http://cdn.londonreconnections.com/logos/logo_light.png

We have already seen how population estimates for growth in London have been seriously underestimated and how there is concern in some quarters that Crossrail will be “full up” when it opens. The presumption was that it was the peak service that was being talked about. What has received remarkably little publicity, or scrutiny, is the off-peak service proposed for Crossrail.

On the surface, this may seem relatively unimportant. With rail projects it is almost inevitable that minds concentrate on peak hour services and frequency, in part because this is required to determine the infrastructure and rolling stock required. The prevailing attitude has thus usually been that the off-peak service is simply a matter of providing a lesser level of service. As London moves more and more to a 24/7 style society, and with the Underground and Overground likely to be the services to which it is compared, Crossrail’s off-peak services may be more critical to its success than most people have so far thought – yet there are significant challenges here still to be overcome.

Getting heated about the off-peak service

That London poses interesting off-peak problems can be seen from the issues faced by the Underground. Here, increasing frequencies on lines such as the Jubilee and Victoria now means one has to take the problem of dispersing the heat from the tunnels into consideration. This heat build up occurs throughout the day and is mainly dependent on the number of trains run – regardless of what time of day they run at. Given that the peak frequency only applies for a few hours a day for five days in the week, one can quickly see that the critical factor here is not the peak service but the off-peak service – and it is this which will largely determine how much cooling infrastructure needs to a added or enhanced.

It is not just literal heat that off-peak services generate. We have seen the disagreement as to whether off-peak Metropolitan Line services to Amersham and Chesham should be “all stations” or “semi-fast”. We have also seen local demands for Piccadilly Line services to stop at Turnham Green at least throughout the off-peak period (and preferably during peak hours too). Finally, we have seen an intention to provide all night tube services on Friday and Saturday night. All of these present unique off-peak challenges.

The London Overground example

A feature of recent years has also been how much the off-peak train service across the board has improved – both on National Rail and more particularly on TfL services. The ultimate example here has to be London Overground, where the peak and the off-peak services are often identical except for a short period very late at night. On the surface this may seem something of a no-brainer – simply the expected level of service agreed between the DfT and TfL. It is important to realise, however, that in fact the DfT will only pay TfL for the service level agreed by both sides many years ago – years before the Overground’s success. This service level will thus almost certainly have been based on a “Silverlink” levels of service, as run by London Overground’s North London Line, and the level of service formerly operated on the East London Line by London Underground.

The extra cost of enhancing the off-peak service to current levels is thus almost certainly funded, or at least underwritten, by TfL. The reason that TfL chooses to do this is because the marginal cost of running these extra trains is clearly justified in TfL’s (and ultimately the Mayor’s) view because of the social and economic benefits to London. Indeed, the Mayor is obliged to take this into account when determining the service provided.

Changing timetable patterns

It is also important to appreciate that peak and off-peak are no longer the distinct periods of time that they once may have been, when people had very rigid work hours and one tended to travel either in the peak or in the off-peak. Historically, the inflexibility of the ticketing system used to be one reason why you did not tend to travel out in the off-peak and back in the peak. Today no-one would think twice about doing that. Nowadays more often one will talk about the peak period service, the inter-peak service and the weekend service a good example of this thinking being on the DLR where the Saturday and Sunday frequencies are near identical. You will also hear phrases today that probably never existed before such as “shoulder-peaks” and “third peaks”.

How then does this all translate to Crossrail?

GLA transport committee lets Crossrail chiefs off lightly

It was disappointing that the most recent GLA transport committee, which spent time scrutinising Crossrail, contented itself with pretty much asking the same questions as had been previously asked at earlier committee meetings. For many of these questions the reply from the Crossrail chiefs was straightforward and expected – “this is down to our sponsors and not something that we ourselves can change”.

According to the GLA supplied transcript for that meeting Andrew Wolstenholme, Chief Executive of Crossrail, volunteered the information that:

What I can tell you is what the current timetable says, which is 24 trains per hour in the central section, 4 trains per hour to Heathrow, 14 trains return back at Westbourne Park and, therefore, 4 trains per hour will go on to Maidenhead. We are doing detailed work in terms of the timetabling, but there is no current plan to change what was part of the sponsor requirements in the very first instance, to do anything different with the existing timetable. The existing four services to Heathrow will stand.

The comment was certainly never intended as a piece of misdirection but it was a pity that Andrew Wolstenholme didn’t make clear he was talking about the peak timetable. It was probably an even bigger pity that assembly members, obsessed at the time with what would happen on the western branches, failed to ask for the information that was not provided about the eastern branches. In particular what the off-peak services on the eastern branches would be. It may have been interesting to hear the answer, although one suspects the GLA transport committee may have received another referral to the project sponsors.

In fact, on the western branches of Crossrail the proposed off-peak service is almost as good (or bad) as the peak hour service. On the eastern branches, however, there is a great disparity. The Crossrail site, for the most part, goes to great trouble to detail the expected peak hour frequency both in the central section and on the branches. In the case of the western branch it even goes to the trouble of listing out what other local non-Crossrail services will run. For the western branch and the Shenfield branch it also specifies the expected off-peak frequency but curiously no mention is made of this in the central core or the Abbey Wood branch.

Quite remarkably the proposed off-peak service on the Shenfield branch is only 6tph. This is in considerable contrast to a peak service on that branch of 12tph on Crossrail and a further 6tph in the peak that will go to, or start, from Liverpool Street main line station.

So what will the off-peak service on Crossrail be?

The off-peak service on the Shenfield branch is specified as 6tph and one would simplistically expect an even service on both eastern branches, but this would suggest the off-peak service through the core would be 12tph – which would seem to be pitifully low. If that is the case it would not be surprising if Crossrail were to be full up in the off-peak – never mind the peak. Of course it could be that Crossrail is intending to run many more trains between Paddington and Abbey Wood, but the problem is however they do that it would be unsatisfactory.

One way to have an off-peak frequency above 12tph (but maintain only 6tph to Shenfield) would be to have an even interval of 18tph in the core section and every third train going to Shenfield. The trouble with that is that it would lead to uneven intervals of 3⅓ and 6⅔ minutes on the Abbey Wood branch. Nearly seven minutes would seem to be an unreasonable wait at Canary Wharf given how busy the station is expected to be.

An alternative solution to running 18tph off-peak would be to have an even interval of trains every 5 minutes on the Abbey Wood branch and slot the 6tph from Shenfield in between them. This, however, would lead to waits of up to five minutes in the central section of a brand new showpiece railway. It would undoubtedly lead to very unfavourable comparisons being made with the Underground and would give Crossrail an off-peak mean waiting time that would be worse than the core section of the East London Line.

If one ignored for the moment the practical difficulties of operating it, 18tph would seem like a reasonable figure for the off-peak service on Crossrail – at least between the peaks. This would match Thameslink and be broadly in line with the Underground where typically the off-peak service is two-thirds to three-quarter the peak service in the central area.

Or at least what will the inter-peak service on Crossrail be?

Something that has become much more significant in recent years is the inter-peak service – the service from the end of the morning peak to the start of the evening peak. Apart from being important for leisure activity this service is also used by people who are travelling in work time. This means that the value of of their time (as perceived by their employer) is much higher than the value put on the individual of their own leisure time. It is also very important as part of the service provided to attract employers to locate in London.

With Crossrail in future providing the fastest service between Canary Wharf and the City, as well as providing the most potential capacity, the expectation will likely be that waiting time for a train will be minimal as it is on the Underground. Even the DLR manages an inter-peak service between Canary Wharf and Bank. The trouble is that under current plans the peak service on Crossrail between Liverpool St and Canary Wharf will be only 12tph (every 5 minutes).

One would also expect an off-peak service at Stratford that was a least broadly comparable with the Central Line. It would be a shameful waste of a piece of major new London infrastructure if people changed at Stratford to the Central Line (which Crossrail is supposed to relieve) because the wait for a Crossrail train to the city on an exposed platform was inordinately long versus a Central Line with trains every two and half minutes. Indeed the latter figure for the Central Line is the off-peak frequency today. It would not be at all surprising if by May 2019 the Central Line was running at a 2¼ minute off-peak frequency.

The inevitable comparison with the Underground

Regardless of which way the inter-peak service is arranged on Crossrail, if we assume it is going to be 18tph or less then it is going to compare extremely unfavourably with the London Underground. Currently the Victoria Line generally manages 24tph off-peak (even on Sundays). The Piccadilly Line manages 22tph inter-peak and the Jubilee Line 20tph. In fact even the relatively quiet Bakerloo Line manages 20tph inter-peak. As an extreme case, if Crossrail were to only run 12tph inter-peak in its central section then it would be providing a worse service than the Waterloo & City Line in terms of frequency – a political soundbite just waiting to happen.

In general we do not have figures for future proposed inter-peak figures for Underground lines but the Bond Street Station Cooling (BSSC) project board notes states that:

BSSC would be required for both 34tph and 36tph options since one of the main drivers for the increase in temperatures is the 27tph inter-peak service proposed for both scenarios.

If an inter-peak service of 27tph is proposed for Jubilee line in 2019 then we can probably expect the same for the Victoria. Thus even on the most frequent lines, the inter-peak service will be expected to be three-quarters of the peak service. This would be broadly consistent with the Sub-Surface Railway (District, Metropolitan, Circle and Hammersmith & City Lines). On this crude basis we seem again to be heading for 18tph on Crossrail in the inter-peak period.

Put simply, by 2020 at least these two London Underground lines will run a more frequent inter-peak service than Crossrail will during its peak. There are good reasons why one would not expect Crossrail to be as frequent at these tube lines, but is an inter-peak 3 minute interval (20tph) on the core section of Crossrail that unreasonable a frequency to expect? And will passengers really accept a wait for more than 6 minutes to catch a train from Canary Wharf to central London (including the City)? Why not keep thing simple and maintain 24tph through the core section throughout the day? Why isn’t the capacity there?

The weird and wonderful world of track access rights

Normally when an improved off-peak service cannot be run due to lack of capacity the problem is the need to provide slots for freight trains. Looking again at the Crossrail web page on the North-East surface section that would appear, at first glance, to be the case here:

The Crossrail service levels are those permitted by the Track Access Option.

With Crossrail on the route from Felixstowe to the North London Line that then leads on to the West Coast Main Line one would expect that to be a problem. And lo and behold it is the case that, off-peak, there is provision made for up to two freight trains an hour on this route.

Further investigation, however, reveals these freight trains, when they run, are actually allocated to the fast lines. This may seem slightly strange but remember that a freight train can typically manage 75mph. Given that it takes a lot of energy and time to stop and start a freight train, one can see the attraction of running it on the fast line, where it is not that disruptive anyway due to its speed, rather than risk it getting caught behind a stopping train.

Those readers clued up about freight flows will also appreciate that in future one could reasonably expect that the major freight flows from Felixstowe to the north will avoid London completely, as there will be an alternative – and more direct – route to Nuneaton via Ipswich. So the problem, if it is connected to freight flows, does not lie with freight originating from the port of Felixstowe. And surely it couldn’t have have anything to do with Ripple Lane freight depot – unlikely given that Ripple Lane freight depot is now closed.

To get to the heart of the problem we need to understand how track access rights work and in particular track access rights for freight.

In our modern privatised, compartmentalised railway it is critical that there are rules regarding track access and which company can run a train on which part of the railway at what time. They are rather similar in principle to allocated slots at airports. They are also highly contested. Network Rail may be inclined to allocate a potential slot to one operating company (freight or passenger) only to find another company is upset because it would affect the reliability of their trains. Naturally companies are very reluctant to relinquish slots – even if used only infrequently. It is another feature of our privatised railway that some lines are thus notionally “full up” whilst actually having relatively few trains actually running on them.

The final arbiter of track access slots is the Office of the Rail Regulator. The rules that apply are very similar to public footpaths. It is very difficult to extinguish an existing access slot if anyone at all objects for any reason. Effectively, the only way to extinguish a track access slot if any valid objections are forthcoming is either by an Act of Parliament with a clause explicitly removing it or a Transport and Works Act Order that does the same thing.

In fact the Crossrail Bill in its original proposals attempted to do this very thing, removing much of the freight track access slots west of Acton Yard. The rail freight industry had to lobby hard to keep their existing slots – which of course restricts the overall off-peak services that can be provided along the Great Western Main Line. Note also that neither the freight industry nor Crossrail have any automatic right to slots on Network rail, beyond what is currently permitted and that is effectively laid down in the Crossrail Act.

