Edgware service provides connections with Paddington and the Central Line.

    CR2—always assuming it gets the green light—may change this as it would provide more convenient connections for many passengers. But much depends on the route that takes. Even if it takes over part of the Wimbledon branch, it won’t be able to use all of it, which still leaves the District with a short ‘stub’ branch to somewhere in the vicinity of Putney Bridge. (Said branch could become part of a local light rail system following the DLR model, but without something like the LDDC to carry that particular flame, I’m not sure how likely it is.)

  194. Graham Feakins says:

    And District Line trains from Edgware Road use a diveunder (built 1876) at Cromwell Road towards Earl’s Court thus avoiding the flat junction.

  195. Castlebar says:

    Thank you Greg (8:19a.m.)

    Many down here at the butt end of Southern’s “Empire”, cannot wait for them to be stripped of their franchise. They have made commuting to Dorking/Leatherhead/Epsom impossible. They really do not care about the valleys (Arun & Mole), and they tell lies to the public and to the regulators to justify their actions, (or rather LACK of actions in some matters)

  196. Anonymous says:

    I don’t see South West trains trying to fill the gap to Horsham!

    Southern have been an excellent operator (unless you want to go from Horsham to Dorking – although that is still better than peak hour only in the late eighties). The trains are clean, the customer service is, by and large, exemplary. The services for most (see comment above )have been improved vastly and the experience is so much better than that provided by the old Thameslink provider which just goes to show that it is all about contract specification and management rather than ownership as of course said Thameslink provider and the appalling Thames Trains were the same ownership.

  197. timbeau says:


    “Firstly, surely the easiest way to avoid trains from Wimbledon having to cross the main District Line on the flat at Cromwell Road would be if they turned right to Gloucester Road etc and not left to High Street Kensington. As no-one else has suggested this is there some obvious reason I’m missing why Wimbledon train have always traditionally gone to Edgware Road despite the problems this causes at the flat junction. ”

    As has been pointed out, half the Wimbledon trains do turn right. The question is why all trains to Edgware Road come from Wimbledon!

    I suppose it would possible to reduce conflicts by sending a proportion of trains from Richmond or Ealing to ERd instead, but this would introduce conflicts on the westbound!

    Trains could run Richmond – Edgware Road – Wimbledon – (e.g) Tower Hill – Richmond, which would give a direct service from Richmond to Edgware Road but not back again, and a service from Edgware Road to Wimbledon, but not back again.

  198. Lemmo says:

    @ Whiff

    “…what is the long-term future for the Olympia District Line shuttle; I don’t know Olympia station well but if the District Line no longer served the station would this create any extra space for the West London Line.”

    Good question. Firstly, the District Olympia branch has a flat junction at West Kensington East Jn, which limits capacity on the main route west to Hammersmith. However they could rebuild this as a grade-separated junction as part of the Earls Court development, as well as fully grade-separating Earls Ct West Jn. This would opportunistically future-proof capacity on all routes as part of the redevelopment.

    Perhaps TfL see no hope whatsoever of getting this past the bean-counters, or alternatively that they see no significant operational advantage. Who knows.

    Part of the problem is that, alongside a lack of vision for the WLL, the District Olympia branch remains this inconvenient spur that you sense TfL would be happy to relinquish. I think it deserves better and, as the Opportunity Areas at Earls Court, White City and Old Oak Common generate new demand, it’s tempting to look at the District as a potential route linking them.

    This would require extending north from Olympia, perhaps in conjunction with a reconfiguration of the Central Line’s western branches, and embedded into the various redevelopments. It would demonstrate a vision for a new strategic artery, integrated with land-use planning.

    How might this look? If the Central dropped it’s Ealing Broadway branch, which makes sense given Crossrail, could the District take it over? This would allow the District to share all the Underground platforms at Ealing Broadway, which might allow some efficiencies, but would require a new route through the increasingly tangled web at OOC. It might, however, help relieve overcrowding on the WLL.

    Back to your question about Olympia. The road bridge at the south end of the station takes four tracks, one of which is a segregated bi-directional segregated District track into the single District platform (check the Carto Metro map above). The configuration at Earls Court Jn where the District joins the WLL has changed many times and yes it could return to a layout where the District is connected to the WLL and shares a track into Olympia, which would allow the WLL to retain four tracks throughout.

    This means four tracks would extend from West Brompton right through Olympia, a distance of just under 2km, plenty for the long proposed 750m freight trains.

  199. StephenC says:

    I’m a little surprised by the angst about the Horsham – Dorking line (I used to live in Horsham). Its been a backwater route for a long time, and Southern doesn’t really have anything to do with it. The fastest train from Horsham to London used to be to Waterloo by SWT via Dorking, Epsom and Wimbledon, but it was withdrawn as virtually nobody used it from Horsham. (In addition, I think Southern is a pretty good TOC in general).

    That said, times are changing, and the Gatwick route is pretty full. Thus IMO the way to provide 2 to 4 extra paths through East Croydon is to divert some fast Arun Valley trains via Dorking. I also think its easier to get these to Waterloo than Victoria, which I wrote up as the Mole Valley Link in association with CR2.

    Old Oak Common is the interesting part of the WLL for the future.

