We recently looked at the off-peak service on the eastern Crossrail branches. We have also seen what future plans there are for the off-peak service on London Underground, which to a certain extent did not show Crossrail off-peak services in a good light. It would be somewhat unfair to rely solely on the Underground off-peak to determine what one would expect on Crossrail, however, so for the sake of completeness we now extend our look to London Overground and the DLR.

In many ways, a look at London Overground provides a fairer comparison for Crossrail because it is only then that we start to encounter the issues of running a service on the National Rail network. Similarly whilst the DLR does not have much physically in common with the Crossrail, it does operate in a similar geographical area and both will serve Canary Wharf, Stratford and Canning Town and Woolwich. This too gives us some clues as to what we might expect.

The London Overground example

Although London Underground does share the national rail network in a very limited way, in practice it only has to share it with London Overground and both are overseen by TfL. The converse however is certainly not true and looking at London Overground demonstrates clearly the potential limitations of running an off-peak service over national rail metals.

GOBlin timetable

London Overground timetable. Timetables don’t get much simpler than this, although it is a pity that departure time on Sunday are unrelated to the Monday-Saturday times.

A feature of recent years has been how much the off-peak train service has improved – both on national rail in general and more particularly on TfL services. On London Overground the peak and the off-peak services are now often identical except for a short period very late at night. Within London Overground the core of the East London Line, with its 16tph all day service, stands out as impressive given that it is entirely in Zone 2, Shoreditch High St excepted (a station only in Zone 1 because a funding agreement required it to be, somewhat artificially, placed there).

The off-peak service on London Overground is less impressive, however, if you take into account that TfL are more-or-less running all the trains they can in the potential slots available to them. So really, on this basis, it is not the off-peak that is so good, but the peak that is so bad. This is not helped by the infrastructure limitations on train length. If it were possible to double the length of trains in the peak that would go a long way to resolving any crowding problems.

The case of the East London Line having as good a service off-peak (even on Sundays) as in the peak is exceptional but certainly not unique. It does cause one potential complication though. It can become very difficult to find time to maintain stock. This can, of course, be done at night but this is naturally a more expensive approach and it is harder to attract staff to work night shifts. The alternative would be to purchase extra trains to cater for this, allowing the rolling stock to be rotated. The problem with the latter idea is that it means the cost of providing the off-peak service is no longer entirely marginal and no longer entirely based on utilising existing assets that would otherwise be doing nothing.

Who pays?

When considering what is a reasonable service provision it is important to realise that on London Overground the DfT largely only pays TfL for the service level agreed by both sides many years ago. This will almost certainly be based on a “Silverlink” level 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 London Overground off-peak service to current levels is 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 level provided.

It’s the freight issue again

In our look at the off-peak planned service on Crossrail we saw how freight paths, whether used or not, prevented a frequent even-interval off-peak timetable being run. London Overground also provides us with a good example of why it isn’t always possible to provide the off-peak service that one would like. In peak hours along the North London Line there are an impressive 8tph which are evenly spaced. Come the off-peak, this, in contrast to most of London Overground, drops down to 6tph and the pattern is almost, but not quite, evenly spaced. The reason for this is because of the need to allow freight to use the North London Line outside peak periods. Whilst most people would agree that putting freight onto the railways in the off-peak is a good idea, it does play havoc with any attempt to run a decent “turn up and go” passenger service on the North London Line.

It should not be forgotten that freight tends not to stick to scheduled timings as rigorously as passenger trains and so has the potential to delay passenger trains even if, according to the working timetable, they shouldn’t. Worse still, freight train derailments are far from unknown as was experienced not so long ago on the North London Line.

As discussed in the article and comments on the proposed Crossrail off-peak service, a potential solution to the freight problem would be to run freight from east London to the West Coast Main Line via the Gospel Oak – Barking Line (GOBLIN) instead of using the much-in-demand North London Line. This will be more practical in future when GOBLIN is electrified and all the weight restrictions along the route are removed, but it remains to be seen whether or not the will from all parties involved can be found to push through the actual implementation of routeing freight via GOBLIN and freeing off the North London Line for exclusive use by passenger traffic.

Of course any freight rerouting, were it to occur, would potentially impact on the GOBLIN passenger service. There is some flexibility here, however, as the passenger service only runs every quarter of an hour giving plenty of opportunity for a freight train to be pathed between the off-peak passenger services. Any reasonably foreseeable off-peak capacity issues on the GOBLIN passenger service could be dealt with by diverting resources to running longer trains if necessary rather than increasing the frequency. Should it come to that, it would not be an ideal solution from a passenger perspective but it may represent a somewhat inevitable compromise.

If nothing else, these issues go to show how TfL and ultimately the mayor really need to get involved with freight. Few people would wish to see freight pushed off the railways and from that national interest point of view it makes sense to sacrifice a few off-peak passenger services in London in order that freight can be removed from the roads over a substantial part of the country. Nevertheless one suspects there must be some opportunity for “wiggle room” and a more co-operative approach all round.

DLR peak and off-peak routes

DLR frequencies Mon-Fri

Thanks to a comment by Diamond Geezer this frequency guide can be found here on the old TfL site. The times quoted for not stopping at West India Quay southbound appear to be incorrect.
At weekends it is every 10 minutes on the five off-peak routes (every 5 minutes Bank to Lewisham during the daytime).

The DLR has many quirks and one of them is the strange nature of its individual routes and when they operate. Two features in particular stand out. The first is that the service from Stratford to Canary Wharf has every other train extended to Lewisham in the morning peak period only. The second is that the service from Stratford International to Canning Town continues to Woolwich Arsenal in the peak period, but runs to Beckton at other times. This leads to the unusual situation that, when combined with the Tower Gateway – Beckton service, the Beckton Branch has a train every eight minutes in the peak hours but every five minutes off-peak. The reason for this seems to be that it is essential to run a better service on the Woolwich branch in the peak hours because of the large peak-only demand from commuters working at Canary Wharf who change from a SouthEastern train at Woolwich Arsenal. In the peak hours the service is effectively doubled though the additional trains do involve a change at Cannng Town to reach either Canary Wharf or Bank. Off-peak the best use these trains can be put to is to improve the service on the Beckton branch which is more buoyant during the day.


The DLR routes. The Stratford International – Beckton route (brown) only runs in off-peak hours. The Stratford International – Woolwich Arsenal route (red) only runs in peak hours. The route from Stratford to Canary Wharf is extended to Lewisham in the morning peak only.

Off-peak on the DLR

If we ignore for the moment the Stratford – Canary Wharf service as it is a special case, there is a very distinctive pattern that emerges on the DLR. For routes that operate both in the peak and the off-peak it is the case that if the peak hour service is every 4 minutes, then the off-peak service is every 5 minutes and if the peak hour service is every 8 minutes, then the off-peak service is every 10 minutes. Or putting it simply:- the off-peak service is 80% of the peak hour service.

The main and busiest route of the DLR is the Bank – Lewisham service that runs every 4 minutes in the peak period. The main constraint to running more trains is the capacity limitations at Bank caused by restricted passageways, platform width and solitary one-train-long shunt neck. As the peak station capacity appears to have been reached it would seem that there is no possibility of an improved peak service until 2020 when the Bank Station upgrade may make it possible to improve the frequency although this has never been mentioned.

The DLR seems to have reached the situation where on certain lines no more trains can be run in the peak and there is healthy off-peak usage. As on the London Underground one has to pose the question of whether it is desirable (or even possible) in the meantime to increase the off-peak service to the same level as the peak service. Unlike self-contained deep-level tube lines, most parts of the DLR operate as an integrated system and it may well be the that if you cannot justify a case for the entire network then one can’t make a case for an individual service.

The special case of the Stratford – Canary Wharf service

The Stratford – Canary Wharf DLR service is worth looking at in detail due to quirks and anomalies with this route. It is also the only DLR route where we can expect any change in service to occur in the near future. During the off-peak this route finds mixed and varied usage involving a lot of boarding and alighting at intermediate stations. During peak hours it consists almost exclusively of people travelling between Stratford and Canary Wharf with very few passengers using intermediate stations. This is despite the fact that for the Stratford – Canary Wharf service there is the alternative in the form of the Jubilee Line.

The trains on the Stratford – Canary Wharf in the peak period are a mix of 2-car and 3-car trains, which is most unsatisfactory. It is the DLR’s aim to achieve an exceptionally high fleet availability, even higher than it already is, in order that this service can consist entirely of 3-car trains. This would appear to be very challenging and the reality is that the DLR will probably have to wait until such time that more trains would need to be ordered for some other reason.

The lack of trains isn’t the only restricting factor on the Stratford – Canary Wharf service. The line has the advantage of being totally segregated in operation from all other DLR lines but the disadvantage of having two quite long single track sections. These are between Bow Church and Pudding Mill Lane stations and between Pudding Mill Lane and Stratford stations. By “the spring of 2014” a new relocated replacement station should open at Pudding Mill Lane as part of work needed for Crossrail. As part of that work the diverted trackbed, which is actually on a viaduct, has been built with the intention of double tracking in the future – although Crossrail’s obligation only extends to reinstating a single track on this double-track viaduct.

TfL have paid to have some of the new route that Crossrail has installed laid as double track from the outset. This was calculated as being much cheaper than doubling the track at a later date, as well as having the advantage of increasing service reliability now. So the section from the A12 (midway between Bow Church station and Pudding Mill Lane station) to the Waterworks River (midway between Pudding Mill Lane station and Stratford station) will be double track from this spring. Engineering work will take place between 18th – 27th April (so including a weekday closure) and the line will be closed between Bow Church and Stratford in order that the diverted track can be commissioned and implemented as double track from its inception.

The rather confusing press release suggests that an immediate improvement in capacity of 500 passengers per hour per direction will be possible, which is probably due to being able to optimise where the trains cross – currently they are forced to cross at Pudding Mill Lane station. Currently trains run every 6 minutes both peak and off-peak on Monday-Fridays. The implication is that after the spring of 2014 they could run slightly more frequently than that whilst still using the same number of trains. As is often the case it is unclear whether this will only apply to the peak period or to the off-peak service as well.

Future trains to improve frequencies?

Until such time as new trains are ordered, for which there are no current proposals, it would appear that the peak and off-peak service for Monday to Friday on the Stratford – Canary Wharf route will be identical to now (or at least almost identical). The weekend service is, exceptionally for the DLR, less frequent and is probably due to reduced demand to serve Canary Wharf at weekends.

TfL have not suggested any potential future date for a significant improvement in service between Canary Wharf and Stratford. This is partly down to the money not being there. It is also believed to be because the DLR has recognised that the best approach for the future is to add sections to the newer single articulated cars in order to make a full length walk through train in a similar manner to London Overground. In order to make this worthwhile the DLR needs to get to the point where in can interest a manufacturer in a sufficiently large order to justify setting up a production run, so future small orders of DLR carriages would not be encouraged.

A consequence of the lack of any future train order being on the horizon is that it seems highly unlikely that the service on any of the DLR routes is going to improve any time soon, even though the demand is probably there and there are opportunities for new routes (e.g. Woolwich Arsenal – Canary Wharf). So the DLR is going to remain, for the foreseeable future, a network where the off-peak service is going to generally be almost as good as the peak services and at some stations better.

The story so far

Some non-rigorous observations concerning the London Underground, the London Overground and the DLR would initially suggest that one would expect an off-peak service on Crossrail to almost match the peak service. It does seem that when Crossrail does open its Eastern Branches many members of the travelling public are going to be disappointed by the off-peak service that will probably not be as good as their expectations.

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There are 197 comments on this article
  1. Mr Beckton says:

    It is commented here that the reason for the Beckton DLR line strangely being more frequent off-peak than peak is “the Beckton branch which is more buoyant during the day”.

    As you might imagine this is my local line, and it just is not true. I have seen this quotation at various points and it seems

  2. Mr Beckton says:

    … to come from the DLR PR office to authors of articles about the line, to justify the strange service where early Sunday mornings have a better service than in the peak. One one occasion it was stated that the off-peak cross-borough service to Stratford was a benefit to the large Newham council office at Royal Albert. This office is almost entirely “back office” staff rather than for the public, and their travel requirements are therefore heavily oriented to the peak, just when the Stratford service is not running. The worst times are in the evening peak when there is some major event at Excel and only the Tower Gateway service is running. In the morning peak nowadays there is extreme crush loading westbound into Canning Town, while at other times you never fail to get a seat. More demand off-peak is just a fallacy.

  3. Alan Griffiths says:

    1) There is off peak demand during major events at ExCeL
    2) On 2 January 2012, it was notable that westbound passenger numbers pretty well doubled at Royal Victoria

  4. Walthamstow Writer says:

    I am reluctant to contradict PoP but the TfL Business Plan (pages 24 & 30 of 45 of the pdf) clearly talks about further enhancements to the DLR. The first is the Crossrail related works at Pudding Mill Lane with completion due soon. The quoted capacity improvement is 1,100 people in the peak hour. The second phase of work is the dualling of all single track sections between Stratford and Bow Church by 2019. The Business Plan also talks about extra railcars being ordered and Beckton depot being amended to cope with longer trains by 2022. There is certainly a “bulge” in London Rail’s investment budget around 2017-20 which I assume will fund this work plus GOBLIN electrification. I accept the 2022 deadline is just outside the scope of the current investment budget settlement but money would have to be committed 2-3 years prior to this to get the work done.

    From my observations of the off peak service there is quite a flow from Stratford Int to the Beckton line given the volume of students using the service. People are also using the intemediate stops too! The Woolwich line is also busy too partly with people using London City Airport. I would certainly like to see a more balanced approach to serving Beckton and Woolwich from Stratford but clearly there are constraints as to just how many services can be operated.

    I am a tiny bit unnerved by PoP’s remarks about GOBLIN works. Is there some emerging uncertainty about the electrification works that he is aware of but the rest of use aren’t? Is it also the plan to remove *all* weight restrictions on the line? Some bridges have recently been replaced near the Ferry Lane reservoirs but the biggest spans have yet to be done and other bridges look somewhat ropey. I don’t know if the planned works have survived in the Control Period 5 work bank for Anglia Region bridges and structures works.

    On service levels it is worth making the point that TfL remain in breach of their early commitments to offer “tube like” service levels on the Overground network. The worst manifestations of this are the late starts and early finishes on the GOBLIN plus the sparse services on the ELL on Sunday mornings and poor evening frequencies and connections on the NLL, WLL and GOBLIN. And before anyone screams “engineering hours” – yes I know and I’ll scream back “please improve your efficiency Network Rail given you’ve spend an absolute fortune on renewals on a large part of your network and should be able to cope with a lower number of engineering hours”.

    I don’t expect trains every 2-3 mins on the GOBLIN and clearly we have more disruption to face for the next few years while we get an electrified railway. I agree that longer trains are the immediate answer to easing congestion there but the Barking Riverside potential extension could muck things up very quickly unless an enhanced frequency is run Barking – Barking Riverside. The next phase of service development for the GOBLIN should be some extra stations once the service is electrified and trains can accelerate and brake more efficiently. Clearly that could affect freight paths but I don’t know if further signalling enhancement is foreseen as part of the electrification work to give more capacity “overhead” to allow for growth in passenger and freight workings.

  5. straphan says:

    @WW: The real question is how many passenger paths can you have per hour and still accommodate freight? Currently I believe the NLL copes with 6tph which – with uneven spacing – allows 2tph freight. I would argue 8tph (also unevenly spaced) is probably the highest frequency you could have whilst still coping with 1tph freight.

    The reason for this is primarily junction margins. The average speed on the NLL and GOBLIN is governed by the passenger services and will be probably below 20mph. At this speed the freight trains must be able to run at a reasonable distance behind the passenger train (2-3 minutes minimum) and be able to clear junctions whilst running at such low speeds – again 3-4 minutes. Add another minute for good measure and we end up with an 8-minute ‘envelope’ within which the freight needs to run. If we squeeze passenger trains either side of the freight path to make room we then end up with 8tph passenger plus 1tph freight.

    With such tight timetabling, freight trains also need locations to recess at the start and end of each section – as PoP rightly mentions their lack of punctuality makes it necessary for them to have places they can sit and wait for their path. PoP also rightly mentions that a freight failure and/or accident at a location along the Overground network spells big trouble for all involved.

    Unfortunately, the GB rail network is so London-centric it is necessary for freight trains to weave through London if they wish to get to the rest of the country from anywhere to the East or South of London. I think this issue needs resolving first before we can talk about proper frequency improvements on the Overground.

  6. Snowy says:

    Well the Ipswich chord opens on the 31st so there’s potential for routing some freight away from London from this weekend. Of course whether these paths are secured for future services or used straight away remains to be seen.

  7. Anon5 says:

    Inserting extra cars? No hope then of getting rid of the awful DLR livery and replacing it with something more TfL-like? (Not my pic)

  8. @Mr Beckton

    I think there is a misunderstanding. I do not know the DLR well enough to comment too much on actual usage but in any case I wasn’t trying to suggest “off-peak” was actually busier than the peak. What I was trying to say was that off-peak running on the Stratford International branch to Beckton was a better use of trains than running them to Woolwich Arsenal because the main peak traffic flows on that route (Woolwich Arsenal – Canary Wharf and Woolwich Arsenal – Bank – in both cases change, if necessary, at Canning Town) were heavily used in the peak but lightly used at other times.

    As others have pointed out elsewhere, the marginal cost of running an off-peak service is really quite low so think of your off-peak service as a bonus. To improve the peak frequency on the Beckton branch would, amongst other things, require more trains and the DLR simply doesn’t have them.

    Having said that, the off-peak on the DLR does have distinctive and different traffic flows as others have confirmed.