The details of what track access slots are available is laid out in various documents maintained on the Network Rail website and the rules covering these slots and many other items (such as minimum allowable platform occupation times and signal box opening hours) are generally referred to as “the rules of the plan”. If you plan to run services on Network Rail you have no choice but to comply with the rules of the plan.

The Crossrail culprit

Unfortunately, although there are no booked freight services that run along the slow lines from Shenfield to Stratford there are two freight services an hour that are allocated slots to cross the slow lines at Forest Gate Junction. So that means four crossings an hour that have to be timetabled – even if the services do not actually run. These are not the Felixstowe services but services to and from London Gateway. So, like the North London Line, it looks like paths booked for freight (whether it runs or not) prevent TfL from offering a better service. Frustratingly, these services, when they do run, only run on the slow lines for a very short distance in order to get onto the slow lines and then cross from the slow to the fast lines.

Note that the slots to enable trains originating and going to London Gateway were never allocated slots that restricted off-peak traffic on Crossrail. The slots in question are slots formerly intended for freight movement to Ripple Lane, and the fact that Ripple Lane has closed is irrelevant.

Whilst most people would happily accept that removing rail freight entirely to improve off-peak passenger service is unrealistic, most would be less happy knowing that the slots which were restricting passenger traffic weren’t actually regularly used.

The saviour?

When looking at a rail or other transport scheme it is important to continually reassess it in the light of updated knowledge. One potentially absolutely critical change that could affect Crossrail is that, since Crossrail was approved, the Gospel Oak – Barking Line electrification has been authorised and this should be complete by the time Crossrail opens. One then has to ask: why allow for freight movement from London Gateway crossing the Shenfield slow lines and onward to Stratford and the North London Line when there would be nothing stopping this freight going via Barking – Gospel Oak and avoid the Shenfield Lines completely? Indeed for TfL freight via Barking and Gospel Oak would have the added advantage of freeing up off-peak slots on the North London Line – a double win.

Unfortunately, the simple answer is that the planned frequencies are what the DfT are committed to financially supporting, and what has been agreed with the Office of Rail Regulation as the level of service that Crossrail will have a right to run on the National Rail network. Remember that Crossrail is only master of its own destiny between Paddington, Abbey Wood and the Pudding Mill Lane portal. Outside these limits it needs to rely on an agreement already made or must succeed in negotiating a new agreement. Running more trains from Paddington to Abbey Wood, as with the Overground, is largely just a case of TfL agreeing to cover the extra cost. Once they emerge at the Pudding Mill Lane portal, however, the level of service is regulated.

The definitive answer to the Inter-Peak frequency – sort of

There may be buried somewhere deep in the masses of Crossrail documentation a statement giving the proposed off-peak frequency on Crossrail. Failing that it would seem that the only other definitive reference to this is in the Route Utilisation Strategy for London and the South East paragraph 8.3.3 where it refers to the number of trains terminating in the sidings at Westbourne Park and says these will be:

  • 14 of 24 trains per hour in the peak
  • eight of 16 trains per hour in the off-peak

This would seem extraordinary if coupled with known 6tph off-peak service to Shenfield. This would mean 10tph off-peak to Abbey Wood. The combination would be almost impossible to reconcile and would give problems to both the timetable writers and the operators. This has the feeling of something that hasn’t been thought through. It is as if the conclusion was reached that ideally one would like 6tph off-peak to Shenfield and 10tph off-peak to Abbey Wood so someone simply combined the two without thinking of the consequences – a highly erratic timetable.

How have we got into this situation?

It would immediately seem obvious that the problem is entirely due to running only 6tph on the Shenfield branch off-peak. Given that no other passenger or indeed, as we shall see, freight trains run over this section of track off-peak, it would seem obvious that something above 6tph ought to be run. It need not go all the way to Shenfield. Short workings to Ilford or Gidea Park would be sufficient and ensure that Stratford had a better off-peak service than currently proposed. Given Stratford’s high usage for leisure traffic, and that we will have a new flagship railway service using it, one would expect something a bit better than a train every 10 minutes on Crossrail.

Meanwhile it does seem strange that whilst issues such as whether Crossrail should go to Reading or even along the West Coast Main Line receive a great deal of attention, The very basic – indeed pretty fundamental – issue of what service Crossrail is going to provide for most of its opening hours appears to remain largely unaddressed in public at least – although we hope (and indeed expect) that such information which we have missed here will hopefully be highlighted by the commentariat.

Leaving aside for the moment the western branches of Crossrail, where various key decisions have yet to be made, it will be interesting to see what service is going to be provided outside peak hours on Crossrail in the centre of London and on the eastern branches in 2019. As we have looked at above, what decisions are made here may come to define the Crossrail experience for a good portion of both its passengers and those assessing its value. With this in mind, the importance of getting Crossrail’s off-peak (and inter-peak) right is difficult to overstate.

jump to the end
There are 127 comments on this article
  1. Al__S says:

    I know it’s horribly crayonista of me, but more and more I’m wondering if the ideal (though it won’t happen- money!) solution for all London heavy-rail Metro, including Crossrail, is total physical seperation. Yes, this would mean somehow making Stratford-Shenfield and Paddington-Maidenhead six track.

  2. John Bull says:

    I know it’s horribly crayonista of me, but more and more I’m wondering if the ideal (though it won’t happen- money!)…

    To be honest I think you’ve pretty much answered your own question there, as you say.

    Rail planning – and ultimately discussion – is about the “politics of the practical,” as attendees of the LR meetups are no doubt bored of hearing me say!

  3. Ash says:

    The above article, whilst good omits these two nuggets:

    1 – there are also 2tph in the peak to West Drayton
    2 – off peak there are only 2tph to Maidenhead (instead of 4tph), as the ORR has said no to an all day 4tph Crossrail service.

  4. Anonymous says:

    In the second para of the “Weird and Wonderful…” section, it should be “lo and behold” not “low and behold” :)

  5. Lawyerboy says:

    Speaking of the Crossrail timetable, can anybody read these tea leaves and enlighten me as to what ‘enhancements to Crossrail services’ are in the offing?

  6. mr_jrt says:

    Paddington to Slough is relatively easy to 6-track, aside from Ealing Broadway to West Ealing, and you could bypass that bottleneck using the Greenford branch, abet at the cost of missing out the interchange at Ealing Broadway.

    Stratford-Shenfield however is another proposition entirely. I suspect the only answer there is a long tunnel to provide the extra pair, and in all likelihood it would have to be for the fast lines to avoid the need to build expensive stations. A straighter alignment could marginally improve times as well, though the existing route is fairly straight already…and once you got to Shenfield the two-track railway would become the next bottleneck – there are plans for a short third or forth line as a loop, but you’d need much, much more to make the most of the expensive London tunnel, which would be a tough sell at the best of times!

  7. timbeau says:

    “With this in mind, the importance of getting Crossrail’s off-peak (and inter-peak) right are difficult to under-estimate.”

    Even allowing off for the grammatical error (singular subject “importance” but plural verb “are”) this makes no sense. If it’s difficult to underestimate something it means that how ever low your estimate is, the actual figure will be even lower. (I.e it is easy to overestimate). I think what you actually mean is that it is difficult to overstate the case for getting the offpeak service right.

  8. Windsorian says:

    Peak / off-peak proposals – http://www.crossrailnews.co.uk/nav/timetable.php

    obviously before any decisions on Reading extension &/or WRAP (WRAtH)

  9. Graham H says:

    @PoP – thank you for a stimulating article – again! I hope it doesn’t provoke a tsunami of comments/crayonista projects about the western end (which has been done to death in these threads) but does encourage more thought on the eastern branches – neglected, as you say.

    Freight operates on the basis of reserved paths, of which perhaps less than half actually run. Freight operators argue that they have paid for these paths and they need the flexibility to deal with ships being late or factory production not being ready on time; they would further point to their key role as part of a just-in-time logistical chain and anything which damages that is bad for them and bad for industry as a whole. This is largely a nonsense that the FOCs have invented (let’s be controversial here) to reduce their own demurrage costs – if you talk to shippers, what they really want is reliability; most of them have buffer stocks which allow for an hour or two’s delay, so forcing freight to have fewer paths and make them run to that timetable, albeit at the price of having to provide a very small amount of extra capacity to accommodate the need to wait for the next slot in the cycle is probably the best way forward. The Swiss have already had to do this for the Alpine base tunnels.

    Making freight wait is not wholly without its problems – there are too few recessing points between Thamesside and the West Coast (and those on the western side aren’t exactly wonderful – eg standing on the flyunder at Clapham), and signallers still have a tendency to ignore the timetable altogether – “Anything in front? No? So – out you come – just keep going”. And once going, there’s no choice but to carry on.

  10. Castlebar 1 says:

    This is an extremely good article, both very well written and thought out.

    Travel patterns have changed a lot in the last 100 years. I have a London Transport timetable dated 1952 on my desk, and it commands “Avoid Rush Hour Travel! 8:30 – 9:30 A.M. 4:30 – 6 P.M. > It also states “Don’t wait till the last bus, there might not be room on it for you!” London has moved on a lot from those days.

    But the changes since the I.T. world took over, have made more drastic changes in the last 25 years than in the preceding 75. People commuting from Swindon, Peterborough, Southend, now very common rather than the exception. Crossrail will only increase the demand both peak and off peak, standing a chance of being swamped by its own success. Questions will inevitably be asked as to why it wasn’t predicted, and I expect to see some pretty lame excuses. With increasing motoring costs in city centres for both parking and congestion charges, I also expect to see a lot of questions about formerly possible extensions now no longer being possible because “feeder routes” were not safeguarded. Let us see.

  11. straphan says:

    A good article on a very relevant topic.

    As someone who worked a little bit on this: the timetable I had to work with (albeit some time ago) still assumed that some Felixstowe trains would travel down via London. The reason is they need to get to Daventry – and that is impossible to do via Nuneaton. These were booked to run via the fast lines, crossing over to the Electric lines (note there are no ‘SLOW’ lines on the GEML) at Forest Gate or Maryland. My involvement ended before the announcement of the Gospel Oak – Barking electrification, so I don’t know how that was taken forward.

    One thing you did not mention at all in the article, however, is the ‘small’ issue of Ilford depot. This is only accessed via the electric lines, and has to accommodate a steady procession of 8/12-car empty trains which have to slowly snake into the depot at 15mph or so. This I think is the key driver of the Crossrail off-peak frequency on the GEML.

    Also, consider this: these empty trains will have to make it out of Ilford in time for the Liverpool Street pm peak. But at the same time, Crossrail will have to already be running at the peak frequency on the electric lines in order to hit the target 24tph peak frequency at Tottenham Court Road by 16:30 or whatever it was. That was a fun little conundrum – not sure how they solved it in the end…

  12. JamesBass says:

    @jrt

    As PoP well points out, the situation on the Shenfield branch doesn’t even require the crayonistas to get out their beloved sticks of waxy goodness. The freight route from Felixstowe to Nuneaton is well under way, and with the upgrade of GOBLIN, trains from the new Thameside port development could be re-routed away from the GEML slows entirely. A better solution than routing Thameside traffic over GOBLIN would of course be highly desirable, but that problem has been well covered elsewhere.

    Six-tracking out to Shenfield and four-tracking to Ipswich, could enable both commuter services to Essex, and long distance services to East Anglia to be improved, but that is another project altogether.

    To resolve the situation PoP describes, an act of political will (or dare I say it an outbreak of common sense) will be required to enable the GEML slows to be given over entirely to Crossrail services (barring engineering works and so on).

    In the west, six-tracking as far as Slough/Maidenhead/Reading would be desirable and much simpler than in the east, but that issue has, again, been well covered in comments elsewhere.

  13. NLW says:

    What I can tell you is what the current timetable says, which is 24 trains per hour in the central section, 4 trains per hour to Heathrow, 14 trains return back at Westbourne Park and, therefore, 4 trains per hour will go on to Maidenhead. We are doing detailed work in terms of the timetabling, but there is no current plan to change what was part of the sponsor requirements in the very first instance, to do anything different with the existing timetable. The existing four services to Heathrow will stand.

    I’m sure I’m missing something obvious – but 4+14+4 is 22, not 24.