  200. Whiff says:

    Thanks Timbeau and others – I didn’t realise that sending westbound trains from High Street Kensington onto West Kensington instead of West Brompton would just create another conflict at a flat junction to replace the one removed going east.

    Lemmo – there is a definite impression that no-one knows what to do with the Olympia shuttle but at some point TFL are surely going to have to bite the bullet and either scrap it or extend it. It’s current form can’t be sustainable in the long-term given it’s limiting effect on capacity elsewhere.

  201. Graham Feakins says:

    Whiff – The Olympia shuttle has never been that frequent, even when in all-day service, and is parked ‘out of the way’ both at the Olympia end and in the terminating platform at High Street Kensington, so spends much of its time not fouling much at all. Of course, it’s only when it’s moving that it has to fit in with other services but they always seem to manage in the Earl’s Court area. Over the many years I have known it, when it has run, e.g. on “Exhibitions Only” duties, the trains are popular.

    Since it is an integral and long-standing part of the Underground, this suggests to me that passengers arriving at Earl’s Court on the District Line from the Victoria or Edgware Road direction for a cross-platform or same platform interchange for Olympia will not take kindly to have to go around the corner on a Wimbledon service to West Brompton to change onto a ‘main-line’ service (as perceived) provided on the West London Line to reach Olympia, especially as one has to transfer platforms via the bridge at West Brompton on the Olympia-bound journey; on the return, there is cross-platform interchange there but remember that there is a better service for all stations eastbound at Earl’s Court, thus supporting retention of the shuttle.

  202. Deep Thought says:

    @Graham – I’m not sure that the Olympia shuttle is an ‘integral’ part of the tube. I lived in Kensington for a year, and didn’t use it a single time. If you want to travel from Olympia to High St Ken, the bus is a much better bet, or indeed your own two legs.

    Hence the only real reason for it, as far as I can see, is for visitors to the Exhibition. Last time I went there by tube you were instructed to get off at Earl’s Court and walk, which I admit isn’t ideal, but neither is it horrendous (Just badly signposted).

    If you’ll permit a flight of fancy I think that the Picadilly line should have headed down High St Ken to Hammersmith, instead of doglegging down Knightsbridge. Who wants to go to Harrods anyway?

  203. Greg Tingey says:

    District moves for the Drastic line!
    There’s a reason Edgware Rd trains go to Wimbledon, & that is refusal to do an expensive, but entirely possible set of engineering jobs, specifically @ Paddington, Bayswater, Notting Hill Gate & High St Ken.
    It’s also why the C69 & previous Circus-line trains were shorter – the platforms have never been extended & it “can’t be done” – actually, of course, it could, but what would the BCR be?

    Hmm … A High St Ken, Olympia, OOC, Ealing Bdy service?
    Or would you start from Edgware Rd?
    If anything is wasted space in that area, it’s the two bay pfs @ H St Ken … err ….

    Stephen C
    “Mole Valley Link” err … you are directing more trains into an already full-&-overflowing LSW main line, not such a good idea, perhaps?

    Addison Rd/Kenny O shuttle
    Of course, there used to be the middle circle route, vai the curving steep viaduct that connected at the N end to the H&C, colsed in, IIRC 1941 after bomb damage.
    What seems to be a growing opinion, here, is that a Northward ( but to where?) extension of the Kenny O service would be a very good idea.
    But, if you do that, then you are really going to have to arrange a proper flying/burrowing layout, to avoid the conflict @ W Ken Junction.

  204. Slugabed says:

    Re:The Olympia Shuttle
    This is clearly a service looking for a role,and it occurs to me to suggest,only partly in jest,re-starting (in slightly modified form) the LMS electric service suspended due to enemy action.
    LO could operate a Willesden Jct to High Street Ken service.This would provide quite a few useful connections while making sense of the otherwise frustratingly intractable Earl’s Court-Olympia section which,on its own,doesn’t make much sense.
    Someone will now tell me this “cannot be done” because of traction supply/signalling/whatever…

  205. Castlebar says:

    @ Slugabed

    You are right

    I am certain there is an office stuffed with people somewhere who have a sole purpose, which is finding things that “cannot be done”. These once included 1) extending the Picc to Heathrow, 2) reinstating the Snow Hill tunnel and Thameslink, 3) London orbital etc. 4) Putting pax traffic back on the WLL because it lost money in 1914.

    These people are still there finding other such things that cannot be done. These include a) building the Arundel Chord, and then including it in a Thameslink loop service, b) making proper use of the Fulwell chord, c) extending the Greenford – Ealing service to Acton ML, Olympia & Clapham Junc, and then possibly integrating the service with ‘b’. d) Making better use of existing lines in the Ruislip-Uxbridge area, probably by building a ‘Ruislip chord’ linking the Central Line with Hillingdon and Uxbridge (which is on the L B of Hillingdon’s wish list).

    I am also sure there is a (smaller) office staffed with people who make ar5e-covering excuses when these things turn out to be successful after all, and say they really were for them all the time, but it was ‘others’ who prevented them from happening sooner.

  206. StephenC says:

    @GregT, “Mole Valley Link err … you are directing more trains into an already full-&-overflowing LSW main line, not such a good idea, perhaps?”
    I said “in association with CR2”, specifically the CR2 SSW proposal linked from the Mole Valley link article. With 50% extra paths into Waterloo thanks to the express tunnel, there is plenty of room for the Arun Valley services.