    @Walthamstow Writer

    I don’t think we have a contradiction. Your timescales seem about right. The point I was trying to make was that under “normal” circumstances the DLR may well have tried to order a few extra trains of the type it already had in the next couple of years or so. I suppose it depends on what is meant by “any time soon” which was intentionally vague but meant to imply at least the next two to three years.

    There will of course be a small improvement in the near future once the double tracking around Pudding Mill Lane is implemented next month but we won’t see any extra trains – just (presumably) quicker turnarounds at Stratford and Canary Wharf so a marginally improved service as a result.

    There will also be further double tracking at a later stage, as you point out, but without new trains this will not lead to any improvement in service. Note that it appears that the sharp tight curve just north of Bow Church station will not be double tracked.

    I am a tiny bit unnerved by PoP’s remarks about GOBLIN works.
    Don’t panic. When I wrote about the need to get agreement I was referring to the need for all parties to co-operate to re-route the freight this way. I did not intend it to mean that there was need to get agreement for the electrification works. Now that I see the comment could be interpreted other than the way I intended, I have changed it to make it unambiguous.

    Is it also the plan to remove *all* weight restrictions on the line?
    My understanding all along has been that the main purpose of upgrading the line was to remove all restrictions that limited its usage for freight and that it why it costs so much just to upgrade a few miles of track. Electrification is just part of this and the opportunity to run electric passenger trains is little more than a consequential benefit. If anyone knows different then I would be interested to know more.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Off peak services on what-was-ELL may be higher than other parts of the system, but that must be because demand is so high. I have seen passengers left on platform for trains from Canada Water to Crystal Palace/West Croydon which are too full to board at 7.30pm. PIXC busters needed. But the section through Canada Water is close to capacity and improvements are also needed to get more paths down the slow line from New Cross Gate. 5 car trains will not fill the gap.

    The late-evening service on the ex-ELL Overground is also poor compared to LU!

  10. The other Paul says:

    Although London Underground does share the national rail network in a very limited way, in practice it only has to share it with London Overground

    Being rather pedantic here, are we saying that Rickmansworth to Amersham is National Rail sharing the LU network rather than LU sharing the NR network? There’s also the mucky business of East Putney to Wimbledon…

  11. Taz says:

    The ‘off-peak’ captions under the DLR diagram need fixing.
    [Now fixed. Actually I initially published a totally wrong diagram but no-one noticed then I fixed it but didn’t quite get the captions right. Thanks for pointing this out. PoP]

    The Bank upgrade contract was to include an additional DLR reversing road, but has now been dropped for time being.

  12. RJRM says:

    Just thought I would pitch in that work at PML is going well and is on target to commission after the April blockade.

  13. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ The Other Paul – well the article is written by *Pedantic* of Purley but if we are being accurate then of course the Met Line is a case of a TOC using LU metals. It also does NOT have the freight issue whereas Overground trains using Network Rail metals *does* have this problem. Given PoP has been pointing out constraints and opportunities as to how off peak service levels are set I do think the infrastructure ownership is an entirely valid point. There’s no issue about East Putney – Wimbledon – that is LU infrastructure these days even if SWT have retained running rights and I think the power still comes from Network Rail’s system but I imagine that might change under the SSR upgrade (happy to be corrected if I’m wrong / out of date).

  14. Lemmo says:

    “The real question is how many passenger paths can you have per hour and still accommodate freight?”

    Straphan, that’s exactly the right question, along with the number of freight paths that are currently alloted to the NLL and Goblin.

    The key objective is to keep the freight trains moving, i.e. a clear path throughout their London passage. To enable this requires some careful timetabling and operation, and also provision of loops on the London fringes to hold freight awaiting their path. I have seen nothing in TfL or Network Rail plans to show that this infrastructure is being provided.

    A 6tph frequency on Goblin should, in theory, provide a 7-8 minute gap for freight to pass between passenger services. I assume Goblin electrification will be accompanied by re-signaling to permit this, but again I’ve not seen any published details.

    Capacity on the NLL can be much improved by four-tracking, so that freight retains sole use of the northern pair of tracks from Dalston west to Camden Rd. Widening Camden Rd W Jn will also help, and would also allow ELL trains to be extended to Willesden Jn and beyond.

  15. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ PoP – thanks for the replies. In terms of DLR then it is worth noting that the opening of Crossrail is expected to cause a short term dip in patronage (18m pass jnys between 2018 and 2020) and revenue given Woolwich, Custom House and Stratford are all linked by Crossrail to Canary Wharf and into the City. It can therefore be rationally argued there is no urgent need to bolster DLR’s capacity although TfL are clearly looking to take advantage of Network Rail’s planned work at Bow to grab a bit of alignment to double up the Stratford branch. That looks like common sense to me as the opportunity to improve things could be lost for decades if it isn’t grabbed post Crossrail opening. My reading of the Business Plan is that all single track sections will be doubled including the Bow Church curve.

    The second phase of the project, to be completed in 2019, will finish the doubling of
    all remaining single-track sections between Stratford and Bow Church, enabling a further increase in capacity between Stratford and Canary Wharf. The whole project will improve operational reliability and is essential to serving the growth and regeneration of the area.

    I recognise, though, that the site is very constrained because of the C2C link so the final result will be interesting.

  16. Kentish Man says:

    So what is the frequency of the peak service from Stratford International, and where does it go?

  17. @Kentish Man,

    I did include a link to this but, rather annoyingly, in the few hours since the article was published TfL have revamped their website and do not appear to still have this information.

    The answer to your question is every ten minutes. In peak hours it goes to Woolwich Arsenal, off-peak it goes to Beckton.

  18. Pedantic of Purley says:

    On a more positive note about the revamped TfL website I found this link concerning improved DLR services including the statement

    The extra tracks will also increase capacity. When the new DLR franchise is introduced in January 2015, the number of passengers that can be carried will increase from 5,500 per hour to 6,600.

    That number could go up to 10,000 passengers per hour if new train cars are added in the future.

    So 20% capacity increase in January 2015 and wishful thinking for the more distant future.

  19. Anonymous says:

    London Overground timetables are so simple – because they never seem to show any other connections. So, for example, if you wanted to travel on what may be very popular route, and certainly one worthy or mention, the timetable for the ELL route could show the connections at New Cross Gate with the hourly service to Gatwick Airport (and onto Horsham). I find the way the LOROL services are organised very insular – check the route maps on their trains – I notice they never provide any maps that show the wider rail network in London . . . I presume this is because the people at TfL see “their” network as something completely separate. A real shame because unless you know a lot of rail routes in London (i.e. tourists et al) it can be hard to find out how things link up

  20. Ed says:

    In terms of off peak frequencies on the eastern branches the crossrail frequencies at Abbey Wood may not be too impressive. There are currently 8 trains an hour to central London off peak on southeastern – same as Woolwich. Crossrail may only have 6 though 8 or 10 is perhaps more likely, though as the previous posts show, not guaranteed.

    I still can’t believe LO trains end so early on the old East London Line. It serves some of London’s most popular nightspots. Highbury, Dalston, Shoreditch, New Cross, Brockley etc are all busy on weekends, and have the potential to be more so with better transport. Later transport would boost the evening economy.

  21. Graham Feakins says:

    Anonymous at 00.31 makes a most valid point. Many in South London have been batting on for years to get the South London Line better recognised and now that LOROL has ‘adopted’ much of the route, it is much worse, the main TfL maps apparently showing that none of the southern LOROL routes actually connect with lines that run to any London terminus whatsoever.

    Remember also that LOROL between Peckham Rye and Wandsworth Road also shares tracks with significant freight services but the 4 tph on LOROL just about manages to fit in between the long freight trains (generally to/from the West London Line) when they run. Even if the latter do not run, the paths need to be protected. LOROL also shares tracks with Southern between Peckham Rye and Queen’s Road Peckham (Old Kent Road Junction), Southern running itself at 4 tph off-peak plus empties and 6 tph in the peak (proposed to be 8 peak and 6 off-peak again post-2018) to/from London Bridge, so it is difficult to see how any LOROL off-peak service on this stretch could be reliably/conveniently improved from the 4 tph today. Of course, there are also the Southeastern services which run parallel between Peckham Rye, Denmark Hill to/from Victoria.

  22. Mr Beckton says:

    I’m pleased to see that the DLR are finally thinking of inserting a centre section in their cars, rather than buying complete new units. I always thought it unfortunate that they bought the latest set of cars rather than inserting centre sections into the existing fleet. Given that you only need to have one new bogie, and are without the expense of the controls etc, I wonder if this approach would cost just half what the equivalent new units cost. A further upside is that the new centre section does not need the disability provision, as that is already contained in the end sections, allowing for full seating throughout – at present everything is triplicated across the three-unit trains, which would be more efficient with two three-section trains instead.

  23. AnonymousKeef says:

    I think the denizens of the Eastern Branch (ie the Shenfield metro) will be more than content when crossrail is up and running. Spruced up stations, new trains replacing the grubby 313s, new connections at Whitechapel, Farringdon, TCR, Paddington, Heathrow etc.

    I also believe that the 6tph off peak is overstated, the line has plenty of spare seats and capacity outside peak hours. The horrors of the line really comes to play during the peaks, which crossrail should relieve.

  24. Greg Tingey says:

    ut, rather annoyingly, in the few hours since the article was published TfL have revamped their website and do not appear to still have this information. so nopt “OFF_TOPIC” – or, perhaps …
    Please go & look at DG’s posting & follow the links.
    As PoP, says …TfL have a new web-site & you can’t find things.
    I have followed DG’s suggestion & tried to find any of these:
    Can you find the following ten pages, all of which existed until yesterday, on the new version of TfL’s website?

    1) Spider maps of bus routes in Tower Hamlets (eg Canary Wharf)
    2) Central London bus map
    3) Planned track closures for the next six months
    4) London Overground timetables (for all four lines)
    5) First and last tube times
    6) All TfL press releases from March 2004 (e.g. 24/03/04 Withdrawal of Mercedes Citaro buses)
    7) Order up to six free Cycle Guide maps
    8) How to use the Cycle Superhighway 2 extension (with three videos)
    9) Full specifications for all tube rolling stock (eg D Stock)
    10) Cablecar passenger journeys (weekly totals)
    And failed, utterly.
    I also tried a search or two of my own – which all fell down with null results.
    There is also no “contact us” tab/link, nor a sitemap, nor an A-Z of sections.

    This is seriously bad lack-of-design & highly user-unfriendly.

    Now, how does one communicate this to the err, umm, “very clever people” (with no common sense at all) that they need to go back to the beginning & start again?


    PoP / John Bull
    Please feel free to take a copy of the section above & then delete – the new (TfL) site is probably worth a post on its own, if only to point out, in excruciating detail, how inadequate it is.


    On topic (!)
    You mention Overground Timetables …
    Which CAN NO LONGER BE FOUND on the new TfL web-site.
    I kid you not.

    Oh dear – so they were going to increase capacity @ Bank & now aren’t going to bother – so when they finally get around to it, it will cost even more & cause separate disruption?
    Very clever, or not…..

    The horrors of the line really comes to play during the peaks, which crossrail should relieve. Really?
    Given that you are getting very silly numbers (at present) alighting @ Stratford in the AM peak – almost all to transfer to the Central & Jubilee lines…
    Most of whom will now stay on CR1 to go to Farringdon/Aldersgate, TCR, or Bond St for the Jubbly.

  25. Taz says:

    I could not believe that the DLR decided that the best way to provide new trains of 3-car length was to make them of 3 identical units. The original trains of course had started out running as single units, then as 2-car units and now 3-car. But to provide new trains with three sets of equipment – six driving positions – seems to me to have been extravagant. Modern trains seem to have driving positions only at the outer ends, and passageways between cars for many advantages. Why did the DLR overlook this at the time, perhaps only now thinking of conversions to lengthen units?

  26. Steven Taylor says:

    Re freight traffic on LOROL routes. On occasions freight trains going up the grade from Longhedge Junction towards Wandsworth Road are sometimes presented with a red aspect at Wandsworth Road station so approach very slowly hoping not to stop. As the next signal is out-of-site around a curve towards Clapham High Street, the trains does not pass the signal until it shows double yellow, even if the train has stopped. (This happens to freight trains coming off the WLE towards Balham at Clapham Junction as well).
    This probably makes sense, with a heavy train.
    It just `brings-home` that when freight heavy trains are stopped, it can take over 5 minutes to pass through the section.

  27. Greg (and others),

    Yes, I had already spotted Diamond Geezer’s post and commented on it. I have modified your link as requested. Actually I have modified it further so it always points to the relevant article and not the home page (click on “posted” on DG’s entry to get the link).

    PoP / John Bull
    Please feel free to take a copy of the section above & then delete – the new (TfL) site is probably worth a post on its own, if only to point out, in excruciating detail, how inadequate it is.

    I think there is the danger of the initial gut reaction to website changes always being negative so I am sure JB is going to have a fair amount of sympathy with TfL but then there are implementation issues that need to be “addressed”. I think a quick article is a good idea. I will try to get JB to do one (he will do it better than me) if he can spare the time otherwise, if he agrees, I will try and get something up in the next 48 hours.

    Meanwhile can all we let the dust settle a bit and refrain from further comment for the moment.

    So diktat: Further comments on TfL website unless relevant to article will be deleted.

  28. @Mr Beckton and Taz,

    When the DLR went from 2 to 3 cars I asked why they did not put in an articulated section in the middle instead so as to increase the length of a car by 50%. The written answer I got was that it was not proposed to have fixed formation and 3 cars would only be used for the peaks. Ha. Ha. Ha. Now they have 3-car trains running seven days a week from Lewisham to Bank.

    At a talk on the DLR I also asked Jonathan Fox of TfL who was in charge of the DLR (still is but now with added responsibilities). I was told that no manufacturer would do this at a reasonable cost but on the way out of the talk two rolling stock engineers sitting next to me made it quite clear to me that they were not at all convinced by his answer.

    I think what has changed has been the 378 experience that shows that these things can be done. TfL had to really fight to persuade Bombardier to go for the walk-through carriages.

    I suspect also that TfL had no choice with the order that was specific to the Olympics. After all the Olympic Delivery Authority were paying and having rolling stock arrive late because of a new or modified design would have been out of the question.

    Walthamstow Writer has added another piece of the jigsaw. Because of a lull in demand around 2018/2019 due to Crossrail they can probably just about survive OK without ordering any more stock which in any case would have been expensive in small quantities. So, as I see it, the idea is told hold off for as long as one can and then order as much rolling stock to “stretch” existing units as one can possibly justify. There should be plenty of potential for new stock with a better peak service from Beckton to Stratford International and a service from Woolwich Arsenal to Canary Wharf (long talked about), more frequent trains Stratford – Canary Wharf and possibly beyond and just maybe more trains to Bank after Bank tube station is sorted out.

  29. ASLEF shrugged says:

    Shoreditch High St excepted (a station only in Zone 1 because a funding agreement required it to be, somewhat artificially, placed there).

    Really? It’s west of Aldgate East and south of Old Street, both Zone 1.

  30. straphan says:

    @ASLEF Shrugged: A fare zone is just someone drawing a line on the map. Imagine how much less revenue TfL would have received if Shoreditch was included in Zone 2 and the Overground truly did provide a method of circumnavigating Zone 1…

    @Lemmo: Not sure where you are suggesting to put extra tracks for freights on the North London Line? The formation from Dalston to Highbury is already four-track and occupied by the North and East London Lines.

    The Ipswich (Bacon Factory) curve will help route freights from Felixstowe away from London, but that still leaves the likes of London Gateway requiring paths to the West Coast Mainline. Even if the GOBLIN gets upgraded, those freights will still need to interact with Overground between Gospel Oak and Kensal Green Jn.

    To my mind, the only answer to getting improved passenger frequencies off-peak in the London area is to route all freight away from it. The only reason why there are so many freights currently traversing London is that there is nowhere else for them to go!

    In my opinion, the following investments will/could help:
    – Redhill Flyover (Tonbridge – North Downs) will route trains away from Acton Wells Jn and the West London Line
    – The Felixstowe-Nuneaton project will route Felixstowe trains away from the North London Line
    – East-West Rail: will go some way to routing North London Line trains away from London (especially if extended to the East Coast Main Line)

    What is needed, though, is a way of routing trains from the London Gateway port away from the North London Line – i.e. to build an alternative connection from there to the West Coast Main Line which avoids the North London Line. Not sure what to do about this…

  31. Toby says:

    @Snowy: Great to see the Ipswich (Bacon Factory) chord nearly finished, but (contra Ben Gummer MP in the BBC video) I thought that there would still be container trains coming up the GEML to Stratford in order to cross to the WCML and then head for the Midlands?

    It would be great for the Bacon Factory chord to route all non-London traffic away from London, but I don’t think it will, and until such time as the cross-country route is electrified, it is unlikely to. Or am I missing something? Either way, the sooner we can route all non-London traffic from Felixstowe and Harwich away from the NLL, the better for all concerned.

  32. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ ASLEF Shrugged – yes really. I appreciate that we lost bus zones a while ago but the boundary for Zones 1 and 2 kinked round the end of Bethnal Green Road that put Shoreditch High Street (SHS) and the old Shoreditch LU station in Zone 2. This is why people objected so very much to the agreement for South London Line Overground route which forced SHS into Zone 1. Why on earth they could not have zoned it so that people passing through on a train could do so in Zone 2 but if you *exited or entered* then you were charged for Zone 1 I do not know. I really object to paying for Zone 1 when I barely scrape the edge of it if passing through on an ELL service. Let’s hope a future Mayor considers such an approach which should not undermine the revenue assumptions for people using SHS to reach the City which was the big fear of TOCs like Southern and South Eastern if SHS had been in Zone 2 only.