  14. straphan says:

    @NLW: I believe you (and PoP as well?) are missing the 2tph that would terminate at West Drayton in the peaks…

    14tph peak paths west of Westbourne Park becomes a hell of a lot to play with… I can already hear the crayonistas beavering away :)

  15. Littlejohn says:

    Lawyerboy 10 March 2014 at 15:18. If you were so minded you might be able to read the tea leaves yourself. Just because an officer of TfL says something is so, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is so. Your link says ‘A paper is included on Part 2 of the agenda ……. the information is exempt by virtue of paragraph 3 of Schedule 12a of the Local Government Act 1972’. As far as I am aware, the fact that information is exempt doesn’t in itself exclude the public. To do this you need to use Article 1 (2) of the Public Bodies (Admission to Meetings) Act 1960. Further, all the advice to local councils is that you cannot start out with a Part 2 agenda – the matter must be raised under Part 1 and then resolved by vote of those present to be discussed under Part 2 procedures. I also note that Schedule 12a of the Local Government Act 1972, says: The following factors weigh in favour of disclosure: (a) Transparency in the accountability of public funds; (b) Public money is being used effectively (c) the Council is getting value for money when purchasing goods and services and (d) The Council’s commercial activities – including the procurement process – are conducted in an open and honest way.

    However, I plead guilty to being a rank amateur in these things, just a Clerk to a Council – over to you.

  16. Pedantic of Purley says:

    For those concerned about the number of the trains on the western side not adding up you can look on the page on the Crossrail site here. As you will see there are also 2tph to West Drayton.

    The article was really about off-peak frequencies in the central section and the eastern branches. There are so many undecided factors affecting the western branches that I didn’t see much point in speculating or making an issue of it.

  17. Mark says:

    @NLW – looking at http://www.crossrail.co.uk/route/surface/western-section/, it seems as though there are 2 trains per hour in peak terminating at West Drayton.

    The timetable also seems to show that not all services will stop at Southall (8/10), Hanwell (2/10), West Ealing (4/10), and Acton Mainline (4/10). The fact that there not only seems to be a planned mix of ‘fast’ and ‘slow’ trains, but variation in the stations served by the ‘slow’ services, suggests an almighty confusing headache for passengers. I can only hope someone will revisit and simplify.

  18. ngh says:

    Off peak – if you willing to have uneven gaps between services in the core then even spacing on the eastern branches is easier especially if all Heathrows go to Canary Wharf and Abbey Wood…

    Staphan,
    Have been experimenting – loading up a hot glue gun with crayons appears very effective ;-)

  19. straphan says:

    @Mark: That seems to have changed since I looked at it last. I seem to recall only Heathrows and Draytons stop at Acton Main Line, West Ealing and Hanwell (8 or 10tph from these stations would be a bit much…), whereas Burnham and Taplow would have 4tph peak and 2tph off-peak.

    In the East, I noticed that Crossrail are still showing the old peak service frequency, i.e. with the Gidea Park – Liverpool St High Level shuttles not calling Manor Park. This solution was there because it was assumed this service would operate with 315s, and as such these would have to omit Manor Park in order to keep to time when running up the flyover. Now that it has been decided that these shuttles are going to run with 345s, would it not make sense to re-instate the extra calls at Manor Park?

  20. Greg Tingey says:

    That the service West of the airport is only 4 tph even in the peak seems, excuse me, utterly potty.
    I realise those trains will be the new CR1 9-car sets, not the utterly rammed 6-cars now operating, but still …..
    Note the assumption that they will be running “only” to Maidenhead, so, one presumes that there will still be Reading-Padders services, where passengers can still transfer to CR1, presumably @ Ealing Bdy (?)
    6 thp to Shenfield is what runs presently – a train every 10 minutes…
    I think what is happening is the severe under-estimation of demand – which will have to be corrected, once fully open (both branches in the East) within a maximum of 6 mths-1yr of opening.
    You can bet your boots the “Evening Standard” will have a field day if that happens!
    The problem of increasing freight from Shell Haven, “London Gateway” can only be solved with a N curve @ Stanford-le-Hope & a freight line to the GE, but when? Planning begins September 2018, as soon as the problem really manifests itself, practically. How long to opening? 2025?
    This has the feeling of something that hasn’t been thought through. You said it … and it’s going to bite them on the bum, seriously, unless something is done … but what? Given the “track access rights”, that you’ve been talking about, how does one get more trains running through to Reading Maidenhead?

    Ash
    as the ORR has said no to an all day 4tph Crossrail service. Why? Or are they assuming there will still be half-hourly Padders – Reading services, plus Oxford & Hungerford trains, picking people up to cross-platforms @ Ealing Bdy? If so, that’s very bad “planning” or so it seems from here, at any rate.

    Lawyerboy
    No, unfortunately.
    That question has already been asked & we’re all on tenterhooks.

    Windsorian
    That link shows exactly what the article & we are afraid of will happen, even allowing for longer CR1 & GW electrification trains. Thanks for the info, though.

    Graham H
    There are usually 2 freights per hour through Stratford out of the peaks, actually, fyi.

    Castlebar
    Questions will inevitably be asked as to why it wasn’t predicted, and I expect to see some pretty lame excuses. But – we have predicted it – so why have the supposed “experts” not done so? That meta-question is, perhaps an (the?) important one.

  21. Another Paul says:

    “The ultimate example here has to be London Overground, where the peak and the off-peak services are often identical except for a short period very late at night.”

    Except, bizarrely, on the West London Line, where in the height of the morning peak the LO service frequency actually reduces from 4tph to 3tph.

  22. Alan Griffiths says:

    “it would seem obvious that something above 6tph ought to be run. It need not go all the way to Shenfield.”

    6tph all stations Liverpool St to Shenfield is what we have now mid-day, early evening and Saturdays. The new trains alone increase capacity, though not frequency. The other option will be the new turn-round facility just east of Chadwell Heath.

    I expect some re-thinking late this decade.

    The other issue would seem to be the 6 trains on the classic network into Liverpool St. I’m imagining the contra-peak flow trains running empty on the fast lines to and from sidings. However, I’m wondering what those more expert in railways than myself (many of you!) are expecting for the evening peak? Conflicts could be avoided by running fast to Manor Park, calling at Stratford platform 9 or 10, then crossing to the slow (“electric”) line and calling all stations Ilford to Gidea Park. Is that what they will do?

  23. Windsorian says:

    @PoP

    The article was really about off-peak frequencies in the central section and the eastern branches.

    go to http://www.crossrail.co.uk/route/surface/western-section/

    On right side, click on NE Section (Orange box) and SE Section (Green box)

  24. Benedict says:

    {i}Rail planning – and ultimately discussion – is about the “politics of the practical,”{/i}

    @John Bull

    Well then who on earth entrusted it to that most impractical of animals, the {i}politician{/i}?? :P

    Theres a chronic lack of transport in London – Crossrail deals with that somewhat, but it ignors so many other problems and issues and rough edges. To be frank, building anything slowly chips away at Londons transport problems, so what exactly is Crossrail doing so amazingly well if it doesn’t adequately tackle or address problems specific to its existence?

    And then privitisation on top of that…. *groan*. :-/

  25. Anonymous says:

    While the paths may (or may not) be there for freight crossing the lot at Forest Gate, they are certainly not frequently used. Almost all freight to/from Thameside goes over the Gospel Oak-Barking line now. The exceptions are the very small number of electrically hauled freights (single figures a day, mostly at night) and those that are going to somewhere that cannot be reached via the GOB, eg Bow, Felixstowe or the ECML. Electrification of the GOB does nothing for the latter category.

  26. Steven Taylor says:

    @Another Paul
    QUOTE
    Except, bizarrely, on the West London Line, where in the height of the morning peak the LO service frequency actually reduces from 4tph to 3tph.
    UNQUOTE
    Are you sure? I am not aware of this.
    It is true that between 0800 and 0900 it is irregular to allow for various Southern services – one to Milton Keynes plus a `pixie` buster.
    LOROL services depart Clapham Junction at 0800, 0810 and 0830 etc.

  27. Graham H says:

    @anonymous/GT – the question, alas, is not how many freights actually make the crossing, but how many paths are allocated for it.

  28. Fandroid says:

    Note that the Crossrail website gives ‘Minimum Indicative Services’ (peak and offpeak) for the western branch and the northeastern branch, but is very coy about the offpeak services on the southeastern branch.

  29. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ PoP – an interesting article. Months ago while searching for some other Crossrail agreement I fell across the modelling test results that Network Rail have produced for the Crossrail service. It’s not very user friendly to us amateurs but gives a clue on service pattern and headways as well as positioning moves from depots and sidings. Given Straphan’s remarks I rather expect it has been superseded.

    I do take your basic point that people may be underwhelmed by the suggested off peak frequencies. I suspect that there will be pressure for improvements from many parties but the dead hands of ORR and FOCs / TOCs and DfT are likely to stop them. I also expect TfL will face financial issues on the concession contract but would expect them to seek prices for a range of service options so they know the cost of adjusting the service. The public, of course, will not understand these nonsenses.

    One interesting consequence of the relatively poor headways and possible skip stop pattern will be the need for people to wait for up to 30 minutes on platforms. Let’s hope the designers have factored in plenty of seats. We already have the prospect of 14tph turning at Paddington in the peaks which will create a crowding risk on the w/b platform. The long service intervals also means that customer information will have to be considered carefully to stop people running like mad things down long escalators or sprinting through connecting corridors to catch trains. I also hope we do not have a repeat of the “Overground experience” where late night frequencies fall off a cliff and where last train times are not terribly attractive. The interraction of the new “core section” and the “rules of the game” will be interesting on this particular aspect given the differing access and maintenance needs.

    Somewhere I have an old working timetable plan for Crossrail dating for its 1990s variant. It’ll be fun to compare it to the reality come 2018.

  30. Windsorian says:

    @ Frandroid

    ….. very coy about the off-peak services on the southeastern branch

    SE = 12tph peak & 6tph off-peak; central section 24tph peak & 12tph off-peak

  31. Fandroid says:

    @Windsorian. I might have been fooled by the different presentation of the information on the southeastern branch (compared with the others) as it doesn’t have one of those ‘Minimum Indicative Services’ tables. Where did you spot the offpeak info?

  32. Robert Butlin says:

    Re Benedict 19:01. Matters are left to politicians because we operate in democacy, and getting elected confers a certain democratic legitimacy to decisions taken.

    I would also argue that London doesn’t have a chronic lack of transport, what it has is a transport system that is creaking at the seams but still, most days, functioning decently. People do get to work, shopping, schools and their leisure pursuits. I think Rio de Janeiro in 2016 will show what a chronic lack of transport actually means, especialy when compared to London 2012.

  33. peezedtee says:

    Are we really to believe that Canary Wharf will only have one Crossrail train every 10 minutes in the middle of the day? Surely that will be universally seen as wildly inadequate?

  34. Windsorian says:

    @ Fandroid

    tph: central = 24 / 12 N/W = 12 / 6 so S/E = 12 / 6

    I did post 15.44 http://www.crossrailnews.co.uk/nav/timetable.php

  35. Ig says:

    Great title!

  36. Melvyn says:

    Given how keen Mayor Boris and TFL are to get funding for Crossrail 2 then news of underuse of Crossrail 1 despite the billions spent will not go down well in parts of the country where old diesel pacers and 1 train an hour are the order of the day !

    In fact, given how Crossrail has been sold as simply a main line tube well unless its frequencies at least match say today’s Bakerloo Line then passengers will still see Central Line trains come and go at Stratford while waiting for next Crossrail Train and imagine the reaction if when it arrives Liverpool Street is its final destination !

    As to the suggestion that TFL should separate out Crossrail then look more closely at C2C/ District Line and you will find a railway where both shared common sections but over time extra tracks separated the two operations allowing both to operate higher frequencies .

    As for Crossrail out of Liverpool Street look closely and you will find sections of old lines alongside much of the route which could possibly be upgraded and used for freight trains and maybe some non stopping fast trains given how once Shenfield main service moves out of Liverpool Street platform space will become available for more longer distance services some of which will have cross platform interchange with Crossrail.

    As for out west it’s surely to extend Crossrail to Reading instead of Maidenhead and thus allow more services from Paddington to Reading to be transferred to Crossrail with the possibility even of peak hour services to Oxford !

    While with plans for HS2 suggestions of Crossrail taking over services to Milton Keynes have also arisen and may explain the extra trains in recent order awarded to Bombardier trains that we need to be seen carrying passengers and not like SWT trains at Clapham Juncction standing idle most of the day !

    Finally, Crossrail will naturally be compared to Thameslink and thus if Thameslink runs a far more frequent service on its constituent parts then people will want to know why Crossrail which is meant to be more a tube than a main line like Thameslink can’t do the same !

  37. Steer says:

    Great article.

