As had been widely anticipated for some time, this morning the winner of the Crossrail rolling stock and depot contract was announced. The (approximately) £1bn contract covers the supply of 65 nine car trains (which will officially be Class 345), the depot at Old Oak Common, and the ongoing maintenance of both. The winning bidder, it has now been confirmed, is Bombardier, who have similarly confirmed that the new trains will be manufactured and assembled at their works in Derby.

Breathing Out

The announcement will likely have yielded sighs of relief in various press offices across the Capital – most notably those of the DfT, TfL and the Mayor (Crossrail’s own press office likely being smart enough to point journalists towards the “project sponsors” should the contractee have been a less popular choice). This is because the award of the Thameslink rolling stock contract to Siemens back in June 2011 had provoked ululation from various political and media circles about British trains being manufactured by a foreign firm.

Indeed Bombardier themselves were happy to add fuel to that particular political fire, emphasizing their “British” credentials thanks to their trainworks at Derby (and the potential damage a lack of new work there could do) whilst playing down, to those not inclined to look too deeply, the fact that the firm is ultimately Canadian and that Siemen’s Desiro, on paper at least, had proven superior across almost all categories of judgement. As we As we commented back in November 2012, all this meant that the Crossrail Rolling Stock tender was likely to receive far closer and more careful attention – both during the the assessment process and subsequent to the award – than arguably any other rolling stock contract in recent years.

Getting Political

In light of all the above, it is perhaps tempting to suggest that politics, rather than transport need, may have played a considerable role in Bombardier’s successful submission. Bombardier’s receipt of the contract will certainly have been the most politically attractive outcome and over the coming weeks we will no doubt see a succession of political figures, both local and national, claiming – or at least implying – that this represents a political victory of sorts. It is dangerous, however, to go too far down this line of thinking.

That politics played a part in the successful award is most certainly true, but the very fact that this award was going to come under considerably more attention after the Thameslink award – and delay and legal battle over it – meant that if anything the Crossrail contract was going to be more rigorously policed and by the book rather than less. Indeed several members of the LR team can boast bruises from having been practically rugby-tackled away from anyone even vaguely involved in the rolling stock bid evaluation by Crossrail over the last twelve months, helping to confirm that this is the case.

Don’t hate the player hate the game

Ultimately, the political influence on this award has in fact been relatively direct – for why influence the judgement when it is far simplier to change the game? The one area in which Bombardier’s Thameslink bid had clearly, and arguably unfairly, suffered in relation to Siemens’ was in the financing, where an onus on the supplier carrying the cost of any required lending meant that Siemens’ corporate structure enabled them to secure cheaper financing. As we highlighted back in 2012, this was something that was swiftly identified and deliberately negated before the Crossrail rolling stock contract was tendered:

this is a situation that has since largely been addressed when it comes to Crossrail. A £350m capital contribution to the contract cost from the DfT and TfL, and the fact that this contract will be the first to take place under the auspices of the Government’s new UK Guarantee scheme, mean that the private sector debt and equity requirement is much lower.

With the rules changed and any genuine bumps in the playing field leveled, Bombardier’s chances of success were thus already greater.

Withdrawal from service

Focusing on the politics of the award too much also arguably neglects a more direct reason for Bombardier’s success – Siemens themselves had withdrawn from the bidding process. It is easy to forget now that one of the reasons the Thameslink rolling stock contract was considered so noteworthy was because it was very much seen as a likely gateway to the Crossrail work beyond as well. The two requirements were incredibly similar and indeed at one point there had been considerable argument as to whether the contracts should actually be tendered jointly, although ultimately the logistics rendered this impossible. Even without an official combination of the two tenders, the experience, supply and manufacturing synergies that a successful Thameslink bidder was likely to gain were assumed to make their potential Crossrail bid both cheaper and more attractive.

A contributing element to that withdrawal was likely political, as the drawn-out Thameslink process can hardly have enamoured Siemens to the current British market. Nonetheless the firm themselves have always insisted their withdrawal was as much due to capacity issues than anything else. Whatever the reasoning, the simple fact is that their exit from the Crossrail bidding process was always going to be a huge boost to the remaining bidders.

Learning from failure

As was the case with Thameslink, and as is the case now, ultimately the tender process had one clear objective – to find the best train at the best price. Here, failure can be as good a teacher as success. Bombardier failed to win the Thameslink contract and found themselves with lessons of supply and construction to learn after problems with both the S-Stock and Overground 378s previously ordered by TfL. Given the impact that a failure to secure the Crossrail bid would have had on Bombardier’s continued presence in the UK market, it would be foolish to assume that the firm had not gone to considerable lengths to learn from all the above before submitting their bid.

The sound of inevitibilty?

These then, collectively, are likely the key reasons for Bombardier’s success. That politics played a part is no doubt true, but almost certainly not through the discussions of powerful men in (now) smoke-free rooms, or through the influence of particular political figures (whatever they might claim). The truth is, in fact, far more prosaic – with the game rebalanced, and with Siemens (the pre-race bookies’ favourite for the contract) having put themselves out of the running, the Crossrail contract was arguably Bombardier’s to lose rather than to win. Taking this line of reasoning too far, however, should also be avoided. Bombardier are a manufacturer with considerable experience, both of success and of failure. Having failed to secure the Thameslink contract, their bid team no doubt put considerable effort into determining the flaws in their approach and correcting them. Assuming otherwise would be to do them a disservice.

Ultimately then, just as Siemens were the right manufacturer at the right time for Thameslink, it thus appears that Bombardier can say the same thing when it comes to Crossrail.

That politicians and press officers will likely sleep better tonight as a result of that fact is most certainly true. That their interests were likely the primary overriding reason why this is the case, however, is almost certainly not.

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There are 467 comments on this article
  1. Anonymous says:

    Nine car trains – that’s a real surprise. I believe the requirement was always for 10 cars. Is each car perhaps longer than expected?

  2. Alan Griffiths says:

    1) 9 car trains, not 10 as we’ve been led to expect?
    2) target date for first delivery has slipped by a month

  3. c says:

    9 cars?

    I thought it was to be 10, with space for 12?

  4. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Funny how we can read something that ultimately is based on a press release and home in on totally diffferent things. For me one of the things that really hit me was:

    Each Crossrail train will be around 200 metres long, made up of 9 carriages.

    Where did that come from?

    (This one statement means that at this point Pedantic is rapidly assigning time at the weekend to modify the content of articles in the pipeline)

    [Edit: Looks like I wasn’t the only one judging by the number of comments that appeared on this in the time it took to type it.]

  5. Moleman says:

    I know the signalling and rolling stock divisions are separate and the performance of one does not reflect on the other but I wonder if the (publicly at least) low key and polite split for the SSR signalling contract is evident here? TfL and Bombardier must have known that a messy divorce would have made this award difficult. Love to see the non disclosure agreement that was inevitably signed for the signalling cancelation.

  6. Milton Clevedon says:

    A few early points to make on this welcome decision:

    (1) The press release talks of 9-car trains, not 10-car, therefore these are presumably ca. 22-23m metres long, to comply with a 200 metre train length.

    (2) In turn, it is not clear from the press release if the units will be divisible into 3 or 4 or 5-car units, or permanently coupled as indivisible 9-car trains, which could be wasteful for outer services?

    (3) There is an option for another 18 units. What is this intended to cover? Perhaps it could cover the expected Reading extension (say 5 trains if only 2 tph Reading-semifast-Paddington, 8-10 trains if 4 tph or extended Maidenheads), and also more trains extending from the Central Tunnel Section at least as far as Old Oak Common interchange with HS2 (?3-5), plus another spare or so.

    (4) However it does NOT appear to cover TfL’s ‘in due course’ proposal to extend along the West Coast Main Line as far as Tring or Bletchley, where a 6-8 tph frequency is envisaged. It is unclear whether replacement of Heathrow Express and/or services via WRAtH are incorporated as options, it doesn’t look like it.

    (5) That might also make sense because none of those are imminent decisions, so authority even for a train option is unlikely to have been sanctioned yet by any party.

    So there might eventually be one or two further options required, should the Crossrail-WCML scheme and/or HEX takeover get the go-ahead.

    That’s only my back-of-envelope view. Any other thoughts?

  7. Anonymous says:

    A whole article on this and not one mention of the fact that Hitachi were involved in the bidding and were going to build their trains in County Durham.

    Odd how it is ‘Derby’s Bombardier’ against ‘Japan’s Hitachi’, isn’t it?

  8. Castlebar says:

    I cannot help but wonder if the fact that there is a general election only 16 months away, and the flak that flew about when Bombardier failed to get a previous contract was a factor, to some degree, in the decision making process.

  9. John Bull says:

    @Pedantic – yes, I thought I’d leave you to handle the nine car thing!

    A whole article on this and not one mention of the fact that Hitachi were involved in the bidding and were going to build their trains in County Durham.

    Mainly because the november piece contains all my thoughts on that matter – i.e. that (as alluded to at the head of this article) the whole thing was a nasty piece of jingoism all round really and a massive sideshow to the really important questions.

  10. Anonymous says:

    According to the DfT press release the contract includes options for 18 additional trains. Is this the Reading option?

    As I mentioned in the other Crossrail post, I assume the black cab front is a no-go and the purple livery looks like a modified version of TfL’s Tramlink, Overground and tube liveries. A full purple skirt rather than blue with a thin purple stripe. But of course it’s early days and it is just an artist’s impression.

    Looking ahead what’s Bomabardier got on its order books and will it have capacity to bid for more Overground stock for GOBLIN/West Anglia for example? I know they’ve got the Electrostars for Southern/Thameslink and the S-Stock for the Underground.

  11. straphan says:

    As most people, I’ll be left wondering how much of the award decision is based on actual merit and how much on silly protectionism and the idiotic political fallout from the Thameslink contract. I mean – the war ended almost 70 years ago and people still act as if ‘ze Germanz’ (or the Spanish Armada in this case) are lurking around the corner…

    And before someone starts with the ‘French and Germans buy from their own too’ argument, can I please point out, that:
    – If France wants to go for trains manufactured (or rather part-manufactured) domestically, they have a choice between Bombardier and Alstom. And there is plenty of Bombardier stock running around the country even though Alstom is partially state-owned…
    – Germany has an excellent choice of domestic suppliers, including Stadler, Siemens, Bombardier and Alstom, who collectively manufacture anything from trams to high-speed trains in the country. That has not stopped the flagship national state-owned passenger rail company from buying POLISH DMUs (PESA won a framework for supplying up to 470 units), and CZECH push-pull stock (6 double-deck sets from Skoda*).
    – Italian national rail company FS/Trenitalia chose Bombardier for its latest high-speed trains, despite Alstom’s Pendolino factory (which is more than capable of manufacturing high-speed trains being located in the country. And we all know how honest, straight the Italian rail industry is in general, and how enthusiastic they are with applying EU competition law in practice…

    (*Skoda Transportation – unlike Skoda Auto – is NOT a subsidiary of German car giant Volkswagen, even though it shares the logo and name)

    This clearly disproves there is any significant protectionism present in mainland Europe anymore. Indeed, I bet that – had Bombardier not been facing the prospect of a rival rolling stock factory opening soon in the UK – they would not have bothered offering the Aventra here (which is a spin-off of the Regina model that has been in use in Scandinavia for 10 years or so). They would have offered the UK rail industry Electrostars ad perpetuam (and ad nauseam…). This is what happens inevitably if you give someone a monopoly over an industry sector. Look at Poland – English Electric licensed the Class 83 there in the 60s, and the Polish rolling stock factory produced these (labelled EU07 there) by the hundreds virtually unchanged until 1994!

    I will also be very interested to see the reliability comparison between the future Thameslink and Crossrail. If you look at the tables published in Modern Railways each January, I have a sneaky suspicion the former will be ‘slightly’ more reliable…

  12. Alan Griffiths says:

    Pedantic of Purley @ 6 February 2014 at 11:11

    The DfT item you have linked to does not mention the number of carriages in the trains; it says they are 200m long.

    Likewise Crossrail and Transport for London website items.

    Is 9 rather than 10 a typing error or a serious de-scoping of the project? As well as reducing initial cost of trains, it might also postpone some platform lengthening until additional carriages are ordered later.

  13. Anonymous says:

    A 200m train with 9 cars implies 22.22m per car, and the Crossrail platforms are 240m. An increase to 11 cars would give a train of 244.44m — a little longer than the platform, but presumably not so long as to require SDO.

  14. Neil Turner says:

    I assume that these will be like Siemens’ Thameslink trains, which are 8 and 12 carriage fixed-formation sets. In other words, they will be delivered as 9-car units, rather than as, say 3x3car units. Having the extra cabs not only increases costs but also reduces passenger capacity, even if this means the trains will run empty on the fringes. Of course, I have no basis for this other than it being what happened on Thameslink.

    This will also be the first order for Bombardier’s new Aventra trains, rather than their previous Electrostar models.

  15. Milton Clevedon says:

    @ Alan Griffiths
    6 February 2014 at 11:28
    9-cars will reduce bogie numbers by a tenth, compared to 10-cars, so reduces weight providing the car bodies don’t need lots of extra weight for strength, therefore is more energy efficient – back to the points raised in the New Tube article.

    This feature may have helped Bombardier’s commercial approach to the topic – nominally less compliant perhaps but better value over a whole life cost including train operations and maintenance?

  16. John Bull says:

    For those asking for the “source” for the nine-car reference in this piece, it’s buried in the Editor’s notes on the official TfL (rather than DfT) press release.

    I’ve no reason to believe its a typo, hence including it here.

  17. straphan says:

    I also doubt these trains will be divisible in any way. Cabs only add to complexity and they will be rarely used in any case. TfL are happy for long trains on the underground to cart around bags of fresh air in the off-peak, so why should their approach be any different for Crossrail?

    Two questions that show my ignorance, though – are the new trains going to have 2 or 3 doors per carriage? Also, are only longitudinal seats specified, or will there be some transverse seats as well?

  18. Dave says:

    Good to see some support at last for the UK rail industry, and security for management and workers at Bombardier.

    Hopefully this is the start of a trend – I read an article yesterday about DeltaRail, another UK company in the rail industry that could do with some support from the government versus forreign rivals (and apparently could save them 1bn in the process!)

  19. Castlebar says:

    @ Anonymous

    I agree

    I cannot see a black cab on the ends being accepted. ‘Elf ‘n Safety will quite rightly ensure that this is changed. Workers’ safety is far more important than branding colours

  20. John Bull says:

    I cannot see a black cab on the ends being accepted. ‘Elf ‘n Safety will quite rightly ensure that this is changed. Workers’ safety is far more important than branding colours

    The “nose” at the base will go yellow I’d have thought. That’s basically what the Desiro mockup had (photos of that will run tomorrow).

  21. Pedantic of Purley says:

    For those asking for the “source” for the nine-car reference in this piece, it’s buried in the Editor’s notes on the official TfL (rather than DfT) press release.

    Also, despite what Alan Griffiths claims, it is prominent in the DfT press release, which I linked to earlier, and in the paragraph headed Background. I cut and pasted from that release so it is definitely there.

    @John Bull

    @Pedantic – yes, I thought I’d leave you to handle the nine car thing!
    So I have sent you an email requesting you use your press contacts to ask the Crossrail press office about this!

  22. Castlebar says:

    @ John Bull

    I agree. Yellow, or possibly even “Dayglo” if that proves to be more visible from a distance. Corporate branding can only ever be secondary to safety

  23. ngh says:

    The press release says order is for 65 trains the original working assumption was 60 trains?
    Is this difference just 60 diagrams thus needing 5 trains to cover for maintenance or more trains actually in service?

    9 car is interesting 23m would indicated 207m the PR says “around 200m” which might suggest slightly longer.
    10x23m =230m and 11x23m =253m which makes extending a little trickier?

    The Aventra mk2 platform is meant to be more adaptable and offers up to 23m unlike electrostar which only went to 20m so intermediate possibility of 22m with longer end cars also works. (11x22m =242m).

    Option for 18 extra trains:
    HEx about 4-5 extra (agree with Milton)
    Maidenhead to reading extension would be 5-6 trains
    With the remainer may be extending an addition 2 tph Westwards from Paddington to West Drayton (so from 2-4 tph).
    May be extending the peaks slightly (crossrail peak not being far off a peak hour in the morning once clever timetabling taken into account?

  24. ngh says:

    PS If the trains are longer but still only have 2 doors, there is a nice saving on platform edge doors (PEDS). Hope that contract hasn’t been signed yet!

  25. Alan Griffiths says:

    Pedantic of Purley @ 6 February 2014 at 12:11

    I was wrong
    You were right
    I should apologise

    That’s what happens when I’m hasty and miss significant details.

    I have rechecked DfT, TfL and Crossrail items. They are almost identical, except DfT says 9, TfL & Crossrail say nine.

    However, I’m still concerned that these are smaller trains than we were led to expect, rather than trains of the intended capacity with longer carriages.

  26. straphan says:

    @ngh: 23m carriages with two doors per side? And what would the peak dwell time for such units be? 5 minutes at each station?

  27. ngh says:

    Train doors seem to be a fairly common failure point on modern suburban trains so reducing the number of doors might be key to fleet reliability especially with long EMUs like Crossrail.
    For example if 1 door fails the train might have to be taken out of service (this may or may not be the case) with 40 sets of passenger doors on 10 car crossrail service but a 9 car would only have 36 sets with a good chance of extending the time between failures?

  28. ngh says:

    Re Staphan
    I would assume that there would be SWT 455 / Thameslink 700 style arrangement near the doors to help dwell times.
    I would also expect wide doors like the 700s

    Re Alan
    They are still saying 200m hence longer carriage so more usable floor space with fewer longer cars.

  29. straphan says:

    @ngh: That still doesn’t address the dwell time issue.

    Come to Canada Water one morning and have a look at the northbound platform of the Overground. The Class 378s are (currently) 4x20m with 2 doors per carriage. The trains arrive packed to the roof at Canada Water and disgorge perhaps 80% of their load there, with a further – say – 50 people boarding. The trains struggle to do this in the 90 seconds the timetable allows for this. Now Crossrail foresees 24tph in the peak through the central section, which gives us a planned headway of 150 seconds. With two doors per side and 23m cars, I wager a packed Crossrail train would require north of 120 seconds peak dwell – the planned dwells meanwhile are 45/60 seconds through the central section.

  30. Chris says:

    The following article confirms that the Aventra being ordered for Crossrail is effectively Aventra 2.0 – with the Desiro City proving a superior product in the Thameslink procurement they had to go back to the drawing board:

    “So that was how Aventra was reborn. We took the opportunity to go around and talk to the market and to our customers, we’re extremely fortunate that they’ve willingly given up a lot of their time to do that. Also, what we’re also doing very differently is that we have the suppliers in here working with us on joint design development initiatives.

    “We put forward a business case to develop Aventra version two in about October last year. This provisioned for a multi million pound investment, paying for around 100 people for that period. Bombardier agreed the funding for this plan, which was a major sign of confidence and commitment in our design and this team.”

  31. Alex says:

    The image accompanying this article shows 3 sets of doors on the first car. No need to cancel those PEDs!

  32. CdBrux says:

    I write as someone with no rail knowledge other than what I glean from the likes of these very interesting forums. If Bombardier have essentially had to up their game on the quality of their rolling stock from that which they submitted for the Thameslink contract, and also following some recent work for TfL which the article implies was not as good as it should have been, then what have they changed and how can we be as confident as possible that those changes will work?

    Do we know what the other two companies were offering and ultimately why they were not preferred?

  33. ngh says:

    Re Anon,

    Opps should have looked for a better image than the cropped on on the DFT site.

    That makes a bit more sense, there wouldn’t be much room for seating with 20m cars and 3 doors.

  34. timbeau says:

    But fewer doors mean longer dwell times. Three door-sets in each of nine cars is 27 a side. two in each of ten cars is 20-a-side. For what it’s worth the artist’s impression shows three per car, but the vehicle longs unfeasibly long. As has been mentioned, a train of fewer, longer, cars has fewer wheelsets, which means less weight, less maintenence, and more space for underfloor equioment. It also has less wasted space between car ends. The downside on some routes is that the vehicles may have to be a little narrower because of the greater throwover on curves, thereby restrictin internal space in that dimension. However, neither the GEML’s nor the GWML’s existing routes to be used by the trains are particularly twisty, and hopefully the curves in the new-build tunnels were designed to accommodate the longer vehicles too.

    One other interesting point is that although the new Thameslink stock is to be allocated a class number in the supposedly “new generation” 7xx series, Crossrail is lumbered with a decidedly last-Century 3xx number (falling between the Scotrail Class 334 Junipers and the London Midland and Transpennine Desiros of Class 350).

  35. CdBrux says:

    It seems that whilst I was writing then Chris has at least in part provided the answer, good to see Bombardier learnt from their previous failures. Nothing like a bit of competition to keep people on their toes and innovating! Hopefully it will work…!

  36. straphan says:

    @Chris: yet more proof that the threat of competition is wot did it 🙂

  37. ngh says:

    Re Alex.
    Still 6 less sets of PED doors per station no longer needed with shift from 10 car to 9 car…

  38. Walthamstow Writer says:

    I can confirm that A Wolstenholme (of Crossrail) told the Assembly Transport Committee that the platform edge door contract had NOT yet been placed. This then triggered a request from Roger Evans (AM) to have PEDs at all open air stations in order to prevent suicides delaying Crossrail trains. Mr W and Terry Morgan had some well rehearsed (and entirely relevant) responses to say why that was not such a good idea. No need to repeat them here as the same points have been made by PoP in the Picc Line upgrade articles.

  39. Anonymous says:

    “The sound of inevitibilty?”

    “No Mr Anderson, that’s the sound of inevitability.”

    Obviously a glitch in the Matrix.

  40. ngh says:

    Re Timbeau

    Couldn’t remember if it was 2 or 3 doors per car i.e. 10 car would presumably have been 3 door as well.
    If they can keep the carriages the normal width for 20m and extend to 22-23m without narrowing to suit the infrastructure that normally happens with 23m carriages then that will be good. I.e. similar to the thinking behind the 165-166 that they are taking over from on the GWML (much wider than the normal 23m stock).
    This would presumable mean more aisle and hence space…

  41. straphan says:

    @CdBrux: We cannot be sure of anything given the political pressure exerted upon the powers that be to ‘buy Canadian’, ekhm, I mean ‘British’.

    I do not know what CAF were offering, but they have built plenty of similar urban/suburban carriages for various Spanish railways (RENFE, FGC, FGV, Euskotren, etc.), and have built thousands of metro carriages for Madrid, Mexico City, and others. For the UK, CAF has also supplied the Class 332 (Heathrow Express) and Class 333 (Northern: Airedale/Wharfedale Lines) units, whose performance appears to be pretty solid.

    I expect Hitachi offered something based on their Japanese experience, which they also have plenty of. For the UK, Hitachi have built the Class 395 (Southeastern High Speed) and have been awarded the Intercity Express Programme contract to replace most UK long-distance trains. They have also built components used in the refurbishment of the Class 465/466 trains (Southeastern suburban), which also appear to operate pretty reliably.

    From what John Bull has written in the article, the key problem with Bombardier’s offering for Thameslink was the financial aspect of the bid (bidders were supposed to provide capital for the trains themselves, to be paid back by the operators/DfT through leasing charges). This was never a problem with Crossrail, as it was decided that TfL would finance the trains through loans.

    Now – I understand Siemens pulled out of the running for Crossrail, but if we are to look at the wider case for ‘buying Can… British’, then it would be good to look at the performance of current products. A good place to start would be Southern and South West Trains – both have a mix of longer-distance and urban services, both also have a mixed fleet of ex-BR stock on urban duties with newer stock (Southern – Bombardier; South West – Siemens) operating some urban and all longer duties. If you look at the recent reliability tables (Modern Railways, January 2014 issue), SWT manages to squeeze about 30% more Miles between Technical Incidents (MTIN) from their Class 450 than Southern can from their Class 377. Plus – if you look at the diagrams – you will notice that Southern sends its trains to visit the depot once every 2-3 days, whereas some SWT units will visit the depot once a week (or less often!).

    Also, the Bombardier Electrostar has been out there for about 13 years. And there was no sign until recently that they would offer anything else to the market until they found themselves under pressure from other manufacturers.

  42. Lawyerboy says:

    I don’t see that Bombardier’s Canadian-ness is a particular bar to it benefiting from protectionism: what was once known as ‘Imperial Preference’ has a long history.

  43. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Straphan – I would be a tad cautious about citing reliability numbers and linking them solely to the train manufacturer. I’d argue the operators’ practices and organisation are a factor and SWT *seem* (before I am contradicted by the resident SWT users) to place a heavy emphasis on pushing up reliability on all of their fleet regardless of age / manufacturer. Do they not also have record breaking reliability on old EMUs and ex BR DMU classes? I assume this is so they minimise any delay impact under the performance regime where they have the ability to control the risks. There may also be a cultural thing within Stagecoach’s rail businesses.

    National Express also do something similar with C2C where reliability figures are very good with a Bombardier produced train.

    There are obvious risks associated with being the first customer for a new type of train but I would expect Crossrail to have taken a very thorough approach as to where the risks sit and what is expected from Bombardier. Clearly Bombardier will know that the eyes of the world will be on them with such a high profile contract and they risk considerable reputational damage if the trains don’t work as expected or are late in being delivered. This will be one contract to watch – let’s hope the mock up is displayed in a hall where the organisers tell you the nearest station rather than one 1/2 mile away 😉

  44. Chris says:

    @ngh – As both the Aventra and the Desiro City are ‘modular’ designs the bodyshell will almost certainly be designed for universal use around the network, and while the GWML is noted for being relatively generously proportioned the GEML is not AFAIA.

  45. straphan says:

    @Walthamstow Writer: Yes, the ‘human’ element of maintenance is not to be underestimated. However, bear in mind that SWT achieve such stellar reliability figures with diagrams that assume the ‘human element’ gets to ‘interact’ with the train half as frequently as on Southern… Readers can deduct for themselves what that means in terms of capital and operational cost savings…

    @Lawyerboy: My comments allude to the fact, that Bombardier is not – and has never been – a British company, but a Canadian one. Also – last time I checked – the UK is subject to EU procurement laws meaning ‘Imperial Preference’ is indeed history…

  46. stimarco says:

    For what it’s worth, Italy really has only one truly native train manufacturer: Gruppo Finmeccanica. They own AnsaldoBreda (rail) and BredaMarinibus (buses). Hitachi were sniffing around the AnsaldoBreda subsidiary, looking for a 50% stake, last year, though I’ve not found any details on how far that went. (The Italian government still owns a 30% stake in Finmeccanica itself, so it’s technically under partial state ownership.)

    Tecnomasio Italiano Brown-Boveri is part of Bombardier, by way of ABB / AdTranz.

    FIAT Ferroviaria – of “Pendolino” fame – was swallowed up by Alstom in 2000, a year before Virgin Trains ordered their fleet.

    So, the troubled AnsaldoBreda aside, there’s not much native manufacturing left in the country. Though one basket-case out of three is still better than the UK managed to retain.

  47. straphan says:

    @stimarco: by your definition of ‘native’ the UK has no more ‘native’ manufacturers. Politicians do not care how good the quality of the train is, what its performance looks like, and whether it is actually useful to the railway in the long run. All they care about is how many jobs – and therefore votes – are ‘saved’.

    Looking at Italy, I doubt AnsaldoBreda would have survived this long if they were judged only by their build quality…

  48. Pedantic of Purley says:


    I don’t think anyone really cares if Bombardier is British or not. The perception is that if it is “built” in Britain then this provides British jobs in an area that we are capable of competing in. Possibly more important, it retains jobs that already exist. Also the “intellectual” part of the process (designing the train) is done here.

    As with much manufacture it is actually very hard to say for certain how “British” (or associated with another country) something is due to the fact that component parts are sourced throughout the world.

    Had Siemens had designed its trains in the UK and assembled them here I don’t think anyone would actually care too much that the order went to Siemens – incidentally a firm with a very close historic connection with England in the early days of its existence.

    Terry Morgan (and others) have suggested that we have allowed ourselves to get ourselves too tied in knots over EU procurement and that it is legal to take such factors as the number of apprenticeships provided in the UK or green issues into account as a result of the order as long as this was specified at the time of inviting interest to tender. This is something that does not directly discriminate against foreign firms since they are have the option of providing some of the work in the UK and awarding apprenticeships or displaying their green credentials.

    What I suspect MPs and many members of the public deeply resent is various firms claiming to build stuff in Britain whilst in reality creating it abroad and merely putting it together here whilst claiming British made and built by British workers. As highlighted by Railway Eye. Also Siemens in its Thameslink order including jobs created at maintenance depots that would have been created anyway regardless of who won the order.

    Of course the counter-argument to all this, as others have pointed out, is that only by making firms like Bombardier very aware that we are not afraid to go abroad for a better product will these firms lose their complacency and give us value for money.

  49. stimarco says:

    Bombardier is very much a multinational conglomerate now. Like Italy’s Finmeccanica, they have fingers in a lot of pies and don’t keep everything centralised in a single HQ somewhere in Montreal: their rail transport holdings are run from Berlin, not Canada. (It would seem they kept most of AdTranz’s corporate assets and management structure and use it for the day-to-day management of their rail transport holdings.)

    Given that no business worthy of the name is paying a penny more in taxes than it absolutely has to, regardless of where its offices are located, I doubt any of the engineers involved in rolling stock procurement for Crossrail are particularly interested in where the few pennies that do get paid actually end up.

    So I agree with the article that Bombardier’s win this time around is primarily due to its merits, with politics only playing a minor role. Keeping tatty old factories open for the sake of what amounts to preservation and nostalgia is silly. Nobody’s mourning the loss of British Leyland.

    Nevertheless, the British can be very successful on the world’s stage. We just need to tear our gaze away from the nostalgia of the past and focus on the future instead.

  50. straphan says:

    @PoP: I do not have the level of detailed knowledge to understand which parts of the new Aventra train will have been designed in the UK, but – let me re-iterate: the train is a re-hash of an existing Bombardier bodyshell design (Regina, used in Scandinavia since 2001…) and some ex-Electrostar components (e.g. Flexx Eco bogies). Nothing hugely ground-breaking here…

    Regarding the competition issue, let me re-iterate: when there is only one manufacturer left in the UK it is a tad late to consider protectionism, as all it would do would be to introduce a monopoly. Hitachi have now committed to building a second factory (which they will no doubt try to use to ‘conquer Europe if the UK decides to stay in the EU), which will hopefully change the balance a little bit. But without at least the threat of competition we would have had Electrostars being built almost unchanged in 20 years time.

    I have also highlighted in my previous post that continental European countries perceived to be violating EU procurement laws with regard to train and light rail procurement have actually opened up to foreign manufacturers. The reason? Train operators now also need to compete, and rolling stock price and quality is a key component. And I happen to believe that buying more reliable trains for less money is ultimately a good thing for the railways.

  51. ngh says:

    Re Walthamstow Writer 6 February 2014 at 13:56

    “@ Straphan – I would be a tad cautious about citing reliability numbers and linking them solely to the train manufacturer. I’d argue the operators’ practices and organisation are a factor and SWT *seem* (before I am contradicted by the resident SWT users) to place a heavy emphasis on pushing up reliability on all of their fleet regardless of age / manufacturer”

    Agree the best way of assessing the SWT effect is probably to look at their 455 vs Southern’s where SWT’s MTIN was double Southern’s. The gap may have changed more recently. (Or SWT’s 159s vs anyone elses 158s).

    Southern’s 377 or GA’s 379s ( v. similar reliability) have a 60% better MTIN than FCC’s 377’s so the TOC appears to make a large difference with identical EMUs in several cases.

  52. John Bull says:

    Having now had a chance to chat to Crossrail themselves about a few things:

    1) Actual train length will be 205m end-to-end
    2) The nine-car thing largely came about, apparently, because it turned out to be the best way to address the priority given to reducing weight
    3) clarification on target date: delivery is April 2017 for first unit, in service May 2017

    And finally…

    the reason for the 65 trains rather than sixty is to provide five for the additional Franchise service commitment for Shenfield – Liverpool Street.

  53. Milton Clevedon says:

    Can we also consider that the direct construction value of the trains might be 65 trains x nominally say £1.3m per car, lets call it £1.4m since they are larger bodyshells. = £819m, plus or minus.

    BUT the deal includes depot construction AND full maintenance for how many years (is it 30 years?). This really doesn’t add up. Let’s say £70m for a depot and £0.15m per train per year for comprehensive maintenance (excluding RPI etc). Other, more precise figures would be very interesting to hear about, these are just guesstimates.

    That’s £1,181 million, before financing. Financing might be excluded, as TfL is presumably now incurring the capex financing costs, not the supplier (except for the depot costs and the train spare parts etc).

    I suppose the deal could be described as around £1 billion when severely rounded, but it sounds like an interesting story will be in what this rounding masks, and what the real deal is on the actual train construction costs, versus the value what is offset (a) with an inclusive maintenance and depot deal (which could be a valuable contract) and (b) was there any discount included by Bombardier in its BAFO (best and final offer) which in practice might be understood to reflect the shortcomings with its signalling contract?

  54. Malcolm says:

    All the discussion about dwell times and number of doors seems to disregard the performance-based specification which I assume this order is based on. Although I am normally wary of arguments starting with the word “surely”, nevertheless… Surely the specification would have indicated a performance, in terms of getting x% of the train’s passengers in/out in y seconds, and leave it to the suppliers to work the trade-off between number and width of doors (and things like space round the doors) and trade this off against weight, maintenance requirements and so on.

  55. The reason for the 65 trains rather than sixty is to provide five for the additional Franchise service commitment for Shenfield – Liverpool Street.

    I really don’t understand this. According to the Crossrail web site there will be 6tph Shenfield to Liverpool St in the peaks which I presumed were all going to be run by the Crossrail franchisee consessionaire. With a current end-to-end time of around 45 minutes that doesn’t add up. Even if they only went to Gidea Park (30 mins to Liverpool St [main line or Crossrail]) five trains won’t be enough.

  56. straphan says:

    @ngh: I am deliberately not comparing SWT’s diesel fleet to anyone else’s, mainly because their entire diesel fleet makes it to the depot every night – I don’t think any other TOC utilising that fleet has that luxury. Second of all, I fully accept that the human factor plays a huge role with maintenance – SWT’s Salisbury depot that takes care of the 158s/159s sources its staff mainly from the nearby military establishments – meaning their workforce is likely to be far more disciplined, responsible and conscientious than elsewhere.