  33. NG says:

    1) A train of 3 DLR double units has six powered bogies and three unpowered under the articulations; extended units in pairs would have four powered bogies and four unpowered resulting in poorer performance – would that performance be acceptable for the DLR’s toughest grades?
    If not, is there a powered version of the bogie under the articulation available/in service anywhere or would it require a new design and hence be more expensive?
    2) If the pedestrian connection between Poplar and Canary Wharf Crossrail Station results in a pleasant all-weather walk I am sure that many people from Woolwich trains will be happy to bail out at Poplar and walk rather than use the cross-platform transfer to loaded Stratford-Canary Wharf trains.
    Journeys like Island Gardens to City Airport are eased by cross-platform transfers at Canary Wharf and Poplar, so while three trains are necessary outside the morning peak the lack of a through service isn’t a problem. For this particular journey, TfL’s journey finder will send the unwary up and down stairs/lifts at Westferry or on long traipses to the Jubilee at Heron Quays/Canary Wharf and Canning Town in the name of a faster but significantly more stressful journey. I’ve not tried these routes with a stop-watch but take TfL’s suggestions with a pinch of salt as the results are computer generated without any inputs based on what the traveller experiences in reality.

  34. REVUpminster says:

    In the Boris island airport plan and if route C from the M25 midway between junctions 29 and 30 across a new bridge east of Tilbury to link with the M2. Provision was made for a parallel freight rail route picking up freight from the London Gateway and follow route C then the M25 to pick up northern rail routes somewhere in Hertfordshire.

    Even without the airport route C is still one of the frontrunners to be built although opposed by residents of Orsett and Chadwell St Mary.

  35. timbeau says:

    “I notice they never provide any maps that show the wider rail network in London . . . I presume this is because the people at TfL see “their” network as something completely separate. A real shame because unless you know a lot of rail routes in London (i.e. tourists et al) it can be hard to find out how things link up”
    To look at the Tube map you would think the only way from Victoria to Croydon is via Shadwell (West Croydon of course, East Croydon doesn’t exist at all), and from Waterloo to Clapham Junction via Westminster and West Brompton.

    I won’t expand on the website debate, but for those wishing to provide feedback to TfL there is a link at

    (strangely there is a link for making a conmpaint but not for positive feedback!)

  36. Chris L says:

    @ASLEF Shrugged Shoreditch High Street Station is actually east of Old Street station.

    The old Shoreditch station was in Zone 2.

  37. timbeau says:

    Double units can be formed as single, two or three pairs (two, four or six bodies). I understand that two pairs (four bodies) is the maximum length that some stations can take. If they are made up to triple units you can only have one or two in the same length (three or six bodies) , so the stations that can currently take two double units would only be able to take one triple. As there is no separate driving cab the space lost through having four intermediate “cabs” instead of only two in a full length train is minimal. And if maintenance is an issue, just as there are some units of underground stock with non-functioning cabs, it may in time be acceptable to run some DLR stock in a similar condition, provided they are always marshalled in the middle of a train. Presumably the maintenance equipment at the depots is also designed to work on double units, and would need extensive modification to cope with triples.
    As I understand it, the trailing bogie under the articulation is of a completely different design to the power bogies under the unit ends. There would not be room for a power bogie under the extra articulated joint if the units were expanded.

  38. straphan says:

    @Toby: Come to think of it, the issue is not really about electrification of Felixstowe-Nuneaton, it is really about where this route joins the WCML. And it does so to the north of Daventry, which is a major intermodal terminal. So trains heading for Daventry will need to access the WCML south of Nuneaton. Currently this is only possible by running via the North London Line. If in the future the East-West Rail link were to be extended east of Bedford (from what I hear much of the old route to Sandy is already built over…) then that could be used to relieve the North London Line further.

    @timbeau: What really gets my goat is the lack of numbering of suburban rail services. In Paris, each route (RER or mainline) is assigned a letter and code, Madrid has its ‘Cercanias’ network, whereas most German cities have their S-Bahn and RegionalExpress networks. All London has is a mess that required me to work on timetabling for two franchise bids to get my head around…

  39. Anonymous says:


    The walk from Poplar to Canary Wharf involves a long descent from the platforms and a wide detour across the North Dock between WIQ and CW

    It is not pleasant when raining and windy. And arriving at CW by DLR deposits you into the shopping complex.

  40. Graham H says:

    @toby/revupminster – the cost-effective solution to the freight problem may be to take the London gateway traffic towards Ipswich and thence over East-West, once built. (Yes, I know it’s further but (a) freight access charges have a very high fixed element, so the the marginal cost may not be as high as one might have suspected, and (b) it may still be cheaper than building and financing what would be a substantial bit of infrastructure in a built up area – not the sort of calculation that’s at all easy in the vertically-disintegrated railway…)

  41. DeepThought says:

    I have a beginners questions – apologies if it has been answered elsewhere. Does routing freight over GOBLIN to the WCML actually help all that much? Doesn’t it just move the bottleneck from the H&I->Camden section to Gospel Oak->Willeseden Junction?

  42. Southern Heights says:

    @straphan: Southeastern and Southern used to have route codes, but they took them away!

    I quite agree they should put them back, they are probably still used internally anyway.

  43. Long Branch Mike 1 says:

    Re: freights on NLL and GOBLIN

    Are there spare consists available as PIXC busters to run on unused freight paths?

  44. RichardB says:

    @ Anin and timbeau contrary to Anon’s experience TfL do offer a map which shows all London’s railways. Needless to say the new website changed the web address but it is still available at:

    I use this map a lot

  45. straphan says:

    @DeepThought: Depends what your service patterns are. If – like the old days – you still had Camden Road to Stratford shuttles (I think that portion of the North London Line is the most heavily loaded anyway…) then that would help. Since all trains are through to Willesden Jn and then onto Richmond or Clapham, this does indeed just shift the problems elsewhere.

    @Graham H: Not sure what that solution would look like and how many off-peak Crossrail paths it would eat up on the Great Eastern. [CrayonistaMode On] The cheapest scheme I could think of would be to route those freights via Ockendon – Upminster and thence towards Romford and onto the GEML. To do that you would need to double the Ockendon branch, build some sort of crossing-free route from the Ockendon branch to the Romford – Upminster branch at Upminster, and a curve from said branch facing East onto the Great Eastern. [CrayonistaMode Off] That would cost shedloads, plus you still are not getting rid of freights bound for Daventry.

    @Southern Heights: even those were somewhat confusing… I’m sure something better could be devised – perhaps with colour coding? Something useful for the Crayonistas to do…

  46. c says:

    Agreed on the evening LO frequencies. These link busy inner city areas and should be running 4tph until close. Ever tried taking the last trains from Shoreditch HS at night!
    Not sure on GOBLIN, but ELL/WLL/NLL are busy the whole evening. DC isn’t, but has Bakerloo too.

    The key for the LO route is passing loops, and there aren’t many.
    It all depends on Camden – does ELL continue westwards? If not, the northern pair could be freight loops – and two freight trains could be flighted?
    And on GOBLIN, where could these exist, or be created?

    I think the biggest lost opportunity on GOBLIN is the almost deliberate way it misses almost every interchange! It would pack the route out even more, but it’s a shame.
    Tufnell Park/Station Road would seem the most feasible – but it’s barely different to Upper Holloway which is almost Archway. Central line would be ideal – so would South Tottenham if West Anglia routes began to regularly call there as it’s ready-made.

    On DLR, can’t Stratford International run trains at 6tph to both Beckton and Woolwich? Or is there not enough stock – even if it was shorter units? I’m not sure if frequency is better than capacity here – but at least we don’t have to worry about drivers or signalling!

  47. timbeau says:

    @Richard B
    Indeed that map exists, but is difficult to find and certainly little-known by tourists. What is really needed is a central area map which shows all services in, say Zones 1 and 2. I am quite sure that most people who need a map to get around would be more interested in the direct services between Blackfriars and St Pancras, or Waterloo and Clapham Junction, or London Bridge and Greenwich, than in how to get to Northwood Hills, Theydon Bois, Norwood Junction or Beckton.

    @Deep Thought
    Spreading the freight paths between the Goblin and the route through Highbury would help: essentially two cross-London freight trains in the same path on the NLL route (i.e between the same two LO services), one between Stratford and Camden Road, and the other between Gospel Oak and Willesden. (If they both go up the WCML, you can squeeze another, coming off the Dudding Hill line, in between Willesden and either Kew or the GWML)

  48. DeepThought says:

    Thanks timbeau and straphan.

    @c – Agreed on it being a huge shame there is no interchange between GOBLIN and the Northern Line at either Tufnell Park or Archway. Either would have made my life easier. However, to make them worth it you also need increased frequency on the GOBLIN, in my opinion (otherwise you would end up waiting around on platforms a lot).

  49. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ C – I haven’t experienced late night Shoreditch trains but I can imagine what it’s like. I agree that the GOBLIN sort of misses lots of interchanges but given the loadings at South Tottenham, Haringey and Upper Holloway I’d suggest people walk between stations anyway. Blackhorse Road is really overloaded in the peaks and that’s obviously a convenient interchange so your suggestion that more interchanges would bring more people is probably right. I do support a couple more stations being added to the line but only post electrification.

    On the DLR Stratford International Line I think 4 tph to each of Beckton and Woolwich would be ideal but it would probably muck up frequencies on the branches and through the junction at Canning Town. 6tph to each destination is probably overkill given where demand is at present. Whether they have enough stock I couldn’t say. Given recent bus route changes in the Olympic Park I do sometimes leap on the DLR to International to pick up a bus, if a DLR train is due at Stratford Regional. It saves a long slog through Stratford station and round to Stratford City bus station. The interchange from the DLR is very straightforward and simple which makes it quick. I’m not alone in having worked this out.

  50. Long Branch Mike 1 says:


    Surely with electrification, the quicker accelerating emus will allow additional GOBLIN stations at key interchange points, like at the Northern Line as you mention, without reducing overall travel times.

    Whether the GOBLIN or Northern could handle the additional passengers such a convenient link would enable is another matter entirely.

  51. Graham H says:

    @straphan – I’m sure you’re right about the cost. Bluntly, there isn’t a cheap solution to the freight issue, and I suspect that trying to shoehorn extra tracks and loops into the NLL or GOBLin would turn out to be both as expensive and less effective.
    @c/deep thought – both GOBLin and the NLL were built at a time when there was nothing with which to interchange, alas, and although it’s a good exploitation of existing infrastructure as they are used today, they do epitomise the old joke about “Not starting from here…”

  52. straphan says:

    @LBM: Trouble is there are precious few places you would really need to build additional interchange stations on the GOBLIN. All the stations you need are there, they’re just not close enough to ‘count’ as an interchange.

    Google Earth estimate the following door-to-door distances as follows:
    – Upper Holloway to Archway (Northern): 477m
    – South Tottenham to Seven Sisters (Victoria, via Stonebridge Rd): 299m
    – Walthamstow Queen’s Rd to Walthamstow Central (Victoria): 360m
    – Wanstead Park to Forest Gate (future Crossrail): 319m
    – Woodgrange Park to Manor Park (future Crossrail): 517m

    Note these are walking distances, but some of the walks lead through pretty dodgy paths that I would not fancy taking after dark (particularly around Walthamstow or Seven Sisters). Any other pairs of stations have a walking distance of well over 500m.

    The problem with the GOBLIN interchanges is therefore just as much a lack of suitable stations on the GOBLIN itself, as a lack of stations on the other lines (tube, mainline rail). Trouble is building new interchange stations on those lines is a non-starter:
    – an interchange station on the GEML would be smack in the middle of Forest Gate Jn.
    – a direct GOBLIN – Central Line interchange (Leytonstone High Road) station on the Central line would be practically 200m from the end of the platforms at Leytonstone.
    – A more direct interchange with the Chingford branch would mean shifting the station on the Chingford branch away from the Victoria Line station, and unacceptably close to St James Street Station.
    – An interchange with the Lea Valley line would be too close to Tottenham Hale. Even shifting the platforms at Tottenham Hale towards the south and providing a walkway to the GOBLIN would still leave you with about 300m to walk.
    – An interchange with Thameslink/Moorgate services on the East Coast Main Line would require shifting Harringay station to the south, demolition of houses and realignment of a chunk of the ECML, including its junction with the GOBLIN.
    – An interchange with the Northern Line at Tufnell Park would mean putting the station smack in the middle of the aptly named Junction Road Junction – not much space there to widen the alignment…

    You could physically squeeze one or two new stations between the existing ones (Hornsey Road, Oakfield Road in Harringay, something in the centre of Leyton), but I’m not sure the additional revenue generated would outweigh the journey time extension for other passengers.

  53. Anonymous says:

    Remember the DLR on the Stratford branch did used too run a five minute service albeit between Stratford and Bow Church with alternating trains extended to Canary Wharf between 0530-0630 on weekdays for construction workers at the Olympic Park so the line capacity is there for a slightly increased service.

  54. Ben e Boy says:

    And whatever happened reopening the station on the NLL at north of Kings Cross? Next to the site of the old Piccadilly station York Way? Any hope of this with the big redevelopment in the area?

  55. REVUpminster says:

    @Graham H Route C goes mainly through farmland but close to villages and a rail line built at the same time would not increase the cost by that much. There would have to be some shunting if it is to serve Ripple Road and Channel Tunnel freight but it could take all freight from Goblin and East London line.

  56. Long Branch Mike 1 says:


    Thank you for the analysis.

    These OSI’s should definitely be on the Tube Map in any case, especially with Crossrail’s introduction, to maximize travel options and mobility, for a pittance.

    However unsafe OSIs should remain off the Tube Map til such time as pedestrian safe landscaping, lighting, and visibility are made for the aforementioned unsafe evening transits, or a safer alternate walking route is sign-posted.

    The standard proviso of ‘Whether the x or y lines could (eventually) handle the additional passengers such a convenient link would enable is another matter entirely’,

    where in this case x = GOBLIN, y = Crossrail,

    applies as well.

  57. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Straphan / LBM – err I’m going to do my best “Grumpy Greg” impression now. I’m sorry but I fail to see what on earth the issue is with Seven Sisters / South Tottenham. It involves walking down two busy, well lit *main roads* which are no more “dodgy” than any other main road in Tottenham. The saga about Queens Rd – Walthamstow Central has been done to death on this blog but let’s just record that we are creeping slowly to a solution. OK the back streets may not be illuminated to 1,000,000 watts but the walking routes are signposted and people use them. The more attractive way of fixing the Walthamstow “presence” issue would be to create an entrance on Selborne Road in Walthamstow for Queens Rd station but that’s not without engineering challenges – especially for mobility impaired access and probably great expense. I am not at all in favour of suppressing info about OSIs because of some perception about relative safety. If we are going to “blacken” districts of London can we have some crime data to support it please!

    Clearly we are dealing with the “fall out” from history in terms of where the stations on the GOBLIN are sited. I don’t believe you can viably connect between all lines. It’d be far too expensive and the benefits questionable. However Junction Road (for Tufnell Park) and Bakers Arms (for Leyton) would be two stations I’d like to see built. Their catchment areas are considerable and I think people would use those stops and the perhaps less than perfect interchanges. I’ve done Archway – Upper Holloway several times and it’s no great hardship.

  58. Karl, Dover says:

    There is an inner London map on page 5 of this 2012/2013 guide (note that the map is older from when Tottenham Court Road Northern Line platforms were closed and before the Southern section of the Overground was opened).

    I also have this as 1 page PDf, but can;t seem to link it here.

  59. Walthamstow Writer says:

    London Overground have just had a “live tweet” session with Mike Stubbs in the chair. I posted a decent number of questions on various things. Unfortunately there has been a fatality at Gospel Oak this evening which has badly affected services and obviously people used the twitter session to vent their frustration. Nonethless here are some of the things Mike Stubbs said.

    – no increase in service frequencies planned (fits in with the points made in PoP’s articles). Lots of people want more frequent trains.
    – TfL are still discussing the release of train paths with Network Rail.
    – GOBLIN electrification due for completion mid 2017.
    – Capacity at Blackhorse Road station (stairs, footbridge etc) is being assessed as part of the electrification scheme.
    – LOROL will take over Greater Anglia routes in mid 2015 (possibly May).
    – Overground are reviewing how the different lines are “presented” to the public. This means we might get a reversion to sensible names like North London Line. This links in with the takeover of Greater Anglia as lumping everything together probably won’t work.
    – Quite a lot of complaints about the heat inside trains – presumably due to the crush conditions.
    – A lot of comments about how engineering works are presented on posters. The long running saga of whether line colour shows what is running / is not running. Clearly people find TfL’s presentation confusing.
    – Some concerns about the loss of guards on the trains and affects on safety.
    – Inevitable complaints about the programme of weekend closures due to the 5 car upgrade programme.

  60. Pedantic of Purley says:


    Does routing freight over GOBLIN to the WCML actually help all that much? Doesn’t it just move the bottleneck from the H&I->Camden section to Gospel Oak->Willeseden Junction?

    Very reasonable question and one that I rather ducked. I am not familiar with the details but the restriction would be over a shorter stretch and does give one lots of alternative options e.g. provide turnback facilities at Camden Road as originally planned and run improved off-peak Camden Rd – Stratford service or reinstate running some trains via Primrose Hill. I don’t know what the service planning equivalent of a crayonista is but I am sure they could come up with some plausible schemes – as of course could TfL.

    *Update to Article*

    Having been caught out once I have now (thanks to Diamond Geezer) located the Frequency Guide to the DLR and have included it in the article so that it can’t disappear again.