    I suspect that the end result on the Shenfield branch will be total segregation of the electric lines, allowing these to become Crossrail-only, and providing for a coherent 20tph and perhaps eventually 24tph inter-peak, with 16tph in some off the off-peak too.

    As the article effectively suggests, the very idea of a well defined peak / off-peak split on what is (in parts) a metro railway is a bit meaningless really.

    Reality will drive the following train (haw haw) of logic:

    The central section must have a decent, high frequency service; and,

    to timetable this in an operationally practical way that doesn’t drive passengers to distraction, Shenfield and Abbey Wood will have to be equally served; so,

    segregation of GEML electrics to give Crossrail the same operating situation on both Eastern branches will be necessary.

    The overcoming of the constraints to this will only happen once the service opens, and the Evening Standard campaign mentioned in other comments gets going. It’ll take a while, and be frustrating for the likes of those on these boards who saw the problems coming.

    The turn back at Paddington does at least keep things (slightly) simpler operationally in the West.

    p.s. This may be my favourite title for a LR post yet :)

  38. DanC says:

    In terms of the Shenfield branch, it is completely absurd to provide a service that is exactly the same as what currently exists. I use this line frequently and the inter-peak service is normally fairly busy and the peak is horrendously over-crowded. So much so that trains are delayed (particularly at Stratford) simply due to vast amount of people trying to board. Considering we’ve still got 4 years to go until Crossrail’s opening, and the population is rising dramatically, I cannot believe such a short-sighted commitment was made. Effectively, this won’t provide any relief in to Central London, it will simply move hundreds of people from Liverpool Street main line to the Crossrail station instead. Obviously I understand that there are restraints on the line, but surely this was time to rethink some of the issues?

  39. Milton Clevedon says:

    The constraints as clearly set out by PoP are caused by three elements:

    (1) Financial – what can TfL afford to sponsor in the way of service frequencies when DfT is likely only to pay for the funding gap on the previous (ie, existing) service levels? There is a further complication (at any rate for passengers) that TfL may be unwilling to sponsor the costs of improved services outside Greater London unless such services pay their way. Though the same may be true with a ‘normal’ main line franchise, the public expectations may turn out to be greater with Crossrail, not least if early overcrowding is a consequence.

    (2) Network Rail’s ‘rules of the plan’, which define the permitted minimum headway on plain sections of track and at junctions, refill rates at termini platforms, etc. These can vary in service intensity on different parts of the London main rail network, and often include longer headways between freight trains than passenger trains, while the passenger train following a freight train may require to be timetabled at the freight headway…

    (3) Grandfather rights to slots, eg 2 tph freight offpeak on the GE fast lines, and similar rights (not sure what frequency) via Forest Gate Junction to/from c2c.

    There is a reasonable expectation in the article and in readers’ comments that a media campaign could easily contrast the ‘less than tube’ frequencies on Crossrail offpeak, with the higher tube frequencies. This is a game where there may eventually be a degree of catch-up, to the extent that practical line capacity exists and that public use of offpeak services turns out to exceed current expectations. However the cap on improvements is still constrained by (2) and (3).

    In the case of the eastern corridor via Stratford, I think PoP has correctly defined the primary problem as deriving from the freight grandfather slots to/from c2c, which incur an occasional genuine need for a through freight train. There is also the very occasional c2c passenger train (mainly for crew route learning) in the late evening or early morning, and occasional wholesale diversion of the c2c services into Liverpool Street at weekends for engineering. However the bulk of the weekday offpeak is a different matter.

    What are the strategic solutions? I consider that one is structural – change the rules on grandfather rights in a way acceptable to ORR (itself likely to face changes in responsibilities after Network Rail is nationalised on 1st September this year) – and the other is infrastructural – a new section of track.

    The structural option is to run a debate about best use of main line grandfather rights in the London area. You can immediately see that this is fraught – a debate initiated by TfL could be viewed by freight operators and non-London counties as potentially threatening slot capacity of relevant freight/outer suburban services, and likely to generate some strong reactions! So probably (a) TfL would need to be a respondent not a direct stimulant for the topic, and (b) the debate would need to be national in scope.

    I don’t see that happening anytime soon. Indeed the issues may not arise until through running starts in 2019 – just in time for the May 2020 General and Mayoral and GLA elections. This is a rare and fortunate conjunction of electoral processes, if you needed media and politics to drive a coach and engine through one example of railway industry arcane practices. And you might also need a manifesto commitment to review best use of rail capacity…

    If the structural route isn’t fruitful, and the media keeps bashing the rail industry for a solution for Crossrail, that leads to the infrastructural option. Since the problem derives from the GOB-GE interaction at Forest Gate Junction, the solution is to abolish that (for freight working anyhow, you’d need to keep it for c2c diversions). Essentially such an action would free up the GE Electric Lines for primary use by Crossrail. In which event, you need to replace the link to Stratford in another location.

    Dare I suggest use of a small but probably not low cost crayon, with a southbound curve from GOB south of Tottenham Hale, towards the Tottenham-Stratford line, either (i) across the reservoirs (don’t know what that would stir up, but probably something), or (ii) starting as the GOB crosses the West Anglia line and forming a complementary curve via a scrap yard to the existing South Tottenham-Tottenham South freight link. In (ii), the combined route would stay at high level to cross back over the WA line before descending towards Stratford, in order to avoid conflict with WA services, and indeed to reduce the existing conflict at Tottenham South Junction which can delay WA operations. This spur could be designed in concert with the Crossrail 2 Lea Valley connection.

    This would be a local infrastructural fix for what is actually a problem of system rules, but might yet turn out to be an easier solution, achieved by throwing money at the problem.

  40. ngh says:

    Re Milton

    1) I suspect no one at the time wanted to potentially lumber TfL/DfT with extra costs for running empty services., hence the low minimum provision level.

    Even if they start at the low level one hopes a range of options for service levels above that are being prepared for the inevitable.
    I.e. Crossrail is delivered to spec then rapidly adapted to reality…

    What are the realistic options for turnback at Stratford off peak?
    (I don’t know what the plan for Stratford post CR is.)

  41. RichardB says:

    An excellent article – thank you PoP. It also helped me to clarify why I am slightly uneasy about Thameslink, Crossrail and their possible successors Crossrail 2 and Crossrail 3.

    To some extent I and others are seduced by the scale of Crossrail and frequent references to 24 tph imply an impressive level of service but… it now appears that this is not the full picture and the current mode to protect pre existing freight slots even though these are rarely used compounds the situation. The trouble with Crossrail is it often is seen as a metro service when it is also by implication a regional and freight service. I emphasise there is nothing wrong in improvements to rail infrastructure and in principle I applaud them but this is not what we (Joe Public) were expecting.

    London needs new Tube lines but built to national rail gauge and Crossrail is seen by many as providing exactly that. I suspect DfT, Treasury et al will fight tooth and nail to protect the status quo to avoid additional financial obligations and the Crossrail service will become a bit of a dogs dinner as indeed I think is also likely to be the case with Thameslink which for most people in London was seen as an improvement to a rather limited metro service. Put bluntly given the hype and the cost what we shall receive is a pale reflection of what most people assumed we would be getting. The idea that commuters will transfer onto the Central line at Stratford or Liverpool Street due to perceived low frequency of service rather takes the gilt of the gingerbread.

    Crossrail is often seen as our equivalent to one of the RER lines in Paris but is that really correct given the substance of PoP’s article? Increasingly I think TfL need to look to building dedicated lines as per its core underground network but I emphasise not to the existing Tube gauge. Such lines could have sufficient stations and operate the frequent metro services London needs. If PoP is correct Crossrail will provide a contentious and unsatisfactory level of service and given the current institutional framework I cannot see that being easily rectified as so many of the interested parties (freight operators, National. Rail, ORR etc) will object unless substantial financial provision is forthcoming and I think Treasury and DfT will be very reluctant to address that.

    Incidentally my own view on these unused freight paths is to say to the operators use them or lose them. It’s absurd that they should be permitted to retain them in the current circumstances just because they might at some future unspecified date wish to route a train using these paths at a possible frequency of one train a year

  42. Graham H says:

    @ngh – There doesn’t seem to be an operational reason why the o/p service shouldn’t be stepped up pretty quickly if the demand is there (Maintenance practices might become an issue, perhaps), although I think MC is right about TfL not being willing to take on out-county lossmaking services, which is why the XR spec looks remarkably similar to what is there now. It would be interesting to know whether the GE Inners are cash-positive; I would expect them to be becoming close to that tipping point by now.

    If/when, XR is extended to Reading, the differentiation between off-peak and peak will blur even further than implied in the article simply because of the extended recycling time for diagrams (as with TLK).

  43. ngh says:

    Re Graham H,

    Maintaining cash positive off peaks if possible was in my mind as well.

    Early turnback means less NR access charges which might help the accounting flexibility from the TFL perspective.

    Surprised the Crayonisti /Hall Farm Curve liberation movement haven’t yet suggested Chingford (+Hall farm curve) as an alternative off peak turn back option yet ;-)

  44. Greg Tingey says:

    Dan C
    During the AM peak, when there is a “Shenfield” every 5 minutes, there are often between 40 & 60 people getting out of each doorway of an 8-car consist. Most of these px are transferring to Central & some to Jubilee lines. There are usually between 40-55 people left on each coach, going forward to LST, to walk to their offices (!)

    MC
    The ptt shows one departure & two arrivals @ LST from “c2c” – I haven’t looked at the wtt, but there are a couple of ECS (presumably route-knowledge specials) during the day, well out of the peaks.
    Your proposed curves in the Tottenham Hale area make no sense to me – there already is a S – W curve & putting the N – W would be ridiculously easy.

    ngh
    What are the realistic options for turnback at Stratford off peak? Negative, less than zero … forget it.

    Richard B
    Actually, there’s quite a lot of freight going through.
    The problem is that it should not be going through London, anywhere, at all – we’ve discussed this before. And, as before, we are stuck with it, because diverting the freigh away from London requires new-build semi-dedicated freight lines. On a considerably larger & therefore more expensive scale than the admittedly very useful curves at Bacon Factory & Nuneaton.

  45. straphan says:

    I’m afraid I’m going to have to bang my drum again about Ilford Depot, given we have now gotten ourselves talking about the finer details of freight pathing through London – which I think is not as important a constraint.

    Bear in mind the S&Cs at the London End of Ilford depot will probably be 15mph at best. You will need to get a large number of 12-car trains out of there into Liverpool Street in time for the pm peak. Now an empty train has to cross over the Down Electric and onto the Up Electric and can only accelerate once it is clear of the junction. I can’t remember off the top of my head, but I think I timed it at 2:30 or thereabouts. Add to that the fact, that you would need to give said ECS move some room on the Up Electric as it runs into Liverpool Street. Taking all these constraints into account, I don’t think you would be able to provide a higher frequency than 7 1/2 minutes (i.e. 8tph) in the off-peak. Anything higher, and Greater Anglia might as well keep the empty trains in Liverpool Street between the peaks.

    If you were thinking of anything better than 6-8 tph to Shenfield in the interpeak, then you would need to find a way of shoving the empties out of Ilford without crossing the electric lines. Good luck with that…

  46. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @MC and others – there is an additional complication to the financial “problem” for TfL. Crossrail has to earn a surplus in order to pay back some of the financing costs of Crossrail’s construction. This means that there could be a reluctance to boost services unless it is clear they are going to be “profitable” and not worsen the assumed budgetary position. I have said before that there are some heroic looking numbers in TfL’s business plans and that could mean some subtle games being played with ticket availability and pricing to maximise income. That would affect all of TfL’s rail services given the Mayoral commitment that Crossrail will be on the same fare scale (ignoring the Heathrow premium fare).

    One other bit of fun but on a wider scale is the “DfT grant” point made my PoP. As TfL takes on more rail services then DfT will only support current service levels (or it may be wanting to cut support to meet its own budget targets [1]). Therefore if TfL want more West Anglia or Overground services then it has to fund them and it has a shrinking overall pot of revenue grant so we’ll have some really difficult choices about meeting the aspirations on three major rail concessions without doing something to further reduce operating costs / increase revenue.

    What the wider debate shows is that there is an opportunity for some “clear water” in terms of policy choices for the next Mayor about financing transport services in London.