  207. Castlebar says:

    @ Stephen C

    Logic suggests linking “a” above with the Mole Valley for “west side of the loop services” and thus avoiding the saturated Gatwick bottleneck

    This is no doubt part of the reason why “Southern” have stated in public, that the Dorking-Horsham line is “saturated”(!!), but Gatwick isn’t (!!!!!!)

  208. Mikey C says:

    Yes, the Olympia service is inconvenient for the transport planners, BUT if Earls Court exhibition centre closes, then Olympia will be the only major exhibition hall in central/west London, and to not have it on the ‘tube’ network at all would be ridiculous. Most visitors to it won’t naturally be using the WLL, but will be coming from Central London.

  209. Greg Tingey says:

    Isn’t that WHEN “Earl’s Court exhibition centre closes” ??
    And good riddance, say I!
    Having either been to, or worked all the iterations of GBBF at those venues, I can tell you that Olympia, especially now with a refurbed upper storey at the back (West) end, is an immeasurably better place to go to, whether as a punter or a worker.

  210. Deep Thought says:

    @Greg – Definitely. Olympia is by far the superior venue. I’m looking forward to the GBBF being there again.

    @MikeyC – The spur is a bad way of connecting Olympia to the tube as everyone has to change after just 1 stop anyway at an already busy interchange. The Overground is definitely gaining mindshare among the Londoners I know anyway, so in a few years (and if the capacity on the WLL can take it), I don’t think it will matter too much that’s it not ‘on the tube’.

  211. Milton Clevedon says:

    Re various on Olympia service.

    I venture to suggest that introducing yet more junctions onto the WLL is probably counter-productive – and that at the very least if you wanted to have a via-Earls Court to OOC/Willesden Jcn service, in capacity terms you would also need a counter-balancing via-Earls Court-Clapham Jcn service as otherwise there wouldn’t be enough passenger capacity in total!

    What could be rather better is a quality interchange incl travolator between the WLL and Earls Court itself. I’m indifferent whether that’s at a new (somewhere) WLL station, or at West Brompton. Possibly the latter as least change and disruption/extra costs.

    What’s the BCR for that? Many shorter 1-change journeys, not 2 via WB or Olympia to/from ECt, direct WLL-Piccy connections, puts new development area onto tube as well as LOROL/District, maximium workable passenger frequency on WLL, direct WLL 1-change links to Heathrow via Piccadilly Line (mind you OOC will eventually permit that but not till ca 2026?), more ‘railminded’ journey opportunities in Zone 2 to keeping down car pressures, etc.

    A 10 minute umbilical between Earls Court (West London & West Central Area prime interchange and Clapham Junction (S & SW London prime interchange) also sounds positive as a strategic goal.

    Rather suspect that TfL may have modelled any ideas so far as a WLL or District variation, not as a strategic-join-up-of-the-networks. (Tubes/SSL/LOROL/South/SW London)…?

  212. Mikey C says:

    Having also partaken at GBBF for many years, it’s worth adding that it was CAMRA’s decision to move to Earls Court as it’s larger, and not being glazed, cooler inside in summer. And is MUCH better connected by public transport. I will agree that Earls Court is less attractive inside, and look its age – I was amazed how uneven and bare the concrete floor is when I visited it during the Olympics.

    Olympia’s own website mentions the various ways of getting there. Walking or bussing from High Street Ken is indeed an option, but then services to that station are hardly frequent either, a 10 minute frequency Circle Line train to Central London or taking the Wimbleware and changing at… Earls Court!

  213. timbeau says:


    “There’s a reason Edgware Rd trains go to Wimbledon, & that is refusal to do an expensive, but entirely possible set of engineering jobs, specifically @ Paddington, Bayswater, Notting Hill Gate & High St Ken.
    It’s also why the C69 & previous Circus-line trains were shorter – the platforms have never been extended & it “can’t be done” – actually, of course, it could, ”

    It has – all trains through Earls Court will be S7 stock in the near future – so the is no reason in principle why Edgware Road trains shouldn’t go to Richmond or Ealing in future.

    How about
    Richmond – EC – Paddington – Aldgate – Victoria – EC – Richmond ,
    Wimbledon – EC – Victoria – Aldgate – Paddington – EC – Wimbledon
    Barking – Victoria – Paddington – Barking
    Barking – Paddington – Victoria – Barking

    (replacing the Circle)


  214. Castlebar says:

    @ timbeau

    I have suggested the “panhandle” idea for the both ends of the District before now, but it seems to be too logical for “the suits” to understand it. And, l suspect, there’s also a bit of “Why didn’t we think of that first”?

    This has the sweet advantage of crews and stock never ending up at the wrong end of the line after a disruption.

    Yes, if the idea were adopted and stock from Upminster ran alternate clockwise/anticlockwise to HSK, you could do away with the Circle Line in a much more satisfactory way than the current H&Circle farce

    See also my answer to Slugabed @09:12. There’s a bit of that as well.