  61. Steven Taylor says:

    @Walthamstow Writer
    A lot of comments about how engineering works are presented on posters. The long running saga of whether line colour shows what is running / is not running. Clearly people find TfL’s presentation confusing.

    I am one person that got confused when they changed this. I found the original scheme, where sections with trains running were delineated in bold Orange, and not running in ghostly grey to be more logical to me. I am not sure why it was changed.

    Other people might have different views!

  62. Toby says:

    @Graham H: thanks for this. The Daventry problem is interesting, and routing trains away from London would be useful, then there’s a case for factoring the benefits of reduced freights on the NLL into the overall business case for the eastern end of the East-West link, with Daventry trains routed that way.

    More broadly, given the connectivity benefits of East West Rail, I presume it is a case of when rather than if. On this basis, the fill-in electrification (Cambridge – Newmarket – Haughley Junction and East Suffolk Junction – Felixstowe) doesn’t sound excessive for an E-W electrified freight route.

    @straphan: Oddly enough, I’d been having similar thoughts for the DP World Thamesport services, though my [Crayonista alert!] route would be to run to Pitsea and then north on a new line to Wickford, before swinging west to Billericay and then on an E-N curve west of Billericay station to reach the northbound GEML south of Ingatestone. [Crayonista over.] By this routing you avoid Crossrail entirely, which must be a good thing.

    (Of course, if you really wanted to go Crayonista nuts, you’d go north at Wickford and re-lay the Maldon branch throughout, rejoining GEML at Witham. At least this would reconnect Maldon to the railway map!)

  63. ASLEF shrugged says:

    Walthamstow Writer – I always thought the bus zone1/2 boundary was a little way down the Bethnal Green Road, sort of Club Row/Brick Lane-ish, I didn’t realise it “kinked”. I wonder, was the boundary at the west end of Bethnal Green Road or did it extend across the interchange with Shoreditch High Street so that anyone travelling on a bus from Liverpool Street to Old Street would get clobbered for going out of Zone 1 and into Zone 2? We used to have a similar thing on the W16, you couldn’t get to Leytonstone on a zone 3 ticket as the route went into zone 4 at the top of Fairlop Road.

    Chris L – I said it was south of Old Street and west of Aldgate East, both Zone 1, the current station is about half a mile west of the old one which was east of Aldgate East, on Pedley Street off Brick Lane.

  64. Graham H says:

    @ASLEFshrugged – there’s a certain irony to the way in which SHS has ended up in zone 1. When the ELL/NLL link was being planned in TfL London Rail, the main rationale was understood to be the need to divert traffic away from zone 1… (Of course, it does this from much of the zone in a physical sense but it would, no doubt, do more if it weren’t for the “transit” commercial issue.)

  65. Greg Tingey says:

    “Guards on trains” yes,well – a couple of years back, I was on a crowded W-bound GOBLIN, next to someone who went to sleep standing up – who then slid down & hit his head.
    We were able to alert the guard, WITHOUT pushing the “emergency” button – caused about 3-4 mins delay, all sorted.
    If it had been DOO – how long would we have been stopped for?
    How does this play out between say SWT & SE?

    TfL web-site information.

    FYI: Diamond Geezer has updated again today, with more useful notes.
    There is also a TfL site for comments & feedback
    Which can be found HERE

  66. Guano says:

    “London Overground timetable. Timetables don’t get much simpler than this, although it is a pity that departure time on Sunday are unrelated to the Monday-Saturday times.”

    Yes, indeed. Having the same frequency all week is an advantage if the times are the same all week – if there’s always a train at about the same minutes past the hour travellers will be more likely to use it. On the national rail network this sometimes happens, but there are also situations where it clearly doesn’t: on the South East metro a few years back Sunday and evening frequencies were identical but 15 minutes different. This partly because different people write the timetables and because recovery margins might be more (or less) on Sundays.

    Freight routeing. The original idea more than 10 years ago (if I remember it rightly) was for some freight from Felixstowe to the north to go via Ely, other freight from Felixstowe to the north/midlands to go via Highbury and Primrose Hill and most freight to Thames Haven routed via GOBLIN. This would spread the load and would reduce the pressure on the flat crossings, especially around Stratford, which is a bigger issue than capacity on the routes between junctions. Trains could be still be diverted over other routes for engineering possessions at night and the weekend, but would provide clearer routes most of the week. The delays in electrifying and improving GOBLIN are inexplicable given the how much capacity will be released by routeing some trains away from the flat junctions at Stratford and Forest Gate.

  67. Anonymous says:

    Walthamstow Writer: I agree. Posters show disrupted lines in orange – the same colour I associate with everyday running – and working lines in grey. Personally I think it should be the opposite. Show all unaffected lines in their normal colour and disruption in grey or even dashed. I assume it came about as a result of the website map which clearly shows disruption in a line colour, with normal service greyed out. That’s fine but web and media are different beasts.

  68. straphan says:

    @WW: Regarding Seven Sisters to South Tottenham: walking along Tottenham High Road to the eastern entrance of Seven Sisters tube station is much further than walking through Stonebridge Road (mind the huge plane on Google Maps!) and entering the station through the western entrance near the mainline station. All other points about safety/lighting/etc. taken – my girlfriend got mugged at knifepoint at an ATM when she was still living in Walthamstow, and that might have made my views on personal safety around those parts somewhat partial…

    I fully agree that Junction Road and Leyton Bakers Arms would be sensible stations to add. I’d also suggest Hornsey Rise. Aside from Junction Road, adding these wouldn’t be overly fiddly.

    @Toby: I think whatever solution is adopted to route freight away from London will be hugely expensive and difficult to justify using present appraisal techniques. It is currently really difficult to justify large capacity enhancements, particularly ones where the benefits are spread around a wider area (HS2 being a case in point…) and where they are dependent on how the spare capacity generated is used. We can probably all agree that running freight trains through some of the busiest stretches of infrastructure in the UK (Stratford, North London Line, West London Line, etc.) is rather bonkers, but it is tough to actually put a number on the benefits of routing them away from these areas – particularly since off-peak Overground and Crossrail services which would run in their paths may not necessarily be subsidy-free.

  69. Anonymous says:

    @Graham Feakins, @timbeau: There’s a frequency argument to be made for the maps, in that the non-TfL rail network doesn’t necessarily provide turn-up-and-go. For instance, if you’re going somewhere near Crofton Park, the map would suggest that you’d be best off aiming for the 2tph Catford loop line, rather than the 8tph Overground + 4tph London Bridge service to Brockley followed by a bus down the Brockley Road.

  70. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Straphan – OK personal experience can colour one’s views. So far I’ve not been a victim in E17 despite being here for (eek) 31 years. I see there is a shorter walking route at T’ham but if I was “nervous” I’d stick to main roads especially as S T’Ham and one entrance to Seven Sisters tube are virtually in sight of each other. Having done “strike cover” at Seven Sisters several times I guess I’ve just got used to “use the main road” mode when directing passengers to other services.

    On your freight business case point do I assume the reference to “non subsidy free off peak services” means that running extra subsidised services would worsen the financial aspects of the business case for the freight investment? Clearly there might be passenger benefits that would accrue for the extra passenger services but they’re less valuable than pounds in your pocket.

  71. straphan says:

    @WW: The fun side of the rather scary story was that my girlfriend was checking whether her paycheck had come in yet. As it hadn’t, she had a grand total of £5 in her account, which the ATM refused to spit out (it had tenners and twenties only), leaving the mugger empty-handed. Still, not something I would wish upon anyone…

    Yes, of course better off-peak services will bring about all sorts of road congestion and wider economic benefits. Making freight services more competitive (either through reduced journey times or more capacity) is also likely to reduce lorry miles on the M25 and other parts of the motorway network. However, this doesn’t change the fact, that such schemes would cost a fortune to build and the extra off-peak services would still require some revenue support. And we’ve already discussed at length in other threads how much TfL and the Treasury like rail spending…

  72. CdBrux says:

    Re: freight destined for Daventry. What stops this following the route to Nuneaton and then travelling south on the WCML and entering Daventry from the north?
    I imagine it would take somewhat longer, but from what I understand that is less of a problem for freight.

  73. straphan says:

    @CdBrux: journey times are also important for freight, as are the operating costs – these companies operate on wafer-thin margins and clearly running from Felixstowe to Daventry via Nuneaton would be far, far longer than via London. You would also have to rebuild bits of Nuneaton station to allow a loco run-round. Also, Felixstowe to Nuneaton is not electrified, whereas you can get to Daventry via London under the wires. Most freight locos are of course diesel, but there are still a fair number of Class 90s and 92s used on freight workings.

  74. DeepThought says:

    To combine two threads a bit further up – there is a rather glaring interchange missing from the Overground at Shoreditch High Street with the Central Line. Now that would have been a fun engineering project, and I can just imagine TfL screaming about the disbenefits to Central Line passengers!

  75. Graham H says:

    @Deepthought – the developers of Spitalfields were keen to buy a new station on the Central but LU were understandably reluctant to add further traffic to the line at that point. {As I have noted in another thread on this forum, we in NSE did consider whether it was worth extending (Aaagh – serious risk of extendador insurgency) the W&C there via LST, but “Dis vis aliter” as the mayor might say.

    Note: nothing in this post constitutes an invitation to discuss the extension of the Waterloo and City Line, or any binding legal obligation to zzzz….

  76. Glen Kristensen says:

    Slightly off-topic but… is the peak-time frequency of NLL 8 TPH the upper limit of what is achievable? I’m assuming it is since the emphasis is on longer trains rather than more of them?

    If so, why is that the upper limit? Having just purred at the Yamanote in Tokyo I’m wondering why the frequency can’t be just a smidgen higher in mornings/evenings….

  77. Milton Clevedon says:

    There is passive provision for a Central Line interchange in the Shoreditch High Street location, but no-one is daring to name a decade when the Central Line might be sufficiently free of passengers to (a) have capacity (b) be able to counteract the journey time disbenefits.

  78. straphan says:

    @Graham H: At present the walking distance between Shoreditch HS and Liverpool Street is approximately 990m, so not really ideal.

    Another missed interchange opportunity is between the ELL and the West Anglia line – as someone who lives on the ELL I’ve once or twice been forced to walk from Whitechapel to Bethnal Green (mainline) when travelling to Hackney and Walthamstow. That is 745m according to Google Earth.

    Shoreditch HS is generally surprisingly badly sited. Long walks to interchange with anything, and quite far away from both Brick Lane and the centre of Shoreditch (intersection of Kingsland Rd and Hackney Rd). And to top it all off it’s in Zone 1, which – to me – defeats the whole purpose of the Overground as a route for those who wish to avoid Zone 1.

  79. Pedantic of Purley says:


    Shoreditch HS is generally surprisingly badly sited.

    Well to quote the old joke, they built it there because they thought it would be a good idea to put it next to the railway line.

    I know they actually built that section of line at the same time but they didn’t really have much choice as regards route.

    Long walks to interchange with anything

    Well actually there are an awful lot of stations to which that applies. Not all stations are intended to be interchange stations.

    far away from both Brick Lane and the centre of Shoreditch

    Possibly true but I bet that in ten years time this will be totally irrelevant as locating next to a railway station will be seen as a good thing and it will attract new businesses around it and become the centre of its own little area.

    I am sure if your ancestors were around at the time of the London and Greenwich railway they would be moaning about the location of London Bridge station and saying it doesn’t interchange with anything and is far away from the City.

    defeats the whole purpose of the Overground as a route for those who wish to avoid Zone 1.

    “Zone 1” has two definite distinct concepts.
    It can be a reference to travelling through the central area which generally involves at least one change of between above ground train and the underground. It is a metaphor for the awkwardness and stress of travelling through the central area.

    It can also refer literally to the zone that attracts a higher fare.

    So it depends on your definition as to whether it defeats the whole purpose but given that it is as well used as it is then it obviously achieves some purpose.

  80. Ian says:

    “Shoreditch High St excepted (a station only in Zone 1 because a funding agreement required it to be, somewhat artificially, placed there).”

    For how long? At some point, there is going to be a desire to reduce traffic through the real Zone 1, and one way to do that would be to drop the pretence that SHS is in Zone 1 and restore it to Zone 2 like Shoreditch was.

    At the moment, when I want to go between NW London and SE London, I can go quickly on the Jubilee right through the congested centre, changing at Canada Water for the Overground or take the slower journey round on the Overground. As they are both currently the same price, it’s a simple decision.

    It’s the sort of thinking that radically changes a website, and doesn’t redirect from the old URLs to the new ones…

  81. straphan says:

    @PoP: The tone of your posting makes it sound like you are trying to turn me into the next Greg Tingey?

    If we are (re)building an urban railway it would make sense to build it such, that it is properly integrated into existing networks, and build stations where they are needed rather than where it is convenient for them to be. I understand Shoreditch High Street was built where it is because (a) it is roughly halfway between the centre of Shoreditch and Brick Lane (but not very close to either); (b) close to the old Shoreditch station that it replaced; and (c) next to a patch of brownfield land that could be built on (which is why it resembles a bunker rather than a station). The location of the station is therefore a compromise – and compromises by their very nature imperfect, which I have tried to highlight.

    You will also find there are plenty of people today who aren’t exactly happy about the location of London Bridge and Waterloo stations and the need to either trek or take the Waterloo & City to their workplaces across the Thames.

    I also fail to see what is so cryptic and ambiguous about the term ‘Zone 1’? Throughout this discussion we have been referring to the fact, that Shoreditch High Street has been placed in Fare Zone 1, therefore – to my mind – negating one of the purposes of completing ‘Orbirail’ as it was once known. My understanding is that the ‘outer circle’ of Overground routes was meant to attract those, who wouldn’t mind a slightly longer journey as long as they do not have to pay to go through Fare Zone 1 – thereby reducing pressure on the Underground network inside Fare Zone 1. Shoreditch High Street makes this impossible for a lot of journeys. As an example: the fastest way from Canada Water to Highbury and Islington and stations on the Victoria Line north thereof is to take the Jubilee Line and change at Green Park. By putting Shoreditch HS in Fare Zone 1 TfL have removed any incentive for people undertaking this journey to use the Overground. The same goes for journeys from South East to North West London (e.g. Canada Water to Camden, West Hampstead or Willesden Junction) – why bother with the slow Overground when the faster tube costs the same?

  82. timbeau says:

    @anon 1022
    “There’s a frequency argument to be made for the maps, in that the non-TfL rail network doesn’t necessarily provide turn-up-and-go.”
    It does for the examples I gave – I think you would usually have a much longer wait for a train at Chesham or Grange Hill than you would at, say, City Thameslink or Earlsfield.
    Or indeed if you decided to use the route suggested by the Tube map to get from Clapham Junction to Victoria.

  83. Fandroid says:

    @PoP. A couple of tiny typos in the DLR section concerning Stratford to Canary Wharf:

    2nd para 1st line. ‘area’ should be ‘are a’.
    3rd para last line. ‘re-stating’ should be ‘reinstating’.

    [corrected. Thanks. PoP]

  84. DeepThought says:

    @Ian – Surely moving SHS to Zone 2 only reduces Zone 1 traffic on paper? It won’t do anything to change the flows through all the other stations.

    Could TfL not cheat and move it to the Zone 1/2 boundary like Earl’s Court? Then it gets to be in both and everyone is happy?

  85. stimarco says:


    “Long walks to interchange with anything”

    If you wanted to interchange with another railway line, you’d have gotten off one stop earlier, at Whitechapel, where you’ll have London Underground and (in a few years) CR1 to choose from. Not every station has to be an interchange.

  86. Malcolm says:

    The whole point of putting Shoreditch notHighStreet in zone 1 was to bring in more money from passengers. I’m not sure exactly who gets the extra money, but whoever it is is not going to be able to replace it easily. All sorts of changes could be made to bring down fares, and “everyone will be happy” except the fare-receiver.

    The only other way “anomalies” like this one can be rectified is if it can be shown that the consequences of leaving it are a gross absurdity. It is difficult to establish that here, because SHS has been in zone 1 since the line was re-opened, and anyway the line is just about as jam-packed as the alternative routes.

  87. @Straphan,

    @PoP: The tone of your posting makes it sound like you are trying to turn me into the next Greg Tingey?

    That wasn’t the intention. I was only trying to point out there was an arguable case for the point of view that Shoreditch High St was perfectly located. At the end of the day this sort of thing is all subjective and there is no “right” answer.

    I also fail to see what is so cryptic and ambiguous about the term ‘Zone 1′?

    But that is the entire point of my comment – to point out that there is the literal interpretation and the fact that it is also used in a bit of a metaphorical way.

    Technically on the East London Line you do go through Zone 1 when going through Shoreditch High Street but it is not Zone 1 as most people colloquially and inaccurately use it. It is sometimes used as a short hand for “avoids the faff of catching a train to a main line terminus then having to catch the underground to cross London and then have to catch another train”.

  88. AlisonW says:

    To be pedantic a moment, but it would be ‘reinstating’ a station at Junction Rd (Tufnell Pk) not ‘adding’ one. The station (usefully located in ‘Station Road’) was a major freight (livestock) hub in its day, where animals going to the London Metropolitan Market for sale and slaughter would be walked from.

  89. ashlar says:

    Canada Water to Highbury faster via Green Park than a direct Overground train? Really? Do you want a race?!

  90. The other Paul says:

    @DeepThought and others

    Two observations:

    One, the GOBLIN strengthening+electrification does bring to freight movements something that the NLL doesn’t have (directly) – a link to the MML. It is worth observing that the detailed announcement of the electrification funding for GOB made specific note of this link being included. Even without EWR the MML provides a route to Daventry via Bedford and Bletchley. Electrifying the Marston Vale would help but loco changes at Bedford/Bletchley (or diesel throughout) are feasible. Electrification of the MML north of Bedford will also help for other destinations.