    [1] although out of our geographic scope I see in the latest Modern Railways that the DfT have said they want to reduce revenue support for the Northern / TransPennine franchises. This means fare hikes in the North just when all the Northern politicians have agreed to help scope the next franchise. Some nice politics there – welcome to democracy, you too can take the blame for fare rises and overcrowding. :-)

  47. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Straphan – Crossrail announced yesterday that Network Rail had awarded the contract for the enhancement works on the Great Eastern branch. I wonder if it includes proposals to improve the run in, run out times from Ilford depot? Given your comments it would seem to make sense.

  48. Graham H says:

    @Straphan – many thanks for the detail on the Ilford pathing timing (Railsys rules OK?!). It’s probably yet another argument for not trying to run down the inter-peak (or leave as much kit as possible stabled elsewhere).

    @WW – a propos the fares dilemma, it would also be interesting to know how the fares taper effect will be managed once XR opens at “TfL” fares, and who will bear the financial consequences.

  49. ngh says:

    Re WW

    DfT revenue support reduction, apparently Northern and TPE had the best positions of all the TOC so obvious place to target readjustment. [Electrification and 2nd hand stock should help operating economics on the busier routes in the future]. Part of the problems with Northern may be increasing the fare by x% every year doesn’t work well if the fare is too small a number to begin with…

    With the economy in London and SE doing better there may be less need of DfT support for the London centred franchises in the near future than in the last 4-5 years.

  50. Graham H says:

    @ngh – and the fares elasticities for many of the Northern branches is close to 1 according to the PDFH.

  51. Greg Tingey says:

    WW
    Your point about DfT squeezing TfL over revenue, thus limiting services & resulting in shiny new train services being infrequent & rammed, has a very simple solution.
    If DfT does indeed play this game, the the GLA ( & the Mayor ) simply go as public as possible & lay the blame where it is due – turn to the voters of London ( & the Home Counties, too ) … saying: “We tried to get you a wonderful shiny new train service, but these meanies stopped us – over to you, the voters, to rectify this”
    The messy public fallings-out could be amusing …
    And, in fact, given your note on “Northern” (i.e. Yorkshire, Lancashire, Durham, etc) then the same remedy applies – blame the civil servants & the guvmint ministers – especially (of course) if you are a Labour MP. Even more fun.

  52. straphan says:

    @WW and Graham H: I shall stop banging the drum then. Just wanted the commentariat to bear this in mind before they go on to the usual ‘why the hell do we need freight trains’ moaning… The simple fact is that freight traffic on the GEML isn’t that much of a limiting factor. And the location and importance of Ilford depot means you can’t really do much more with the off-peak pattern on the GEML.

    The improvements may include, but not be limited to:
    - installing new pointwork (25mph capable) at Ilford London End Junction (London end of the depot)
    - new signalling and pointwork inside the depot (so that a 12-car train can enter/leave the Electric lines fully before having to slow down)
    - changing the signal spacing, particularly at the outer end of the line (it may be difficult for trains to leave Gidea Park reversing siding otherwise…).

    This will just about make 8tph in the interpeak possible from a signalling perspective.

    @Graham H and ngh: Railways oop Norf suffer from a double-whammy of low fares and antiquated equipment, which is both very expensive (read: people-intensive) to run, and provides much less capacity than it should.

    I would once again like to point out, that on certain routes in that part of the world it would be possible to raise fares to pay for investment, without much upheaval. The Airedale/Wharfedale Lines had above-standard increases to pay for the Class 333s and the whole scheme has been a success story. You could do something similar in places, which are relatively affluent – e.g. the Harrogate line.

  53. Belsize Parker says:

    I have recently had reason to use RER Line B through the central area of Paris off-peak and would point out that: (a) departures are not evenly spaced on the northern branches, with some quite long waits for closer-in destinations [they seem to be keeping the tracks clear for the 'CDG Express' airport non-stoppers]; and (b) frequency is well short of Metro standards [officially '10-15 minutes']. Attempting to combine ‘metro-style’ services with a conventional passenger and freight railway (as Line B does north of Gare du Nord) is clearly no picnic, even before the complexities of UK-style franchising etc. are encountered. That said, I can’t see why Crossrail shouldn’t run at a higher frequency on the ‘autonomous’ Abbey Wood to Old Oak Common section.

  54. Malcolm says:

    @graham I am interested to know about the implications of the fare elasticity being close to 1 . I appreciate that it means that a 5% fare increase is expected to produce a 5% drop in ridership, but what are the further implications of this? And what is a typical elasticity in other areas? What is the connection with proposed reductions in revenue support?

  55. ngh says:

    Re Graham H,

    V interesting on the elasticity i’m guess it can still be far cheaper by train than driving given the inflation in motoring costs in the last decade? So as long as they don’t put it up by huge amounts…

    Re Staphan
    Agree – you went into more detail than I had time for!
    I was a regular user of the Harrogate line once / twice a week for several years when I had to visit my office up Norf. Distance wise the equivalent London – Sevenoaks for the price of a Z3 to London Terminals fare on oyster and RPI +X% is only going to make that gap bigger in reality over time. Resignalling the line would probably save £250k pa alone as a good chunk still uses physical tokens. The last wooden level crossing gates only went about 3 years ago!

    Journey time improvements from electrification in the North should bring more passengers in and counteract fare increases.

  56. straphan says:

    @Malcolm: On one hand the implication appears to be that you cannot have substantial fare increases without losing ridership. However, bear in mind this elasticity assumes the good ol’ economist’s trap of caetes paribus, i.e. ‘everything else being equal’.

    If I currently have to hang on to the outside of the door of a Pacer to get to work (as a lot of people do out there) and ‘they’ increase my fares by 5% I will most definitely decide to swap my rail commute for sitting in a traffic jam on the M62, but (a) without my face in someone’s armpit; (b) with radio and air-con. However, if ‘they’ choose to increase my fares by 5% but either give me a nicer, bigger unit or even just run two Pacers an hour instead of one so that I get a seat, I might consider staying. Heck, if it’s a nice unit with a few seats spare I might even convince my neighbour to ditch the M62 as well…

  57. Fandroid says:

    @Melvyn. Don’t be fooled by all those SWT sets at Clapham Junction. Although more SWT trains run in the peak than in the off-peak, the other difference is that they normally run full-length trains in the peak and shorter ones off-peak. Having the spare sets parked close to Waterloo during the day means that they can form up the full-length trains fairly swiftly for the evening peak exodus. This will not be an issue for Crossrail with its fixed 9-car formations!

  58. timbeau says:

    @Milton Clevedon
    “Dare I suggest use of a small but probably not low cost crayon, with a southbound curve from GOB south of Tottenham Hale, towards the Tottenham-Stratford line,”

    Not sure what you’re suggesting here. Doesn’t such a curve exist already?
    https://maps.google.co.uk/maps?q=south+tottenham+station&hl=en-GB&ll=51.582403,-0.06506&spn=0.00876,0.022638&gbv=2&fb=1&gl=uk&hq=south+tottenham+station&cid=12393503422171417797&t=m&z=16

    @RichardB
    “Incidentally my own view on these unused freight paths is to say to the operators use them or lose them. It’s absurd that they should be permitted to retain them in the current circumstances just because they might at some future unspecified date wish to route a train using these paths at a possible frequency of one train a year”

    These paths are not future-proofing, they are used, and certainly more han once a year. But, unlike most passenger services, if there is no traffic on offer on a particular day the freight train doesn’t run. (Historically, some “relief” passenger services only ran on an “as required” basis.)

  59. Al__S says:

    If you want to assess how “sensible” the concept of fully-seperated Crossrails, Overground, Thameslink Metro, a London Freight orbital are a new yardstick has emerged in the last few days- the TfL Roads Task Force are seriously proposing a revival of the Ringways plan, specifically an underground version of Ringway 2. To be clear, this means an underground motorway following the South Circular. Related is the “Hammersmith Flyunder” project, which last week was slated to cost £250million-£1.7billion, but this week that’s already gone to an estimate of £2billion- this for about 2.5 miles of road. Give it a week, it’ll be £1billion/mile.

    These are not sensible schemes on any measure. But Boris is keen.

    These schemes would be unlikely to include road price charging, so unlike Crossrail would have zero revenue.

  60. StephenC says:

    @straphan, Re Ilford, can the depot empties not run down the “slow” lines and only join the main line at Forest Gate Junction? That would avoid crossing the down fast, but would cross the down slow twice.

    I once spoke to a senior Crossrail person who indicted that he expected any increase in frequency to *not* be evenly distributed between Stratford and Canary Wharf. Instead, he thought the Wharf would get all the increase in frequency.

    Also, no-one has commented on the difference with Crossrail 2. CR2 is planning 30tph from day one according to the limited public data available. The difference to CR1 could be quite marked.

  61. Fandroid says:

    I don’t really have an issue with a non-metro frequency on Crossrail. After all, LO is a precedent. Regular punters will make up their own minds concerning the choice between frequency and speed+comfort and decide their own personal ‘rules of the road’ which govern their decision-making. Stratford station may be a problem, where Central and Crossrail platforms re fairly close together but, at Canary Wharf where the Jubilee and Crossrail platforms are distant from each other and require serious level changes, no-one is going to run from one to the other unless services stop altogether.

    The same applies to crowded platforms. The cognoscenti will soon work out where to avoid the crowds (if that’s what they want), and choose the service that suits their own set of needs best. Even uneven headways in the central section will be tolerated. There may be grumping, but as long as the times are consistent and accurately shown on the departure boards, they will be accepted.

  62. straphan says:

    @AI__S: That wouldn’t surprise me given the state of traffic in South London. If they could start their work by removing level crossings from the Windsor Lines that would be great!

    @timbeau and Milton Clevedon: Might Milton be suggesting a new curve that avoids the huge bottleneck that is Clapton/Coppermill Jns?

    @ngh: Electrification will only bring about more revenue if there is space to fit the punters. Granted, plenty of schemes are currently assuming swapping over 2-car DMUs for 3-car EMUs, but there are currently plenty of peak services where the load factors for said DMUs exceed 150%. Now take that and slap on about 15% induced demand due to the ‘sparks effect’ – and you’re going to start having to re-insert that trailer that you just removed from your 4-car ex-London suburban EMU quite quickly…

    Regarding fares, I think we need to differentiate between PTE and non-PTE flows. When PTEs were in control of fares they deliberately kept them low to entice as many people as possible away from cars. It is on non-PTE flows where you will find the best business cases for electrification and enhancements. Indeed, note that most electrification projects in the North have so far dealt with non-PTE flows. The Harrogate line electrification study (mentioned in ‘Rail’ a few months back) gave a BCR of over 3!

  63. straphan says:

    @StephenC: I think you’re getting your lines at Ilford mixed up. The depot is adjacent to the ‘electric’ (i.e. slow) lines, so unless you make Ilford London End Junction grade separated (again: good luck with that!) you will not get rid of conflicts between empty workings and Crossrail trains in the interpeak.

  64. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Graham H – I think that where TfL have had PAYG extended “across the border” on Greater Anglia there has been no great adjustment to fares so the taper hasn’t changed. Something tells me that TfL is unlikely to present people in Shenfield, Cheshunt and Maidenhead with a nice “fares cut” pressie when they formally take over some of their rail services. Therefore the existing taper is likely to remain in place at those points where fares regimes notionally “swap over”. I’d guess there will be questions about things like day returns which caused great angst when PAYG was extended to TOC services inside the zones plus Greg’s “campaign du jour” about season tickets to the relevant London terminal.

    @ Greg – I can’t see Boris whacking the government over the head about Crossrail timetables come 2015 when we’re unlikely to know what is formally proposed anyway. As already remarked upon the 2020 double Election opportunity is the one where stingey funding and daft timetables might hit home politically but it all rather depends on who wins nationally and in London on 2015/16.

    @ Belsize Parker – you beat me to it about the RER in Paris. Frequencies and service patterns are certainly not particularly consistent or very high frequency like the Metro or the Tube. As @ Fandroid has said Parisians seem to cope OK as have I when I’ve stayed with friends just outside Paris but used to RER to get about. Londoners will perhaps also just get used to what is on offer as they’ve not a RER style service in London before so it will be “new” and probably perceived as wonderful and shiny in the early days before any cynicism hits home (assuming no breakdowns on the first day when the media whirl will spin out of control!).

    Perhaps we will get some “expectations management” from Crossrail, TfL and DfT from 2016 onwards when TfL starts to take over services and new trains start to appear? PoP said that the project has been “sold” on perhaps a false premise of being like the tube rather than a mutant hybrid of the Overground, a tunnel and a National Rail suburban rail service. ;-)

    One final note and sort of related to the machinations about service levels is the announcement by the DfT that they are considered a further 5 year direct award franchise to First for the Great Western route. This would run from 2015 to 2020 and presumably keeps the incumbent in place while it manages all the woes and fall out of electrification, rolling stock changes, IEP and Crossrail. It also avoids any great nonsenses of a new franchisee trying to bring in their own plans on top of all the ones the DfT needs to have delivered.