    However – let me repeat – an SWT Desiro makes it back to Northam depot around once every 5-7 days (although lots of them are tended to between peaks at Clapham). A Southern Electrostar visits Lovers Walk or Selhurst about once every 2-3 days. This means that the SWT Desiros achieve better MTIN figures with less attention from that fantastic Siemens maintenance crew.

    The Period 7 MTIN MAA for 2013/14 (as used in Modern Railways) for the Class 377 is slightly higher than 30k , and about half that for Class 378. The figures of the 450 are about 70% higher than the 377; the figures for the 444 are 110% higher, and the figures for the 350 (all operators) are 180% higher. Those for the 360 are ‘about the same’ as the 377. Only the 380 is lower – by 30%.

    This shows that most Desiro fleets do manage to achieve better reliability than Electrostars – regardless of operator.

  57. @Captain_Deltic says:

    I’m just putting to bed a table analysing the UK content of the latest Electrostar (surrogate for Class 345), Siemens Desiro City for Thameslink and the Hitachi Super Express Train.

    In each case, nearly all the high-tech, high value-added equipment is imported.

    Bombardier has the most UK suppliers of the three.

    The big difference is, of course, that Bombardier designs the train at Derby, employing a large number of engineers.

  58. Anonymous says:

    The original tender gave two options 10-car 20m cars or 9-car 23m. Bombardier won on the 9-car 23m option. All Crossrail stations will accommodate 12-car 20m or 11-car 23m trains when required in the future, passive provision being incorporated into all new sub-surface stations. The extension to Reading will be announced quite soon. DfT/TfL/NR are now examining rapidly at the WCML Crossrail option out to Tring or possibly Bletchley.

  59. Petras409 says:

    Does anybody know whether these trains will have coupling compatability with anything else they are likely to meet along the route ?

  60. Milton Clevedon says:

    @Captain Deltic
    Intriguing that employing a lot of engineers in the UK can then cause the press releases to say that 74% of the total value will be UK-retained. I assume this includes the subsequent 30-or-so year maintenance deal and the depot, ie the total package not just the initial train supply, which might be leaner?

  61. strawbrick says:

    Until the last two orders, suburban trains (for that is what they are) had stabilised on four car units with through corridor ends. TOCs such as London Midland to run 4, 8 or 12 car trains as required by the anticipated loadings and thereby save money by not moving unwanted space. They had the flexibilty of changing the length of the train during the day, as for example at Euston where two incoming 4 car units are coupled at the platform to make an 8 car outbound train. In addition, because they have a full complement of connections at each end they are able to assist in the event of a failure (on one memorable occasion, when the brakes failed on our unit we were propelled for a considerable (at walking pace) by the following unit!
    I do understand that the single train reduces complexity (but not much) and gives a little bit more passenger space. I also understand that LUL operates with full single trains, but that is a totally different railway ( and I believe that old Met trains had 4 car units with cabs at each end and also 3 car units with only one cab).
    Why the dramatic change?

  62. Jeremy says:

    It’s worth remembering that there’s a similarity between Crossrail, Thameslink and the Tube. Trains will be lightly loaded at both extremities of the line, and busier in the central core, particularly in the off-peak.

    Trains of variable length would add to the complexity of platform edge door operation. Far more critically, the joining and splitting of trains at Euston involves operations at terminal platforms dealing with a restricted number of services per hour, with ample time to undertake the splitting/joining.

    At the nearest thing to a London terminus on Crossrail, Paddington, two platforms are to handle a much higher rate of platform usage.

    The other sort of joining/splitting that we generally see is where trains are joined/split in service to serve different branches. Crossrail’s branches split close to London, and consequently on sections of line with a high service frequency.

    Consequently, these trains are specified to suit the nature of the route they will serve.

  63. lawyerboy says:


    At least part of the answer to your question about through-corridor sets is given here:

    Aventra, unlike the flat-fronted Electrostar, complies with new European regulations on train crashworthiness, which take effect from June 2017. ‘Visually, the trains have a pointier nose, which is actually a crumple zone in front of the driver, although it also has some aerodynamic aspects,’ said Paonessa. ‘That’ll have an effect on a lot of British operators, because we have a lot of flat-fronted trains in the UK, and operators also like trains with a gangway door at the front, because it makes it easier to join two units together. That’s a lot harder with a crash-cab, because of the sloped front.’

  64. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Strawbrick – I think with Crossrail it can be argued that it is probably more tube than suburban rail given the relatively frequent stops. The anticipated demand is such that you really need full length trains with wide connections between carriages and the maximum space inside them. Given demand forecasts are now suggesting that Crossrail will be jammed full within a matter of years it makes sense to have long, spacious trains.

    I’m slightly less convinced about the need for fixed formation trains on some parts of Thameslink but that particular decision has been taken and it’s too late for a change. I do expect the inner parts of Thameslink will be busy so a more “urban” layout would be appropriate there but the class 700s are a compromise given the varied service pattern and travel distances.

    It will be interesting to see what happens with respect to new trains for GOBLIN electrification and West Anglia. I wouldn’t like to guess what will be bought for those routes as I think the 378s may no longer be available from Bombardier (just me surmising rather than having hard facts). When we get to the inevitable need for 6 car trains on much of the Overground perhaps there would be an opportunity to tender for the replacement rolling stock on the Great Northern inner suburban route? That will make for another interesting procurement exercise.

  65. @Captain_Deltic says:

    Yes, as with IEP and Thameslink, the UK content in the total value refers to the service contract. So includes everything down to the sandwiches supplied to the Depot canteen.

    For the trains themselves it will be much less. The foreign traction packages are at least 10% of the cost.

  66. Capital Star says:

    @ strawbrick Why the dramatic change?

    I would think that this is because despite the outer sections being forecast to be relatively quiet off-peak, the central section would be expected to be busy enough all day for full length trains. Lengthening trains at Paddington, for instance, isn’t possible.

  67. Taz says:

    @ Walthamstow Writer 6 February 2014 at 22:15
    The Overground four- to five-car scheme on all routes was raised at the Finance and Policy Committee meeting on 23 January 2013. The aim is to meet projected demand to the mid-2020s, which ties in with the end
    of the current rolling stock lease arrangements and potential changes connected with High Speed 2. It is noted that, where reasonably practical, provision is to be made to accommodate six car trains.

  68. Melvyn says:

    I have to admit the news Crossrail trains will be 9 car instead of 10 and yet still 200 metres long was surprising .

    One question not answered is whether these trains will have toilets or not given their use as basically main line sized tube trains goes against this but the longer distance journeys will no doubt raise concerns from some lobby’s .

    As for 5 trains for Shenfield to Liverpool Street I reckon this might be a small service still serving the main station and not the Crossrail platforms below.

    It seems one present TFL has been awarded is the Romford to Upminster shuttle which would be better supplied with overground trains .

    The order also includes an option for 18 extra trains as a follow on order which I suppose could cover Extenstions to Reading where platforms for Crossrail have been built into the new station. Plans also included extension to Gravesend and given the rebuild of that station perhaps that option might emerge ?

  69. timbeau says:

    I wonder why such a fuss is being made of this particular order. 65x9car trains is 585 vehicles: The S stock order, at 1,385 vehicles, is more than twice as big, and the various 377, 378 and 379 builds over the past few years sum to a number almost as big.

    “Until the last two orders, suburban trains (for that is what they are) had stabilised on four car units with through corridor ends”
    Many routes, including the recent Scottish and Yorkshire orders (classes 333, 334, 380) run 3-car sets, and gangways have gone in and out of fashion more often than faster than changes in hemlines: on inner suburban stock they first appeared in the early eighties with the Class 317/455s, and disappeared with the 319s (although they needed an emergency door because of the single track tunnels near Barbican) and “Dusty Bin” 321s. (This meant that although a 455 could couple to a 456, the 455 had a gangway but no toilet, and the 456 had a toilet but no gangway!)
    Gangways reappeared with most privatisation builds (Desiro, Electrostar, but not Heathrow Express, or 333). Only one of the three Juniper variants, class 458, had gangways but, like the 455s, they couldn’t be used by passengers. Some later Desiros (Class 185,360) did without gangways, as did the Turbostars (Class 168/170,171,172) and the Class 376 and 378 variants of Electrostar.

    “and I believe that old Met trains had 4 car units with cabs at each end and also 3 car units with only one cab”
    The A stock on the Met, like the Central’s 1962 stock and Victoria’s 1967 stock, was indeed made up of 2x4car units – the units were double ended, although in latter years some of the cabs were not fully equipped when upgrades happened and had to run in the middle of the trains. Most other lines ran six- or seven-car trains using a 3+4 or 3+3 formation, and many of the 3-car sets were single-ended. (for some years the District’s R-stock ran as 2+2+3 or 2+5)
    The C stock and 1992 stock are single-ended two car units operating as four- six- or eight-car trains – some of the 1992 stock units on the Central Line have no cabs at all and (obviously) can only run in the middle of a train.

    . TOCs such as London Midland to run 4, 8 or 12 car trains as required by the anticipated loadings and thereby save money by not moving unwanted space. They had the flexibilty of changing the length of the train during the day, as for example at Euston where two incoming 4 car units are coupled at the platform to make an 8 car outbound train. In addition, because they have a full complement of connections at each end they are able to assist in the event of a failure (on one memorable occasion, when the brakes failed on our unit we were propelled for a considerable (at walking pace) by the following unit!
    I do understand that the single train reduces complexity (but not much) and gives a little bit more passenger space. I also understand that LUL operates with full single trains, but that is a totally different railway ( and I believe that old Met trains had 4 car units with cabs at each end and also 3 car units with only one cab).
    Why the dramatic change?”

  70. timbeau says:

    Oops – meant to delete that part of Strawbrick’s text I didn’t want to quote: my previous should end at “middle of a train”

  71. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Melvyn – Andrew Wolstenholme of Crossrail repeated that Crossrail rolling stock will NOT have toilets when he was in front of the Assembly Transport Commitee this week. It seems every time Crossrail sit in front of the Committee the issue about station toilets is raised given no toilets on the trains. In fact it seems the same questions are asked in every session given the amount of time Mssrs Wolstenholme and Morgan said “nothing has changed since the last time we were here. We only do what the sponsors tells us to do. Please address your concerns to them as we are not able to make changes independently.”

    You are right that a residual Shenfield to Liverpool Street will be run but 5 trains feels rather light unless the peak frequency is going to be relatively low or it’s going to be a tidal flow operation only thereby reducing round trip time by having minimal turnround at the peak direction terminal and then running back empty to possibly run another peak direction journey. Does rather depend on available paths east of Stratford but I guess there are plenty of ECS (empty coaching stock) runs today.

  72. mr_jrt says:

    I do hope they see sense and route any additional services from OOC to High Wycombe rather than Tring. Would be such an expensive waste to build all that expensive infrastructure when 12-car (20m) electric trains already operate into a Euston terminus with ample platform capacity when the money could be much better spent wiring up the Chiltern line’s suburban operations to relive the chronically congested Marylebone. Demand patterns are apparently very, very different to when the western options for Crossrail were examined…so much so that there’s already a programme of platform lengthening going on to bring Chiltern up to 9-car (23m) platforms at key stations (Bicester North, High Wycombe, etc) – a curious length I thought given their current services, but could it be foreshadowing a Crossrail-related proposal?

  73. Mike says:

    Re the black cabs in the artist’s impression, the relevant health & safety requirement is that “there shall be a minimum forward facing continuous area of yellow surface of 1 m² with a minimum dimension of 0.6 m when viewed, at a large distance, head on from in front of the vehicle.” ), para C1.2.2).

    Provided that that is met, the rest of the cab can be as black as you like.

  74. Jeremy says:

    @mr_jrt: I would think that High Wycombe is extremely unlikely. The overall demand through Watford Junction and beyond to Tring/Bletchley is far greater, the WCML is already suitably electrified with station platforms of a suitable length, and there is a desire to reduce the pressure at Euston to allow eventual HS2 services to call there without increasing the station footprint.

    Demand on Chiltern is indeed increasing. I suspect that the lengthening of those platforms to 9x23m is a handy coincidence: both 168s and the Mk3 stock used on some longer-distance services on that route are 23m-long vehicles.

  75. Greg Tingey says:

    Well that absolutely guarantees total wedge within a week of opening through services – certainly after “Shenfield” joins in …
    How long before an additional order for add-ons to 12-car gets through the Treasury, I wonder?

    “Nasty piece of jingoism” – including the observation that the “javelins” have a crap ride, presumably?

    Successive Brit so-called “governments” have deliberately (Or carelessly & it doesn’t matter) destroyed our once successful loco & carriage building industry, in the years that the car was king.

    The GEML WAS quite wide – & the original 1947-49 units were over normal gauge ….

    Petras 409
    THAT is a very sore & incredibly annoying factor, isn’t it?
    One of the joys of the efficiencies of privatisation, of course.
    [minor content snip – JB]

    Mr jrt
    Would also compel the keeping of W Ruislip OOC, wouldn’t it?

  76. Anonymous says:

    So this announcement gives us:
    – Thameslink: Siemens
    – IEP: Hitachi
    – Crossrail & S Stock: Bombardier

    I’d be inclined to say that this is a good sign – even if rail manufacturing in the UK isn’t all that strong, at least there is competition in the market, and we’re not too irrevocably tied to one manufacturer (which tends to go wrong if that manufacturer goes under/loses interest in the product they’ve supplied you)

  77. Anon5 says:

    I remember the artist’s impressions of the Heathrow Express units with their “motorbike helmet” front ends in silver with black visors (windscreens). Of course the designers didn’t take into account the yellow ends so they were added as an afterthought and never looked quite looked right. I think I read that that front ends were slightly modified during the last refurbishment to make them look a little more like they belonged!

    Personally I’ve never liked the black cabs of the latest DLR trains but I’m at risk of taking the conversation in the wrong direction!

  78. Fandroid says:

    Welcome to London Reconnections Captain Deltic! Is this the start of a new era for online railway journalism?

  79. Latecomer says:

    Just a quick point when people start quoting reliability figures. Serious failures relating to brakes or loss of main air, etc form a tiny proportion of train failures. By far the most common reasons for a unit being brought out of service relate to DOO cameras and faulty doors. The reliability playing field isn’t quite so level then is it? A Bombardier 378 stopping every 2 mins for 18 hours a day is likely to develop far more camera or door faults than other classes doing distance work. Maintenance schedules do play a part, but on the whole the Electrostars don’t do too badly for the kind of work they are frequently required to do. They have had issues in icy weather but remedial work on some classes have done a lot to mitigate this.

  80. ngh says:

    A few more thoughts

    Re Timbeau.
    This is effectively the launch of Bombardier new product range for the next 10-15 years and hence more critical than additional orders later in the product lifecycle.

    Re Greg T. (and Milton)
    Thanks for info on the GEML width. Extension to 11car max not 12 now surely?
    The max capacity of each car is 166 average so adding a car to each unit adds an extra 10k passenger capacity to the fleet in the peak or 6.3m extra peak hour journies a year (based on commuters @ 45 weeks a year) or 2.8m extra return fares equivalent based on additional annual season tickets so any where between £10- £40m a year additional revenue based on extra / marginal / Yerkes “Straphanger” concept so a 1.7 – 7 year pay back time per car added to the fleet (Ignores any additional off peak benefits i.e. more pax on the same number of trains and less crammed)
    The cost of the cars is likely to be less than the recent circa £1.3m per electrostar (southern 377/6 /7) as there are far fewer cabs and this is a bigger order.
    The cost of adding the extra 10th /11th middle cars later should be less than the equivalent of £1.3m as they won’t have cabs or probably pantographs / transformers?

    11×22.8m gives 250m so at least an extra 10m of passenger length over 12x20m.

  81. ngh says:

    Re latecomer

    Indeed I raised the number of doors etc issue above exactly because it is responsible for a fair proportion of failures. (there are companies who specialise in train door reliability!)

    SWT not having DOO or DOO with automatic SDO or automatic SDO might actually help reliability vs other operators such as Southern / Overground / FCC who have 1 of the above operating on most services i.e. 377s 378s 319s or 455s.

    SDO reliability issues have apparently added to the delays with the SWT 458/5 lengthening project.

  82. Pedantic of Purley says:

    11×22.8m gives 250m so at least an extra 10m of passenger length over 12x20m.

    Which sort of finally gives a rational reason as to why the underground platforms were generally built to be 250m long not 240m. There is still a bit of leeway as there is really no obvious reason for the rear cab to be in the platform. Indeed the driver’s door is set quite far back from the end of the train in the pictures so one could not be fully in the platform and still access the rear cab if needed in an emergency without even having to resort to the tunnel walkway.

    I would caution against too much accuracy on calculations because, as far as I am aware, at this state we don’actually know that all carriages are of the same length. I suspect the end carriages are going to be a metre or two longer.

    All good stuff though. Effectively ~4% extra capacity for almost no cost.

  83. straphan says:

    Regarding rolling stock lengths: It is all about multiples of the smallest unit – this drives depot and siding dimensions, as well as platform lengths. Strathclyde was always a 3x20m car railway since its electrification – and pretty much all platforms on the network are 6-car length. South of the Thames the decision was taken to make the basic unit 4x20m long. Southeastern was then extended incrementally to 10-car, as is now happening with selected suburban routes on Southern and SWT. Not going to 12-car straight away is dictated as much by lack of terminal capacity as it is by demand for a 12-car metro railway not being there yet for a while.

    On the issue of full vs short formations, if Crossrail trains have longitudinal seating only, then seats will start getting filled up far more quickly. Without running full-formation trains all the way, you can be guaranteed that the DfT-prescribed rule of ‘no standing for more than 20 minutes’ will be breached in the peaks.

    Regarding future Crossrail extensions: I think it is clear that towards the West, Crossrail is more likely to take over WCML suburbans rather than Chiltern for the reasons already mentioned. And please, please, please, can you all stop moaning about the Northolt – Acton line? Last time Virgin needed to get around a WCML blockade they ran 15-car Voyagers hourly via the Greenford branch. I have a picture of such a train at none other than Castle Bar Park to prove it.

    I think running Crossrail trains on the residual Gidea Park – Liverpool Street (High Level) service is a small victory for common sense. This means TfL sheds the complexity that comes with a mixed fleet (maintenance, timetabling, route knowledge, etc.), and this will also mean that any Crossrail driver will be able to run his/her train into Liverpool Street HL during disruption. Also, bear in mind the residual service is a 10 (or 15) minute headway in the peaks only, and (unless something has changed) it will be a one-way service with trains running empty in the counter-peak direction. Not that this will save much time anyway…

    @Latecomer: That is true, but both Desiro and Electrostar fleets are employed on similar types of duties – all-stations services and fast/semi-fast longer distance services. Yet only the ScotRail Desiro fleet (Class 380) has worse reliability figures than the Class 377.

  84. mr_jrt says:


    I would think that High Wycombe is extremely unlikely. The overall demand through Watford Junction and beyond to Tring/Bletchley is far greater, the WCML is already suitably electrified with station platforms of a suitable length

    …so what’s the point then? The WCML already has those services! All you’re doing is diverting away from Euston with it’s good tube links and close proximity to KXStP.

    and there is a desire to reduce the pressure at Euston to allow eventual HS2 services to call there without increasing the station footprint.

    …which won’t have any effect whatsoever. The demolition on the western side is forced by the need for straight 400m platforms as the current approaches curve. The footprint on the eastern side is always going to be there regardless, so you may as well use it.

  85. lmm says:

    @mr_jrt Most of crossrail is about diverting existing terminal services. I would not call Euston’ s tube “good”. Relieving the Victoria line is more than enough reason to move those services to crossrail, though I guess you could argue that Marylebone has more need to free up terminal capacity?

  86. Eric Golding says:

    Bombardier did not do well with the signalling contract for TFL and I believe “S” stock created other problems. How can we be sure Bombardier will deliver this time?

  87. straphan says:


    The fact is that HS2 will deliver a large number of extra services into Euston, triggering the need to divert SOME existing ones away from the terminus. Marylebone does not have these issues. Also, the value for money argument should be considered. The WCML is already electrified, already has the dimensions necessary to accept 240m long trains, and has higher levels of demand. The Chiltern would have to have all its platforms extended, the line would have to be part-electrified, and overall demand there is lower.

    Other than “I live along the line, I want Crossrail at my station!”, do you have any other arguments in favour of extending Crossrail to High Wycombe vs the WCML?

    @Eric Golding: Bombardier has also delivered north of a thousand Electrostar carriages which seem to be running fine (as is the S-Stock…), even if they are a little less reliable than Siemens. Also, what on Earth does Bombardier’s failure on the signalling contract have to do with their train reliability?

  88. Castlebar says:

    I think that attempting to reach High Wycombe via the WCML shows more than a hint of Crayonisticism. If you want to reach Wycombe with Crossrail, use the missing link to Bourne End and then Maidenhead has to be cheaper and more feasible from an engineering perspective than from anywhere on the WCML.

    Of course the obvious route via Greenford is planned to be severed. How myopic is that??

  89. Southern Heights says:

    @Castlebar: I believe the stretch from Bourne End to High Wycombe is partially built over or about to be built over…

  90. stimarco says:


    Gravesend has always had services terminating there. (For many years, it even had a bay platform facing Chatham and used by services along the Allhallows-on-Sea branch.)

    Unfortunately, the layout – two side platforms on passing loops with very low speed limits across all four lines (max. 40 mph.; min. 15 mph.) – limited the number of trains that could terminate and reverse there. Usually, terminators stopped at the ‘down’ (i.e. from London) platform, which meant that trains then had to cross over the down down line to reach the up line, briefly blocking all four tracks through the station and reducing the line capacity there.

    The low speed limits for the platform loops were due to extensions of the platforms over the years. There’s a short tunnel at the Chatham end of the station, and a busy road bridge at the other end, so the platform loops ended up with some very sharp curves where they re-joined the main lines.

    The rebuild looks exactly like this. (Warning: contains pictures of construction porn. Lots of pictures. Phwooar! *cough!* Er, yes. Sorry.)

    Incidentally, there are some detailed drawings showing the protected Crossrail extension route available from the relevant planning departments. These clearly show the line running fast from Abbey Wood to Dartford on its own new tracks that pass over Slade Green depot on a big flyover and scythe through the cutting alongside the existing Dartford approaches. Crossrail trains would join the old route after stopping at Dartford itself, not before.

    That extension is therefore not going to be cheap. Don’t expect it to be approved anywhere near as soon as I suspect the Reading extension will be. Given the likely patronage of such an extension, it’s possible that Crossrail may want to see construction of substantial additional infrastructure to reduce the pent-up demand first.

  91. stimarco says:

    @Eric Golding:

    Reading between the lines, there’s a strong hint that Bombardier themselves wanted out of that signalling contract. It was always going to be a very tough ask to meet that deadline. Take a look at the long, unloved history of the West Coast Route Modernisation project and you may get a hint of why their management may have gotten cold feet. Better to withdraw today and suffer a minor PR hit than to get caught up in the massive fallout a failed project of this magnitude could create.

    That said, Bombardier’s signalling division is independent from their tram- and train-building divisions. This is because Bombardier simply bought up an existing signalling company. All that changes in such situations is the company logo and some accounting procedures. This is true of pretty much all corporate takeovers where the intent is to diversify the company’s portfolio rather than asset-strip. Why buy a company only to throw most of it away? This is also why Bombardier’s train-building division is based in Berlin: they bought a German train-builder that came complete with Berlin-based offices and competent management people already inside them. Most of the people working in that division are, in fact, German, not Canadian.

    Businesses exist to make money, but once you become a major multinational corporation, how you make that money is a mere detail and can change almost on a whim: fifty years ago, Bombardier’s main claim to fame was the “Ski-Doo”; Nokia were known mainly for cables and rubber products, and Nintendo sold playing cards.

  92. ngh says:

    Re Stimarco 7 February 2014 at 14:10 and Melvyn

    The cost of Abbey Wood – Gravesend was put at £560m (when the Crossrail act was going through Parliament). The infrastructure cost of Maidenhead – Reading is being paid for elsewhere.

    Given those details, that would imply most of the cost is getting to Dartford with the problem of electrification beyond on the shared bit.
    So options for electrification for Dartford – Gravesend:
    A) fit 345s with 3rd rail shoes
    B) fit OHLE and don’t let the 465/6s beyond Dartford and fit /use pantographs on the 375/376s for the remaining Southeastern services?
    C) Wait till the 465/466s are scrapped.

    Extending beyond Abbey Wood has the advantage in that it helps fill the Canary Wharf trains in the quieter direction.

  93. Castlebar says:

    As plans for a direct train service from Swansea to Heathrow Airport have been announced by Network Rail, (according to BBC news), I wonder how they plan to dovetail these in with Crossrail services. I find it interesting that after what seems to be years of dithering about any new build or re-opening, saturation comes quickly

  94. Windsorian says:

    @ Castlebar

    plans for a direct train service from Swansea to Heathrow Airport have been announced by Network Rail, (according to BBC news),

    I haven’t seen this, what I read was it will be possible to go from South Wales to Heathrow – without going into London / Paddington. What the article failed to mention was the need to change at Reading onto the proposed WRAP (WRAtH) service.

  95. Windsorian says:

    Sorry Castlebar

    Found the article

    have e-mailed the BBC to check if it correct

  96. mr_jrt says:

    The fact is that HS2 will deliver a large number of extra services into Euston, triggering the need to divert SOME existing ones away from the terminus. Marylebone does not have these issues.

    There is no need whatsoever! HS2 has its own approach tunnels to new platforms at Euston. The fast lines and slow lines remain segregated all the way into the platforms, with the only overlap being the shared pair of platforms in the centre. Now, try again – Why do you need to divert existing services away?

    Also, the value for money argument should be considered. The WCML is already electrified, already has the dimensions necessary to accept 240m long trains, and has higher levels of demand. The Chiltern would have to have all its platforms extended, the line would have to be part-electrified, and overall demand there is lower.

    Again, what will offer more growth potential: a mile-long tunnel to the WCML diverting existing services, or wiring up the Chiltern line (say, to Bicester North) and extending the platforms? The Chiltern line has far, far, far greater potential for growth – the WCML slow lines are already full – hence HS2 so more services can use the fast lines to free up capacity on the slows! Diverting 10 passengers away from A to B towards A to C certainly relieves B, but Increasing the 2 passengers going from X to Y generates new revenue – and that means growth.

    Other than “I live along the line, I want Crossrail at my station!”, do you have any other arguments in favour of extending Crossrail to High Wycombe vs the WCML?

    Easy now, tiger. Don’t be so presumptuous. My local station is in fact Bushey, so you literally couldn’t be more wrong. The arguments are that you can’t operate more services over the Chiltern line as Marylebone is so constrained. It’s a corridor with great growth opportunities. It’s the last diesel mainline out of London now, so it gets the suburban services wired up in a way that is cost effective and generates substantial benefits. If you include more 4-tracking then you can also run more mainline services, but that’s not essential right away. You could probably run more services via Amersham though – or take over the Met beyond Moor Park, enabling OHLE all the way to Marylebone from taking over the fast lines without needing dual electrification.

    I think that attempting to reach High Wycombe via the WCML shows more than a hint of Crayonisticism. If you want to reach Wycombe with Crossrail, use the missing link to Bourne End and then Maidenhead has to be cheaper and more feasible from an engineering perspective than from anywhere on the WCML.

    …I don’t think anyone has suggested that – this is Paddington to High Wycombe via OOC and South Ruislip.

    Of course the obvious route via Greenford is planned to be severed. How myopic is that??


  97. stimarco says:


    The documents I remember talked about OHLE to Dartford (on dedicated tracks), with the trains switching to 3rd-rail shoe gear there to proceed onwards to the Medway Towns area. Given that we’ve had trains doing this for years now, it doesn’t seem like a big stretch. The only real question is whether the intention remains to run beyond Gravesend, or to terminate in the new bay there instead and let the Charing Cross / Cannon Street / Victoria / St. Pancras services handle the stations further out.

    The problem with stringing wires up east of Dartford is the low bridges and tunnels along the existing route. There’s at least one tunnel to contend with, and the chalk ridge the line follows means there are quite a few deep cuttings and bridges too.

    Running OHLE only as far as Gravesend seems like a lot of effort for such a short distance, given that even the Class 395s can handle both OHLE and 3rd-rail systems without any noticeable difficulty. Conversion might still happen as part of a (very long-term) rolling programme of conversion works, but I doubt it’ll happen within the next 20-30 years. There are plenty of other lines in the UK that have a higher priority.

  98. Castlebar says:

    @ Windsorian

    It’s on the BBC Wales newspage right now as:

    7 February 2014 Last updated at 13:36

    Rail service from Swansea to Heathrow announced

  99. Pedantic of Purley says:


    To put it bluntly I think the article is simply wrong and either wishful thinking from a Welsh perspective or a classic case of someone leaping to the wrong conclusion. Still not as bad as the famous blunder by the London Paper.

  100. Castlebar says:

    @ mr jrt

    No, nobody has suggested Crossrail to H Wycombe via Maidenhead, nobody but, I have seen a suggestion that Wycombe should (somehow) be reached via the WCML

    All I was alluding to that a route via the WCML has to be the daftest idea and even via Maidenhead is more practical, if only for topographical reasons. Because of the Chilterns, I don’t think Wycombe could ever be accessed from the WCML, and that’s all I was referring to.

    The OOC – Greenford – Wycombe direct route looks so obvious that I suspect a planner somewhere feels he must come up with a more difficult (and expensive) alternative.

  101. ngh says:

    Re Stimarco
    The logical plan may have been to have been to keep the Victoria /Charing Cross /Cannon Street stoppers as now but not going beyond Dartford (or with a rebuilt Dartford station fewer loop services?) and Crossrail taking over the semi fast services inside Gravesend with St Pancras the service beyond Gravesend? Thus releasing some paths into Cannon Street + Charing Cross…

  102. straphan says:

    Now, try again – Why do you need to divert existing services away?

    Because the number of platforms available for conventional services will decrease but the number of said services will not. If Crossrail were to be extended to High Wycombe, where do you propose the existing WCML slows should go?

    Again, what will offer more growth potential: a mile-long tunnel to the WCML diverting existing services, or wiring up the Chiltern line (say, to Bicester North) and extending the platforms?

    The term ‘growth’ potential is equivalent to ‘carting air around for years until demand (maybe) builds up’. Crossrail trains will be well-loaded in the peaks on all routes from day one.

    The arguments are that you can’t operate more services over the Chiltern line as Marylebone is so constrained. It’s a corridor with great growth opportunities. It’s the last diesel mainline out of London now, so it gets the suburban services wired up in a way that is cost effective and generates substantial benefits. If you include more 4-tracking then you can also run more mainline services, but that’s not essential right away.

    Electrifying the Chiltern may indeed have its merits, but – again – connecting Crossrail to the WCML is:
    – cheaper – far cheaper than anything you’ve suggested in your post
    – beneficial to more passengers – now, not maybe-in-a-few-years
    – needed due to the fact that the number of conventional platforms at Euston is due to be seriously reduced but the number of services is not.

  103. Kit Green says:

    Crossrail taking over the semi fast services inside Gravesend with St Pancras the service beyond Gravesend?

    This will not please anyone wanting a through service to London without paying the HS1 supplement.

  104. AnonyFA says:

    @straphan, @ mr_jrt
    WCML-Crossrail 1 link

    Primary reasons for this link being supported as a priority by TfL are:

    – relief of Euston tube station and related Underground lines (about 10,000 inbound passengers removed in AM peak 3 hours plus 1,600 outbound), which becomes a very important relief with the added load anticipated from HS2

    – faster journey times to most passengers’ destinations via Old Oak direct to the West End, City, Canary Wharf etc

    – new NW London, Herts and Bucks links to West London, Heathrow and Thames Valley destinations with a simple change at Old Oak (so also M25 relief)

    – it was also a popular solution to many stakeholders in the 2011 London & SE Route Utilisation Strategy

    – it can offer new stabling accommodation for Crossrail along the WCML corridor, which in turn should enable reduction in stabling at Old Oak (though the maintenance depot would stay) and so help create space for a development zone.

    The Mayor has made creation of the link one of his top priorities in terms of securing concessions from HS2 Ltd, in compensation for its impacts on Euston.

    It would also help the case argued by various interests, for HS2 to have less of an impact on the Euston area, if you could make the existing station more accommodating for HS2 services and therefore need less land take than currently proposed.

    I also note that the Chiltern Line has no material leverage on Euston and HS2-related issues.

  105. ngh says:

    Re Kit Green

    The line speeds on the via Dartford routes aren’t that great.

    The only real issue is the Higham and Strood passengers, Rochester etc still gets the faster service not via Dartford to the traditional SE termini.
    No need to pay the HS1 supplement, Highham and Strood passengers would change at Gravesend onto Crossrail with a much higher frequency that probably takes them close to where they want to go i.e. City or Canary Wharf than St Pancras does?

  106. Milton Clevedon says:

    Doesn’t that line of thinking start to make the case for Crossrail to supplant some short distance HS1 services via North Kent? Or at what point does a Gravesend extension in its own right cause a capacity overload on Crossrail 1’s SE branch.

  107. mr_jrt says:

    Because the number of platforms available for conventional services will decrease but the number of said services will not. If Crossrail were to be extended to High Wycombe, where do you propose the existing WCML slows should go?

    Electrifying the Chiltern may indeed have its merits, but – again – connecting Crossrail to the WCML is:
    – cheaper – far cheaper than anything you’ve suggested in your post
    – beneficial to more passengers – now, not maybe-in-a-few-years
    – needed due to the fact that the number of conventional platforms at Euston is due to be seriously reduced but the number of services is not.

    I beg to differ about Euston.

    It currently has 19 platforms, and two sidings between 16 and 17 (IIRC) of those. Usually, platform 1 is used by the sleeper twice a day. Platforms 2-6 are typically used by West Coast services, 7-12 (except 10, which LO uses) by suburban services (and 7 and 12 are only needed as 9 & 10 can’t take 12 car trains), and 13-16 as a combination of overspill suburban services and overspill West Coast services. 17, 18 and 19 I only ever used during disruption (and I believe these were formerly parcels platforms given their design). That means that realistically you need 6 West Coast platforms and 4, maybe 6 suburban platforms. Plus one for LO if it remains at Euston and one for the sleeper, should it remain. That’s 14 – and Euston has 5 more spare.

    The original HS2 rebuild provided 6×12 car classic platforms, 6x16car classic platforms, 2x shared platforms, and 10 HS2 platforms, with LO evicted. Ergo, the engineers have stated quite clearly that the WCML only needs 12 platforms.