  215. Greg Tingey says:

    Where, then do the H&C services go to?
    I maut admit the current arrangement is much more convenoent for me, both going to Padders, which I do quite often, or going to Ladbroke Grove / Latimer Rd / Hammersmith – whihc I do fairly often ….
    The increased frequencty along that line is a Grate Boon, as Molesworth would have said.

  216. timbeau says:


    “Where, then do the H&C services go to?”

    Upminster? Obviously there is a choice as to which services go to Barking and which go all the way to Upminster. With everything operated by S7s you can shuffle them around as much as you like anyway.

  217. Lemmo says:

    @ Milton Clevedon

    “introducing yet more junctions onto the WLL is probably counter-productive”

    Totally agree. Reviving an ‘Outer Circle’ might look pretty on paper, but I can’t see what market it is trying to serve, and it misses White City, OOC and Hammersmith, and leaves the Hammersmith & City a stub.

    Any extension of the District northwards would need to be segregated with grade-separated junctions, but this might offer a solution to the existing two-track section north of Olympia to Shepherds Bush where widening would be highly problematic. Alongside and beyond Shepherds Bush there is much more potential offered by the White City redevelopment and the embarrassingly over-provisioned West Cross Route. Plenty of road for the WLL to take over there!

    “Rather suspect that TfL may have modelled any ideas so far as a WLL or District variation, not as a strategic-join-up-of-the-networks”

    Yep. Same story as on the Crossrail 2 thread: they are assessing each potential new route as a stand-alone, rather than creating alternative portfolios of investments and comparing these.

    Extending the District makes no sense as a stand-alone, but it may be viable if considered as part of a reconfiguration of the Central, WLL and other routes in west London. But, to make this operationally viable, grade-separation needs to be built into the Earls Court and West Kensington junctions now: a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity afforded by the Earls Court redevelopment.

    Is this opportunity being taken? No.

  218. SAINTSMAN says:

    @ Lemmo 21st June – Why am I so focused on the “Wimbleware” service?

    There are 3 reasons.

    1) That given the current freight “strategy” the WLL is likely to suffer from capacity especially with a mega hub at Old Oak Common. The Earls Court redevelopment is going to add more pressure locally. With physical constraints on the Piccadilly, it is the District which will need to bear most of the strain.

    2) Earls Court is the “heart” of the District. If you want to increase capacity, then this is one of the key places to invest. The most important restriction is to properly grade separate Earls Court especially to the west. Secondly if you do change service patterns to increase overall capacity, then you need to improve transfers here. Although late in the planning process I believe it’s in everyone’s interest to ensure a proper upgrade here.

    3) If you fix Earls Court then the “Wimbleware” becomes more attractive. By changing alignment from Paddington (Crossrail 1 etc) you avoid the Pread Junction and tunnel (under Regents Park?) to Gospel Oak – this gives an alternative to WLL. Build an interchange station at Chalk Farm (for Northern) and reopen Primrose Hill diverting LO Watford DC from the Euston rebuild onto NLL, takes some pressure off the Northern. By limiting this extension to further 1-2 stations (possibly Marylebone) between Paddington and Chalk Farm then total costs could be kept down. Overtime switching all Wimbledon services onto this line and truncating the Circle could allow such a route to generate significant capacity which you need to make the BCR to work. So I’d like to eventually see Wimbledon to Gospel Oak as a high frequency service.

  219. Lemmo says:

    The Mayor gave his approval to the Earls Court Masterplan on July 3rd. So the plan grinds on.

    The press release notes that:

    Until April 2008, when considering planning applications submitted to him, the Mayor could either leave the Local Planning Authority to decide whether to approve or refuse them or, if they did not conform with London Plan policies, direct the borough to refuse them. Since then, where development proposals have implications for the capital as a whole, his new powers allow him to determine such planning applications.”

    The question remains: why is safeguarding strategic rail alignments not embedded in London planning policy?

  220. Anonymous says:

    Either instead our as well as having the Reigate freight cord round the south west of London, while not create a underground link which partly serves the north south Axis in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham. Here is my suggestion. Have a new underground line going from Wimbledon in the South to Old Oak common in the North. The first part of the line would be the same as the District line south of Fulham Broadway while at FB the line would turn north west and call at a new stop near the Fulham Pools on the Lilly Road before continuing on to Hammersmith, then to Shepherd’s Bush and finally to the new hub at Old Oak Common. This would provide a new north-south line which could take passengers away from the West London Line and serve the established town centers of Hammersmith and Fulham Broadway. The line would go like this:
    *Old Oak common
    *Shepherd’s Bush
    *Lilly Road
    *Fulham Broadway
    *Parsons Green
    *Putney Bridge
    *East Putney
    *South Fields
    *Wimbledon Park

    It would also divert passengers away from both Clapham Junction and the West London Line, provide the Wimbledon branch of the District Line with more frequent services to the North and finally remove the deeply annoying fact that in order to travel by train from Fulham to Hammersmith/Ealing/beyond, you have to travel right in to Earl’s Court and out again. This new Line could also be joined by the Edgeware Road branch of the District line to form an entirely new line seperate from the District Line.