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

    @Fandroid

    “I don’t really have an issue with a non-metro frequency on Crossrail. After all, LO is a precedent. Regular punters will make up their own minds concerning the choice between frequency and speed+comfort and decide their own personal ‘rules of the road’ which govern their decision-making.”

    Agreed. Whilst imperfect, Crossrail will add significant mobility and capacity.

    To take the frequency vs speed+comfort, look at the RER vs Metro in Paris. IIRC the RER is 4 tph during the day, and metro lines are much more frequent. However RER is much faster for longer trips.

    With platform Next Train signage, the annoyance over infrequent headways is minimized.

  66. Graham H says:

    @Malcolm and Straphan – the basic fares elasticities are said to be 0.3 for intercity, 0.45 for commuter and 1 for regional. However, the quoted figures don’t properly distinguish between sectors (in old speak) like Regional railways that included the whole gamut of service types from deep rural to quasi intercity, so when I suggest the elasticity for rural services is 1, I really have in mind things like the Cumbrian Coast. I would expect Leeds-Ilkely to look much more like London-Woking, for example, and the old RR Aplha Line services to behave much more like Intercity fares. In the late ’80s, we did an internal study in DTp as to the scope form getting the Board out of grant entirely. NSE and InterCity were not a problem – as we have seen subsequently, albeit without privatisation, we would have got there 20 years ago. RR, if pulled apart also wasn’t as big a problem as people claimed – by the time the Alpha line services were priced up commercially, the Scots and the Welsh given their toys, ditto the PTEs, there was precious little left, and this rump (mainly in Lincs, the West Country, and Cumbria would have constituted the hard core funding problem.

    @Malcolm – the significance of the fares elasticity for Northern (but probably not TPE – see above on quasi-intercity routes) is that pricing offers no way forward for dealing with the funding gap. So…

  67. Saintsman says:

    Another excellent article

    I understood that Crossrail would simply deliver 12tph off-peak. In the east 6tph to Shenfield and 6tph to Abbey Wood. That’s all – in the current commitments.

    With an intial peak 24tph, I personally would have expected 18tph weekday off-peak. I don’t see a suitable eastern turnback in the current design so expect all to go to the end of the eastern branches. Abbey Wood has no constraints. Shenfield banch does present the challenge, especially with the freight paths as highlighted. (I’m guessing this was a factor in keeping things simple at only 12pth) Complete 6 tracking is not a realistic option eg constraints of Maryland station etc. So persuasive pressure to take over the flat junction conflicting paths at Forest Gate Junction seems to be the key. So more pressure on GOBLIN, with electrification there is also a need to improve headways. Longer term further Felixstowe cross country route improvements (CP5 and 6), then alternative freight paths which avoid London may come in CP6 more likely CP7 are needed, years after Crossrail opens.

  68. straphan says:

    @WW: I would also ask the commentariat to consider what they mean by ‘tube frequencies’. The Piccadilly provides – as far as I know – a mere 6tph between Acton Town and Rayners Lane, the Bakerloo only gives 9tph west of Queen’s Park and 6tph west of Stonebridge Park (albeit there are also 3tph Overground), whereas the western District branches run at under 10tph for most of the day as well. Only within Zone 2 do we get consistent frequencies of 20tph or thereabouts all-day on the Underground – but then again this is what Crossrail is looking to deliver anyway…

  69. superlambanana says:

    Generally the elasticity of leisure travellers is higher, i.e. they are more responsive to increases/decreases in frequency than commuters are. This has implications for off-peak frequencies because there are more leisure travellers and so off-peak demand is more responsive to frequencies. Thus the phenomenon that is LO ridership and all-day-peak service.

    As a result, lower service levels off-peak have the potential to be a false economy – and so the assumption that they would produce a ‘cash-positive’ service is not necessarily correct.

  70. Greg Tingey says:

    ngh
    That’s Harrogate via York, not via Leeds, right?

  71. StephenC says:

    @straphan, for me, “tube frequencies” is a wait no longer than 5 minutes, which equates to 12tph . A frequency of 6tph is the minimum for “turn up a and go”. Less than that, and I’d want to check the timetable. As such, I’d be looking for 12tph to both Stratford and Abbey Wood in the off-peak. Note that it is the two eastern branches that create the problem here – they split too close to the centre (which is why I’ve put forward Swanlink or Crossrail 2 Wink option to make better use of the tunnel capacity).

  72. Chris says:

    The government seem quite keen on EWR phase 2, so if they come up with a workable scheme that could well take freight from Felixstowe out of the equation supposing it can be pathed via Cambridge and Bletchley.

  73. Lemmo says:

    Another fascinating article PoP, thank you.

    StephenC recollects a senior Crossrail person saying that any increase in frequency will go down the Canary Wharf branch. This makes sense, given the relatively inefficient use of this expensive new infrastructure, and especially given that demand through Canary Wharf is likely to fill the services to bursting. I’d be surprised if the Shenfield branch ever took more than 12tph in a 30tph pattern.

    Our articles on rail freight in London identified the intractable nature of the Forest Gate Jn-Stratford route. Rather than taking unused freight paths back, freight across this section is likely to increase as the huge London Gateway port comes on stream. It requires new infrastructure.

    Other than a new freight-only orbital route, which is simply pie-in-the-sky, the only option is Goblin. But as passenger demand is also rising on this route, you need to get the freight heading northwards as soon as possible. Hence we suggested a new link from Goblin onto the WAML and from there across to the ECML Hertford Loop. These new links could also become orbital passenger routes, which will soften local opposition.

  74. Greg Tingey says:

    lemmo ( & MC )
    We have now determined (last night in the pub) that MC’s proposed E-S curve (!) by Tottie Hale is a non-starter, because un-necessary. Electrification of the GOB will remove the need for the heavier diesel-hauled freights to trundle across everything between Forest Gate & Stratford, because the 20 mph weak-bridge/slack across the Lea will have gone, & electric traction can haul more up the Westbound grades.
    However, an E-N curve would be a very good idea – one slight problem – where do you put it?
    It MIGHT (just) be possible to closely follow Ferry Lane for 200m, cross over to the N, & then go through the “Lockwood Industrial Estate” … cost?
    Whether this would be sufficient to deal with the Shell Haven Thames Gateway traffic, I don’t know,

    BTW
    I couldn’t find MC’s presentation paper, on the subject of Devon re-routings, supposedly referred to on BBC SW.
    Can someone post a link up here, please, for reference?

  75. straphan says:

    @Graham H: And yet all the projects oop Norf are sadly judged using the 1.0 elasticity… Where is the fairness in that?

    @StephenC and Lemmo: I think that at least for now 12tph to Shenfield would be overcooking it. 12tph to Romford with lower frequencies east thereof sound a little more sensible.

    The key issue to my mind, though, is what to do about Ilford depot. Anything more than 6-8tph through the Electric lines in the off-peak, and you might as well move it elsewhere. If Orient Way sidings were to be expanded to become a full depot that might solve the problem… Still – the business case for that intervention would never stack up (cost of a new depot for extra revenue from 6tph in the off-peak? Please…)

    Regarding freight flows: I doubt the GOBLIN will have a more intensive service than 4tph in the medium term, particularly if you swap over 2-car DMUs for 4 or 5-car EMUs. This gives us 4tph freight paths through there. Key problem is how to get these paths through to the WCML? TfL would no doubt be keen to increase off-peak frequencies on the North London Line (as we will no doubt read soon on this blog…).

    Bear in mind the freight will want to get to the WCML to go North. This is the fun aspect of freight in the UK – freight will go where there is a gauge-cleared route. This is why – at present – the main railfreight warehouses are along the WCML (Daventry, Hams Hall, Trafford Park, Mossend). Only if the ECML and Midland are cleared to W10 and the warehouses are built, can we think about freight connections to these lines from the London and Essex ports…

  76. Malcolm says:

    @Chris You mention East-West Rail phase 2. However keen-on-it anybody may be, that will be a major project with significant stretches of entirely new railway. I can’t see it being available for at least twelve years, possibly significantly more, what with all the fuss there’s sure to be. Look at the eye-twinkle-to-first train duration of HS2 as proof.

    My point being that rail freight from east coast ports needs routes now.

  77. Graham H says:

    @straphan – not sure where the fairness comes in – the elasticity is what it is; otherwise it’s a bit (no, a lot) like saying that 2+2 =4 but not in Lincolnshire. If the argument is that there are high social and economic benefits in buying lossmaking services north of Watford, that’s a different issue.. Even there, the trouble is – as I discovered when handling the Settle-Carlisle closure case in the late ’80s – whilst most regional services can show a good CBA result, those elsewhere can show a better one.

  78. straphan says:

    @Graham H: you said yourself that Ilkley-Leeds is likely to have an elasticity similar to Woking-London, yet the elasticity assumed is 1.0 instead of 0.45. Yet as it is classified as a ‘regional’ flow it is assessed as having an elasticity of 1.0. That’s what I have a problem with…

  79. Graham H says:

    @straphan – sorry, to make myself perfectly clear, I believe that most regional TOCs are a basket of elasticities – Northern is predominantly “regional” but will have a handful of “commuter” elasticities in there (and it won’t be many). Because such a basket is likely to be dominated by “regional” revenue bases, raising fares generally there is not going to have much impact, and given the overwhelming need for subsidy in that TOC, raising the few worthwhile commuter flows isn’t going to change matters much. Whether DfT takes such a subtle approach, I doubt. TPE on the other hand is likely to be near intercity values and could be priced up as such – that would make a big difference to its financial performance. I’m still not clear why any of this is unfair – if there’s unfairness around it’s for the Ilkley commuters who are paying to cross-subsidise the people in Bishop Auckland and so forth (see below).

    FGW is an interesting case in point, where at least on bidder concluded that it wasn’t worth collecting the fares on branches such as Liskeard-Looe: there was no way the fares could have been increased enough to pay for the cost of sales and checking.

    You will notice that for many TOCs, this implies considerable internal cross-subsidy. Although this is inherent in the nature of all public transport (“the second passenger on the bus” syndrome), it is something that the EU really (and foolishly) dislikes in subsidised services. I do sometimes wonder whether DfT doesn’t deliberately move the boundaries of the most heavily internally cross-subsidised TOCs around, to prevent easy tracking of the money flows. (I predict that Northern and TPE will be due for an amalgamation idc, and there will be an EMT/LM reshuffle ere long just to make transparency less…)

  80. straphan says:

    @Graham H: That would be somewhat contradictory to what happened a few years ago (Central Trains+Silverlink+Midland Mainline = London Midland+East Midlands Trains+London Overground), but hey – that wouldn’t be the first time the Government backtracked on something, would it?

    I also doubt TPE and Northern will be amalgamated due to strong political opposition both in London and ‘oop Norf’. This despite the fact, that on a lot of significant flows TPE serves as a commuter service (York-Leeds, Leeds-Huddersfield-Manchester, Preston-Bolton-Manchester, Liverpool-Warrington-Manchester, Manchester-Sheffield, Sheffield-Doncaster, Hull-Leeds, Scarborough-York-Leeds).

    I also wouldn’t agree with you that Northern is predominantly ‘regional’. In terms of vehicle mileage and passenger journeys I would argue it is predominantly a commuter TOC for the five big Northern cities (Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle, Sheffield) plus Teesside, with some other regional services thrown in for good measure.

    The key reasons – in my opinion – as to why Northern requires so much subsidy is:
    - low fares in PTE areas (which are the relatively inelastic commuter flows)
    - costly upkeep of elderly diesel trains with low carrying capacity and no room for demand growth (which is thankfully being addressed in some places at least)
    - not really an issue for Northern, but some of the infrastructure is very outdated and requires more manpower to operate than it should…

    The really regional routes, as well as those routes running through areas of high unemployment (i.e. where people have no reason or means to travel) will of course require substantial subsidy. But there is no reason why commuter routes into the biggest cities of the North must be so highly subsidised and provide such a rubbish service in return.

  81. AlisonW says:

    The more discussions I read on LR and elsewhere about track access issues / costs, service frequencies, and metro/regional arguments, the more regularly I conclude that if you want mass transit (in London volumes) you cannot mix passenger services with freight, and ideally you shouldn’t mix mass with regional. Track separation seems to be the only *realistic* way to get the service and passenger volumes required to actually happen.