    Now, that proposal was discarded to cut costs (a shame – it was quite good), and the new proposal mostly retains the current platforms, but most importantly, it demolishes 16-19 without any requirement whatsoever for the Crossrail link and alters 8-12 to handle longer trains (I’m not clear on the details here – I can’t seem to find a clear plan of the intended layout – just illustrations).

    Building said link to Crossrail just frees up platforms connected to lines that are already full.

    Again – where is the need for the Crossrail link again? If you’d come up with something interesting like diverting suburban traffic from Euston onto Crossrail and using the freed up platform capacity to terminate GWML services at Euston (Euston has slack, yes – but not THAT much slack!) via the freed-up approach tracks east of Willesden, then you might have something. but that’s not what you’re suggesting. You’re just stating a link to the WCML is cheap…and that’s mainly because it doesn’t actually offer very much improvement at all.

    As for it being cheaper – the tunnel only benefits that particular service. Platforms and wires benefit any future electrification of the Chilten main line. A short extension of the wires from Bicester North to Kings Sutton connects to the Electric spine. Longer platforms are being built already.

  108. ngh says:

    Re Milton

    It does indeed, part of the problem with SE is the service pattern complexity none of which helps maximise the total passengers carried.

    The crossrail / RUS / NR crystal ball gazing demand numbers suggest 45% unused capacity in the peak hour from Abbey Wood direction at the busiest point (at 12tph with 9 car 345s or 55% unused capacity at 11car 345) so reasonable amount of capacity available to fill. New developments along the route will also up numbers so you don’t want crossrail going to far out hence Gravesend seems sensible? It also releases capacity (paths or passenger space) for use on other SE routes.

  109. Castlebar says:

    @ PoP 16:12

    Well, if you cannot trust the BBC on a thing like that, who can you trust??

    As you can see via the link kindly posted by Windsorian, it is written as a statement of fact, and many will now believe it to be such

  110. Paul says:

    @ Straphan 11:58

    It is inconceivable that Crossrail trains will be ‘mainly longitudinal’, With 9 cars the 450 seats declared comes in at 50 per car, and that ignores DDA wheelchair/pram capacity somewhere, so perhaps increase that to about 54 per car in the ‘ordinary’ carriages.

    With the third set of doors bring ing the effective length of each carriage down to about 20 metres, a seating capacity of 54 could only be achieved with mostly 2+2 seating, you just cannot fit that many seats along the sides…

  111. @Castlebar,

    Well, if you cannot trust the BBC on a thing like that, who can you trust??

    As DCI Barnaby in Midsomer Murders says: ABC – Assume nothing, Believe no-one, Check everything. The BBC article contains no references. And sometimes people and even the BBC can make honest mistakes.

    A few years ago our council made a really big thing about the tube coming to Croydon and it was the headlines in all the local papers. Estate Agents subsequently peddled this falsehood for years. The council had been told that TfL was going to extend the East London Line to Croydon and had put 2 and 2 together and made 5.

    On facts like WRAtH, WRAP or whatever it is called this week, this you have to go to definitive sources which in this case is either the DfT or Network Rail (and Greg, please don’t take this as an opportunity to have a completely gratuitous swipe at the DfT. Any such comment will be deleted).

    You would not believe how difficult it is to be fairly sure of a “fact”. I have been caught out by project leaders who don’t know certain details of the project they manage but think they do, the BBC and, most of all, by myself when I have made an assumption which turns out not to be true – which I strongly suspect is what has happened here.

  112. @Castlebar,

    To expand, I am petty sure that the BBC Wales article is based on a Network Rail press release which states:

    The future rail link, subject to planning permission, will allow passengers to travel from Reading, via Slough, to Heathrow airport via a direct train service.

    Mind you, Network Rail do not inpire confidence, as someone else has already pointed out, by adding in the very next sentence

    Currently, passengers wishing to access Heathrow by rail have to travel into London Paddington station before changing to dedicated airport services.

    Obviously someone at Network Rail is unaware of Heathrow Connect.

    Although not definitive, I don’t believe anything has changed and Heathrow – Reading always was the plan.

  113. Fandroid says:

    I long ago decided that the BBC was just another load of journos. Doing their best; but victims of the need to create headlines and make the most of a story. They really have only a tiny bit more specialist expertise than everyman/woman. As PoP says, even some Project Leaders suffer from the delusion that they know every detail of their own projects! People who have not been following an issue in every detail often get excited when something fairly routine gets released into the public domain.

  114. Josh says:

    Crossrail to High Wycombe wouldn’t work unless the line was quadrupled from Northolt Junction to High Wycombe. You can’t have at least 4tph stoppers on the line. It would screw the intercity services. So is it really Marylebone that is limiting Chiltern line capacity? Or the line itself, with the need to squeeze in local trains, intercity trains and freight trains on a line that is double track at best.

    Also, if the locals are diverted to OOC, then there’s still the little issue of the poor stations from Northolt Park to Wembley Stadium. They become Crossrail orphans like the Greenford branch.

    Besides, Chiltern Railways has nowhere near the image problem that London Midland does. Sure their livery is quite chic, but they are the source of endless complaints from their customers. Basically, if there was one and only one franchisee you don’t want to remove from local services, it’s Chiltern Railways.

  115. Castlebar says:

    @ Josh

    You’re right. I wish Chiltern would extend to the south coast!

    If only somebody would remove “Southern”, (permanently), I’d be a very happy bunny.
    If only Greg lived down here, they’d be toast by now.

    And if only all the passing loops had been kept on the ‘New route” from London up to Wycombe

  116. Castlebar says:

    This on tonight’s news shows how the best laid plans can go awry. The old diesel services didn’t get this sort of problem.

    Again, from a BBC website tonight

    First Capital Connect trains evacuated after child’s balloon hits cables

    Two passenger trains were evacuated after a child’s foil balloon hit overhead cables, causing a power cut in Cambridgeshire.

    Train operator First Capital Connect said the trains were stopped at 12:50 GMT just south of Huntingdon.

    All lines are blocked and passengers going in both directions on the Peterborough to King’s Cross East Coast Mainline route were taken off, he said.

    People will see “major delays” and are urged to check their train’s website.

    Passengers on board the 10:45 GMT service from Leeds were stuck at Huntingdon for more than three hours, a spokesman for operator East Coast Trains confirmed.

  117. Graham Feakins says:

    Maybe nothing in it but today’s ‘Independent’ reports that Vince Cable’s Department for Business gave Bombardier advice on how to lodge its Crossrail bid – “how to put up the best bid it could after it lost the Thameslink contract”.

    However, “The department denied the help represented any kind of preferential treatment, adding that any bidder could have had the same guidance, had they asked. It stressed that the information was general. ”

  118. Arnold Martinson says:

    A bit off-topic, but BBC Wales has a track record of not being very accurate when it comes to transport stories. They have certainly swallowed lots of glossy rubbish by the Welsh Government or Network Rail on local South Wales services without questioning – just check their reporting on the Ebbw Vale line extensions.

    Having said that, there is quite a strong lobbying effort by the WG and local authorities along the GWR to have direct fast service from Bristol and South Wales to Heathrow. This (together with other demands for improvements, e.g. line-speed, HS3 to Bristol and across the barrage to South Wales) is coordinated by the Great Western Partnership, which is led by Elizabeth Haywood (wife of Peter Hain, still a big beast in the Welsh Labour Party, and lead barrage lobbyist) and Prof. Stuart Cole from South Wales Uni. One of the key arguments is that a South Wales – Heathrow service could take over the current service from South Wales to places such as Swindon and Didcot, allowing the London trains to be speeded up by omitting more stops.

  119. Windsorian says:

    Cardiff journey time saving of 45 minutes is based on a saving of 30 minutes due to Western Rail Access (WRA), and an additional 15 minutes due to the Intercity Express Programme (IEP).

    Swansea journey time saving of 53 minutes is 36 minutes for WRA and 17 for IEP.

    Reading saving of 27 minutes is entirely due to WRA.

  120. Milton Clevedon says:

    @WRAtH viewers
    In which case, what is the case for Crossrail to take over WRAtH. Sounds like 1 tph South Wales, 1 tph Bristol, 1 tph Newbury and 1 tph Oxford. Shame they’ll have to call at Twyford/Maidenhead/Slough as well….
    So what are the pre-2015 political commitments on this going to be?

  121. Greg Tingey says:

    if Crossrail trains have longitudinal seating only, then seats will start getting filled up far more quickly. Without r I really hope not!
    Thameslink trains will not be longitudinal, why should CR1 ????
    You well make the point about standing for greater than 20 mins, so one hopes sense will prevail?

    That “Swansea” thing is almost certainly a misreading of a Network Rail announcement of w-facing services @ Heathrow by 2021
    See also PoP’s later comment

    Castlebar (over S)
    The OOC – Greenford – Wycombe direct route looks so obvious that I suspect a planner somewhere feels he must come up with a more difficult (and expensive) alternative. So that they can then reject it, possibly?

  122. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Castlebar 2023 – re foil balloons. It was noticeable that Hong Kong MTR were sending out regular tweets [1] to their passengers not to bring such balloons onto the system during the recent Chinese New Year celebrations. Apparently they had multiple incidents with balloons being released and tangling in the overhead wires in last year’s celebrations. Even a very well run operation like the MTR can get caught out by the simplest of things. I wouldn’t be too harsh on FCC for being caught out too.

    [1] yes I do follow the MTR Travel Alerts on Twitter. And they have more problems with delays and overcrowding than we might imagine.

  123. Tom Hawtin says:

    Longitudinal seating looks plausible to me. Compare to a 1996 Stock Jubilee train. From the TfL data, trailer cars and UNDM have 34 seats and are 17.77m long. They also have as many door leafs as a Crossrail car and wheelchair/luggage space. So for a 23 m car, the additional 5.23m of length can go for 16 extra seats. Which gives a seat width of 0.66m. I think 26 inches is a comfortable seat width.

    On the 20 minute rule. It seems like an unhelpful aspiration to me. Only for the really unhealthy. Not that these trains are likely to be often particularly full out towards Reading, taking over from services run by short dirty FGW Network [Express] Turbos.

  124. Alan Griffiths says:

    Arnold Martinson @ 7 February 2014 at 22:30

    “One of the key arguments is that a South Wales – Heathrow service could take over the current service from South Wales to places such as Swindon and Didcot, allowing the London trains to be speeded up by omitting more stops.”

    I have no problem following the logic of that, but
    How long are the platforms at Heathrow T5 and at Heathrow T1,2,3?
    Would a new model of train be required for such a service?
    Have they talked train design with Trans-Pennine Express, who expect to be running even more of their services to Manchester Airport when the Northern Hub is complete?

  125. Anonymous says:

    How much extra does it cost (in terms of electricity, time to decouple, storage of the unused 4 cars) to run an 8 car as opposed to a 4 car train?

  126. Jeremy says:

    @Anonymous: I’d expect a train of twice the length and weight to use twice as much electricity, less a bit, but only have basic physics to go on. I suspect that the larger part of the cost is the charge made for track usage, and the cost of the mileage for the second unit.

  127. Chris says:

    @mr_jrt “Again – where is the need for the Crossrail link again?”

    The Underground at Euston will be in desperate need of relief, irrespective of HS2, come the next decade. A WCML link is a relatively low cost way of taking a significant number of commuters off the congested north-south tube lines through Euston and onto Crossrail. This secures some valuable breathing space before CR2 opens and reduces the scrum when it does.

  128. Anonymous Cow says:

    @Jeremy: Air resistance doesn’t increase by much as you add more length, as it’s mostly the front face of the train involved there. So I’d expect the energy use of a double-length train to be considerably less than doubled at sustained speeds. Naturally weight is more relevant during acceleration and at low speed.

  129. mr_jrt says:

    The Underground at Euston will be in desperate need of relief, irrespective of HS2, come the next decade. A WCML link is a relatively low cost way of taking a significant number of commuters off the congested north-south tube lines through Euston and onto Crossrail. This secures some valuable breathing space before CR2 opens and reduces the scrum when it does.

    That would be a valid point, but Crossrail serves different areas than the Victoria and Northern Lines (the clue is in the fact Crossrail is East-West and those tube lines are North-South), so you’ll just have passengers wanting the CX branch changing onto them at TCR, those wanting the Bank branch at Moorgate and those passengers wanting the Victoria Line…well, they’re SOL – it’s a OSI to Oxford Circus for you! Not to mention that you’ve just swapped 6 tube platforms worth of capacity for 2 Crossrail platforms worth, and of course they’ll also all be in contention with all the GWML passengers.

    In the interest of being open – if such relief is required (and I’m not 100% convinced it is) and you had your heart set on building a short tunnel then I’d suggest you try resurrecting the old proposal that is often referred to as Crossrail 3 whenever it crops up – a tunnel from Euston to Waterloo. It’s about a mile longer (so slightly less than twice the length) of the proposed Crossrail link, but it means all the WCML suburban services could be linked to SWML equivalents and it could still serve TCR to boot (though it’s a slight diversion from the direct route which would give a station at Holborn). Unlike Euston, Waterloo NR is congested, and that link might buy you the capacity needed to think about Crossrail 2 properly rather than building it out of desperation as a jack-of-all trades. It might even make the metro option more likely, so you might get your stations at Piccadilly Circus and Kings Road back, or CR2 could take the Windsor lines and CR3 the SWML lines. Adds a lot of options for not much cost at all compared to something like CR1 or even CR2.

  130. Josh says:

    mr_jrt makes a good point though. The neat thing about Crossrail as it currently stands is that while it allows for better journeys for GWML and GEML users, it doesn’t do that by removing the journeys currently possible. People from West Drayton can still get to Paddington. People from Maryland can still get to Liverpool Street.

    The WCML link would divert passengers away from Euston, where a number might actually want to be. Of course, Chiltern link would do that too.

  131. mr_jrt says:


    Indeed. Thing is, Marylebone has infamously-bad tube links. You have the Bakerloo or an OSI to Baker Street. Divert to Crossrail however, and if you actually need the Marylebone area you can hop onto the Bakerloo at Paddington to get you to Marylebone, or the SSL interchange to get you to Baker Street. It’s one stop regardless – however, if you actually want the City, then your old OSI to Baker Street is no longer needed – you can hop off your Crossrail service directly at Moorgate-Liverpool Street. As they say, there are no losers. 🙂

  132. Chris says:

    @mr_jrt – That really isn’t a valid argument, WCML services into Euston provide direct interchange with both branches of the Northern and the Vic, whereas Crossrail services would provide interchange with both branches of the Northern PLUS the Bakerloo, Circle/Met/H&C, District and the Central line, spreading out the demand among many more stations and tube lines, relieving the Victoria, and removing the need for many to use existing tube lines entirely.

    For the minority that find Euston more convenient, they just use the slow line services that aren’t taken over by Crossrail.

  133. mr_jrt says:

    @mr_jrt – That really isn’t a valid argument, WCML services into Euston provide direct interchange with both branches of the Northern and the Vic, whereas Crossrail services would provide interchange with both branches of the Northern PLUS the Bakerloo, Circle/Met/H&C, District and the Central line, spreading out the demand among many more stations and tube lines, relieving the Victoria, and removing the need for many to use existing tube lines entirely.

    If you say so, I suspect we shall have to agree to disagree. Euston has access to the SSL already – it’s called Euston Square. It’s just missing the passageway to the eastern end of the platforms to remove the OSI. The District is irrelevant for eastwards travel – it terminates at Edgware Road, so useful service wise it’s as good as Euston Square anyway. The Bakerloo is irrelevant (Rather than going via Baker Street you’d just stay on Crossrail to TCR and OSI to Oxford Circus, probably, as unless you actually want Piccadilly Circus the NL-CX or Vic at Euston are more useful). I’ll give you the Central though, but given the point of Crossrail is to bypass it, it’s on shaky ground as an interchange argument. And you’re still missing the Vic. That’s now a change at Bond Street to the Jubilee for one stop and then another change at Green Park for one stop, or the OSI to Oxford Circus and two stops.

    For the minority that find Euston more convenient, they just use the slow line services that aren’t taken over by Crossrail.

    The “rump” services left into Euston would be running at a much-degraded frequency – remember, the slow lines are full. At present if you turn up at Euston you have a service to Watford every 10 minutes or less in the peaks. Split that evenly between Euston and Crossrail and you’re left with a twenty minute wait between trains at both locations – the last thing you want to be doing is clogging up the platforms during the peaks.

  134. AlisonW says:

    I’m not quite sure why mr_jrt has taken to copying big lumps of text in bold unnecessarily. Copying the text which you are replying to is really only needed and then not always on an email list-type thread it certainly and most definitely is not needed here where a quick flick of the mousewheel can let the reader be reminded of the full detail of the previous post.

    Might I suggest this is nipped in the bud before it becomes even more intrusive, possibly – if you really feel the need to point out what you are replying to – by simply stating the time of the replied-to post and the handle of the person who made it?

    Thank you.

  135. @MrJRT, AlisonW,

    I tend to agree with AlisonW. MrJRT is using <cite> and I would argue that <cite> in any case wasn’t really meant for citing a previous comment. It is meant for citing the name of the source (e.g. <cite>A History of London Transport</cite> Vol 1 Chapter 5). Given that what is being referenced has already been published, and generally is only one or two 2 “page up”s (or mousewheel or scroll with finger) away I would have thought either in italics using <i>…</i> or, for a long quote, just referencing the time stamp or the start the quote followed by … should be sufficient.

    If using tags then in future then I would expect them to be HTML5 compliant. See here for the authoritative source on the current correct usage of <cite>. I could cite it but I won’t.

    If you are actually quoting from an authoritative source (e.g. TfL or DfT press release) you could use the appropriate tag if you know it (no I am not telling you) but please use very sparingly is it is worse than <cite> for boldness.

    Also, unless one really wants a long discussion (well monologue really) on the philosophical differences between <em> and <b> although they are actually the same and similar potentially mindnumbingly boring subjects please don’t bring up the topic of HTML tags in the pub within the earshot of John Bull.

  136. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ PoP – What might be useful, assuming someone is able / has the time to create it, is a very simple guide to “dos and don’ts” when commenting on LR. Also for those of us for whom HTML is largely a foreign language some examples of how to write using those tags that are acceptable on LR could be a help. Having such a page, that people can check when required, *might* smooth things out a little bit.

  137. Alan Griffiths says:

    I’m a little puzzled by aspects of the Euston discussion, including how grumpy some of the contenders are with each other.
    Come HS2, not only to Birmingham, but also to the WCML near Lichfield, many train paths will be released. Trains between Euston and Manchester (3 per hour), Glasgow (1 per hour), Liverpool (1 per hour) and Chester (1 per hour) won’t be using the classic network once HS2 opens.
    That’s 6 train paths via the Trent valley (as well as 3 via Coventry) , each way, every hour, released for a completely different timetable on the southern end of the classic WCML. That the slow lines are now full will no longer be relevant. If some Herts and Bucks stations have all their trains routed to Crossrail, everyone will readily be able to change at Watford.
    Once HS2 construction contacts are signed, the time will be ripe to buy a house in Rugby. You read it here first.

  138. @Walthamstow Writer,

    To a large extent I agree but don’t want to put people off. There is absolutely no need to know any of the weirdness and wonders of HTML to comment. I don’t go near the coding of the website itself so your idea would rely on John Bull finding the time.

    By and large most people are incredibly sensible when using this website and we don’t really want to impose rules as such when we can avoid doing so.

    As to HTML I think the only two really useful ones to know are:
    i) <i> to start italics and </i> to end it

    ii) if your are feeling really bold
    <a href=”FullWeblinkIncludinghttpPrefixGoesHere”>comment linking to website</a>

    That’s all I use in comments but instead of italics one can stick stuff in quotes or just not bother and one can always just put on the full web address so you shouldn’t even need that.

  139. mr_jrt says:

    Point is, sometimes I don’t visit for days, other times more frequently. If I’m replying to a particular point in a comment 2 days previous and there are 20-odd long comments in between, having to make the reader jump those 20 posts up back and forth to know what I’m talking about is quite frankly horrible. Not to mention, when there’s a long post, explicitly indicating what I’m replying makes for a much easier reading experience for all. The fact that LR has chosen to style cite tags as larger and bold is down to the LR web designer, not me – I just mark up my text appropriately. If you’d prefer me to use the sematically-devoid <i> instead, fine, I will. I considered using the quote tag, but that wasn’t in the list – I suspect the <q cite=”> tag is preferred substitute?

    As for my posting style, I think it’s a perfectly reasonable posting style for forums as well as usenet and email. It provides context for replies without forcing the user to scroll back several pages of text. A sentence or two is not a big problem.

  140. @Mr_JRT

    NO. If you are going to use <cite> then please follow the HTML5 rules and use it for its proper purpose. You are the one who is abusing HTML. Click on the link I provided and look and see what the rules are for <cite>. I have no objection at all for to you using its for its proper purpose.

    If you’d prefer me to use the sematically-devoid <i> instead

    If you feel that <i> is philosophically wrong in website usage (and actually to a certain extent I would agree with you) then you could use <em> instead which does the same thing but is not tainted by presuming a particular style.

    Please be realistic and accept what we are trying to do is provide some basic HTML functionality without the many dangers that lurk if we provide the full set. If people are going to use it in a silly way and not according to the standards laid down then the simplest thing is to take away the facility.

  141. Chris says:

    @mr_jrt – I don’t see what there is to ‘agreeing to disagree’ over, it’s a pretty simple concept – a WCML service offering calling at Paddington, Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road, Farringdon/Barbican, Moorgate/Liverpool St and beyond offers many more ways to reach destinations in London than one terminating at Euston.

    With Crossrail providing direct interchange with both branches of the Northern, and a superior interchange with the Met/H&C/Circle at Paddington, Farringdon and Liverpool St, only a relative few heading to the southernmost stations on the Victoria Line (Victoria/Pimlico/Vauxhall etc) would need to make an extra change to reach their destination compared to Euston.

  142. Fandroid says:

    Don’t worry about Crossrail access to the Victoria Line. The eastern ticket hall for Bond Street station is in Hanover Square, and that is really only a short walk from Oxford Circus. Regular travellers will soon get the hang of this.

    Non-regulars will just look at their Tube map and decide to take the Central Line back to Oxford Circus for their continuing Victoria Line journeys. These folk won’t notice the difference because they will like the brand new trains that potentially take them directly to all sorts of London destinations without changing, and the tourist mega-hub of the South Bank will be two stops nearer on the Northern than it was when all trains went to Euston.

  143. Westfiver says:

    Alan Griffiths asked the lengths of platforms @ Heathrow.

    From Network Rail website:

    T123: 195 metres
    T4: 195 metres
    T5: 217 metres

    Other Information

    Heathrow workers (i.e. those with Heathrow Id) get a 75% discount on Heathrow Express and Connect Fares.

  144. Westfiver says:

    Slightly wrong there.

    The Heathrow 75% discount applies to all stations between Paddington and Reading + the Greenford branch.

    Another thing, last week I went to Heathrow to take part in a Terminal 2 Trial as a volunteer tester. I had to be at the Renaissance Hotel (north side) @ 8:30, so I could not use my Freedom Card. I could not use an Oyster pay-as-you-go either, as there is no where to touch out. I was on the 7:41 Heathrow Connect from Ealing Broadway and I was not going to get off at Hayes & H. just to do so, therefore I paid the full fare from EB. I was surprised how few people got off at T123 at that time of day – no more than 20.

  145. Alan Griffiths says:

    Westfiver @ 9 February 2014 at 21:15

    ” lengths of platforms @ Heathrow”

    Thank you for those measurements. So:
    1) Fine for Crossrail trains, as ordered this month
    2) Not too difficult for future extended Crossrail trains (they have SDO), approx. 20% longer
    3) not at all long enough for current or future inter-city trains
    4) comfortable for Siemens Desiros,
    currently being phased in by TransPennine Express from Manchester Airport to Edinburgh and Glasgow. Perhaps they are the trains for Swansea to Heathrow in 2021?

  146. stimarco says:


    One problem with forums like these is that you can’t follow threads very easily, so many people use short quotes from the comment(s) they are replying to. With the emphasis on short: quote only the barest minimum necessary to make it clear what you’re replying to. And no more.

    As to the rest… how’s this for Olympic-level procrastination:

    What is “HTML”?
    “HTML” stands for Hyper-Text Mark-up Language. A mark-up language is used to apply ‘tags’ to content – text, video, pictures, etc. – so the computer knows how to present that content. Contrary to popular belief, it is not considered a programming language. It describes content; it does not define a process. However, HTML documents can contain program code written in a programming language (usually one named “Javascript”). But that’s not important for our purposes…

    The simplest HTML tag simply forces a new paragraph: <p> Unlike most HTML tags, this one does not require a matching closing tag. You don’t need to use this tag in this context however.

    In fact, only a few HTML tags – mostly those that operate on text – are of interest here. These work conceptually like brackets: think of them as the square brackets in [this is some text] i.e. you need both an opening and closing tag, just as you need opening and closing brackets.
    HTML text mark-up tags therefore tend to look like this:

    <blockquote>Something, something, dark side.</blockquote>

    In this example, ‘blockquote’ is the name of the tag. Its first appearance is in the opening tag. Any additional information needed for the tag to work is also provided in this opening tag. (In this example, no additional information is required.) The closing tag contains just a forward slash followed immediately by the tag’s name. All the text in between is affected by the tag and will appear in a blockquote format.

    Tags can be ‘nested’, so a tag can contain other tags, which can contain other tags, and so on. Though that gets complicated and hard to read very quickly, so it’s best avoided.

    Tag Attributes
    Some tags require additional information in order to do anything useful. This is provided in the form attributes. An attribute is a name that is linked to some information. For example: attributename = "someinformation", where ‘attributename’ is the name of the attribute, and the attribute’s information is provided within the double quotation marks. Some tags have optional attributes, while others may also have required attributes and won’t work properly without them.

    The Title Attribute
    Most HTML tags support an optional ‘title’ attribute. The content of this attribute will normally be displayed in a tooltip over the tagged element when you hover over it with the mouse. You can safely ignore it for the most part as readers using a tablet or smartphone can’t see tooltips anyway.

    Officially Supported Tags
    The officially supported list of HTML tags for commenting on this website can be viewed by moving your mouse pointer over the “ACCEPTABLE TAGS” text below the comment entry box. As this doesn’t work on tablets and other touch-screen devices, here’s that list, with some added notes:

    The Anchor Tag
    <a href="" title="">
    This is the ‘anchor’ tag provides an example of a tag with one requried information field. It is used so often, its name has been shortened to just ‘a’. The ‘title’ attribute is optional.
    It is the most powerful of the accepted tags. It’s how you insert a hyperlink, either to another website, or to another comment. For example, if you click on the “@mr_jrt:” link at the top of this post, you’ll be taken directly to the post I’m replying to. I inserted the link like this:

    <a href="#comment-183108">@mr_jrt</a>

    This only works for comments on the same physical web page. If you’re linking to a comment on another article – or to a different website entirely – you really do need all of the URL (“Uniform Resource Locator” = “Location of the data you want the computer to fetch”). This includes the ‘http://www… etc.’ stuff. E.g. to link to this specific comment from a reply to another article, you’d need to put the following between those quotation marks:

    (Tip – You can get the full URL, including the “#comment-[number]” information, in the timestamp beneath the comment poster’s name: either right-click >> copy link >> paste between the href="" quotes your reply, or use the equivalent feature on whatever computer / tablet / smartphone you’re using.)

    Tags Made Obsolete By The Inexorable March of Technology
    The next two tags let you provide an explanation for an abbreviation or acronym, but they only work if you have a mouse pointer, so they’re not that useful in this age of tablets and smartphones:
    <abbr title=""> – This is the same tag used for the “ACCEPTABLE TAGS” text below the comments box.
    <acronym title=""> – Does the same thing as the ‘abbr’ tag, but lets the computer know that this is an acronym, not an abbreviation.

    Presentation and Formatting Tags
    <b> and <strong>
    These are the ‘bold’ and ‘strongly emphasised’ tags. (Like the ‘anchor’ tag, both are used so often that they’ve been abbreviated.)

    It is considered better to use the <strong> tag instead. This lets the website designer determine whether a ‘strongly emphasised’ word or phrase should be in italics, bold text, a different colour, a different size, and so on. If you just use ‘bold’, you get bold text regardless of whether that fits the site’s visual style.

    Think of this as the difference between using a word processor’s templates and stylesheets, (‘strong’), or just clicking the “bold” button on the toolbar (‘b’).

    <del datetime=""> and <strike>
    “Deleted text” and “strike” tags.
    The first explicitly defines the text as ‘deleted’ and the ‘datetime’ attribute lets you tell it when that deletion happened. Normally, the text is shown with a line struck through it, so it often looks identical to the ‘strike’ tag. However, this tag is preferred as it does not impose a specific presentation on the website designer.
    The ‘strike’ tag simply tells the computer to use the ‘strikeout’ text format (i.e. a line through the middle of the text), but provides no useful semantic information.

    <em> and <i>
    “Emphasised” and “italics”. Emphasised text is considered the better tag to use as, again, the website’s designer might prefer to emphasise text using colour, or some other typographic approach.

    <blockquote cite=""> and <q cite="">
    “Block quotation” and “Inline quotation” tags.
    I used the ‘blockquote’ tag in my earlier example above. It is intended to represent an extended quotation, such as from a book or other document.
    The ‘q’ tag is for inline quotations. This often has no visible effect.
    The cite tag attribute is intended to store the source of a citation in the document, but is rarely displayed to the user.

    This tag is much the same as the attribute of the same name, and is explained here. Note that this tag has a primarily semantic purpose: it’s used to explain the semantic role of the text affected by the tag and its source.

    Makes the text look like it’s been typed into an old fashioned computer with a monospace font. Like this. Does not compute!
    (On this website, it also has the added advantage of adding a dash of colour.) This tag is mainly used for displaying computer program listings.

    Semantics? Huh?
    Semantic information like that provided by ‘cite’ tags and attributes is provided to help the computer catalogue and index information more accurately and usefully.

    Computers have no inherent grasp of context, so that information has to be provided explicitly in the form of tags like these. The semantic information helps when searching and archiving complex information, making it easier to obtain more relevant search results.

    That said, semantic tagging of citations is not as valuable in blog comments as we’re not here to write peer-reviewed scientific papers at each other.


    See? Piece of cake! Who said computers were hard?

    (@JB: Feel free to use this in an FAQ if you want. I’ve also got it in a text file, with all the HTML stuff intact. Let me know if you want it.)

  147. Melvyn says:

    Surely its London Oveground services that are going to change with the go ahead of Barking to Gospel Oak electrification this is likely to lead to new through platforms at Gospel Oak and extension of this service to west or north west London . As for Watford to Euston line well one possibility might be a Thameslink style sub surface station at Euston with potential for extension via Holborn to Waterloo with potential to through run onto South West Trains many years earlier than Crossrail 2 !

    As for talk of diverting services onto Crossrail 1 and away from Euston well I fail to see the logic given even more people will want to access Euston to use HS2!

    And given how underused its platforms are compared to Waterloo there must be much more capacity possible once old unused structures are removed and platforms tidied and lengthened in some cases.

    As for seating layout of Crossrail trains then I reckon a Metropolitan Line S Stock solution will arise with mixture of facing seats and longitudinal seating to fit door spacing and wheelchairs etc.

    What the new Crossrail and Thameslink trains will do following on from London Overground and S Stock trains is raise arguments about new Artic joined up trains with through carriages V conventional trains of fixed formation based on 2,3 or 4 carriages just like the abandonment of compartment stock did !

    Of course this move to Artic trains will as London Overground has shown allow for short trains of say 2/3 carriages to have additional carriages added without costs of spare drivers cabs etc .

  148. Chris says:

    @Westfiver – do those lengths represent the maximum possible, or is that what’s currently usable with passive provision for more? As T5 was built for use by Airtrack surely it would’ve made sense to have room for a 12-car 240m train.

  149. Chris says:

    @Melvyn – Apparently the plan is for 4-car GOBLIN services to use the existing bay-platform at Gospel Oak, which given the cost of through platforms is likely to remain the case for the foreseeable future.

    As for Crossrail up the WCML, such a service would interchange with HS2 at Old Oak Common, along with GWML, Overground and Heathrow services… and there’d still be WCML services into Euston anyway.

    You are correct that more people will be wanting to use Euston due to HS2, and that’s why the Underground station and the Northern/Victoria lines would benefit from some of the Euston commuter traffic being diverted onto Crossrail.

    I really can’t see the sense in joining a low frequency, 4/5 car Watford DC service with high frequency 10/12 car SWML services – the Euston-Watford service simply doesn’t warrant the capacity or frequency of trains needed into Waterloo and through Central London. The same arguments for Crossrail using the WCML and not the DC Line would apply to this.

  150. ngh says:

    Re West Fiver and Alan Griffiths

    Heathrow Platform lengths – Aren’t Heathrow going to spend a few tens of millions on the rail platforms and access to the platforms as part (in lieu?) of their crossrail contribution?

    With the 9 car crossrail stock being 205m that would mean at least 1 probably 2 set of doors out of use with 195m platforms at T4 and T 1 23 and if extended to 10 car the same issue at T5…

    Crossrail might be ok wil SDO are 1 or 2 quieter stations but not some of the bigger destinations? Also far easier to sort now while the Heathrow stations are quieter than in the future?

  151. Fandroid says:

    Having failed to do the Sudoku in my Times, I can confirm that most of the words in that link are also in the the Times Business section. So HEx seem to be surprising us by aiming to extend their trains to Reading. Interesting development! There is some logic in it but would there be a premium fare? Unless they are aware of lots of passengers from the west interchanging to HEx at Paddington, the actual demand doesn’t seem to be big enough to sustain higher fares. It also begs the question of what sort of operator they would be. Would they change from an Open Access Operator to a Franchise, or would they want to extend the Open Access status they now have to services west to Reading as well? DfT and ORR are very sniffy about Open Access plans that would abstract passengers from franchised services, and it’s difficult to see them avoiding that unless it’s non-stop to/from Reading or has a big enough premium to put normal Reading-London passengers off. Then there’s the problem hinted at by Graham H, in that potential franchise bidders are already looking at those lovely underused HEx paths on what is a very busy line. Ho Hum.

  152. timbeau says:

    “As for talk of diverting services onto Crossrail 1 and away from Euston well I fail to see the logic given even more people will want to access Euston to use HS2!

    Why? Both XR1 and HS2 will call at Old Oak Common.