    Secondly, a significant proportion of the Eastern NLL freight traffic is to/from the WCML via Primrose Hill, which means the Western NLL already has less freight traffic anyway. So even if all the current NLL freight paths via Primrose Hill stay, but those via Hampstead Heath are all switched to be GOB to Willesden, there is a clear benefit to the Eastern NLL and no additional traffic West of Gospel Oak.

    So switching freight traffic to the upgraded GOB doesn’t necessarily shift a bottleneck to the Western section of the NLL – it provides new options.

  91. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Deep Thought – Doing what you suggest with SHS and making it Zones 1 and 2 would not work. My understanding of the DfT demand was to force SHS into Zone 1 so that people travelling from South London would not be tempted to change from South Eastern and Southern trains to reach the northern edge of the City of London but only paying for Zone 2. The DfT are perpetually worried about abstraction by TfL’s “evil” concession from their “money grabbing and wonderful” franchises because they want the premium payments preserved / risk of revenue support minimised.

    My earlier comment about the station being in Zone 2 for people “passing through” on trains but Zone 1 for entry or exit would preserve the “equality” of zoning for NR stations serving the City (SHS, London Bridge, Cannon St, Liverpool St, Moorgate, Fenchurch Street). This would minimise the abstraction risk for TOCs but might affect TfL’s revenue because of the way cross London fares are priced for jnys via the ELL.

    @ Malcolm – I agree it would be difficult to be precise about the effects of moving SHS into Zone 2. Nonetheless there is precedent with what Ken Livingstone did to get rid of the money extracting zone moves that Silverlink inflicted on people by shoving Willesden Junction and Hampstead Heath into Zone 3. I strongly suspect that Silverlink struggled to enforce compliance with the zones for Season Ticket holders. Many would simply have had Zone 2 and risked the places that were in Z3. Silverlink could, of course, concentrate revenue checks at Willesden Junction and clobber people at the exits and on the interchange route. Checking trains in the peaks would have been nigh on impossible given the loadings.

    I expect there would be three strands to any argument about changing SHS’s zoning
    – the effect of TOC revenue streams and premiums / subsidy from a rezoning
    – the effect on TfL’s revenue from fare reductions / different season ticket purchases / people altering journey patterns
    – whether enough revenue had been generated to pay for ELL Phase 2 in terms of what was expected from the Agreement signed by the Mayor and DfT. We will all recall the ridiculous “game of tennis” that went on for months about funding and what replacement services would / would not be provided. IIRC TfL had to decrement Southern’s franchise to remove a South London Line service into Victoria and then we had the “curse of Kent commuters” visited upon the idea of some South Eastern services making additional stops at Peckham Rye and Denmark Hill.

    Happy to be corrected on the above if I’ve got things wrong / mixed up.

    To be frank all of the above shows the need for a rational co-ordinated approach to London’s commuter railways. Even the TfL Board is split on the subject – Daniel Moylan wants more Mayoral control while John Armitt doesn’t want to see an extension of influence (based on tweets from March 26th’s TfL Board Meeting).

  92. Graham Feakins says:

    @ WW – Especially with your description of ELL2 and the former South London Line service you have recalled correctly.

    Even within London Transport v. the Department of Transport there was a struggle to make the case for the Jubilee Line extension to Stratford because of great concern that this would somehow abstract traffic from the Central Line and thus destroy the case!

  93. straphan says:

    @ashlar: Try the TfL journey planner – the journey time from Canada Water to H&I via Green Park is perhaps a minute slower than the Overground. But try searching for a journey from Canada Water to Walthamstow Central – the journey planner will direct you via Green Park pretty much every time. And regardless of what you consider to be the faster route, bear in mind most people will do what the journey planner tells them to do.

    @stimarco: Not every station has to be an interchange, but every interchange brings along benefits. Crossrail will help get into town faster, but won’t be that much help for people going eastbound, and won’t be any help at all for people going from South East to North East London trying to avoid Central London.

    @WW: As someone who lives in the local catchment of Canada Water and uses services from the station to commute regularly, I am happy to impart some local observations.

    When I enter the station at around 08:20 am, I usually can only board the second westbound Jubilee Line train that comes along. By contrast, the northbound Overground arrives at Canada Water absolutely full and departs with maybe 20-30 people standing. North of Whitechapel you could even get a seat.

    My concern is as follows: With the lengthening of the Overground trains to 5 cars and the construction of a few thousand flats around the Canada Water area over the next few years, the pressure on the Jubilee Line will be significantly increased – the 5th carriage on the Overground is being added mainly because people currently cannot get on board the trains as far south as Honor Oak Park. This means there will be an increase in the number of people trying to board already overcrowded Jubilee line trains at Canada Water, and there will be even more fresh air-conditioned air being carted around north towards Dalston. I therefore think it would be very much in TfL’s interest to make the northern end of the East London Line more attractive to travel on.

  94. Long Branch Mike 1 says:


    Whilst there is less ridership on the north end of the ELL, what could TfL do about it? It’s more of a land use issue IMHO.

    This ELL stretch will get busier with the Crossrail interchange station at Whitechapel, and eventually CR2 with it’s proposed station(s) in Hackney, Dalston, and/or Hoxton.

  95. straphan says:

    @Long Branch Mike: Again, to reiterate: this is not just about land use, it is also about giving people a choice.

    If I have to travel from South East London towards North and North West London (e.g. Canada Water to Walthamstow Central, Canada Water to Camden), the fastest way to do this is to travel on the Jubilee Line (or Southern trains) via Central London rather than via the East London Line and Highbury & Islington. The cost of these journeys is currently the same, because Shoreditch High Street is in Zone 1. If you moved Shoreditch High Street to Zone 2, you would be giving people a real choice – fast but expensive (and uncomfortable) via Zone 1; or slower but cheaper via Shoreditch High Street, and avoiding Zone 1. Given how expensive fares are in London, if you moved Shoreditch and Hoxton into Zone 2 those Overground trains going north of Canada Water would fill up literally overnight.

  96. Chris L says:

    I travel from Woolwich Arsenal to Hayes & Harlington on a regular basis.

    I have a 60+ Oyster which means I can’t use Southeastern trains before 0930.

    The journey planner has me take the DLR to Canning Town to catch a Jubilee train to Bond Street and the Central Line to Ealing Broadway where I have to change Oyster cards to travel 2 stops to Hayes .

    The speed of the Jubilee Line nowadays makes this a rapid journey.

    I think this is why it’s quicker to travel via Green Park for NE London, particularly with the faster Victoria Line service.

  97. Long Branch Mike 1 says:


    I see I missed the main thrust of your idea. Thank you for elaborating.

    I can see how lower fares to take the ELL north/south would abstract passengers from more crowded central London routes for the same journeys. However the revenue loss of moving SHS to Zone 2 is the downside. It depends on the TfL wants to make.

  98. straphan says:

    @Chris L: The Jubilee (especially the extension) and the Victoria are two of the fastest LU lines in terms of average speeds and indeed – journeys with interchanges at Green Park are surprisingly fast.

    @LBM1: Bear in mind what demand levels we will be dealing with in a few years. This is really about helping the Jubilee cope in 2-3 years time, particularly if it is fed more passengers from the Overground (5th carriage). I also doubt TfL is making a huge amount of money given current Overground loadings through Shoreditch High Street…

  99. Steven Taylor says:

    I often travel on the Overground through Surrey Quays to H & I. albeit off-peak. I have noticed that the trains now seem a lot busier between Shoreditch H.S. and Highbury, with a lot more passengers joining at Shoreditch, Hoxton etc. There are always seats available, but it seems like a substantial increase over a year ago. Indeed, the recent published figures for station usage 2012/2013 seem to bear this out.

  100. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Straphan / S Taylor – as I have already said you can achieve the modal transfer from tube to Overground by moving SHS into Zone 2 for people travelling through. Entry or exit at SHS could remain as requiring a Z1 ticket. Perhaps not the easiest message to get across to people but not impossible.

    I agree that patronage on the north ELL is growing. Far more people travelling locally on that stretch and last time I used a Highbury bound train in the peak I could barely get on the train which was a real surprise.

  101. straphan says:

    @WW: It’s not a bad idea, but if you implement it you will immediately get serious political pressure for similar arrangements to be extended to the whole of Zone 1 so that people only pay depending on which zones they got on and off at.

    Patronage on the ELL is indeed increasing as people move to the area. London is unique in that it has a very high proportion of people renting, so they can shift addresses relatively easily (I’ve moved 7 times in as many years of living here). Nonetheless there is still plenty of space on trains between Whitechapel and Highbury in the peaks.

  102. DeepThought says:

    @straphan: If the problem with the ELL versus the Jub/Vic is the speed of the journey then surely the way to encourage people to stick with the ELL would be to get it moving a bit quicker?

    I know there are real technical difficulties with this, mainly from comments on previous articles here (apparently the section through the Thames tunnel is one of the most difficult for the drivers in London). But the last time I took the ELL it took around 20 minutes to get from Denmark Hill to Canada Water so it feels like there could be room for improvements somewhere?

    (Also you are one move ahead of me in the same time frame. Unless I count the flat I lived in for literally 1 night, but that’s cheating.)

  103. straphan says:

    @DeepThought: There are bags of recovery time around Denmark Hill (westbound) and on the approach to Surrey Quays (eastbound) to ensure ELL trains are presented correctly at Clapham Junction or Surrey Quays. One of the secrets of Overground’s punctuality record, that…

    People have also grumbled about the speed of the ELL, but that’s just down to the number of stations, I think (plus the slow and tight curve at Shoreditch). There’s no realistic prospect of shutting down any of them, as they all have a decent patronage despite the really short distances (Surrey Quays – Canada Water – Rotherhithe or Wapping – Shadwell). Drivers are of course taught to brake carefully these days, but on the ELL this is also due to the length of the platforms (little room for error with a 4-car train!) and this is not about to get any better when 5-car trains and selective door opening comes into play.

    The two other options I can think of in terms of speeding up journeys are:
    – Buy stock with three doors per carriage
    – Install ATO

    The first isn’t going to happen until existing trains are up for renewal – so another 25-30 years. TfL will only start thinking about things like automatic train operation on the ELL once capacity there becomes a really serious issue. Right now they have just bought themselves some time by extending trains to 5 cars. They also have the option of running an extra 2tph with existing signalling (and they are actively thinking of peak extras from Dalston to Crystal Palace). Only once that is done will they start thinking about a change in signalling systems, which will probably only shave about 2 minutes or so from the Surrey Quays – Dalston journey time.

    (And you now have a chance to catch up – have just signed an 18 month follow-on rental contract on the place I live in currently!)

  104. Steven Taylor says:

    Re recovery time on the ELL, especially Clapham Junction branch. This is sometimes needed owing to freight trains, late running Southeastern trains on the Up Atlantic Line.

    But, I started a thread on District Dave about trains running early. One departed Denmark Hill 2.5 minutes early. Another Wandsworth Road 2 minutes early. Some drivers responded that they only are given times at selected stations like Peckham Rye.
    One driver stated if they have a good run, to keep to time, the trains only have to travel 25 mph on the `Clapham Branch`!.

    I have noticed this often. If I travel on a Southeastern train from Denmark Hill to Victoria, which uses the Atalantic Line to Clapham High Street, they tend to travel at line speed, namely 45, 30, then 45 mph.

  105. stimarco says:

    In fairness to LOROL, Southern and Southeastern, south London’s urban (and mostly elevated) rail network really wasn’t built for today’s notions of high speed, but they were still much faster than the EMUs* (~8 mph.) of the day. Or the even slower BMUs**, which could reach speeds up to a staggering… 2 mph.

    Most people walked.

    And then some bright spark invented that newfangled electrickery and trams suddenly lost their horses and gained a sparkly tail.

    Hard to believe that Stephenson’s Rocket is 185 years old this year.

    * Equine Multiple Units.
    ** Bovine Multiple Units.

  106. straphan says:

    @Steven Taylor: I think this is caused by three factors:
    – The LOROL concession is focussed on three things: punctuality, punctuality and punctuality. Hence the more timetable padding the lower the likelihood of delays and financial penalties for the concessionaire
    – There is a fair length of single track at Clapham Jn on the approach to Platform 2, which you would ideally timetable trains around as the key constraint. However, the key constraint is in fact the ELL and the two platforms at Highbury and Islington. Hence a bit of padding is needed there.
    – The Clapham Jn trains have to transfer between two different railways (ELL and South London) with two completely different and not necessarily compatible timetables. Judging by the fact, that they are timetabled only two minutes before (or after in the other direction) a Southern service between Queen’s Road Peckham and Peckham Rye, I think that suggests someone had a tough job squeezing these trains in in the first place. Again, a bit of padding is needed to then ensure trains find themselves in the right spot at the right time further down the line.

  107. Steven Taylor says:

    I concur with your comments. I used to have direct experience. From December 2012 until July 2013, when I retired, I used to get the 1620 Southern train to Queens Road Peckham, arriving 1627, and then the 1629 service to Clapham Junction, where I live overlooking the station. The Southern service often delayed the LOROL service by a minute or two. The 1644 service was not much better, as it was usually delayed by the South Eastern service crossing in front of us between Peckham Rye and Denmark Hill at Crofton Road junction.

    And frankly, even if the padding was taken out of the timetable, the train would still have to wait a minute or 2, awaiting departure of the previous train departing from Platform 2 at Clapham Junction. This was why I often spoke to drivers leaving Wandsworth Road station 2 minutes early – I said why?, because it just means you wait outside Clapham Junction station an additional couple of minutes.

    The 10 mph speed restriction into Clapham Junction does not help – but as this is due to a weak bridge over Falcon Road, I cannot see this being fixed anytime soon.

  108. Steven Taylor says:

    I was wondering what substance you imbibed when you mentioned 8 mph EMU`s.
    Glad you explained below in your comment.

    Re timings on the South London (Atlantic lines), I did read a comment that LOROL tried to get the 10 mph speed limit to Clapham Junction raised to 15 mph, but Network Rail said it was out-of-the question.

    I have spoken to several drivers and have built up some rapport. There seems to be 2 different driving styles, namely, drive at line speed, arrive early at the next station and wait a minute or two. Or drive at a slower speed if on time, so the train does not wait too long at the next station, so passengers are more happy, as progress seems more linear. I personally find the slower driving style a bit annoying, but less `juice` is used, so I guess more `green`.

  109. Graham Feakins says:

    ELL/LOROL train timings on the Southern Railway (SR) side are likely still set to a formula from c. 1914.

    SR historian Laurence Mack explained it to me thus:

    “Chatham side suburban lines: Train timing is an arcane science and I suspect that South Eastern Trains now have only one senior manager who really understands his network and his timetable team are quite good, in the face of curious policies such as the 66-minute hour and the load/unload problems of sliding door stock. They’ve had to bend the original LSWR formula for DC suburban and main line stopping/semi-fast trains, which must have been derived from Herbert Jones’s spec for the 1914-17 stock.

    The formula was probably based on the performance of US DC stock, which Jones went to look at; it would have been finalised in the East Putney – Wimbledon trials in 1914. When the public services started in 1915, the complete TT for the 1915-17 electrification must have existed; they didn’t have extensive test running, line by line, to work out the timings.

    The formula must have been written down somewhere, but I have never seen any reference to it and I simply worked it out from timetables! You can in fact carry it in your head:

    Time in minutes, for any journey = 1 minute per mile plus 2 minutes for every scheduled stop including the arrival terminal. Fractions of a mile count as a mile. Add half a minute for a sharply curved flyover (e.g. Twickenham, where I used to live). Also allow for booked extra time at certain stations. ”

    This formula appears to have been adopted by SR all over its DC suburban network. I would be interested to know if anyone can confirm all this and/or bring it up-to-date, since basic suburban timings have not really changed since electrification.

  110. Ollyver says:

    I don’t know about official and/or suburban services, but everyone I know uses the rule “2 minutes per stop + 2 mins per interchange” when guesstimating journey times on the tube. Do other Londoners use that too?

    It’s taken some practice, adjusting that to 3 minutes per stop for the Overground – and then the slow crawl into Clapham Junction means you just have to memorise journey times instead…

  111. Greg Tingey says:

    On tube, yes – inside zone 1 & most of 2 ….
    1 minute between stations, one minute AT a station, 3-5 mins for an interchange, but keeping exceptions in mind: e.g. Oxford Cic Vic Bakerloo – 30 seconds, KXStP can be up to 7 minutes (Vic ‘Slink)

  112. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Ollyver – I use 2 mins per stop plus 5 mins for interchange for tube journeys on the rare occasions when I have to work out a journey time. A lot of the time I know how long it takes. The 5 mins interchange parameter is a reasonable average to cover walking time plus the headway for a train to arrive on the connecting line. Clearly it doesn’t work early morning, evenings and sometimes on Sundays – depending where on the network you are. National Rail times I tend to check except for some journeys where I’m familiar with the journey times.

  113. peezedtee says:

    I remember being told about the “two minutes per stop” rule on the Underground within a day or two of first arriving in London in 1961, and it has served me well ever since.

  114. straphan says:

    Going back to an earlier issue highlighted in this thread: this month’s Modern Railways suggests that Network Rail is ‘looking into’ gauge clearance for London Gateway traffic. The preferred route would be via Barking – South Tottenham – Seven Sisters – Cheshunt – Cambridge – Ely and then on towards Nuneaton. Whilst this would probably preclude GOBLIN frequencies from ever going beyond 4-6tph off-peak, I think it is probably a sensible solution out of those that require more CAD and less crayon.