    The UK effectively let its nationalised railways suffer through lack of investment and advance planning. Former governments washed their hands of the problem to the extent of flogging it all off to multiple parties, effectively placing a restraint on joined-up thinking and planning.

    London is a city like no other, in many ways, and is suffering greatly because of the lack of investment in both infrastructure and in the services which use those new expensive shiny metals.

    Until there is a high-level realisation that yes, it will require money in large amounts because otherwise the cash-cow for the UK which London represents will just seize up, there won’t be progress,

    We need freight to get out of town; just like weight limits on roads railfreight needs to be kept to appropriate routes.

    We need mass transit – commuting and leisure – to not be blocked by long-distance and regional services.

    And we need long-distance and regional services to be able to run fast and not be blocked or delayed by those local and freight services.

    If this happens in my lifetime I will be very surprised. Dammit.

    (sorry .. that turned into a bit of a rant)

  82. Graham H says:

    @strahan – indeed undoing what has been done before is part of the trick; one variant of it seems to be to move a handful of services between franchises so that there is no statistical continuity.

    One question which needs an answer, but the data are not available from which to do it, is: are all UK commuter services similar in terms of price elasticity? I suspect that this is unlikely based on the actual modal splits. Those rail commuter services into cities which also have a large car commuting element must surely be much more price sensitive, so in cases like commuting into central London, where car has less than 10% market share, the punters do not have too much choice but to pay up, but in other places (most if not all of those you mention), clearly car is a viable choice and many could switch if prices were hiked too much.

    I’m not sure I wholly agree that it is the cost of antiquated rolling stock which makes Northern so expensive; the consumption of infrastructure costs by low volume flows is also a factor.

  83. straphan says:

    @Graham H: We do seem to veer towards the North a lot in this forum recently, don’t we?

    I also agree that commuter services in different places will have different elasticities, but overall the elasticity for commuter flows in the North would appear to be declining as road congestion gets worse.

    Indeed, the issue of number of people carried by the infrastructure is a factor, but – again – electrification projects will hopefully help.

  84. RichardH says:

    @Straphan
    Why do ECS ex-Ilford have to go west? If they leave eastbound and reverse at the proposed Chadwell Heath reversing siding they’ll only block one one at a time, which shouldn’t be too problematic outside the peak. Inbound from Chadwell Heath they can run in service if necessary.

  85. Taz says:

    There was recent speculation on the Crossrail Enhancements discussed in secret at yesterday’s Finance & Policy Committee meeting before the next Board meeting. Monday’s Crossrail press release has a note to Editors: Transport for London and the Department for Transport, the joint Sponsors of the Crossrail Project, aim to make the whole Crossrail route accessible. There is already provision for 31 of the 38 stations to have step free access and work is underway to look at practical solutions and funding options for the remaining seven including Maryland, Manor Park and Seven Kings on the Great Eastern.

  86. Castlebar 1 says:

    I wonder how they would ever get such access at Hanwell. Would it be possible?

  87. straphan says:

    @RichardH: As far as I recall Chadwell Heath went as part of ‘value engineering’ (i.e. penny-pinching) and trains would have to reverse at Gidea Park. Even if Chadwell Heath was still there, you would still need trains to get out of the depot a fair bit earlier than today, which may reduce the interpeak ‘maintenance window’ to unacceptable levels.

  88. Alan Griffiths says:

    Fandroid @ 11 March 2014 at 14:13

    “Stratford station may be a problem, where Central and Crossrail platforms re fairly close together ” So close that they are a walk across the platform.

  89. David t-Rex says:

    Not to bring up the north again but Manchester Metrolink suggests there is a huge suppressed demand for frequent services, with places like the Oldham loop being full in peaks and some services crush loaded along with decent off peak loadings. There is a desire to move from the car where possable if the service is reliable and frequent. The big question is if northern / tpe can operate with little or no subsadity from the DfT and then TfM (for example) subsidising the areas they feel important for social reasons.

  90. Graham H says:

    @David t rex – whilst there is a slim chance of TPE operating without subsidy, Northern includes too many basket cases, where pricing up and /or cost reduction (as per earlier discussion on this thread) will never, ever, see the TOC out of subsidy. BTW, “out of subsidy” merely refers to the TOC, Network Rail also receives very large subsidies, and if they were to be allocated out to the relevant TOC, it would soon appear that very few, if any, routes – even InterCity ones – are profitable.

  91. Mark Townend says:

    @straphan, 13 March 2014 at 09:02

    Another idea for Ilford depot access would be a grade separation similar to the Acton yard underpass. With nearly 1000m between road overbridges for Griggs Approach and Addborough Rd S there should be enough room alongside the depot to raise or lower the Down Electric for a new depot departure line from the east end to cross it without conflict. A useful length headshunt for this might need to poke through a reconstructed Addborough Rd S bridge towards Seven Kings station, but fast junctions could then ensure a spirited getaway of an empty into the Up Electric flow towards Liverpool Street to enter service. The London end throat of the yard could then be simplified and rearraged to provide a higher speed run-in to reception lines for trains coming off duty. The long public footbridge across the depot sidings might favour a Down Electric dive-under rather than a fly-over.

  92. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ David T-Rex – the other factor outside of London that affects demand for rail modes is bus deregulation. Buses have to operate commercially and I suspect the fares differential between rail and bus in many Metropolitan areas is small thereby making rail the more attractive option for many as journeys will be faster if perhaps more crowded. There is a separate debate to be had, and not in these columns, as to logic of having relatively expensive and underused buses leading to subsidised and overcrowded rail services.

    I am unclear as to whether Metrolink is subsidised or not – looking at some of the fares I doubt it is! Nonetheless frequent and relatively fast services will be popular (he says desperately trying to return to topic). I don’t know if RATP have managed to get Metrolink working *reliably* yet given the tram management system problems but the scale of expansion and early delivery of extensions looks pretty impressive to me (as an outsider).

    A question I would have is what do TfGM do next? I know we have a couple of extensions yet to be completed and the Second City Crossing has started construction but if services are already full then TfGM surely have to consider another order of trams to allow longer trams to run? Higher frequency is not practical until the second city crossing completes as I believe the current city centre layout is saturated. Passengers are not going to be impressed with travelling in crush conditions within weeks of years of construction activity finishing and services starting. I know Metrolink has its critics who say a different, higher capacity rail solution should have been adopted (but let’s not indulge ourselves in arguing that here).

  93. Anonymous says:

    @WW There is much more scope for double trams to operate to soak up demand on Metrolink, at present there are a handful in operation during peak periods but much more could be done if the size of the fleet were increased. 2 car trams are never going to make the most of the expensive fixed infrastructure.

  94. Anonymous says:

    2tph off-peak at Hanwell is shockingly bad. House prices are rising in the area in anticipation of Crossrail’s improved service! There will be quite a few disappointed new residents.

  95. Milton Clevedon says:

    @ Anonymous
    15 March 2014 at 18:08

    I pointed out quite a few blogs earlier (here: http://www.londonreconnections.com/2014/crossrail-piqued-proposed-peak-service/#comment-187943), that if the public perceive a poor (or at any rate less than anticipated) service at Crossrail stations – at Hanwell from December 2019 on current plans – then they can press the politicians to resource a better service via TfL.

    There is a General Election in May 2020, and simultaneously London Mayor and GLA elections, so this will be a rare oppportunity to press for commitments in many manifestos and political pronouncements. While there will be an operational cap on frequencies for reasons discussed variously above, some improvements should be feasible.

  96. timbeau says:

    @non 1808

    2tph at Hanwell

    No worse than some stations get on Thameslink, despite all the hype about Thameslink 2000-and-counting: see e.g. Haydons Road.

  97. Greg Tingey says:

    Anon
    2tph CR1 @ Hanwell & how many Paddington-onlies?
    IIRC that’s what Hanwell gets now, via “Heathrow Connect”, isn’t it?
    If no Padders-only services, then all that money (etc ad nauseam) & no improvement or service uplift?
    I can just imagine the press/political campaign.
    See also MC’s comments about a perfect storm of elections, too.

  98. Walthamstow Writer says:

    MC, Greg et al – I fear a 2020 election is too late to do anything quickly. By then people will be “cross” for real reasons as the service will be running and people can cite their own experience. However it could take years to effect a timetable change especially if there are rolling stock implications. The time to do something would be around about now but, of course, there is no published timetable for people to complain about. There is a project team in place and we do not have a concessionaire in place although a procurement process is under way. Clearly there is a governance process to negotiate but that’s easier than unravelling a working railway and being tied to an annual timetable change process.

    I see that speculation has already started about what Mr Osborne’s remarks about a garden city at Ebbfleet means for the safeguarded eastern extension route. Lots of fun for future service patterns and patronage estimates plus impacts for the South Eastern franchise (years hence).

  99. Milton Clevedon says:

    @WW
    The hard truth may indeed only emerge close to actual service delivery. The first ‘Crossrail’-branded service will be in May 2015 on the GE Lines, with a Crossrail TOC operator either announced in September 2014 if you believe TfL internal dates, or November 2014 if you believe the recent TfL Budget 2014-15, see page 56 in the attached link: (http://www.tfl.gov.uk/assets/downloads/corporate/FPC-20140312-Part-1-Item06-Budget-14-15.pdf).

    If passenger numbers head north rapidly (I assume the line will be on the Underground diagram), then there might be quicker re-calculations about proposed service requirements in 2018-19. We can only hope so. Otherwise there could indeed be some grumpiness until more trains are offered. That’s will be TfL’s problem to solve, probably under political pressure.

  100. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ MC – I would hazard a guess that a November 2014 formal announcement is tied to some great splash about the Autumn Statement or TfL exercising some caution that it needs to be clear about what nightmarish funding scenario the Chancellor will set out that could hit fares and service levels. Every year has seen revenue grant cut so I think we can predict what’s due for this year. By then TfL will have a clear view on operating costs, likely train deliveries plus anticipated take over dates for the initial Crossrail services. Any funding announcement on grant will also affect beyond the general election and is much closer to when Crossrail’s main services will build up.

    Given all the political parties are “boxed in” on rail fare increases then if TfL gets a revenue grant cut or very limited support from DfT (in terms of transferred in services) then service levels are the only thing that can be flexed so that there is still an operating surplus to pay back the borrowing.

  101. timbeau says:

    @Milton
    “I assume the line will be on the Underground diagram”
    I would assume so too, but so should the Northern City and Thameslink.

  102. Milton Clevedon says:

    I agree with that sentiment, if just to encourage passengers to make best use of available line and interchange capacities. It cannot be in the interests of London Underground to stimulate unnecessary passenger loadings on the Northern Line’s overloaded City branch, by denying wider awareness of either of those two railways.

  103. Long Branch Mike 1 says:

    @MC

    Quite. To further that idea, some out of station interchanges should also be denoted of the standard Tube map for Crossrail, UndergrounD, and Overground lines to identify alternate routing to allow passengers to optimize their trips and network usage, which will reduce unnecessary mileage, trip times, and loadings.

    I realize some of this discussion has been held on other LR articles but I forget which.

    Certainly the outer reaches of the Tube map, Zones 3+, are much less dense and the usefulness of adding such connexions outways, in my opinion, the slight clutter added.

    Indeed illustrating such suburban connexions will increase mobility and passenger usage for the cheap price of ink, as has been illustrated during the inclusion of the Northern City Line on the Tube map (also mentioned in the other LR articles comments).

  104. timbeau says:

    @LBM1
    “as has been illustrated during the inclusion of the Northern City Line on the Tube map ”

    not sure what you mean here – it was always shown on the Underground map until very recently (long after it was transferred to Bristish Rail in 1975) when LU went all proprietorial.

    It might also stop a repetition of this

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-26176598

    the W&C was always shown on Tube maps, although it only became LU-owned in 1994.

  105. Greg Tingey says:

    timbeau
    Yes, well, we’ve discussed that before.
    For anyone not familiar with the details, the RAIB report makes fascinating & horrifying reading …….

  106. straphan says:

    @Mark Townend: Any solution to this problem will cost a few hundred million at least. That won’t be easy to swallow.