  153. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Fandroid – I wonder if there is another subtle plot with HEX. I confess I have not ploughed through whatever detail there is about the western access link but if BAA were to fund that link or make a substantial funding contribution then they could argue they are the infrastructure owner thus requiring a premium fare to be paid from any direction in order to pay back the cost of the investment. I appreciate Graham H has argued consistently that some sort of premium would always be required but if the Government simply funded the link as public expenditure then there’s no obvious requirement (to my mind) for premium fares. I just wonder if BAA want to have the ability to exert some sort of control over rail access into the Airport for as long as possible. If there were through trains via Heathrow (once the western access was built) there could be a double premium to be paid. Why would anyone pay that sort of money? The other aspect that is hinted at fairly strongly in the article is survival of the rail operation. Looks to me as if BAA / HEX have been doing a fair bit of strategic thinking and planning.

  154. Windsorian says:

    Thanks Fandroid

    I only read free papers / articles on-line so The Times pay-wall is off-line to me !

    The Western Access Grip 2 v2 report suggested Reading on its own may not justify a 9/10 car train; they suggested perhaps Oxford but someone else on LR suggested Basingstoke.

    But would a new GW TOC be happy surrending passengers to a competitor ?

  155. Windsorian says:

    @ Walthamstow Writer

    “….but if BAA (now HAH) were to fund that link or make a substantial funding contribution then they could argue they are the infrastructure owner….

    BAA proposed to fund and own the Airtrack line from T5 to the Staines / Windsor line.

  156. timbeau says:

    If the T123/T5 Ex stations were barriered, premium fares could be charged for using them but through passengers on trains calling there don’t have to. Might make its use for Heathrow Fleeflow difficult though!

  157. Greg Tingey says:

    Apparently the plan is for 4-car GOBLIN services to use the existing bay-platform at Gospel Oak, which given the cost of through platforms is likely to remain the case for the foreseeable future. Which will mean dangerous congestion on the stairs every single time a westbound GOBLIN arrives, then! [ It’s pretty bad, now … ]
    Oh dear, the spirit of past pennypinching is till with us, I see.
    Because rebuilding it properly, later, will cost considerably more, of course.
    Wonder what the relative BCA’s are?

  158. Graham H says:

    @WW – just to clarify my position: all the evidence points to the WRath link being a financial and economic dog – the question is whether that is funded by a premium fare or by government subsidy (or some mixture of these). In order to make the case for subsidy, it would be necessary to show that the economic benefits exceed the costs. Given the relatively small number of people using Heathrow who derive from western parts (<10% of the total) and the even smaller proportion of those who could use a western link if provided, it's very difficult to see what these benefits might amount to. To note: it's not just a matter of faster journeys – were that to be the case, then InterCity services would receive massive subsidies as would passengers on GATEx etc. The fact that GATex is/was ineligible for subsidy should tell us something.

  159. Windsorian says:

    From Grip 2 v2 May 2012 study :

    The Western Access service is assumed to be priced at approximately £13.50 each way from Reading (2020 fare, in current prices). This is very similar to the fare for the existing RailAir coach service from Reading to Heathrow, which it is assumed would be withdrawn when the Western Access services start operating.

    It is estimated that c. 1.6 million air passengers would use the service on opening in 2020. This would rise to c. 1.7 million by 2030 (when Heathrow demand is forecast to reach saturation). If the HS2 “Y network” is built, then many passengers from the West Midlands, and almost all passengers from the North West, Yorkshire and further north, would be likely to use HS2 to reach Heathrow (rather than travel to Reading and change to the Western Access services).

    The modelling suggests that this would reduce demand for Western Access services from 1.7 million to 1.4 million. This reduction in demand has been included in the appraisal.

  160. Castlebar says:

    @ Windsorian

    You’ve made a very good point

    When the Piccadilly Heathrow extension was opened, did the coaches from the West London Air Terminal cease immediately, or, did they continue for a while, trying to compete with the Piccadilly Line?.

    On the one occasion I used a BEA coach from the WLAT, travel was free on production of a valid air and “checked in at WLAT” ticket. I cannot remember it surviving even as a freebie service for air pax, so what chance would a coach service you have to pay for have against a direct rail service from Reading?

  161. answer=42 says:

    @Windsorian and others
    Where can I get my hands on the 2012 GRIP 2 study? Can’t find it on the net.

  162. timbeau says:

    According to this site
    the BEA service service finally ended in 1979 – about three years after the Picadilly extension opened.

  163. Castlebar says:

    Thanks for that timbeau

    As that free coach service was in competition with the Picc for 3 years and did not survive, I do not see how a coach service (that will not be free) from Reading will survive against a western rail link from Reading

  164. Windsorian says:

    @ answer=42

    I was given a copy of the Western Access to Heathrow Grip2 v2 May 2012 appraisal study in August 2012. I’m not sure if it has been publically released yet or whether it was later updated. Now the route has been narrowed down to a single option, I don’t know why NR have not yet published it.

  165. Westfiver says:

    Heathrow Platform Lengths

    I obtained the platform lengths from the following document:

    Timetable Planning Rules Wales and Western

    The lengths are the usable platform length from ramp to ramp (or end to end).

    I’m at Heathrow tomorrow for another Terminal2 trial (Departure Check-in) so I could go and have a look to see where a Hex stops.

  166. Westfiver says:

    A few more facts to chew over.

    The Crossrail trains are due to have a capacity of 1500 with 450 seated – I assume these figures are about the same even with the 9 car formation.

    These trains replace the following:

    4-car class 315: First class: 0 Second Class:319
    2-car class 165: F: 16 S: 164 + 1 toilet
    3-car class 165: F:16 S: 270 + 1 toilet
    3-car class 166: F:32 S: 243+ 2 toilets
    5-car class 360: F:0 S: 340 + 1 toilet

    I do not know what the standing figures are for the above.

    Due to GW electrification the 165s and 166s will be replaced well before Crossrail goes live, and I assume the EMU will be a 4 car train having a capacity of approx 290. In the peaks, the units work in multiple (5 and 6 car in respect of the 165/6s).

    The introduction of Crossrail trains will result in a large reduction in seating capacity especially on Great Eastern.

  167. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Timbeau / Castlebar – worth bearing in mind that LT did run the A1 and A2 Airbus services from Victoria / Euston to Heathrow for several years. However they could not survive on a commercial basis despite the routes being designed to offer convenient pick up / drop offs from hotels in various parts of London. No one has tried since to cover that particular market by road.

    Ironically London Buses / London United launched the A3 to Stansted Airport but that was probably a bit before its time. Now we have three operators serving Stansted by coach!

  168. Walthamstow Writer says:

    On matters Crossrail I enjoyed a visit to the Moorgate site on Saturday and Whitechapel on Sunday. The scale and complexity of the works at Moorgate was quite something to have explained. It is interesting to see the range of issues and different solutions that are being employed on each site. The excavation / exhumation of bodies from the former Bedlam site near Liverpool St is due to start soon. It will be a fair few months before the TBMs pass through the City and apparently the Barbican Centre is given weekly progress updates on the TBMs so they can try to understand what part of the programme of performances might be affected when the TBMs pass by. I have some photos of the Moorgate worksite which will end up on the Flickr pool in due course.

    Whitechapel’s visit was to the top of a working shaft which stretches down to platform level. We were in the acoustic chamber which reduces noise pollution from the work. We had the tunnel construction process explained to us and how they dig the platform bores in two phases to minimise settlement. The process of digging adits from the platforms into circulating corridors was even more involved. You’d never guess that so much complex engineering was going on if you were stood on Whitechapel High Street. No photos from Whitechapel as the shaft was all caged in and the environment was a tad dusty.

  169. Littlejohn says:

    @Westfiver. Do we actually know what will replace the GW 165s/166s on electrification? I have a vague memory that FGW (or its successor) will be getting some 5-car bimode IEPs. Will these be the answer to the question of what will happen to the Bedwyn services; a topic that has gone very quiet locally of late.

  170. Fandroid says:

    IEP units are not designed for high-volume stopping services. I guess that Newbury will see some bi-modes on the way to destinations further west, but not Theale & Thatcham, and certainly not Aldermaston, Kintbury, Hungerford, Bedwyn etc. There have been extra Electrostar units ordered on DfT’s behalf by Southern. It’s more likely that those may appear on the electrified local GW services. Those with a better handle on those Electrostars will be able say whether that idea makes any sense.

  171. ngh says:

    Re Littlejohn, fandroid West fiver

    GW stopping services.
    Crossrail takes over a number of the services and replacement with the crossrail rolling stock.
    IEP is intended to take over the HST and 180 services (inc Oxford fast services for example).

    The original plan for the gap between the above was that 319s ex Thameslink that had been heavily refurbished / retractioned and share between GW and Northern/TPE (with Northern Hub / NW electrification projects happening at the same time). The problem was that 86x 319s wasn’t enough to cover both GW and Northern but that was conveniently forgotten about for a while as it wasn’t going to be urgent. Demand has risen in the interim making the shortfall larger with the desire to run more services in both areas. Then more recently NR (in and post) RUS strongly suggesting that squeezing more out of GWML would require the rolling stock to be 110 or 125mph capable so it could run on the fasts inside Reading if needed on some services. (319s only 100mph rated).
    Then comes the Thameslink stop gap order with Bombardier (class 387) which conveniently specified for 110mph running. 29 units ordered with options for upto 35 more. The question is whether 29x 4 car units (v similar to the recent 377/6 and 377/7 orders but 4 car instead of 5 car) is enough to cover the gap between the IEP and Crossrail services? (or indeed does 29 units actually end up defining the service pattern.)

    In speed terms 110mph is 3.3s per mile faster than 100mph and 125 is 3.9s per mile faster than 110mph.

  172. RailEngineer says:

    I presume Crossrail has to be interoperable under EU legislation ?

    If so the door spacing and the vehicle lengths must be as specified by the interoperability legislation so interoperable trains line up with the PEDs.

    Is anyone aware what the interoperability regs say about this ?

  173. Littlejohn says:

    Fandroid. What you say makes sense although I imagine that the bi-modes through Newbury heading west will be the 9-car ones, not the 5-car, except that you don’t account for what will be the non-electrified section between Newbury and Bedwyn. There is still no answer on how this section will be covered. Presumably a diesel shuttle is the easy answer but is it cost effective (or operationally viable) long-term?

  174. timbeau says:

    Leaving aside any interim electric units on the GWML, 450 seats on a class 345 would equate to
    – 70% of an 8-car class 315 formation
    – 97% of a 5-car class 165 formation (104% disegrading 1st class)
    – 133% of a class 360

    We are told refquencies will be better though!

    (Class 166 is probably not relevant as they are not generally used on the inner suburban duties, but the figures are 81% for a 6-car – 97% disregarding 1st class)

  175. Chris says:

    @RailEngineer – I’ve never heard of any interoperability rules regarding door positioning.

  176. Fandroid says:

    @Littlejohn. I admit that I forgot that Newbury-Bedwyn had, for some strange reason, been left out of the electrification plans. I had heard (possibly on here) that electrification to Westbury was being looked at, so am a bit surprised that the discussion on the FGW website limited itself to Bedwyn, especially as one of the MPs involved represents Devizes, which covers Pewsey too. In the meantime, a diesel shuttle between Newbury and Bedwyn looks very likely.

    Us down here at the Hants end (Basingstoke) of the Berks and Hants Railway still don’t have a firm date for our electrification, so there will be some class 165s (and possibly our cranky old 150s) still being maintained at the new Reading depot for a while yet. That leaves a skill base for maintenance of a Bedwyn shuttle set or two.

    Coming into Reading from Paddington on Friday, I saw that the electrification masts are now going up on the east side of the station.

  177. Graham H says:

    @Fandroid – the electrification from Newbury to Bedwyn (and possibly further) is said to be something that some bidders for GW are willing to pay for themselves in order to eliminate another pocket of dmus. First appear to have jumped on the bandwagon relatively late…

  178. Milton Clevedon says:

    Yes, firstly the Pewsey-ites (not short of the odd blackberry into No.10) don’t want to be left out, and secondly there is the opportunity to have a relief line option via Westbury back to Avon…

  179. Castlebar says:

    I think it was mentioned on here about a year ago that some in Devizes were getting mildly excited about some sort of restoration to the east of the town (where I think there is also room for a depot). Since then, my fried has changed employers, so I have no up to date Devizes news

  180. Windsorian says:

    Arup business case 14.6.13 report for extending electrification past Newbury

  181. Fandroid says:

    @Windsorian. Good research! I see that business case report shows a positive BCR (over 2.5) for electrification to Bedwyn.

    Beyond that ( 2. to Westbury 3. to Westbury plus Frome plus Mendip quarries and 4. as 3 plus connections to Bath and Swindon from Westbury.) there is no case.

  182. straphan says:


    I have finally had 5 minutes to calculate how many platforms are required at Euston these days. I looked at the Working Timetable and took the hour between 08:00 and 08:59. I assigned a minimum turnround time to each service (as per Network Rail Operational Planning rules*), plus added the minimum platform reoccupation time. I then multiplied the number of services from each origin times the minimum turnround plus the platform reoccupation. I then divided this by the number of trains arriving between 08:00 and 08:59.

    (*LM Watford Jn, Bletchley and Tring trains assumed 8-car, rest assumed 12-car.)

    The result? Euston currently needs 17.96 platforms to work the morning peak, which suggests to me there is one or two sub-standard turnrounds in there somewhere. If we then take away the DC lines services, we still require 17.12 platforms. You yourself mentioned that post-HS2 there will be 12 platforms for exclusive use of classic trains.

    I understand that the frequency of classic services will be reduced somewhat post-HS2. But do you really believe that the demand for classic services will be so low that you can get away with 12 platforms in the am peak? I very strongly doubt it… This is why I believe there is an imperative to build a Crossrail connection to the WCML from Old Oak Common before HS2 is built and operational.

    (PS – National Rail only shows 18 platforms at Euston, not 19 as you stated in your previous post on the matter).

  183. Graham H says:

    @straphan – the demand for platforms at Euston (and some other termini) is a self-inflicted wound on the industry’s part. Virgin (and ECML along the road) are lazy and inefficient in the time taken to turn a train round. It’s partly the accumulation of many small things that could and should be attended to, such as the non-availability of water tank replenishment points alongside each coach, and partly a Parkinsonian effect. A side trip to StP would show what can be done if really pressed. More dramatically, the business case for, say, doing away with replenishment from bowsers, or a less traditional method of stocktaking/replenishment in the catering vehicle, or installing a more modern system of seat reservation, played against the cost of providing more platforms , is a no-brainer.

  184. Westfiver says:

    As I wrote earlier, I was at Heathrow today and checked the HEX platforms at T123.

    When I arrived on the London bound platform there was a Hex in the platform. The front cab was already in the tunnel, the front doors were at the platform.

    For the next HEX service, I was at the back and the rear cab was still in the tunnel and the rear doors at the platform.

    I then waited for the Connect service to Ealing Broadway and had a good look at the works at Airport Junction.

    What I have noticed by looking at the plans for the junction on the Hillingdon Council planning website is the difference in what is being built and what was specified in the Environmental Statement of the Crossrail Act.

    In the ES, it stated that Hayes and Harlington Station would be rebuilt and the current east facing relief bay platform (no 5) would be converted into a through line by going back under the road bridge and then connecting to the up airport line from the new viaduct – so giving HH two up platform lines (relief (4) and airport(5)), these then merge to the east of HH.

    In the Airport Junction plans, the up airport and up relief merge to the west of HH, therefore there is no need to alter the bay platform – that’s if it still exists in the rebuilt station. A case of cost cutting so reducing operational flexibility

  185. mr_jrt says:


    I understand that the frequency of classic services will be reduced somewhat post-HS2. But do you really believe that the demand for classic services will be so low that you can get away with 12 platforms in the am peak?

    Repeat your exercise for Charing Cross or Cannon Street and see what is possible if they were, to paraphrase Graham H, pull their fingers out. 🙂

    I very strongly doubt it… This is why I believe there is an imperative to build a Crossrail connection to the WCML from Old Oak Common before HS2 is built and operational.

    …if that were the case then the link would be included in the HS2 plans already. It isn’t, so it can’t be required.

    (PS – National Rail only shows 18 platforms at Euston, not 19 as you stated in your previous post on the matter).

    Mea culpa. The station’s layout is a bit weird once you get past 15, and it’s been a while 🙂 Good job on doing the sums though – that’s a lot more effort put into arguing against my points than I usually get thrown at me and I appreciate it!

    Might be educational for us both to watch OTT one morning 🙂

  186. Malc says:

    Please spare us yet more tiresome complaints with lack of seats. Most commuters, especially on be Western side will be grateful to be able to get on a train at all as the 4 car services that currently operate on the slow lines are woefully inadequate.

  187. Chris L says:

    The bay platform (5) at Hayes & Harlington is already wired and can take a five car train.

    Any extension of this platform would mean losing the step free access and refurbished station buildings.

  188. Greg Tingey says:

    So … this is the disability taliban argument ….
    Just because you in the W don’t have enough seats or trains (& still won’t, because there’s no demand, so they will be turned around @ OOC or Heathrow (!))
    excuse me… DOES NOT MEAN that those of us to the E should be deprived of seats, does it?
    I think this is called a false dichotomy?

  189. timbeau says:

    Do your calculations take into account that the Caledonian Sleepers are still occupying two platforms at Euston until some time after 0800? (On Monday mornings the “vacate cabins by” time is 0900)

  190. Walthamstow Writer says:

    Straying back to Crossrail currently under construction I saw my first Crossrail train today in a Crossrail tunnel. OK it was a works train chugging out of the w/b tunnel at Woolwich but still surreal and surprising all at the same time. Oh and I’ve seen a TBM too. Photos to follow.

  191. Windsorian says:

    With the recent heavy rains and the delays / cancellations on the GWML from Paddington, I read one of the problems has been a flooded signal cabinet in the Maidenhead area.

    Last night on TV they included a section of film alledgely of the affected equipment witch appeared to consist of 4 or 6 grey cabinets all sitting in a large puddle and there were blue hoses suggesting one or more pumps may in use. Something else that caught my eye was only the bottom 300mm appeared to be flooded.

    In order to improve the resilience of or railway, should all signal boxes be mounted above the height of the tracks ?

  192. Castle Bar over S says:

    @ Windsorian

    Of course you are right

    My views on “planners” are already well known and don’t bear repetition. But you would have thought that this is the sort of thing that “planners” are meant to consider, wouldn’t you?

  193. Walthamstow Writer says:

    Before we all get wise after the event the issue at Maidenhead is not flooding in the conventional sense but of the ground being so wet that the ground water is rising because it has nowhere to go. Can someone provide the stats as to how often the railway is affected by rising ground water as a demonstrable service affecting risk? Are we going to sit in judgement about the floods / rising ground water in the way that people were “wise” about the signalling kit at Victoria tube station being “too low” when concrete poured through the wall? We’ll be complaining about the lack of adequate track drainage on the Windsor line next.

    I am sure Network Rail and, in case of Maidenhead, Crossrail will review what has gone on and look for possible improvements but we should consider that the weather conditions have been exceptional this Winter. Do we want oodles of money spent to protect against exceptional weather or do we want a rational investment programme that delivers ongoing improvement?

    [Note – I am excluding flood defence spending from that question. We need to have a good programme of investment for that so that homes and businesses are afforded reasonable protection.]

  194. straphan says:

    @timbeau: I looked at whatever arrives in the WTT between 0800 and 0859. The WTT has a sleeper from Inverness arriving in that time, and I allocated it a turnround of 60 minutes – since I don’t think it would be able to vacate the platform in less than an hour.

    @Graham H: Despite the turnround times specified by Network Rail, Virgin still cannot even achieve 90% PPM. We can argue all we want about inefficiencies in turnround processes, refilling water from whatever or how long it takes for the ancient reservations system to refresh (I was told it can take up to 10 minutes!). However, the key issue is that reducing turnround times will increase the number of instances that a train is late on departure, with all the associated knock-on effects – and Virgin’s on-time record is already under par.

    Also, given that London Midland and London Overground jointly operate more services into Euston than Virgin, do you consider their prescribed turnround times as equally inefficient? Especially in comparison with similar TOCs?

    @mr_jrt: We already had a report from some Institute of Directors or whatever they are called, that put the cost of HS2 at £80bn. This is because they included the cost of all sorts of tram lines to stations and Crossrail 2 into the equation. It is clear HS2 does not require these schemes to go ahead, but they would enable it to provide significant additional benefits.

    The same is true of the Crossrail extension to the WCML: HS2 can be opened without it, but the absence of this scheme reduces the benefits it will bring in terms of released capacity on the classic network. These benefits are – in my opinion – significantly higher than the benefits that can be achieved by routing Crossrail to High Wycombe.

  195. Windsorian says:

    @ Walthamstow Writer – the reports I’ve read also suggest rising ground water causing localised flooding.

    In terms of the allocation of future rail investment funds, perhaps the answer is the BCR test? What is the cost of improving the resilience of existing equipment v. the lost income / time delays as a result.

    Was this not the thinking behind the Eddington report i.e. deal with problems / constraints of the existing infrastructure first ?

  196. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Straphan – I know Graham H will respond for himself but surely his point is that there are worthwhile things that Virgin could do to reduce platform occupancy times? It strikes me that the examples he quotes are of activities that haven’t changed in decades but could do so with some foresight and investment. I doubt Virgin has any desire to relinquish any of the turnround time it currently has because it regularly has to deal with the consequences of Network Rail infrastructure failings on the WCML. Barely a day goes by without signalling, track and overhead wire issues and Virgin has no incentive whatsoever to improve its scheduling efficiency when it is the “victim” of someone else’s failings. London Midland just have to battle their way through but they do tend to switch to their preplanned “fall back” timetable which strips out some services when things are really bad. Virgin can do the same with the high frequency Manchester and West Midlands services.

    Surely with HS2 we should be designing a railway that can work efficiently on shorter turnround times with trains that can be serviced quickly because they are very well designed and the support logistics are also highly efficient? If that can save on the cost of demolishing part of Camden then surely it is worth considering?

  197. Graham H says:

    @straphan – I don’t have to hand (and I suspect it is not in the public domain), the delay attribution analysis for VT, but I would be slightly surprised if a high proportion was due to delayed departure from Euston. I suspect that much has to do with the slow approach to Brum and the associated two track section. VT work in much the same way as other TOCs – by padding the timetable with recovery time, rather than padding terminal turnround. In any case, logically, if your assertion is true, VT would be helping themselves by reducing the need for time consuming terminal activities.

    More generally, the question of platform occupation is a “splendid” example of how a vertically disintegrated railway doesn’t work financially – it’s in NR’s financial interest to reduce platform occupation time, but TOCs see platform time as – nearly – a free good (unless they can knock a set out of the programme, of course). Maybe TOCs should be charged by the minute of stand time?

    @Windsorian – the only problem with using delay minutes as a component in any BCR analysis is that they have no basis in economic fact – they are an entirely artificial construct; change the “rigged market” in delay minutes and you change the BCR result (not that that will stop people using the them as a proxy for something or other!)

  198. ngh says:

    RE WW

    Many of those issues are already addressed in the IEP spec, which may be part of the reason people are struggling to believe that X number of services can be run with Y number of trains. This make running services cheaper as you carry more passengers on any given train in a day as it will typically make an extra journey or 2.
    (As an aside might IEP also help reduce platform occupancy at certain other pinch point around the country for example Leeds? which might be an additional reason for the replacement of the 91/sMk4?
    The 12 classic platforms performance might be based on IEP (Hitachi SET) like performance for long distance services. By the time HS2 might actually be operational the 390s should have had a major overhaul and so might benefit from an upgraded reservations management system (presumably including new seats?)

    The IEP performance also seems to be reflected in HS2 as the trains will cycle through the HS2 platforms at Euston every 27.5 minutes so around 22 minutes at the platform with doors open?

  199. Chris L says:

    Chris Green introduced a faster turnaround plan for delayed Virgin services at Euston. I have seen in work very well.

    This morning at Paddington (with reduced services and empty platforms) I wanted to get the 0712 departure with the intention of getting off at Hayes & Harlington. This normally leaves from Platform 11 but was on the board as Platform 13 which involves a long walk from the main concourse.

    The train was in the platform with only emergency lighting on. 0712 came and went without any announcements of delays etc. A FGW train arrived and departed from platform 12. Finally just before 0727 (the time of the next but cancelled train) the systems all started up and the driver announced that we would be leaving shortly. This turned out to be after the Heathrow Connect service arrived in time for the 0733 return trip.

    I have experienced similar poor performance in the evening at Charing Cross and Cannon Street recently and commuter trains in the evening peak at Liverpool Street rarely leave on time and run very slowly to Stratford.

    On time needs to mean on time if the railway is to work properly.

  200. Fandroid says:

    Without really knowing the detail, I suspect that Maidenhead signalling cabinet is in the cutting west of the station. Given that the line is well above river level in that area, in order to cross the river east of the town, normally such a position would never see any groundwater. However, there are record groundwater levels all over the South, and the wet stuff is turning up in places that have been dry for decades, possibly even since colour light signalling was first installed.

  201. ngh says:

    RE Fandroid

    FGW tweeted a picture that looks like rising ground water issues in a cutting with water partially covering some of the rails, assuming it is track circuits not much they can do.

  202. Windsorian says:

    @ Fandroid & ngh

    I think this is the 10.55 NR tweeted picture showing signal cabinets in a cutting

  203. straphan says:

    Regarding turnrounds, Japan Railways manage with something like 8 to 10 minutes for a Shinkansen turnround. They do have two cleaners for each carriage, though, and people are made to wait on the platform before they can board – rather than the platform only being announced once cleaning is finished.

    I accept that some turnround time can be shaved off the current values on long-distance services, but how much can we really reduce it by? And will it make a meaningful impact on platform numbers at Euston?

  204. Windsorian says:

    Is there not normally track & trackbed drainage in the CESS ? This looks like an old doc.

  205. Graham H says:

    @ngh – I’d be interested to hear what those issues concerning turnround that are addressed by IEP are. My shopping list (and I suspect Chris Green’s) had much more to do with management than train design.

    @straphan – indeed – my very point: a couple of dozen cleaners come a lot cheaper than a new/bigger station. And the Japanese make the punters wait on the platform just like VT and EC until the train is ready (thus leading to the usual unseemly surge at KX and Euston in which the slowest punters always seem to get a head start…)

  206. ngh says:

    Crossrail 2 – new funding report from London First:

    Re Windsorian.
    FGW had a different photo with the water level higher, surely if it is a ground water problem it that is the current level of the water table and cess drainage might not be that much use especially if there is no where for that water to go with just gravity to assist it?

  207. Windsorian says:

    @ ngh

    In parallel with GWML electrification, isn’t the signalling due for upgrading to ERTMS and eventually 140mph IEPs ?

    Taking account of the increased possibility of flooding, would this be the time to re-visit the height of lineside signalling boxes / track & trackbed drainage ?

    If you can find the earlier photo with higher water levels, please provide link – highlight address bar and copy / paste into comment box.

  208. Milton Clevedon says:

    Yes Network Rail’s Western Network Strategy references that 140mph is intended in due course on the fast lines, following introduction of balises.

    Of course, that would limit more non-140 mph trains to the relief lines only, if the intended fast line capacity was to be kept at 20 tph, though maybe 110 mph commuter trains might be allowed.

  209. straphan says:

    @Graham H: The punters in the UK are made to wait on the concourse, rather than on the platform. This means that there is a further allowance required between the end of cleaning/preparation (when presumably the platform is announced) and the departure in order to allow people to walk to the train. In Japan people wait outside their carriage door at the platform, which then speeds up the boarding sequence. In the UK, people cannot be told the platform before the train is ready, as they will try to board the train regardless of announcements, etc. And you clearly cannot lock the cleaners on board the train while they are working.

    It also is not a question of ‘a couple of cleaners’. In Japan there is a different level of discipline prevalent amongst society. In the UK, I highly doubt a cleaner on just above a minimum wage would be motivated enough to carry out their duties in a similar manner to the Japanese counterparts.

    All in all, I don’t think changing train preparation practices in the UK will lead to significant enough time savings to allow platform reoccupation times to be reduced by much.

  210. Fandroid says:

    @ngh. Having looked at the photo of the wet signalling equipment, I think I can see where they have been caught out. Much of the time, they could rely on the porous bedrock to drain water away from such a flat cutting. But once the groundwater levels in that bedrock rise above the cutting floor level, the opposite occurs. The cutting itself is now the drainage path for the water. If there is a single spare pump in the whole of the South, they could seal the floor of the cutting under the equipment, raise the sandbag wall and pump through a very long pipe to wherever the cutting ends.

  211. Graham H says:

    @straphan. I’m afraid we must disagree. No one has yet identified here what they think it is that requires a train from Brum, having spent 100 minutes en route to require 45 minutes’ attention, when a train from BOMO (same journey time, same facilities) has to be turned in 12. You can, after all, turn round an airliner in 45 minutes and trains are a lot simpler to do than that. EMT shows what can be done if you try hard. I do not accept that cleaning has to be done at termini* – south of the river (and indeed elsewhere, it’s done on the move with the train full of punters – no need to lock them in at termini at all. Even NR has now been persuaded to begin a programme of installing stand pipes to replace the need to trundle bowsers from one coach to the next. And as for the antediluvian arrangements for handling train catering, which are all about fraud prevention – a simple visit to the nearest pub will show how pilfering by bar staff is prevented. Chris Green, as usual, knew what he was talking about.

    *Even if it were, two cleaners per coach will do it in 10 minutes if properly supervised; even the less well paid work quite hard, you know.

  212. ngh says:

    Re Fandroid
    That is roughly my thinking too, thought we are now importing pumps from Holland.

    The problem with ground water is that it can be under significant pressure making sealing it difficult as it just diverts the problems elsewhere possibly at greater pressure…
    A railway cutting with good drainage actually makes a good pressure release point for ground water as it is easier for the water to escape.

    I still suspect issues with track circuits in addition.

  213. Fandroid says:

    @ngh. I take your point about significant pressure from below. The usual trick in the world of water is to dig a hole next door and install a powerful pump, with a smaller one to keep the sandbagged area dry-ish. I realised as soon as I had posted my first comment that track circuits may have been affected. To solve that they would need a series of holes dug alongside the tracks, with a pump in each one, and a mighty array of pipes (probably rarer at the moment than hen’s teeth) to carry the water away (with somewhere to dump it at the far end!).

    Further away down the same line. Today’s NCE describes the work going on to sort out Dawlish. The first trick has apparently been to park transport containers full of rock on the beach to act as a temporary sea wall.

  214. Andrew says:


    Does the signalling cabinet date from the resignalling in 1992?

  215. Milton Clevedon says:

    I prefer to agree with you!

    It is silly that in this day and age, and with HS2 promising high levels of reliability, that HS2 engineers are still aiming for a 20-30 minute turnround time at Euston.

    With a 10 tph service at Euston HS in Phase 1, and ‘up to’ 18 tph in Phase 2, it means there is a cost of (um) ca. 3-4 trains if you can’t reliably programme trains to have a platform occupation time (approach track circuit inbound to the same outbound) of less than 20 minutes.

    Passengers from Invercockieleekie might choose be burdened with baggage (and possibly non-Schengen passports in the future!!!, how do we manage these new North of the Border foreigners??), but Brummies? They will be as exciting and as quick out of Euston as a Whitstable Bay-oystered commuter off Javelin at St Pancras Intl. Get that HS train away from Euston asap!

    Stand at Bern (SBB), and a double-deck-load of passengers with dodgy steps to circumnavigate to platform will evaporate pronto.

    So perhaps we have to get management involved here (rather than risk-averse engineers) and stipulate 15 minutes or less for anything that smacks of commuting, max (not min) 20 for elsewhere, and people get paid to come up with ways to make it work.

    3-4 HS2 trains = ca. £30m each?, annual rental costs @ 10% = £3m x 4 x 35 years = £420m (= ca. £250m discounted present value using the Treasury number game). Cool saving there. And you don’t need Euston to be soooo big. More savings. David Higgins, this is important…

  216. Fandroid says:

    @Graham H & @straphan. My experience of Virgin Trains is that they do have on-train cleaners, or at least on-train rubbish gatherers. They are also not averse to starting the journey without the reservations system booted up (not that it matters. I have never yet been turfed out of a Virgin Trains ‘reserved’ seat that I have squatted in). I also suspect that minimum wage cleaners would work really hard if asked to, as long as they feel part of a whole ‘team’ that is eager to get the train ready to go.

  217. Windsorian says:

    @ Andrew

    Does the signalling cabinet date from the resignalling in 1992 ?

    Sorry, cannot help you.

  218. Greg Tingey says:

    Re water in cuttings …
    Also further out along the GW, between Wooton Basset & Stoke Gifford (re-named “Bristol Parkway” of late) there’s Chipping Sodbury Tunnel … between there & Badminton, I’ve seen (ground)water spouting out of the (rock) cutting sides under natural pressure ….
    So, nothing new here.

  219. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Straphan – I have not used the Shinkansen in Japan but have witnessed the rapid turnround and clean routine on the Narita Express (NEX). The NEX train arrived, disgorged its passengers and then the cleaners boarded and doors locked closed. They whizzed through the train with vacuums, cleared the negligible litter and turned any seats not facing the direction of travel. About 4 mins before departure we were all allowed on board. NEX is a reservations only service so you know exactly which door to wait beside in order to board. I assume Shinkansens are turned round in similar fashion. The first time I came across being locked out of a train I was a bit concerned but that was just my unfamiliarity.

  220. Windsorian says:

    There’s a Gallery of 6 photos of the Maidenhead cutting flooding on the FGW web-site –

    about 2/3rds way down page

  221. Windsorian says:

    Click on thumb-nails to enlarge to reasonable quality.

  222. Graham H says:

    @MC – that’s exactly the sort of calculation that needs to be done – and isn’t, so far as I can see…

  223. timbeau says:

    Waterloo may turn trains round quickly but it leaves it ridiculously late to announce the platform. The result is an overcrowded concourse full of people dashing for trains that have been announced less than four minutes before their scheduled departure time, conflicts at the barriers between people trying to get to the platform just as the arriving passengers are coming the other way, and the carriages nearest the barrier jam packed because people haven’t the time to distribute themselves along the train.

    The excuses they give for this situation is that they cannot announce the platform until they know which platform the train will go into. This seems to suggest that the trains are choosing the platforms themselves, with no human either controlling them or being told what they are doing.
    What it really is, is that “Control” don’t want to commit themselves to anything until the last possible moment, because “there might be a fault on the train” or “there might not be a crew available” – both of which situations can and should be communicated by the incoming crews before the train reaches Waterloo. There is no reason why each platform should show the next train as soon as the previous one has left. It happens everywhere else on the network – indeed the next three, even if the third one is 90 minutes away.