    The article also mentions container-capable gauge enhancements for the newly electrified GWML, allowing containers to run between Acton and Cardiff/Swansea. This would put further pressure on the NLL in terms of container traffic – there is no easy way to access the GWML from either London Gateway or Felixstowe through any other route than via the NLL and Acton Wells Junction. There are currently no significant container terminals to speak of along the GWML, but once it is gauge-cleared we can expect these to spring up relatively quickly. Freight on the GWML will be almost as fast as by road via the M4, and as the GWML crosses under rather than over the Severn, there will be no route closures due to high winds!

  115. timbeau says:

    @ Straphan:
    ” there is no easy way to access the GWML from …..Felixstowe through any other route than via the NLL and Acton Wells Junction. ”

    isn’t that what the Bacon Factory curve is for? A route via Bury St Edmunds, Peterborough, Leicester, and the “electric spine” (Bedford – Oxford) to Didcot. Longer, but set the track access charges right and it will be preferred to a routing via Hampstead Heath.

  116. straphan says:

    @timbeau: I’m afraid that even if you allow for congestion on the southern portion of the M25 that will still be far, far slower than by road…

  117. Slugabed says:

    Re: Straphan’s comment 13:42 31/03
    It seems an odd choice of “preferred route” for long-distance freight,to include a short (25chain?),steeply graded single-track “squealer” curve debouching at either end,via flat junctions,onto relatively intensive commuter lines (I talk,of course of South Tottenham-Seven Sisters)….the possibilities for various scenarios of snarl-up would have seem to outweigh any advantages.
    I may be wrong,though…

  118. timbeau says:

    I recall from O level geography being told that for bulk flows reliability of supply is what matters, not speed. As long as bargeloads, trainloads, or lorry loads, conveyors, pipelines or mule trains, of feedstock arrive at a constant rate, it matters little how long or how slow the supply chain is. (this is not quite true, as a long supply chain means more resources are required, but slow and cheap is better economics than fast and expensive – especially if it is also more reliable). Thus a dedicated longer route via the electric spine may well be better than running the gauntlet of the multitude of congested junctions on the North London line.

  119. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Straphan – given London Gateway is a new flow then I wonder what rights to paths for gauge enhanced trains any freight company has on the GOBLIN or via Cheshunt? If I was TfL I would be seeking to protect paths on Greater Anglia *right now* before Network Rail “sells” [1] them out to freight companies thereby stimying any move by TfL to enhance off peak and weekend suburban services into Liverpool Street. I have to say that routing huge long freight trains round that curve at Seven Sisters is simply asking for trouble. I believe that any incident liability on FOCs is capped so their bottom line is not unduly affected even if it takes a week to reinstate services if there is a derailment or worse.

    [1] I know real life is more involved than this.

  120. Greg Tingey says:

    Did April 1st come early?
    “they” are seriously suggesting routing long, heavy freights E-N around the single-track, very tightly-curved & steply-graded uphill “squealer” between South Tottenham & Seven Sisters?
    You what?
    Very soon, either one will stall, or, more likely will roll off the inside of the curve, if that’s tried.
    Actually, MC’s extendador-proposal of a direct “Ferry Boat Inn Junction” to “Northumberland Park Junction” is significantly more realistic.
    [ See also slugabed / timbeau / WW’s comments – very true ]

    “Slower” than by road is irrelevant, actually, for most container flows, since it’s bulk transit. If this were not so, the canals in Germany (Poland, Netherlands etc) would be redundant & pleasure-lakes. This is not the case. Even now, they are gearing up for expanding the lock-capacity of the Northern leg of the Dortmind-Ems [ Gleisdreieck Bevergern zu Ems ] to take 3000 tonne barges, as the southern half & the Mittrland Kanal already do.

  121. CdBrux says:

    Is there a danger of assuming that clearing the GWML for freight to Bristol & South Wales is going to be just for freight originating east of London? There are also large docks at Avonmouth (which I think they wish to grow) and Newport. It is just possible that the majority freight flows could be to & from those ports? There is life outisde London & the SE of England!!!

  122. straphan says:

    @WW and Greg Tingey: Have a look at this month’s Modern Railways – to me the routeing drawn on the map is pretty clear. Bear in mind NR have (a) not committed to gauge enhancements on that route; and (b) the wording of the article makes it sound like there will be further works required to make this happen if this is where NR choose to run the London Gateway freights.

    My personal opinion is that there is no easy solution for London Gateway freights and the routeing that NR have come up with is probably the best of a bad lot. Any other solution would require line reopenings or building things from scratch.

    @Greg Tingey and timbeau: I think things have moved on a bit in the world of logistics, and the speed of transporting containerised goods is starting to matter. True, transporting 25 containers by train will cost less than by road, but there are already plenty of clients willing to pay more for getting things transported faster. Plus routeing freights from London Gateway to – say – Daventry via Peterborough and Nuneaton isn’t exactly going to help keep the costs down, is it?

    And as an aside, Greg, containers are not ‘bulk’. And I have also yet to see a container on a ‘canal’ east of the Oder…

  123. timbeau says:

    “the speed of transporting containerised goods is starting to matter”
    Indeed, but a four hour journey with a path available now is quicker than a two hour journey with no path available for the next three hours. (For freight, timings also have to co-ordinate with the availability of loading and unloading facilities: there is no point arriving two hours earlier if the siding is still occupied, or the staff to supervise unloading haven’t clocked in yet)

    And if speed is all, why do passenger railways keep padding their timetables with “recovery minutes” to boost reliability?

  124. timbeau says:

    Meant to add:
    “Plus routeing freights from London Gateway to – say – Daventry via Peterborough and Nuneaton isn’t exactly going to help keep the costs down, is it?”

    Why not? If TfL and the TOCs can charge lower passenger fares for avoiding central London, surely NR can charge differential access charges for freight operators to do the same?

  125. MikeP says:

    @timbeau – And if speed is all, why do passenger railways keep padding their timetables with “recovery minutes” to boost reliability?

    Two words – Passenger Charter. It got all silly with 5-10 minute padding at the end of the run once that came in. It’s a bit more clever these days with the padding more distributed, which makes it harder to spot. Of course, on SWT you need that padding to wait for the doors to open…

  126. straphan says:

    @timbeau: There has indeed been a huge focus on reliability in the UK, which has sometimes overshadowed improvements to the speed of the services. This is – to my mind – primarily because the incentive system for reliability sometimes works too well; and because there are simply more trains on the network whilst the network itself hasn’t grown much – congestion issues don’t just apply to roads.

    Freight trains are of course more flexible than passenger trains in terms of routeing and journey time, but there are limits to this. I cannot imagine what sorts of price differentials in terms of track access charges you would have to employ to incentivise a FOC to run a Felixstowe – Daventry train via Nuneaton than via the North London Line – with such a detour we are already looking at additional train drivers, never mind the extra costs for fuel and loco maintenance (given most maintenance is now mileage-based).

  127. Malcolm says:

    Exactly. Speed isn’t everything, but it isn’t nothing either. At the end of the day, shippers will obviously minimise their total costs. This may mean paying the transport operator slightly more to get there more rapidly, because (in appropriate cases) this can save money on inventory or other costs. And for high value per ton goods (like containers and unlike bulk stone) the inventory savings can be quite substantial. But also a shorter route uses less fuel, less driver-hours, and ties up expensive trains and locos for less time.

    Perishables are of course another story.

  128. Pedantic of Purley says:

    @Walthamstow Writer,

    The Business Plan also talks about extra railcars being ordered and Beckton depot being amended to cope with longer trains by 2022.

    I knew that Beckton depot was being modified much earlier than that but couldn’t find the reference. I have now stumbled across it. On page 23 of the latest budget it states:

    Improvement to Beckton depot March 2015
    There are also projects to address delays on other areas of the Rail and Underground network. Improvements at the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) Beckton depot will allow more DLR cars to be maintained at once without the need to decouple them from the train. This will increase train reliability at a time when passenger numbers are expected to continue to grow by 10 per cent a year.

    So passenger numbers are expected to grow by 10 per cent a year but no extra trains on the horizon. If that figure of 10% is really true (I am a bit suspicious) we really should be seriously upgrading the parts of the DLR that we can upgrade and order new trains now.

  129. Greg Tingey says:

    Why break with tradition?
    Wait until it is grossly overloaded, then ask it it can be justified spending even more money, then argue about it for another couple of years, THEN, maybe spend not-quite-enough on a cobbled-together “design” that doesn’t work properly.
    As we have (almost) always done before …..

  130. Taz says:

    The 3-car project didn’t include the depot since 3-car trains were only intended for the peaks, and one or 2-car trains could be serviced. It turns out that 3-car trains are only now un/coupled to enter the depot. With these new works 3-car trains will be serviced for the first time, giving improved efficiencies.

  131. Latecomer says:

    Regarding padding in journey times various reasons have been given, but quite simply we (I say “we” as in “we ELL drivers”) cannot reach certain way-points early or we will simply be waiting for at least 2 or 3 minutes. This is due to scheduling with other services on the SLL as well as integration with the core of the ELL. Yes we have time generally between Queens Rd Peckham and Surrey Quays but this is partly to do with timings already being there for the proposed station at Surrey Canal Rd. We still have to sometimes wait at Silwood Junction if other services are late coming up from New Cross Gate. The timings are so tight through the ELL core that with constant restrictive aspects driver fatigue is an issue. Decent turnaround times are important not just for service recovery but for drivers just to catch a breather for 5 minutes. That happens less and less these days as the overcrowding is such that peak services from Crystal Palace and Croydon simply slow up with door blocking and congestion. It is quite unpleasant to be in the seat for 4 hours with constant door blocking, restrictive aspects, the knowledge that most people on your train are unhappy because YOU are late and then you get to Highbury & Islington to find you are meant to be back out in one minute.

    It is notionally possible to fit another 2 services per hour through the core apparently, although no driver will welcome the driving experience and passengers will notice slower line speed and more stops at reds outside stations than now. In other places the Croydon and New Cross up services literally arrive at Dalston Junction as the down services are departing. The timings are that tight. The same is true for Clapham Junction as already noted. Regarding early departures from Denmark Hill, this was partly due to a change from full diagrams being issued to drivers to schedule cards which only list ‘key’ stations. Denmark Hill was absent from the schedule cards but it is now being included on most that are now being issued. In my experience most drivers were applying their driving experience and still departing at appropriate times – though not all. Personally I think it better to make my way between Peckham Rye and Denmark Hill at about 20 mph (rather than increase to 40/45 after the junction) which provides an adequate 1 minute wait at Denmark Hill. I think it feels better for passengers to feel that they are on the move than to sit for 3+ minutes in a station. I would maintain that this isn’t about padding, it’s about scheduling. We simply can’t arrive at Clapham Junction sooner than we can. In practice we are often delayed at the signal just after Peckham Rye anyway as we wait for the Southeastern service to cross over onto ‘our ‘ line ahead. In this instance we will only just get to Denmark Hill on time, if not late. Really we just can’t please everyone. If we travel at linespeed whenever we can we will only get held at key junctions or stations, if we employ the method that I prefer (reduced linespeed and reduced stopping at stations or outside them) then the perception is that the Overground is a ‘slow’ service. Perhaps it is compared to the underground, but there really isn’t much more that can be done. We’re pretty close to the limits already.

    There’s a few drivers out there who employ a rush and stop method, but not many. We generally know the timings and for most LOROL drivers it can actually be a breath of fresh air to be slightly late (though not deliberately so) when we are more likely to perhaps attain linespeed on clear green aspects.

  132. Mike says:

    Fellow pedants: why are DLR trains made up of three units, ie six cars, being called “3-car” trains? Such a configuration is impossible on the DLR (and, following that example, Eurostars are 2-car trains).

  133. Chris L says:

    You could call them 3 unit trains.

    They are articulated units and can run singly, pairs or more usually now triples.

    Each unit has one number and an A & B end.

  134. Greg Tingey says:

    Indeed. This on a service that no-one wanted, had to be fought for & was full almost from the day of opening.
    No wonder DafT don’t like OvergrounD – it spoils their prejudices.
    Would a very careful rescheduling N of Cannda Water (in both directions) improve matters a little, I wonder? As well as getting rid of the speed restriction on the curve approaching CLJ?

  135. @Latecomer,

    Thank you very much indeed for that detailed description. You have my sympathies and, as I have said before, I really wonder why the core section of the East London Line isn’t ATO. It makes one appreciate just how complex the East London Line is to run.

  136. Steven Taylor says:

    May I just add my thanks for your detailed response. Your comments marry-up with my experience on the Clapham Junction line, namely delays at Crofton Road Junction from a late running Southeastern train etc (It happened yesterday for me where we arrived at Denmark Hill 2 minutes late.).

    I wonder if you can confirm that the 10 MPH speed restriction into Clapham Junction is due to a weak bridge over Falcon Road. I have heard this from an official on District Dave blog, but when I recently spoke to a Network Rail person, he was not sure this was the complete explanation.

  137. Mark Townend says:

    @Pedantic of Purley, 3 April 2014 at 08:15

    There should be a template ERTMS hybrid ATO system available to copy and retrofit fairly soon, following successful completion of the Thameslink core scheme.

    [Belated I realise this is relevant here and probably in its most logical place but I have copied the comment into the Crossrail: Reading the Future comments so that we have the ERTMS comments in one place. Please could further comment on ERTMS go in there unless very specific to the East London Line. PoP]

  138. Castlebar 1 says:

    Yes, Latecomer, that was an excellent posting!

    I also liked Greg’s comment, “This on a service that no-one wanted, had to be fought for & was full almost from the day of opening.
    No wonder DafT don’t like OvergrounD – it spoils their prejudices.”

    That comment doesn’t only apply to OvergrounD but could also be the reason for other things “not happening”. I remember the “reasons why not” for the WLL years ago, and I’m sure the prejudices Greg refers to, still exist. Even post nationalisation, there was almost a complete ban on trying to create a service that would run in part on another Region’s “turf”. WLL & OvergrounD could not even have got past crayon stage 50 years ago.

    Now, what about the “Ruislip chord”…………………………….

  139. Steven Taylor says:

    Re Surrey Canal Road station.

    It has all gone very quiet; I `googled` and `binged` and cannot see any construction timelines. Even Lewisham Councils site did not appear to have any contempory information.

    Is there anybody out there who has any `in-the-know` information they can share?

  140. Latecomer says:

    Thanks for your comments Greg, PoP and Steven. I’m not sure whether there’s much that can be done north of Canada Water with the scheduling unless half minute departure times are introduced as the time intervals are a theoretical 3 or 4 minutes now. The problem is you just need the slightest delay to a preceding service and you will be on restrictive aspects, or if you hold back you are putting the driver behind on them. If you are a West Croydon Service waiting to depart from Dalston Junction and the Clapham service arrives just a minute late you know that the journey down as far as Surrey Quays will be a fairly tedious one from the drivers point of view, perhaps less noticeable to passengers if you keep the train moving by slightly reduced speed. I have also noticed that some drivers on the Clapham service seem to hold back in the core section because they know they have ample time over Silwood to get to Queens Rd Peckham. Personally I think that’s fairly selfish driving due to the impact on the following Croydon service. We would all love to drive on greens all the time, but it just isn’t possible if we are to keep the volume running through. I’m undecided about ATO for the core section. I don’t like the ride experience on the tubes when trains are closely following each other – the harsh acceleration and braking is discomfiting in some way. Perhaps technology will improve to reduce that sensation? I’m also not sure whether it would be ideal for a driver to have to alternate between driving the train and ‘only’ operating the doors.

    The real challenge at the moment is the continual blocking of doors with dwell times that are far too long as a result. I try to make helpful (and understanding) PA announcements but it does add considerably to driver stress and fatigue even if you attempt to disassociate yourself from the experiences of your passengers a little. Where just one moment of late braking on the short 3 aspect signaled core section can place you in trouble you are always striving to stay as alert yet relaxed as possible. The ‘relaxed’ bit is becoming increasingly hard to achieve. I hope that the introduction of 5 cars will alleviate this a bit, but I suspect that within a year to 18 months the peak rush will be back to full capacity. It is the norm now to arrive at Dalston or Highbury 5 to 7 minutes late on services that originated between 7.45 and 8.20am purely due to delays as a result of overcrowding. The train literally sighs at Canada Water as the suspension eases, I find myself exhaling in a similar manner!

    Re the 10 mph speed restriction in to CLJ. Yes, this is due to the weak bridge. LOROL requested that this at least be increased to 15 mph but apparently Network Rail are having none of it. I presume that the cost of strengthening the bridge is far too prohibitive or something? Regardless, with the scheduling the timings would still need to allow for the departing service to clear the reversible single line. I do however appreciate that this 10mph crawl adds to passenger perception that the service is a slow one, that frustration is evident as you observe the speed at which people alight at CLJ. If I’m running a couple of minutes down that restriction frequently costs me the opportunity for grabbing a coffee before my turnaround. I got as far as the coffee kiosk the other day but the WLL service had just arrived and although the queue in front was short there was a large order for cappuccinos ahead of me so I never got mine! Fortunately the journey back was a relaxed one and I was able to appreciate the panorama of London landmarks as I cruised across the top of Brixton. Driving the ELL and connected services is about as intense a train driving job as you can get (especially if you got up at 3 am to drive the morning rush), but nearly every day at some point or other I consider myself to be extremely fortunate to have the job I do and I wouldn’t want to do anything else.

  141. Latecomer says:

    Castlebar thanks for your comments also.

  142. Steven Taylor says:

    I also appreciate the view from the high viaduct between Brixton station and Loughborough Junction station – a real good view across London.