    @WW: Bear in mind that outside London local authorities can subsidise loss-making services they consider socially important. What that has led to is that companies refuse point-blank to run commercially in the evenings or Sundays, and expect councils to subsidise them (even if they could have pulled it off commercially). A few years back Greater Manchester PTE’s timetables showed a symbol next to each service which was subsidised. On the Oxford Road (probably the busiest bus corridor in the country, connecting the student areas of Didsbury, Withington and Fallowfield with both unis and the city centre) there were no commercial services after 8pm! Even on weekends when – as I experienced myself a couple of times – the ex-Nairobi tri-axle double deck magicbuses were heaving full of drunk students.

  107. Graham H says:

    @straphan – I suspect that, financially, there is a considerable difference between o/p and evenings/Sundays. The NBC MAP project showed that the interpeak could be run commercially, provided that the peaks abandoned the all-day routeing and timings, but not evenings or Sundays. I would be surprised if the economics of bus operation have changed all that much since. The o/p economics don’t, for example, require extra engineering shifts, and much of the o/p can be run on the shoulders of the peak costs these considerations wouldn’t normally apply to evenings and Sundays. On the other hand – Stagecoach have just introduced a Sunday service on our local rural route as a commercial operation without any subsidy.

  108. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Graham H / Straphan – I won’t argue with the basic economic argument set out. What has changed in cities are increased leisure hours for pubs / restaurants, later shopping and Sunday shopping. Bus companies like Stagecoach who pride themselves on an “all round” offer (at least when talking to their passengers) can’t ignore demands for better value from season tickets / passes and it makes no sense to not offer a Sunday service where there is a viable level of demand. In deregulated areas you might let in a wily competitor if you leave a Sunday service uncovered. I also think that council cuts which have led to the abandonment of supported evening and Sunday services have exposed the reality that there is still some (not much) viable trade at those times which can be covered commercially (Luton is a recent example). What I do find a tiny bit odd is the relatively slow pace of Sunday daytime service development – it’s well understood that Sunday is now a big shopping day and also that bus passengers are bigger spenders per visit than those who travel by car. You might have imagined chambers of commerce and retailers lobbying bus companies to sort themselves out. I recognise that running on Sundays could present a “step change” in cost for some bus companies if they’ve long been “shut” on that day.

    I am well aware of the nonsenses that commercial operators have played with local authorities over “socially necessary” services. All the big groups have played that game – especially in PTE areas. Clearly the Oxford Road corridor example is an utter nonsense and if I was TfGM I’d not have spent a penny on offering an evening bus service. I would have left it for one of the operators to “blink first” as the level of demand can clearly justify competitive commercial services all day, every day. I recently looked at the timetables for buses on this corridor as I was contemplating a visit to Manchester and frequencies are pretty impressive.

  109. Malcolm says:

    Yes, I think Graham is right. Put less technically, a driver’s shift cannot usually cover both peaks, but is too long for only one. So you have lots of “free” drivers available alongside the peaks, but none at weekends, late evenings, or nights.

    Of course, it’s not quite as simple as that, I know.

  110. Castlebar 1 says:

    @ W Writer

    A relevant factor are Sunday parking charges

    Some local authorities have cottoned on these new fiscal opportunities created by the (comparatively) recent changes in shopping habits. Free parking on Sundays whilst you pay ever increasing amounts of money on the other 6 days, will soon become a thing of the past. I was pleasantly surprised yesterday in Alton, Hampshire, to discover that the town centre car park was still 50p for a day’s parking, just because it was Sunday. It makes it attractive for two people to take the car when parking costs are minimal or non-existent. I do not see this situation continuing for much longer, and this will increase demand for Sunday public transport services

  111. a729 says:

    Would it be possible for some Crossrail trains to run from Ilford to Woodford or Hainult via the old rail link from Ilfrod to Newbury Park?

  112. Long Branch Mike 1 says:

    @ Malcolm

    In Toronto, such morning and afternoon peak bus and streetcar only driving schedule are called ‘swing shifts’. These are not preferred as it leaves the drivers having to fill in 4-5 hours in the middle of the day (usually doing nothing, but that depends on the driver), and they are often too far to go home to rest or do things around the house during this down time.

  113. Graham H says:

    @LBM – Anglice “split shifts” – once the holy grail of IR negotiating strategies but now seen as an expensive thing to achieve or even preserve, for all the reasons you state.

  114. timbeau says:

    @a729
    “Would it be possible for some Crossrail trains to run from Ilford to Woodford or Hainult via the old rail link from Ilfrod to Newbury Park?”

    Not without demolishing several streets of houses and a large part of Ilford depot, which was built across the junction.

  115. MiaM says:

    Could the fast and the slow (“electric”) lines be swapped?

    That would put the Ilford depot and the Woodgrange Park Junction directly on the fast lines.

    According to the carto metro map all stations (within the map) has platforms for all tracks, so if that map is correct there wouldn’t be neccesary to make platform changes. However the map doesn’t show how it is east of Harold Wood and it also doesn’t show Liverpool Street station, so maybe my idea is bonkers.

    At Stratford it might just be better if passengers on the fast trains get a over-platform change to the central line. There wouldn’t be much reason for changing Crossrail – Central line, and those who want to catch the first train to central London should be able to choose the best platform/train with the aid of correctly updated timetable/time information displays.

    The few c2c trains that run to Liverpool Street might just aswell use the fast lines (if they don’t already).

  116. Greg Tingey says:

    MiaM
    NO
    Go back & look carefully at the Carto Metro map – & remember that the fast lines are laid out for higher speeds, whilst the electric lines “go round scorners” at the intermediate stations. Plus fun-&-games @ Ilford flyover, of course.
    Just don’t go there – the solution is worse than the problem.
    Making the entry from the down electric to the car-sheds a 30 mph rather tahn 15 turnout will help enormously.
    What might be needed is an ecs-flyover to the up electric lines – though how/where you’d fit it in, I really don’t know

  117. straphan says:

    @Greg Tingey and MiaM: Let’s not forget Platforms 5 & 8 at Stratford where there is cross-platform interchange between the electric lines and the Central Line.

    A simpler solution would be to change the layout of Ilford depot – and allow trains to enter/exit it at faster speeds. Not sure how that would look like in detail, though…

  118. timbeau says:

    @Miam
    “There wouldn’t be much reason for changing Crossrail – Central line”
    Why not? plenty of people make the switch at present for e.g Chancery Lane to Ilford journeys and I can’t see them all walking to Farringdon in future. Remember that the Central Line has many more stations and interchanges in central London than Crossrail will have, and from the Picc, Vic and Bakerloo the most convenient route to the GEML will remain via the cross platform interchange from the Central Line at Stratford.
    In future there will also be people switching the other way e.g Farringdon or Paddington – Leytonstone or Hainault

  119. Groupie says:

    If the eastern branches are fully loaded from day 1 it may be an idea to use one branch as the eastern arm of crossrail 2 thus creating SW London – Victoria – Liverpool st – Shenfield/Grays (split at Romford) serices.

  120. ashlar says:

    According to Tom Edwards on Twitter, the (long-expected here) extension of Crossrail to Reading will be announced today.

  121. Windsorian says:

    Tom Edwards = BBC London reporter

    https://twitter.com/BBCTomEdwards

  122. Richie says:

    @PoP – very good article. Now I understand why TfL (and London First) are proposing such an expensive Crossrail 2 !

    @Alison W – this is the key point. Operating a mixed traffic railway is very inefficient. Freight, slow (tube/suburban) passenger, fast (regional) passenger & high speed (inter-city) passenger don’t mix well. Track separation (while leaving flexibility for emergencies / engineering) is the “sensible” way forward.

    The most efficient way to improve many London passenger services may be to re-route the freight trains. The loading gauge enhancements on Southampton – Nuneaton and Felixstowe – Nuneaton seem to be good examples of relatively inexpensive projects. Could routes closed by BR between 1950 & 1990 be re-opened (without stations) to provide more freight capacity, to free up London lines for passenger only use ?

  123. Saintsman says:

    Please forgive the long post this article has been haunting me. I had been quite happy that the Crossrail offpeak would run 6tph down both eastern branches. Shenfield route retaining basically the same metro service pattern whilst benefitting from higher capacity trains. Abbey Wood would all be additional.

    Crossrail, with more central core stations than Thameslink, needs a simple service pattern. You don’t want customers at this many locations waiting for extended periods for particular service to finally come through. It will lead to congestion etc.

    But 2011 RUS numbers, then rapid population growth figures and deep tube lines frequency enhancements are now nagging me. The powerful Canary Wharf lobbies are likely to push for their interests. With offpeak Shenfield effectively limited to 6tph, then the extra offpeak will come from Abbey Wood – which is within TfL’s control.
    Heathrow’s voice for 4tph all day (with an approx clock face expectation) makes things become a little more difficult. I’m assuming the 4tph Heathrow all day will be split 2 Shenfield 2 Abbey Wood {Is this officially confirmed?}. Feeding 6tph from one branch and running 4tph Heathrow you end up making compromises. (I’ve ignored timetabling “missing paths” here)

    12tp (6 Abbey, 6 Shenfield) this works! A simple ASAS… core pattern, 15 min Heathrow interval.

    14tph (8 Abbey, 6 Shenfield) gives a messy core service pattern and a 17.1 followed by 12.9min Heathrow frequency – Not for me.

    16tph (10 Abbey, 6 Shenfield) – Core ASAASAAS then ASAASAAS – a little complex but can retain 15min Heathrow interval. Need to watch how this pattern interacts with the GW Relief lines.

    18tph (12 Abbey, 6 Shenfield) – Core AASAAS… Heathrow gets a 16.7 followed by 13.3 min pattern. The Heathrow compromise gains a simple core, with 2 extra services – on balance gets my vote.

    Finally 16tph balanced branches simple repeating core (8 Abbey, 8 Shenfield – if this could be done) BUT to get clock face to Heathrow all would need to come from one branch. Removing some freight paths is therefore not necessarily the Crossrail political answer, before you start on cost benefit.

    Once the pattern has been established reducing Abbey Wood offpeak is politically not easy, especially if the costs are significant (up against Canary Wharf lobby etc). Train lengthening and possible 16tph to Abbey Wood offer Crossrail other core capacity solutions. Freight’s self interest or NLL demands may eventually resolve the pinch point without Crossrail money – but it is one for the long grass. Realistically Shenfield gets locked into a 6tph offpeak pattern.

  124. Pedantic of Purley says:

    @Saintsman,

    Since writing this article I have understood this a bit better. The key to the proposed 16tph off peak is the fact that under current proposals on the Western section there will be 8tph off peak. These will interact with the Great Western timetable so really has to be regular clockface 4tph to Heathrow and 4tph to West Drayton. In the latter case 2tph continue as all stations to Reading and 2tph go fast to Slough then Maidenhead.

    Basically the western arm takes precedence and the eastern arms have to fit in as best they can. The off-peak timetable, from an East/SouthEast London perspective is unlikely to be “neat”. If 8tph could run on the Shenfield branch at a regular headway then you could have a decent service on three of the four branches with either a relatively infrequent or, more likely, frequent but slightly erratic service to Abbey Wood.

    To my mind the ideal solution is 24tph off-peak with 12tph on each eastern branch but turn half the trains on the Shenfield branch somewhere closer to London (e.g. Ilford). This of course is totally dependent on freeing up the freight slots.

  125. Chris L says:

    Not a simple task as the running time to Abbey Wood will be much less than Shenfield.

    Hasn’t the turning provision at Maidenhead been dropped with the extension to Slough?

  126. @Chris L,

    On the first point, it is certainly easier if both arms are the same isochronic length (same time taken to traverse them). But it certainly isn’t essential and this situation is a common one both for long distance main line services, suburban services and on the Underground. It will be more complicated on the western arm of Crossrail with Heathrow and semi-fasts terminating at Maindenhead and slows terminating at Slough.

    I presume you mean extension to Reading. It appears that all the work at Maidenhead will still go ahead and that, it seems, has caught everyone out as it was expected that the saving by not having to do this work would have been part of the justification of extending to Reading. If they design the station track layout so a semi-fast can overtake a slow in either direction it will probably be very useful in any case.

Leave a Comment

In order to make LR a pleasant place for discussion, please try to keep comments polite and, importantly, on topic! Comments that we feel do not meet these criteria, or that contain language that could cause some people trouble at work, may be moderated or deleted.

*
* (This won't be shown, but you can link it to an avatar if you like)

acceptable tags

Recent Articles

London 2050 (Part 3): Tracks to the Future

by

How might we shape the pattern of London’s growth and development to help bring about a more sustainable outcome? In this part (and the next) of our continuing series we’ll look at the ‘quantity and quality’ schemes arriving at this electronic platform now for rail (above ground and below), surface transport and integration and interchange.