  224. Paul III says:

    “In the UK, people cannot be told the platform before the train is ready, as they will try to board the train regardless of announcements, etc. And you clearly cannot lock the cleaners on board the train while they are working.”

    While you can’t lock the cleaners on the train, surely you can lock the passengers out? Just have a door control setting so that the internal buttons work but the external ones don’t. Might require a software update if this isn’t already a feature.

  225. Alan Griffiths says:

    Milton Clevedon @ 13 February 2014 at 17:42

    “And you don’t need Euston to be soooo big.”

    nor to demolish a huge area to the west of the present station in order to extend it.

  226. Windsorian says:

    I don’t know if anyone has had the opportunity to look at the 6 Maidenhead cutting enlargable flooding photos at present available on the FGW site; the problem with pages like this is when updated some links may be lost.

    When I first saw the signal cabinets on TV there were blue hoses normally associated with 2″ submersible electric pumps; however one FGW photo shows a rigid green hose and filter normally associated with a 4″ diesel pump. The hose / filter appears to have been put in the cable trough, though while we can see the sandbags we cannot see if / how the cable trough was sealed in that area to prevent further water ingress.

    Another Photo appears to show the area before the sandbags were positioned. I would guestimate the bottom of the signal cabinets were about level with the top of the cable trough lids; initial opinion was they were standing in about 300mm of water.

    Another photo appears to show building materials on the right side behind the signal gantry support post and on the left side there is a small area of what appears to be building work that appears again in another photo. This may suggest building work was taking place in the area prior to the flooding and the building materials delivered / stored on the track side nearest to the road access.

    Another Photo is a better version of the NR tweet showing the signal cabinets located adjacent to the road bridge support and the high water table now present over a long distance of the cutting.

    Another photo appears to show a steel gantry under construction and judging from the access position this may be related to the building materials on the other side of the track. There is at present no equipment on this gantry, suggesting it was work in progess prior to the recent flooding occuring.

  227. Fandroid says:

    Interesting pics. Those of the cabinets appear to be a time sequence. One with no sandbags. Another with some random looking plastic sandbags and a pump hose. Yet another with a proper hessian sandbag wall looking a bit more serious, but no sign of the pump hose. I think they are the same cabinets as the patterns in the galvanising are identical in each photo.

    A huge amount of water on the other side of the bridge between the tracks and the edge of the cutting. The building materials stacks look fairly minor stuff. The steel platform looks like one of those that they put that sort of cabinet on nowadays. Perhaps the weather came too early!

  228. straphan says:

    Regarding turnrounds: I accept that things could be done faster in the UK. What I would query, is how much faster? I simply cannot see turnrounds being as quick as in Japan, where the overall level of discipline and punctuality on the railway is far higher than here – indeed, refunds are offered on Shinkansen if the train is over 5 minutes late. Compare that with the UK, where compensation is offered for delays over 30 minutes, and long-distance services count as ‘on-time’ when they arrive at their destination 10 minutes late. And even then the railway as a whole is struggling to get past the 90% punctuality mark despite such a lax definition. There simply has got to be some resilience built into the timetable for it to be worth something more than it is printed on.

    To bring this discussion back on track, I think turnrounds for long-distance trains could be tightened somewhat. That still doesn’t change the fact, that:

    (a) a significant number of new platforms will be required for HS2 services at Euston given it is planned to operate 18tph there.
    (b) the number of trains operating on classic routes will remain more-or-less the same – they will simply stop more often.

    Hence I think that building a connection from Crossrail to the WCML is a far more cost-effective solution to the problem of rebuilding Euston than tinkering with turnround times. Never mind – of course – the benefits this scheme would bring.

  229. Windsorian says:

    @ Fandroid

    I like your timesequence suggestion; I was scratching my head.

    The gantry looks pre-fab, which may explain the minimal stored materials; I was wondering if a set of concrete steps for access was being built up from the cess.

    Saw a NR man explaining the national pumping problem; normally they just pump onto surrounding land which absorbs the water. However the ground is so waterlogged at present, any pumped water on top forces out similar amount + lower down.

  230. ngh says:

    Even if rainfall drops to normal there will still be problems with ground water till May over most of the south. In this case as many others there is no where for the water to go, you just end up displacing problems.

    If packed down correctly sealed plastic builders bags of sand (cheaper and more readily available than sand bags especially at the moment) can divert flowing water fairly effectively. Less good at stopping standing water seeping through though (which is where the pumps come in).

    The time sequencing theory of the photos sounds correct.

    Suspect they were planning to move the signalling equipment any way probably to do with preparation for electrification but when you do that it gets done to modern flooding protection standards (i.e. raised up)?

    Water surrounding cables can affect their impedance significantly vs air /soil/ concrete etc so it isn’t just conductivity issue. For example sub-sea power transmission cables are DC not AC because of this.

  231. Windsorian says:

    Looking through the press reports I understand only 4tph FGW are operating in each direction between Maidenhead and Twyford. Apparently the lack of signalling & safety systems (electrical) means that each train has to be manually cleared past the flooded section before another train is allowed to use the track.

  232. ngh says:

    NR now apparently looking at 2 week total block to replace the signalling on the affected section.

    I wonder if they might just be bringing forwards the signalling work to do with the electrification and presumably transfer of the signalling to Didcot if it hasn’t already happened???

  233. Windsorian says:

    @ Walthamstow Writer 13.2.14 at 09:57

    We’ll be complaining about the lack of adequate track drainage on the Windsor line next

    For anyone interested similar ground water problem on the Staines / W&E Riverside line at Datchet; film from Heliscan –

  234. Graham H says:

    @straphan – there is indeed already substantial resilience built into the UK rail timetable, with generous dwell times, extended run times and a slathering of recovery time. It’s often instructive to compare the GBTT with the WTT.For example, to take my local service, Woking has dwell times of 3-4 minutes, which would have shocked Gordon Pettit, Guildford similarly; it is now consistently 5-7 minutes slower to my local station from Waterloo, despite the stopping pattern remaining unchanged and despite new rolling stock. For amusement, I was given an 1873 Bradshaw by an elderly neighbour clearing out his loft: London to Brighton is now 2-3 minutes slower than it was when there was a Gladstone on the front.

    If Euston is being asked to handle a mere 18 tph with 19 platforms, the maths suggest an extraordinarily generous 63 minutes to turn a train. You have to be joking…

  235. Milton Clevedon says:

    HS2 max at Euston is 18 tph in 11 platforms, this on its own seems over-generous. A 20 minute average turnround should be comfortably single figure platforms even if you allow 1 or 2 as a margin for silly problems.

    The WCML residuals are 13 platforms after reconfiguration, to serve WCML revised fast operations and whatever slow commuter operations might avoid Crossrail. That doesn’t sound very challenging either. Plenty of room for the DC service (which only uses 1 platform in total, every 20 minutes)!

  236. Fandroid says:

    @Windsorian. That’s not groundwater on the Windsor line, that’s poor drainage due to the nearby very high water levels in the Thames. ‘Groundwater’ is a slightly misleading word but it’s the standard technical term for underground water. What I think has happened on the Windsor line is that the river levels have risen, then water falling from the sky and water travelling across the ground towards the river both have nowhere to go, so they hang around in all the low spots, like between the rails!

  237. Graham H says:

    @MC – thanks – I thought we talking about Euston “Classic” – sorry.

  238. straphan says:

    @Graham H: I’m afraid I detect a smack of rose-tintedness in your view point. Let me therefore ask you this: how many trains per hour did you see in that 1873 Bradshaw on the fast lines into Waterloo? And how many on the slow lines? How many people were able to fit into each train?

    Congestion fortunately does not have the same effect on the railways as it does on the roads. But it does slow traffic down. And I have done enough RailSys modelling in my arguably short lifetime to see that effect on punctuality.

    @Milton Clevedon: If we have 18tph on HS2, then this is the minimum number of platforms required, depending on turnround (plus platform reoccupation) times:

    45 mins – 14 platforms
    35 mins – 11 platforms
    30 mins – 9 platforms
    25 mins – 8 platforms
    20 mins – 6 platforms
    15 mins – 5 platforms

    Personally, I don’t think you could reallistically turnround a 400m train (including platform reoccupation) in less than 20 minutes. I would also expect to be sacked as a layout designer without putting at least 2 extra platforms for resilience. This gives us a minimum of 8 platforms.

  239. Castle Bar over S says:

    @ Graham H

    How do current Arundel – Dorking journey times compare with your Bradshaw please?

    (Gatwick Airport – E Grinstead today would be an interesting comparison with only 55 years ago)

  240. Graham H says:

    @straphan – yes, of course, there’s much more traffic on the Brighton line these days, and worse still, there are so many different stopping patterns – the Brighton of 1874 had roughly an hourly service; I was merely amused… (And of course, there were far more “exotic” workings then, such as the first train of the day which ran from Kensington to Bognor – presumably a milk empties?)

    Railsys! ? (I used to have a number of Railsys teams working for me in a recent employment – I found the churn rate amongst staff was exceedingly high – 18 months of Railsys modelling and they were ready to do anything else I asked them… even do a project in Albania)

    @Castlebar – I could find only one train that did that particular trip in 1874 – 1 hour 57 minutes – although there were plenty of partial movements. [Dorking dep 1201]. ‘fraid I can’t do the Gatwick comparison as I don’t have a ’50s Southern timetable.

  241. straphan says:

    @Graham H: And I bet all carriages had slam doors that people of the day still bothered to close after themselves? Yeees… The good ol’ days…

    RailSys can actually be a quite fun tool to work with, but I also found that 6 months full-time is about as much as I can spend in one go before it takes a toll on my sanity.

  242. Graham H says:

    @straphan – slam doors – presumably closed behind you by an obsequious porter.

    Yes, several of my staff went mad after a year or so of Railsysery, although the best ones became timetable writers or business analysts. Eventually, my masters thought that it would be a good wheeze to outsource the whole thing to some Indian firm – that put the kybosh on it as we simply weren’t prepared to spend our days explaining to someone in Bombay where Manston Junction might be. Fun for a short while, but we could never make enough money out of it and our CEO consistently failed to understand the difference between writing a timetable (a highly profitable thing to do) and modelling its reliability (wafer thin margins and a poor flow of work to boot). AFAIK only one firm has ever managed to make a sustainable business out of the Railsys franchise in the UK and they had a very different business model from my last employer. We did at one time think of buying out the firm that developed the Railsys software but the price was inevitably too high.

  243. Graham H says:

    @Castlebar – I have tracked down a 1938 timetable for the Brighton Line which shows Gatwick Airport with a half hourly service to Brighton only – alternately fast and slow. The fasts took 30 minutes. There was one train a day to Lewes that also called at Gatwick and it did the run in 30 minutes also. (The other Lewes called at Three Bridges and Horley instead).

  244. Steven Taylor says:

    @Graham H
    The Gatwick Airport station in 1938 would be the one opened as Tinsley Green, which closed in 1958 when the old 1891 Gatwick Racecourse station was adopted as the current airport station. It was about a kilometre south of the current one.

  245. Greg Tingey says:

    According to G T Moody’s “Southern Elastic Electric” the opening times in 1938 were Victoria to Bognor in 92 mins, via Arundel & Dorking
    Today, via Gatwick & dividing @ Horsham, such a journey takes 106 minutes (Table 188)

  246. Steven Taylor says:

    @ Greg Tingey
    I have travelled a lot between Clapham Junction and the South Coast. My observations are that the trains are faster now, especially uphill, due to better power/weight ratio and the increase in voltage to 750 volts. However, there is a lot more padding in the timetable, which I feel is common knowledge. This is perhaps not such a bad idea as the Brighton line is very busy.
    Re you example, it should perhaps be mentioned that the 106 minutes pertains to a train being split en route with 15 stops. The old routing via Dorking had 6 stops from memory, namely Sutton, Dorking, Horsham, Arundel, Barnham and Bognor. And it was on a different route.

  247. Windsorian says:

    Reading East MP’s web-site re Maidenhead flooding and works in progress by NR

  248. timbeau says:

    @Stephen taylor
    ” the 106 minutes pertains to a train being split en route with 15 stops. The old (92 minute) routing via Dorking had 6 stops from memory, namely Sutton, Dorking, Horsham, Arundel, Barnham and Bognor. And it was on a different route.”

    None of which is much consolation to the person whose journey now takes 15% longer than his grandfather could do it 76 years ago.

  249. stimarco says:


    Modern trains are also substantially longer, more capacious, more comfortable, and a lot more efficient. (Especially compared to steam operation!)

    It might take “12%” longer, but those additional minutes are also intended to counter the effects of high frequency services and the additional time needed by today’s (much) longer trains to clear junctions and signal blocks. The BML doesn’t have a lot of grade separation, so long trains crossing flat junctions does have an effect on timings: You can’t accelerate a 12-car EMU to 110 mph. in an instant, even if it is electrically powered, as their human cargo can’t take it.

    Not sure what any of this has to do with Crossrail or Bombardier, but that’s the Internet for you.

  250. stimarco says:

    (Oops, that “12%” should be “15%”. Sorry.)

  251. Fandroid says:

    Bognor always struck me as an odd destination for a fast train service. Think of it. Along the south coast you had fast services to Southampton, Portsmouth, Brighton, Eastbourne & Bognor!

  252. Windsorian says:

    As I posted on 14.2.14 at 8.07

    the problem with pages like this is when updated some links may be lost

    the Paddington / Reading page has been updated Sunday 16.2.14 and the link to the 6 Maidenhead flooding photos has been removed.

    The best info about what NR & FGW are doing is on the Reading East MP’s website.

  253. Windsorian says:

    I see the question of Crossrail station design is continuing in today’s Observer –

  254. Greg Tingey says:

    That’s to do with the quite frankly weird layout between ( W to E) Bognor, Barnham, Ford, Littlehampton.
    Never mind the absent “Arundel chord” …..

  255. Greg Tingey says:

    Just looked at the Grauniad link …
    The sheer igorant spiteful hatred of London & Londoners spewed out in the “comments” section is quite scary!

  256. Steven Taylor says:

    You raise an interesting point about slower services. Being a pensioner, I remember a time when `fast` trains did not stop very often!
    On the Brighton Line, most trains now stop at Clapham Junction, and with the number of people joining, I cannot imagine anyone seriously challenging this decision. Likewise for Gatwick Airport, with only the half-hourly fast Brighton`s not stopping. Crawley has expanded substantially since the 1960s. The population of Polegate has likewise increased. I could go on.
    In a World where money was no object, the railway obviously needs more capacity – say quadrupling from north end of Balcombe Tunnel to Brighton.
    There is some padding in the timetable. When I travel on the fast Brighton, and we have a good run, we arrive outside Brighton Station 2 to 3 minutes early, waiting for a platform.

  257. Milton Clevedon says:

    @GH, Castlebar, ST etc

    Comparisons in journey times to London from nominal ‘commuting areas’, over the decades, will of course lead to notable differences. There was high frequency and plenty of 3rd class availability from ‘Southern’ termini and from St Pancras round to Fenchurch Street, even in the 1860s and 1870s, for local passengers, but 3rd Class availability and overall frequencies were severely restricted on the GW and LNW routes. Only about three a day 3rd class on LNWR into Euston, in 1864.

    In part this led to Middlesex and the further West-North quadrant being under-populated, and with much less working-class housing, until the Met and tubes started thrusting outwards later on, and ‘semi-detached’ Middlesex was invented. The GW and LNW eventually started doing more, with 4-tracking and the Watford New Lines.

    Longer distance commuting was for the better waged, while their working hours were rather different from Jerome K Jerome’s Harrys and Harriets. In 1912, to take the reprinted LBSC timetable, Arundel had only one peak train arriving in London by 10AM, the 7:04 to London Bridge 9:26 (change at Epsom for Victoria). Nearby Ford Junction had two trains via Worthing, the 6:15 to London Bridge 8:20, plus a ‘quality’ train – the Pullman car service from Portsmouth serving Ford 8:03, to London Bridge 09:50. There were occasional fasts such as 9:32 Arundel to Victoria 10:54, but frequencies were hourly at best, and often much longer gaps. Contrast with 2013, with seven trains due in London before 10AM (the first arriving 7:32), and two trains an hour offpeak.

    Arundel is 58+ miles to London, either way, either terminus, so I looked also at another ‘regional’ main line (as opposed to a ‘national’ main line such as Southampton or Brighton), by reference to Petersfield on the Portsmouth direct to Waterloo (55 miles).

    1914 (LSWR timetable reprint) shows the first train serving Petersfield towards London at 7:42, due Waterloo 9:34. That’s it, for what we now regard as the peak! Thence roughly hourly, with a quality train at 10:19 due Waterloo 11:39, calling only at Guildford and Vauxhall. More trains began at Haslemere, four in total starting or calling with London arrivals before 10AM: first at 6:28 due Waterloo 8:16, and an average time of 1hr 25 mins across the four. Fastest was the one closest to 10 AM – again fitting the working styles of that social class, 8:47 due Waterloo 9:55.

    Nowadays at Petersfield it’s ten x AM peak trains if ignoring those which get overtaken (first 05:08 Waterloo 6:29, average time across the peak 1hr 13 mins), and three an hour offpeak. So different decades, different generations, different outcomes.

    As a radical contrast, here’s the Great Central from 59 miles out (Brackley). June 1908 timetable: 2 ‘peak’ trains, at 7:58 (Marylebone 9:47), and 9:14 fast (M 10:25). Not so surprising. But look at Autumn 1959 (last full GC service): 6:43 (M 8:51), 8:00 (M 9:48), 8:58 (M 10:47). No fast train, no significant developments over 51 years to stimulate modern day commuting.

    I’ll stop there, there’s the rudiments of an article lurking somewhere in this analysis.

  258. Windsorian says:

    XR or HEx to Reading ?

    It seems HEx are lobbying hard, though why would NR pay £500M for the WRAP link, when Heathrow recently had their XR contribution reduced from £230M to just £70M – a saving of £160M ? This was supposedly on the grounds LHR was almost full and XR would only bring it limited benefit.

  259. timbeau says:

    “Bognor always struck me as an odd destination for a fast train service”
    You think it should go further?
    You could say the same about Kings Lynn, Clacton, Penzance, Cleethorpes, Llandudno and many other places.

  260. Graham H says:

    @MC – I think you are absolutely right to draw attention to the differences in different companies’ approaches to train planning, differences that survived well into the post-1948 era. The East and West Coast operators took noticeably different views on frequency and portion working, use of slips, and so on. WC in particular seems to have had a marked preference for very few but very long long-distance trains, all of which seemed to have conveyed many portions, with the entire train being pulled apart at Crewe; the East Coast operators look to have been models of restraint by comparison, although I did find one Edinburgh train that had no fewer than 7 portions and was attacked at both ends by two Donnie station pilots… The GC seems to have shifted its operating philosophy over time, starting with very short through 1st/2nd class trains in the era of single-driving-wheels and switching to slips as train weights overwhelmed the light locos. Sorry, this is getting way off topic.

  261. Windsorian says:

    It seems NR have performed a minor miracle over the weekend at the Maidenhead flooding cutting; they now predict increasing the number of trains from 20% on Friday to an anticipated 75% on Monday.

  262. straphan says:

    @Graham H: Indeed, I can think of only two companies in the UK (outside of Network Rail) that have large numbers of RailSys licences. Plenty of others have a couple of them, though – as it does become a useful tool for international projects or franchise bids.

  263. Graham H says:

    @straphan – not sure that Railsys has much future in the UK at all to be honest – I can name at least two TOC groups that are not using it all for their bids, and I thought that even NR were abandoning it for their own inhouse total train planning software, although I admit that I haven’t been involved in Railsys directly for about three years. And it’s difficult to export except to (a) Germany and (b) the Third World, as the big European national markets tend to have their own equivalents. [Managed to sell the product in Macedonia once, though, even though their system is so small you could do it all manually and the major sources of delay were unpredictable bouts of brick throwing at passing trains…]

  264. straphan says:

    @Graham H: Network Rail ITPS is – as far as I know – developed by the same company and will incorporate some if not all functions of RailSys.

    Given its size and unwieldiness RailSys is not ideal for use in bids, except to estimate SRTs for stock/routes where these do not exist. However, for situations where new infrastructure is proposed I wouldn’t know what else to use…

  265. straphan says:

    On a completely separate note: given a large proportion of this thread has been spent on discussing tube access to Euston, I was wondering why it isn’t possible to build another ticket hall at Euston Square station – on the eastern end of the platforms? The current ticket hall is on the western end, and that is the key reason why Euston Square is so far away. A new ticket hall on the eastern end would probably be somewhere at the corner of Euston Road and Melton Street. If it were built, you might as well drop the ‘Square’ from the station name!

  266. Fandroid says:

    @straphan. The real mystery is why hasn’t this been done earlier?

    A quick bit of scaling off from OpenStreetMap shows that the buildings on the north side of Euston Road are 164m long between North Gower Street (where there is an entrance to the existing Euston Square ticket hall) and Melton Street. Mr Wiki tells me that an S8 train is 134m long. So you are right, there is very little distance between the current platforms’ eastern ends and Euston Square Gardens. Methinks there must be something else lurking below the ground there that makes an eastern ticket hall and connecting subway a very difficult thing.

    Remember, of course, that in the the current proposals concerning staffing of Tube stations, Euston Square is categorized as a Metro station, with proposed staffing of about 3. That would be difficult to sustain with two ticket halls and two sets of gatelines. LUL obviously wish to wait for a crisis to occur with Tube passenger numbers at Euston before spending more capital which also involves higher operating costs. Better to leave Euston Square as an inconvenient out of station connection!

  267. Graham H says:

    @Fandroid – In NSE days, we were told that the subway would be blocked by a large sewer under Melton Street; were it not for that, we had a price tag of c£15m quoted, as I recall. An eastern ticket hall/exit, as a second best solution would presumably have been about 2/3 of that and would have involved taking a chunk out of the Inland revenue building on the corner of Melton Street. The sewer seems a bit of a mystery; it must turn somewhere from Melton Street if it is not to meet the Circle Line, and yet HS2 seems to have no problem with it – maybe another case of MINO? (Money Is No Object)

  268. ngh says:

    Re Graham H
    If HS2 has to dissipate thousands of extra passengers an hour from Euston even a updated cost of £50m would seem like good value if it might help to reduce TfL demanding and actually getting more crossrail 2 funding from HS2…

  269. Graham H says:

    @ngh 🙂 (I think a contributing factor to inaction in 1992 was the different investment appraisal techniques in force in LRT and BR).

  270. Castle Bar over S says:

    @ ngh

    Re HS2 “If HS2 has to dissipate thousands of extra passengers an hour from Euston……..”

    But Mr Cameron insists that its reason for being is not to bring “the North” to London but to take “business” (etc) TO the North. He insisted that HS2 wouldn’t contribute to more overcrowding by concentrating more people down into London and the South East

  271. straphan says:

    @Graham H: When you say subway, do you mean a subway under Euston Road connecting eastbound and westbound platforms of the sub-surface lines, or do you mean a subway connecting the new ticket hall with the rest of Euston LUL?

    I don’t think you would need much presence above ground here. A totally minimalist solution would be to build two sets of stairs from street level to platform level and place two sets of ticket barriers directly at platform level. You’d need some signs telling punters to choose which way they’re going at street level, but that would be dirt cheap to build – even if you were to build an extra lift to provide step-free access to the eastbound platform (there is already step-free access to the westbound platform from the entrance across the UCH).

  272. timbeau says:

    @Castle Bar
    “But Mr Cameron insists that its reason for being is not to bring “the North” to London but to take “business” (etc) TO the North.”
    it matters little whether it’s Mancunians and Brummies visting London or Londoners visiting Manchester and Birmingham , unless they are moving there permanently most journeys are round trips so there will be as many people arriving at Euston from the north as there are going the other way.

  273. Graham H says:

    @straphan – I meant a subway under Melton Street to link the eastbound Circle to the concourse of the mainline station. As you say, that ought to be simple, if it weren’t for the aforesaid sewer. I can see that a subway under the Euston Road itself would be a completely different kettle of piscids.

    A propos Railsys for franchise bids – yes, it was surprisingly slow – for something major like TLK, we’d leave it running overnight. I know what you mean that it’s the obvious thing to use for evaluating the effect of new infrastructure although that didn’t stop the Department using Vision (apparently on First’s advice, according to the rumour mill) for TLK rolling stock – with ludicrous results (eg instantaneous turnrounds at the termini) which will probably come back and haunt us as a shortage of stock…

  274. Jeremy says:

    @straphan and others:

    I suspect, as has pretty much been identified, this is as much a case of where the money would come from as how much it would cost. I suspect that the preferred location of any second access would be within a redeveloped Euston, rather than simply at the Melton St./Gordon Street end. This would have a higher capital cost, but with the scale of redevelopment at Euston, you could avoid an extra gate line and its staffing consequences. Indeed, I’d imagine that integrating the two stations might be seen as an opportunity for efficiency.

    My understanding would be that any new entrance constructed would need to have step-free access to at least the westbound platform, and that the likely popularity of eastern access to the station would really call for step-free access on both sides.

    Provision of surface access at this point would be a substantial challenge on the southern side of the Euston Road due to the nature of the existing buildings there.

  275. straphan says:

    @Graham H: Processor speed wasn’t really a factor due to the way previous RailSys versions were coded. Fortunately the new version is a lot faster and takes advantage of dual/quad-core processors.

    @Jeremy: Given the location of said sewer, I’m not terribly sure how the costs would compare to the potential savings (you could get rid of all staff at the Euston Square end). Given the location of the sewer as described by Graham H, you would have to dig under it – would that not bring you close to the Vic/Northern tunnels? Would that also not jeopardise the future route of Crossrail 2? And also – you would need to dig two lifts from the platforms to that passage, plus an additional one at the mainline station end. I do wonder whether that would cancel out three gate attendants over a 60 year appraisal?

    What I was suggesting was a very low-key entrance, something akin to what is found on the Paris Metro – i.e. stairs (and lifts) leading to platform level, where a small space could be found for a few ticket machines and a gateline which would lead straight onto the platform. I never quite understood why the British insist on demolishing buildings to build a new underground station entrance when the French seem to be far more flexible on the subject…

  276. Alan Griffiths says:

    Castle Bar over S @ 17 February 2014 at 16:24

    “HS2 has to dissipate thousands of extra passengers an hour from Euston……..wouldn’t contribute to more overcrowding by concentrating more people down into London and the South East”

    You’ve entirely misunderstood HS2, especially after phase two East Midlands and Yorkshire. Most journeys now to and from St Pancras and Kings Cross would then be to and from Euston.

  277. Milton Clevedon says:

    While Euston gets busier with WCML tracks 5 and 6 (aka HS2 Phase 1), and eventually with its extensions t’North bringing across ex-St Pancras and Kings Cross types, the spare slots at Euston, St Pancras and Kings Cross will be refilled with other services, so that the Underground distribution system gets much busier, indeed severely overloaded.

    Saving 30 minutes journey time to London in order to queue for a half hour to get on the Underground is not a helpful re-balancing of disposable time.

    That’s one principal reason for moving WCML stoppers over to Crossrail 1. A direct connection to Euston Square is foreseen with HS2 Phase 1, as another safety valve for the Euston tubes. But you will still need another tube (eg Crossrail 2) to offer adequate capacity away from the combined northern termini at E/StP/KX, by the time HS2 Phase 2 is built.

  278. straphan says:

    @Alan Griffiths: Bear in mind that the pressure will not be off the classic services from these termini. There are sizeable towns that have long been underserved by long-distance services on the three remaining mainlines going North, and hopefully the post-HS2 classic services will finally address this issue. I would therefore not expect demand on ‘conventional’ lines to decrease significantly.

    @Milton Clevedon: I think we touched upon this issue before: Crossrail 2 in Central London broadly follows the path of the Victoria Line. Euston’s key issue is that the station does not have good onward connections to the City (an already quite full Northern Line Bank Branch) and Canary Wharf (take said branch and waste a good few minutes changing at Bank for the DLR). Crossrail 2 would unfortunately not do anything to resolve this…

  279. timbeau says:

    Euston’s key issue is that the station does not have good onward connections to the City . Crossrail 2 would unfortunately not do anything to resolve this…

    …..haven’t you overlooked the interchange between CR2 and CR1 at Tottenham Court Road?

  280. Milton Clevedon says:

    @ straphang
    Yes, understand the problem, that’s one of the reasons for the direct passageway to link to Euston Square, in order to access City services on the Met/Hammersmith/Circle. And it’s also true ‘Victoria’ needs an ‘Albert’ to relieve her – hence why CR2 is intended to go via the West End.

    A deep level terminus for some Euston suburbans, between Euston and St Pancras, could be a proto-‘Euston Cross’ and also give access to Thameslink for other parts of the City, so there may be more than one way of avoiding the need for yet another complete cross-London tunnel (which I frankly don’t see as affordable and up-and-running until after 2040, if Crossrail 2 uses up such funding until say the mid-2030s).

  281. straphan says:

    @timbeau: Granted, albeit I’m not sure it has been 100% decided that the interchange will be at Tottenham Court Road?

    @Milton Clevedon: In a previous thread I suggested an extension of the DLR from Bank to Euston – I think that would solve a lot of these problems…

  282. Windsorian says:

    not sure it has been 100% decided the interchange will be at Tottenham Court Road ?

    Nothing is final re XR2; however “passive provision” for it has been made in the rebuild design of TCR.

    It was considered the expanded Farringdon would be too congested with ThamesLink and two XR’s, so TCR was put forward as the possible XR1 / XR2 interchange.

  283. JM says:

    Typical away for a week an I miss a good thread.

    On Crossrail services, still puzzled why the plan is for DC services go to Euston and regionals go via Crossrail. Plausibly you could have direct trains between Hemel and Old Oak but not Stonebridge Park or Hatch End and Old Oak. Given Wembley Central has platforms for each pair of tracks already space and probably space for more at the south eastern end I reckon, why not curtail Bakerloo/DC there and run Crossrail trains to Watford too?

    Except for possibly Bushey, no platform lengthening needed other than bringing old platforms back into use. I can’t believe there would be no demand for a link for intermediate stops between Old Oak and Brent/Harrow/Watford, either on WCML or Metropolitan.. Certainly more demand than Leighton Buzzard or Berkhamsted I would have thought.

    And on Cr2/TCR, arguably Bond Street may be better interchange given rail links between western end of Oxford St both north east and south west are non existent. But given the alleged Piccadilly overcrowding in nth London (which in my anecdotal experience is nowhere near as busy as the High Barnet branch) and need for NL passengers to switch for the City from the south, I don’t see it happening.

    On Bombardier themselves, I’ve wondered if it were possible given the cyclical nature of rail contracts whether tram building was or could be an option at Derby too. BREL used to build very light rail vehicles. Particularly as I think Manchesters new trams come from Austria (???)

  284. Graham H says:

    @JM Bombardier could certainly build trams at Derby if there was the demand, but the UK market is tiny, and the overseas market is hotly contested by new entrants.

  285. Alan Griffiths says:

    straphan @ 18 February 2014 at 09:12

    “There are sizeable towns that have long been underserved by long-distance services on the three remaining mainlines going North”

    Apart from Leicester, where did you have in mind?

  286. timbeau says:

    @Alan Griffiths
    straphan @ 18 February 2014 at 09:12

    “There are sizeable towns that have long been underserved by long-distance services on the three remaining mainlines going North”
    “Apart from Leicester, where did you have in mind?”

    Lincoln for one – badly shafted by the cosy deal between ORR and DOR not to run the complete Eureka timetable. Northampton, Lichfield etc have relatively slow services to London too.

  287. Graham H says:

    @Alan Griffiths – how long a list of un(der)served northern towns would you like? Besides those mentioned, what about West Brom or Shrewsbury, Blackpool, Mansfield, Grimsby-Cleethorpes, Scunthorpe, Halifax, Huddersfield, Rotherham, Bradford, S Shields, Barrow….?

  288. straphan says:

    @Alan Griffiths: As you can see, whoever you speak to, has a very long list…

    @JM: The last trams built in Derby were – as far as I remember – the first batch for Nottingham. Since then it was decided that Bombardier would not focus on building trams in Derby – and indeed Blackpool’s Flexity 2 trams were built in Germany.

    In general, the light rail market is more hotly contested and probably smaller (in terms of value) than heavy rail in Europe – so it makes no sense for Derby to diversify in that direction…

  289. Chris says:

    @JM – extending Crossrail up the DC lines was considered, but it would be more expensive to implement, there isn’t the demand to justify such a significant increase in capacity, and any benefit to Euston would be minimal.

  290. Saintsman says:

    @Chris – Have to disagree. London Midland outer services ie beyond Bletchley really need strengthening which will keep the Euston slow lines busy. Getting these all to 110mph and re-adjusting WCML services post HS2 does not give a lot of capacity from Watford down. Which in turn needs better Euston platform usage. So DC lines make a lot of sense if Crossrail 1 goes this way. Yes conversion of DC lines to AC and how to further truncate the Bakerloo makes this more expensive. The LO service would disappear. More worried about capacity constraints from Bushey to Tring which implies everything non Crossrail running fast in that section. Watford Junction becomes the interchange.

  291. JM says:


    Tram trains increase the potential of the UK market. Conceivably a large chunk of Northern Rail and other more rural services may use them in the future.

    @Chris @SAINTSMAN

    Although practical, the capacity at Euston should not be the be all and end all. If you are creating a new hub at Old Oak, where is the provision for the local population who may end up working or changing there? Who is Crossrail being built for here? There doesn’t appear to be any plan or detail regarding links to Met/Bakerloo/Central/DC. I find that pretty staggering.

  292. straphan says:

    @JM: Tram-trains have been marketed as the golden bullet of local rail public transport for the better part of 20 years. Yet there are a total of FIVE functioning tram-train systems* with Sheffield that may be built soon. Given that most councils are currently struggling to fund decent bus services in their areas, and given that Edinburgh has managed to build its tram network at roughly twice the original estimate, how many of those Northern services do you really think will be replaced by tram-trains in the near future?

    *(Karlsruhe, Saarbruecken, Kassel, Nordhausen, Mulhouse, Sheffield under construction. Tram-train systems involve running vehicles over ACTIVE railway lines shared with heavy rail and over alignments shared with road vehicles like trams)

  293. Anonymous says:

    @straphan – quite right; besides which, there are actually very few Northern services which fit the classic tram-train model in terms of using on-street running to extend the reach of the heavy rail network into city centres. Minor tweakings in Lytham S Annes perhaps and conceivably the rail network in Teesside, although that’s a natural candidate for turning into a metro operation – not a lot.