    I`m so glad you consider yourself `extremely fortunate` to have your job – that lifted my spirits. I have found most LOROL drivers to be a cheerful bunch, and are willing to answer questions when changing ends at Clapham Junction.

  143. GrahamH says:

    @Latecomer – It’s really very good to have the drivers’ perspective on timetables – happens all too rarely, with the timetablers working away in a silo and making infeasible assumptions about pathing and so on. Then the operators wonder why the service is apt to fall apart.

  144. Pedantic of Purley says:

    I don’t like the ride experience on the tubes when trains are closely following each other – the harsh acceleration and braking is discomfiting in some way.

    As a purely subjective comment …

    I was on the Northern Line the other day paying close attention to the accelerating and braking in the Camden Town area. I was impressed that it seemed so gentle under ATO contrary to the reports I read. This may have been because it was Saturday morning and not the Mon-Fri peak. My positive reaction had completely disappeared by the time we got to Golders Green and I appreciated what other people were moaning about though I didn’t really think it was that bad.

    And then I realised that the bit that was bad was the bit that hasn’t yet been converted to ATO.

  145. Latecomer says:

    At risk of falling out of favour with underground train operators I find their driving style to contrast massively with most overground services I have traveled on. I am frequently amazed at particularly heavy braking coming in to stations and it is not uncommon to find the doors opening before the train has fully stopped. These are huge no-no’s on our services. That’s not to blame the tube drivers (although I would suggest that opening the doors like that is always dangerous), but there is clearly a very different driving culture which I would imagine is developed through the training process. LOROL actually have ‘drivestyle’ guidelines and whilst drivers aren’t obliged to follow them absolutely to the letter they are the norm.

    My experience with ATO is mainly on the Jubilee and I find the noticeable on/off acceleration at relatively high speeds quite uncomfortable, although I suspect that most who travel the tube find this acceptable because of the very fact that when driven by a human the parameters for heavy acceleration and braking appear to be broader than that on Overground or NR metals. There’s a sense in which on the tube you expect to have to hang on at all times because you can’t really anticipate when the train will accelerate or brake, and when it does it will often be with greater force than elsewhere. I do think that a decent driver however can still work a train more smoothly on restrictive aspects and when closely following other services. I believe that I can do so, yet still be ready to take my next path at the earliest opportunity allowing following services through no sooner than if it had been ATO. The only obvious advantage to me is in eliminating the potential for the dreaded SPAD.

    @Steven Taylor
    I’m pleased to learn that. If we have time it’s actually really nice to have some positive interaction with passengers. I see thousands of passengers on a single journey but it’s rare to get a smile or anything beyond a hurried question about connecting services. I will always be happy to pass the time of day if time permits.

    I’m not sure that the timetablers have done too bad a job. At the end of the day the number of services we run is required and drivers have to live with that. When Silwood opened up I remember there were complaints that we were never reaching Surrey Quays on time from QRP. I think it took a few weeks of both drivers and signalers gaining experience before things ran more smoothly. It all works IF we are not affected by other late running services or major overcrowding. I think the real beef is sometimes the length of job we are required to do through rush hour before we can have a break, this is massively exacerbated by the reduced turnaround times we currently experience when running late. Certain views on this have been brought to the attention of management but that’s about as much as I would be prepared to say on an open forum.

    If there’ one other thing that might have been considered in relation to infrastructure it is the lack of ability to turn services short of destination if and when things go wrong (such as severe delays or train faults or failures). Ever since both the central bay platforms at Dalston Junction came in to full time use with the advent of the Clapham Junction service and W Croydon services terminating there there is no real opportunity to terminate a late running Highbury & Islington service early. I know we can use crossovers at Canada Water or Shadwell but in peak rush to de-train, crossover and change ends without holding up other services is near impossible. My own feeling is that a turnback siding could have been built on the elevated section just north of Shoreditch High St. Alternatively I had wondered whether the old tunnel at St Mary’s curve might have been utilised without too much cost or effort as a location where a train could be brought out of service or turned early? A faulty unit could even be left there until later in the day when it would be easier to recover. I do think that just a little more investment to deal with these out of course situations could help prevent delays that can sometimes take 2 or 3 hours to recover from.

  146. Anon5 says:

    Fascinating insight from above – thank you. Not a driver question but a staffing one nonetheless. This week aboard a Crystal Palace to Highbury & Islington service I was asked to show my tickets to two groups of inspectors ten minutes apart. The first set wore yellow high-vis vests, the second set were dressed in smart grey Overground branded suits and tie. I mentioned to the latter that they had just missed their colleagues. They were surprised but explained they only cover the tunnels (ie the core) and the high-vis group over the above ground. Is this a throwback to the old LU East London Line vs the service run over Network Rail? Why would they be in different uniforms and why can’t they monitor the whole line?

  147. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Anon 5 – I believe the “yellow checkers” are contracted in security staff and are more and more prevalent on LOROL. Quite what they understand about tickets I have my doubts about but I may be being unfair. Those in grey suits are (I believe) LOROL employees and are revenue protection staff. Given LOROL seems to have been having a cost cutting drive in recent times I wouldn’t be surprised to see their numbers being reduced so nasty things like pensions and national insurance don’t have to be paid! I can’t see the point in splitting territories – I’ve certainly encountered “grey suits” on the GOBLIN several times and that doesn’t touch a tunnel anywhere.

  148. Anon5 says:

    That’s interesting, I didn’t think of that. Last week I was asked by a group of (contracted) security staff at Penge West to touch in as I walked on to the platform. I was about to do so anyway out of habit, I simply hadn’t got my Oyster out of the wallet before the inspector asked! My Oyster is loaded with a travelcard so in theory did I have to touch in? Could I have asked that she used the handheld scanner to inspect my ticket instead (assuming scanners only check valid tickets not record an individual’s journey)? I thought only pay-as-you-go passengers and any Oyster ticket holders boarding the front of buses had to touch in?

  149. Castlebar 1 says:

    @ Anon 5

    Yes it only seems to apply to buses if you use the front entrance

  150. ChrisMitch says:

    I only touch in (or out) with my Oyster travelcard when asked by inspectors at my local Thameslink station. It never seems to cause any penalty charges.
    There are usually a lot of people pulled to one side though – shows the number of people who ‘chance it’.

  151. Anon5 says:

    But that was my point – as travelcard holders (on Oyster) do we have to touch in and out? If not can revenue inspectors force us to do so? It’s one thing for them to scan the Oyster with the handheld reader to check the ticket is valid (ie inspection) but quite another to insist we touch in and therefore have our journey recorded.

  152. Graham Feakins says:

    @ Anon5 – I can detect the reasoning for your question but from observation I think that revenue inspectors use the ploy to relieve the load of personal checks and thus help passenger throughput because any invalid card presented to the installed station card reader will also be identified by the “invalid ticket” beeps and thus identify the person concerned.

    I come from another point of view, in that I would urge that everyone, including e.g. holders of Freedom Passes, should also always touch in and out so as to record their journeys and thus hopefully to reinforce station passenger usage statistics and support the train services on offer or indeed emphasise the demand for more.

  153. Milton Clevedon says:

    Failure to touch in/out by holders who don’t need to, is a big source of travel under-estimation by ORR and their consultants, who rely on ‘ticket sales’ rather than ‘scores on the doors’.

    Ticket sales then have to be transmogrified in arcane ways to apportion zonal travel and other elements, generally with limited success. Other non-counted passengers will include children under the fare-paying age, Freedom Pass holders, Police Warrant holders, and then the naughties – deliberate under-payment or complete avoidance of payment if both the origin and destination stations don’t have gates. No wonder ORR undercounts anything between 20%-200% in London’s suburbs.

    This isn’t helped by zonal fares conversion matrices being anything between 10 and 20 years out of date, during which time London population, jobs and travel offerings (including orbital) have been transformed.

  154. Greg Tingey says:

    Indeed. If I’m travelling to/from Walthamstow Central, I have to “bleep” @ LST, of course, but WHC is an “open” station & I never bother.
    Incidentally, the “works” there are slowly progressing & it looks as though the new turn-around space in front of the original building is being transmogrified into … a giant sundial!

  155. Chris L says:

    My 60+ Oyster card back up states to touch in and out for all rail journeys but Oyster data can’t be used for usage calculations under the Data Protection Act.

  156. @Milton Clevedon,

    Other non-counted passengers will include … Police Warrant holders

    Only until the end of June. Then they will have Oystercards like the rest of us.

  157. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Anon 5 – the “do I have to touch in or not” debate has been done to death in other places away from LR. The Conditions of Carriage are not 100% watertight when it comes to Travelcard holders. However I always touch in and out because I do not have Zone 1 on my card and therefore the system can do all sorts of nasties to your PAYG balance if you do touch in and out and use Pink Validators properly.

    What people need to realise, especially if they have non Z1 Travelcards or solely use PAYG, is that TfL have tied together the Travelcards zones and the PAYG journey / fare routing logic. Therefore to benefit from lower non Z1 fares the holders of non Z1 Travelcards have to comply with the PAYG routing and pink validator requirements for any journey they are making (assuming there are alternative fares). To give an example – Blackhorse Road to Kew Gardens for a Z23 Travelcard holder. If you use the tube via Zone 1 you will be charged a Zone 1 extension fare from your PAYG balance on exit. However if you use the Overground then you must touch the Pink Validator at Highbury or at Gospel Oak (depending on what route you take). This way you will not be charged any extension fare at Kew Gardens. However there are perverse nonsenses within the system where there are just routes via Zone 1 regardless of the fact that you can legitimately avoid Zone 1. An example would be Wandsworth Town to Crouch Hill. A slow but acceptable route would be to change at Clapham Junction and take the Overground with a change at Gospel Oak. There are pink validators at CJ and GO but TfL have not specified an alternative fare so even if you were to travel entirely outside Zone 1 within the validity of a Z23 Travelcard you will be charged for Zone 1. The only way to escape the charge is to exit and re-enter at Clapham Junction and then touch the pink validator at Gospel Oak. This option only works for non Z1 Travelcard Holders. Clearly if you were just using PAYG then you get charged for a zone you never travel through.

    I had hoped that the provision of pink validators at Clapham Junction would result in TfL introducing a vast swathe of non Z1 priced routes across Clapham Junction from parts of the Overground network to SWT and Southern territories but no such luck. I fully accept that travel via Zone 1 will typically be much, much faster but why should people be charged for a route they may never use and where there are facilities to allow people to record the route used on their Oyster Cards?

    Slowly but surely TfL have increased the amount of info about the operation of Pink Validators and the need to touch in, out and intermediately to get the best fare or avoid extension charges. They’ve also made it more overt about non Z1 Travelcard holders also needing to use pink validators. I still feel much more needs to be done – a look at the unofficial Oyster Rail website will show how incredibly confused people get with fares and ticketing and also how involved and complex the fares system is.

    I would also support those who say that touching in and out helps TfL and others with understanding system usage and demand levels. Even when I had a staff pass I always touched in and out. On the buses I should just add that using the centre or rear doors on the NB4L requires people to touch in with their Oyster cards. Ditto for the single deck buses on routes 507 and 521 which allow multi door boarding.

  158. john b says:

    The only time I’ve been penalty-fared (absolutely bang-to-rights, guv) for ticketless travel on LU was when I used to go from Finsbury Park to Swiss Cottage via Green Park on monthly Travelcards.

    I didn’t touch in at FP and then got inspected by an RPI at Green Park, who berated me for not touching in.

    Cue my self-righteous “you don’t need to touch in with a Travelcard” speech – followed up by “Yes, sir, but you do have to touch in if your Travelcard expired yesterday, twenty pounds please….” /hands over note, slinks away tail between legs

  159. straphan says:

    @Latecomer: Thanks for your comments – as a timetabler it is always helpful to read accounts from drivers as to how things work in practice. Indeed I do wish there was more interaction between the two (plus I’d love the opportunity for cab rides!). And just a disclaimer: I did not contribute towards creating the ELL timetable.

    The key issue with the ELL is the overcrowding and doors. The Class 378s should ideally have had three doors per carriage. And none of that ‘open-it-yourself’ nonsense – if drivers were responsible for opening the doors that would also save a few precious seconds per stop. The overcrowding is also painful and causes plenty of delay, but let’s hope the 5th carriage will at least do something to sort this out.

    Regarding ATO – day-to-day experience proves it is possible to reliably run 16tph through the core day-in day-out on three-aspect signalling without any costly ATO. However, aside from the driver fatigue that you describe, it also slows the whole service down considerably. I fully understand your key focus is firstly to avoid a SPAD, and secondly to stop at each station in the correct place with precious little room to spare. This level of cautiousness will inevitably slow the trains down, though – and this is something I have had to explain time and time again to friends of mine who decided to have a moan about why the ELL is so slow.

    …which it indeed is. The ATO systems used on the Underground have been specifically calibrated to maximise acceleration within the limits of people’s ability to stand if they are holding on. If they are not holding on – tough luck. And this – to me – is the right approach. Nobody – least of all in London – expects huge levels of comfort on the tube or equivalent local mainline rail service. In the peaks they are grateful for being able to get on the train at all. In the off-peak they are grateful if there is a seat or ‘bum-rest’ available to lean on. Regardless of the time of day, though, they are grateful if they can get to their destination as quickly as possible. Trouble is – without compromising on safety and piling yet more strain on you guys, there is no cheap solution to make it go any faster.

    Regarding the short turnrounds: has the Overground considered stepping-up of drivers? I agree turnrounds in places are pretty short, which is why I was wondering whether stepping-up would do the trick. Plus it is commonplace on the tube – without it the likes of Elephant & Castle, Brixton or Stratford wouldn’t work at all.

  160. john b says:

    Trouble is – without compromising on safety and piling yet more strain on you guys, there is no cheap solution to make it go any faster.

    Would it be possible to do something equivalent to E*, of running the TfL-owned sections under LU rules and the NR sections under NR defensive driving rules? Or would that be ridiculously over-complicated for a short and already stressful trip?

    (the minor alterations to the onboard computer that would be required to automatically open all the doors as soon as the driver releases them during peak times are a no-brainer in B/CR terms, surely?)

  161. Rational Plan says:

    Be glad of our safety culture. Did any of you watch , ‘Why trains crash’. A Storyville documentary on a big train crash on JR West in Japan pointed to an out of control management who kept shortening the Timetable to compete for commuters and bullied their train drivers through secret spy’s of threatening to fire them if they were late making them responsible for time keeping.

    Until of course the inevitable happened and a train went to fast round a corner and straight into a concrete apartment building.

    A very poignant and sad tale that certainly took off the gloss from the Japanese railway system.

  162. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Rational Plan – yes I did see that documentary. I was already aware of the specific train crash but not the underlying causes. I have to say I was astonished at some of the things that went on and the apparent lack of challenge or questioning of decisions. I suspect the latter may have its roots in some aspects of Japanese culture. The programme should be compulsory viewing for railway managers given what it highlights about behaviours and incentive [1] related “pressures”.

    [1] profits or meeting other forms of targets like, oh I don’t know, 45 second dwell times 😉

  163. GrahamH says:

    @Rational plan – all too believable – ontrain staff in Japan are allocated a specific number of seconds (quite small) to check each coach and its passengers – defaulters are subjected to group criticism.

  164. Greg Tingey says:

    …and none of that ‘open-it-yourself’ nonsense There’s a way round that – use the system installed on the Croydon Trams, where you touch the button, if you want to get off at the next stop, & as soon as the tram “knows” it’s stopped, the doors pop.
    Remarkably like the Paris Metro, in fact …
    I think stepping-back of drivers occurs on a lot of the Liverpool ST inners (Chingford. Shenfield, Enfield Town, Chesunt) f’rinstance.

  165. Fandroid says:

    @Greg. Thanks for that info about Tramlink. I have been totally mystified by tram door buttons for some time!

  166. Latecomer says:

    @ strapham

    Thanks for all that – good points, well put. Perhaps surprisingly as a driver I am open minded about ATO for places like the core section. I do understand that some time may be lost with the caution drivers exercise at various places. I always struggle to explain to drivers unfamiliar with the ELL just how different the driving is in the tunnel sections, yet it certainly blows the mind of some who took the step across from other metro services (some of whom decided to return to their old employers on significantly lower wage after a bit of time in the chair). The precision required for the stop marks is one thing and the fact that a number of these stations are on gradients is another element. I can only imagine that the precision is going to become even more essential as they squeeze for space with 5 cars.

    Like I say, I do have an open mind – I don’t think it would do me out of a job as it would not extend to the NR network (although the public perception of us being overpaid for just pulling a lever might increase as we would not even be pulling that lever half the time!). My concerns would be that everyone would still have to keep competency up and I wonder if drivers would drive even more cautiously if they drive the core less frequently. At any given time the service might be slowed by one or two of the drivers in the system being in the chair. Perhaps that would be done outside of the peak rushes? I do think the biggest issue is that of the doors and the blocking of them (it can be even worse on Friday and Saturday nights when the platform staff have disappeared).

    Re timetabling, it does work. I was on time on all my journeys yesterday through the peak rush hour and beyond. There are still limitations however, because even if progress was sped up through the core some services would then have to proceed even more slowly on other sections due to constraints there. There’s so many factors. I think it would be great for timetablers to have cab rides in all conditions. Even more so it is the people who devise the diagrams who really ought to get a flavour. Some of them are really beyond acceptable. Whilst they fall within the bluebook guidelines I don’t think they take sufficient notice of the intensity that is so specific to the ELL. The stepping back idea has recently been discussed. Other LOROL depots are in favour but most of them are already in the seat for less and with less intense work (no disrespect at all to my brother and sister drivers from Watford and Willesden!). For us it would mean a longer day. Unless our overall driving time is reduced we are not in favour. If there were someone to relieve at Dalston Junction and just take the unit up to Highbury and back down then that would give a driver a bit of a break whilst not increasing their hours. That one minute or so for change over each way is probably reason enough why that won’t happen. All these things point to the requirement to have more drivers (which again I think unlikely). There could be turnaround reduction benefits to the company at CLJ for example, but again I’m not sure a driver will want to sit in a pokey portacabin in the middle of winter watching their turn length increase by 15 mins. Ideally there could be a bit more passing and a limit on turn lengths – especially on the early turns. Their are some double Croydons with a New Cross before a break which I think goes way beyond. However, I have probably said enough lest this receives too much attention!