  221. Steven Taylor says:

    I have just received a letter from Network Rail (as my house overlooks Clapham Junction) re the following.
    It states that Platform 17 at Clapham Junction will be extended by 77 metres to enable 8 coach trains to be introduced on the Southern service to Milton Keynes without Selective Door Opening.
    It further states that the funding is part of a Network Rail Discretionary Fund scheme to enable 8 car trains to operate between Clapham Junction and Milton Keynes without any SDO. So at face value, platforms at Imperial Wharf, West Brompton and Shepherds Bush will be extended. As I am sure this will require some signals to be re-sited, it will not come cheap.
    The work will be done between December 2013 and May 2014.

  222. Milton Clevedon says:

    @ Steven Taylor
    The timescale sounds as though it might be within CP4 rather than CP5 funding – but I may be wrong, Network Rail has scope to flex such works between each investment period.

    The draft CP5 delivery plan, just published, is attached here, but there is currently no detail about Discretionary Fund spending, supposedly each item in that fund should cost less than £5m which doesn’t sound right for WLL works.

  223. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ ST / MC – a recent TfL press release about extending platforms for longer Overground trains mentioned that Network Rail were accountable for all the WLL works. It said the works were being done for Southern Railway to allow 8 car trains – not sure if that implies that some funding is being directed via Southern to Network Rail. I agree that the platform extensions won’t be delivered for £5m! Imperial Wharf should prove interesting as will Shepherds Bush (flashback to platform width issues that so bemused Mr Thant of old).

  224. Steven Taylor says:

    I cannot find anywhere a monetary figure for the cost of all this work on the West London Line. Also, these works seem so substantial, I am amazed I have not read about them in Modern Railways yet (I stand to be corrected on this point!!).
    I have just noticed that the letter states platforms at 5 stations require lengthening, so I assume this will include the short platform at Kensington Olympia.
    The letter (pertaining to Clapham Junction Platform 17) further states `an emergency egress route will be constructed descending to the pavement further down the road`, which will be in Falcon Lane near Falcon Road, so this will increase the cost.
    Also, Imperial Wharf station will surely add a substantial cost to the project as the station is on an embankment, down the line does not appear level either, and new emergency exit routes will need to be constructed.
    This is surely very positive news, as longer trains are needed.

  225. mr_jrt says:

    @Steven Taylor
    Indeed, it’s all surprisingly quiet, though a fairly open secret as it’s been on the cards for quite some time.

    Shepherd’s Bush should be fun, given the faff when built. Imperial Wharf has issues as you state, but you’d think Olympia should be the easy one. Simply remove the modern extrusion and realign the southbound line back to the original platform face. You don’t even need to put the old southbound loop back in right away. 🙂

    …I suspect they’ll just extend the extrusion though, which is a shame, though understandable.

  226. ngh says:

    Re WLL platform lenghtening
    I asked about P17 on LR a few weeks ago when TfL announced the WLL contract award so that answers that question…
    Hopefully P17 will include better access to the platform from both above and below.
    Extension by 77m suggests it is heading towards 10 car rather than just 8car.
    Falcon lane emergency escape that puts it by the Lidl car park or the current signal box which is a massive lengthening

    Aren’t the platforms at Olympia 12/9 car respectively?

    This is definitely a CP4 funded scheme, the May date will be a bit of lee way timetable change etc.

    The extra rolling stock 8x 5car 377/7s for the Southern WLL services will be finished within 2 months (the first unit is already complete). The service pattern will be a mix of 5 car (377/7) and 8 car existing 377/2. An extra 6x 377/2 are also being subleased to FCC. Some of the 377/7 will also be used with 377/6 on 10 car suburban services.

    All 8 car will have to wait till a good number of 700s are in service with Thameslink and 377/2s or 5s start returning.

  227. Steven Taylor says:

    Re Kensington Olympia. I watched a Cab Ride last night, and the shorter platform looks long enough for 8 cars, so I am wrong on this point. The Network letter states work at 5 stations, so I am not sure what the 5th station is. All platforms south of Clapham Junction can now take 10 cars, and I am certain Wembley Central and Harrow can handle at least 8 cars. Watford Junction inclusive and northwards can handle 12 cars.
    I must confess I have missed the earlier thread you mention about the West London line extensions on this blog.
    Re your comments about the total length of P17. 77m is about a 4 car extension – I think the Electrostars are about 20 meters long. The existing Platform 17 is only 4 cars if you exclude the portion beyond the signal on the down side. So I suspect the Platform 17 extension is only for 8 cars.
    I have just looked out my top floor window as a Milton Keynes train was passing, and it does look like the extension will overfly Falcon Road, like the new extension to Platform 15. They have a lot of work to do before May 2014!
    Does anyone know if there are any plans of this project in the public domain?

  228. Paul says:

    If it is intended to terminate 8 car trains at Watford Junction might the relevant platform there need altering? Even if only by a few metres they’d still include it in the number of stations?

  229. Steven Taylor says:

    Thanks for post. Yes- I am sure you are correct in Watford Junction being the missing station. It fits the bill.
    Although I assume the terminating platform will be extended to 5 cars only as there is a car park beyond, on the original route of the St Albans Abbey branch.
    I am assuming they would not extend said platform to 8 cars as this would be logistically a `big ask`, and the current terminators would be 5 cars only (mostly Sunday services only plus a few early /late services).