  294. JM says:


    In the near future? Very little. Longer term? Remain open minded. Bristol is an example where an integrated T/T service could be created in the future if there is the will (and the finance to invest in electrification of all lines). Norfolk, Brighton, Solent, Preston/Lancs are others. I don’t think it is a pill for every ill nor a solution for large conurbations but it is a solution for areas where low frequency trains currently operate in and around regional centres and can offer a seismic shift in use of such infrastructure. Particularly if future models are faster on isolated track.

    Original point was that, given the political argument around train procurement and the plant in Derby, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were more calls for lighter vehicles to be built there again.

  295. straphan says:

    @JM: I understand your point. My counter argument is that it is very unlikely tram-train projects will happen in the UK any time soon. And if one or the other existing light rail system in the UK would require new rolling stock, then volumes will not justify opening a separate assembly line for them in Derby. Even an order for 104 trams from Manchester Metrolink did not persuade Bombardier to open a separate assembly line in Derby. And 104 vehicles is the largest single light rail order in the UK, and is unlikely to be repeated soon – the 90 Tyne&Wear sets are not due for replacement by 2025, and the Glasgow Subway stock is a grand total of 38 cars. Until London Underground decides what to do with the 1972, 1973 and 1992 stock, there will not be much movement in the rolling stock market outside of mainline rail in the UK.

  296. Chris says:

    @Saintsman – It seems your judging Crossrail against an imaginary future service pattern on the WCML, the reality is much simpler – does Crossrail take control of Watford DC services, or some of the London Midland suburban services currently running into Euston?

    There’s no reason for the DC line justifying either significantly higher frequencies, 200m+ trains, or the loss of Overground services into Euston; there simply isn’t the intermediate traffic and it’s too slow to Central London compared to mainline services. The Met will also restrict track and platform capacity when it runs into Watford.

    As for taking over some slow line suburban services, these *do* justify frequent 200m+ trains and with little extra expense required. There’s no loss of Overground service, and it crucially helps ease the pressure on Euston – irrespective of any benefits to platform utilisation, it would mitigate the impact of WCML commuters on the LUL station at Euston and the lines serving it.

    This is why Network Rail and TfL are proposing Crossrail take over WCML services and not the DC.

  297. Anon5 says:

    I wonder what might replace the boxy Tyne & Wear cars? Something akin to a modern tram, something looking like the DLR or sub-surface stock or something unique to T&W?

  298. Anon5 says:

    ^ Obviously above I was talking aesthetically. I know they each have different electrical supplies.

  299. JM says:


    As I said above, it’s quite bizarre if residents in NW London will not have direct access to their local high speed station and services to the West Country and Wales and possibly a major employment hub but people further up the line in Hertfordshire/Bucks would. A station like Old Oak plonked in the middle of west London surely creates demand in itself from local services.

    I just can’t see this logic.

  300. straphan says:

    @JM: Anyone living on a DC-lines/Bakerloo station will be able to change at Willesden Junction from where the new Old Oak Common Overground station will be just one stop away. That’s not exactly inconvenient is it?

  301. JM says:


    Which is quite cumbersome. I wouldn’t fancy living in somewhere like Hatch End and missing the connection home by 1 minute.

  302. straphan says:

    @JM: How is that inconvenient? There will be at least 6-8tph between Willesden Jn High Level and Old Oak Common. All stations to Harrow & Wealdstone will have at least 9tph (6tph Bakerloo + Overground) to Willesden Junction, and Bushey and Watford Jn will hopefully be served directly by the WCML Crossrail extension. People going to OOC from these stations will at worst have to change between one turn-up-and-go service and another. Only four stations on the DC Lines (Carpenders Park, Hatch End, Headstone Lane, Watford High Street) will not have such a turn-up-and-go frequency. Plus – people from Watford High Street will probably choose to travel to Watford Jn (remember there will also be 6tph Metropolitan Line trains there soon) where they will hopefully be able to change to WCML Crossrail.

  303. JM says:

    Is there any confirmation as to what services Crossrail will actually utilise on the WCML? How many and to where? Bletchley and further or just Tring?

    I read somewhere the preferred land for the new depot is in Watford.

  304. straphan says:

    There is no confirmation that Crossrail will get extended to the WCML, but I know plenty of organisations – not least TfL – are actively looking into it. It has therefore not been confirmed what services on the WCML would be taken over.

    My guess is that TfL would not want to get involved in running services too far out of London – ideally I think Milton Keynes would be a good location for a terminus (just as Reading would be the right place to terminate Crossrail 1 in the West), but realistically I’d say Tring or Hemel Hempstead.

  305. Chris says:

    @JM – I can’t see any issue, passengers from the DC Line can reach Old Oak Common either by changing to the NLL/WLL at Willesden Junction as already mentioned, or with Crossrail/Southern services at Watford Junction, Harrow & Wealdstone etc.


  306. JM says:

    I concur.

  307. Greg Tingey says:

    Err – room for turnback sidings & a couple of “parking” sidings at either Tring or HH?
    I’m not so sure about that – certainly not HH, anyway.

  308. Fandroid says:

    Thinking about the WRAP (or WRAtH). Simply turning the after-Crossrail Great Western residual services into semi-fast trains to Heathrow seems to utterly miss the point concerning why extending Crossrail to Reading might be a good idea. That’s the reverse-flow of passengers in the peaks, as Reading is a big employment centre and there already is a large peak counter-flow of passengers from Thames Valley stations along the GWML. It seems as if those people are all expected to change trains at least once in the future, presumably at Maidenhead. We just hope the connections are good ones! If Crossrail stays with a Maidenhead terminus, and WRAtH services only ever stop at Slough (and alternately at Maidenhead and Twyford, then a lot of current passengers will be very annoyed!

  309. straphan says:

    @Fandroid: There will have to be some sort of residual service to London. Otherwise passengers from Henley would have to change TWICE to reach Paddington (at Twyford and again at Maidenhead) – if that were the case you might as well close the branch rather than electrify it…

  310. Castlebar says:

    @ straphan

    As passengers from Drayton Green (and Castlebar) will have to change twice just to get to West Acton, and three times to get to South Ealing or Gunnersbury.

  311. straphan says:

    @Castlebar: Wrong comparison. The Greenford Branch will be connected directly to Central London at both ends (Central Line or Crossrail) – which means that getting to Central London will require 1 interchange instead of 0. The Henley branch currently has one or two direct peak trains to Paddington – these are due to disappear, meaning peak commuters will have 2 interchanges instead of 0 to get to Central London.

    Not sure about demand levels as well – is the Henley branch a bigger (journeys)/more valuable (revenue) market than the Greenford branch?

  312. Castlebar 1 says:

    O K straphan

    When a change of train is required at West Ealing because of Crossrail (the subject of the thread), tell us all how you can get from Drayton Green to Gunnersbury without 3 rail changes? (West Ealing, Ealing Bdy, Turnham Green)

    Currently no change is required at W Ealing, so of course it is a valid comparison.

    It will be quicker to walk.

    Your reference to passenger numbers is irrelevant as it doesn’t alter the answer.

  313. Malcolm says:

    straphan’s point could be more simply made by saying that it must be presumed that Twyford will have some direct service to London. (Which would, naturally, give Henley a 1-change service to London). If Twyford to London were to suddenly require a change at Maidenhead, this would be a hitherto-unannounced disbenefit to Twyford (as well as Henley). But this strikes me as most unlikely.

    In fact Twyford’s service to London could well speed up, through missing some of the present stops after Maidenhead.

  314. Malcolm says:

    Actually straphan seems to have misread fandroid’s original point. There are two different issues here: how many changes you need to get from X to Paddington, and how many changes you need to get from X to Y (where neither is Paddington). Fandroid, in reference to Wrath and reverse-commuting to Reading, was asking a question of the second kind, and getting to Paddington was not relevant.

  315. straphan says:

    @Castlebar and Malcolm: right, apologies, didn’t get the thrust of the argument. Am with you now.

    Agreed, you’d need an extra interchange on what is already a very piecemeal journey…

  316. Westfiver says:

    The current plan, post Crossrail, is that the residual Great Western suburban service is reduced from the current service.

    Currently, there are 4tph Paddington to Reading and beyond services in both the peak and off-peak. These all call at the main stations (Ealing Broadway, Hayes, Slough, Maidenhead, Twyford) and only 2tph at the minor stations (Southall, West Drayton, Iver, Langley, Burnham and Taplow). Post Crossrail, the services are reduced to 2 tph and only calling at the main stations therefore all the minor stations lose their direct Twyford/Reading services – I wonder how many of the current users know this, so it might come as a bit of a shock.

    There should be no reason why if Crossrail is extended to Reading, that Crossrail should operate the existing 4 tph skip-stop service.

    In the morning peak there are 2 Henley to Paddington services, calling only at Twyford and Maidenhead, these run on the main line from Maidenhead, crossing from the relief line at either Ruscombe or Maidenhead East. There are also 2 Bourne End to Paddington services calling at Maidenhead and Slough and these run on the relief lines. There are also a number of other fast services from Twyford and Maidenhead running on the Main line.

    I won’t bore you with the evening peak but its almost a reverse of the above.

    In other threads I keep reading suggestions that the Chiltern Inners should be diverted to Paddington post Crossrail, but this will mean them having to cross the relief (Crossrail) lines between OOC and Paddington – one of the reasons why the Greenford Branch to Paddington service could no longer be supported.

  317. Greg Tingey says:

    So, they are making no apparent allowance for the huge suppressed demand on the GW? Or are they assuming that since the CR1 trains are much bigger in capacity terms than what is current, that there will not be a problem?

  318. Westfiver says:


    Aren’t you assuming there is a huge suppressed demand on GW? And from what stations?

    Obviously Crossrail will be the major provider along the route and will attract commuters who currently use other services i.e. people who use Uxbridge at the moment may decide to go to West Drayton (provided they can get there easily and park).

    At the moment, GW suburban services are obviously very busy in the peaks and not necessarily with people travelling to or from Paddington, but to Reading and the intermediate stations.

    There has been a problem with overcrowding on some existing services, mainly because these services were operated by single 2/3 car 165/166 units and class 360s. The busier services have now been strengthened by running units in multiple (not 360s).

    It is going to be very interesting to see what happens in the intervening years between completion of the GW electrification and Crossrail: what units will be used? How many vehicles per unit? Will they work in multiple? It should be remembered that platforms 11 to 14 at Paddington are not too long.

  319. Greg Tingey says:

    Personal ( & repeated) observation (& actual counting) of the desperate wedging of trains @ Ealing Broadway, & other places. In both directions in both AM & PM Peaks. OK?
    The busier services have now been strengthened by running units in multiple Which are still at 150% + loadings, err, um ….
    It should be remembered that platforms 11 to 14 at Paddington are not too long. Not quite.
    pf’s 11, 12 are capable of taking a “6” easily, maybe 8, & longer if one is allowed to foul the exit from 12.
    It’s 13 & 14, over in the inaccessible depths of Bishops Bridge that are short.

  320. Castlebar 1 says:

    @ Greg

    I remember Ealing Broadway in the days of steam (all the local services hauled by GWR 61xx class with their rakes of 8(?) red coaches). Punctuality was excellent, even though the steam locos has to change ends at Paddington.

    With dieselisation, punctuality went down the pan, and the long dmu sets, were soon reduced in length. I seem to remember that by the 80s, 3 car sets were sufficient for the remaining traffic. It was evident (as I have said before), that it was quite obvious that BR(W) didn’t want commuter traffic that dared stop at places like Westbourne Park, Acton ML, Hanwell etc.

    What has happened of late is that the lost traffic has returned because of the new better trains, better punctuality, better timetabling, better ticketing (especially so), and better ‘attitude’ towards commuter traffic. What has happened should be no surprise to those to remember BR(W)’s complete disinterest. I am still in touch with an ex-BR(W) senior manager who had a nice office in Paddington, but had nothing to do all day, every day when he got there, having travelled in from Reading 1st Class every day. He seized voluntary redundancy when offered and laughed all the way to the bank as he was just about to resign at the end of that month, rather than face “death by boredom”. Nothing seemed to have changed since Gerry Fiennes surprise visit to Paddington as he described in his wonderful book “I tried to run a railway*

    Do not be surprised by the rapid change of fortune to services out of Paddington and contra rush hour flows. This business was there for years, but BR(W) didn’t seem to want any of it.

  321. Graham Feakins says:

    @ Castlebar – I add to your comment by reflecting on a question posed that Alan Williams of ‘Modern Railways’ fame made some 35+ years ago: “Why does it take the Western Region two minutes or more to do what the Southern Region can achieve in 20 seconds with greater traffic flows?” He was, of course, referring to the dwell times at places like Reading and so on. With such an almost lazy attitude on the Western Region, no wonder at all that punctuality could be maintained come what may. I recall that Mr. Williams almost sarcastically suggested that the platform tea trolley be reintroduced to the WR whilst the train awaited its booked departure.

  322. Castlebar 1 says:

    Thank You Graham F

    Have not seen that particular comment by Alan Williams before, but it perfectly sums up the “post steam” attitude prevailing on WR.

    There was a local joke in Ealing that the second ‘car’ of the Greenford shuttle (in those days it only ever ran between Greenford & Ealing Bdy, mostly as a class 121 “bubble car” + a trailer), that the trailer be converted to a “sleeping coach”. Soon afterwards, the trailer was removed off-peak,and parked at the end of the bay at Ealing Bdy. Alan Williams said “two minutes”? It was often a whole minute at Hanwell where perhaps only three passengers boarded. (Yet there would often be three men in the cab, one standing against the door). Yes there was an aura of laziness on WR in those days, not anywhere near so evident on other regions. And this gets back to Greg’s point of yesterday:- – it seemed demand had been suppressed and passenger use actually discouraged on WR inner suburban services. What Greg thus refers to is the current demand which started from an artificially induced low base point. Now it is in recovery mode and services can barely cope to meet the once seemingly deliberately suppressed demand. Thus I think CRX pax numbers will be higher than predicted by the “experts”. Let us see.

  323. Kit Green says:

    Dwell times:
    Last week I was at Fareham and noticed a huge discrepancy between dwell times between Southern and SWT trains. The Southern Electrostars were often at a stand for less time than it took for the SWT class 450s to allow the doors to be opened.

    Is this a difference in working practice or is it inherent to the stock?

    (I suppose a comparison here between Bombardier and Siemens products is almost on topic. How efficient will the door operation be when comparing Siemens Thameslink and Bombardier Crossrail?)

  324. Steven Taylor says:

    @ Kit Green
    You can observe the same thing at Clapham Junction. There was a tongue in cheek comment in last months Modern Railways, namely, the Guard has to check the platform is still there, not been stolen, moved, or blown sideways by the wind.
    The difference is that Southern have DOO, whilst South West Trains retain guards. Also, my understanding is that Southern `GPS` is sophisticated to warn the driver if he has stopped short with a long train.
    SWT apparently insist the Guard physically gets on the Platform and looks up and down the train before doors are opened. This even happens sometimes at Waterloo with a 4 coach train.
    I heard a rumour that a guard once opened doors when half his train was out of the station.
    Perhaps someone at the sharp-end can respond.

  325. Graham H says:

    @Kit Green – the difference is very noticeable, for example, when coming to a rest at a terminus. I suspect the issue is something to do with door mechanism design rather than operating practices.

  326. Steven Taylor says:

    RE my earlier comment about `stolen platforms` I do remember that someone did pinch the platform at Dilton Marsh some years back!!

  327. Greg Tingey says:

    Kit Green / ST
    Precisely so
    SWT have Guards … so … train comes to stop, guard opens his/her door, looks out, then opens train doors.
    On departure, guard closes doors, checks all shut, buzzes driver, who buzzes back & only then starts the train.
    A lot of this evaporates if you don’t have guards ….

  328. Rich says:

    The long dwell times on SWT are a constant source of frustration for me, as a commuter betwen Putney and Waterloo. Goodness knows what is meant to happen in the period between the train stopping and the doors activating but what actually happens seems to vary widely depending on the guard. The fact that some guards take no substantive action in the interval would suggest that any action being taken by other guards is superfluous. I very much doubt that technical limitations of the trains are relevant here, as doors are activated very quickly, from time-to-time.

  329. Graham H says:

    @Rich – not so sure about it being down to the guards – I regularly stand next to the guard on SWT as I disembark and I don’t see any significant behavioural differences between individual guards; I do see an almost 100% correlation between quick door opening on 37x stock and slow opening on the Desiros.

  330. straphan says:

    @Steven Taylor: My understanding (also based on a report from Modern Railways) is that Southern is moving away from GPS to a beacon-based system. The principle is dead-simple: you have two beacons located at either end of the platform, and a set of receivers on the train under each of the doors. As a train arrives at a platform, each door is ‘released for opening’ by the first beacon and blocked by the second one (in situations where – say – the front and rear doors are meant to be away from the platform). This ensures that as many doors as possible can be opened, and also prevents the driver from accidentally releasing doors on the wrong side of the train.

  331. Pedantic of Purley says:


    I didn’t know that but it would make sense. One particularly frustrating thing, now that Southern has trains longer than platforms more often, is that it is currently done on a carriage basis where as LU works on a door basis.

    It would also be good because I suspect that often it would be quite easy to extend the platform by half a train length but it isn’t done because there is currently no point in doing that. We also get the situation where it is easy to extend one platform but not the other. GPS cannot distinguish between the two sufficiently reliably to be sure which one the train is at and so it is the length of the shortest platform that determines how many carriages can have their doors open – even if that is not the platform that the train is currently using.

    We are also getting the problem on Southern that stopping marks are being changed. This is not to benefit the customer but because with the proliferation of different length trains they are worried that a driver may get confused and stop at the wrong mark. If beacons could resolve this problem then that would be good.

  332. Fandroid says:

    You should visit Shawford, just south of Winchester, where only one door is opened. The one where the guard is!

  333. Pedantic of Purley says:

    That certainly is selective door (singular) opening.

  334. timbeau says:

    Slow dwell times on the WR – an anecdote from Gerry Feinnes. When he asked the guard of an up express at Reading why he wasn’t blowing his whistle as commuters ambled across the platform from a connecting service he was gently admonished: “Sir, we don’t blow whistles at gentlemen from Newbury”

    SWT guards, on the other hand, are not averse to blowing their whistles, and even trying to shut the doors, before everyone who wants to do so has got off, never mind anyone having a chance to get on.

  335. Long Branch Mike (London Brum Manchester) says:

    re: only one door is opened

    This has a positive benefit in extreme climates like Canada where you want to keep the frigid cold or humid heat out and not overtax the climate control aboard trains.

    Re: whistles

    Toronto’s subway trains had whistle blowing guards up to about 10 years ago. Some guards had an extremely annoying long whistle blast. Glad to see them go. We now have a mild chime.

  336. Greg Tingey says:

    Well, things have certainly changed at Reading, these days, then!

  337. Mark Townend says:

    @straphan, 27 February 2014 at 13:13

    Each door mechanism being activated as it runs in, an excellent ‘obvious’ idea I also thought about before. Lets hope it might be considered as a standard for the future.

  338. Castlebar 1 says:

    @ timbeau 16:41

    Also, on WR some of the passengers sauntering towards the train and for whom it was being held up, were in fact WR managers based at Paddington! In one of Adrian Vaughan’s books, Fiennes told the guard to blow and leave without them. I would like to have seen that.

    That is EXACTLY how WR worked. It is exactly why they lost their market.

  339. Chris says:

    Might you be confusing Southern with SWT who are installing Automatic SDO using beacons?

  340. Fandroid says:

    Concerning door-closing times, I understand that the Class 700 Siemens trains for Thameslink will feature ‘pocketed’ doors, presumably similar to those on LU. These are supposed to be quicker to open/close than the ‘sliding plug’ doors on the existing Siemens Desiro sets. All in an attempt to get minimum dwell times in the core tunnel stations. My source is Modern Railways March edition.

    I don’t know if the Electrostar trains used by Southern have these ‘pocketed’ doors. If so, it might be part of the reason why their dwell times seem shorter.

  341. Andrew Rolph says:

    Re: Fandroid 27/2/14 20:24 – Class 377 Electrostars as used by Southern have sliding plug doors. Class 378 Capitalstars as used by LOROL have ‘pocketed’ doors.

  342. ngh says:

    Southern 377s use a mixture of SDO based on GPS with beacons added later.
    See beacon equipment manufacturer website:
    See Southern’ Letter to NR from 2006:

    For example originally when the 377s were introduced there was pause on arrival at Victoria while the driver had to override the system because there is no GPS signal on platforms 8-19, now solved with beacons.

    The southern SDO system does work for different platform lengths for example Gipsy Hill (pre lengthening to 10 car so longer an issue) where the platforms were circa 8.5 cars long but the down pipe from the guttering on the footbridge narrowed the platform just enough to make it not “legal” width. 455s (no SDO) still did what they always did (front doors in front of the offending downpipe) but 377s dropped down to 7 cars of doors open with a slightly different stop position (the rear doors would still be on the platform provided the driver didn’t stop extra early but the SDO was set up to assume they did…
    Anyway footbridge replaced and platforms now lengthened.

    The SWT 458/5s (i.e post 4-5 car conversion and modifications) will be fitted with ASDO too but I’m not sure whether that will bypass the guard for opening or not which seems to be the time consuming bit.

  343. ngh says:

    Following on a useful article on SDO history and technology:

  344. straphan says:

    @ngh: Thank you for expanding my point – I had a vague recollection it was Hima-Sella but was not 100% sure when writing my earlier post.

  345. Graham H says:

    Not sure whether this post goes here or better under a different thread but a careful perusal of the outskirts of the BBC news website shows that the deal between DfT and the Welsh Assembly for the electrification of the Valleys Lines is in danger of falling apart. If it does, the rolling stock cascade from TLK will have to be re-thought – and life may suddenly become easier in some parts of the country..

  346. Castlebar 1 says:

    Yes, GH

    I’ve just read it on a Welsh site

    Because the English aren’t going to pay (allegedly we promised to(!!)), the Welsh might not want it if their own money is required. Yes, it’s true, the Welsh think the English should pay for electrifying their Valley Lines as well as the London – Swansea main line .

    Everything is now on hold.

    You couldn’t make this stuff up!!

  347. Windsorian says:

    @ Graham H & Castlebar 1

    Welsh Valley lines electrification row –

  348. Milton Clevedon says:

    Surely this is all a poker game prior to the Wednesday Budget – about which, sitting in a restaurant in Waterloo, I am reading at the moment that the London Evening Standard (not the Caerdydd Noswaith Standard) is talking of George Osborne agreeing by Autumn 2014 to the Barking Reach £150m Overground railway because it will cause 11,000 homes to be built (see page 9 of the ES, not pp1, 8, 9 for the Higgins HS2 scheme).

    So Barking will probably get a nice mention in 2 days’ time in the Palace of Westminster, less sure about west of the Afon Hafryn.

    Don’t think I’d be reading the same story somehow, in the St David’s Hotel and Spa overlooking Cardiff Bay, nice restaurant though it is – and even more fun to overhear all the Assembly Members there, chatting away in full earshot… Suggest an LRC correspondent rushes there hot-foot.

  349. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Castlebar / Graham H – surely the articles about “not paying” are just part of the typical lobbying / agitation process that you get when someone is not happy about the progress or direction of discussions on a key policy development? It certainly “smells” like that to me and all the political parties indulge in this nonsense when it suits them. I expect someone like Roger Ford will be able to find the truth in amongst all the flummery surrounding the debate.

  350. Graham H says:

    @WW – absolutely I expect this to be a positioning manoeuvre; the oddity is that the deal appears to have been written down and published two years ago – a poor tactical base…

  351. Malcolm says:

    Castlebar says “Because the English aren’t going to pay “.

    That’s a very Daily Mail way of putting it. It seems clear that (provided it happens at all) the money will either come from the funds at the disposal of the Welsh Assembly, or else from the funds at the disposal of the U.K. government. Neither of these funds can be accurately described as “the English”.

  352. timbeau says:

    Sounds like the similar standoff over Goblin electrification – with the Welsh assembly taking the place of the London one. Wales claims it’s not a devolved matter (although the Scottish parliament is paying for EGIP other projects).

  353. timbeau says:

    Mr Cameron said: “It’s this government that’s putting the money into the electrification of the railway line all the way up to Swansea and, of course, the Valley lines.”

    BUT Justine Greening hails “a deal which will be perhaps the most significant infrastructure announcement for Wales for many years”.

    Her letter says there will be “a specific access charge on the (Wales & Borders) franchise to repay the [electrification] infrastructure investment by Network Rail”.
    The two governments are joint signatories of the franchise.

  354. Graham H says:

    @timbeau – thank you for digging out these references. The key would therefore appear to be who is to fund the extra access charges – the TOC (with consequences for the subsidy bill and the Assembly and the Treasury accordingly) or the direct grant to NR ( a matter for the Treasury alone).

  355. stimarco says:


    While you are correct from a semantics perspective, the fact remains that Wales is effectively subsidised by England as that’s where almost all the money is made. I’m not saying that’s a good thing – it isn’t; the UK really needs a much more balanced economic landscape, but that would involve radical moves, such as kicking the politicians out of Westminster and out to, say, Birmingham – but that’s the way it is today.

    Therefore, from an accounting perspective, Wales is expecting England to pay for its infrastructure improvements. Or, more accurately, “London and the South East” as that’s the basket-case where most of England’s economic eggs are rather dangerously located.

    On the other hand, that worryingly overheated south-east of England needs some breathing space to catch up with its own backlog of infrastructure improvements, so investing in Wales’ economy would actually help with that indirectly.

    Helping to improve other regional economies would also have a similar effect, but this requires strategy and long-term planning, both of which have apparently been out of stock for some years.

    And on the other, other hand…

    … etc.

    Economics makes my brain hurt. I think I’ll go have a lie-down.

  356. Castlebar 1 says:

    @ stimarco. 23:02

    Thank you, you have put it more politely and accurately than I could ever have done. And
    you have made a VERY relevant new point with………

    “On the other hand, that worryingly overheated south-east of England needs some breathing space to catch up with its own backlog of infrastructure improvements……….”

    Have important projects in the south-east of England been cash starved, leading to “its own backlog of infrastructure” because of money that has gone to Scotland and Wales for political (or electoral) reasons? Was this a factor in the delay in giving the go ahead to Crossrail for example, – the money had simply gone elsewhere?

  357. Greg Tingey says:

    Castlebar (over S)
    Yes & no – remember, there’s that very senior civil servant (so-called) who has apparently proudly boasted of holding up CR1 fro 20 years & is still agin it & has been promoted, or so I was told.
    [ And whose name, I either never knew, or have forgotten – can anyone recall who it is? ]

    [Greg. This is positively the last time you can bring this up. Like a lot of other assertions about various individuals you have made them enough times without any evidence whatsoever to back them up. Once or, at most twice, is enough if indeed the accusations should be made at all. PoP]

  358. Graham H says:

    @GT Perhaps Sir Nicholas MacPherson, the Treasury Perm Sec – although I can think of a number who have been at their dirty work there for just as long….?

  359. Greg Tingey says:

    I usually do have evidence of some sort actually.
    What I often lack, is the last link – even with Google, one needs a hint & I’m getting slack at noting details down (As in the informative link to stuff that MC pointed me at)
    However, in this case, Graham H’s comment has done it, perfectly.

    Thank you Graham!

    However, the game the Treasury is playing, in leaking that the project could cost £30bn more than the current estimate while minimising any benefits, is much more dangerous. Sir Nicholas Macpherson, permanent secretary to the Treasury since 2005, was one of Crossrail’s most vigorous opponents and bitterly regrets that he was unable to stop the project despite its obvious benefits in enlarging London’s transport capacity.

    He is determined to fight HS2 to the last. Any “senior Treasury official” – the source of the FT leak – will have known of their boss’s position; …

    From This article
    I hope that should convince people.

  360. Ian J says:

    @Greg T: Nice quote from former Economist journalist Adam Raphael here:

    Sir Nick Macpherson, permanent secretary to the Treasury, recently joked: “Crossrail was built over my dead body. HS2 will not share the same fate.” Never mind the chancellor George Osborne, who is strongly in favour of high-speed rail, the Treasury is determined to pursue its traditional hostility to spending on railways.

    Public defiance is not the way Whitehall works, but if you wish to trace the source of the opposition to the planned high-speed line between London and Birmingham, look no further than the mandarins of Great George Street.

  361. Ian J says:

    Sorry, forgot to include the link.

  362. @Greg et al.

    Thank goodness for that. Sorted. Now can we give that subject a permanent rest?

    I am pleased we have got to the bottom of this if only because we can hopefully move on. So, some internal mavericks in treasury do utmost to prevent rail spending. Is it just me in thinking this just not revealing anything? Am I out of step? I would have filed it away alongside “pope is catholic” revelations or toilet habits of bears in tree-rich areas.

  363. Paying Guest says:

    @ PoP

    Absolutely not – to anyone who has had even the most peripheral dealings with the fruits (sorry mandarins) from that building it will be no surprise at all.

  364. Anonymous 2 says:


    “internal mavericks”.

    Isn’t it the point that the evidence is that he (a permanent secretary!) is not a maverick?

    Usually cock-up rather than conspiracy is correct. On the other hand conspiracies do occur!

  365. Greg Tingey says:

    Ian J (& everybody)
    I’m sorry, I’ve asked this question before, but: WHY?

    I can understand Marples – he was a greedy crook.
    And there have been others like him, since.
    But why did the Madwoman hate railways (Was it just because they were nationalised?) What was in it for Giftzwerg Sherman?
    What drives people like Paul Withrington & whatever the Railway Conversion League are now (“Travel Watch”?)
    Does Sir N MacP live in, say, outer SW Surrey, so that neither HS2 nor CR1 are of any use to him, so, old Treasury hand that he is, he’s going to play the “Ship Money” card? [ Note ]

    I simply can’t get my head round this.
    I love railways, but I own a car & a bike & I walk & I use all those modes (& buses), as appropriate. [ I only fly if I absolutely have to, but that’s nothing to do with the actual flying, of course. ]

    So, can anyone please come up with a better explanation than that these people were frightened by an A-4 chime-whistle whilst in their prams?

    [ Note: A huge amount of the public opposition to HS2 [snip PoP] THIS thread for example, is of the same Ship Money type.

    [Greg, I have slightly modified this comment to remove a reference to “idiots” but deleted one earlier today in its entirety for this reason. Calm down! Rational informed debate please – not name calling. PoP]

  366. Castlebar 1 says:

    …….. and I understand your desire to “give that subject a permanent rest?”

    That I can understand, for historic cases that have been discussed endlessly before, but where there are new and current issues, surely these should be revealed?

  367. Greg Tingey says:

    Your post obviously came in between me starting typing & hitting “send” …

    Actually, no – we need to air the subject carefully & in a measured fashion – I’ve repeated a previous question, to which no satisfactory answer ( or even any answer at all) has yet been forthcoming.
    I know the Treasury “caught a cold” over railways in the period 1955 – 1965 [ “Modernisation2 – to Marples & “Beeching” ].
    But, have they never heard of “Circumstances alter cases”, or “That was then, this is now”, or, shock, horror, admit they made a mistake?

    Particularly, since guvmint policy changed, in the last 18 months of the previous administration, does not appear to have reverted to “roads-only” with the current lot (Unless you count Boris’ tram-cancellations) then why are, at the least a powerful (if small?) clique within Whitehall so anti-rail?
    What’s in it for them?
    Cui bono?

    Oh yes & just for relief, or maybe not, since we are into questions, that are, presently, without answers.
    try THIS

  368. straphan says:

    Given the location of the Treasury I can only wonder how these people get to work each morning…]

    This squabble between Whitehall and Cardiff is yet another argument that transport and rail spending needs to be devolved… The only organisation that will make life more difficult for is Network Rail who will have more funding sources to deal with.

  369. RichardB says:

    @ Greg I have no wish to perpetuate this discussion as without hard evidence of motive it is impossible to clarify why such attitudes are formulated. What I would say in response to Cui bono is that everyone has prejudices and some are based in hard fact others are not. I think you cannot underestimate the issue of prejudice – attitudes as revealed in the FT article are often just that there is no smoking gun (i.e. an absence of conspiracy). Need else to say those in public life accused of prejudice always claim their attitudes are the consequence of detached analysis. Their motives are in their minds unimpeachable.

    The thin

  370. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Richard B / Greg – It may well be prejudice or perhaps it is simply holding a different viewpoint based on having different life experiences? There are plenty of people in the country who never use public transport and see no value in having it. They travel by car and have done since they were children. They think trains are ghastly things and people who use buses all smell disgusting. They like the cocoon of their cars regardless of the expense of running them. We must be on the third or fourth generation of families with that sort of experience / viewpoint. If you see no value in something why would you support expenditure of billions of pounds on it? By all means accuse the person of being “narrow minded” but they’re entitled to hold their opinion. I don’t own a car which brings its own set of thoughts and prejudices which I’m sure I hold! Therefore I’m no better than Sir Thingummy McNasty of the Treasury / DfT / wherever. 🙂

    Most of us here *like* railways or buses or trams or all of them. We are adept at using these modes because we know lots about them. Many here are clever and intelligent people with robust views and firm beliefs. The group is obviously London centric and that brings with it a wholly different set of transport experiences and issues. None of that makes us “right” as we don’t have perfect knowledge of all of the options and associated parameters. We are also highly unrepresentative of the average user of the transport system as have disproportionately high and detailed knowledge. We simply don’t see things the same way.

    If the civil service higher echelons are riddled with prejudice then I’ve no clear idea why that might be so. I’m also unclear how you fix it given the accumumated culture, knowledge and experience that must exist. That’s true for any long lived, large organisation. Who’s to say TfL or BP or John Lewis or Tescos or IBM are not equally full of such biases and odd views?

    I think it would be much easier if we just accept that posting comments on here is not going to right the wrongs of the past or cause the complete replacement of civil servants with people who will implement our own “prejudiced” vision of transport perfection!

  371. Graham H says:

    @Greg T and others – I know this is difficult to believe, but the Treasury has a culture (for many centuries, be it said) of resisting all calls to spend public money. As one confrere in GOGGS* put it: we have three whole divisions whose sole task is to say “no”. It was the Treasury that put into circulation the phrase “shroud-waving techniques” a propos NHS spend. So the current obsession with the cost of the rail network is nothing new. Nationalised industries were seen (well before Mrs T’s remarks about losers) as sinks for public money – it is the rail industry’s misfortune that it is one of the few state enterprises left and is therefore in a very exposed position. The Coal Board was, for example, equally hated in the Treasury; it was the management they especially hated and privatisation simply tipped them all overboard. Matters are made worse, attitudinally, because Ministers of all stripes are afraid of cutting back the railway system – yes, I know that doesn’t save money but it’s what happens when you try… the Treasury know that and are frustrated. Tigers/meat;Pope/ Catholic etc.