    @ john b
    The opening of doors by the driver is a big no-no at the moment. There are occasional incidents of enabling the doors outside of a station (when stopped at a red signal mainly). I imagine this risk is greater on our services where there are so many stops and the automatic actions kick in when the train is stationary. It is still extremely rare given the number of stops we do each year (in the tens of thousands per driver). The difference between door enabling and door opening is that between serious error and catastrophe involving loss of life. That said, I believe the advent of SDO will also prevent any risk of door release outside of a station or wrong side release in one (but it will still flag for the driver to get an incident on their record).

    I don’t mean for all my posts to sound as though the job is hellish and that I go in to work miserable! Far from it. I’m just attempting to explain some of the issues faced. I actually think that the timetabling and the job done in the varied circumstances is remarkable and that generally speaking LOROL make a decent fist of it.

  167. Steven Taylor says:


    I have the `225 studios` cab-ride videos – both ways – on all of the London Overground network. The tunnel section of the ELL does look like a difficult route – with the grade changes – up to 1 in 29. I have admiration for LOROL drivers, doing this every day!
    I generally find the ride quality of the 378s very good as well.

  168. Graham Feakins says:

    @ Fandroid – Just to amplify Greg’s comment – If you push a button for the next tram stop and nobody else on the tram has done so (including driver who can open all doors at once, of course), then only the door closest to the push button will open – on the correct side of the tram…

    In quieter periods, the driver will announce certain stops as request stops and float through if nobody wants to alight or is at the stop wanting the tram (as distinguished from those who don’t know what they want, apart from another beer can).

  169. 1956 says:

    Regarding Latecomer’s comments of 3 Apl 12.45 (edited): “one other thing that might have been considered in relation to infrastructure it is the lack of ability to turn services short of destination if and when things go wrong (such as severe delays or train faults or failures)… a turnback siding could have been built on the elevated section just north of Shoreditch High St”.
    (Forgive straying into the ballpark of Crayonista) but would it be possible to re-instate a bridge over Great Eastern Street, and re-use the remaining sections of disused viaduct around Fairchild Place / Bowl Court (West of Shoreditch High Street / Norton Folgate – behind the Crown and Shuttle’s beer garden) to construct a turnback siding capable of accommodating a 5 car train?

  170. stimarco says:

    “There’s so many factors. I think it would be great for timetablers to have cab rides in all conditions. Even more so it is the people who devise the diagrams who really ought to get a flavour. Some of them are really beyond acceptable. Whilst they fall within the bluebook guidelines I don’t think they take sufficient notice of the intensity that is so specific to the ELL.”

    It seems to me there’s a serious gap in the available tools for those jobs then. Even if you allowed timetable designers to ride along in a cab, they’re not actually driving the train, so they can’t get a feel for how hard it is – an expert driver will inevitably make it look easy as that’s one of the effects of expertise.

    Compared to the cost of actually building / upgrading a railway, spending some money up front on creating a full simulation of it first seems like a no-brainer. However, the simulators I’ve seen in the likes of Modern Railways all appear to be designed for driver training, but it looks like there’s a lot of potential for spreading knowledge here. Even consumer grade rail simulation software could well be sufficient for such purposes.

    The time and cost of paying some 3D graphics modellers and scenario programmers to simulate the proposed timetable and / or new / upgraded route would more than pay for itself in a very short time. Indeed, there might even be benefits in working with such people during the design and development phases, as it’d certainly help highlight potential problems before they’re built.

    Even the high-end computers needed run such simulations at maximum realism would cost peanuts compared to, say, the cost of adding SDO to a single station, so a specially licensed version of the software aimed at that field might be worthwhile for the developers too.

  171. Latecomer says:

    @ 1956
    That would be a hugely expensive exercise when I think the original options I mentioned would not require too much cost comparatively speaking. Also in order to terminate services early I believe that your solution would involve a shunt for services that had originated from the south (which is when this kind of facility would be required). I believe there would be space to have a turnback where the track widens above Old Street , alternatively I do think St Mary’s curve would likely provide an even lower cost solution (I don’t know if there are any underground walkways from Whitechapel station to access where a train might be berthed however).

    I understand your points – and a driver will often perform slightly differently when being directly observed. One possibility is the use of downloads. These are used frequently to assess driver competency anyway and they could reveal a variance in natural behaviours that might not be so apparent on a simulation. For example some drivers will still hold on a single yellow depending on what may lie ahead whereas others will draw forward to the next red. It often depends on junction layouts, whether you are in a station, knowledge of timings, etc. Some drivers will consider the effect of their stationary train on other services whilst others will be less mindful. Whilst there are driving guidelines (often TOC specific) there can still be significant variance in the amount of power taken and speed attained, etc.

  172. straphan says:

    @Latecomer: Thanks again for your really informative posts.

    The key ‘problem’ as it were with driver performance on really busy sections is exactly what you highlighted – regardless how well you train everyone to follow a set of rules, people will all invariably have a slightly different interpretation. ATO gets rid of these variances. Drivers can still maintain competency during quieter times – the Central Line is – as far as I know – driver-operated on Sundays (at least sections of it are). I appreciate the timetable on the ELL is the same on Sundays as it is during the rest of the week in terms of frequency, but the number of passengers, as well as dwell times, is lower.

    In terms of door opening procedures: I generally think they are too elaborate in the UK. When there is a guard present, they have to step off the train to check that it has stopped in the correct position (or as Ian Walmsley likes to say in Modern Railways – ‘that the platform thieves haven’t stolen the platform’) before releasing the other doors. I don’t think it is too much to ask of drivers to check they have stopped at the correct stopping board before releasing the doors themselves? That’s precisely what happens on DOO railways anyway.

    I appreciate any further duties imposed on the drivers provide additional room for error. But solutions have been developed to counter this already. Southern has installed a system by Hiima-Sella (discussed at length in other posts here), where a system of beacons is installed on platforms – one at the start and one at the end of the platform. Sensors are installed around each door. As the train passes the start of the platform, the beacons ‘release’ each passing door for opening. This means the system will only allow you to open those doors that are alongside the platform – no more ‘wrong-side’ errors as well!

    Regarding diagrams: I very often do the stock diagramming for projects as well – if only to check the impact of the proposed timetable on rolling stock costs and requirements. I have to say generally don’t think much about this aspect of timetable construction – I just use the minimum values and rules set down in the Network Rail operational rules. These tend to throw up interesting points – have a look at the Sussex rules and the plethora of turnround time values depending on TOCs. Whilst the minimum turnround for a 4-car LO 378 is 5 minutes, it is 4 minutes for a 4-car 377 on Southern, and a whopping 8 minutes for a 4-car 377 on FCC! Southern are also allowed to turnround a 12-car 377 in 6 minutes, whereas FCC gets 10. I imagine FCC gets extra time due to their trains running longer stretches of route, but it is still interesting to compare.

    Still, I think minimum turnrounds are something that simply needs to be negotiated by your union reps with the TOCs. I really don’t have an opinion as to what is a sensible compromise in terms of your well-being, cost, and timetable recovery. In any case, I sympathise – having to rush round off a delayed arrival to the other end and start another West Croydon run with a full bladder can’t be fun…

    Out of curiosity: what is the maximum allowed turn length on LO? Longest I’ve seen so far is Virgin, where drivers of Glasgow trains get out at Preston (2h 09min from Euston with intermediate calls at Warrington Bank Quay and Wigan North Western), and drive non-stop between Euston and Warrington (1h 44min on a busy railway mostly at or around 125mph).

  173. Greg Tingey says:

    Are there still Kings Cross – Newcastle turns, or does everyone change @ York, now?

  174. straphan says:

    @Greg Tingey: Not sure – I’ve been to York on a few occasions recently and did not see drivers changing on Anglo-Scottish services. I’m pretty sure the catering and conductor staff swap over at Newcastle.

    Thinking about it, King’s Cross to York (1h50 – 1h55) is probably the longest non-stop run in the UK – also 125mph on a busy railway…

  175. Greg Tingey says:

    182 miles to Warrington Bank Quay & 188.5 miles to York ( or so says the GBTT ….

  176. timbeau says:

    According to the GBTT the overnight sleepers on Sunday nights have no advertised stops between central Scotland and Euston (over eight hours, and well over 400 miles), although there are no doubt crew changes (and even loco changes) on the way.

  177. Greg Tingey says:

    There will be a crew-change, somewhere …
    Rather like the LMS’ fake “non-stop ” Coronation Scot, which stopped outside Kingmoor Shed for a crew-hcange!
    The WTT will show a stop, somewhere …..

  178. Malcolm says:

    … what happened to corridor tenders?

  179. Guano says:

    When there are no stops advertised on the overnight services to/from Scotland, it almost always means that they are diverted via the East Coast Main Line. There is a stop at Wembley to reverse, which usually means a locomotive change but sometimes means the locomotive runs round the train. There are then two minute stops at Doncaster and Newcastle for a crew change.

    When the overnight services operate via the normal route there appear to be crew changes at Carlisle and Warrington (unadvertised stop).

    Only the driver and guard change: the sleeping car attendants work right through. The only exception is when there are an odd number of services in the week, which sometimes happens at Xmas or New Year: on those occasions the timetable on one night is arranged so the trains meet somewhere for an extended stop and the sleeping car attendants swap trains.

    There are many daytime East Coast services where the first crew change out of London is Newcastle.

    This has nothing to do with London Overground, however!

  180. Nathan P says:

    I see no reason why Oyster taps can’t be used for usage figures (so long as no personal information makes it into any of these records).

    I’ve certainly seen Oyster usage figures for Buses – but these are simply a number of people who tapped in at each stop.

  181. Chris L says:

    As I’ve said before, Oyster data can’t be used for planning purposes.

    Data Protection Act

  182. timbeau says:

    @Chris L
    Citing the data protection act is too often used as an excuse for not doing something: There is surely nothing in the DPA to prevent information like this being used for planning purposes, as long as the data is anonymised – “x thousand people travel from station Y to station Z”: “on route X the number of people who touch in at stop Y northbound in the morning peak, and also touch in at stop Z southbound later in the day 1,234”
    No personal data is used.

    The LNER and (so I read) the Milwaukee Road’s Hiawatha Expresses were, I believe, the only railways in the world to use them in service, although the LMS had a special tender for road testing, which included coal-weighing apparatus and various other features as well as a corridor to allow the research staff to communicate with the footplate crew as necessary.

    The LNER’s use was an expensive publicity stunt: the economics of a 400 mile non-stop run didn’t really stack up. The trains had to be run in portions, partly to cater for intermediate stops but also because only a very light train could be taken that far on a single tenderload of coal – indeed the tender’s capacity was less than a standard tender because of the space occupied by the corridor itself. The service only ran in the summer – the extra heating load being enough to make a non-stop run impractical in the winter.
    It also required two crews to work “lodging” turns, and a compartment reserved for their use – certainly no-one would want to share with a crew who had just done 200 miles on the footplate!
    The non-stop died out with the end of steam – even if the Deltic had been designed with corridor connections, there was a safety issue in expecting the crews to make their way past a pair of Napier’s finest at full power – remember the drivers needed ear defenders even in the cab!

    It would appear, from the various references to “going up to see the driver”, that the Hogwarts Express has some means of getting from the carriages to the footplate, but whether that is as Mugglish as a corridor tender is debatable. (Apparation on a moving train?, or possibly the firebox is one end of a floo connection?),

  183. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Chris L – can you provide a source please for your “data protection act” claim? I ask because TfL have clearly said they *do* use Oyster data for planning purposes. Usage information is made anonymous after 8 weeks – it disappears from individual Oyster card accounts after that time. Further TfL release Oyster validation data to developers via an API which is why you see those excited newspaper headlines when someone does something clever and presents travel flows visually in some fancy fashion. If it is illegal to use the data as you suggest then someone, somewhere has dropped an enormous clanger.

  184. straphan says:

    @Greg Tingey: When I was referring to ‘length’ I meant time rather than distance – don’t think the driver cares too much about how far his train has travelled (as long as it stops in the right place).

    @WW and others: Of course TfL use anonymised data for planning purposes – as long as you cannot trace the travel patterns to the actual person then it’s fine.

    Census travel-to-work data showing the origin, destination and main mode of travel is also very much legal – only there I think the addresses are mixed up locally (e.g. your travel patterns are assigned to the people living two doors down) to ensure privacy.

  185. Greg Tingey says:

    but also because only a very light train could be taken that far on a single tenderload of coal – indeed the tender’s capacity was less than a standard tender because of the space occupied by the corridor itself.
    I suggest you re-view the old BR film on the non-stop run of the “Elizabethan / Capitals Limited”.
    Yes, the coal-load was slightly smaller, but the trains, certainly post-war ran to 10-12 coaches.
    There was also the epic exploit. after the 1948 washout, where ..
    [QUOTE: On this first run, No. 60028 Walter K. Wigham managed to run nonstop from Edinburgh to Kings Cross, (via the Waverly route) a record setting distance of 408.65 miles.
    Several others did this on later days:LNER-renubering, nos: 12, 22,27,28,29,& 31,

  186. Graham H says:

    @GT – indeed – a quick browse in “LNER passenger trains and formations” shows the interwar Scotsman regularly loaded to between 12 and 16 coaches, although the Coronation was made up of 8 car sets -still not a “lightweight”.

  187. timbeau says:

    “Yes, the coal-load was slightly smaller”

    Can’t find an authoritative reference, but Wikipedia suggests the corridor tenders actually had a larger coal capacity (9 tons instead of 8) than standard – presumably at the expense of water capacity, making skillful handling of the scoops essential. And yes, it appears my assumption was wrong about train lengths.

  188. Chris L says:


    from the time I worked in the Planning & Marketing Department @ TfL.

  189. straphan says:

    @Chris L: Funny you should say that. Back in 2008 I was e-mailed by TfL asking whether I had an opinion about some changes to bus routes in the Stockwell – Brixton area. Thing is: I had moved to Stockwell only 3 months before, and my annual season was still registered at my former address in Shepherd’s Bush. There was no other way TfL could have figured out that I could be interested in route changes around Stockwell other than by analysing Oyster data and discovering I kept touching in at Stockwell each morning and touching out every evening on weekdays (plus doing all sorts of bus trips in the area on weekends).

  190. Castlebar (Contra Crayonista) says:

    I think timbeau and wiki are correct about the 9 ton capacity corridor tenders

    They were specially designed for maximum coal capacity being much taller than regular tenders. I shall look for photos to compare, but I seem to remember the height difference was obvious

  191. RichardB says:

    @ Graham H I seem to recall that LNER’s Coronation service was extended in the summer months by one additional coach – a beaver tail observation coach making for a nine coach train. Clearly LNER felt passengers did not require this asset in the winter months and you are correct the train then comprised a maximum of eight coaches. My guess is that Gresley was influenced by the Milwaukee Road’s Hiawatha trains which included such observation cars

  192. Graham Feakins says:

    @ WW & Chris L = This is what TfL say about Oyster card data:

  193. QRP says:

    I see from the National Rail journey planner that LO services on the South London Line are getting an increase after 10.30pm to every 15 mins from May! Finally! Wasn’t expecting it until at least December 2016 after the new concession comes in?
    Isn’t there an election in May….?

  194. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ QRP – there is indeed an election in Mayor but come 20 March TfL will be hardly saying anything about anything because of purdah. A vast swathe of consultations close on 20 March and I imagine the shutters will then come down until mid May. The London Assembly effectively shuts up shop then as well. The TfL Board meets on 17 March and if things run to plan the new operator of the Overground concession should be announced straight afterwards with the usual 10 day “cooling off” period. You may get a glimpse of planned improvements from the new operator in the traditional TfL press release following such a major decision but I suspect any earlier timetable improvements won’t be trumpeted until the election is well out of the way.

    TfL doesn’t really “shout from the rooftops” about new timetables – they tend to appear without any notice or fanfare or they get put on the website about a day before the new times come into operation. Very little has been said about Overground timetable changes other than to try to pacify the baying mob of peak time GOBLIN users by trying to squeeze as much as possible from the existing train fleet. Anyway the new Mayor will have the task of having to “front” the bad news of the 8 month GOBLIN partial blockade / 4 month full blockade. He / she will be half way through their Mayoralty before they can ride on an electric GOBLIN or sit in the cab of a JCB and “dig the first sod” of the Barking Riverside extension. Such is the time it takes to get anything meaningful done and they can’t take credit for the ground work as that is for their predecessor.

  195. Ian J says:

    @WW: they can’t take credit for the ground work

    I think you mean they shouldn’t take credit for the ground work, but probably will anyway 🙂

  196. AlisonW says:

    “I think you mean they shouldn’t take credit for the ground work, but probably will anyway” Oh, bicycles! (said as a swear word)

  197. Ed says:

    Pontoon Dock station will be very crowded in a few years won’t it? There’s 3500 homes going up beside at Royal Wharf, hundreds more at Bougues site, and over the road a couple of thousand. I can see that station becoming rammed very soon, regardless of Crossrail alleviating a bit of demand.

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