  230. Greg Tingey says:

    The January 2014 issue of “The London Railway Record” has an interesting article on Lllie Bridge Depot, which is well worth a look.
    Good track diagrams, too.

  231. Greg Tingey says:

    Change might be coming to this apparently-doomed Boris-project ??

  232. Jim Elson says:

    The unlauded coach does a major job in moving passengers in & out of London. From using the Bournemouth coach I reckon it carries at least 5,000 a day, theoretically non stop to Victoria. It often is non stop as far as West Ken & then a 40 min polluting creep to the terminal. The cleared Earl’s Court site would provide a wonderful chance to terminate all coaches from the west & south west there, with direct onward underground/overground connections in every direction. There is even a gap under the Cromwell Rd extension/ west London line allowing coaches into the site without crossing the west bound traffic flow. But there is nobody to fight for this. It would speed up coach passengers journeys,stop coaches from blocking roads in Chelsea & cut pollution. If the Earls Court development is at risk from the economy who has to be persuaded? At the same time conflicting district line moves west of Earl’s Court could be sorted,as wisely suggested miles back on this thread. If the developers are in trouble now is the chance to get the land.

  233. Malcolm says:

    Victoria Coach station does need to be replaced. But there is important synergy between to/from London passengers and via London passengers. My estimate for this split is about 50/50, but others may know better. Any replacement scheme which splits coaches from particular directions has the major disadvantage of wrecking the cross-London connections.

  234. Graham H says:

    @Malcolm – 50:50? Maybe in the heydays of the famous synchronised departures but probably unlikely now – even in the days of yore (that’s before yesteryear), Cheltenham rather than VCS was the national hub. This particularly since so many of the long distance services don’t go anywhere near VCS (or each other’s termini) these days; indeed, many terminate at suburban locations relying on LU for any onward distribution..

  235. Malcolm says:

    Graham: My interchange guess is based on anecdotal reports from coach users, who seem prepared to trade time for the convenience of one short change where they only have to move their luggage a short distance on the level. And through ticketing at what is perceived as a “fair” price. Yes, this is generally National Express and Eurolines. Example: Northampton to Paris next Saturday: coach 13 hours, £46; train 5 hours (including the Euston road trek (or alternatives), price rather more.

  236. timbeau says:

    @Jim Elson
    “the Bournemouth coach I reckon it carries at least 5,000 a day”

    That’s a full 52-seater coach every 15 minutes, 24 hours a day (or – slightly – more realistically, every ten minutes from 8am to midnight).

    National Express’s timetable shows 23 coaches a day – a drop in the ocean compared with the trains – whose off peak service constitutes twenty 60-seat carriages (in the form of two ten-car trains) each hour.

  237. Malcolm says:

    timbeau: You are surely right that Jim Elson’s estimate of 5,000 a day is probably way too high. But there is a small hole in your proof of this, in that one “timetable departure” could theoretically consist of any number of physical coaches (duplicate or relief in old-fashioned terminology). Obviously each of the 23 departures being 4 or 5 coaches sounds rather far-fetched, though.

  238. Jim Elson says:

    Quite right Timbeau. I got my simple arithmetic wrong. Average load at 40 for 22 coaches in each direction. 44x 40 is 1720 a day. They also run coaches to Heathrow & some people for west London may change there. Earl’s Court may be attractive instead. My poor arithmetic does not detract from the argument. If the economic downturn shuts down the hyped Earl’s Court city scheme the land could be partially used for a coach terminal & better Distrct line layout west of Earl’s Ct tube.

  239. quinlet says:

    To put Jim Ellson a different way, that’s 860 coach passengers each way a day – or somewhat less than two full trains. It does therefore suggest that the coach share of the London to Bournemouth market (including cars) is essentially not significant, even though some of the coach users will value that mode.

  240. Graham H says:

    Yes, of course, there will always be some passengers who want to change between coach routes and who trade time for cash ( a not dissimilar market to the VCX market, in fact), but Ann Eckdoat’s evidence apart, I do question whether there are many of these people. Back in the day, Freddie Wood had this Greyhound vision of a national network of white coaches reaching every town of importance, but there is little semblance of a national system now. There are certainly carefully cherry picked flows (Oxford being one such, but not by NX) but the route structure is fairly self contained.

    My “own” NX route, from London to Portsmouth, illustrates the point. After many years of fiddling around with stopping patterns, it has settled down to to an hourly non-stop Portsmouth service with a two hourly diversion (just) off the A3 into a stop on a roundabout on the outskirts of Guildford+ and a once a day stopper to every other settlement* along the old A3. Even with this pared down service it takes longer than the train, including an alleged 25 minutes spent between Wandsworth and VCS – unlikely in the peaks…

    Some conclusions from this – yes, somewhere other than VCS with its associated access crawl is highly desirable, but Earls Court is hardly any better – and its difficult to think of any suburban location # in fact that would happily serve passengers from all directions of the compass; the problems of interchange are almost insuperable given London traffic conditions (not helped by NX seeming not to make any allowance for peak delays!); there is only a limited range of destinations available.