    Mrs T’s dislike of the railways was focussed partly on her congenital dislike of state industries but also because she came from a generation that saw cars as liberating factors. However, even she refused to countenance the privatisation of the network; the issue came up at Cabinet several times and was always turned down: “There are two things that I will never privatise – the railways and the Post Office” – a pragmatic political view.

    Yes, there were and still are a number of senior staff who ride hobbyhorses in relation to the railways and much else – most unprofessional. Again, railways and London have had the misfortune for much of the ’70s and ’80s to fall under the remit of one specific senior man who had axes to grind on both.

    *GOGGS – for LBM’s delectation: “Government Offices Great George Street” – home to HMT.

  372. answer=42 says:


    Civil servants, like the rest of us, are entitled to their prejudices. What they are not entitled to do is to act on them in a way that contravenes their task of advising government in an unbiased fashion. If, indeed, a senior civil servant has been undertaking a policy campaign over many years, then this is a case for dismissal.

    This appears to be is a case of what the late Tony Benn called ‘permanent government’: a set of permanent policies and policy-makers that cannot be removed.

    If we want to take this discussion any further, I would like to ask what happened to the enquiry, launched by Andrew Adonis, into the Inter-City Express programme?

  373. Greg Tingey says:

    THAT is exactly the sort of subsidiary question that should be asked in this situation.
    Thank you.
    Also, it’s no surprise that HMT want not to spend money, because they want to save it for a rainy day … but given the horrendous waste in both the NHS & Defence – both of which actually need the money, except it isn’t well-spent, why are they so fixated on the railways (or is that my prejudices speaking)?

    Agree, also that if Sir N MacP had been a junior, he’d have been sacked for such gross prejudice & manipulation, but of course, such a senior fruitcake (sorry, mandarin – that joke will run & run) is untouchable – unfortunately.

    This is the sort of disgraceful shenanigans that keeps “Private Eye” in business….

  374. Graham H says:

    @answer=42 – and yet the perpetrators are not disciplined if senior enough. In the particular case I have in mind, the same official was allowed to carry on for 20 years unchecked despite briefing against Ministers and his own Perm Sec. When Sir Alan Bailey retired as Perm Sec, he did at least have the good grace to apologise to those who had been caught up in the disgraceful warfare. I doubt if Benn’s solution is to the point, however: it would simply lead to Ministers being told what they want to hear – with the obvious consequences. The better solutions are (a) vigilance on the part of the Perm Sec and (b) more frequent rotation. Ministers also have a part to play – when they suspect they are being given the run around to make further and deeper inquiries.

    As to the IEP – this is the pet project of one particular individual, relatively junior, well known to the industry and despised by them; now that Adonis has moved away, no one in the department feels able to challenge him – to a large extent this seems to reflect the way in which the Railways part of DfT is staffed – especially at senior level – by a very odd mixture of people from a variety of non-civil service, non-railway backgrounds. The trouble is that although everyone outside DfT is well aware who this person might be, they are afraid of balling him out in case they are put into bad odour for their next franchise bid, alas.

    FYI EC bidders continue to thrash around to find the best way of deploying the IEPs that they don’t want but are obliged to hire, and GW bidders ponder how on earth they are supposed to provide a decent service to the West Country once the HST fleet is withdrawn. But you knew all this anyway, perhaps.

  375. straphan says:

    @Graham H: Oh dear, I think I actually know which civil servant you are talking about…

    What I find very odd about the UK Civil Service is the whole rotation programme. If someone is clearly interested in a particular field and either already has or quickly acquires a good understanding of that field, then I would think shifting that person to a completely different policy area that they have no idea about is clearly doing both them and said policy area a disservice. My former employer managed to pinch two people from the DfT precisely because they knew something about railways and were not keen to be shifted to look at issues surrounding noise abatement for residential settlements or food provisions for prisoners of different categories…

  376. Castlebar 1 says:

    Ah GH, you have reminded me of postings I have made on other threads, when I have referred to “greasy pole” climbers. You have obviously experiences of these on the vary tallest and thus (seemingly) most important greasy poles.

    My career experience taught me that one of the functions of those inhabiting the middle strata of such poles is to specifically filter out all bad news and information that the one occupying the top perch will not want to hear. The most important info never gets through to the top man because the middle ranking acolytes have filtered it out. When it hits the fan, he is often taken by surprise and often orders an immediate enquiry.

    This was (and probably is) still particularly relevant to the way banks operate too, where the organ grinder only gets to hear of the naughty things the monkeys got up to when it is too late.

    Happy days.

    But expensive ones for the taxpayer.

  377. stimarco says:

    “This appears to be is a case of what the late Tony Benn called ‘permanent government’: a set of permanent policies and policy-makers that cannot be removed.”


    It’s fun to read anti-EU rants in the UK’s media from right-wingers complaining about “unelected” EU officials dictating policies, when the UK’s own civil service has exactly the same problem.

    “I would like to ask what happened to the enquiry, launched by Andrew Adonis, into the Inter-City Express programme?”

    I think it got caught unawares by the programme to extend electrification. Electrifying more of the UK’s rail network reduces the business case for new diesel / “bi-mode” trains and also changes the economics of running the trains themselves, so a number of assumptions would need to be reassessed. In effect: they’ll have had to go almost all the way back to Square One. (Which really ought to be the name of a bar in the Houses of Parliament, if it isn’t already.)

  378. Graham H says:

    @straphan – rotation used to mean that there was a sort of cursus honorum, by which I mean that people came to specialise by type of work. For example, in DoE/DTp, we might have been encouraged (as I was) to pursue a career in “marking” nationalised industries and quangos – starting with the New Town Development Corporations and the Nature Conservancy Council* as a very small toddler’s bikes, then progressing to the National Bus Co as a more substantial tricycle, followed by LRT as a small two-wheeler, and then BRB as a racing bike. For a rounded feel for the subject matter, one might have spent time in, for example, dealing with local transport, or managing a Bill, or a project (in my case, privatising the London docks). Others would have pursued parallel rotations through Highways or Planning or Housing so that by the time they were ready for senior office, they had both a deep and a broad understanding of a swathe of departmental business. They could then either specialise in a subject matter or continue as, perhaps, procedural specialists.

    What was useless was rotating in people who had been working away in one of the parallel routes – from time to time in public transport, we had highwaymen or even, God help us, the department’s press officer**, foist upon us, usually as part of a ministerial initiative. They sank hopelessly without trace faced with decisions on business plans or investment cases.

    *This may seem odd to outsiders, but the truth of the matter is that at a certain level, most quangos and nationalised industries have a lot in common – finance, investment cases, corporate development and planning, legal matters, board appointments, legislation, and so on. The analytic tools, the assumptions, the questions to be asked, are remarkably similar in many cases.

    ** Those who love Durrell’s diplomatic sketches will recognise the effect of this particular move. The gentleman in question was silently removed after he submitted a memo to Ministers about the introduction of Driver Only Operation with the heading “RMT says we DOO”. Unfortunately not found subsequently in the gutter burbling “For release, absolutely immediate release”…

  379. Paying Guest says:

    @ Graham H 16:02

    To your (a) and (b) I would add carefully selected, robust and effective departmental secondees. I have seen a very mixed performance by those from Defence, but when they are good and stand their ground they can add greatly to both understanding and to the curbing of excesses by the ‘treasury through and through brigade’.

  380. Graham H says:

    @PG – I would agree with that. Also perhaps recruiting direct entry staff at some of the mid-point on the hierarchy – many of those turned out to be very good, too.

  381. Fandroid says:

    To fiercely and boldly mix metaphors, I fear that the ‘bonfire of the quangos’ threw a lot of babies out with the bathwater. Lots of dead stuff eliminated (I hope!) but politicians deluded themselves utterly that they could take a grip of issues that they had just about zero experience in. They were then prey to the senior civil servants who were unknown to the public and media and could not be sacked if they failed, unlike the quango heads who often had to stand up and explain, and could be booted out to ‘encourager les autres’ (thank you Napoleon).

  382. Graham H says:

    @Fandroid _ I hesitate to correct but the reference is to Voltaire’s Candide, not to Napoleon in Candide, the hero passes the site at which Admiral Bing is being shot for losing Majorca for the British … and then follows the famous quote.

  383. Ian J says:

    @Graham H: “The better solutions are (a) vigilance on the part of the Perm Sec”

    Not so easy when it is the Perm Sec apparently condoning the leaking – or giving a nod and a wink to Parliamentary committees that he thinks HS2 is a waste of money, as he did last autumn.

    Radical idea: instead of a cursus honorem, how about publically advertised merit-based selection processes for civil service jobs?

    @Answer=42: I would like to ask what happened to the enquiry, launched by Andrew Adonis, into the Inter-City Express programme”

    It recommended going back to Square One and thinking again. But by that time the government had changed and that month’s transport minister failed to take the hint Andrew Adonis had left them.

  384. Graham H says:

    @Ian J – two simple objections:

    (I) experience is relevant – very few other careers give you insights into the required combination of skills. Some of those skills are unique, as with any profession. Of course, you can recruit people with some of those skills and train them for the rest but – hey! – that’s what happens anyway these days. You wouldn’t expect law firms or medical practices to recruit people from non-relevant backgrounds, and you would certainly reward them for growing experience.
    (II) Recent experience in the UK has shown that the moment you open up the system to external recruitment rather than promotion by merit, the risk of the number of political appointees grows enormously and with it the problems of corruption and lack of expertise. The American civil service which works on that basis, for example, is hardly a model of reassuring competence.

    The root of the matter is the need to give ministers unbiased and factual advice and the moment that those who give that advice become dependent on the people they are advising, any independence and objectivity is at risk. To give you a practical example – and forgive me if I have cited it here before – when the commuter coach market was deregulated in the ’80s, the advice from the civil service was that it would have very little impact on the demand for rail, despite Mrs T being keen on it as a means of dishing the BRB. And so it turned out. Howell, who was then my SoS, turned on the before and after research with the words: “I don’t want this; I want research which shows my policy is a success.” Not good.

  385. Fandroid says:

    Apologies and thanks to Voltaire (and Candide and Graham H). I’m too lazy to check more than half of my references, so pour les autres I just wing it and suffer the consequences.

  386. Fandroid says:

    I too hesitate, (after asking Mr Wiki), but it was Admiral Byng, and he lost Minorca.

  387. Greg Tingey says:

    Graham H
    Ministers also have a part to play – when they suspect they are being given the run around to make further and deeper inquiries. Yes – we need more people like the now-no-longer-with-us Roy Jenkins.
    He was given the severe, classic run-around over the 10, Rillington Place murder, when Home Sec. It appears, that the third time this happened, he gave instructions that if the relevant material wasn’t on his desk the next day, & processed IMMEDIATELY, then he would publicly sack the Perm Sec & his subordinates, with loss of pension.
    That did the trick.

    On IEP – & my civil service contact inside DafT also confirms that IEP is rubbish, as we all know – did his best to stop it, but was over-ruled ….
    If this person’s name is known, perhaps it should be leaked to Private Eye or somewhere suitable – if enough scandal was made, it might yet be stopped?
    Dare we do such a thing? Assuming some of us know who this IEP_advocate is, of course? [ Ah, straphan says possibly “yes” ]

  388. Graham H says:

    @Fandroid – Minorca, of course. (Interesting to speculate, but not I guess in this forum, on what would have happened to the cheap holiday market if we had hung on to the island).

  389. straphan says:

    @Graham H: I fully understand the point of rotating WITHIN a department to look at related issues. Indeed, getting railwaymen to look at buses and vice-versa would really be a breath of fresh air for some people. But rotating people BETWEEN departments is – frankly – bonkers. My understanding is that juniors within the civil service do still get rotated between departments.

  390. Kit Green says:

    ..rotating people BETWEEN departments is – frankly – bonkers. My understanding is that juniors within the civil service do still get rotated between departments.

    It is not bonkers at the junior level. There is a need to prevent the silo mentality so loved of current business management. For example it seems obvious to me that those dealing with transport should have knowledge of business, environment, energy, social services etc. as well as experience of the varied means that departments and politicians interact with each other.

  391. Graham H says:

    I shouldn’t think there’s a “right” answer to any of the issues raised here (and I’m getting conscious of serious thread drift here) – pragmatism and balance rule OK! Some departments have more to share than others: eg DTI (or whatever it is called this week), Energy, and DfT have useful experience to share on industry regulation, and so on. However, for some reason, both at political level and at official level, DfT has had an unfortunate tendency to be linked to the Treasury and Defence. (Observe how often the SoS Transport moves on to Defence, or the junior Treasury ministers are given Transport as their first autonomous post). There seems less to be learned across these departments, at least as far as DfT is concerned – and both Defence and DfT have a lot to learn, but not from each other, about procurement….

    To come back to Straphan’s and Kit Green’s debate, the question of rotation matters a lot less amongst junior (“Executive” in old speak) staff who are not usually involved in giving advice to ministers, but are engaged on managing a process or system (such as awarding grants). On the Administrative side, I used to make it my business, when I was in charge of graduate recruitment, to push the little dears out on secondment to local government, state industries and the like – trouble was that many of them never came back.

  392. 0775John says:

    Re Graham H 07.59
    Regarding the “import” of expertise from outwith the Civil Service, my career was largely within Customs and Excise and then the merged HMRC and us technical staff engaged in combating tax avoidance used to be very wary of the fashion of importing expert “successful” instigators of multiple tax avoidance schemes in the Big 4 accountants to offer their advice on how we should counter other such schemes and prevent the development of new ones by tightening the law. The poacher turned gamekeeper may be acceptable in some scenarios but we always had a concern that there were too many poaching friends out there with rather too close links to make the determination to clamp down any more than mere lip-service. And, of course, the next job might be back where they came from through the revolving door.

    This no doubt is the same when any public service area obtains senior employees from those directly affected by its policies. It must be very hard to leave behind the loyalty to those left on the other side and push through policies designed specifically to curtail their profit-making behaviours.

    But this is not to suggest corruption but more to suggest the difficulty those who are well-meaning and professional find in becoming effective when viewed as ‘one of them’ by the civil servants and with concern by their old colleagues outside since they know “where the bodies are buried”! The tax take is different as it is the only income the government has – so any diminution of it has direct effect. Any policy does have a material and immediate effect on the lives of different groups of people so impartiality and the following of the political message of the party in power should not be diluted by personal interest.

    I cannot see a significant direct effect on the life of the above-mentioned Permanent Secretary by the building of Crossrail and so one must wonder at the professionalism displayed over all those years!

  393. Graham H says:

    @0775 John – and that cut both ways: a number of colleagues exited into consultancy or banking, lured by the high salaries, where they were destroyed.[One case – especially gratifying to the modest and humble – concerned a woman, the daughter of the then Permanent Under Secretary at the FCO, who believed that she was God’s gift to the nation, and who stalked off, having been told to wait for promotion, to a merchant bank, as their compliance director. Unfortunately for her, her banking peers had no intention of complying with anything, told her nothing, and she failed to spot the crisis that brought down the bank – and her.]

  394. On IEP – & my civil service contact inside DafT also confirms that IEP is rubbish, as we all know – did his best to stop it, but was over-ruled ….
    If this person’s name is known, perhaps it should be leaked to Private Eye or somewhere suitable – if enough scandal was made, it might yet be stopped?

    Sorry, Greg but I just don’t get it.

    IEP was a decision most of us don’t like on the criteria we choose to judge it. The mere fact that someone in the DfT thought it was a bad decision and was overruled is not a scandal. Bad decision, maybe, but that happens all the time and is subjective. The only relevant thing is whether the people in that position could have reasonably come to that conclusion. The test is known as Wednesbury unreasonableness and what is generally used in judicial review. I don’t like the decision to go for dual mode IEP but that doesn’t mean I or you are correct in this viewpoint.

    Actually it is very hard to argue against. There aren’t actually going to be that many bi-mode IEPs and those that are left will probably be used on sensible routes e.g. diesel in the Cotswolds and electric from Oxford to London. The contract was awarded under open tender so hard to argue against expense. It has been awarded so hard to undo. One would also be struggling to make an issue of the fact they were foreign given that they will be built in Britain.

    So back up your argument Greg. Instead of insinuation, in what way are the IEPs rubbish? And in what way did the DfT act improperly?

  395. straphan says:

    @PoP: Have you missed Roger Ford’s many articles about the IEP in Modern Railways? Data provided by the DfT suggests the train redefines certain laws of physics, the bi-mode will not be able to run purely on electric power up to Edinburgh, and the DfT further claims that a locomotive cannot be attached to a train using automatic couplers in less than 10 minutes.* Also, bear in mind the maintenance contract specifies the number of diagrams ‘allowed’ to operate for the next 20 years. If I ever saw an argument against Government-led procurement, this is it!

    *There are locations in Continental Europe where trains formed of traditional locomotives and coaches without automatic couplers are timetabled to change ends (i.e. uncouple a locomotive at one end and couple another one at the other) in 10 minutes!

  396. Castlebar 1 says:

    100 years ago, a steam engine could run-in, uncouple, run around its rake of coaches, back-on, couple up, and be away in under 10 minutes

    So this feat will be impossible with ultra modern stock and technology??

  397. Milton Clevedon says:

    Aside from the technical, value-for-money and operational merits/demerits of IEPs, it should be noted that Hitachi has today announced that it will move from Japan to the UK its global rail business HQ. Link here:

    That will of course be seized in some quarters as a very positive sign for the UK and its returning eminence in rail. Think the real truth is that moving senior administration and marketing staff to UK is part of a Hitachi drive to expand sales (not least with HS2 coming along), and with Britain being an ‘aircraft carrier’ off-shore mainland Europe. However will the manufacturing of underlying high value technical elements stay in Japan? Will the design staff move, would be another interesting question?

    Even so, you really don’t do anything like move your global HQ around the world unless you are very clear, and very serious, and it is impossible to think that Japan would have taken that decision without the IEP deal in the bag. So it is legitimate, even if post-hoc, to say that IEP will have some collateral benefits.

  398. Pedantic of Purley says:


    Much as I admire Roger Ford, one needs a pinch of salt sometimes with his analysis and a look at things from different viewpoint. For example, I cannot reconcile his views, or maybe former views, on ERMTS with what I hear elsewhere nowadays.

    Are we actually going to have bi-mode to Edinburgh? Even if this is still in the plan I am not sure it is) I can see the relevant TOC reallocating units to avoid this or even removing the underfloor-engine altogether.

    I cannot see how it is possible for the bi-mode units not to be able to run purely on electrical power to Edinburgh. That would be redefining the laws of physics. I think what was actually claimed was that IEP could not meet the proposed timings purely on electrical power. And by that I think we have to assume we need to add on the basis that the power supply remains as it is. Clearly if it can run to Edinburgh on a combination of electricity and diesel energy then you can, in principle, replace the diesel energy with electrical energy. After all (laws of physics) energy is energy. All the diesel generators do is top up the electrical energy.

    I am aware of the potential fallacy of the data-coupling argument but my experience on seeing lax or fraught EMU coupling at Purley prejudices me into separating what is technically possible and how it pans out in day to day real life.

    The way a maintenance contract is drawn up is not an argument against IEP but an argument about the way maintenance contracts are drawn up.

    Your comment re-enforces my belief that though I believe the IEP is flawed in some respects it seems to have aquired a bogie-man hatred that does not stand up to rational analysis.

    I am still waiting for a single reason as to why the IEP is fundamentally flawed. I am not a fan of the IEP but nothing given so far gets near to convincing me there is a fundamental flaw in its conception or planned introduction.

  399. straphan says:

    @Milton Clevedon: I’d love to see their faces if (well – let’s not kid ourselves – WHEN) Britain then chooses to exit the EU in a couple of years time and Hitachi will find its ‘global rail HQ’ outside of the largest non-Asian passenger rail market…

    I consider this decision to be on that thin and blurred boundary between stupidity and bravery…

  400. timbeau says:

    Although in-service coupling/uncoupling does indeed add extra potential for problems, (especially if the trains were not designed for it – see the class 458 debacle) it has been done on a regular basis at many different places with great efficiency and comparitively little fuss – Bournemouth between 1967 and 1988, Rickmansworth between 1925? and 1960, Birmingham when Cross Country services to/from the north west changed traction there, and various Euston – Shrewsbury/Inverness/Holyhead services in the loco-hauled era. Indeed, back in the days of steam it was quite normal for long distance services to change locos several times en route – as the range of a steam locomotive was limited by its coal-carrying capacity (assuming water troughs were available), and refuelling was a long and messy process, it was much quicker to change the whole loco.

  401. timbeau says:

    Read on another site that through trains were booked to stop for three minutes at Rickmansworth – this was with screw couplings – not automatic!

  402. Milton Clevedon says:

    The announcement says the global HQ will move to London. I expect the range of direct flights to Japan, Europe and the Americas would have influenced that location, and to be close to Westminster for the HS2 sales pitch. HS2 offers major business potential, and Hitachi will play the long game for that market opportunity, where HS2 trains are valued at £7.5bn in the Treasury-compliant Higgins’ estimates. See this link, and look at the supporting slides for the detail, as well as the report for the overview: .

    BTW, I don’t know why UK (all, or the parts of it left if the Scots referendum vote said ‘yes’) would walk from EU, as it would immensely damage English business prospects. The smaller the UK became, peversely the more important to stay in the EU…

    Furthermore I wonder if an independent Scotland might cause the rest of the UK to have to adopt Schengen, after a decade or so, because of internal travelling grief otherwise enforced within Great Britain as an island, with a Scottish government possibly insisting on the right of Scottish citzens to travel without constraint to mainland EU, or to Eire via Northern Ireland. No cloud without a silver lining, etc.

    Otherwise the Euston rebuild and elsewhere might need to allow for UKBA, so not your average ticket gate line…! Someone will know what the border/passport rules are for Eire citizens to/from UK and mainland Europe.

  403. Milton Clevedon says:

    Further thought – you’d need Gretna Green, Gretna Red and Gretna Blue as the exit channels…

  404. straphan says:

    @PoP: The fundamental reasons why I believe the IEP is a flawed concept are:
    – Bi-mode trains will not be able to keep to specified timings purely using electric power (due to a lower number of transformers fed from OHLE power). Bi-modes will have to operate to Scotland if through London services are to continue to Inverness and Aberdeen as at present.
    – Lugging around a significant amount of diesel fuel across the country is cost-inefficient and will cause unnecessary waste of energy and possibly wear & tear to track.
    – Fixing the number of diagrams deliverable by the contract for the next 20 years isn’t exactly prudent. This is not a matter that civil servants understand enough about and should get involved with.
    – The train interiors were specified by people who have little understanding of requirements of intercity passengers and hence seats have been crammed into the vehicles at the expense of other facilities (kitchen, bar, luggage racks).
    – The method of procurement (DfT-led with constructors required to provide a finance package) is far more cost-inefficient compared to a ROSCO-led procurement exercise.
    – The amount of money spent on the procurement and analysis process (a small part of which I will freely admit did form part of my salary a while ago) is excessively high and would have been far lower had a ROSCO led this.

    As a result we have ended up with a train that
    – cost unnecessarily much to procure
    – will cost unnecessarily much to operate
    – will be unnecessarily uncomfortable

    This is why I consider the whole IEP procurement process as a process carried out in a sub-optimal fashion with sub-optimal results.

  405. Graham H says:

    @straphan – to which one might add(1) that other options, such as dragging an emu off the end of the wires, seem to have been rejected on factually incorrect grounds related to the time taken to couple/uncouple a loco, and (1a, as it were) that the impact on, for example, WoE services will be to make them less convenient for the punters because the bimode cannot tackle the banks. (A dragged emu could, however).

  406. Greg Tingey says:

    I’m not sure I said that DafT “acted improperly” – just that they came to the (seriously) wrong conclusion.
    Someone else in here, suggested very strongly that IEP was the result of one “enthusiast” (my word) inside DafT, who appears (appears, note) to have been out of control.

    My judgement of IEP rests on people whose judgement I do trust – my anonymous source, people like R Ford, and, of course the original “bi-mode” design spec … which is mostly irrelevant, now. Ditto the result of the enquiries started by Adonis, which have been ignored, it would seem.

    See ALSO:
    straphan’s post immediatly following yours.
    As for coupling – one had to see the Clacton (etc) units splitting & re-joining at Thorpe-le-Soken for slick work. Usually in under 2 mins, 3 mins maximum…

    IEP will need the diesel throbbing away under the floors (ugh) AS WELL AS electric power to make it to Dunedin in time?
    That, if true, is a fundamental design flaw & hideously inefficient & complicated. A modern Heath Robinson contraption, in other words.
    So, yes, that of its own says the concept isn’t just flawed, its broken.
    Some poor sods in operating will then be tasked with making this horse designed by a committee race.

  407. @straphan,

    On your first two points I tend to agree with you but reserve judgement to see how it is going to work out in practice. Whilst I would agree that it looks like a flawed concept when considering London – Inverness (but this is only one train a day surely) I think a much better case could be made for Hereford – Paddington which will probably be hourly even if not all the trains go all the way to Hereford.

    I also suspect that once someone sits down and does the calculations (if not already done) the nonsense of “topping up” the electricity on a regular basis using the diesel engines will be seen to be the absurdity that it appears to be and a suitably upgraded power supply will more than pay for itself. In a similar manner I am sure the TOC would not be so stupid as to fill the tanks with diesel fuel if the journey can be made under the wires and a nominal amount will be carried just to cater for any potential diversions or temporary loss of power.

    So I will wait to see how the IEP is put into practice before having a final view on this.

    As for your other points, these are not specific to IEP and could be levied against any procurement. I would not know enough to meaningfully comment on these.

  408. Long Branch Mike 1 says:


    “Fixing the number of diagrams deliverable by the contract…”

    Does diagram refer to a train consist?

  409. straphan says:

    @PoP: I fail to understand your logic – if trains will lug diesel under the wires 8 or whatever times a day the Cotswold service runs, then surely that is more of a waste than lugging said diesel once a day to Edinburgh and continuing to Inverness. And how do you know the TOC will not fill diesel tanks if the journey is purely under the wires? If a Leeds-London train is then diagrammed on a Lincoln service, then where should the train stop for fuel? Also, having a uniform electric fleet and a separate diesel loco fleet is much easier to manipulate during disruption than two separate electric and bi-mode fleets.

    As for my other points, it makes no difference that they are not specific to IEP. Yes, Government could have screwed up any procurement exercise this way, but the procurement exercise is an integral part of the Intercity Express Programme – let’s try not to split hairs here…

  410. Moosealot says:


    Dragging the fuel around isn’t a particularly big deal. I can’t find a specification for the fuel load of an IEP, but an HST is 3,700kg each end and I can’t imagine the IEPs taking more than that. It’s the engines and related paraphernalia which add the serious amounts of unwanted weight and mass.

  411. Pedantic of Purley says:


    The two scenarios are completely different.

    On the Cotswolds line the vast majority of time will be spend using the diesel generators. This, or direct diesel traction, would happen whatever form of train used. So the only inefficiency is the short time between Oxford and London – less than an hour.

    You also have another very critical factor to take into account. The platforms at Oxford are extremely intensively used and a locomotive change will take time at a critical point. And yes the Metropolitan could change locos in four minutes but they had extremely convenient and close-by sidings to put park the locos. You would have to allow longer at Oxford and this would cause severe operating problems. In fact I would suspect you would probably need, wait for it, nine or ten minutes. Also substituting a locomotive is not a cost free option. It require staffing and is a very poor use of resources.

    To make it worse at Oxford you have two freight only lines running through the middle of the station. Somehow you have to get the loco off the train to London at platform 1 and get it to the other side of the four track railway and you have to do that without snarling everything else up. If the trains are to be loco-hauled at all times you are going to have a bigger problem because it is not going to be easy to install a siding on the London end of the up platform. Even if they are propelled with the loco at the country end you are going to encounter the additional problem of the Marylebone-Oxford services.

    On top of that, this takes no account of the additional trains generated by EastWest railway which will be operational in a few years time.

    The solitary King’s Cross – Inverness train is a completely different scenario and the distances times involved means that I cannot see how an IEP would be the best option because, as almost everyone agrees, dragging one or two diesel generators up and down the length of the East Coast Main Line does not seem to make much sense – but I will still wait and believe it when I see it.

    As for filling the tanks, I meant that one should think a bit like an airline. One puts as much fuel in the tanks as is prudent to do so. The trouble with a lot of this is that so much is undecided and dependant on other factors such as further electrification to Hull and maybe Lincoln.

    Can I re-emphasise, going with IEP is not a decision that I think I would have come to but I can envisage various scenarios in which the DfT concluded, fairly rationally, to go down this route. This all started because Greg did his usual accusing stuff at the DfT suggesting skulduggery or gross incompetence. I just wanted to make the point that the concept of IEP is one that they could have plausibly and reasonably have come to whether we agree with it or not and by the rules of Wednesbury unreasonableness that is all one is entitled to expect.

  412. RichardB says:

    @ Greg & Straphan – I do not doubt that it is possible to efficiently couple diesel locomotive to trains to ensure they can travel beyond the wires. However you are both assuming that had we not procured a bi-mode IEP that sufficient locomotives equipped with ETH etc would have been available. My own view is that the argument would have been that we could not justify the investment in these locomotives as they would be standing idle for significant periods and it would be far better to rely on passengers decanting on to Sprinters or better still Pacers to finish their journeys. If that was not acceptable a further case would then have been made to dispense with train services to such outposts altogether as express coaches operators would fill the gap in service between the destination and the railhead. Presumably you would also have objected had the decision been taken to procure a fleet of electro diesel locomotives instead.

    Times have changed people expect direct through services and the bi-mode concept was and is a way of achieving that as the alternative of relying on the provision of a fleet of diesel locomotives to pull trains off the wires I am sure would have been killed off on grounds of cost.

    Therefore I think the choice was between providing through services off the wires or none. Bi-mode on that basis is an acceptable compromise

    You may fulminate about the wasted money in carrying full tanks of diesel under the wires but frankly if the train works I don’t think anyone will care and I for one would rather we possess more through services than might otherwise be the case. Until IEP actually runs in service we don’t know how good or bad the trains will be but I think the manufacturer (Hitachi have too much to lose) and the TOCs will ensure they do provide an acceptable service whatever the weaknesses in DfT’s design specification.

  413. Graham H says:

    @LBM – in UK speak, a diagram is the pattern of trips made by any specific unit before returning to base. In N American speak, I understood a consist to be the number and type of coaches in a train. Thus the IEP operators are to be obliged to purchase a specified number of diagrams although I believe that the franchisee will be free to do what he likes with them – it’s merely that he pays for the fixed amount. As it seems that there won’t be enough IEPs to cover all the diagrams on EC that bidders may actually want to operate, this would appear to lead to some interesting proposed service patterns, including separating out the semifasts from the fasts completely.

  414. straphan says:

    @Richard B: What do you mean by ‘significant periods’? We are talking about the Cotswold Line that handles almost a train per hour! There are plenty of other places that could have been served reasonably frequently by coupling diesel locos – e.g. Lincoln, Gloucester, Middlesbrough, Hull, Harrogate… These places currently have a very sparse service purely because there is too little diesel stock available – this will continue to be the case once IEP is introduced. A train every two hours to these places could easily have been reasonably profitable if the stock was there – in which case those locomotives would not have sat around for very long…

    This – in my opinion wrong – argument then forms the basis of your further argumentation about severing through services – hence I won’t comment on the rest…

  415. Long Branch Mike 1 says:

    @Graham H

    Thank you once again. Indeed consist in North America means the number and type of coaches in a train.

  416. RichardB says:

    @ Straphan I understand the point you are making and if life were entirely rational the outcome of the IEP programme may have been a solution akin to what you are proposing. I would also say my thesis in my previous post was my attempt to play devil’s advocate as I suspect the solution you favour (with all its merits) clearly did not excite the powers that be and my post was in part an attempt to provide a rationale for why that might be so and I apologise if you feel it has no merit to warrant further discussion.

    However the bi mode concept clearly had some attraction within government and I doubt if that was purely the work of one person. Perhaps the counter argument is to ask why would bi mode seem so advantageous? I suspect that part of the justification was to maintain connections to destinations beyond the wires and the counter to that was to procure additional diesel locomotives. I would surmise that the latter procurement would be a politically unattractive outcome especially as diesel is seen as less efficient when compared with electric traction and yes I think politically it would seem wasteful to have an additional fleet of locomotives which would appear to be less intensively used when compared with their electrically powered intercity trains.

    From an engineering and an environmental aspect you may be right but there is a political dimension here which can make bi mode a very persuasive alternative. The die rightly or wrongly has been cast and we are to have bi mode. From a personal viewpoint I have to say if the decision ensured connectivity across the country to locations which are currently off the wires I think that is a price worth paying. The real concern now is will the IEPs be an adequate successor to the current existing intercity fleets both diesel and electric.

  417. stimarco says:

    Re. IEP:

    On the question of dragging diesel up the East Coast Main Line, surely it’d be easier and cheaper to just fill the tank(s) up at the end of the electric stage of the journey? It can’t be beyond the wit of every engineer in the land to design a fuel pump that operates fast enough to complete the job while the train is dwelling at the platform.

    These are inter-city trains, so they’re not going to have multiple twin-leaf doors along each carriage: dwell times therefore will be longer than for ordinary metro services.

    Even so, as Moosealot points out, the weight of the diesel is a mere fraction of the weight of the entire train. One could just as easily argue that having a diesel train drag pantographs and their transformers around is just as inefficient, and, unlike diesel, those pans are always going to be there.

    There’s also no reason for the diesel generators to be running all the time: it’s only during the acceleration phase that you need that extra power; once you’re at line speed, you can shut them off and rely on the electrical supply. As these are long-distance, inter-city trains, that’s not something you’ll be doing very often. As long as the engines are designed for that use case, as well as for continuous running on the diesel-only stretches, I don’t see it as a problem. It’s not ideal, granted, but you can’t electrify the entire UK rail network overnight.

    Finally, while changing locomotives is still commonplace on the continent, (not least because there are multiple electrical power standards to cope with), the almost exclusive reliance on multiple-units for passenger services in the UK means there’s a serious lack of experience among frontline staff for such procedures. And that’s before you consider the conniptions and heart attacks the Health and Safety representatives would get upon seeing a policy of deliberately driving hundred-ton machines into trains full of passengers on a regular basis.