    + at a Godforsaken spot devoid of any facilities whatsoever (although there’s a quite good A&E within 200m)
    * Including the sad stop in Dragon Street, Petersfield – sad because it’s equipped with a smart well lit shelter, which must have cost several thousand to buy, and quite a bit to light, paint and keep the info uptodate, and yet is served by one coach a day.
    # I realise that this will prompt a rush to pick up the Faber-Castell’s but ….

  241. Fandroid says:

    Back to Earls Court! Big developments tend to stutter a lot on their way to completion. Think of Canary Wharf and Battersea Power Station. That suggests that the Earls Court development will be completed one day, but there may be an opportunity for the Mayor to insist on more social housing, and there may be an opportunity to rethink the restrictions on future West London line capacity that the current plans create. Perhaps Lemmo could insert some wisdom here.

  242. Sad Fat Dad says:

    @Graham H. That spot in Guildford may be Godforsaken, but devoid of facilities it is not: there is a 24h Tescos right across the road. And it is also just around the corner (as it was before roundabout intervention) from a secondary school where certain LR readers learned to craft concise comments that are unsnippab [SNIP]

  243. Anonymously says:

    @Fandroid….If it does end up in Development Hell like Battersea PS, that hardly bodes well given that it was *30 years* before anything of substance happened at Battersea!!! The idea of the former exhibition centre (much missed by myself and others) site remaining barren for that amount of time whilst there is a housing crisis in London right now borders on the downright scandalous 😠.

  244. Graham H says:

    @SFD – aha, Tescos … (as near as a walk across their extensive carpark).. [This is no place to discuss whether Tescos make a place more or less God forsak… agghh!]

  245. Walthamstow Writer says:

    TfL have been unable to come up with any viable replacement for Victoria Coach Station and they have been looking given the complex land ownership at the site. In fact they are just about to fork out money on emergency roof repairs in the departures part of the Coach Station. Crossrail 2 is also planned to use some of the land there but no talk about wholesale replacement of VCS.

    I’ve no figures about connecting passengers at VCS but what is true is the volume of departures and passengers has been increasing for years. There are very few suburban terminal points in London. A few routes stop at Golders Green, a few more at Stratford and some at Heathrow but they all continue to VCS. I can only think of one National Express coach service that starts at Stratford and that’s a Stansted Aiport service. Given our change in political circumstances then the volume of foreign coaches reaching VCS may decline but there are other developments (coach liberalisation in europe) that may *increase* services in the short term. I can’t see dumping a replacement VCS in the suburbs or adopting satellite coach stations being attractive or viable. It’s all about the “pull” of Central London.

    I can’t see H&F Council agreeing to a land use change for coaches at Earls Court given the imperative for more housing. I also can’t see the Mayor agreeing either. Furthermore TfL have recently forked out £376m on loan notes for the Earls Court joint venture [1]. The intention certainly appears to be to continue with the scheme no matter how the market is playing at the moment.

    Even without difficult market conditions the Mayor was always facing major difficulties in squaring the conflicting demands for developers to build, for there to be more social / affordable housing and also for more publicly funded social housing. With a shortage of public money and developers in no great rush to spend and buyers becoming scarcer there’s no easy way out. There may be fine aspirations around changing the Earls Court scheme but I’m sceptical H&F Council / City Hall can secure a fundamental change.

    [1] source – TfL Q4 15/16 Operational and Financial Performance Report.

  246. Jim Elson says:

    I did not suggest Earl’s Court to replace Victoria coach station. I advocated it as a terminus,with great & close onward rail travel opportunities,for coaches only from the South West & West. Viz coaches currently passing it on Cromwell Road,from The M4 & M3. It allows them to use the best of the road & miss the horrendous last lap to & from Victoria. I don’t suppose the Mayor thinks about coaches,despite the bus blood in his veins. But if anyone can do it it is him. Hardly anybody would want Victoria as their final destination. They all trek into the underground. So being dropped two minutes from Earl’s Court & West Brompton platforms would be a boon for passengers to & from the West.

  247. Greg Tingey says:

    Any overall replacement for VIC-coach station must be:
    1: Relatively close to a usually fast & infrequently-blocked dual carriageway approach from the “outer reaches”.
    2: Really close to the tube &/or lots of rail services that can acts as an “onward distributor”
    3: Do we really need only one of these – would it make sense to have two coach stations?

    Because, if (3) is acceptable you build one @ Earl’s Court & the other at Stratford (!)

  248. Lemmo says:

    This article was about a vision for the West London Line, in a context of London’s growth and the need to deal with freight. There is an important sub-text about safeguarding.

    Please can we draw a line under any discussions about Tesco and bus terminals now? The main story is still highly relevant and I look forward to hearing what the LR illuminati believe may still be possible, or essential.

  249. Greg Tingey says:

    Possible is the re-visiting of the desireability of widening the solum …
    Unlikely, because everyone is concentrating on the “development” & the £ signs, with no long-term vision for any future at all, I’m afraid

  250. CapitalStar says:

    Posting this here as it’s a WLL article. Is there a plan to add more capacity during peaks now that Southern have withdrawn their services? There were 3 tph from Southern to supplement the 4 tph from LO between Clapham Junction and Shepherd’s Bush and they were still all rammed.

  251. ngh says:

    Re Capitalstar,

    And how would that be done given LO don’t have any useful amount of spare stock and there will also be a huge capacity loss for LO to cope with on the ELL via Peckham route too?