    I think I’m with PoP on this. As a Scottish jury might say: “Case not proven”. I can definitely see advantages to a ‘go anywhere’ train that doesn’t rely on a single locomotive at the front. That single locomotive is a single point of failure: lose it and your train is useless. A “Combined Multiple Unit” (“CMU”?) therefore makes more sense from a reliability standpoint.

  418. Fandroid says:

    I think you have to see bi-mode IEPs as replacements for HSTs and DMUs, not as inferior electric trains. Those routes suggested, London-Aberdeen and London-Hereford, are exclusively diesel at present. Bi-mode IEPs are an improvement on that. As for Roger Ford. Although he pointed out the absurdity of DfT assumptions about bi-mode, once Hitachi had made a realistic bid, he was happy with their technical proposals. Think of these beasts as DMUs with pantographs, and you might feel a lot happier. Big diesel locos are a wonderful thing but they also have to comply with emissions regulations and need a separate driver available to do all the manoeuvring while coupling up and decoupling.

  419. Graham H says:

    @stimarco – hundred-hundred and fifty ton railway vehicles are regularly driven at each other in this country, every time two emus sets join in the course of normal splitting/joining as required by the timetable. Probably 100 times a day. This will continue with IEP wherever two 5 car sets are to be split and joined – for example, as is likely with the north and south Cotswold lines.

    I hear this “mustn’t rely on a single power source argument” so many times – what puzzles me is why the IEP therefore has to be constructed with distributed underfloor power instead of a power unit at each end. I believe this was done quite successfully in 1974.

  420. timbeau says:

    @Richard B
    “My own view is that the argument would have been that we could not justify the investment in these locomotives as they would be standing idle for significant periods and it would be far better to rely on passengers decanting on to Sprinters or better still Pacers to finish their journeys.”
    Wouldn’t those Sprinters also be standing idle for significant periods waiting for the connecting services?

    “That single locomotive is a single point of failure: lose it and your train is useless”
    Easier to keep a spare loco on standby than a whole unit.

    “deliberately driving hundred-ton machines into trains full of passengers on a regular basis.”
    You wouldn’t – you would put the loco in place before the train arrives, and drive the train into the platform to couple up to it. (this is what was done at Bournemouth every hour for twenty years)

  421. RichardB says:

    @ timbeau fair point but… To my mind the issue then becomes about purchasing two fleets the IEPs and a smaller fleet of locomotives. I fully understand the mechanics of coupling locomotives to trains and agree it can be entirely safe although my own experience of this type of operation at Wolverhampton when travelling on the through train to Shrewsbury was that the operation easily occupied 10 minutes and frequently was longer. I also fully accept it should be possible to reduce that timescale.

    The problem with those proposing the change of motive power for through trains proceeding further beyond get wires is that it is seen as the only way achieving this end or rather the only logical and reasonable method which trumps all other approaches and I am not convinced. We are steadily moving away from passenger trains consisting of locomotives hauling coaches to dependence on multiple units with distributed power. In many ways I wish it were not so as I think the locomotive approach makes for a better passenger experience but in part I acknowledge that is a personal preference much as I also deplore the departure of restaurant cars.

    With a mindset focused on multiple units with distributed power the need to supplement them with diesel locomotives can appear a rather untidy addition bringing a further unwelcome cost. I accept that to those with a railway engineering background this will not seem the case but I can conceive that others for example H M Treasury might perceive it that way which could be a show stopper to the extent that they and others might argue that until the case justifies further expansion of electrification destinations which currently enjoy through services could do without. In support of my contention I would draw attention to the present refusal to procure any new DMUs despite the fact that additional units are required and possibly beyond those that might be released via cascade through ongoing electrification. New diesel power now appears to persona non grata.

    The visceral response to IEP by some contributors to this site and also elsewhere obscures the interesting point as to why bi mode is seen as the answer and not locomotive power for traffic beyond the lines but one point I would make is that the railway is changing and arguably has already changed. With a dependence on multiple units the traditional response to change motive power by coupling and uncoupling locomotives is I suspect increasingly seen as a complication the TOCs could do without and as PoP indicated in an earlier post (Oxford) in some instances the station layouts may no longer offer the resources to enable these manoeuvres.

    Finally I would say whatever the deficiencies of DfTs specification I think the manufacturer and the TOCs will make the IEP trains work and I think most of the public who may have cause to travel on the bi mode trains will not be troubled in the least that bi mode was selected in preference to locomotives hauling an emu beyond the lines. They will however esteem the fact that they have a through service.

  422. Graham H says:

    @RichardB – it is, in fact, the TOCs themselves who are continuing to pursue “dragging” options, especially in relation to the WoE services where the IEP will not be able to cope with the banks, the alternative being abandoning the through service.

    I suspect that the preference for loco power over distributed power is well nigh universal – I do not know of any traveller apart from dyed-in-the-wool grunt enthusiasts who would happily sit over the thrum and vibration of a diesel motor for more than about an hour, and in appraisal terms, we run the risk of ignoring that factor – the ambience experienced by the passengers does have a measurable value and, in this case, the precise traction mode is part of that. The cost of downgrading that ambience can then be set against the extra cost of keeping a small loco fleet to do the dragging.

  423. RichardB says:

    @ Graham H fair point well made but it does not answer my question why was bi mode selected? I also assume that those arguing for change of motive power would also have objected had the solution for IEP been for locomotives hauling coaches with the option of electro diesel locomotives for those trains going beyond the wires to obviate the change of traction. I note that at least one freight operator is to purchase some new locomotives with ETH for possible passenger use which will be electro diesels and yet I have heard no criticism that thus will be wasteful as the locomotive will haul additional tonnage over the electrified parts of the route

    My concern with this debate is that its proponents see that there was only one correct answer to this issue and all other solutions are wholly unacceptable and yet a decision for bi mode was taken. I emphasise I am not necessarily in favour of bi mode but the energy expended on criticising it seems over the top.

  424. Greg Tingey says:

    It’s not dragging the fuel around – it’s dragging the big lumps of cast-iron that constitute the diesel engine-blocks around …..

    Also substituting a locomotive is not a cost free option. It requires staffing and is a very poor use of resources.
    Worked all right @ Bournemouth for quite a long time, though, didn’t it? Your next objection is equally false – since IIRC Bournemouth was (then) also a 4-track station, with 2 centre through-roads. (?)
    See also timbeau’s much later comment.
    This all started because Greg did his usual accusing stuff at the DfT suggesting skulduggery or gross incompetence.
    Actually, I suggested incompetence, because DafT refused to listen to expert advice. I don’t think there was any “skullduggery” involved – just a massive cock-up. Which will cost everyone in the long term.

    Richard B
    LURVE your snide about “Pacers” … however, it’s worth remembering that this whole IEP fiasco started BEFORE the major electrification programme was approved – hence the “bi-modes”. Once the electrification programme altered the political & engineering landscape, what should have been done was to re-scope the specification(s). But, this was not done, & I get the impression that certain people had already “got their name on” IEP & didn’t want their pet-project altered. Note the subjectivity in that last sentence.

    Your later post ( 18.38, 20th March ) tends to confirm my suspicions & “information” as above – particularly if one figures in that IEP was an idea for trains with no knitting-extensions, as opposed to what we have now.

    There’s also no reason for the diesel generators to be running all the time: it’s only during the acceleration phase that you need that extra power; once you’re at line speed, you can shut them off and rely on the electrical supply.
    Disagree profoundly. Extra kit, to be switched on & off, whilst in transit, interfacing with all the other kit? A sure-fire recipe for equipment failures & engineering screw-ups. It fails the basic KISS principle, I’m afraid.

    Graham H
    Probably a lot more than 100 times a day, given how often this happens at Liverpool St & Waterloo, never mind anywhere else!
    Oh & can I fully support your last comment about sitting over an underfloor engine for hours!

  425. straphan says:

    @Graham H and Richard B: Indeed, just to back up that argument, I have on a number of occasions heard the somewhat older folk travelling across the East Midlands* on board Voyagers and Meridians complaining about the noise and wishing ‘the nice old trains’ ran through here ‘more often’ (no prizes for guessing what they were referring to…). I understand those are only anecdotes, but if a proper survey were to be carried out, I would happily bet some cash that ‘ordinary’ people will find a HST (with original seats mind!) more comfortable than a new-generation long-distance DMU.

    Also, as Graham H has pointed out, the use of bi-mode trains will make it impossible for current timings on the West of England line to be kept, meaning a material worsening of the service for people in Devon and Cornwall, who already don’t have it easy when it comes to travelling to other parts of the UK. Furthermore, the bi-mode IEPs will be far more expensive to operate than any other multiple unit currently in existence – which means the business case for running ‘away from the wires’ will be that much tougher to justify – even to the more ‘obvious’ places (Calder Valley, Lincoln, Hull, Middlesbrough).

    I really do not have a visceral hatred for bi-mode trains and do indeed see the point of having them. In France the AGC units built by none other than Bombardier provide a sterling service on regional express routes, which run over a patchwork of electrified and non-electrified lines. One the Midland, Transpennine and Great Western are electrified, such a unit would be an excellent choice for some longer-distance services which operate on partly electrified routes – perhaps even the long-distance Cross Country routes if you could get them to run at 125 rather than 100 mph. But running bi-modes on services, which have only one changeover point, just doesn’t make logical or financial sense to me.

  426. I thought that services to Devon and Cornwall would continue to be provided by HSTs? Until reading these comments I didn’t think anyone had ever suggested IEP for routes down to the West Country and I didn’t think it was part of the plan – and still don’t.

  427. Graham H says:

    @RichardB – I would go even further than you (!) and argue for different solutions for different routes (particularly bearing in mind PoP’s point about lack of flexibility in track configurations at key points). What is wrong is having a one size fits all policy. And no, I don’t know the origin of the DfT obsession with bimode (the guy whom both Straphan and I allude to is most unlikely to have been the originator of the idea, whatever his current dedication to it might be); certainly the tide in favour of d/emus had been flowing strongly since the electrification of ECML but it may be on the ebb these days – I hear that a number of bidders are quite attracted to keeping loco and coaches sets as along as possible not just for ECML but also Greater Anglia.

  428. CdBrux says:

    As electrification spreads is the intention to convert bi-mode IEP’s to purely electric?

  429. Paul says:

    I haven’t checked the figures, but much of the above comment about the lack of power of bi-mode IEPs has been overtaken by events. The original published design had the 10 car bi-mode clearly underpowered, because of the idea that there’d be one diesel power car at one end, and a single transformer car at the other. (Note this only applied to the ten car, a pair of 5 cars did not have the same power problem, just too much wasted space.

    However, the fundamental design was then changed by the time the IEPs were ordered, to go for multiple underfloor engines in the bi-mode, and in the case of the 9 car an additional transformer, because there was no longer a diesel engine power car as before.

    Roger Ford of Modern Railways covered all this a couple of years back…

  430. timbeau says:

    Noise from diesels. Underfloor, as in Voyagers and Meridiens can be intrusive – a separate generator car is usually preferable, as in an HST. Whether it is detachable is irrelevant.

    The RENFE S-730 bi-mode trains are an example – they are basically S-130 straight electrics with separate generator cars added as the second and penultimate vehicles.

    @richard B
    “my own experience of this type of operation at Wolverhampton when travelling on the through train to Shrewsbury was that the operation easily occupied 10 minutes and frequently was longer.”

    I am not familar with the layout at Wolverhampton, which may have a bearing on how slick the operation could be, but would note that this operation was not the simple attaching of a loco to a train, but the swapping of one loco for another which is rather more complex: first you have to stop, detach the first loco, drive it away, bring the second one in and attach it. With a loco and emu combination all you have to do is drive the emu up to the waiting loco. On the return trip (if its a push-pull system) you just drive the train in, detach the loco from the rear, and carry on.

    Moreoever, in the loco-hauled era on the WCML, the couplings between loco and train would not have been automatic or even buckeye, but manually coupled screw couplings. Nevertheless, the Met managed regular three-minute loco changes at Rickmansworth with that system. (Anyone able to tell us what the service frequency was north of Ricky in steam days?)

    The two systems (dragging or bimode) are essentially the same when running “off the juice”. The only difference is whether you lug the diesel generator around all the time, or leave it behind when you don’t need it. Clearly the latter arrangement requires fewer of them. I would guess there is a balance point, dependant on the relative distances travelled on and off the juice, where the operational complexity of attaching and detaching the generators starts to outweigh the savings by having fewer of them. So the asnwers might be very different for Lincoln and for Penzance, for example.

  431. Pedantic of Purley says:


    I don’t know where this the Met managed regular three-minute loco changes at Rickmansworth came from. As far as I am aware all the literature available mentions four minutes.

  432. Pedantic of Purley says:

    @Greg 10:00
    Your next objection is equally false – since IIRC Bournemouth was (then) also a 4-track station, with 2 centre through-roads. (?)

    The four tracks is mainly relevant as an indicator of the amount of traffic. The fact that there were four tracks (then) at Bournemouth is not in itself an issue – nor is it at Oxford. One suspects the middle tracks at Bournemouth weren’t used much which is why they were removed.

    What is an issue is that the middle two tracks at Oxford are on a major freight route and the freight trains are really long. Also you need to consider how busy Oxford will be during the lifetime of these IEPs (or whatever you propose as an alternative) and it is likely to be even busier than it is now for the reasons I gave.

  433. Graham H says:

    @Paul – It maybe that the IEPs have a bit more wellie than initially thought, but the GWML bidders’ modelling still shows them having a real struggle up Dainton and Hemerdon etc. A Castle with a banker would have done better.

    @Timbeau – yes, it was the difference between Lincoln and the WoE services that I had in mind when suggesting horses for courses; in the latter case, given that it looks as if the IEP is going to have to be dragged anyway, you might as well drag an all-electric set rather than a bi mode.

  434. Greg Tingey says:

    Sudden thought
    The bi-modes are supposed to have underfloor diesels in the UK loading gauge, right?
    Er … emissions regulations. query?

  435. @Graham H

    but the GWML bidders’ modelling still shows them having a real struggle up Dainton and Hemerdon etc. A Castle with a banker would have done better.

    But only if they actually go there! I still have to see any evidence from anyone that there is any intention to use IEPs in the West Country.

  436. Malcolm says:

    There seems to be an implication in some of the recent comments that a diesel loco is equivalent performancewise to a generator car in the consist of an electric train. I suggest that, especially on hilly routes, this is not quite so, because of adhesion. Many axles powered means that the generator can be designed as lightweight as possible, whereas a loco has to be a great fat lump in order to get its trains up the hills without slipping.

  437. Graham H says:

    @PoP – and therein lies the puzzle – either the HSTs* have to be made to go on for ever (how long might that be?), or the punters are forced to change, or the punters have to sit in a 17x for 5 hours. [Wouldn’t mind betting that when the crunch comes, money will be found to wire up at least to Plymouth both ways, but it’s too early in the day to start blinking].

    *At least one bidder’s preferred solution

  438. stimarco says:

    @Greg Tingey:

    Automobile manufacturers have been making cars that literally switch off their engines when you stop at a traffic light (or any other reason). Start accelerating again and the engine fires up.

    Please: do explain to me why a train with multiple diesel and electric motors would have problems with this approach?

    As for “KISS”: have you seen a modern train lately? The weight of those diesel motors is going to be a fraction of the total weight of the finished train.

    As for the noise: just because the UK has historically under-specced its acoustic insulation requirements, it doesn’t necessarily follow that the same mistake will be made for IEP. It is possible for DMUs to not give you a Thames Turbo-scake splitting headache: I know because I’ve been on one in France, on the line linking Clermont-Ferrand with Lyon. (It’s also a “bi-mode” design: it switches between diesel or 1.5kV overhead. The route is only intermittently electrified, with long single-track un-electrified stretches.)

    Very comfortable and the engine noise was barely audible no matter where I was in the train. So, good acoustic insulation for underfloor diesels does exist. If the IEP project fails to specify that, blame the bean-counters, not the technology.

  439. Fandroid says:

    I’m not sure that the TOCs actually give much serious thought to ‘internal ambience’. The same oldies who find the throb of underfloor diesels uncomfortable, will hate the high seat backs of FGW’s HST coaches or the very restricted external views in Pendolinos. One positive feature the Bombardier Voyagers have is big windows. Ian Walmsley in his Modern Railways articles has strongly hinted that the FGW seat design is a case of minimum safety regs design plus several unnecessary extra bits for luck.

    The Hitachi class 395 does seem to have big windows, and if they operate common sense with the IEP seats (ie minimum height equals minimum weight), then the travel experience in their bi-mode should not be that bad. I use Voyagers a fair amount, and the powerful throb underneath at least gives me reassurance that the train is really shifting! And I’m an apprentice oldie.

  440. Graham H says:

    @Fandroid – not sure any of us can safely comment on your love of throb and thrum… (Go on – you’re also a secret clag fan, like those signallers who bring a 66 to a halt just by the box so that they can get the full effect on starting). But I’m sure you are right that not enough (any?) TOCs give much of a damn about ambience.

  441. straphan says:

    @Fandroid: See – just goes to show how different people really are. I’ve barely hit 30 myself, am 6’0 tall (i.e. no giant…) and I could travel the Transsiberian in an HST with old seats – whereas just the 90 minutes from St Pancras to Nottingham in a Meridian always makes me wonder every few minutes – ‘are we there yet’?

  442. timbeau says:

    “To make it worse at Oxford you have two freight only lines running through the middle of the station. Somehow you have to get the loco off the train to London at platform 1 and get it to the other side of the four track railway and you have to do that without snarling everything else up. ……..
    Why? If the platform is bidirectional you run in (to any pltaform) from the north with the diesel on the back, unhook it, pan up, and away you go. Diesel sits there until the next electric train from London (/ Ipswich (via Crossrail) / Waterloo via Ascot / Gatwick via Guildford/ Amsterdam via HS1-HS2 link/ wherever) rolls in to couple up to it, and away you go (don’t forget to drop the pan!) Timetable it right and the platform can be clear for through running most of the time.

    “you are going to encounter the additional problem of the Marylebone-Oxford services.”
    I thought they were to use a bay on the NE side of the station to avoid conflicts with other services.

    Has anything more been heard of this plan to provide four hrough polatfornms at Oxford?

  443. Pedantic of Purley says:


    re: Oxford

    As far as I am aware the platforms aren’t bi-directional. Or at least aren’t used in that way. They certainly weren’t when, many years ago, I used to work there. Or at least the only time I saw one used that way was when they replaced the bridge over the Botley Road.

    Regarding the Marylebone trains which will terminate in the current bay platform or the former parcels platform: the original plan for the Marylebone services was to use the route of the former trackbed to Oxford Rowley Road station. This has now been abandoned and the trains will use the main lines north of the station which would potentially conflict with loco shunting moves.

    Regarding redelopment, all that I know is that there was a plan for a third platform on the south side of Botley Road but current thinking, as mentioned in the linked article, seems to be to knock down the station buildings, which are all fairly new, and put in four through platforms. This would have been much easier if it had been done before so much of the surrounding land had been sold for development. Familiar story?

    I am not saying it is impossible to devise some means of attaching a loco at Oxford but it does seem much simpler to me to put a diesel engine under the EMU and use that to generate power beyond the wires. And for those that get worked up by sitting over a diesel generator remember that this would be no worse and probably a lot better than most of the trains that currently serve the line.

    I didn’t intend to make a big thing of this. I just wanted to use it as an example to show that adding a loco at some locations isn’t the trivial task some people think it is.

  444. Windsorian says:

    The 17.1.12 Oxford Mail page (supplied by timbeau 21.3.14 at 16:57) provides links to a number of later articles about Oxford station – the latest being 5.11.13

  445. Graham Feakins says:

    @ Windsorian & PoP – Wasn’t there a more recent/contemporaneous article in ‘Modern Railways’ on the redevelopment of Oxford station which addressed some of the points (sic) made here?

    @ Graham H – I agree. Coming from the real electric side of the river, my heart fell when I was first subjected to the “throb and thrum”, underfloor at that and more like drumming the nerves off, of the wretched train I have since often had to use between St. Pancras and Derby. Was this really the future of railway (dis)comfort that I would have to endure, as compared with the traditional sort of train?

    It is high time that most of the other TOC’s DID find time and create the space to consider the interior ambience of rail travel. Southern have managed it admirably with the Class 377 electric units they use, both Metro and Main Line, so why not the others?

  446. Graham H says:

    @Graham F – we have distinguished company in disliking dmu travel – in 1997, I did some work for the Royal Household on the management and possible replacement of the Royal Train. In discussing the alternatives available, the question of dmus came up. “You couldn’t have a Royal dmu” replied the shocked courtier with a look of absolute horror.

  447. Fandroid says:

    @straphan. I too am 6’00”. I also dislike the Meridians. That’s mainly due to the monolithic seat backs. Last week I found myself peering out along the middle gangway to read the visual display at the carriage end (far end). (SWT 159s have them in mid-carriage as well as at the ends – how sensible, why isn’t this a required standard?). I don’t really like the EMT HSTs either. The fixed central armrests are literally a pain for someone like me with long legs. I would prefer no diesel throb, but generally like the light and airy interiors of Voyagers – but don’t get me going about their pathetic overhead luggage racks. Interior design! Please can someone start a new train design from the inside out!

  448. Greg Tingey says:

    that adding a loco at some locations isn’t the trivial task some people think it is.
    Disagree profoundly, for reasons, given above by several people, & not just me.
    Joining/splitting was common, everywhere for many years, even in the days of only screw-couplings.
    With buckeyes & later (as now) auto-couplers, it should be a breeze.
    Sorry, but your objections are spurious.

    Graham H
    Could one have a royal HST?
    Does that count as a DMU? Presumably not!
    Didn’t. early on, a diesel loco FAIL on 1Z01 ? ( Sulzer type 2 ?? )
    And a direct “request” was made for a reversion to steam-traction, until things were sorted out?

    Incidentally, I’d love to see HMQ’s grice-map … I get the distinct impression she really likes railways & steam locomotives.

  449. stimarco says:

    In fairness to the Pendolinos, they do have to tilt, while still remaining within the UK’s smaller kinematics envelope*. This was always going to be a compromised design. The only way to fix that compromised design would be to invest in a massive rebuilding / upgrading programme of the huge number of tunnels, bridges and other line-side structures on the rail network. It’d be cheaper to just build a brand new railway. (Hence HS2.)

    I’ve seen their tilting cousins on the Italian rail network and they’ve a lot more space in their luggage racks as the Italian railways are built to handle taller trains. They don’t feel anywhere near as cramped.

    Another excellent interior I remember was on the refurbished SNCF Corail coaches (branded “Téoz” at the time; now rolled into the more generic “Intercité” brand). I don’t know what they’re like today, but these were very much the French equivalent of the UK’s Mk. 3 stock in terms of quality and comfort. And of a very similar age too, if memory serves. Shame about the low platforms and the steep climb to get in, but once on board, they’re like a TARDIS: they really do seem bigger on the inside. It’s a truly excellent user experience.

    The less said about Italian commuter rolling stock, the better.

    * – jargon for “movement” + jargon for “a defined area or limit”. In this context, “kinematics envelope” = “The amount of space permitted by the line’s loading gauge** for the train to wobble about in“. As you can see from that video, trains don’t just glide smoothly in the direction of the track, but can sway from side to side. Too much swaying and part of it might hit a line-side structure – or scrape the walls of a tunnel. (Another point to note from that video is the effect of low levels of track maintenance on the train’s swaying motion.)

    ** The term “loading gauge” refers to a number of measurements. It includes the allowed kinematics envelope for a specific line, but also covers other aspects, such as the necessary clearances for station platforms, and how far above the train the overhead power wire should be.

  450. MikeP says:

    @Malcolm – not just adhesion, but raw speed (and acceleration) too. I couldn’t believe the speed the 159’s flew through Surbiton when I first saw them. What can be achieved with one power unit per car is most impressive, with minimum external noise too – not having been up to speed with rail developments back then, it took me a few observations to realise how they were powered !!

  451. @Greg,

    that adding a loco at some locations isn’t the trivial task some people think it is.
    Disagree profoundly, for reasons, given above by several people, & not just me.

    I am quite happy to enter into rational debate and admit I am wrong when I am but you seem to be keener to disagree with people that argue rationally. The nature of the coupling doesn’t matter. I said at some locations.

    To prove your point you it has to be true that adding a loco is a trivial task at every location. I have to only provide one counterexample to be correct.

    I really cannot see how adding a loco is trivial everywhere. Taking a quite ridiculous example to prove my point, any station on a single track line without space for sidings or a shunt neck is going to qualify. Or on the Victoria Line with a train every 105 seconds. Or on the Circle Line when they used to do loco changes on that.

    These aren’t sensible examples but they don’t need to be sensible examples to prove my point. I only have to establish the principle.

    Taking a more plausible case, if electrification went only as far as Reading then the extra movements at that station would probably snarl up the service big time even if coupling/uncoupling was instant. They certainly would have done under the old layout where any delay on platform 4 tended to cause problems that rippled throughout the GW network. It is about the extra loco movements and the increase in platform occupation time which are unavoidable if you change a loco.

    Even if it is do-able then adding a loco isn’t a trivial task. It certainly wasn’t a trivial task at Rickmansworth and in all probability was a major logistical inconvenience that discouraged providing extra services north of Rickmansworth. Remember that this was initially one train an hour and as far as I can ascertain never went above three trains an hour.

    You may accuse me of being biased by too much contact with the real world but …
    I also disagree on the basis that I worked at Oxford station for six months when it was much less busy than it is today and, I just cannot see how it would be a trivial task to change locos at that location even if Network Rail had the land that we had then for sidings and is now no longer available.

  452. ngh says:

    Re Greg Tingey 21 March 2014 at 12:09

    DMU + emissions regulations.

    As previously mentioned – Not a problem, MTU have launched a new version of the 1600 engine that will be used on IEP and also available for Adventra etc.. Unlike the previous ones MTU is also supplying exhaust /emissions system and the engine etc is all mounted on separate subframe that is easier to vibration isolate.


  453. Greg Tingey says:

    Agree _ I missed the caveat about locations.
    However, IF one has the correct track-signalling layout
    THEN it should not be difficult to do join-splits
    PROVIDE that the local staff are correctly trained
    You will have a screw-up?

    Can we settle on that, please?

    At Thorpe-le-Soken & Bournemouth, in both cases, my conditions were met, which were the examples I quoted, which shows that it was ( & more importantly IS) a perfectly viable proposition.

    Now, just because I proposed it, stop looking for spurious objections, please?
    As I also pointed out, I’m not the only person suggesting that (correctly-managed) join/splits are do-able – ESPECIALLY with modern auto-connectors

  454. straphan says:

    @PoP: I presume that was in the days when you still had screw couplings and needed a shunter to fiddle about with these?

    Coupling together two vehicles in service with automatic couplers typically takes 4 minutes even on today’s performance-conscious NR-led railway. I don’t think it should matter whether one of these is a loco rather than a multiple unit…

  455. timbeau says:

    Coupling up does take up more time in the schedule than the dwell time though. It is normal practice to hold a signal at red if it protects a platform that is partially occupied and then, only after the approaching train has been stopped, have it draw forward to couple up to the loco/other unit. Thus the time from the previous station has to be extended from what would be required for a simple platform-to platform run.

  456. straphan says:

    @timbeau: granted, you do need approach control, but only if one vehicle is already standing on the track. But you could have the locomotive approach the train only once the train is already at a standstill – thereby removing the need for approach control.

  457. Chris L says:

    Before the wires got to Norwich, the switch from an electric loco to diesel at Ipswich used to take around 10 minutes and frequently went wrong with significant delays.

    This did involve detaching the electric loco which then moved forward to await a train from Norwich and getting a Class 47 on the front.

  458. timbeau says:

    @ straphan
    but then the loco has to be under approach control. It would actually use up more time altogether because the loco cannot move into the platform until the train has stopped (it would obviously be unwise to have them both enter the platform from opposite directions at the same time!) If the loco can be moved in and coupled up during the normal dwell time, it would be quicker to do it that way round, agreed. But if delay to passengers well time is to be minimised, the quickest way is to have the loco wait for the train, not the other way round.

    @Chris L
    As discussed previously in relation to Wolverhampton, I don’t think the locos used for such changeovers had automatic couplers. The operation would require not only the screw coupling, but the various ETH and brake connections as well, and that would require someone to get down on the track between the loco and the train.

    Moreoever, the operation of replacing one loco with another is also more complex than simply attaching one to a unit train that has arrived under its own power.

    It might have worked better if push/pull-fitted stock had been available, with the electric on the London end and the diesel on the Norwich end, attaching and detaching at the changeover point at Ipswich, (as was done at Bournmeouth between 1967 and 1988) but at the time no a.c electric locos were so fitted and the only push pull-fitted diesels were fully occupied on the Edinburgh/Glasgow and Bournemouth-Weymouth operations. Ipswich was the limit of electrification for the changeover for only a year (1985-1986) so special rolling stock probably couldn’t be justified as the operational inconvenience was very temporary.

  459. stimarco says:

    Using a separate diesel loco requires:

    1. At least one additional driver + additional training:

    Unless you intend for the EMU’s driver to hop out of his train at the changeover point and run down to the sidings to drive the diesel locomotive, you’re going to need at least two drivers for this.

    With a bi-mode train, you just push some buttons to drop the pantograph and fire up the diesels, and off you go.

    Having two different kinds of rolling stock involved also means training drivers on each one as well, not to mention training maintenance teams as well.

    The only time this can make sense is if the changeover point also coincides with a crew change location, but this won’t always be the case.

    Furthermore, splitting and joining trains in service is comparatively rare in the UK. Therefore, all staff involved will need to be trained in the procedures.

    2. Suitable facilities and more complex driver rostering:

    As others have pointed out, the changeover point between electric and diesel traction might not have suitable facilities. You’ll either have to build them, at the UK’s usual vast expense, or you’ll need to move the changeover point somewhere else. Station goods yards and sidings have been sold off at a rapid rate since the 1960s. There are precious few such facilities left.

    You also need to ensure drivers are rostered and available when needed. With the drivers requiring suitable skills-sets according to which machine they’ll be driving. You may be lucky enough to have drivers trained on both the EMUs and the locos, but you can’t assume all the locos will be identical.

    3. Multiple depots:

    The rise of out-sourced maintenance contracts means depots have become much more specialised.

    Hitachi trains tend to be maintained by staff who are trained only on the Hitachi-built trains they’re maintaining. Similarly, trains built by Alstom are often maintained at their own facilities. Bombardier also do this now.

    A bi-mode train built by Hitachi can be washed, cleaned, maintained and refuelled at the same depot as its electric-only siblings. It can all be centralised, with the consequent savings of economies of scale.

    Where are all these diesel locomotives going to be based, and who will be maintaining them all? And why? It’s not as if there’s a lot of profit to be made out of hiring diesel locomotives out in a country where a rolling electrification programme has recently become government policy.

  460. timbeau says:

    “Using a separate diesel loco requires:

    1. At least one additional driver + additional training: Unless you intend for the EMU’s driver to hop out of his train at the changeover point and run down to the sidings to drive the diesel locomotive, you’re going to need at least two drivers for this.”

    No you don’t: as was done on the Bournemouth/Weymouth line for twenty years, the same driver can drive both.
    Don’t think of them as diesel locos: think of them as generator cars.
    Take a hypothetical London-Lincoln, with no wires between Lincoln and Newark
    1. Train arrives at Newark from Lincoln in diesel mode.
    2. Rear part of train, including at least the generator car, (probably just the generator) is detached – driver could do it, might even be possible to do it remotely from the leading cab, but station staff could do it instead.
    3. Train leaves for London on electric power. Diesel part stays in platform.
    4. Shortly afterwards, a train arrives from London under electric power, and couples up to portion waiting in platform.
    5. Driver moves to what is now the leading cab, in the diesel portion, and drives train off to Lincoln on diesel power.

    No need for sidings, or extra drivers.

    This would allow an hourly service, taking two hours each way between London to Lincoln, using four electric units, but just one generator car for the half hour each way between Lincoln and Newark. A net saving of 75% of the generator cars must surely be worth looking at.
    Similar arrangements would serve places like Shrewsbury, Middlesborough, Harrogate, Chester, Great Yarmouth (with the diesel unit sitting at the buffer stops at Norwich to allow reversal)

    The Bournemouth operation was actually more complicated, as an electric tractor unit was detached as the diesel was attached, and vice versa, so that expensive electric units were not being dragged around off the juice.

    And why would much extra training be needed? If the trains are designed from the outset to have detachable diesel generator cars, the controls would be standardised in the electric and diesel cabs (just as they are, more or less, between the powered and unpowered ends of an IC225). After all, in a bi-mode the drivers must anyway be trained in driving in both modes.
    The only question is whether it is worth detaching the generator car (call it a loco if you want) from a bimodal train when you arrive under the knitting.

  461. RichardB says:

    @timbeau I can’t help feeling there is a flaw in your argument as when the train returns to the wires it leaves the diesel generator car behind. This then blocks the track for any other movements and also it needs to be switched to the down track for connection to the next service. Unless there are dedicated lines and platforms and or passing loops this presents problems if you have other trains including freight trains which might need to proceed. I am not disputing this may have been done in Bournemouth but was that because there were alternative through tracks and there was only one ultimate destination, Weymouth which rather limited the number of trains going west out of Bournemouth.

    Your Newark example involves a junction between the ECML and the line to Lincoln and whilst there may be sufficient trackage and platforms to achieve this or alternatively space to build such facilities I am not sure that would be universally true of other locations where transition to diesel power is required.

    I think the argument for separate power units being coupled and uncoupled (if it was ever held within DfT) was lost long ago when the decision for bi mode was taken. I would have preferred the electro diesel option myself relying on one locomotive or possibly two power cars as opposed to underfloor power but it is the latter we are going to have.

  462. timbeau says:

    I chose Newark as an example because I am familar with it, although the dedicated Lincoln platform makes it particularly suited.
    Norwich, where trains reverse anyway, is another simple example.
    No need to switch the generator car from up to down platform if the platform is bidirectional – and if there is no room at the main junction station you could always electrify to the first station up the branch and swap it there – or indeed swap at a station on the electrified system where the layout is more conducive.
    The problem of leaving a generator blocking a platform can be resolved by timetabling so that up and down services cross near to the changeover point. Thus the next train into the platform takes over the generator left behind by the previous one.

    (This can’t be any worse than the present farce at Newark, where the trains that terminate there cannot connect with trains for Lincoln, because they block the only platform that Lincoln trains can use. And conversely the services going back to London cannot have any connections into them from Lincoln)

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