  252. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Ngh – I take your basic point but could LOROL not couple two spare cl172s together and at least run extra Willesden – Clapham shuttles on the WLL? I am, of course, assuming that 2 class 172s are spare and not in bits in the depot having their refresh. I am also assuming a cl172 is cleared for the WLL. I know the 172s are not the best option against a 5 car 378 or 8 car Southern train but beggars can’t be choosers.

  253. Melvyn says:

    The comparison between Earls Court site and Battersea is even more stark when you remember how Battersea is getting a 2 station extension to the Northern Line with both stations built fit for the 21st century and like at Canary Wharf combined with the new development.

    As was often said Boris never did detail and yet the first stage of Earls Court Development especially given how TFL owned much of the land should have been a master plan for existing lines and stations in the area and if need be replacement of some stations with newly resisted stations to match the new development.

    The WLL has often suffered from overcrowding and this will only grow worse if the line and all its stations are not upgraded and we must remember freight trains still use this line while just up the line from Earls Court will be the new Crossrail/ HS2 interchange adding further demand to WLL .

    As for the depot then perhaps it could be relocated beneath a development ?

    In Crayonista mode one could replace / supplement the bridge crossing of The Thames with a new tunnelled section of WLL with new Crossrail type stations located to fit the new development here and at OOC a possibility that delay in the project might allow .

    One point not made above re coaches is recent announcement re ULEZ and whether coaches meet emission standards for ULEZ ?

  254. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Melvyn – it’s not just detail but also strategy. There was no demonstrable strategy for the Underground beyond endless efficiencies (staff cuts) and a programme of line upgrades. There is still no strategy for the Tube and I will be genuinely shocked if the new Mayor manages to create anything coherent given the “all the eggs in one basket” approach of endorsing Crossrail 2 in terms of new build. It is a bit much to expect any Mayor to have a view on the track layout detail at Earls Court or anywhere else. However one wonders quite what is going through the “TfL corporate brain” in not seeking to preserve future capacity capability.

    I believe it is the case that Lillie Bridge depot will cease to exist. The engineering fleet will be moved to Ruislip and I think the mild panic about sub surface lines stabling capacity has been resolved somehow. The plan was to stable some trains at Lillie Bridge but that had to be changed although I may now be very out of date on this. The notion of new or resited stations was never ever on the agenda as far as I know. I assume the nature of the “joint venture” between TfL and the developers rather inhibited TfL in having a long shopping list of transport improvements in the area for developer funding. The assumption must be that the development, if ever fully occupied at expected price levels, generates a positive future income stream for TfL.

  255. 100andthirty says:

    WW…….as far as I am aware, stabling for S7 at Lillie Bridge is still very much on the agenda. Indeed one of my associates was requested to look at the resignalling timeline for this location only a month or two ago. With all the financial challenges facing TfL, who knows what might happen next, but 10 to 12 S stocks have to go somewhere. They are not flush with space.

  256. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ 100&30 – interesting. I know finding stabling space for the full sub surface fleet was always a challenge. Slightly surprised Lillie Bridge is still being looked at but, as you say, they do have to go somewhere.

  257. Briantist (in Gigabit internet heaven) says:

    I was reading Our response to issues raised Autumn 2015 Crossrail 2 Consultation 7 July 2016 [pdf] yesterday and it says, under Concern over the disruption to the displacement and/or operations of the coach station

    “Our preferred site is the yard of the Victoria Coach Station and some of its buildings …

    …TfL owns a large part of Victoria Coach Station…

    Proposals for the future of the Victoria Coach Station are being considered separately by TfL. These proposals will be subject to further engagement and consultation by TfL… proposals about the future of the Victoria Coach Station as a whole are being considered by the wider TfL. Therefore at this stage we are not looking to provide a link to the coach station. “

  258. CapitalStar says:

    @ ngh

    I don’t have a plan but this situation is going to cause meltdown on the WLL, there will be 8 x 172s from 24 Sept but no idea what could be done before then.

  259. asl says:

    It is obviously a bad move not to safeguard possible line expansion in the future, considering the future proofing going on very well elsewhere within the TfL group. Although this seems to be more within London Underground than Overground. One way to make a rapid potential improvement of extra services over the WLL would be to connect the District at Ken O onto the WLL, allowing District trains to run to Willesden Jcn where they could then use the turn out siding to reverse. Does this then leave a shortage of paths to the east? Probably not since historically Ken O to Earls Court and onto at least High St Ken can seemingly be run throughout the day, so this must be a possibility.

  260. Graham H says:

    @asl – why bother?

  261. timbeau says:

    “historically Ken O to Earls Court and onto at least High St Ken can seemingly be run throughout the day, so this must be a possibility.”

    Not any more – the shuttle was withdrawn in order to make room for more services to Wimbledon.
    Neither Shepherds Bush nor Willeseden Junction have platforms long enough for S7 stock trains, and you would also need to re-electrify the line on the 4-rail system. I would also be surprised if the WLL has capacity to take any more trains.
    Is it worth it just to avoid having to change at West Brompton.

  262. ngh says:

    re timbeau,

    I thought Bush was 8 car now?

  263. Old Buccaneer says:

    I’m with Graham H on this!!

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